The Truth About Cars » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Car Reviews http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/ Chart Of The Day: NX Boosting Lexus In The Time Of The RX’s Need http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/chart-day-nx-boosting-lexus-time-rxs-need/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095825 Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit. The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their […]

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USA Lexus sales chart May 2015 YTD

Conventionally pretty, it is not. But the Lexus NX is a hit.

The NX200t and NX300h combined to generate 4,014 U.S. sales in May 2015, the best month yet for the six-month-old NX line. Year-to-date, 16,546 copies of the NX have been sold in America. Since the end of November, 19,473 NXs have found their way into driveways across America.

Lexus, of course, has a tradition of building wildly popular premium crossovers. The RX is perennially America’s top-selling premium utility vehicle.

As Lexus prepares to replace the current RX with an all-new, already revealed model for 2016, sales of the current RX have fallen 5% this year. It’s still far more popular than any other premium brand utility vehicle in America.

In the meantime, with the NX added to the fleet, SUVs and crossovers accounted for 49% of all Lexus volume in the U.S. over the first five months of 2015, up from 43% in the same period one year ago, before the NX. Rather inconsequentially, sales of the high-end LX are faltering, but the GX460 is up 13% year-to-date, a gain of 1108 units.

As for the NX’s standing in its own category, only the Acura RDX and Audi Q5 are currently selling more often. The fourth-ranked Mercedes-Benz GLK, down 24% this year, is 5,260 sales back of the Lexus. BMW’s X3, down 44% this year, is 5,564 sales abaft. The Volvo XC60, Lincoln MKC lead the peloton but are well back of the better-selling contestants.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Mitsubishi Will Soon Sell the Least Powerful V6 in America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/mitsubishi-will-soon-sell-the-least-powerful-v6-in-america/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:37:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1102433 With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander. Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part. It’s been a […]

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2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

With the Lexus IS finally ditching its dated and overripe 2.5L V6 in favor of the new Atkinson/Otto-cycle 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, the vehicle above will have the least powerful V6 engine in America: the 224 hp, 3.0L V6-powered Mitsubishi Outlander.

Making matters worse, it requires premium fuel … and that’s not the worst part.

It’s been a long time coming, but Lexus fans will likely welcome the new force-fed four-pot that ups the base output of its entry sedan to “241 horsepower and up to 258 lb-ft of torque” according to the Canadian Lexus release. While Lexus in the U.S. has not yet confirmed the new engine for the IS, it seems all but inevitable at this point.

Sadly, that puts Mitsubishi squarely in the crosshairs again for having a product that doesn’t match up to the competition. Even V6 turbodiesels on the market are producing 240 horsepower and above along with much, much more torque.

However, the worst of it comes when you put Mitsubishi’s V6 in context. It can only be had in the very top GT S-AWC trim, portraying the 3.0L V6 as the “premium” option, which starts at $30,995. It only drinks premium fuel. And, to top it all off, Mitsubishi is looking forward to being in this position for the next three to four years as the 2016 model year brings with it a refreshed Outlander. That refresh didn’t include any upgrades to the V6.

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OFFICIAL: 2017 Audi A4 Goes Bigger, Lighter With Predictable Styling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/official-2017-audi-a4-goes-bigger-lighter-with-predictable-styling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/official-2017-audi-a4-goes-bigger-lighter-with-predictable-styling/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101577 After giving the Audi A6 and A7 a refresh last year, the Ingolstadt-based automaker has rolled out the red carpet for their latest A4 in sedan and Avant flavors. The newest compact model promises to be lighter, more efficient, and chock full of technology as Audi tries to claim the premium segment crown. If you expected […]

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2017 Audi A4 Sedan and Avant

After giving the Audi A6 and A7 a refresh last year, the Ingolstadt-based automaker has rolled out the red carpet for their latest A4 in sedan and Avant flavors.

The newest compact model promises to be lighter, more efficient, and chock full of technology as Audi tries to claim the premium segment crown.

If you expected the new A4 to look like anything other than what’s shown in these shots, you may want to crawl out from under that rock. Just like other refreshed models in the Audi range, front and rear lighting gets a sharper look with a more furrowed brow. The Singleframe grille also ditches the rounded corners for a more angular look as Audi attempts to communicate their technology through design.

Thanks to slightly larger proportions, the all-new interior of the A4 features more space for occupants and technology, yet still manages to weigh over 250 lbs less than the outgoing car thanks to a combination of lighter chassis, body and driveline parts.

Though no North American specific engine details were released, the A4 will be available with a laundry list of seven engines for Europe, all of the four- and six-cylinder variety. Three TFSI gasoline engines – a 1.4L I4, all-new 2.0L “ultra” I4 and 2.0L g-tron TFSI that can burn compressed natural gas or Audi e-gas – and four TDI engines – 2.0L TDI, 2.0L “ultra” TDI and 3.0L TDI V6 in two different tunes – will be available at launch. The tiptronic automatic eight-speed will continue along with a manual box, while a new dual-clutch S tronic replaces the outgoing CVT.

Expect the new Audi A4 to arrive in the United States in April of next year.

2017 Audi A4 Sedan and Avant 2017 Audi A4 Sedan and Avant 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Avant 2017 Audi A4 Interior Front 2017 Audi A4 Rear Seats 2017 Audi A4 Sedan Driver's POV 2017 Audi A4 Interior Front 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Drivetrain with Sport Rear Differential 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Drivetrain 2017 Audi A4 Interior 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Drivetrain 2017 Audi A4 Bang & Olufsen Sound System 2017 Audi A4 Drivetrain 2017 Audi A4 Underside Aero 2017 Audi A4 Structure with hang on parts 2017 Audi A4 Structure 2017 Audi A4 Five Link Rear Suspension 2017 Audi A4 Five Link Rear Suspension Quattro with Sport Differential 2017 Audi A4 Five Link Rear Suspension Quattro 2017 Audi A4 Five Link Front Suspension 2017 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI 2017 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Power/Torque Curve 2017 Audi A4 Dimensions

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Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101193 According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America. The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as […]

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2016 Mazda MX-5

According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.

The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.

“If Toyota were to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it would be on the next-generation FT86,” Car & Driver was told by a source.

The source says nothing specifically about the BRZ, though the magazine infers the Miata platform will also be used on the next sporty Subaru. However, Subaru may be smart to forego a second generation BRZ altogether.

Currently, the Toyobaru triplets are produced by Subaru in Ōta, Japan. The company is currently capacity constrained. Subaru will stop producing Camrys for Toyota at their Indiana facility in 2016 in order to claw back some of its own capacity to build the Legacy and Outback, the most popular model at Subaru. This shift to the Mazda platform could be a way for Subaru to get out of the RWD platform business and focus more on core models or variations thereof.

Mazda is building the MX-5 at their own facility in Japan and will build the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider upon its debut. Considering Mazda and Toyota have been getting cozier as of late with a new facility in Mexico building the new Mazda2 along with the Scion iA/Toyota Yaris Sedan, Toyota could also move RWD sports car production to Mazda’s facility in Japan alongside the new Miata.

This would free up capacity for Subaru at their Ōta plant to build other models currently in demand.

So, if Toyota does see the MX-5 Miata platform as a solution for the next generation GT86 and Scion FR-S, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

 

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Blame Giulia For Jeep Grand Cherokee Redesign Delay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/blame-giulia-for-jeep-grand-cherokee-redesign-delay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/blame-giulia-for-jeep-grand-cherokee-redesign-delay/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101073 The next iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been delayed to 2018 or 2019 and, according to reports from The Detroit Bureau, it’s all Giulia’s fault. Speaking with reporters at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Ground during the annual Chrysler Model Preview event, Jeep head honcho Mike Manley stated the brand’s top model won’t be seeing a new […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

The next iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been delayed to 2018 or 2019 and, according to reports from The Detroit Bureauit’s all Giulia’s fault.

Speaking with reporters at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Ground during the annual Chrysler Model Preview event, Jeep head honcho Mike Manley stated the brand’s top model won’t be seeing a new generation for the next three to four years, but that FCA’s merger rumor mill had nothing to do with the delay.

Reports from the other side of the pond may show the real reason for the delay: Alfa Romeo. Supposedly, the money needed to redesign the Grand Cherokee in the near term has been earmarked for the premium Italian marque which needs $5 billion over the next 10 years.

Manley also reiterated, “There will be only one vehicle” when it comes to the Jeep Compass and Patriot, though Jeep has not made a final decision on which will get the axe.

 

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2016 Cadillac XT5 Found In Manhattan With CT6 Face http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-cadillac-xt5-found-in-manhattan-with-ct6-face/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-cadillac-xt5-found-in-manhattan-with-ct6-face/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:28:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100545 Kinja blogger saw930 stumbled upon the new SRX-replacing XT5 in NYC’s trendy SoHo district. The next new model from GM’s premium brand looks to be wearing a copy-and-paste version of the CT6 front fascia design, complete with wreath-less crest sitting front and center. After being confirmed earlier this month in a Cadillac press release, the new SUV looks […]

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2016 Cadillac XT5

Kinja blogger saw930 stumbled upon the new SRX-replacing XT5 in NYC’s trendy SoHo district. The next new model from GM’s premium brand looks to be wearing a copy-and-paste version of the CT6 front fascia design, complete with wreath-less crest sitting front and center.

