2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring

Joining the popular Buick LaCrosse line in 2019 will be the new Sport Touring (ST) model. The Sport Touring (ST) model available this summer is positioned between the LaCrosse Premium and the LaCrosse Avenir.

The 2019 Buick LaCrosse ST brings a contemporary, spirited monotone theme to the LaCrosse model line with a body-color grille surround and side vents, which are otherwise finished in chrome on other LaCrosse models. Additionally, the ST features a subtle rear spoiler, black mesh grille, and “ST” badging on the trunk lid. In other words, it creates a presence without creating a scene.

2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring taillight and spoiler
2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring taillight and spoiler

On the interior, look for perforated leather-appointed heated and ventilated front seats with a lumbar massaging feature along with a heated steering wheel.

Powering the 2019 LaCrosse ST is the 3.6 L LGX V6, which develops 310 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 268 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm. The engine is a clean-sheet-of-paper design that features a deep-skirted aluminum block that’s stronger and stiffer than the previous 3.6 L V6. Topped by all-new aluminum cylinder heads featuring dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves, the LGX engine also features a forged steel crankshaft, sinter-forged connecting rods, and polymer-coated pistons optimized for high-pressure direct fuel injection. 

The LGX six-cylinder is mated to the newly-developed Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed automatic transmission. For precise and smooth shifts, engineers utilized a specific strategy in the selection of the gearsets, clutches and torque converter. An internally-developed 32-bit transmission control module (TCM) commands all up and downshifting of the transmission to provide smooth and precise gear changes. The TCM also monitors transmission performance and compensates for normal wear in components such as clutch plates so that performance remains consistent through the life of the transmission.

Constructed on a chassis that features extensive use of high-strength steel, both for durability and collision-resistance, attached to this solid basis is a four-wheel independent suspension system consisting of a MacPherson Strut front suspension and a five-link rear suspension, offered with available electronically controlled continuous damping and spring loads from the body.

The LaCrosse also features an electric power steering system that provides variable effort – more assist at low speeds, less assist on the highway.

Braking is achieved by four-wheel Duralife brake rotors (12.6” front, 11.3” rear) with power assist, brake pre-fill, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

While well-equipped, there are a few option packages that can be added to the LaCrosse ST. Rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring with the Driver Confidence Package I, or a panoramic moonroof and rear power sunshade with the Sun and Shade Package. The Sights and Sounds package will add navigation to the 8-inch infotainment package, along with the added Bose premium audio system and HD radio capability. The 2019 Buick LaCrosse ST is available in one of five available exterior color options: White Frost Tricoat, Satin Steel Metallic, Quicksilver Metallic, Red Quartz Tintcoat and Ebony Twilight Metallic.

2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring grille
2019 Buick LaCrosse Sport Touring grille

There are much more included and available features on the 2019 Buick LaCrosse that there’s not enough space to cover the standard dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless smartphone charging, remote vehicle starter with keyless open and start, and many more. Your best bet is to stop by and talk to the Buick experts at Fletch’s Buick GMC Audi in Petoskey. They’ll walk you through all the standard features and available options so that you drive off with the perfect Buick for you.

2019 GMC Sierra Sneak-Peek

Arriving at Fletch’s Buick GMC Audi in late 2018 is the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, which is the largest, boldest Sierra ever, providing an even more commanding presence. The next generation Sierra 1500 is a full-size pickup that builds upon proven strengths while introducing a number of industry-first innovations. While GMC has been fairly tight-lipped about releasing information about the new Sierra, there has been enough information released to discover some of the innovations in the new 2019 GMC Sierra 1500.

Fresh Exterior Design

All-new from the ground-up, the Next Generation Sierra 1500 literally stands tall, with a strong, purposeful stance. GMC designers built upon that substantial foundation with bold bodywork, including chiseled shoulders and a tall, powerful hood, which is capped with a grille that’s bigger and bolder than any previous Sierra.

Interior Refinements

The 2019 Sierra 1500 provides a higher seating position that provides better visibility from behind the wheel, as well as the segment’s first multi-color, customizable heads-up display, which projects key vehicle and infotainment system information on the windshield within the driver’s line of sight.  Sierra’s cabin puts the driver at the center of everything, thanks in part to a higher seating position that allows for a confident, commanding view from behind the wheel. Driver focus doesn’t mean passengers aren’t forgotten. The new Sierra crew cab is larger than before, providing best-in-class front head- and legroom, along with more rear-seat legroom than ever before.

