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Archive for the ‘Domestic Cars’ Category

FCA: Another Recall and the Coolest Dyno on Earth

August 4th, 2015

CTC cold test dyno

You’d think, at some point, we’d grow immune to recall news and just start ignoring the mass of notices that fill the headlines of news outlets everywhere.

For now, though, the recalls that dominate headlines seem to feed our hunger for negative news and cultivate a fear of our own vehicles.

Don’t get me wrong—recalls are serious, and some of them must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid danger. Others are, in my humble opinion, the result of over-anxious government agencies trying to justify their existence.

The latest recall from FCA could potentially be a must-fix, so let’s address that and then look at something seriously cool that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is doing to constantly improve its vehicles.

First, the recall:

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Lexus RC 200t: Coming to America?

August 3rd, 2015

Lexus RC F

Many years ago I did a lot of complaining about cars available in Europe that people in the United States weren’t able to own.

A lot has changed since then. Small economical cars and efficient diesels are now available on these shores, including the likes of FIAT and Alfa Romeo. We don’t have as many station wagons or hot hatches (the scorching new Honda Civic Type R won’t be sold here), but for the most part the cars here are just as cool as the cars there.

Lexus might tip the scales back in Europe’s favor, but if history is any indication, it won’t be long before new models introduced there end up over here.

The RC Series is the next test.

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Finally! The Midsize Diesel Truck Has Arrived

July 29th, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax TurboDiesel 058

Today is the day we found the Holy Grail of the U.S. auto industry.

For years, decades, even, American consumers have clamored for and pined after a truck. Not just any truck, though. The market is flooded with trucks. There are, and have been, big trucks, small trucks, efficient trucks, thirsty trucks, foreign trucks, domestic trucks, capable trucks, wimpy trucks, and so many more.

Simply put, there has been no shortage of trucks in America.

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Here’s Your Chance to Sell Your Truck Back to the Automaker

July 28th, 2015

2012 Ram 1500

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has flexed its muscle and leveled Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with a massive fine and buyback program, in addition to requiring strict oversight of future recalls.

A fine of up to $105 million is the result of a settlement between the government and FCA over allegations of misconduct in 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. Part of that misconduct includes failure to disclose defects and not properly conducting recalls.

The bigger consequence is FCA’s agreement to offer to buy back upward of 500,000 Ram vehicles.

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Electric Cars Grabbing Headlines, Changing Lives

July 24th, 2015

Porsche Pajun small sedan

Would anyone have guessed in 2005 that auto headlines midway through 2015 would focus so heavily on electric vehicles? From Tesla to Porsche and from upstarts to downfalls, electric cars are succeeding, failing, creating controversy, and setting records everywhere we look.

We recently covered the news about the fast-depreciating Nissan Leaf, and we’ve covered the rise of Tesla in these virtual pages since the Roadster was just a baby.

We’ve also seen the fall of Fisker, Coda, Aptera, and many more hopeful EV makers that never sold more than a handful of vehicles before going belly-up.

Here are some of the more interesting headlines from the last week or so regarding the best (and worst) in the EV world. If there’s any doubt that electric cars are here to stay, these stories might change some minds.

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The Arrival of the $70,000 Pickup

July 23rd, 2015

2016 Ford F-150 Limited

The only pickup ever made with a carpeted bed was a Ford product.

The Lincoln Blackwood survived in the United States for a single year after being touted as a luxury truck. People didn’t buy it because it had one major problem: It couldn’t perform as an actual truck.

The Blackwood was sold for the 2002 model year and available with rear-wheel drive only. The exterior of the bed had aluminum pinstripes running over fake wood inserts, while the interior was finished in plush carpeting and covered with a powered tonneau cover.

Truck guys laughed at the truck, while luxury buyers scoffed at the idea of needing a $52,000 truck.

Fast-forward to the 2016 model year, and Ford seems to have figured out the equation for building a luxury pickup that will be able to get used as a truck.

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Chrysler Believes Its 200 Will “Win This Game”

July 21st, 2015

2015 Chrysler 200 C awd-pic-4853819023233321592-640x480

Sixteen vehicles currently compete in the midsize sedan market in the United States. There are some big names in that group, including the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry.

Competing with those big names isn’t an easy task, as the likes of the Nissan Altima and Mazda6 have discovered.

Some automakers have found success after years of development and can compete with the big boys. The Hyundai Sonata comes to mind, which comes in with a slightly lower price and longer warranty. The cars at the bottom of the list typically include the likes of the Chrysler 200.

Chrysler brand head Al Gardner wants that to change, and thinks the 200 can win the whole segment.

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Tesla Prepares for Ludicrous Speed

July 20th, 2015
Prepare ship for Ludicrous Speed!

Prepare ship for Ludicrous Speed!

I wish I could call up my best friend from high school and tell him that Ludicrous Speed is real.

We spent a good portion of our teenage years in front of a television watching the Mel Brooks classic comedy Spaceballs.

In it, Rick Moranis plays the villain Dark Helmet and needs to chase after the good guys. He doesn’t think light speed will be fast enough, so he skips it, passing over the next-fastest Ridiculous speed and heading straight to Ludicrous speed.

Naturally, hilarity ensues.

Now we have news that Tesla, the same folks responsible for bringing us Insane Mode on the Model S P85D, will create its own version of Ludicrous speed.

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How Much Is Too Much Horsepower?

July 17th, 2015

2015_bmw_m5-pic-1944578703047994224

707 horsepower.

640 horsepower.

Numbers like this used to represent the hottest, most expensive supercars on the planet. Today they describe the output of cars obtainable by middle managers and financially savvy blue-collar workers.

The Challenger Hellcat (707 hp) and the upcoming Cadillac CTS-V (640 hp) are examples of supercars for the masses; cars with power so great they border on dangerous.

Is all of that power necessary, or is it the result of thoughtless engineering meant only to upstage the competition?

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The Coolest Innovation in Truck History

July 16th, 2015

ram truck ramps

Well, here’s another one for the “Why didn’t I think of that?” file.

Have you ever watched videos of people failing to load motorcycles or ATVs into pickup beds? If not, it’s a highly entertaining pastime I enthusiastically recommend.

People try all sorts of crazy ideas to get their small vehicles inside their big vehicles. Sometimes they use makeshift wood ramps, sometimes they create some kind of bridge, and sometimes they just use brute strength.

There’s obviously a need to transport small vehicles, and the good people over at Ram trucks think it’s high time that task becomes easier. And probably a lot less funny.

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