The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Sub-prime Borrowers May Get Bounced Out of the Club Next Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/subprime-borrowers-may-get-bounced-club-next-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/subprime-borrowers-may-get-bounced-club-next-year/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154137 Next year may not be as kind to new car buyers with bad credit. If you’ve been paying attention to the market recently, it’s been an up-and-down ride for the past few days. Market volatility is just one of the indicators that the Federal Reserve may be considering a hike to the federal funds rate (probably […]

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Signing his life and wallet away for the next six or so years with a long-term auto loan agreement

Next year may not be as kind to new car buyers with bad credit.

If you’ve been paying attention to the market recently, it’s been an up-and-down ride for the past few days. Market volatility is just one of the indicators that the Federal Reserve may be considering a hike to the federal funds rate (probably not this year, though), which would impact borrowing rates in a record-setting year for the auto-loan business. 

“It has the potential to impact auto loans, any rate increase certainly can,” said Belinda Zabritski, senior director for Automotive Finance for Experian. “The rate depends on so many other factors in the market … (A rate increase is) at some point, likely. But there’s not a strong chance that it will go up this year.”

Rates for loans have largely stayed the same since 2008, when interest rates were lowered to spur lending after the recession. Many of the low-rates today haven’t changed and automakers such as Subaru have offered interest-free loans on some of their cars.

“If you’re not a high-scoring consumer, the likelihood of obtaining those (good) rates and programs is more of a risk. There’s not a lot of chance of getting them if your score is under 600,” Zabritski said. “The new vehicle market is a very prime market.”

But that may all change by next year.

According to Experian, sub-prime borrowers (with credit scores between 500-600) and deep sub-prime borrowers (with credit scores lower than 500) comprise 34 percent of used car loans. Non-prime borrowers (between 600-700) are roughly 20 percent of that market, with prime and super-prime buyers comprising the rest.

Non-prime buyers may be considered sub-prime depending on market conditions and the lender.

Any rate hike would likely impact lower-tier borrowers, either making the loan unaffordable or by lenders tightening up their availability to reduce risk.

“The lenders are out there now, they have money to lend. If you were someone trying to buy a car in 2009, money was hard to come by. If you’re getting a loan today, certainly you have a lot of financial options,” she said.

Deep sub-prime and sub-prime borrowing were the second and third-fastest growing loan segments behind super-prime borrowers. Interestingly, super-prime borrowers received less money from lending companies than many other categories.

Zabritski said the federal funds rate is dependent on many factors including GDP and market conditions, so it’s hard to predict any swing in the rates.

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Kia Shows Off New Sportage Ahead of Frankfurt Reveal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-shows-off-new-sportage-ahead-frankfurt-reveal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-shows-off-new-sportage-ahead-frankfurt-reveal/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 18:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154081 Kia released pictures Thursday of its 2017 Sportage ahead of the car’s public debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show next month. The all-new Sportage sports a new face with dramatically redesigned headlight and fog light clusters and a swept windshield. The headlights don’t connect to the grille anymore, but rather sweep further back above the front wheel arches. (The […]

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2017 Kia Sportage

Kia released pictures Thursday of its 2017 Sportage ahead of the car’s public debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show next month.

The all-new Sportage sports a new face with dramatically redesigned headlight and fog light clusters and a swept windshield. The headlights don’t connect to the grille anymore, but rather sweep further back above the front wheel arches. (The new Sportage’s grille also borrows heavily from the last-generation Optima, in my opinion.)

According to Kia, the new Sportage will have longer front overhangs, shorter rear overhangs and longer wheelbase than the current model.

Kia says the new Sportage’s rear end borrows heavily from its Provo concept, which it showed off in Geneva in 2013.

Kia Provo

I’ll let you be the judge.

2017 Kia Sportage

The automaker says the new Kia was developed primarily in Europe, with Korean and U.S.-based design studio help.

The Frankfurt Auto Show begins Sept. 15.