Choice of Engines

Sierra’s powerful line of engines is topped by the available new 6.2 L V8 with a new 10-speed automatic transmission and the new 5.3 L V8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission. With the 10-speed, the 6.2 L engine is able to operate in its maximum torque range. The 5.3 L and 6.2 L engines now feature stop-start technology and new Dynamic Fuel Management that enables the engine to operate on one to eight cylinders, depending on demand, in order to better optimize power and efficiency.

For 2019 the GMC Sierra has a 2.7 L turbocharged LB3 DOHC four-cylinder engine which will replace the 4.3 L V6 EcoTec3 as the base engine. The 2.7 L four-cylinder develops 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque.  The LB3 engine was developed for truck duty with its 348 pound-feet of torque available between 1500 rpm and 4000 rpm. The LB3 engine also weighs almost 400 pounds less than the V6 engine it replaces. 

Next up the line for the 2019 Sierra is the 5.3 L L86 Ecotech3 V8 that develops 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque through a combination of direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing. The largest engine that GMC offers in the 2019 Sierra 1500 is the 6.2 L L87 EcoTec3 V8, which develops 425 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. 

What’s new with the 2019 GMC Sierra is the availability of the all-new Duramax 3.0 L turbodiesel inline six, the same configuration found in long-haul travel trailers. Information about the engine, not just horsepower and torque, but even bore and stroke, has yet to be released. It has been confirmed that it will be mated to the sophisticated 10-speed automatic transmission. However, GMC has stated they expect “we’ll have the best-performing diesel in the segment.”

Pro Grade Trailering System

GMC has a new ProGrade Trailering System, standard on the Denali and SLT. By downloading the trailering app on your Android or iPhone you’re able to run a pre-departure checklist while outside the truck and trailer. You will also be able to preview Maintenance Reminders, Trailer Light Test, Trailer Electrical Diagnostics and Trailer Tire Pressure and Temperature Monitoring.

The 2019 Sierra 1500 also offers Hitch Guidance with Hitch View and Auto Electric Park Brake to help position the truck when hitching. The available side view cameras and a trailer-mounted HD camera provide additional assistance when driving down the road or in reverse. With exclusive Trailer Theft Detection, the horn and lights of the truck are triggered and owners receive a text or mobile alerts from OnStar when the trailer has been detached from the truck without permission.    

2019 GMC Sierra Prograde Trailering Option on SLT and Denali
2019 GMC Sierra Prograde Trailering Option on SLT and Denali

Safety and Security

One of the most interesting features in the 2019 Sierra 1500 is the segment-first Rear Camera Mirror. The Sierra’s dual-function mirror can be used as a conventional rear-view mirror or as a video display showing the live images from the rearview camera at the back of the truck. 

The 2019 Sierra 1500 will offer a full suite of available active safety features, including Front Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Front and Rear Park Assist, and Low-Speed Forward Automatic braking, among others.

MultiPro Tailgate

The GMC Exclusive, industry-first MultiPro Tailgate is the most innovative pickup tailgate ever, with six unique functions and positions offering enhanced second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, and a standing workstation. The Sierra 1500 is the first and only truck to offer the MultiPro Tailgate which also incorporates a step entry that, when paired with the assist handle, offers both step and seated functionality, with a maximum weight capacity of 375 pounds. The MultiPro Tailgate will be standard on Denali and SLT.

While there’s still a lot about the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 that we don’t know, we don’t even have enough space here to cover the information available, like the 2019 Sierra offering best-in-class cargo volume, of the 2019 Denali model that will feature an industry-first carbon fiber bed and available 22” wheels. While 2019 is still a few months away, stop by Fletch’s Buick GMC Audi in Petoskey, Michigan for additional information, and if you’re interested, add your name to the list and you’ll be contacted as soon as the first shipment arrives.

Is My Car, Truck or SUV Ready For Towing a Trailer?


Living in Northern Michigan there are plenty of opportunities to use your car, truck, or SUV for towing, from boats and campers,  hauling a car home from college to transporting a car to the city of a recent graduate’s new job. If you’ve not towed before, here’s a checklist you can follow to make certain that your tow is pleasurable, event-free, and doesn’t impact your vehicle’s warranty.

Your first step is to determine if the vehicle you intend to use to tow is capable of pulling the load you have in mind. You’ll need to add the weight of whatever you want to tow to whatever you plan to pack inside it to determine the towing weight. It’s happened more than once that someone has purchased a vehicle to tow a camper based on the camper’s weight alone, not taking into account the hundreds of pounds of water, food, and supplies in the trailer. You can find your vehicle’s towing capacity in the owner’s manual.

