10 Cars Fit for Super Bowl 50

February 5th, 2016

Super Bowl 50 logo

This weekend will cap the 2015 NFL football season with one of television’s most watched events: the Super Bowl. The 50th edition of this great American sporting event pits Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Manning’s a veteran, having won and taken the MVP title for Super Bowl XLI as well as five Associated Press NFL MVP titles since entering the league in 1998. Cam Newton’s younger, having entered the league in 2011, but he’s got some impressive stats, too, and he’s our bet to win the MVP award this year. Fittingly, each quarterback was the first pick in the NFL draft the year they entered the league.

Because we’re huge fans of cars in addition to football, we’ve decided to turn this year’s Super Bowl into a car contest in addition to a football game. We’ve selected five critical players from each team and picked a car to represent each of those players. We’d be happy to see what you think of our picks as well as which one of each pair of cars you would select – please let us know in a comment. We hope you’ve already voted in our poll on the game itself, of course, and seen the best and worst car ads that will be shown during this year’s game. Since our local Patriots didn’t make it to the big game this year, we’ll likely be much quieter while watching it than we were last year, but we’ll certainly have a good time, and we hope you will, too.

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FCA Killing Off Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200 in Favor of Trucks and SUVs

February 5th, 2016

2016_chrysler_200

Could you imagine Ford discontinuing the Fusion? Or Mazda doing away with the Mazda3?

Of course not. Those are core models for the brands and it would be complete insanity to cancel them without an improved replacement ready to go.

Chrysler, now FCA, spent years fine-tuning its core sedans. The Chrysler 200 began life as the Sebring and has since become a respectable entry in the compact sedan market. The Dodge Dart resurrected a cherished name from the past and is the FIAT-based sedan that Americans hoped would arrive when the Italians bought out Chrysler.

The cars aren’t record-setting sales superstars, but they do fill an important hole in the company’s lineup. Not having an entry in the compact sedan segment is akin to suicide in the mainstream auto industry.

Yet FCA is doing the unthinkable: Canceling the 200 and the Dart, without any concrete plans to replace them.

Why is this happening?

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Best and Worst Super Bowl Car Ads

February 4th, 2016

Christopher Walken for Kia

Some assignments are just too good to pass up. Somebody needed to watch the current crop of automotive commercials for Super Bowl 50, and who better than me? I love cars. I love commercials. And I love sharing my opinion.

This isn’t an in-depth look at every single commercial. Rather it’s a quick critique of some of the best and some of the worst. In no particular order, except for the one I saved for the end, here are the best and worst automotive commercials for Super Bowl 50.

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Toyota Killing the Scion Brand, Keeping Some Cars

February 4th, 2016

Scion-C-HR-Concept

Perhaps you’ve heard by now that Scion will soon be a thing of the past.

The brand that Toyota created 13 years ago to win younger buyers and act as a platform for new ideas will dissolve. Most of the brand’s current lineup, however, will remain available under the Toyota umbrella.

Usually when an automaker decides to end a brand, it discontinues both the brand and all associated models. Think Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn…the list goes on. This isn’t a traditional discontinuation, though. It’s more like a rollover.

And that’s actually really good news.

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Who Ya Got? Broncos vs. Panthers

February 3rd, 2016

1970_ford_bronco-pic-52750-640x480

This weekend, the Panthers will take on the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Historically, it’s a bit of a David versus Goliath matchup, although the Vegas spread has the traditionally maligned Panthers as a 6-point favorite. The Broncos, currently led by Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway in the front office and future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning on the field, have a long legacy of success. The team began playing in 1960 (as a member of the AFL) and has amassed 22 playoff berths as well as 8 Conference Championships and 2 Super Bowl victories. On the other side, the Carolina Panthers began playing in the NFL in 1995, have had only 6 winning seasons, and have been to the playoffs 6 times (once with a losing record). This will be the Panther’s second trip to the Super Bowl. They have never had the pleasure of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

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Jeep Wrangler’s Future Includes a Hybrid, a Diesel, and a Pickup

February 3rd, 2016
Jeep Gladiator Concept

Jeep Gladiator Concept

Last week on this blog we proposed some of the cars that are worth re-imagining with different bodies. It was fun and included everything from an F-TYPE with a backseat to a hyper-luxury minivan.

