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Jaguars and Spyders and Ghosts, Oh My!
Or: How We Lived the Good Life at NEMPA’s 2015 Ragtop Ramble

July 23rd, 2015

2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost
We had just finished considering whether or not our current car would be held in such high regard if it came packaged with a different badge on the steering wheel. Would it elicit stares and draw myriad cell phones, all pointed in our direction, as it does now? Surely, plush carpeting and massaging seats are common enough nowadays to be found in a Kia K900 or a Hyundai Equus, let alone one of the more and more ubiquitous luxury brands. Was our car really so special?

Then we saw it. Driven by what very well may have been a chauffeur, a brand spanking new Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG pulled alongside us and, sure enough, compelled my co-driver to utter the following:

“Ha! Peasant.”

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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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Leaf Loses Nearly Half Its Value, Other Electrics Follow Suit

July 22nd, 2015

2013 Nissan Leaf

All cars depreciate, but few have sunk in value as much or as quickly as the 2013 Nissan Leaf.

Low fuel prices have suppressed the sales of electric cars and created a glut of new ones on the market. That alone is enough to bring prices down, but there’s another force at work that has devastated used values of the Leaf and other electrics.

If you’ve ever considered a new or used electric car, now is the time to get in the market and find one of the best deals out there.

First, though, we should look at why prices have dropped so much.

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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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Great Cars for Your Next Summer Adventure

July 17th, 2015

2011 Honda Element

Well, here we are in the peak months of summer. Believe it or not, we only have 9 weeks remaining where the days are longer than the nights. That’s not a ton time left. It might be time for you to grab your friends and family and spend your summer how it should be spent: hiking, fishing, boating, camping, swimming, relaxing, and, of course, driving. You’re going to want a vehicle for the season to accommodate all of your summer adventures.

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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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How Low Will They Go? Diesel Prices Keep Falling

July 15th, 2015

low_diesel_prices

I’ve noticed something at gas stations in the last few days that I can’t remember seeing in the recent past.

When I glance up at the fuel prices, I’ve noticed that the price of diesel is at or below the price of regular unleaded. How can that be? Diesel prices have, for as long as I can remember, been considerably higher than gasoline.

That’s been the tradeoff when buying a diesel. Sure, you get better fuel economy, but the price of the fuel offsets some of the benefit.

Those days have ended, at least temporarily, as diesel prices have retreated significantly. Why are they going down and what does it mean for car shoppers?

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Tacoma Versus Colorado: The Better Truck Falls Behind

July 14th, 2015

2015 chevrolet colorado-pic-3672756912968334547

Two trucks named after places are in the midst of an epic battle for superiority.

One is a long-standing stalwart in the industry while the other has evolved into something all-new after returning from a short hibernation.

The Toyota Tacoma, named after the third-largest city in Washington, and the Chevy Colorado, named for the 38th state to join the United States, compete in the U.S. to capture market-share.

Oddly enough, the truck that looks better on paper is the one losing the battle. In fact, it’s getting destroyed.

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