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Archive for the ‘Domestic Cars’ Category

The World’s First Luxury Compact Pickup?

March 30th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz pickup truck

I had to read the date a couple of times when I saw the headline. Stories that seem even slightly unbelievable at this time of year often catch vulnerable folks off guard if they don’t keep a keen eye on the calendar.

On April First of each year, car websites love to see how far they can push the limits of reality as they come up with stories later revealed as April Fools’ jokes.

But the story I read was published prior to April 1. Here it is late March, and news is spreading that Mercedes-Benz will build a pickup.

What could this mean?

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The Great Minivan Mystery

March 26th, 2015

Dodge Grand Caravan

There wasn’t a lot of outrage when Dodge decided that the Grand Caravan needed to go. There was a little bit of curiosity and maybe some shock from certain family-oriented car buyers, but no one threw much of a fuss about the news.

The death of the Grand Caravan signals the end of an era and echoes a changing attitude about family transportation. Minivans are becoming a smaller niche market as car-based crossovers and SUVs secure their places in the driveways of America’s suburbs.

Few people cried over the loss of the Grand Caravan because Chrysler would still sell its identical twin, the Chrysler Town & Country. For all intents and purposes, the Grand Caravan was dead.

So why then, out of nowhere, did spy photographers capture images of what appears to be a new Grand Caravan, cloaked in heavy camo, testing in the American Southwest?

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This New Cadillac Could Change the Luxury Game

March 25th, 2015
Could the new Cadillac CT6 look like this?

Could the new Cadillac CT6 look like this?

Cadillac has spent the better part of its existence in catch-up mode, breathing in the exhaust of Mercedes-Benz and wiping BMW’s tire smoke out of its eyes.

Cadillac doesn’t set the bar for luxury cars; it strives to attain the level set by other carmakers. It wasn’t always that way, of course. There was a time when Cadillac was, well, the Cadillac of luxury cars.

Those days are long gone, and the Cadillac of today plays second fiddle to BMW, Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and more. Its cars are reactions to competing cars, not proactive and innovative products that inspire the industry.

That could all change with the introduction of one car: the CT6.

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Will Driving Become Illegal?

March 24th, 2015

Tesla Model S Autonomous

The mile markers fly by, one every 100 seconds or so. Adrenaline rushes through your body as quickly as the wind passes through your hair.

You know you’re breaking the law, but you want to see how long you can get away with it. The rumble of the gas-fueled engine growls under the hood, and you can feel the sound in your chest as you push the accelerator pedal a little deeper into the floor.

No, the car isn’t stolen, and you’re not a suspect escaping from a grisly crime.

You’re just driving.

And driving is illegal.

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The Two Tiers of Luxury: Which Do You Prefer?

March 19th, 2015
"Tier 2" does not mean "inferior."

“Tier 2″ does not mean “inferior.”

Is a Lincoln as good as a Lexus?

Can an Acura take down an Audi?

Will an Infiniti be as good as a BMW?

There are two groups of cars in the luxury world: the ones that command respect and the ones that desperately want it. Automotive News breaks these down a little more formally, calling them the “Tier 1″ group and the “Tier 2″ group.

Tier 1 includes BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. Tier 2 includes Lincoln, Acura, Cadillac, and Audi.

If I were making the rules, I’d put Audi up in Tier 1, because it has decidedly outsold the others in Tier 2 and has, in my humble opinion, eclipsed the quality level of BMW.

The Tier 1 group continues to establish its dominance, while the Tier 2 group struggles to maintain relevance. Are cars from Tier 2 worth considering?

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Next to Go: Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, or Ford Edge?

March 18th, 2015

2013-toyota-venza

Yesterday came the surprising news that the Volkswagen Beetle could be axed in favor of something new.

Less surprising is the recent announcement that the Toyota Venza will go extinct within a couple of months.

The Venza, which I like to call a cross between a Camry and an AMC Eagle, was supposed to be a huge hit. It was supposed to drive off dealer lots in droves and be exactly what Americans wanted; a large 4-door, cavernous cross between a wagon and a sedan.

It turns out Americans would rather just have the sedan.

Could the Venza’s exit be a precursor of what to expect from Ford and Honda?

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GM Cuts 100,000-Mile Warranty in Favor of More Technology

March 16th, 2015

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Would you rather have a long warranty on your car or have a car that features more technology?

General Motors says it knows your answer to that question and is reducing the length of its warranty in favor of building cars with higher levels of connectivity.

GM started offering a 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty in 2007 as a way to keep up with the likes of Hyundai and Kia and to help build a better perception of its cars.

The only problem is that customers didn’t notice.

Rather than building a marketing campaign around the long warranty, GM has decided to reduce it and use the cost savings on things it believes its customers truly care about.

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Grilles: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

March 12th, 2015

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4-front-three-quarter-03

Let’s spend a little time talking about grilles.

The face of a car defines its personality. Cars have been made and broken, praised and ridiculed, based on the front end alone. Failures include the famous Ford Edsel and, more recently, the Acura Beak.

Successes include recent Audi faces and just about anything with a BMW logo on it.

Truck grilles haven’t received a lot of attention, but one new model is at risk of falling into the category the Edsel invented.

The new 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited needs to stand apart for two reasons, because the competition is fierce, and because it needs to distance itself from the Dodge brand.

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Ready for the Comeback of the Land Rover Defender?

March 11th, 2015

Land Rover's trio of Defender limited editions

We were just showering the Jeep Wrangler with some love and touting its prowess for being one of the best go-anywhere vehicles money can buy.

Well, reasonable money, anyway.

Yesterday came news that another legendary rig would invade the shores of the United States and give the Wrangler some serious opposition. Could this new challenger make the aging Jeep look like a Tonka toy lost in a sand dune?

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Get a Truck and Be a Hero!

March 9th, 2015

Chevy Silverado

“Remember, we’re taking the greenhouse,” my wife said.

My heart fell to my knees. It was bad enough that we had to take the 10 years of stuff that had accumulated in the garage. I didn’t even want to take the living-room furniture.

Moving a couch is hard. Moving a greenhouse must be impossible.

We started our move two weekends ago, which is when the first mention of moving the greenhouse occurred. I’ve been putting it off, because people are meant to move to and from houses, not to move actual houses. And the greenhouse is, let’s not mince words, a house.

It’s a monstrosity that borders on being a permanent structure. Imagine a regular house, replace the walls with plexiglass, and you have a pretty good idea of the task that loomed before me.

The solution involved my brother-in-law, a friend of his, and two capable pickup trucks that made the task almost, somewhat, enjoyable.

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