1313288928280785811After being confirmed earlier this month in a Cadillac press release, the new SUV looks to be gearing up for its auto show reveal as it takes part in a photo shoot.

Not much can be gleaned from the photos here, though many are suggesting the SRX replacement will get a version of the 3.6L V6 seeing duty in many other GM products, sending power to the front or all four wheels through an automatic gearbox.

With this early of a public showing, the Cadillac XT5 could make its first formal debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November. Or Cadillac could forego a typical auto show and do something in conjunction with a non-automotive event in NYC.

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-toyota-tacoma-trd-sport-4x4-reader-review/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098737 Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex. “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.” ―Napoleon Bonaparte  What […]

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2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell

Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex.

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”
―Napoleon Bonaparte 

What started off with me buying my first liter bike has blossomed (*tear*) into the purchase of my first pickup truck: 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 double cab short bed with a…..dun dada dun….6-speed manual gear box. I know the Tacoma has remained relatively unchanged since 2004 – actually, it’s pretty much the same truck I’ve been lusting over since 2007. I know that it doesn’t have great fuel economy. I know that there are trucks with better technology in them. But hear me out!

Like every vehicle I’ve ever owned (with the exception of one moment of weakness that lasted for a month…don’t judge me), a manual transmission is a requirement. So when I started my quest for a pickup truck, the list quickly narrowed:

  • Colorado/Canyon twins manual only in RWD base models. I also can’t deal with this giant plastic lip. On what planet does that look good?
    colorado
  • Nissan Frontier: Is there an explanation needed? It’s a big plastic baby rattle
  • Anything full sized No manual option unless I’m a parts runner (which I’m not…)

Other requirements included:

  • Double cab
  • V6 or greater
  • 4×4
  • Tow Package
  • Audio controls on the steering wheel (a taller order than I had anticipated)

Anticipated uses include pulling my trailer, hauling motorcycles in the back for work and play, home improvement projects, and, God willing, some off-roading. While I’ve driven many trucks, I’ve only ever owned compact sports cars (Z4, GS-R, SI, 328i, 330ci, etc), so the joy of the driving experience is important to me.

While I ran through the options – both foreign and domestic – I kept coming back to my long time crush: Toyota Tacoma. 70 percent residual after 36 months, tons of aftermarket parts and accessories available, it checked all of my boxes, and it’s cute! (Is that a turn off? Ah well.) I had to order the truck because, as my boyfriend points out, “there are 15,000 Tacomas on the ground at dealerships and none of them are what you want!” After a couple of months, and some parts shopping, she was finally home!

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

Yes, that is the TRD exhaust and TRD Trail Team wheels in the back of the truck that I ordered before we ever even met.

40 miles and less than 24 hours later she looked like this:

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

In the 500 miles that I’ve had her, I’ve picked up sod, pulled a trailer and transported three motorcycles. The truck came with four D-rings, four cleats and a trailer hitch, making all of this a breeze.

How does she compare to other trucks? I’ve clocked a decent amount of miles on a variety of trucks (with and without trailers), which should qualify me to make these comparisons: Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, F-150 extended cab V6 non-Ecoboost, V6 Silverado regular cab, Z71 Silverado, F-350 stake body, and that one time I was allowed to drive a manual transmission Sterling box truck.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the transmission. Why a manual? Maybe I’m a control freak, but I rarely drive an automatic without saying at some point “why did we shift there?” Especially in the snow, a manual gives you more control (ex: downshifting rather than braking). I also find that it keeps me more alert and, finally, it’s way more fun. Where the transmission becomes especially significant is in my experience with other V6 trucks. I’m just going to call them gear hunters, because that is all they do. Without a trailer, uphill, downhill, cruise on or off, they never seem to find the right gear. I cursed the F-150’s gear indicator for letting me know it was in fourth the majority of the time rather than sixth. It’s like the transmissions and engines are mismatched. Maybe they are. On the same stretch of highway, I was able to take the Tacoma and two bikes up and downhill for an hour in sixth gear. I was always in the power, and never once had to downshift to accelerate or maintain speed.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle

The Tacoma is very smooth, especially compared to a Frontier. It handles well and is much easier to maneuver in parking lot situations than a full-sized truck. The steering wheel doesn’t require heavy inputs, but also doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly away from you. It is also fairly thick, making it quite comfortable. The 2014 F-150 drives like absolute butter, but has this annoying residual vibration every time you close the door or hit a bump. Rams tend to ride like a boat and fling me around the cabin going over bumps. The Z71 Silverado I had the pleasure of taking home a few nights this winter was a dream: tons of power, smooth, comfortable, and looked great. Biggest complaint was lack of audio controls on the steering wheel.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interiorI had to have a double cab for getting stuff in and out of the backseat. I hate having to open one door in order to open another. There is also plenty of storage under and behind the seats of the Tacoma. I’ve been keeping all of my towing and tie down accessories in there and out of the way. The Tacoma also came with a cargo bed power outlet, which I look forward to trying out eventually. The manual option gives you a third cup holder, which has been fairly useless so far because the throws on the shifter are sooooo long and will knock over any bottle in it. I have the Toyota short throw “quick shifter” for it and I’m hopeful it will both improve the driving experience and create enough space for that third cup holder. The e-brake is a “pull and twist” style which has grown on me and seems to be pretty secure on inclines. Fold down headrests in the back are a lifesaver for reversing since I don’t quite trust the backup camera yet.

My final note about this truck is there’s a wealth of information available, as well as aftermarket parts and accessories. You can get analysis paralysis reading through all of the modifications and upgrades. I have already emotionally spent thousands more on a lift kit, bed extender, sliders, skids, and a hidden winch mount (because everyone needs a hidden winch, right?). I already have a tailgate reinforcement on order, as well as some other motorcycle hauling accessories. 31-inch tires should have definitely come on this truck from the factory. Same with the TRD exhaust; quiet at idle, but has a clean and deep note under acceleration. Everyone keeps telling me I need the TRD supercharger (you know who you are), but I find the truck to have more than enough power for my needs.

From a girl who has only owned “sporty” cars, this is the most excited I have been about a vehicle since my BMW days.

This reader review was written by Rebecca Turrell.

2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 interior 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with Rebecca Turrell 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycles 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 with motorcycle 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Gets Standard Turbo Mill, Diesel Will Continue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-chevrolet-cruze-gets-standard-turbo-mill-diesel-will-continue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-chevrolet-cruze-gets-standard-turbo-mill-diesel-will-continue/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099673 After all the hubbub caused by the Alfa Romeo Giulia reveal yesterday, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze got lost in the melee. But, it’s here, and it’ll be packing a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder mill as standard. Even a new diesel lump will make its way to production for 2017. What else does the Cruze have […]

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

After all the hubbub caused by the Alfa Romeo Giulia reveal yesterday, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze got lost in the melee. But, it’s here, and it’ll be packing a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder mill as standard. Even a new diesel lump will make its way to production for 2017.

What else does the Cruze have up its sleeve?

Well, for starters, it’ll have a bigger sleeve. The Cruze will grow a bit going into 2016, as is typical with almost any new generation of car that isn’t named Miata. The wheelbase is stretched from 105.7 inches to 106.3. Overall length grows from 181 inches to 183.7. However, the Cruze gets ever so slightly shorter and narrower for its second generation.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze rear 3/4The Cruze goes on a diet for 2016. Curb weight has been slashed by approximately 250 lbs, though GM was reluctant to publish final numbers yesterday. Let’s hope that makes the Cruze feel like a much more nimble compact versus the outgoing model, which always drove a bit heavy.

For the first time, Cruze will receive an all-aluminum 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder Ecotec engine as standard, producing 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. GM says the all-new engine will be good for an estimated 40 mpg on the highway with the ability to send you to 60 mph in eight seconds. Expect a decent city fuel economy number to be published thanks to stop/start. (Whether you’ll want to use stop/start is another story.) Power will be delivered to the front wheels by way of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Outside North America, the Cruze will also be available with a 1.5L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine with 113 hp and 108 lb-ft of torque mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Both engines can use regular 87 octane.

A year after its 2016 launch, the Cruze will welcome a new 1.6L diesel mill to the engine family, though exact specs were not disclosed.

