Cruising the Okanagan in Style

I just got back from a few days in the Okanagan Valley, testing luxury GM cars and sipping wine at bucolic vineyards — in that order. World record holder for global circumnavigation by car Garry Sowerby became our designated driver as soon as the vino touched the lips; with credentials like that, you don’t mind handing over the keys.

It’s lovely in that part of BC. The scrubby hills in the south and the ubiquitous vineyards reminded me of the Pyrenees in southern France near the Spanish border. And so did the roads. The flawless highway we drove twisted alongside the narrow and gnarly Lake Okanagan for over 100 kilometres, allowing a car weenie to play a bit when the odd passing lane appeared for a click or two.

The trip included a spin in the Cadillac SRX crossover but serendipitously came on the heels of nearly a week with the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (review to come soon) in town. So, when we got to the Okanagan and I really could “tear up the highway like a big ole dinosaur,” I was thrilled because I could finally exorcise that @#%^ Springsteen rocker from between my ears. I’d like to spend more time with the SRX; several writers were sharing cars and I only drove about 20km in it but liked the experience. There’s a lot bling and thinking for your money (starts at $41,575).

I got a much better feel for the new Buick LaCrosse. During our trip, our hosts provided access to one. It’s very handsome but I was also impressed with the drive of this masculine midsize sedan — particularly for the money. It’s great in corners and loves to accelerate. A V6 with direct injection leaps to attention with the gentlest signal from the foot. The driver shift transmission allows for better involvement – a compromise between paddling and genuine shifting — and passing was a breeze.

I enjoyed how well the LaCrosse drives on day one. On day two, I learned what a comfortable ride it gives passengers in the back with a head full of good wine.

MSRP $32,795.

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