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Jeep Wrangler’s Future Includes a Hybrid, a Diesel, and a Pickup

February 3rd, 2016
Jeep Gladiator Concept

Jeep Gladiator Concept

Last week on this blog we proposed some of the cars that are worth re-imagining with different bodies. It was fun and included everything from an F-TYPE with a backseat to a hyper-luxury minivan.

Neither of those are safe bets to hit the market anytime soon, but the vehicle that got us thinking about such possibilities is the ubiquitous Jeep Wrangler.

The Wrangler just might be the most famous 4×4 of all time, and the next few years could turn out to be some of the best it has ever seen.

Here’s what’s coming down the road for Wrangler fans.

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Could Narrow Cars Solve Our Transportation Problems?

February 2nd, 2016

toyota_i-road

You’ll laugh the first time you see a narrow car on the road.

There aren’t many just yet, so unless you’re driving the streets of Japan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle, your odds of seeing a narrow car are about the same as stumbling across a traveling fleet of motorized La-Z-Boys.

Narrow cars do exist, however, and it seems they might be starting to pick up steam, at least judging by media coverage for the last month or so.

The most famous narrow car in the news right now is the Toyota i-Road, a 3-wheel tandem 2-seater that is testing in Japan. It’s funny looking, but the i-Road, and cars like it, could shape the future of mobility.

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Would You Want a Ford Ranger Raptor?

February 1st, 2016

2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor takes everything we know about full-size trucks and dials it up to 11. The coming 2017 version of the truck might even take it up to 12.

Car and Driver says,

The new F-150 Raptor won’t go on sale until fall 2016, but with a twin-turbo V-6 making more than 500 hp, it should prove worth the wait. A new 10-speed automatic will send power to all four wheels, all the time. Two wheelbase/cab setups will be offered: a 133-in SuperCab and a 145-in four-door SuperCrew. Beefy Fox Racing Shox are onboard while a stout skidplate protects the front. Meaty 35-in tires wrap around 17-in aluminum wheels. This is what Ferrari would build if it built 4×4 pickups.

Considering they’re purpose-built off-roaders, I sure see a lot of Raptors on paved roads. Maybe they’re all headed to the desert or off to find a mud-filled bog to slog through, but I doubt it. I assume the vast majority of Raptors on the road are only used on the road. Granted, they look incredibly intimidating at stoplights and in restaurant parking lots, but I don’t think that’s what the SVT engineers had in mind when they created the truck.

That said, it’s time to start dreaming about what might be coming next: The Ranger Raptor.

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Car Minded, Domestic Cars, General Chat, New Cars, Trucks & SUVs , , , ,

Building a Better Body: 10 Cars Worth Re-Imagining

January 29th, 2016

Jeep Gladiator Concept

The Jeep Wrangler is an insanely popular car. Not only is it one of the most sought-after used cars on CarGurus, but it also retains its initial value better than any other car on the market. Nevertheless, enthusiasts have been hammering Fiat Chrysler (Jeep’s parent company) to produce new and different versions of the Wrangler for years, and the returns on their efforts have been slow but sure. In 2007, Jeep modified the previously 2-door-only Wrangler and introduced the first 4-door Wrangler Unlimited. At the New England International Auto Show this year, we saw the Wrangler Backcountry: an extra-capable off-roading version of a car specifically designed to be extra-capable at off-roading. Until just recently, however, Jeep has failed to acquiesce to its fan base’s greatest demand: a Wrangler Pickup.

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Have Electric Cars Already Beat Fuel Cell Vehicles?

January 29th, 2016

2017-Honda-Clarity-Fuel-Cell

The price of electric cars is quickly falling into the $30,000 range. The Nissan Leaf, the upcoming Chevy Bolt, and, presumably, next year’s Tesla Model 3, will all be available for about the price of the average new car.

Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is becoming more common and people are getting used to their limited range. Part of the reason for less range-anxiety is because cars are going farther on a single charge and taking less time to recharge.