Instead of the dumpy, angular front end of the current Cruze, a smoother, more aerodynamic design is applied to the new generation car along with a windshield featuring a more raked profile. This contributes to a fairly low cD of 0.29. For comparison, the Volt has a cD of 0.28. The design also brings Cruze in line with the new 2016 Malibu and current Chevrolet Impala. Expect the next generation Chevrolet Trax to follow suit.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze InteriorInside, Cruze receives a new interior befitting its exterior duds, complete with a new version of Chevrolet MyLink on a seven-inch screen. An upgrade to an eight-inch screen will be available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto arrive later in the Cruze’s lifecycle. Space has also increased for improved comfort for those of us gifted with height.

In addition to extra entertainment tech, Chevrolet will offer a full suite of safety technologies on Cruze, such as Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert.

The 2016 model will go on sale early next year with five different trim levels: L, LS, LT, Premier and RS. GM says the latter is “more expressive”, which should read “more show, no additional go.”

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4 2016 Chevrolet Cruze rear 3/4 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Grille 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Badge 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Badge 2016 Chevrolet Cruze steering wheel 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Technology 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Interior 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Rear seat

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SPIED: Fiat 124 Spider Sports Long Hood for Small Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/spied-fiat-124-spider-sports-long-hood-for-small-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/spied-fiat-124-spider-sports-long-hood-for-small-motor/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:16:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099897 This is the first ever set of spy shots of the upcoming Mazda MX-5 Miata based Fiat 124 Spider with near-production body work. Damn, honey, you’ve got a big nose. While this addition to the Fiat lineup is quite covered in camo in these photos, it’s easy to see the roadster will rock a longer hood than […]

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124 Spider_011

This is the first ever set of spy shots of the upcoming Mazda MX-5 Miata based Fiat 124 Spider with near-production body work.

Damn, honey, you’ve got a big nose.

While this addition to the Fiat lineup is quite covered in camo in these photos, it’s easy to see the roadster will rock a longer hood than the Mazda MX-5. However, it looks like other elements stay quite similar to the original on which it’s based, including the curved windshield surround and proportions of the rear deck.

If rumor is to be believed, the new Fiat 124 will be powered by the same 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder found in other Fiat products. Power will be sent to the rear via a six-speed manual transmission and possibly a six-speed dual clutch or conventional automatic.

We will likely see the Fiat 124 in all its glory this November at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. Expect sales to start next year.

The new Fiat will be built alongside the MX-5 in Japan.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia First Official Video Goes Live http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/alfa-romeo-giulia-first-official-video-goes-live/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/alfa-romeo-giulia-first-official-video-goes-live/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 18:09:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099569 This is what you’ve been waiting for, folks – the sound of the brand new Alfa Romeo Giulia’s 510 hp six-cylinder roar. [h/t Jalopnik]

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This is what you’ve been waiting for, folks – the sound of the brand new Alfa Romeo Giulia’s 510 hp six-cylinder roar.

[h/t Jalopnik]

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OFFICIAL: 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Revealed, Detailed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/official-2016-alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglio-revealed-detailed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/official-2016-alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglio-revealed-detailed/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:59:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099449 Today, at the Alfa Romeo Museum near Milan, was the first day for a completely new design language from the fabled Italian automaker. The Alfa Romeo Giulia will also mark the return of the brand to North America for those of us needing a bit more practically than what’s offered by the 4C. Best of all, the Quadrifoglio […]

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Today, at the Alfa Romeo Museum near Milan, was the first day for a completely new design language from the fabled Italian automaker. The Alfa Romeo Giulia will also mark the return of the brand to North America for those of us needing a bit more practically than what’s offered by the 4C.

Best of all, the Quadrifoglio will be available right out of the gate with 510 horsepower from its Maserati-derived six-cylinder engine.

The new Giulia, which borrows its name from the original model built between 1961 and 1978, is Alfa Romeo’s first foray in mainstream segments in North America since leaving the continent at the end of 1995. From the release, it looks like the Italian brand will make quite a noisy and stylish return.

Alfa says Giulia’s metal skin is shaped around the “technical architecture” of the car. Short overhangs are down to the engine and other mechanical parts being mounted between the front and rear axles. Simplicity of the form, they say, is paramount, including details such as the renewed Alfa Romeo emblem and trefoil nose.

Under the hood, the all-aluminum six-cylinder will rocket Giulia to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds while still returning acceptable fuel economy thanks to cylinder deactivation. Also, due to its light weight, Giulia Quadrifoglio will sport 50/50 weight distribution, though other engines are yet to be specified. Displacement for the 510 hp mill was also unspecified, though the company says it will “make that genuinely Alfa Romeo sound.”

Keeping everything grippy is a double-wishbone suspension setup for the front. The rear will rely on a multilink solution to get power to the ground. That’s not to say this is a rear-wheel drive only affair, as Alfa Romeo states there will also be an all-wheel drive option, though with what engines and transmissions remains uncertain.

Like many other newer performance vehicles, Torque Vectoring will help Giulia navigate corners with ease while a unique active splitter up front gives the first two donuts some additional grip. A new version of Alfa DNA with multiple driving modes – Dynamic, Natural, Advanced Efficient, and Racing – will also be available.

There is no official on sale date.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia Photos Leak Again. What Do You Think? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/alfa-romeo-giulia-photos-leak-again-what-do-you-think/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/alfa-romeo-giulia-photos-leak-again-what-do-you-think/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:11:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099273 It looks like the cat’s out of the bag as shots of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, seemingly mostly screen captures from a video, have hit the web. What do you think? More photos after the jump. If sources are correct, a 510 hp version of the Giulia will be available from Day 1.

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It looks like the cat’s out of the bag as shots of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, seemingly mostly screen captures from a video, have hit the web.

What do you think? More photos after the jump.

If sources are correct, a 510 hp version of the Giulia will be available from Day 1.

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FCA Australia Can’t Locate $8M Worth of Loaned Jeeps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/fca-australia-cant-locate-8m-worth-of-loaned-jeeps/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099097 Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned. That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are. Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles […]

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Under the leadership of stellar executives Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns, FCA Australia loaned out “hundreds” of vehicles, all of which the company would like returned.

That’s too bad as FCA doesn’t know exactly where they all are.

Australia’s Daily Telegraph (via Automotive News) is reporting that FCA is still trying to find the vehicles that were part of the company’s ambassador program, meant to put popular individuals in the seats of their products, valued at $10M AUD ($7.75M USD).

As reported earlier, records on the vehicles are shaky, with many of them given away without anyone at the company tracking their whereabouts.

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GM Releases Official Images of 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/gm-releases-official-images-of-2016-chevrolet-camaro-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/gm-releases-official-images-of-2016-chevrolet-camaro-convertible/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:10:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098985 Inevitably, this is the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, sporting a slew of changes that do not include improved visibility over the current model. Unfortunately, this is the only manufacturer-provided image of the new Camaro Convertible showing its top in the closed position, making it difficult to judge if Chevrolet has improved the number one complaint of […]

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Inevitably, this is the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, sporting a slew of changes that do not include improved visibility over the current model.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Unfortunately, this is the only manufacturer-provided image of the new Camaro Convertible showing its top in the closed position, making it difficult to judge if Chevrolet has improved the number one complaint of every owner and automotive journalist to jump behind the wheel of their pony car. However, there are a number of changes to note.

Firstly, the top is now fully automatic, lacking a manual locking latch. You can also open and close the top at speeds up to 30 mph and remotely operate the top with the provided key fob (while stationary, of course). It drops 200 lbs versus the outgoing ‘vert, which should make it a better handler like the coupe we covered previously.

GM says it’ll begin deliveries in early 2016.

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Hello, Giulia! Alfa Romeo’s New Sedan Busts Out A Day Early http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hello-giulia-alfa-romeos-new-sedan-busts-out-a-day-early/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hello-giulia-alfa-romeos-new-sedan-busts-out-a-day-early/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:26:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098017 One of this year’s most anticipated reveals, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, has been leaked on the interwebs a day ahead of schedule. Here’s another angle of Alfa’s new midsize sedan said to be powered by a Maserati-derived V6. We will have full details on the car tomorrow. [Source: CarScoops]

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One of this year’s most anticipated reveals, the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, has been leaked on the interwebs a day ahead of schedule.

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Here’s another angle of Alfa’s new midsize sedan said to be powered by a Maserati-derived V6.

We will have full details on the car tomorrow.

[Source: CarScoops]

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Why Did The Airbags In This BMW X5 Deploy Without Warning? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/airbags-bmw-x5-deploy-without-warning/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/airbags-bmw-x5-deploy-without-warning/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1096281 “I was pulling into a parking lot and I stopped so I could back into a spot. I had a friend of mine in the passenger seat. I backed into the spot, and was in a stopped position. I was in neutral (the vehicle is a manual 5 speed). My friend got out of the […]

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“I was pulling into a parking lot and I stopped so I could back into a spot. I had a friend of mine in the passenger seat. I backed into the spot, and was in a stopped position. I was in neutral (the vehicle is a manual 5 speed). My friend got out of the car, I had my door open as well. As my friend got out of the passenger side and was closing the door both airbags deployed.”

Not exactly what you’d expect, right?


