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Archive for the ‘Trucks & SUVs’ Category

New XT5 Foreshadows the Future of Cadillac SUVs

March 16th, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 luxury crossover

Up until recently, a Cadillac SUV is something we didn’t know we needed.

Plenty of folks questioned the rationale for Cadillac SUVs in the early days of the Escalade. The arrival of the SRX didn’t do much to help the company’s case as it struggled to gain a foothold against the likes of the Lexus RX 350 and BMW X5.

Cadillac seems to have it going on now, though. The SRX has improved enough to become Cadillac’s best-selling model, but it is now being replaced with the XT5, a 5-passenger rig that boasts a sophisticated, comfortable, and contemporary interior made from top-notch materials.

The exterior is sleeker and less clunky than the outgoing SRX and features plenty of LED lighting, along with a design that may not turn heads, but will at least keep people from looking away.

What’s most interesting about the XT5, though, is what it foreshadows for the future of Cadillac.

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Staying Power: 2015s with Shelf Life

March 12th, 2016

2015 Ford Mustang

To most people, spring means longer days, sunny skies, and flowers in bloom. For us, however, spring also means great deals on outgoing model-year vehicles. While some cars, like the Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Outlander, received enormous changes between the 2015 and 2016 model years, others enjoyed more modest enhancements or were complete holdovers from the year before. It’s these cars — the unchanged models — that we want to find.

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Ford F-150 Being Investigated for Brake Failure

March 10th, 2016

2014 Ford F-150 STX SuperCrew

Ford sells more trucks in America than any other brand. Most of the Ford trucks sold are the F-150 model, 700,000 of which left dealer lots last year.

The truck is popular with suburban families, city-dwelling contractors, rural ranchers, and pretty much anyone else who wants a capable, comfortable, rugged vehicle for his or her personal fleet.

There’s a problem emerging, though, in Ford’s perfectly calibrated sales machine.

The U.S. government is investigating certain 2013 and 2014 F-150 pickups amid complaints that the trucks can suffer from a sudden and complete loss of braking.

Keep reading for more details, and what to do if it happens to you.

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Could a 707-HP Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Actually Happen?

March 8th, 2016

Jeep_Wrangler_Trailcat

Dodge rocked the automotive world when it unleashed the fiery and sinister 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat upon the earth.

Up until that point, an engine with 700 ponies was reserved for cars with exotic nameplates that had prices stretching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With the introduction of the Hellcat, Dodge managed to bring ungodly amounts of power to any mere mortal with a spare 60 grand and, not surprisingly, mortals have gobbled it up. Since dealers have no problems selling the Hellcat, the engine has migrated into the Charger and will next show up in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

You read that right. Your friendly neighborhood family hauler might have a 707-hp secret. But that’s nothing compared with what could come after that:

A Hellcat-powered Wrangler.

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Reliable Rides: 10 Used Cars You Can Count On

March 4th, 2016

1969 Chevrolet C/K 20

Expected reliability is the single most important factor in deciding on a car, according to J.D. Power. Whether you want a vehicle for off-roading, track days, or everyday commuting, you definitely don’t want one that will cost you a lot of extra money, time, or frustration in repairs. J.D. Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study, now in its 27th year, polls owners of 3-year-old cars to determine the number of problems they experienced during the previous 12 months. The company then ranks each maker and model by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles.

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The Winners (and Losers) of Dependability

March 1st, 2016
2016 Buick Verano

2016 Buick Verano

Every year J.D. Power and Associates releases a study that names the most dependable three-year-old cars on the market. This year’s results include some surprises but also reinforce some long-held beliefs regarding brands that are known to be exceptionally reliable.

Some of the most common complaints about the cars did not have to do with mechanical failures or poor build quality, but were frustrations with wireless connections, navigation, and voice-recognition software.

Technology has infiltrated our cars at a pace never before seen in the history of the auto industry, but automakers haven’t yet figured out how to seamlessly integrate it into the lives of their customers.

If technology is our biggest complaint, though, I don’t think we really have much to complain about.

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Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Ram Power Wagon: The Bad Boys of Chicago

February 19th, 2016

2017_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_Pro

Maybe you’ve never stopped to think about this, but the Toyota Tacoma has become the size of a Ford F-150.

Sort of.

Let’s compare some numbers:

The smallest 2006 Ford F-150 is 211 inches long.

The smallest 2016 Toyota Tacoma is 212 inches long.

There are countless trim levels and sizes for each truck, but we have to acknowledge that the current midsize Tacoma is nearly the size of a full-size truck from a decade ago. And it’s still growing.

At the Chicago Auto Show this week, the Tacoma and another shamelessly large truck, the Ram Power Wagon, showed that downsizing isn’t an option.

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Hey Millennials: 10 Great Cars for Your Weird New Dates

February 12th, 2016

2016 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition

Flappers. Beatniks. Hippies. Hipsters. The media never tires of creating new terms for members of the younger generation. In the old days, those terms often had a negative connotation, but now that the Internet gives the younger generation the power to participate in the media, those terms tend to be less openly hostile. The current younger generation generated quite a bit of hostility in the auto press a while back, with headlines declaring things like “Millennials don’t like ____ (cars, shopping for cars, taking care of cars, driving, etc.).” More recent headlines question those older ones, suggesting millennials do like cars and driving, but think cars and driving are different than they used to be. We prefer the sound of those recent headlines, and we agree that cars and driving are changing radically.

Dating for millennials is also changing, apparently, but one thing hasn’t: The vehicle you use to pick up a romantic partner and and take him or her out on a date will have a big impact on that date. So in the interest of finding news ways to satisfy old needs, here are 10 vehicles we think would be perfect for 10 new types of millennial dates. We hope you have a great Valentine’s Day, millennial or not.

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Compact Trucks Available Now, Soon, and Eventually

February 12th, 2016

2016_toyota_tacoma

Your world has gotten way more complicated in recent months if you’re in the market for a compact truck.

We are in the midst of a compact-truck renaissance, and keeping track of what trucks are here now, which are due for a major refresh, and which are coming soon can be a headache. How is a buyer to know whether he or she should pull the trigger on a truck that’s on the market now or stay patient for just a little while longer to get something that might be even better?

Keep reading for a quick rundown of what’s available now and what’s not far down the road.

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FCA Killing Off Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200 in Favor of Trucks and SUVs

February 5th, 2016

2016_chrysler_200

Could you imagine Ford discontinuing the Fusion? Or Mazda doing away with the Mazda3?

Of course not. Those are core models for the brands and it would be complete insanity to cancel them without an improved replacement ready to go.

Chrysler, now FCA, spent years fine-tuning its core sedans. The Chrysler 200 began life as the Sebring and has since become a respectable entry in the compact sedan market. The Dodge Dart resurrected a cherished name from the past and is the FIAT-based sedan that Americans hoped would arrive when the Italians bought out Chrysler.

The cars aren’t record-setting sales superstars, but they do fill an important hole in the company’s lineup. Not having an entry in the compact sedan segment is akin to suicide in the mainstream auto industry.

Yet FCA is doing the unthinkable: Canceling the 200 and the Dart, without any concrete plans to replace them.

Why is this happening?

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