Amidst the looming mass-adaption of EVs by consumers around the country, another type of alternative-fuel vehicle is starting to hit the market.

But is it too late for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

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Five Tips for Test-Driving a New-to-You Car

January 28th, 2016

Starting a test drive

In the course of a year, it’s possible to review more than 75 new cars, trucks, and crossovers when you’re an automotive journalist. That’s not put forth as some kind of bragging. It’s just to demonstrate that driving more than 6 new vehicles a month gives one an insider’s view on test-driving new cars.

Let’s look beyond all the things you need to do before going to a dealership. That’s been handled well here in other articles at CarGurus. Instead, here are five insider tips to keep in mind for test-driving a new or new-to-you car.

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Car Minded, Car Shopping, General Chat, New Cars , ,

Bad at Backing Up? Trailer Assist to the Rescue!

January 28th, 2016

2016-Ford-F-150-Pro-Trailer-Backup-Assist

I didn’t learn to back up a trailer until I was 37 years old.

Until then, panic set in whenever it came time to go backwards with anything attached to the hitch of my car. Especially at the dump. That’s where a burly man would point to the empty slice of space between two massive F-250 Super Duty trucks and expect me to back my trailer perfectly between them. I’d try, only to wind up with the trailer nearly parallel to my car while hanging my head in shame.

My dad, on the other hand, can expertly perform a 3-point turn in the space of a small driveway while towing a 35-foot boat.

I’ve gotten way better, and trips to the dump are now handled with confidence, but I definitely didn’t get the right gene passed down into my DNA. That’s why new functions such as Volkswagen’s Trailer Assist are not just cool options, they are vital to the ego for people like me.

Volkswagen recently released this fun new ad promoting its Trailer Assist feature:

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Car Minded, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, New Cars, Trucks & SUVs , , , ,

Toyota FJ Cruiser: The Unlikely Collectible

January 27th, 2016

2014_toyota_fj_cruiser

I may have accidentally cost myself a lot of money.

Since my son was about 10, he’s been in love with the Toyota FJ Cruiser and obsessed with having one as his first car. Being a loving and supportive dad, I told him that I’d pay half and match his contribution to buying one when the time came.

My son is 14 now, and his driving years are getting frighteningly close. He’s still set on having an FJ Cruiser, but prices haven’t exactly fallen like I expected.

Insead, some used FJ Cruisers are selling for more than when they were new. What’s going on?

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The Early Death of the 3-Wheeled Car?

January 26th, 2016

Elio_Motors

Starting a car company is probably one of the most difficult of all business ventures. Even the best ideas can fail due to a lack of funds or stifling government regulatory requirements.

And yet, people still try.

The people who start car companies do so because they believe they can change, or improve upon, the current state of automobile design, functionality, and performance. Starting a car company can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, though, and most who try eventually fall short of their goals because they simply run out of money.

One company, Elio Motors, wants to introduce an 84-mpg 2-seater that costs just $6,800 and is powered by a 3-cylinder gas engine. Sounds great, right?

Consider this: The Elio has only three wheels, meaning the company is trying to classify the car as a motorcycle to avoid the stricter safety and efficiency regulations that govern cars.

The government, though, has other plans, which could send Elio into the history books.

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Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt? No Contest!

January 25th, 2016

Tesla Model 3

Soon a $37,000, 200-mile electric vehicle will arrive on the market. The car could be the one that finally ushers in the era of the affordable, high-range, mass-produced electric car.

This car is well along in its development and will be available to purchase in the coming year.

The car’s designers made aerodynamics a top priority, so it slips effortlessly through the air. When in motion, wind flows around the vehicle from the headlamps to the rear wheels. The aluminum body and smooth proportions cut down on weight and drag to increase both range and acceleration. Plus, the bottom of the car is completely flat, since there aren’t any exhaust bits that need to be kept cool.

Yes, this car could be a game changer.

Oh, and Tesla is building one, too.

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