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Over the weekend, I got a tip about a BMW X5 that experienced an unintended double airbag deployment. I reached out to the owner to get more details. It’s a 2002 X5 3.0i with the rare manual transmission. He bought it with 76,000 miles and a clean CarFax; in the past three years he’s taken it all the way to 155,000 on the odometer.

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He’s not the only person to experience this kind of issue: I was quickly able to find an instance of another no-impact deployment. Turns out, however, that it was a 2006 X5, which is the second generation of the model.

It’s easy to imagine any number of scenarios where a deployment like this could cause a major safety hazard; it’s a good thing it never happened when the X5 was testing at the Nurburgring, right? So far, BMW NA’s response has been to offer a free inspection. We’ll keep you posted on what happens next. In the meantime, if you have an X5, particularly one that is close to, or past, its tenth birthday, you might want to have the bags checked.

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab Reader Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-chevrolet-silverado-2wd-lt-crew-cab-reader-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-chevrolet-silverado-2wd-lt-crew-cab-reader-review/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097249 Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties. About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along […]

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2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab

Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties.

About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along the side of a major road in our 2010 Malibu with 90k miles on the odometer, engine revving, but little transmission of power taking place between the engine and the wheels.

I told her to keep on limping directly to the service center at our local Chevy dealer. My beautiful wife, brilliant in so many ways, bee-lined for the first “service” sign she saw, which happened to be the Ford dealer directly across the street from the Chevy dealer. After parking the car, she was told “wrong brand”, and tried to put the Malibu into reverse – a request the vehicle denied. We therefore had to arrange for GM to embarrassingly tow our still new-looking Malibu from the Ford lot across the street, under our valuable 100k warranty, for the 6-speed GM-Daewoo automatic was well and truly shot for the 2nd time in our 90k miles of ownership (1st rebuild took place at 27k).

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew CabWhen the dealer handed me the keys to the loaner – a 2015 Silverado LT 2WD Crew Cab with 850 miles on the odometer – first impressions weren’t so great. For starters, the massive chrome face on this truck is hideous. This truck needs a facelift, or a bag on it’s head. From all other angles, it is okay, and even conservatively handsome.

I climbed inside (even though I’m 6-foot-4) and things mostly got better. The steering wheel is made of high quality materials and feels perfect in my hands, the seats are wide and comfortable and the fabric nice, storage space everywhere, legibly clean gauges, acres of space both front and back, and even a three across front bench option if I fold up the wide and versatile console. Yet some downsides exist: the lowest-bidder outsourced keyfob is insultingly cheap and clickety-clacks with a hollow thin plastic resonance against the even-cheaper plastic covering the lower steering column while you drive. No one paying more than $15,000 for a car should ever have to put up with that. Also, the graphics on the MyLink interface upon startup look like they were developed by a Chinese iPad knockoff manufacturer (probably were). Bluetooth audio streaming worked wonderfully, but the (must have been) base sound system was muddy and full of too much bass. The overall impression, however, aside from these rather small niggling things, is massive versatility and space, and stout construction. 

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab

Strangely, the Silverado cranked disconcertingly long on cold start ups – about twice as long as warm starts. This may not indicate a problem, but GM can’t afford to give me any reason for quality concerns, given the reason I’m driving this beast in the first place. However, once it kicked over, things became quite likeable. Driving this long, powerful, stout vehicle felt like piloting a road train. The ride had a typical unloaded truck jitter. However, it was immensely quiet.  Steering and brakes were accurate, and the long wheelbase made for a secure sense of tracking, despite being an unloaded truck. The view over the hood was commanding and expansive.

I got into a trucking mood and put this thing to work….hauling a massive credenza from the in-laws, picking up a 10-piece patio furniture set purchased on Craigslist (all of which fit into the bed), hauling ~1000 lbs of top soil for the garden, taking my son to his first t-ball practice, and then the family out to an affordable cheeseburger dinner that night with my wife snuggled up next to me on the bench seat (for about 3 sweet minutes until she had enough). It was pure ‘Merica, and it was pure awesome. 

Transmission shifts were mostly imperceptible, and not once did the transmission break the entire time I had the truck! And as the saying goes, GM sells you an engine and throws in everything else for free. The 5.3 liters of pushrod V8 power gets 355 horses and 383 lb-ft of torque out of regular horse piss 87 octane, ensuring when you stomp on the pedal this massive load of metal moves with unreal authority. I got into it over and over just to hear the combination of the motor’s growl and my kids’ (3 and 5) squealing laughter from the back seat. They loved this truck, and the kid in me really liked it, too. Reported 0-60 times of a little over 6 seconds seem real, and not that long ago, that was muscle car territory. It seems crazy – it is crazy – for such a large, agricultural vehicle to move like that. You see, people, trucks are fun! 

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew CabThanks to (imperceptible) cylinder deactivation, the Silverado frequently fell into 4-cylinder mode while cruising. This certainly contributed to the most mind-blowing thing of all – a recorded 18.5 mpg throughout the 300+ miles I drove the truck through my daily routine of commuting/school runs, hauling/Home Depot runs, and only one short highway jaunt to the airport (~30 miles total). I was astounded that this 239.57 inch (20 foot long!) truck, with this huge interior, 355+hp V8, and haul-everything capabilities was pulling in that kind of mileage. Having your cake and eating it, this is what it’s like. Comparatively, the Malibu does under 25 mpg on the same route – without furniture/dirt hauling, obviously. To a family man & home owner, it doesn’t seem worth saving a little on gas and getting a little better handling that a normal car provides. You really have to love driving through turns to give up on having 2x the motor, more than 2x the capabilities, and a transaction price not all that far off a nicely equipped midsize sedan once you take the gratuitous $10k+ off of a Silverado that your local dealer will likely give you ($40k MSRP on the one I drove). It’s the classic American equation: a lot of Mexican-made metal for the money. 

So give me a 150k transmission warranty and put a bag on it’s head and I’ll take one. Or put this motor and steering wheel into the handsome new F-150, and I’ll take that instead. 

This review was submitted by reader Nicholas Naylor (NN).

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2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 3.5L Ecoboost Review [With Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094033 Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their […]

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2015 Ford F-151

Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their numbers, that is more F-150s than everything Hyundai sold in the USA put together.

Redesigning the F-150 isn’t just putting Ford’s profits on the line. Hundreds of suppliers and countless employees are worried about Ford’s aluminum gamble.

First let’s talk aluminum. There seems to be plenty of confusion about the first “all aluminum pickup.” Here’s the deal: the F-150 is aluminum bodied. If you were worried about how an aluminum frame would hold up, fear not, the F-150’s body rides on a high strength steel frame, which is half the reason for the high towing and payload numbers. The other half is the aluminum body. Although, there has been plenty of argument about the supposed 700 pound weight saving, Ford does say that about 450 lbs comes from the aluminum body alone. In a simplistic sense, for every pound you take out of the body, you can put it right back in the form of payload. This is the single largest reason the F-150 has payload figures that are 400-600 lbs higher than comparable GM and RAM models.

The majority of the body is made of 6000-series aluminum, which is about 33% lighter than sheet steel of the same thickness. Ford heat treats most of the F-150’s aluminum panels to improve strength and saves a little bit of money by using less expensive 5000-series aluminum in areas like the cab floor and interior parts. According to an engineer at BAE Systems, aluminum also has better dent, ding and corrosion resistance than steel, which is why it is used in military vehicles where those properties are important. If you’re thinking about how easily an aluminum soda can bends, a steel can of that same thickness would dent easier and, according to the engineers, shatter more easily. This is a huge benefit in the bed of the F-150, where Ford was able to make the panels thicker and still save weight. The bugaboo of course is the cost of repair. Body shops have less experience with aluminum, it’s more expensive to replace and labor costs are higher at the moment.

2015 Ford F-158

Exterior
As you’d expect from a modern American pickup, the F-150 is bigger, bolder and angrier up front than the model it replaces. If you’re willing to pony up the cash, Ford will sell you the segment’s first full-LED headlamps, but I found the headlamp brightness to be somewhat lackinglike all the main players in this segment. Out back we find a new tailgate design that is not only lighter because it’s aluminum but also damped like the Japanese competition so it doesn’t slam down on you. The benefit of an aluminum tailgate is immediately evident as it was much easier to close than the competition even though our model had the integrated tailgate step.

Although I think the RAM is attractive, the growing overbite is a design I’d have left on the cutting room floor, and GM’s square wheel arches have always made me scratch my head. Therefore the pickup aesthetics award goes to Ford since the 2015 model brings just enough “butch” without looking ridiculous.

2015 Ford F-166

Interior
When designing a vehicle that spans from $26,100 to over $62,000 there will invariably be trade offs. If you use the same core interior parts in all models, you have to either be willing to make the base models look and feel more expensive, or be willing to have some hard plastics in the top end trims. Ford, like GM and Chrysler, chose the latter. This means that our nearly fully-equipped Platinum model sported real wood trim and soft leather, but inches away were hard plastic door panels and trim pieces. Note: that’s not a negative, it’s simply a statement of fact. Personally, I don’t have a problem Ford’s use of hard plastics because that’s the norm in the pickup truck segment. It would only be a problem if nobody else was doing it.