If your vehicle is rated to tow the load you have in mind, the next step is to assure that it’s ready to tow. If there’s a factory-installed trailer package on your vehicle, you’re good to go. If not, check with our service department.  They can provide you with a list of what the manufacturer includes in its towing package, including the rating of the hitch you’ll require. You may need to add a transmission cooler as well as a hitch and wiring harness. If you don’t match the OEM package it could void the part of your warranty affected.

Once you have your car, truck or SUV sorted, now it’s time to hook the trailer to the tow vehicle. Plan this out in advance and not the morning of your trip, as it could take some time and if not done properly it will diminish your enjoyment of the drive and could even be dangerous. 

The first task is to set the tongue weight. That’s the amount of weight the trailer pushes down on your vehicle’s hitch. Too little or too much is bad. There’s an ideal range of about 10% – 12% of the total weight of your trailer. Though it should never exceed the maximum tongue weight rating in your owner’s manual. 

Now that you know the target, load the trailer with the equivalent weight that you’ll be hauling. Level the trailer onto a bathroom scale to check the tongue weight. If it’s outside the 10% – 12% range (up or down) move the weight around in your trailer until you achieve the target. If the rated tongue weight is greater than your scale, you can check using a simple lever arrangement for which you can find instructions online.

It’s also important that the loaded trailer be level to the ground when it’s attached to the vehicle so that the trailer remains stable as your drive. You can trim the trailer’s flatness either with an adjustable drawbar or by finding one with the right offset. If you end up using an offset drawbar, make sure it’s rated to handle the trailer weight. Park both your tow vehicle and the trailer on level ground and measure both. Allow about three inches for the ball. 

Before heading out there are a few items that need to be addressed. First, is the tow vehicle ready? Towing puts a great deal of stress on a vehicle and it’s important that the engine oil, coolant, tires, and brakes are all inspected and serviced prior to towing. And don’t overload your tow vehicle either.

On your trailer, check the condition and inflation pressure of the tires, the condition of the battery if your trailer is equipped with electric brakes, inspect all lights for proper operation and that the safety chains are crossed and attached. Safety chains should not be taken lightly as they’re your last line of defense so make certain they won’t come loose. You should be ready to go now.

If you plan on towing a car on a dolly, there are a few extra items you need to be aware of. All the same rules about trailering capacity and tongue weight still apply, of course. In addition, you need to be aware of a couple of decisions you may need to make. If the car is front-wheel drive, you can use the dolly without any changes to the car you’re pulling. 

If it’s a rear-wheel drive car, the driveshaft will have to be removed by a mechanic. You’ll now have to deal with a six-foot-long greasy steel tube as well.  If your tow vehicle can handle the weight of a car trailer this may be the better option. When it comes to AWD or 4WD, it depends upon how the manufacturer configured the system. Some systems allow for the rear axle to freewheel when disconnected, which means it can be loaded like a front-wheel drive car. Others have power going to the rear axle at all times, so you’ll have to disconnect the driveshaft on those vehicles. Check your owner’s manual and if you can’t find a definitive answer you can call the vehicle manufacturer or check in with us.

The company from which you’re renting the dolly can also provide you with lights that attach to your towed vehicle magnetically so you don’t have to cut into the wiring harness.  Just make sure you stow them inside the car if you have an overnight stop. If you plan on towing a car on a dolly behind a motorhome, it may be worth the investment to have a standard jack installed in the car to operate the lights.

Follow these straightforward recommendations and you should enjoy trouble-free towing throughout the summer season.


Why the all-new 2019 Buick Envision is a great car for Northern Michigan

2019 Buick Envision a great car for Northern Michigan
2019 Buick Envision

From its unmistakable Buick grille to its sculpted rear profile, one glance at the new 2019 Envision confirms that this small luxury SUV offers owners both versatility as well as style. To complement the new styling, there’s increased engine power, a new transmission, and improvements in its connectivity systems. Best yet, the 2019 Envision makes for an outstanding SUV for the conditions that drivers in Northern Michigan face on a year-round basis.

Stylish New Exterior

The New 2019 Envision makes a lasting impression from every angle. At the forefront of the refreshed exterior: the unmistakable Buick grille and tricolor insignia, along with bright, crisp available LED-accented headlamps and new low-profile LED-enhanced tail lamps. The 2019 Buick Envision also features a standard hands-free power liftgate that helps you access your cargo area without lifting a finger.