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Honda CR-Z Gets New Face, Will Live Beyond 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/honda-cr-z-gets-new-face-will-live-beyond-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/honda-cr-z-gets-new-face-will-live-beyond-2015/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:30:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153953 Honda unveiled its face-lifted CR-Z in Japan on Thursday, Automotive News is reporting, which means the slow-selling car will have a future in the U.S. and Canada for at least another year. The updated nose and redesigned rear bumper cover the fact that the car hasn’t mechanically changed from this year. The same 130-horsepower, four-cylinder hybrid will […]

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2016 Honda CR-Z

Honda unveiled its face-lifted CR-Z in Japan on Thursday, Automotive News is reporting, which means the slow-selling car will have a future in the U.S. and Canada for at least another year.

The updated nose and redesigned rear bumper cover the fact that the car hasn’t mechanically changed from this year. The same 130-horsepower, four-cylinder hybrid will power the car, mated to either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission.

Despite its critical reception as a relatively slow sportscar, engineers increased the size of the CR-Z’s brakes 10 millimeters.

Honda hasn’t officially confirmed that the updated Japanese design would make it to North America (the car is only sold in Japan, Canada and the United States anymore) but said that the 2016 CR-Z would gain “updated exterior and interior styling.”

Automotive News is reporting the updated CR-Z would go on sale in the U.S. in November. Honda hasn’t confirmed that date.

So far this year, Honda has sold 1,562 CR-Z models in the U.S.

(Photos courtesy Honda Motor Co.)

2016 Honda CR-Z 2016 Honda CR-Z 2016 Honda CR-Z 2016 Honda CR-Z

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Consumer Reports Rates ‘Imperfect’ Car With Perfect Score http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/consumer-reports-rates-imperfect-car-perfect-score/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/consumer-reports-rates-imperfect-car-perfect-score/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154009 Consumer Reports says that Tesla’s Model S P85D initially scored 103 points out of a possible 100, which initially “broke” their rating system. Consumer Reports adjusted the overall score to 100, and said that the Model S P85D wasn’t perfect, but that it was very good: To be clear, the Tesla’s 100 score doesn’t make […]

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Tesla P85D Backside

Consumer Reports says that Tesla’s Model S P85D initially scored 103 points out of a possible 100, which initially “broke” their rating system.

Consumer Reports adjusted the overall score to 100, and said that the Model S P85D wasn’t perfect, but that it was very good:

To be clear, the Tesla’s 100 score doesn’t make the P85D a perfect car—even at $127,820. It has imperfections. The interior materials aren’t as opulent as other high-ticket automobiles, and its ride is firmer and louder than our base Model S.

What’s more, a lengthy road trip in an electric car with a 200-plus mile range can be a logistical hurdle if a quick-charging station isn’t along your route.

It’s also important to note that our Rating doesn’t include the Tesla’s reliability. The Model S has average reliability, according to our owner-survey responses.

The Model S P85D sports upgrades beyond the Model S, including “insane” and “ludicrous” speed modes that can propel the car from 0-60 in fewer than 3 seconds.

Previously, the Model S was the highest-rated car Consumer Reports had ever tested. The 1996 Porsche Boxster also scored a “perfect” 100 almost ten years ago.

Consumer Reports said that the 103 score and its subsequent re-scoring of 100 wouldn’t impact other cars’ ratings.

“This car is not perfect in every single way,” said Jake Fisher, Auto Test Director for Consumer Reports. “It doesn’t fit in the rest of the automotive marketplace.”

Fisher added that the scoring system was “non-linear,” meaning cars wouldn’t need to accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 3 seconds to score well on the test.

According to the testers, the Model S P85D’s interior shortcomings and initial buyer satisfaction were more-than compensated by the car’s performance and fuel economy, which are both greater than the Model S.