While I think the RAM’s interior is better looking, especially in the brown and tan version, the F-150 is the king of the hill in terms of parts quality, especially in the platinum trim where you get acres of aluminum trim and fit and finish beats the competition. While I found the base front seats in the Silverado to be more comfortable than the Ford, the Platinum model gets Ford’s massaging and anti-fatigue system. Basically, it’s the same system we saw in the Lincoln MKS. Ford places several air bags inside the seat bottom and back cushion that are tied to a compressor and computer-controlled valve system. In addition to providing multi-way adjustable lumbar support, the software can inflate and deflate the bags in sequence to “massage” your back and improve leg circulation. At first, it just seemed like the truck was slowly groping my bottom, but after an hour and a half in the seat I was hooked. Most luxury cars with similar systems only run for 15 to 20 minutes, but the Ford system stays on until you turn off the car or the compressor noise gets to you.

 

2015 Ford F-162Infotainment
Ford’s touchscreen infotainment system is slated to be replaced by the highly anticipated SYNC 3 system as soon as next year. Until then, the F-150 soldiers on with the same infotainment systems we’ve seen for some time. Base models get a 4.2-inch color LCD radio with SYNC voice recognition software and 4-speakers. Top end trucks jump to 11 speakers (with a subwoofer) and the screen grows to an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, satellite and HD radio.

Dropping LCDs into the instrument cluster is all the rage, and Ford has three to choose from. Base models get a small 2.3-inch LCD, mainly for trip computer functions; mid-level trucks use a 4.2-inch LCD and top end trims get customizable 8-inch display. Compared to the RAM and Chevy disco dashes, the Ford LCD looks more polished and was more responsive than the system in the Chevy

Drivetrain
The big three have chosen different paths to fuel efficiency nirvana. Chrysler is doubling down on the ZF 8-speed automatic, GM designed a new family of 6 and 8 cylinder engines with aggressive cylinder deactivation and Ford has chosen a two prong strategy with aluminum bodies and small displacement turbo V6 engines.

smart-trailer-moduleThe engine lineup starts with Ford’s familiar 3.5L V6 used in everything from the Explorer to the Taurus. Good for 283 horsepower and 255 lb-ft, the V6 is a little down on power vs the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and certainly less “torquey” than GM’s new pickup-only 4.3L V6. Instead of a V8, the next stop is a 325 horsepower 2.7L V6 with twin turbos. While that sounds down on power vs the GM 5.3L V8, keep in mind the Ford is lighter than the Chevy and the 375 lb-ft of torque comes to the boil sooner and hangs out longer than GM’s V8. Chrysler’s 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed automatic yield better power, torque and 0-60 performance, but fuel economy is drastically lower.

Next up is the only V8 on offer, but it’s not the top-end engine option. Producing 385 horsepower a 387 lb-ft, the 5.0L produces more torque just above idle and over 3,000 RPM, but at certain speeds the 2.7L actually beats the V8. The halo engine is the same 3.5L twin-turbo V6 we have seen for a while. For 2015, it’s tuned to 365 ponies and 420 lb-ft of twist but Ford has implied it will get some significant updates for the upcoming Raptor.

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All four engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic and available four-wheel-drive. This puts Ford two speeds behind most RAM models and the 6.2L Chevy which finally gets GM’s heavy-duty 8-speed. The Raptor will receive Ford’s new 10-speed automatic and we should see that filter down to other V6 models, but Ford hasn’t said when. In the mean time, the most efficient F-150 is the RWD 2.7L Ecoboost model at 22 MPG combined while the least efficient, the 5.0L V8 4×4, rings in at 17 MPG combined. Meanwhile the Chevy ranges from 17-20 (despite the cylinder deactivation on the 4.3L V6) and the RAM runs from 15-24 thanks to a thirsty 5.7L V8 and the fuel sipping diesel at the top end.

2015 Ford F-155

Drive
Although the F-150 was put on a diet, the base V6 still feels a bit sluggish compared to the competition. RAM’s heavier 1500 has a hair more torque, a lower first gear and 33% more gears to choose from overall. GM’s 4.3L V6 offers considerably more low-end torque which allows it to feel peppier when towing.

Of course, the naturally-aspirated V6 and V8 engines are arguably less important to the F-150 shopper since a whopping 63% of sales have been twin-turbo equipped. Ford hasn’t broken out sales of the 2.7 and 3.5L Ecoboost engines separately, but I suspect the new 2.7L engine is quiet popular. While our tester was 3.5L equipped, I spent a day in a dealer provided 2.7L model for comparisons.

Although the 3.5L Ecoboost is fun, I think the 2.7 fits my needs better. The turbos largely make up for the slight torque reduction you get compared to the competition’s V8s, and although the 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed auto are faster and nicer to tow with, the 2.7L engine is quite simply the most well-rounded truck engine out there. There’s more than enough torque for towing 7,500 lb trailers with ease, dropping 2,000 lbs into the bed, or piling the kids into your SuperCab. Over 110 miles in the 2.7L RWD tester, I averaged 21 MPG, below the EPA numbers but still above the V8 competition.

2015 Ford F-153

The 3.5L twin-turbo engine allows up to 12,200 lbs of towing in some configurations thanks to the healthy torque figures. 0-60 times came in at 6.45 seconds, among the faster times in this segment, but thanks to GM’s new 8-speed automatic, the 6.2L  Silverado is fastest. Fuel economy in the 3.5L Ecoboost model was lackluster, coming in at 16.4 MPG during our week, nearly 1MPG behind the 2014 6.2L Silverado before GM added the 8-speed to the mix.

Apples to apples comparisons are hard because of the multitude of cab, bed, axle, tire, wheel and drive line choices in all the trucks in this segment, but you can bet if everything were equal, the F-150 would be the handling champ simply because it is lighter. When it comes to the ride, the RAM 1500 wins hands down due to the coil springs in the rear and the available cushy air suspension system.

I hinted about it earlier, but the main benefit to the reduced curb weight of the F-150 is not fuel economy but load capability. It’s most obvious when we compare like model to like model as shown below. All three models are within $1,000 of one another with the F-150 being the most expensive at $43,950 and the RAM the least expensive at $43,010. I chose the 2.7L V6 in the Ford because it is seen as the alternative to an entry-level V8.

F-150 TowingFord advertises a maximum 3,300 lb payload capacity and 12,200 lb towing limit, but like every other truck, most configurations are below the maximum. The take away here is that the payload is consistently higher than the competition. Keeping in mind that the payload is the total of cargo and passengers, it is easy to see how this improves practicality. In the F-150 you and your two 190-pound friends can grab 1,500 lbs of concrete at Home Depot with ease. In the Ram or Chevy you’d have to make two trips. Opt for the 5.0L V8, and the payload jumps to 3,020 pounds and towing increases to 9,200 in the same configuration. If that’s not enough the 3.5L Ecoboost will tow 10,700 in approximately the same configuration. You should note that conventional towing over 10,000 pounds will require a commercial Class-A or non-commercial Class-A license in some states, so depending on where you live, towing over 10,000 may not be material.

If my money were on the line, I suspect I would be torn between the 2.7L F-150 and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. In that mash-up, the EcoDiesel with the air suspension would be my choice largely because I tow more than I haul and the EcoDiesel not only has a higher tow rating but the way it tows it also superior thanks to the epic torque and the 8-speed automatic. Does that make the RAM the better truck? No, it’s just the one that suits my need better. After a week with the F-150, I have to say the 2.7L engine is a 10-speed automatic away from perfection and the 3.5L Ecoboost would be perfect if the fuel economy was 4 MPG better.

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 6.45 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.12 Seconds @ 92.56 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 16.4 MPG

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1998 Alfa Romeo 164 2.5 TD European Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/1998-alfa-romeo-164-2-5-td-european-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/1998-alfa-romeo-164-2-5-td-european-review/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095393 One clever man who likes powaaah, steaks and punching people once said that you are not a real petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Seeing how Alfas are either considered terrible, unreliable crap by sane and rational people or totally revered by devoted fans, I assumed there has to be something about them. Maybe it […]

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1998 Alfa Romeo 164 2.5 TD

One clever man who likes powaaah, steaks and punching people once said that you are not a real petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Seeing how Alfas are either considered terrible, unreliable crap by sane and rational people or totally revered by devoted fans, I assumed there has to be something about them. Maybe it really is that fabled “automotive soul” everyone talks about.

When I drove modern Alfas, I tended to lean towards the “they’re crap” crowd. The Mito is just a Fiat Punto that’s been made worse and more expensive, while the Giulietta can be a hoot to drive, but you want to douse it in gasoline and light on fire every time you need to use it as transportation. It’s like someone did the first 90% of development and then decided to have some chianti instead of finishing the rest. Which is probably what happened.

