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Meet the Pickup Trucks Getting Close to 30 MPG

November 25th, 2014

2015 Ford F-150, front-view

News of a truck that gets the same fuel economy as a family sedan, and is capable of pulling 12,000 pounds of trailer, would change the game for American pickups.

Of course, we’ll never get the two of those things together. With trucks, fuel economy and towing capacity are an either/or proposition.

Trucks capable of close to 30 miles per gallon on the highway are now here, and we have trucks that can pull 12,000 pounds, but we will never have a truck that pulls 12,000 pounds while getting anything more than about 9 miles per gallon.

Ford’s new 2015 F-150 solves half the puzzle by getting an impressive 26 mpg on the highway.

With a catch, of course.

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These Three Unsafe Minivans Will Surprise You

November 21st, 2014

2014 Nissan Quest crash test

You assume you’re safe. You’re surrounded by acres of sheet metal and protected by a sturdy steel frame. You’re riding higher than most other vehicles and under the impression that you’re nearly invincible.

Your most valuable possessions, including your new 60-inch television, your sporting equipment, yesterday’s leftovers and probably even your children, are along for the ride. You might smile to yourself, because you think you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the road.

But if you’re driving one of three popular minivans, you’re not.

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America Arrives With the Cadillac ATS-V and Mustang Shelby GT350

November 20th, 2014

Cadillac ATS-V

To the list of things that make me happy, I’d like to add:

  1. The sound of the new Mustang Shelby 350GT
  2. The Cadillac ATS-V

Yes, this is the first time a Cadillac has ever made it onto this exclusive list. Usually the mere mention of the word “Cadillac” causes me to shrug and think of all the ways I’d like to customize my Audi.

The ATS-V, though, has managed to awaken something in my soul and has become a car I simply must experience.

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Say Goodbye to the Chevy SS

November 19th, 2014

2014 Chevrolet SS

Get it while you can, because the Chevy SS is going and going fast.

Like the beautiful and amazing GM V8 super sedans before it, the Chevy SS appears to be on the one-way track to discontinued-ville. The previous cars, the Pontiac GTO and Pontiac G8 GXP were ferocious and well-built cars, but didn’t last more than a couple of model years.

Personally, I kick myself, because I had the chance to buy a new GXP just after news of Pontiac’s coming extinction broke. A nearby dealer had one left and contacted me with a heckuva good deal, but I passed. Now, those used GXPs can go for close to 40 grand because there are so few on the market.

There are only 6 in CarGurus’ used listings as of this writing, and 3 them are flagged as overpriced. And they’ll probably sell.

The same thing could happen to the Chevy SS.

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Are New Hydrogen Cars Better Than Electrics?

November 18th, 2014

Honda FCV concept

If cars ran on water, the price of H2O would probably jump to $4 per gallon, and filling our tanks wouldn’t be any less expensive than using gasoline. The good part, though, would be that we’d have an unending supply, and we could drive forever without polluting our environment.

Cars powered by water won’t ever happen, but cars powered by hydrogen, which emit only water, are happening already.

Much like electric cars, hydrogen-powered cars aren’t very practical, because there is no refueling infrastructure in place. Unlike electric cars, fueling up involves filling a tank with compressed gas, which can take a matter of minutes rather than hours.

Toyota and Honda are both big proponents of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, but owning one certainly won’t be cheap.

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Scion’s Comeback Effort Looks Like an Old Toyota

November 17th, 2014

2014_scion_im_concept_la_auto_show

Let me be clear: I don’t think Toyota needs the Scion brand.

The initial intent in creating Scion was to appeal to a younger crowd at a lower price point with small but exciting vehicles. It worked for a little while but Scion has slowly been dying in recent years.

The cars, with the exception of the great FR-S (which should have been a Toyota) are lifeless and dull.

Regardless of this humble car blogger’s opinion, Scion trudges on and will introduce a new vehicle at the LA Auto Show this week.

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GMC: The New Jeep?

November 13th, 2014
GMC Granite concept

Could the new face of GMC look like the Granite concept?

Aside from some leather and chrome, there’s not much that makes a GMC different from a Chevrolet. The Silverado and Sierra trucks are nearly identical, as are the Suburban and Yukon SUVs.

Both brands have small trucks, too, with the Colorado/Canyon twins. The Acadia and Traverse are different only because of the bodywork and the badge adhered to the front grille. So what would make a buyer spend the extra money required to get a GMC when a Chevy is basically the same car for less money?

The answer is perception, of course. GMC has built a brand out of being luxurious, professional and capable. What it hasn’t done is put out vehicles that differentiate themselves enough to uphold that image. Could change be in the air?

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Sports Cars: Dead or Coming Out of Hibernation?

November 12th, 2014

porsche-911-gt3

There are a couple of quotes we need to address today. The first is from Automotive News:

“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”

In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with SUVs and crossovers becoming ever more popular.

The second quote expands on the first, and comes to us by way of The Truth About Cars:

Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission.

Do we, the sports car fans of the world, have something to worry about?

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Toyota and BMW Will Partner on New Car

November 11th, 2014

Toyota FT-1 concept

Toyota teamed up with Subaru to build a sports car, and it ended up with the FT-86, known here in the States as the Scion FR-S.

The car is significant because it’s the first time in many years that Toyota has injected some rear-wheel-drive fun into its lineup. The only problem is that the car is a bit underpowered. The FR-S is fun to drive because it’s perfectly balanced and handles beautifully. It won’t, however, win a lot of speed races and isn’t very refined or comfortable.

The other mistake I think Toyota made was badging this car as a Scion. It would have been better for the car’s image had it worn a Toyota badge.

Toyota’s next partnership, now confirmed, will result in something just a little faster and, we hope, all Toyota.

Buckle up, friends, because BMW and Toyota have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car.

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SEMA 2014: Cars From the Weirdest Show in the Industry

November 7th, 2014
2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show could only be held in Las Vegas. SEMA is North America’s annual trade show for the tuning and customization market, and it’s traditionally packed with weird displays from everyone including the major manufacturers to independent tuning shops.

This year the Las Vegas Convention Center has been packed with more crazy creations than ever, including a dragster disguised as a boring sedan.

Here are the highlights of SEMA 2014.

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