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TVR “Sells Out” of 2017 Cars in Six Weeks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/tvr-sells-2017-cars-six-weeks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/tvr-sells-2017-cars-six-weeks/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153905 The reborn sportscar maker TVR says it has “sold out” of its first model since shuttering in 2006, Autocar is reporting. Reportedly, none of the prospective owners, who have deposited £5,000 ($7,700 USD), have seen pictures of the new car. The new model will be a V8-powered sportscar designed by Gordon Murray, with engine development from Cosworth and production by […]

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tvr-sagaris-wallpaper-1

The reborn sportscar maker TVR says it has “sold out” of its first model since shuttering in 2006, Autocar is reporting. Reportedly, none of the prospective owners, who have deposited £5,000 ($7,700 USD), have seen pictures of the new car.

The new model will be a V8-powered sportscar designed by Gordon Murray, with engine development from Cosworth and production by humans, rather than unicorns. The company said it took 250 deposits six weeks after it began accepting them in July.

The company is helmed by Les Edgar who took over for Nikolai Smolensky in 2013.

“This a heart-warming situation we find ourselves in. We are mindful that we have taken deposits from customers who have not even yet seen official pictures of the car. We look forward to revealing more details soon, and to all our customers who have shown their faith I can promise that the new car will exceed expectations in every way,” Edgar said according to Autocar.

The company doesn’t have a home for production, but it says the new car will be built in the U.K. According to the report, all of TVR’s planned cars will have a V-8 up front and power sent to the rear through a 6-speed manual transmission.

Autocar is reporting that the new car will be available as either a coupe or convertible and would likely cost around £60,000 to £80,000 ($92,000 to $123,000) when it goes on sale. TVR hasn’t announced plans to sell cars in North America.

If it doesn’t go on sale — as we’ve heard from TVR before — there will be hell to pay.

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Bark’s Bites: We All Need a Bad Influence or Two in Our Lives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/barks-bites-need-bad-influence-two-lives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/barks-bites-need-bad-influence-two-lives/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153729 “Just passed this on Michigan Avenue outside of Dearborn. Manufacturer plate.” The above picture of a GT350R in the wild and the accompanying text found their way across the LTE network to my phone last Thursday. My good friend — let’s call him Acd — and I have a habit of supporting each other’s addictions. […]

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GT3502

“Just passed this on Michigan Avenue outside of Dearborn. Manufacturer plate.”

The above picture of a GT350R in the wild and the accompanying text found their way across the LTE network to my phone last Thursday. My good friend — let’s call him Acd — and I have a habit of supporting each other’s addictions. In the therapy world, they call such people “enablers.”

In the car junkie world, we call them “kindred souls,” and I’m fortunate to have more than a few of them in my life.

Let’s be real with each other for a moment here, shall we? We might all be Car Guys, but to the rest of the world, we’re simply “idiots.”

I already have a perfectly good, much-fast-for-the-real-world Mustang, and yet every time I see a picture of a GT350R I start doing math in my head to see how I might possibly be able to swing one. Although I’m what some might call upper middle-class, I’m not so well off that the sticker price of a GT350, avec ou sans R, is an insignificant sum. The financially responsible thing would undoubtedly be to hold on to my Boss 302 and “let somebody else take the depreciation hit” on a 2016 GT350 — as if these things are going to appreciably depreciate any time soon.

In a culture that simultaneously encourages outlandish consumerism and then shames anybody who actually engages in it, one often finds himself wrapped in a paradox that I have previously called the “Nobody Needs That” societal ideal. On the rare occasions that I feel this pang of guilt, I thank the Lord above that I have stupid, reckless, and immature friends like WW to inspire me to do stupid, reckless, and immature things. Otherwise, I might occasionally do something intelligent with my money, like, oh, I don’t know, save some of it.

