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Archive for the ‘Trucks & SUVs’ Category

What We’d Buy with 100K+ Miles

April 24th, 2015

1987 Toyota Pickup

Of course every shopper wants to purchase a reliable car. When pouring this much money into a single item, you probably expect that purchase to last a good long while, especially one as important as a car. That’s why reliability in a vehicle becomes such an important metric when considering where to throw your money. But how do you measure reliability? It certainly is a measurement that has to be taken with quite a few grains of salt. But, by the way we look at it, the issue of reliability can be addressed with one question: Would I feel comfortable buying this vehicle if it had over 100,000 miles on it?

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Time to Trade the Hybrid for an SUV?

April 23rd, 2015

2015 Jeep Renegade

Don’t jump back into an SUV just yet!

If you drive an electric car or a hybrid, you might be tempted by low gas prices to make the leap back into an SUV or crossover. It happens every time there’s a fluctuation in fuel prices; they rise, and people flock to hybrids. They sink, and people migrate back to the big rigs.

Americans are a fickle breed, and we have a hard time looking at the long-term picture. With gas prices currently well under $3 per gallon in most of the country, the great transition back to SUVs is already in place.

According to CNN, so far this year only 45 percent of people who traded in an environmentally friendly hybrid car purchased another. That means 55 percent of folks went back to gas, and many of those were SUV purchases.

The logic makes sense, but whatever happened to the days when someone made a decision and stuck with it for a while?

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2016 Volvo XC90 Twin Engine: Double the Induction

April 21st, 2015

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 twin engine

So the term “twin engine” has officially become a thing, and now the world is just a little more bonkers.

Cars have been using two engines, or perhaps motors would be a better word, since the advent of the hybrid vehicle. One motor runs on gas, and the other runs on electricity, both working together to provide fuel efficiency and power.

Volvo will sell its new XC90 with a similar setup, except it’ll market its flagship SUV as the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.

It sounds impressive, and it is. The two engines, though, are just the beginning.

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Aluminum: Best for Beer Cans or Trucks?

April 20th, 2015
Did it collapse like a beer can?

Did it collapse like a beer can?

News of Ford’s use of aluminum in the body of the new F-150 shook the auto world in 2014. Some saw it as a revolutionary step in the evolution of the pickup truck, while others mocked the decision as an expensive experiment that would end poorly.

Competing brands touted the strength of steel and took issue with the high cost and questionable durability of aluminum. In an interview with Car and Driver, Michael Cairns, vehicle line executive for Ram, said,

It’s the best material to use for beer cans.

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Want a Performance Car? Don’t Buy a Forester

April 15th, 2015

2015 Subaru Forester

Certain machines come to mind when we stop to think about cars that are built for driving. The usual suspects are BMW, Porsche, and anything else that can be brought out to the track and tear things up straight from the factory floor.

The Subaru Forester isn’t one of those cars. It doesn’t see much track time, nor do people customize it to make it as fast possible. That’s because a Forester, no matter what is done to it, is still a Forester. It’s the hiking boot of the auto world—not luxurious or fast, but it’ll get you to some fun places in relative comfort.

The Forester plays in a niche segment that also includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue. These are not fun cars to drive. They are nice to drive, don’t get me wrong, but no enthusiast alive would call them particularly entertaining when behind the wheel.

A Japanese tuning company thinks it can change that.

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The Kings of New York

April 10th, 2015

2015 New York International Auto Show

The 2015 New York International Auto Show will come to a close this weekend, and as usual, automakers packed the Javits Center with beautiful new vehicles in hopes of making as big a splash as they could during the crowded hypefest. We attended last week’s 2-day press preview, and we have to say it was a very fun but exhausting trip; the automakers like to keep the press moving around the venue. But we moved quickly and made it to nearly all the press conferences with help from plenty of free coffee and some life-saving free chairs.

Some of the biggest names in the business were there to show off what the next year of production has to offer the market. Automakers all more or less stressed the same common themes throughout the preview, but some of the more unexpected themes included fuel cells, semi-autonomous-driving features, and affordable luxury (with the exception of Land Rover and Jaguar, who touted their models’ steep price tags). Dozens of reveals took place at the press conferences, and we thought we’d share our impressions on some of the biggest.

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Rusty Undercarriage? Don’t Blame the Carmaker

April 10th, 2015
Don't let this happen to your car

Don’t let this happen to your car

Bad things happen when brake lines leak. Who’s to blame when they do?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has wrapped up a 5-year investigation into the cause of rust on the undercarriages of about 5 million GM vehicles.

The problem has been the rusting of brake lines on 2007 and older Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC pickups and SUVs. Usually an investigation of this magnitude results in an expensive recall and the mandatory repair of affected vehicles.

This time the NHTSA let General Motors off the hook and blamed someone we can’t sue for the problem:

Us.

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Nissans at NEMPA: Delightfully Suburban?

April 5th, 2015

2015 Nissan Rogue

Winter has finally started to recede here in New England, but that doesn’t mean practical vehicles are going anywhere. John “Bugsy” Lawlor and our friends at NEMPA were kind enough to have us down for a look at some great crossovers for 2015, and as always, we’re thrilled to let you know what we think.

Nissan’s been an inspired contributor to the crossover market ever since the Murano debuted in 2003. Its three current mainstays—the Murano, Rogue, and Juke—all offer above-average driving dynamics, comfortable interiors, and funky good looks. We had the good fortune to have a closer look at all three and took the 2015 Rogue out for a spin.

One of the key selling points in this segment is the functionality of an SUV without the loss of a car’s agility and ride. The Juke’s been a standout in the small crossover segment for a few years now thanks to its excellence in these respects. Not only does it provide a uniquely quirky look, it also provides an exciting drive and the convenience of a hatchback. We greatly appreciate the availability of a manual transmission and the utility of all-wheel drive; we only wish the two weren’t mutually exclusive in the Juke. The model on hand was a fantastic Solar Yellow, and while we didn’t get a chance to drive it, it’s safe to say you’ll never lose this one, no matter how crowded the parking lot gets.

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The World’s First Luxury Compact Pickup?

March 30th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz pickup truck

I had to read the date a couple of times when I saw the headline. Stories that seem even slightly unbelievable at this time of year often catch vulnerable folks off guard if they don’t keep a keen eye on the calendar.

On April First of each year, car websites love to see how far they can push the limits of reality as they come up with stories later revealed as April Fools’ jokes.

But the story I read was published prior to April 1. Here it is late March, and news is spreading that Mercedes-Benz will build a pickup.

What could this mean?

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Big Family? Here’s Your Newest Chariot!

March 20th, 2015

2015_nissan_nv_passenger

I used to know a family who went everywhere in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. You know the one. It’s long, tall, and looks dangerously top-heavy as it weaves through city streets.

This was a family who needed the space and weren’t ashamed to drive something out of the ordinary in order to be comfortable.

The traditional 5-passenger car or SUV just doesn’t cut it for large families. My family requires a 6-passenger rig, but if truth be told, sometimes I think an even larger vehicle would be nice, because there is little room for any of the stuff that comes with us.

Another family friend has a similar situation, and has announced her new dream car: a Nissan.

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