As usual, the fanboys say the older cars are the “real” Alfas, before the brand was ruined by someone or something (usually Fiat or GM). And with the prices of 156, 166 and even the FWD iteration of GTV from ’90s laughably low, I’ve been eying an older Alfa, preferably with the famous Busso V6 engine, for some time now. But with my tight budget not allowing for two cars at once, I always ended up going for something bigger, more comfortable and (supposedly) more reliable – like an old Mercedes E-class, Chrysler LHS, borrowed Lincoln or also-borrowed Chevy Van.

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Only recently did a perfect opportunity to get an Alfa present itself. I managed to find some poor soul who was willing to give me actual money for the Chrysler and a friend of mine needed to get rid of her old Alfa as she was getting a newer one (a diesel 159 Wagon). The car in question was a 164 Super, highly optioned and from the last year of the model’s manufacture, wearing some “cosmetic flaws” (= it looks like some crazy Italian drove it around Rome for a month, drunk) and motivated by diesel.

A diesel engine kind of ruins the point of proving you are a petrolhead. Also, I hate them. I never understood why American auto enthusiasts, with their access to cheap gas and powerful engines, lust for diesel cars so much. Diesel stinks, rattles and booms, and it’s slow. It doesn’t rev, which kind of spoils the point of stick shift. Even worse, the 164 is powered by the infamous VM Motori 2.5 TD four-cylinder with one head per cylinder, well known for ruining the reliability score of Chrysler Europe when it was used in Voyagers and Cherokees.

On the other hand, the car had its merits. First of all, it was free. Second, the diesel four-cylinders tend to be quite economical, which is a welcome change after several years of pouring expensive European gas into a series of American cars while broke. And third, it’s still an Alfa from the “better times” (even though it was developed in cooperation with Fiat, Lancia and Saab), so it should be interesting at least. And fourth, as I learnt soon after being offered the car, it’s got a wooden steering wheel, which is insanely cool and in itself enough reason for me to want it.

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So when the time came for me to pick up my new vehicle, I was quite excited. Save for the various press loaners with their fancy new common-rail engines and a friend’s old Mercedes W124 300D-24, I’ve never really driven a diesel manual car in a while. Also, my last four daily drivers (see above) were invariably automatics with quite powerful engines, but with totally numb steering and suspension setup for comfort. Will the Alfa feel like a someone put an old tractor engine in it? Will it have the terrible turbo-lag the old turbodiesels were known for? And can a diesel powered, Saab-and-Fiat-based Alfa show any signs of the famed Alfa Romeo soul?

The last question was answered right after I placed my bottom into the bluish-green cloth seat. Remember all those ramblings about the ape-like driving position of old Italian sportscars? The modern Alfas don’t have it. Even the 156 didn’t have it. But once you sit in the 164, you instantly feel like you’re in an old Italian movie. You instantly forget about “proper” seating position, with nearly vertical backrest and steering wheel close to your chest, and instead find a relaxed position, leaning back slightly and with the steering wheel seemingly too far in your lap and far more horizontal than you would find acceptable in a modern car.

It’s interesting how the seating position changes your attitude towards driving. While it reminds me of old Italian sports cars, it’s definitely not sporty in your classical “sit straight and focus on the apexes” way. Instead, it makes you want to drive in an Italian way. Fast and with joyful abandon instead of precision. You can just imagine yourself bombing around the Rome with a smoke in the corner of your mouth, blasting through tight streets and narrowly missing scooters and tiny Fiats. Or, sometimes, not missing them, as evidenced by the beat-up state of the car (in fact, it was scoff-free when it came to Czech Republic, but it just looks like it was driven in Rome).

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The steering position is not the only part of the interior that feels alien to someone used to new cars. There’s, of course, thin body pillars and the fact that the 164, although it was the biggest Alfa of its time and quite a large vehicle by any (European) means, feels slightly cramped with its windscreen right in front of you within arm’s reach. But there are weirder bits. Its full instrumentation with a cool layout – large speedo and tach in the upper part, voltage, oil pressure, water temperature and fuel in the lower row – and crazy center panel with rows of buttons that resemble an ’80s cassette recorder. Or the power window controls, with buttons for front windows on the doors and for the rear windows on the center console.

Being an Alfa, one would expect it to break. And, stereotypically, it does. The cool buttons on the center panel work only sometimes, and the trunk button often activates the hazard lights. Or the hazard lights activate themselves. Or the trunk unlocks while driving. And the HVAC control display doesn’t work. Nor do the power locks.

But a proper Alfa should also be fragile mechanically and prone to rust, at least if you believe the popular opinions, which makes it kind of strange the most pervasive feeling from the whole car is that of robustness and solidity. It may be that my example is in better shape mechanically, but it doesn’t feel any less substantial than the same-era Mercedes E-class. And, unlike the Mercedes, it doesn’t show any signs of rust – probably the result of Alfa’s disaster with Alfasud (which was usually already rusty on the showroom floor) and its drive to prevent any similar problems in the future.

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At the same time, there’s still a bit of Alfa Romeo’s sportiness differing the 164 from its siblings – the Thema, Croma and Saab 9000 (or at least people who have driven all of them say so). For someone who’s used to large American cars and old Benzes, or brand new cars with their numb electric steering racks, the Alfa’s helm is fantastically direct and full of feel. The shift action is not nearly as great, but that’s compensated by pedals perfectly laid out for heel-and-toe downshifting.

Of course, the large diesel kind of spoils the fun. It’s much smoother than one would expect from an oil-burner that’s almost two decades old compared to, say, the 1.9 TDI/66kW from VW. It has almost zero turbo lag and it pulls linearly from 1200 rpm. When driven leisurely, it’s quite a pleasant engine, but try any kind of spirited driving and you’re in for a disappointment. It’s still an old diesel, so it’s noisy, unrefined and it seems to hate revving above 3500 rpm. Also, the VM Motori four, with its four fragile cylinder heads, is prone to overheating and subsequent head failures.

Even with this in mind, I couldn’t resist taking the Alfa to our last trackday/cheap car race event, but at almost 90 degrees Fahrenheit, I was pretty scared of blowing the head gasket and never found the courage to really push the engine. Even so, the Alfa showed some pretty interesting handling. With the large and heavy diesel in the front, one would expect it to understeer like crazy. In reality, the 164 is pretty well balanced. On old winter tires, it was pretty easy to adjust it from understeer to oversteer by lifting the throttle and even throw it into pretty spectacular four-wheel slides.

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The Verdict
Though it may be Saab-related and diesel-powered, the 164 is still able to give you a taste of the Alfa Romeo soul. It’s interesting to drive and, after a series of large American cars, it made me understand how US enthusiasts can consider diesel manual cars as something really cool. It also seems to be, contrary to the public opinion, quite reliable (except for electrical stuff) and it’s definitely one of the cheapest cars I’ve ever had to run. Even if I had to buy it at market value (probably $500 or so), it would be dirt cheap transportation. On the other hand, the Italian suspension and driving position, together with cool Pininfarina design, will always make me think about how cool this car would be with a proper engine – the illustrious V6 “Busso”. Since 164s with V6s are almost extinct, I’m starting to think that there’s a Busso-powered 166 in my near future. You have to have a proper Alfa, at least once, to be a proper petrolhead.

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@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives an Alfa 164 Diesel he got for free. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photography:author

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Toyota’s Top PR Exec Arrested In Japan For Importing Hillbilly Heroin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyotas-top-pr-exec-arrested-in-japan-for-importing-hillbilly-heroin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/toyotas-top-pr-exec-arrested-in-japan-for-importing-hillbilly-heroin/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:27:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095185 Toyota’s newly-minted Chief Communications Officer, Julie Hamp, has been arrested for allegedly accepting a package of Oxycodone through the mail at the Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan that originated in the United States. Hamp, who is the first female managing officer with Toyota, took the post in April after “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe … called on corporate Japan to […]

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Julie Hamp TwitterToyota’s newly-minted Chief Communications Officer, Julie Hamp, has been arrested for allegedly accepting a package of Oxycodone through the mail at the Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan that originated in the United States.

Hamp, who is the first female managing officer with Toyota, took the post in April after “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe … called on corporate Japan to appoint women to 30 percent of top jobs by 2020,” reports Reuters.

Toyota has released a statement in Hamp’s defence, saying, “Toyota has been made aware of Ms. Hamp’s arrest, but has no further facts in light of the ongoing investigation by the authorities. We are confident, however, that once the investigation is complete, it will be revealed that there was no intention by Ms. Hamp to violate any law.”

Ironically, Hamp’s Twitter account (left) features a quote that couldn’t be more fitting at this moment.

More as it develops.