Comfortable Redesigned Interior

The sense of luxury inside the new 2019 Envision is apparent from its soft-touch materials and modern amenities. The spacious cabin is quiet and comfortable, with up to nearly seven inches of available rear seat leg room. The 60/40 fold-flat rear seats can be easily adjusted to accommodate a variety of configurations. You can even fold the second row flat before entering the vehicle, by utilizing release handles on either side of the cargo area.

Available Engines

Press the premium Start button and the 2019 Envision comes to life. Buyers have a choice of one of two sources: the standard 2.5 L DOHC engine with 197 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque or the available 2.0 L turbocharged DOHC engine with 252 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, which comes mated to a new, smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. The turbo engine model is a full half-second faster from 0-60 than last year’s model.

The 2019 Envision is equipped with a stop-start deactivation switch on the instrument panel that allows the driver to choose whether to use the auto-stop function. The calibration of the stop-start technology has also been refined for an even more seamless operation.

All-Wheel Drive

Available Intelligent All-Wheel Drive with an electronically locking rear differential with twin clutch automatically adjusts the amount of engine torque delivered to each wheel based on road conditions to optimize traction and respond before slipping occurs.

Winter Driving

Beyond the safety and security of all-wheel drive, buyers in Northern Michigan seek creature comforts that’ll make the old winters a little easier to bear. Available on the 2019 Buick Envision are cold-weather features like a heated steering wheel, heated front seats that can also be cooled during hot summer months, separate climate controls for rear seat passengers, heated rear seats for the outside rear seat passengers, and heated exterior mirrors.

There’s much more to the 2019 Envision than we have space to cover, like the standard  Buick Infotainment System with an 8-inch-diagonal color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and the standard Buick 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s your best bet to talk to the experts at Fletch’s Buick GMC and Audi and check out which features best suit your year-round driving needs. And if you’re an RVer looking for an outstanding dinghy to flat tow, talk to the Fletch’s team about how you can outfit the 2019 Envision for that purpose.


Six Vital Vehicle Fluids


The bulk of your vehicle’s maintenance should be preventative. That is, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals it’s unlikely you’ll run into unexpected mechanical repairs. 

Maintenance service is largely covered under one of three categories. One is belts and hoses. Second are the filters: air, oil, and fuel, but also cabin air filters. The third is the fluids that flow through your vehicle. A modern vehicle simply couldn’t exist without these fluid systems. Furthermore, if they’re neglected they could cause system failures that can be expensive to repair.

Instructions on checking all six of the systems that we have listed below are included in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. You can also have the certified technicians at Fletch’s check any or all of these systems on your behalf, or even teach you how to check them yourself if you’d like.

Engine Oil

This is the process in which drivers are most familiar. With an emphasis on reducing internal engine friction (lowering emissions and improving fuel economy) modern engines sometimes utilize synthetic oils and or have less oil in the engine than their predecessors. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions as to when and how to check the oil to get the most accurate reading. The same goes for oil change frequency. The owner’s manual will provide you with the recommended interval for normal driving and for driving in severe conditions, which is more common than you might think. Some vehicles use a sophisticated computer-based system that recommends oil change intervals based on the actual use of the vehicle. If you have any questions as to which system or schedule to follow, the Service Advisors at Fletch’s will be happy to help.

Transmission Fluid

The automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is optimized for the special requirements of an automatic transmission, such as valve operation, brake band friction, and the torque converter as well as gear lubrication. You check your automatic transmission fluid the same time as your engine oil, with the exception in most cases that the vehicle should be running per the frequency listed in your owner’s manual. Unlike engine oil, transmission fluid is part of a closed system, so it should never be low (which would indicate a leak that should be addressed as soon as possible). Smell the fluid on the dipstick, which should be red and not smell burnt. If it shows discoloration or gives off a scorched smell, have it inspected by a Certified Technician at Fletch’s to determine whether the transmission requires repair or simply a fluid change. 

