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Archive for the ‘Trucks & SUVs’ Category

Will Chevy Follow Ford and Introduce Aluminum Trucks?

May 6th, 2015

2015-ford-f-150-04

Ford’s gamble with the aluminum 2015 F-150 could have ended two ways:

  • As an embarrassing failure
  • As a trendsetting new way to build trucks

Ram, with its little comment about aluminum’s best use being for beer cans, pretty much secured its future of steel bodies.

Chevrolet stayed pretty quiet on the issue, presumably to take a wait-and-see approach. Watching the new Ford keep its status as the number one truck in America, while scoring a 5-star safety rating, might have had a hand in convincing Chevy to join the aluminum body movement.

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Do Too Many Cars Look Alike?

May 4th, 2015
The Porsche 924 looks just like a...

The Porsche 924 looks just like a…

Some people have an uncanny ability to spot a car and instantly recognize what other brand of car it resembles.

Look-alike cars have been around since the Model T, and each era since has had vehicles that seem like they were created by a single group of traveling designers.

The car that sparked this conversation in my household was the old rusted 1977 Porsche 924 that pulled up beside us and looked, to my wife, nearly identical to a 1970s Datsun hatchback. I can’t argue with her. Even the shape of the window behind the B-pillar is nearly identical.

datsun_cherry

Her next comparison was even more ridiculous… but right on.

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GM Easily Wins Battle of the Big SUVs

April 29th, 2015

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Suburban

Take a guess on how much money General Motors makes every time it sells a Tahoe. I’m not going to tell you yet, but I will say that knowing might change how you negotiate for the biggest of the big SUVs.

You probably won’t score much of a discount, though, because it’s those profits that help keep GM afloat and allow it to field entries in other, less profitable, markets.

The Suburban, Yukon, Escalade, and Tahoe make up about half of the full-size SUV market in the United States. There is some competition in the market, and prices can be incredibly high, which makes me wonder: Are GM’s SUVs selling because they’re great or because the competition is too expensive?

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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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