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Will the Jeep Wrangler Go Soft?

October 7th, 2014
It just wouldn't be the same in aluminum

It just wouldn’t be the same in aluminum

The older they get, the more crotchety and overweight they can become. They can be tough as all get out, but just not quite able to keep up with the younger models.

Aging can take a toll and leave nothing but a softer, weaker version of their old selves.

I’m talking, of course, about the aging process of legendary off-roaders such as the Jeep Wrangler.

Heavy, inefficient, go-anywhere SUVs have started to fall out of favor, because newer models that weigh less and use less fuel are starting to come of age.

Should buyers jump ship from the old stalwarts and sign on to something newer and lighter, even at the expense of strength and capability?

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Latest GM Recalls Prove Importance of Quality

October 6th, 2014

2015 GMC Canyon

The first headline on the Detroit News Autos Insider newsletter was, “GM Issues Three New Recalls Saturday.”

The headlines for those recall stories were:

  1. Latest GM Recalls Bring Total to nearly 30M Vehicles
  2. GM Halts Sales on Midsize Trucks Due to Airbag Problem
  3. GM Recalls 117,000 Vehicles for Stalling

None of that sounds particularly good at first glance, does it?

In fact, some people might take those three headlines, along the recent news of GM stopping sales of the new Corvette, as signs that General Motors is having some major quality problems.

Maybe, though, these recalls are signs that everything is OK with General Motors. Or at least, everything will be OK soon.

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Favorites From the 2014 Paris Motor Show

October 3rd, 2014

Mercedes-AMG GT

The Paris Motor Show is known to inflict shock on unprepared auto journalists. It’s here that automakers like to unleash their inner crazy and debut concepts designed to capture the world’s attention.

Yesterday was when most automakers unveiled their wares, and while there were a few surprises, there wasn’t anything that left the world speechless.

Honda showed some chops with its most extreme hot hatch ever, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz debuted exactly what was expected, but Lamborghini seems to have stolen the show with a surprising new direction.

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Big Changes Coming at Cadillac

October 2nd, 2014

2015-cadillac-ats

What’s the trendiest, most hip and creative center in all of America?

Some might say Cupertino. Some might argue that it’s Mountain View.

Seattle get could a few votes, and so could Boston.

Narrow the parameters to include cities that are best for automotive innovation, and Detroit and Los Angeles are obvious candidates.

But New York City? The nation’s busiest metro is great for advertising and fashion… but for cars?

Whether it makes sense to us or not, General Motors has chosen NYC as the new corporate headquarters for Cadillac. The first big change will be an entirely new naming scheme.

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Local Motors: The Future of Automaking

October 1st, 2014

Local Motors Rally Fighter

Whether you want a $700 remote-control car, a $1,900 skateboard or a $99,900 car, Local Motors has you covered.

The Phoenix company is famous for its open-source design strategy and series of micro factories, which allow for the company’s signature product, the Rally Fighter, to be designed, and built, by the same people who buy it.

The Local Motors website says the Rally Fighter:

Looks like a race car, rides like a luxury vehicle. A rugged tube chassis construction complemented with all the requisite creature comforts. This 50-state street legal off-road desert racer is at home on the open road, the daily commute, and on the most challenging desert terrains.

More on the Rally Fighter in a moment, but first, check this out:

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2015 Ford F-150: Too Much Truck?

September 30th, 2014

2015 F-150 CrewCab

I think I figured out why midsize trucks are suddenly back in vogue.

Remember when the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma were small? Back in the 1980s and ’90s, those small trucks were significantly cheaper than their bigger brethren.

By the 2000s, though, the Ranger faded away, and the Tacoma grew to the size of an F-150, and was often more expensive.

Now, the big trucks have grown even bigger, with price tags that are sending folks back to the comfort of something smaller. Yes, we have entered the era of the $47,000 truck.

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Should Isuzu Have Another Chance at America?

September 29th, 2014

1990 Isuzu pickup

Our old Isuzu Rodeo rarely made it from home to school without breaking down.

We never did determine exactly why the Rodeo would lose power while cruising on the highway, but every time it happened we were able to pull off to the shoulder and restart the engine without trouble.

The process became a quirk of the car, which served me and at least one brother well in our college years.

The Isuzu didn’t last long in the family once college was over, because our view of the brand had soured a bit. In early 2009, the brand left the U.S. market for good.

Memories of that old Rodeo came back this weekend after reading that GM and Isuzu will team up to introduce a new pickup to the world. Will Isuzu try to come back to the U.S. market?

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The Cadillac of Big Sedans Isn’t a Cadillac… Yet

September 24th, 2014
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

There are two great ironies in this world.

The Cadillac name, throughout the ages of its existence, has survived as a stand-in for luxury, even as the cars themselves have lost much of their cachet over the years.

Today we see and hear “the Cadillac of such-and-such,” over and over, as the name stands for the highest attainable levels of quality.

That’s great irony number one. Today’s Cadillac models, while fine cars, aren’t associated with the best of the best.

Great irony number two is this:

There’s isn’t currently a “Cadillac of Cadillacs.”

However, that is about to change.

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Should Toyota Build This Juke Rival?

September 23rd, 2014

Toyota C-HR

Toyota shouldn’t bother with the frivolous or deal with matters too far outside of mainstream acceptance.

The Toyota brand is about status quo. It’s about creating the cars that respectable middle-class suburbanites drive to their corporate jobs and to weekend retreats at friends’ lake places.

Toyota doesn’t do wild and crazy, because the people who own them don’t do wild and crazy. Yes, sometimes Toyota steps out and tries something a little more exciting, but at least in the United States, those crazy moments are disguised by a Lexus or Scion badge.

If shoppers want something really crazy, they know they can look to Nissan. But what if Toyota doesn’t want people turning away from the brand when they want to stand out?

Enter the C-HR Concept.

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Corvette Stop-Sale Raises New Questions

September 22nd, 2014

2015 Chevrolet Corvette

When you build cars, it’s kind of important to attach all the pieces.

Major automakers have figured out how to do this with impressive precision, while smaller companies can be forgiven for overlooking a small part.

But when the world’s largest automaker misses parts on its most important car, you just have to wonder what’s going on internally. Especially right on the heels of the company’s biggest recall ever.

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