Engine Coolant/Anti-Freeze

Engine coolant/anti-freeze keeps your car, truck, or SUV running cool in the summer and keeps it from freezing up in the winter. If you ever run low on coolant, your engine, radiator, and hoses will either overheat if it’s summer or freeze if it’s winter.  Unfortunately the properties in coolant/anti-freeze that allow it to function better than straight water wear out over time. Check your owner’s manual for instructions on when you should check your coolant and how frequently the coolant should be replaced or renewed.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is formulated to capture water that comes into the braking system from atmospheric contamination. Water is bad news for a braking system as it’s compressible (which makes the brakes spongy), and it creates the risk of a metal brake line rusting through causing a partial system failure. So brake fluid needs to be removed and replaced per the manufacturer’s schedule listed in your owner’s manual. In addition, check the brake fluid reservoir for the color of the fluid. Clean brake fluid looks somewhat like oil. If it’s brown, it’s contaminated and definitely time to replace it, and if it’s low (marked on the reservoir) it could be the sign of a leak.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering uses a pump to push a piston that’s attached to the steering rack. Turn right and the pump sends fluid to the appropriate piston.  If the power steering fluid is low, the first indication you may get is a squeal when you turn the wheel all the way to the right or left while parked with the engine running.  Any drop in fluid usually indicates a leak in either one of the hoses or the seals inside the ram. As always, these can usually be avoided by performing the preventive maintenance outlined in your owner’s manual.

Washer Fluid

While most people who list oil and brake fluid as critical to the operation of their car, truck, or SUV, they rarely think of washer fluid as important. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here in Michigan, as snows melt and streets and highways get wet with run-off, it’s a constant battle to keep your windshield clean. Washer fluid is a consumable so there’s no schedule to replace it. Instead, as the vehicle operator, you should take the opportunity at every other fill-up to lift the hood and eyeball the washer fluid tank. 

So whether its regular scheduled fluid maintenance or a concern over a low fluid level or bad smell, bring your car, truck, or SUV into the certified technical experts at Fletch’s and they’ll have it sorted out in no time.

GMC Sierra 1500 with eAssist


There was a time that when you needed extra pulling power from time-to-time you purchased a truck with a bigger engine. It cost you more to purchase it and more to operate it for those times when you need some extra torque. Now GMC has made available eAssist two- and four-wheel drive 2018 Sierra 1500 SLT crew cab pickups to provide extra power when needed, without the extra expense.

Starting with Sierra’s 5.3L aluminum block V8 engine that’s equipped with direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and Active Fuel Management GMC adds to that its eAssist technology which is a lightly-electrified supplemental propulsion system that includes both a compact induction motor and an air-cooled 24-cell 0.45 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which adds only 100 lbs. to the vehicle’s weight.

Sierra’s eAssist system provides fuel economy and incremental power solutions that require no input from the driver and can deliver up to 13 percent better fuel economy in city driving.

The induction motor that is a component of the eAssist system provides a boost of up to 13 horsepower and 44 lb-ft of torque. This feature kicks in when accelerating from a stop or while towing a trailer, and also offers benefits in normal around town driving. The added power of the motor allows Sierra’s Active Fuel Management system to run the V-8 engine in four-cylinder mode for extended periods of time, which reduces fuel consumption. And remember that only a minimal amount of power is needed to keep a vehicle moving at a steady highway speed.

Another function that eAssist provides is that once the engine has reached its operating temperature, the eAssist system can smoothly switch off the engine once it senses the driver approaching a stop. The battery pack then provides the power needed to keep all vehicle systems, including lighting, heating and cooling, electrical accessories, and more, fully powered and operational, just as if the engine were still running.

As soon as the driver moves their foot off the brake pedal, the induction motor immediately restarts the engine, allowing the Sierra with eAssist to accelerate from a stop like any other pickup. 

The driver never needs to plug in or manually recharge the eAssist battery, as a regenerative braking system recovers energy otherwise lost during braking into electricity and recharges the battery.

In addition to the supplemental propulsion system, the eAssist package also includes Sierra a standard soft tonneau cover and automatic grille shutters, which close at speeds over 30 mph. These changes improve Sierra’s aerodynamics by 6 percent and optimize fuel consumption.

As the Sierra with eAssist is based on an SLT crew cab with the Premium Plus package, advanced technologies are included that extend beyond the drivetrain. High-Performance LED headlamps, LED fog lamps, and LED tail lamps are included, as is  Intellibeam technology, which automatically dims headlamps when oncoming traffic is detected. Sierra SLT eAssist also includes front and rear park assist systems, a rear vision camera, Forward Collision Alert, and Lane Keep Assist.

Inside, a Bose premium audio system is paired with the GMC IntelliLink system with an 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen with navigation, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. In addition, Sierra’s center console features wireless phone charging, which allows compatible devices to recharge without using a dedicated charger or cable.  Other premium appointments on the Sierra with eAssist include heated and vented leather-front bucket seats, a heated steering wheel, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, six-inch rectangular chrome assist steps, a factory-installed spray-on bed-liner, and eAssist badging.

To learn about eAssist or anything about the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500, stop by and talk to the truck experts at Fletch’s in Petoskey, MI.