My friend Acd knows this. Therefore, he’ll do things like send me pictures of EFFING AMAZING LOOKING GT350Rs IN THE WILD. My other friend, David, does things like send me pictures of all the cars he can buy with his truckload of cash that his employer simply dumps in front of his apartment every other Thursday. We egg each other on. We encourage irrational buying behavior. We celebrate it when we do something completely stupid like lease a completely superfluous car. I’m just as excited to see the first shots of any of my friends’ new whips on Facebook as am to see all of those completely unique and original shots of their kids’ First Day of Fourth Grade (guilty, by the way).

And it’s not just new cars that my Car Guy friends and I encourage each other to over-consume. We geek out over new exhausts that serves no other purpose than turning a V8 up to Eleven. We high-five over 140 treadwear tires that might not last an entire summer. We celebrate the finding of a pristine NA Miata with a mere 200,000 miles on the engine for less than two grand. I think I received more comments about my 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon (RIP) than I did about anything I’ve ever bought, because a certain segment of my Car Guy friends thought that it was awesome I found a running Subaru for less than the cost of a set of winter tires.

We nudge each other. We implore each other. We justify the insane for each other. We rationalize the need for new cars, new parts, new trips to new racetracks — anything that helps us feed the fire for each other. And thanks to the power of the Internet, we are normally thousands of miles away from each other when we do it. That doesn’t weaken the connection, though. If anything, it thrills me to be in Miami, sending pictures of exotic cars in Epic Hotel’s roundabout to my few friends that actually afford them in Atlanta.

It’s classic Relationship Builder behavior. A bunch of guys from different walks of life, from all over the country, encouraging each other to wring one last dollar out of our wallets to pursue our passions. Without our dearly departed editor, Derek (he’s not dead, you know, he just isn’t here), I probably would have never pulled the trigger on leasing my Fiesta ST. Without my brother on the phone, calming me down after I screamed at a New Car Manager, I wouldn’t have a School Bus Yellow monster in my garage.

And without my dear friend, Acd, I wouldn’t be looking at GT350 build sheets as I type this. Without all of these morons in my contact list, egging me on to pursue my passion with more vigor than any normal father of two has the right to do, I’d have a lot more money, no question.

But I’d also have a lot less Life.

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Don’t Do Me Like That, Honda! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/dont-like-honda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/dont-like-honda/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153737 If my personal relationship with Honda had a Facebook status, that status would be the one so beloved of mistresses, side pieces, and FWBs — namely, “It’s Complicated”. A decade ago, I took a gig reverse-engineering a piece of production-line equipment for them. I had never owned a Honda automobile at the time and I’d […]

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accordcoupe1

If my personal relationship with Honda had a Facebook status, that status would be the one so beloved of mistresses, side pieces, and FWBs — namely, “It’s Complicated”. A decade ago, I took a gig reverse-engineering a piece of production-line equipment for them. I had never owned a Honda automobile at the time and I’d long since sold my first CB550. The car I drove to work at Honda was a black Volkswagen Phaeton.

Fast-forward to 2015. It’s been some time since I took the King’s shilling, so to speak, and the balance of payments between me and Ohio’s finest automaker is very far in my personal favor. But as I write this, I am the owner of four Hondas. And I’d buy another one, if they’d just quit screwing with me about the details.


Long-time TTAC readers know about my Accord V6 6MT Coupe. You’ve heard about its stout-hearted engine and its rounded-off front tires and its paper-thin OEM floormats. And if you’ve been on the site for a while, you might know about Kellee, the CB550 that I bought in 2012 and put back on the road in 2015 with help from my friend Josh.

But I’m also the owner of two more Hondas: a VFR800 25th Anniversary and, as of about forty-five days ago, a new CB1100 “standard”. As a result of that and my decision to sell my 944 at the beginning of the year, the scoreboard in my garage that used to read “Porsche 3: Honda 1″ now reads “Porsche 2: Honda 4″. I’d like to tell you all about the CB1100, from the 527-mile ride that I took on it the day I bought it, to the way it flat fucking leaps from a low-rev roll, to what it is like to have a beautiful woman on it sitting behind you with her arms around you and her eyes closed in blissful repose — but this is The Truth About Cars, not The Romantic Discussion Of Unfaired Motorcyles And Pretty Girls And Riding Around Downtown Columbus With No Helmet While Pretending To Be David Lee Roth At 1:34 In The “Panama” Video, so we’ll save that for another time.

