America’s New Love: Midsize Pickups

2015 Ford Ranger

The Chevy Colorado can be credited with making midsize trucks in America relevant again.

Sure, the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier have been around since the 1990s, but the return of the Colorado, and its twin GMC Canyon, ignited a new love for smaller pickups.

Ford abandoned the market after the 2011 model year and sent the Ranger off to foreign lands, believing Americans would rather buy a base-level F-150 than spend similar dollars on a smaller truck.

Ford was flat-out wrong and is now in the process of bringing the Ranger back to the United States.

As midsize truck sales continue to rise, how well are they really doing and do their full-size siblings have any reason to worry?
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Looks Like the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Will Have an Aluminum Body

2017 Jeep Wrangler

2017 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is an unlikely success story. For all intents and purposes, the lumbering fuel-thirsty behemoth shouldn’t have lived through the economic crisis and automotive bankruptcies of 2008 and 2009.

The Wrangler shouldn’t have lasted through the takeover by Fiat or made it through the transition to FCA. During a time when heavy road hogs were getting slashed left and right, the Wrangler powered through thanks to loyal followers who continued to open their pocketbooks.

The Wrangler has proven that neither stumps, rocks, creeks, nor economic recessions can stop the infamous utilitarian 4×4. Its future should be secured for another few decades with the introduction of an all-new generation, which will include a diesel version and the switch to aluminum.

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Kia’s New Ads: Best Ever?

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Name two things that are now nearly unrecognizable from their humble beginnings.

Here are mine:

Video games and Kia.

You may not believe this, but I haven’t played a video game since roughly Madden 2005. Before that, my favorite video game was Tecmo Bowl. No joke.

So seeing the graphics on the latest Madden, when playing with my son recently, pretty much blew me away.

I had a similar experience seeing a new Kia in a parking lot last weekend. Not only did I do a double-take, but I stood there for a few seconds admiring a car that looked nothing like the Kias of the recent past.

That would have never happened in the Korean automaker’s first decade in the U.S.

It was timely, then, to see a new ad from Kia linking my favorite childhood video game to some classic football.

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4 Must-Have Features for a Terrific Tailgate

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We might still be riding out an unusually warm summer, but here in New England, the phrase “winter is coming” brings with it a very specific set of feelings. No, I’m not talking about dread and despair, I’m talking about something much more positive. You see, although New England winter may earn headlines by delivering winter storms, polar vortexes, and record-setting snowfall, it never arrives before autumn foliage, apple-picking, and most importantly, football season.

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Could 95 Become the New 87? EPA Considers Octane Increase

Gas Pump Octane Buttons at Station

“Premium fuel only.”

I saw the sticker inside the fuel door on my first fill-up after purchasing a used ‘99 Toyota Land Cruiser. It caught me off guard.

I’ve driven Porsches, Jaguars, and Audis that only drink the premium stuff, but figured a Toyota would be safe to fill with the more economical 87 octane.

Not so much.

I’m now in a long-term relationship with a 13-mpg SUV that demands 92 octane. That’s certainly not an ideal situation.

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Should Big Rigs Be Forced to Drive Slower?

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Have you ever been driving at, or slightly above, the speed limit on a highway, only to be overtaken by a speeding big rig?

It’s scary to see a massive grille approaching in your rear-view before it changes lanes and passes. The whine of the diesel engine and whoosh of the long trailer makes for a few seconds of white-knuckle driving.

Trucks have a slower speed limit than the rest of traffic on most highways around the country, but drivers rarely adhere to that posted limit.

The U.S. government is considering new legislation that would electronically limit the top speed of all new semi trucks, making it impossible for truck drivers to exceed the speed of normal traffic.

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Will Tesla’s New Lease Attract More Customers?

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Believe it or not, you can still buy a new car in the United States for under $14,000. The least expensive option on the market is the $11,990 Nissan Versa, a car that Car and Driver says, “has insultingly flimsy materials” along with a 109-hp 1.6-liter engine that makes for slow acceleration but gives reasonably good fuel efficiency.

Most of us opt to buy more car than what the Versa has to offer, but that ultra-low price is appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. If the Versa is too “flimsy,” buyers can step up to something like the $14,000 Ford Fiesta.

Once the car is purchased, it can be driven for many years with no further finance costs, which is one of the benefits of buying a car outright.

A 24-month finance term on a $14,000 car, at 3.11 percent interest, is about $600. For the same price you could drive one of the most desirable luxury cars on the market: An all-electric Tesla.

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New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor

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The Nissan Titan has been all but forgotten in the minds of full-size truck shoppers. Last month, the Titan placed dead last in truck sales, if we don’t include the extinct Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.

Almost 234,000 trucks were sold in the U.S. in July. The Titan accounted for just 1,143 of those sales, which amounts to a fairly average month when looking at the last six years of Titan sales data.

The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market. Nissan overhauled the truck for 2016 and included a Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine in its Titan XD model, making it the only “light-duty” truck capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds.

So far sales numbers haven’t improved much.

For 2017, though, Nissan will make the standard half-ton Titan available. It won’t knock the Ford F-150 off its perch, but Nissan hopes it will at least move the Titan out of last place.

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Will Aston Martin Become the Next Porsche?

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Since the days of early James Bond, British automaker Aston Martin has focused on a lineup of handmade performance luxury sports cars that have been called some of the most beautiful in the world.

The trouble with such a niche is money. Even selling cars that can cost $200,000 or more can create a profit problem when selling in low volume. To address that problem, many of the world’s top-end automakers are producing vehicles that appeal to a larger audience.

It all started when Porsche introduced the Cayenne SUV. Now Bentley and Lamborghini are doing the same. For Aston Martin to survive in this new world, it can’t rely on its old strategy and will add seven new models in the next few years, including a luxury sedan and crossover SUV.

For those who believe that’s good news, it gets even better: the United States is a prime market for Aston’s expansion.

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Does the U.S. Have the World’s Best Car Selection?

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There was a time when Europe got all the cool cars.

A decade ago, Europe had the small, fast, and efficient cars that folks in the U.S. could only envy from across the Atlantic. Even the domestic Big 3 automakers seemed to send their best metal to Europe while leaving the clunky, fuel-thirsty cars stateside.

Americans became especially jealous in 2008, because the price of gas climbed well above $4 per gallon and Europe’s fuel-sipping diesels and small-displacement motors seemed to taunt our oversized V8 SUVs.

Today it’s a different story. Some of the best cars in the world are available for sale here, including some that people in Europe can only dream of someday owning.

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