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Archive for the ‘Domestic Cars’ Category

Ford to Compete With Tesla, Chevy, for Long-Range EV Customers

May 2nd, 2016

ford_Focus_electric

Chevrolet will very likely be the first to get a 200-mile $30,000 electric car to market. The company’s Bolt will go into production this fall, followed a year (or so) later by the Tesla Model 3.

Ford has, thus far, shown no interest in a long-range EV, even saying earlier this month that a 100-mile range is plenty. Ford has increased the range of the 2017 Focus Electric from 76 miles to 100, and has said that’s as far as the company plans to go due to the increased costs of larger battery packs. Ford’s electrification guru, Kevin Layden, said,

I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population. It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.

Ford CEO Mark Fields seems to have other plans.

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Dream Cars of the Not-So-Super Rich

April 29th, 2016
If the Ferrari 488 is too rich for your blood...

If the Ferrari 488 is too rich for your blood…

Most of us dream of one day hitting it big and being able to afford the car of our dreams.

Traditionally we’ve lusted after the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche, and Aston Martin. Today’s dream cars still include those brands, but they also include newer models from Tesla, Ford, Lexus, and Nissan.

Most people won’t ever be able to afford a new Ford GT, Nissan GT-R, or Ferrari 488, but there are plenty of dream cars available to satisfy the need for speed at a much more reasonable cost.

A friend comes to mind who recently purchased a couple of cars he’d wanted for a long time. He didn’t sell his company to Google, didn’t inherit tens of millions of dollars, and hasn’t become rich off an IPO. He did, however, work hard for many years and is now enjoying a comfortable, if not extravagant, income.

Keep reading for the cars he purchased, along with a few other choices that prove you don’t have to be among the super-rich to own a car of your dreams.

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Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter: Controversial, but Necessary

April 28th, 2016

ford-speed-limiter

Claiming ignorance will never get you out of a speeding ticket.

Speed limit signs are there for a reason, and not seeing one isn’t an excuse for flying through a 35-mph zone at 49. Sometimes, though, speeding is a genuine mistake rather than an intentional offense.

That was the case last time I got pulled over. The speed limit had dropped from 45 to 35 and I somehow missed the sign. Thankfully, the police officer let me off with a warning, along with the kind advice to not speed anymore.

Noted.

Had I been driving a Ford equipped with its new Intelligent Speed Limiter feature, the car would have seen the speed limit sign for me and slowed down accordingly. It seems like a great feature, but there’s a lot of fuss about it online. Why?

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Can Cars Drive Better Than People? Elon Musk Says Yes

April 27th, 2016

tesla-autopilot

This is a topic that’s come up before, but it’s becoming more and more relevant as time goes on. We’re talking about autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

First, let me recount a quick conversation with my wife yesterday morning as she drove to work:

Wife: “I may be becoming too comfortable in the abilities of my car.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Wife: “I don’t even have my feet on the pedals. I’m vaguely aware that the car in front of me is slowing down, but I don’t even move my feet. I assume the car will stop for me.”

Me: “You know, that’s meant to be a safety feature that stops for you if you aren’t able. You’re not supposed to rely on it like that. Please don’t do that.”

Wife: “But it always works, and I don’t have to think about it.”

Her car is equipped with adaptive cruise control which does indeed slow down and even stop to accomodate traffic ahead. However, my lovely wife uses it all the time, whether cruising at 70 down the Interstate or in stop-and-go traffic on city arterials. Is she right to rely on her car?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says yes.

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GM Hires New Design Chief, but Don’t Expect Much Change

April 26th, 2016

2010_Chevy_Camaro

A change will happen at General Motors on May 1. It’s a change that could potentially send GM down an entirely new path while creating an all-new look for the company and its vehicles around the globe.

More than likely, though, the change will happen without anybody taking notice.

On May 1, Mike Simcoe, an Australian with decades of automotive experience, will replace current GM VP of Design, Ed Welburn.

Oftentimes when a new design chief comes on board at a car company, there’s a big hullabaloo because he or she left a post at another prestigious automaker to take the reigns at the new place. The new designer provides auto writers with plenty of speculation and excitement about how the designer’s past might meld with his or her future, while the automaker that scored the hire touts an upcoming revolution in design.

GM didn’t do that.

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Land Rover Discovery Sport Vs. Ford Explorer

April 20th, 2016

discovery-sport-explorer1

A review of the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport isn’t complete without a reference to the Ford Explorer.

The two vehicles share an uncanny similarity in looks, right down to the thick C-pillar, rear spoiler, and headlight shape. Their silhouettes are nearly identical. Pricing on the two SUVs isn’t very far apart either: base prices for the Ford range between $31,000 for the base and nearly $53,000 for the Platinum trim, and the Range Rover runs from $34,400 for the base SE trim to just under $46,000 for the HSE LUX.

The Ford has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder that makes 280 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is available. The Land Rover has a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder along with a nine-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. And get this: it’s an engine built by Ford.

These two vehicles might seem like they’d compete fiercely for sales, but under the skin they are vastly different animals. One is the rig to use if the highway leads to your destination, while the other is the one to use if the highway is just a speed bump to cross on your way to grander adventures.

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FCA Wants to Merge With Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagen

April 19th, 2016

 

FCA plus VW 2

FCA could be in real trouble.

The company that used to be known as Chrysler, until acquired by Fiat after bankruptcy, finds itself with an unclear future.

Last year Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne desperately tried to force a merger with General Motors. GM, of course, wanted nothing to do it and the effort fizzled out. Now FCA seems to be on the lookout again, with a list of its top three prospects for a merger that, it hopes, can help it keep relevant into the 2020s and beyond.

One of those three, though, has already responded with a big fat “No.”

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Ford Mustang: The Most Popular Sports Car in Germany

April 18th, 2016

mustang_911_germany

The best way to validate the existence of the Ford Mustang is to offer it for sale in a land where it shouldn’t be popular.

The Mustang, of course, has been a hot seller for as long as it’s been on the market in the United States. In the past, however, foreign markets have seen it as an outdated and mechanically inferior excuse for a sports car. It’s a car that was built for straight-line acceleration and paled in comparison to true sports cars, most of which hailed from Germany.

Now, though, the car has a true independent rear suspension and can hold its own against any other sports car, no matter where it’s from.

Ford felt like it had something special with the latest Mustang and decided to roll it out in the country famous for producing Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Surely, if it could sell there, it could sell anywhere in the world.

The Germans, though, would have a superiority complex and shun the Mustang, right?

Not so much.

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Some Say the Sports Car Is Dying, But We Beg to Differ

April 15th, 2016

2016_ford_shelby_gt350_coupe-pic-6517559440689480564-640x480

Some say sports cars are in serious trouble.

Generally speaking, yes, it could be argued that sports cars have lost popularity in recent years, and some reports say that sales are down.

Sports cars, it is argued, are losing ground because they can’t take the family to Costco, are surrounded by massive SUVs, and have no use in an Uber-dominated world.

But hold on a minute. Before we go writing the obituary for the high-performance sports car, let’s remember a few things.

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Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 on Opposite Ends of Crash Test Ratings

April 13th, 2016
Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

The bigger the truck, the safer the truck. Right?

We assume the big pickups on the road are some of the safest automobiles available, and that a collision between one and a midsize sedan would end quite poorly for the sedan.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted tests of some of the big rigs, and the results are surprising. It turns out we’re right to assume that the big pickups are safe, as long as we’re referring to Ford trucks.

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