Let’s talk, instead, about my Accord. I’m reliably informed by this very website that “non-sporty coupes” are on the way out. I’m also pretty sure that this is the last generation of Accord that will offer a V6. It’s certainly the last generation of Accord that will offer the combination of a manual transmission and that bad-ass J35Y2 straight out of Anna, Ohio where you can smell the metal in the air when you get off the freeway and the Subway is basically the local fine-dining restaurant and the nineteen-year-olds come out in the afternoon with smudges on their perfect cheekbones, laughing in the sun and engaged in their private conversations while you lean against your Phaeton in a white shirt with someone else’s name sewn above the pocket.

For that reason, I’ve considered selling my 2014 Accord, which is about to reach the 24,000-mile mark, and buying the 2016 Accord to replace it. Objectively this makes no sense; the 2016 Accord differs from the 2014 Accord in visual particulars and an upgrade to the in-car electronics. But you have to look at it like this: If there are no more Accord V-6 coupes, ever again, then it’s best to have the newest and freshest one possible. Buying a new Accord means that I will be able to drive this kind of car two years or 24,000 miles longer before giving up and setting my future fifty-something self into whatever bullshit bug-eyed, phone-booth-esque, CVT-shifted, turbo-three-cylinder crossover turns out to be the final and solitary result of the current automotive market’s quantum possibility collapse.

I have at least eighteen months to make this decision, since I figure that the 2017 model year will be identical to the 2016 and Honda’s unlikely to can the six-speed halfway through 2016. At worst they’ll pare-down the lineup in 2017 to make room for the inevitable Accord SE and I’ll scramble for a remaining 2016 model. But which model would that be? And therein lies the annoyance.

Believe me, I truly appreciate Honda’s steadfast commitment to making the manual transmission available. It’s why I’m driving an Accord instead of a Camry XSE V6. But the manual V6 coupe is the stepchild of the line. In 2014, it was available in just three colors, two of which (“Modern Steel” and Black) are not colors so much as they are the absence, or totality, of color. In 2015, Honda threw a really nice white pearl with an ivory interior into the mix, too late for me to make that choice.

The company has also failed to make its top-of-the-line “Touring” model available as a coupe here in the United States. (Elsewhere, there are apparently four-cylinder and six-cylinder Touring Coupes). That means that if you want LED headlamps in your Accord you have to get a sedan. For 2016, however, there’s a Touring Coupe for the United States. It has LED headlamps. Woo hoo! And nineteen-inch wheels. That’s probably an ugh!, given what heavier wheels do to light-footed cars like the current Accord.

When I heard that there was going to be a Touring-trim V6 coupe, I figured that was pretty much the tipping point for swapping my car out. I didn’t have an invite to the press event, so I had to wait until the information on trim and equipment became common knowledge. This morning, Honda emailed me an invitation to look at the 2016 Accord configurator. Sure enough, there’s a Touring coupe. It’s available in seven colors, including the fascinating-looking Opal Blue Pearl. And…

…it’s automatic-only. If I want a manual, I’m stuck with the same model (EX-L V6) that I have currently. And, unless I want to drive a bright-blue Accord coupe, which I don’t, I’m stuck with the same choices of red, black, and grey from 2014. At least the price didn’t go up too much and the i-MID display is multi-color now.