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Review – The Loneliest Number http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi-review-the-loneliest-number/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi-review-the-loneliest-number/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094945 Diesel torque? Fuel efficiency? Compact three-box sheetmetal? You only have two non-premium choices in the U.S.: the Chevrolet Cruze and this, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. That’s a serious dearth of variety. Even after expanding body style and size limitations to mid-size sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes, that still only includes two brands offering up all of […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (4 of 8)

Diesel torque? Fuel efficiency? Compact three-box sheetmetal? You only have two non-premium choices in the U.S.: the Chevrolet Cruze and this, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

That’s a serious dearth of variety.

Even after expanding body style and size limitations to mid-size sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes, that still only includes two brands offering up all of the available diesel cars in the non-premium bracket. More importantly, Volkswagen has embedded itself into the collective diesel consciousness and Chevrolet isn’t even a blip on the radar. You need to actively think of today’s diesel options before you remember the Cruze even exists.

VW’s ingrained diesel association and the Jetta’s more affordable compression-ignition cost of entry compared to the Cruze shows in the sales numbers. The Jetta TDI outsells the Cruze 2.0TD by more than 5 to 1. In fact, GM sells so few Cruze diesels, a California DMV employee is more likely to register a new e-Golf – yes, the all-electric VW Golf that wasn’t even on sale last year – or the California compliance Fiat 500e than a Cruze diesel.

So, when it comes to arrive-and-drive-away compact diesel sedans, there’s only one real option. But, does that alone make the Jetta worth buying?


The Tester

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SEL [USA]/Highline [Canada]

Engine: 2.0L DOHC I4, turbodiesel w/ intercooler, direct injection (150 horsepower @ 3500-4000 rpm, 236 lbs-ft @ 1750-3000 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, DSG with Tiptronic

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 31 city/46 highway/36 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 42 mpg, approx. 60% highway

Options: Technology Package (Canada, similar to Driver Assistance and Lighting Package in the U.S.)

As Tested (U.S.): $30,020 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $33,890 (sheet)


2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (2 of 8)

After four years of taking its beatings over the decontented sixth-generation Jetta, Volkswagen has said they’ve had enough and won’t be phoning it in anymore. For 2015, the Jetta receives a laundry list of improvements as part of a mid-cycle refresh – though you wouldn’t know it to look the compact sedan square in the face. While it might be cliche, it’s what’s inside the Jetta that counts.

For starters, the Jetta receives a new version of the ubiquitous 2.0L TDI I4, now pumping out 150 hp and 236 lbs-ft of torque, up 10 hp over last year. Even with the power uptick, the new engine will stretch a tank of diesel farther than before, now rated at 36 mpg combined versus 34 mpg pre-refresh. This particular tester, the exact same Jetta our resident sales expert Tim Cain tested back in March, returned a stellar 42 mpg in my hands. Tim did even better at 44.4 mpg, though this is likely down to Mr. Cain’s home being located in a suburban neighborhood versus my more urban digs.

While fuel economy and torque are key with diesels, I’d have given up a bit of either – or both – for improved drivability. The Jetta refused to wake up when given a moderate application of throttle from a standing start. Yes, it’s a diesel. I get it. However, even during multiple attempts to compensate for the Jetta’s lack of gumption by giving it more pedal only resulted in some fairly embarrassing launches that caused my passenger to question my chosen profession. Over the span of a week, I did eventually find a happy medium, but it was finicky at best and didn’t inspire much in the way of confidence as I tried to navigate intersections with heavy cross traffic.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (5 of 8)

On the bright side, shifts from the 6-speed DSG automatic were as crisp as one could hope and completely devoid of the abrupt engagements felt in the ZF-sourced automatics found equipped in some Chrysler and Land Rover products. Also, since CVT isn’t part of the Volkswagen lexicon in North America, we don’t have to listen to the hollow, shiftless version of the diesel inline-four’s drone.

Ride quality rates fair with road imperfections exacerbated by 17-inch wheels and thin sidewalled rubber. However, thanks to suspension upgrades over the past few years, the Jetta is at least a better handler than before. While you’re not about to start another Jetta TDI Cup with the latest batch of sixth-generation sedans, it could actually be called fun to drive, even if it felt a bit heavy in the bends.

What wasn’t fun were the brakes. While it might have been just this particular tester, the first inch or so of pedal travel was soft and lacked any kind of engagement. This wasn’t the first diesel VW I’ve experienced laden with squishy brake pedal syndrome, but I can’t really find or explain a cause. It was easily rectified by just giving it more pedal and I never once felt in any danger of not stopping.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (6 of 8)

Just like the Jetta’s driving dynamics, the interior is a mixed bag. While all the materials in this top spec model were of a much higher calibre than those of just a couple years back, there were still some glaring deficiencies.

For starters, the infotainment system was a bust. If you really like a sharp looking 7- or 8-inch display sitting proudly within the dash, look elsewhere. The Jetta got nuthin’ for you. Same with USB ports. Not a single one to be found in the VW. And before you say, “But VW said they’ll be putting them in next year!”, you’ve just proved my point – wait until next year because 2015 doesn’t cut it.

On the bright side, this sunroof-equipped Jetta did surprise me in one very important way: I had head room. At 6-foot-1, I am not a giant, but I am far from being short and can greatly appreciate headroom in cars equipped with sunroofs. Yes, I do put my seat all the way to the floor when I can, but some other cars still encroach my aerial space in the same seating configuration. Also, having my butt on the floor wasn’t the only position in which I felt comfortable. I found no less than three different seating/steering wheel positions where I felt completely at ease. If there’s one thing this car had, it was adjustability for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8)

Speaking of shapes, the Jetta still rocks a classic three-box sedan look that’s slowly becoming extinct in the compact segment. As most of VW’s competitors are chasing sloping roofs and higher beltlines, Volkswagen is content with its conservative approach. That’s not a bad decision. Critics have been quick to point out the Jetta is a bit dull looking, but I think this is all by design, literally and figuratively. I challenge you to point to any of the previous Jetta designs and say they haven’t aged gracefully. Individual Jettas in the real world, well, that’s a different story.

Does the Cruze offer up anything to justify the need to hunt one down versus just showing up at any VW dealer and signing on the dotted like for a TDI? Nope. You still have more options with the Jetta, even a manual transmission if you so choose.

That doesn’t mean you should buy the TDI. The 1.8 TSI is now the superior choice for the fuel agnostic. However, if you are dead set on an oil burner, this is the only viable compact sedan option, for better or for worse.

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2015 Opel Adam Rocks European Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-opel-adam-rocks-european-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-opel-adam-rocks-european-review/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 15:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1089305 They call it the first A-segment CUV in the world, which should be enough to make you run in the opposite direction. An SUV the size of a Fiat 500 is something that should never exist on any planet I want to live on. But, surprisingly, after driving one for a week, I realized that […]

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They call it the first A-segment CUV in the world, which should be enough to make you run in the opposite direction. An SUV the size of a Fiat 500 is something that should never exist on any planet I want to live on. But, surprisingly, after driving one for a week, I realized that it may, in fact, have a point and a purpose.

And I came close to answering the crucial question – would Opel Adam Rocks make a good Buick David? Or would it be better to import something bigger?

Being European and a motoring journalist, I’m not a big fan of CUVs. I prefer my hatchbacks and wagons to sit low, how they’re supposed to, and not to try being something they’re not. Some jacked up wagons – Volvo XC70 and Škoda Octavia Scout come to mind – are better than standard versions, but those are the exceptions.

So why make a CUV out of a tiny little car? Why would anyone want an off-road city hatchback? What’s the point of putting plastic cladding and lifted suspension on a car that will probably spend its life on boulevards?

To answer these questions, I borrowed an Opel Adam Rocks for a week. In marketing speak, the Adam Rocks is a CUV based on the Opel Adam – which means someone put some plastics on already expensive, very small car, lifted its suspension 15 mm (slightly over half an inch), added a sliding canvas top and called it a new car, massively increasing the price in the process.

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The interesting part is the Adam itself is not exactly a cheap car. Depending on the market, it costs about the same as the one-size-bigger Corsa, or a few thousand Euros more. In Czech Republic, it is almost as expensive as the Astra family hatchback (that’s the one the Verano is based on). Unlike the Volkswagen Up!, Renault Twingo and Peugeot 108, it’s not meant to be cheap city transportation. It’s meant to be stylish and to go after the Fiat 500 and Citroën DS3 and after people who bought the Mini before it turned into the Maxi.

Judging by what I see in the streets, it hasn’t worked, but that’s because Czechs haven’t really warmed up to the concept of an expensive small car and buy Škoda Fabias instead. In Western Europe, it’s apparently a sales success, which has emboldened Opel’s marketing department to think of more ways to milk money from their A-segment cash cow. Or at least I think it was the marketing dept., because I can’t imagine an engineer inventing such a thing as the Adam Rocks.

It may also be a good way to capitalize on the American obsession with CUVs and endear the tiny Adam to a new audience on the New Continent; maybe even improve the CAFE numbers for Buick’s truck fleet.