Neither of those are safe bets to hit the market anytime soon, but the vehicle that got us thinking about such possibilities is the ubiquitous Jeep Wrangler.

The Wrangler just might be the most famous 4×4 of all time, and the next few years could turn out to be some of the best it has ever seen.

Here’s what’s coming down the road for Wrangler fans.

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Could Narrow Cars Solve Our Transportation Problems?

February 2nd, 2016

toyota_i-road

You’ll laugh the first time you see a narrow car on the road.

There aren’t many just yet, so unless you’re driving the streets of Japan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle, your odds of seeing a narrow car are about the same as stumbling across a traveling fleet of motorized La-Z-Boys.

Narrow cars do exist, however, and it seems they might be starting to pick up steam, at least judging by media coverage for the last month or so.

The most famous narrow car in the news right now is the Toyota i-Road, a 3-wheel tandem 2-seater that is testing in Japan. It’s funny looking, but the i-Road, and cars like it, could shape the future of mobility.

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Would You Want a Ford Ranger Raptor?

February 1st, 2016

2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor takes everything we know about full-size trucks and dials it up to 11. The coming 2017 version of the truck might even take it up to 12.

Car and Driver says,

The new F-150 Raptor won’t go on sale until fall 2016, but with a twin-turbo V-6 making more than 500 hp, it should prove worth the wait. A new 10-speed automatic will send power to all four wheels, all the time. Two wheelbase/cab setups will be offered: a 133-in SuperCab and a 145-in four-door SuperCrew. Beefy Fox Racing Shox are onboard while a stout skidplate protects the front. Meaty 35-in tires wrap around 17-in aluminum wheels. This is what Ferrari would build if it built 4×4 pickups.

Considering they’re purpose-built off-roaders, I sure see a lot of Raptors on paved roads. Maybe they’re all headed to the desert or off to find a mud-filled bog to slog through, but I doubt it. I assume the vast majority of Raptors on the road are only used on the road. Granted, they look incredibly intimidating at stoplights and in restaurant parking lots, but I don’t think that’s what the SVT engineers had in mind when they created the truck.

That said, it’s time to start dreaming about what might be coming next: The Ranger Raptor.

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Building a Better Body: 10 Cars Worth Re-Imagining

January 29th, 2016

Jeep Gladiator Concept

The Jeep Wrangler is an insanely popular car. Not only is it one of the most sought-after used cars on CarGurus, but it also retains its initial value better than any other car on the market. Nevertheless, enthusiasts have been hammering Fiat Chrysler (Jeep’s parent company) to produce new and different versions of the Wrangler for years, and the returns on their efforts have been slow but sure. In 2007, Jeep modified the previously 2-door-only Wrangler and introduced the first 4-door Wrangler Unlimited. At the New England International Auto Show this year, we saw the Wrangler Backcountry: an extra-capable off-roading version of a car specifically designed to be extra-capable at off-roading. Until just recently, however, Jeep has failed to acquiesce to its fan base’s greatest demand: a Wrangler Pickup.

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Have Electric Cars Already Beat Fuel Cell Vehicles?

January 29th, 2016

2017-Honda-Clarity-Fuel-Cell

The price of electric cars is quickly falling into the $30,000 range. The Nissan Leaf, the upcoming Chevy Bolt, and, presumably, next year’s Tesla Model 3, will all be available for about the price of the average new car.

Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is becoming more common and people are getting used to their limited range. Part of the reason for less range-anxiety is because cars are going farther on a single charge and taking less time to recharge.

Amidst the looming mass-adaption of EVs by consumers around the country, another type of alternative-fuel vehicle is starting to hit the market.

But is it too late for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

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