You know, I keep thinking that at some point, someone at Honda is going to get it. They’re going to realize that the high-end V-6 Accords are basically the Yukon Denalis to the Acura TLX’s Escalade, attracting a more favorable demographic of wealthier, more settled and brand-loyal customers than the pimped-out version across the street. And when they realize that, they’re going to do something like offer a fully-loaded V6 manual coupe, and a fully-loaded V6 manual sedan, and they are going to capture the business of people who would otherwise drop $60,000 on a loaded-up S5 or 335i coupe. Don’t laugh; there are a lot of Accords next to BMWs in the garages of the midwest.

On the other hand, maybe I should be grateful for Honda’s less-than-perfect marketing. If their marketing team were as efficient as, say, Porsche’s, then I’d be able to get any color I wanted for my Accord. But I’d probably be stuck with an automatic no matter what color I got, the same way buyers of the current 911 Turbo and 911 GT3 are assumed to be incapable of using a clutch. And I’d still be stuck with a manual day/night mirror unless I wanted to pay $1,195 for a Porsche Doppel-Mirror-System option package that made it impossible to have another option that would be similarly overpriced but also desirable, like Carbon Fiber Temperature Display Surround Variant Three. And at some point, I’d probably have to take my Accord in for an engine replacement, instead of the transmission replacement that the slush-shifted V6 Hondas used to get.

Maybe Honda will throw another color in the hopper for 2017. If you’re listening, oh sacred marketing people of Torrance, where the sun always shines and no manufacturing takes place, then perhaps you’ll hear my plea. How about… lime green?

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Piston Slap: At What Rate, the Falcon’s Restomod Wings? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-rate-falcons-restomod-wings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/piston-slap-rate-falcons-restomod-wings/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151185   Stephen writes: Sajeev, I drive a ’65 Falcon convertible with the 289 and a T-5, hydraulic clutch, and 4-wheel discs just like it came from the factory. (Wink – SM) I replaced all of the rubber in the front suspension about 15 years ago and it’s past time to do it again. I’m up […]

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Wendy 473

Envious. (photo courtesy: OP)

Stephen writes:

Sajeev,

I drive a ’65 Falcon convertible with the 289 and a T-5, hydraulic clutch, and 4-wheel discs just like it came from the factory. (Wink – SM)

I replaced all of the rubber in the front suspension about 15 years ago and it’s past time to do it again. I’m up in the air between sticking with factory stuff or upgrading to some of the aftermarket Mustang stuff (i.e tubular A and control arms). While the aftermarket stuff is significantly improved over stock, I actually drive the car; earlier this summer I did a road trip from Denver to Bozeman, MT via Yellowstone, a total of about 1800 miles. I can go to any auto parts store and get replacement parts, while I could wait for TCI, etc to FedEx me something.

Second question. I still have the 4bbl carb on it for the same reason. Do any of the aftermarket fuel injection system use mainly OEM parts (i.e injectors, fuel pump)? I did get between 23-28 mpg on the Bozeman trip.

Sajeev answers:

First we discuss:

  1. How that Falcon is disturbingly awesome.
  2. How restomods are usually done wrong, except here.
  3. How beautiful your part of the country is.

Ahem! So, about the suspension upgrades: look at the bushings. Bushing size (diameter, thickness) and composition (rubber, polyurethane) have an impact on ride quality and NVH control.

My experience with aftermarket suspensions on old Fords is personal: take this restomod Mercury Cyclone seen in Hemmings. The stance is sinister and it’s a blast to drive in the twisties, but the aftermarket (Mustang II style) control arms with teeny-tiny, non-rubber bushings are tough on Houston roads. It’s a bad-ass persona ideal for most restomodders, and I respect that. But, if I was in charge of this project, I’d ditch the kit’s control arms for factory Mustang II control arms with big, juicy, plump and delicious rubber bushings. A regression-mod restoration, perhaps? 

Granted your roads are a far cry from mine, but I wouldn’t add an NVH-averse suspension on a droptop Falcon without chassis stiffeners like subframe connectors. I’d add those connectors no matter what! Since you can (?) grab parts designed for the 1964 Mustang, I’d recommend the stock (rebuilt) suspension with the best shocks and springs you can find.