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So I did my usual thing and imagined that I’m driving a Buick David instead of an Opel Adam. Would such a thing work? Could it improve Buick’s image? Wouldn’t it be better to make a Buick out of the bigger, cheaper Corsa instead?

Surprisingly, the last question was the easiest one. The new Corsa is touted as “all-new”, but it’s really an old model with a duckface stuck to the front and some new technology. The engine is brilliant (more about that later), but overall, it’s just an average European small hatchback. It’s not as good at playing the “big car” thing as Škoda Fabia, and it’s far less fun to drive than Mazda2. And it’s too close to the Aveo in most areas.

So, the Adam it is. But would it work? And would the Adam Rocks be better than the normal one?

I was very skeptical about this, but it took just a first few miles through Prague to change my opinion. Prague, being a large, old and crowded capital, has really terrible street surfaces. And while the raised suspension probably won’t help you on any off-road adventure, it does help on cobblestones, tram tracks and other urban obstacles. Even on the fancy (and ugly at the same time) 17” wheels, the Adam was fairly comfortable – or at least as comfortable as you can reasonably expect of a car with the wheelbase of a matchbox. It still rocks and bobs on road undulations, but it’s quite smooth, all things considered. And on some reasonable wheels (15-inches would be great) it would be really comfy.

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Unlike the Corsa, which is notable for the tendency of its rear to hop and jump on broken surfaces so much it loses contact with the road, the Adam Rocks is quite sophisticated and well-mannered. The steering is a bit too sharp, but otherwise, the Adam Rocks is a nice car to dart around in, especially thanks to the wonderful engine.

The one-liter, three-cylinder turbo engine is probably the feature of the Adam that’s least likely to appear on the American market, but it’s also the best part of the package. I like downsized turbo engines in small cars, a lot. I loved the first 1.0 EcoBoost, and I’m pretty fond of VAG’s 1.2 TSI. But this one is the best I’ve driven so far. Like the EcoBoost or the TSI, it has lots of grunt in the low and mid range, and it’s even smoother than the Ford’s inline three. But at the same time, it is almost as revvy and as fun as 1.5 SkyActiv in Mazda2 that I loved so much in my previous review.

It was slightly more engaging in the Corsa than the Adam, probably because the engine is louder in the former, while everything else is quieter – which is probably result of the Adam’s canvas top causing significant aerodynamic noise. But in the lighter Adam, it was a perfect engine for the type of driver who’s likely to buy one. No matter the revs, it pulls – which makes it easier to forget about its slightly sub-par gear action and the engine would probably work very nicely with an automatic transmission.

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The engine, in fact, does a great impression of a much larger mill – it’s quiet and torquey enough for an ordinary driver to think it’s a 2.0 or something similar, nicely complementing the car’s premium attitude. Unlike Corsa (and our Corsa press loaner was pretty much top-of-the-line), the Adam manages to convey at least some kind of luxury feel inside. Sufficiently nice leather is present not only on seats and steering wheel, but also on the door panels, center armrest and other parts of the interior that can be ordered in a cool black/white combination. The instruments have cool red needles, there’s chrome everywhere and everything feels “near-luxurious”. You will also find some features quite uncommon in such a small car, like a heated steering wheel.

On the other hand, most of the switchgear is still quite obviously sourced from the GM parts bin, and it’s quite apparent that striving for a “premium feel” was limited to the places most visible, while anything out of your immediate sight is your typical Opel/GM stuff. I didn’t notice that one of the HVAC control knobs has a different feel and sound than than others, but our photographer did – and the kind of person who pays almost $25,000 (including VAT, $20,000 without tax) for a tiny car probably will, too. The infotainment system feels like it was lifted from some $15,000 econobox, with its stupid controls and lack of proper buttons for anything, including the radio volume.

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Verdict

The Adam is not perfect, and the lifted Adam Rocks is probably even less so. But if Buick wants to aim at young urban customers in America, this may be its best shot at the moment. Being the only CUV in the segment (Mini Paceman and Fiat 500X are huge in comparison) would be a massive advantage, and Adam can also appeal to those who want a stylish small car, but hate the whole retro thing, which is getting a bit old by now. It also comes with an engine able to give it either Prius-like fuel economy or power required by a typical American driver, though not both (spirited driving sends fuel economy from almost 50 mpg to less than 30 mpg). And, last but not the least for those of us who believe brands should keep their mojo, with its soft suspension and torquey engine, it still feels a bit like a Buick, however tiny it is.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives an Alfa 164 Diesel he got for free. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photography: David Marek

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Nissan Taking On Tesla Powerwall With Recycling Approach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092769 Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach. Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will […]

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2015 Nissan LEAF battery pack

Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach.

Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will instead reuse lithium-ion batteries from the LEAF with partner Green Charge Networks.

The first application “will be installed at a Nissan facility this summer, where multiple Nissan LEAF batteries will be configured to offset peak electricity demand,” said Nissan in a statement released today.

Since the batteries can be offered at a significant savings over newer counterparts from competitors, Nissan hopes customers in regions without incentive programs will see them as a cost-effective option.

“A lithium-ion battery from a Nissan LEAF still holds a great deal of value as energy storage, even after it is removed from the vehicle, so Nissan expects to be able to reuse a majority of LEAF battery packs in non-automotive applications,” said Brad Smith, director of Nissan’s 4R Energy business.

 

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Honda Civic Hybrid, CNG and Accord Plug-In Hybrid Models Get the Axe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-civic-hybrid-cng-and-accord-plug-in-hybrid-models-get-the-axe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/honda-civic-hybrid-cng-and-accord-plug-in-hybrid-models-get-the-axe/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 16:58:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092913 UPDATE: Clarification on CR-Z at bottom. Honda is doing a bit of late spring cleaning as it looks to get its hybrid house in order. The automaker announced production of the Civic CNG has ended and multiple hybrid models will soon get the axe. Honda isn’t abandoning hybrid technology, however, as John Mendel, Executive Vice President, […]

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2015 Honda Civic Hybrid

UPDATE: Clarification on CR-Z at bottom.

Honda is doing a bit of late spring cleaning as it looks to get its hybrid house in order. The automaker announced production of the Civic CNG has ended and multiple hybrid models will soon get the axe.

Honda isn’t abandoning hybrid technology, however, as John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., hinted there are replacements in the pipeline in a release sent out today.

According to his statement – titled “Advancing Environment a Natural Fit in Honda Vehicle Lineup” – the Honda Civic CNG and Civic Hybrid will end with the ninth-generation compact. The tenth-generation Civic will instead offer two engines – one normally aspirated and one turbocharged, in addition to the Type R – and Honda will abandon its single motor hybrid system in favor of two- and three-motor variants.

Another model to get the axe is the Accord Plug-In Hybrid. Mendel states it won’t be offered going forward, but a new Accord Hybrid will debut early next year. Also being introduced next year is Honda’s next-generation fuel cell vehicle along with an “all-new battery electric model and the all-new plug-in hybrid model.”

The latest hybrid cull at Honda comes a little over a year after the company killed of the Honda Insight due to slow sales.

The end of the single motor hybrid IMA system also spells the end for the Honda CR-Z, at least in its current form, though when that will take place is uncertain.

Robyn Eagles, spokesperson for Honda North America, stated the CR-Z will continue into MY2016 and Honda is still committed to green technologies, but the CR-Z’s technological makeup beyond 2016 is uncertain.

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This Is the New 2016 Jaguar XJ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/this-is-the-new-2016-jaguar-xj/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/this-is-the-new-2016-jaguar-xj/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 14:02:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092681 Jaguar has revealed the refreshed XJ for 2016 equipped with a new InControl Touch Pro touch-screen infotainment system. It also has a slightly revised front fascia. Actually, the new car is so slightly revised that the above image is of the 2014 XJ and you probably didn’t know the difference. Here’s the new one: We will give […]

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2014 Jaguar XJ

Jaguar has revealed the refreshed XJ for 2016 equipped with a new InControl Touch Pro touch-screen infotainment system. It also has a slightly revised front fascia.

Actually, the new car is so slightly revised that the above image is of the 2014 XJ and you probably didn’t know the difference. Here’s the new one:

2016 Jaguar XJ Autobiography

We will give it to Jaguar: they themselves call the front fascia updates “subtle”. While the XJ does receive a wide assortment of exterior upgrades, including a “more upright grille with a new mesh pattern” and new R-Sport base model exterior look package, the changes inside are of more importance.

2016 Jaguar XJ Portfolio Interior

Sitting front and center in the Anglo-Indian dash is a new, in-house developed InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, now featuring a quad-core CPU to keep up with the increased software load. A 60GB solid-state hard drive is used for the quick retrieval of map data. The new hardware does its digital dance with a multi-touch 8-inch screen and “pinch to zoom” and “swipe” gesture capability.

The Jaguar XJ will continue to be offered in standard and long wheelbase configurations. Updated units will start arriving at dealer lots this fall.

 

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