And what about EFI conversions? Many reputable setups use GM sensors attached to custom wiring harnesses, so don’t sweat that. In the spirit of your T-5 swap, add EEC-IV from a 5-liter Mustang, provided hood clearance is no different than ’60s Mustangs. Aside from the occasionally wonky TFI module, it’s a great swap: Fox Mustangs are losing their EFI systems for LSX-FTW swaps on a regular basis! You can pick up an entire EEC-IV setup (intake, fuel rails, wiring, sensors) for a couple hundred bucks!

Fuel pumps get dicey depending on the easiest fuel tank conversion. I’d put faith in expensive Aeromotive parts, but maybe these guys got the Falcon covered better. Often these assemblies use the same tube-shaped pump available at any parts store.

Your current mileage is impressive and proves that a well-tuned spread bore (?) carb runs nearly as efficient as EFI…provided it stays in tune. Swapping to EFI nets greater consistency in all driving conditions…if that’s what you really want.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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QOTD: Do You Care About The Latest and Greatest Tech? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-do-you-care-about-the-latest-and-greatest-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-do-you-care-about-the-latest-and-greatest-tech/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153697 I’m the type of guy that reads the instruction manual. Admittedly, I’m in the lower quartile of the 1 percent of humans who actually read the book, and there are even fewer still who admit to reading it — most people don’t, and if they do, it’s only when they need to. But why? Don’t […]

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2015.5 Volvo Sensus Connect Infotainment Navigation

I’m the type of guy that reads the instruction manual. Admittedly, I’m in the lower quartile of the 1 percent of humans who actually read the book, and there are even fewer still who admit to reading it — most people don’t, and if they do, it’s only when they need to.

But why? Don’t people know that they’re full of good stuff?

Did you know the newest generation Mini Cooper has launch control? I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t spot it in the manual. Also, I wouldn’t have known how to sync via Bluetooth to a circa-2013 Volkswagen car (the PIN is buried in the manual, it’s 1212 or something like that, if I recall correctly).

According to a recent report, most new car buyers don’t know what their cars do, and quite frankly, they don’t care. They should.

Admittedly, carmakers aren’t tech companies. The latest and greatest is under the hood and usually not at your fingertips. But most people find that their phones are a better source of information and directions, and that’s probably not the safest way to drive a car.

Instead of competing with tech companies, I’d prefer carmakers to contract — but that’s not conducive to a better bottom line [or with developing a product that’s visually and functionally different from the competition —Mark].

Drivers should care about the tech going into their cars because it could make their lives safer — and easier.

But maybe I’m wrong. So what say you, B&B? Do you care about in-car tech? Should automakers improve or outsource? Is there any tech that should be in cars that isn’t already?

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Americans Buying More Cars Than Ever, And They Can’t Stand Them http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/americans-buying-cars-ever-cant-stand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/americans-buying-cars-ever-cant-stand/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153617 Sick of recalls and rising costs, Americans are buying cars now, more than ever, and apparently they don’t like it, the Associated Press is reporting. An annual survey of 4,300 new car owners revealed that overall satisfaction with new cars is at its lowest point since 2004. Most of that is due to repeated recalls, according to […]

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Happy Face Car Lot

Sick of recalls and rising costs, Americans are buying cars now, more than ever, and apparently they don’t like it, the Associated Press is reporting.

An annual survey of 4,300 new car owners revealed that overall satisfaction with new cars is at its lowest point since 2004. Most of that is due to repeated recalls, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Overall, consumer satisfaction dipped 3.7 percent, to 79 out of 100 points.

“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder, said in a statement. “The number of recalls is at an all-time high. This should not happen with modern manufacturing technology and has negative consequences for driver safety, costs and customer satisfaction.”

Lexus ranked highest among manufacturers with a score of 84, followed closely by Mercedes (83), Acura (83) and Lincoln (83). Foreign automakers, generally speaking, did well in the survey — Subaru, BMW and Toyota all scored 82 points, despite dipping from last year’s survey.

Domestic automakers such as Ford (81) and General Motors (79) did well, however Fiat Chrysler (75) had four of its brands — Dodge (76), Jeep (75), Chrysler (74) and Fiat (73) — at the bottom of its list.

Interestingly, Japanese and Korean automakers have gained ground in satisfaction on domestic and European brands.

15aug_us-v-imp

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Union Leader Blasts Obama on Pacific Trade Talks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 21:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153377 The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with […]

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Circa 2010

The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with countries such as Japan jeopardizes American jobs because those countries may be able to source cheaper parts from outside the negotiated area, according to the report.

“I hope it is not the case that the Canadian and Mexican negotiators are actually holding a harder line than our own government on this issue. But due to the unaccountable lack of transparency from USTR, absolutely critical decisions are being made without our input or voice. Thousands of good American jobs and an iconic American industry are at risk, and we don’t even know what our government’s negotiating position is.”

According to the Detroit News, a free-trade agreement with Asia would be high on Obama’s priorities before his administration ends.

Trumka said there would be no guarantee for American automakers to gain a foothold in Japan if the Trans Pacific Partnership were created.

Instead, he said, the deal would make it easier for American automakers to source cheaper parts from China and Thailand, or other developing nations, which would come at the expense of American auto workers. Under current free trade rules in North America, 62.5 percent of a car or light truck must originate within the trade zone to be tariff free. Mexico, which is currently building nearly 4 million cars a year, would like to increase that to 65 percent. Japan is proposing a 45-percent threshold for vehicles and 30 percent for parts.

The agreement could also end the 25-percent import tax on light pickups, commonly called the “Chicken Tax.”

Automakers have said they’d prefer to renew the Chicken Tax or slowly roll the tax back after years — or even decades.

According to the story, Japan doesn’t place any import tax on American-built cars, and has said they’ve spent billions building production facilities in America — which American automakers haven’t yet done in Japan.

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At This Price, Nissan Just May As Well Pay You For a New Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152793 I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby. Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan […]

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2011 Nissan LEAF

I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby.

Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan Leaf one of the least expensive new cars in America is fascinating.

Right now, Leaf buyers in Colorado can receive the following perks: a $7,500 federal rebate, around $5,000 back from the state of Colorado, and $5,000 from Nissan if you finance your purchase through them. (Georgia, West Virginia and Connecticut are pretty high as well.)

All told, that’s $17,500 back in Colorado on a car that starts at $29,860 ($850 destination included) and your price — before negotiations with the dealer — is $12,360, if your shirt is starched, teeth are white and you max out rebates.

I called up a local Nissan dealer to confirm the details and after a little bit of checking (and a lot of trying to sell me on a lease) she confirmed I could score a Nissan for severely cheap.

FYI: A Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,995.

The financing rebate ends at the end of August, and Colorado’s $6,000 incentive (which is the highest in the nation) can’t last forever.

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Let’s Break Down The Ford Ranger and Bronco Rumors, Shall We? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/lets-break-ford-ranger-bronco-rumors-shall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/lets-break-ford-ranger-bronco-rumors-shall/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153297 News today that the Ford Ranger pickup and Bronco utility could return to the United States and Canada is being met by very enthusiastic ears, including yours truly. According to multiple outlets, the two vehicles could be built at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, the same plant that will lose Focus and C-MAX production to Mexico in 2018. […]

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everestfront

News today that the Ford Ranger pickup and Bronco utility could return to the United States and Canada is being met by very enthusiastic ears, including yours truly.

According to multiple outlets, the two vehicles could be built at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, the same plant that will lose Focus and C-MAX production to Mexico in 2018.

But, is everything as it seems? Let’s dive into the Ford product portfolio and try to make some sense of it.

First, the Ranger rumor: The global Ranger — dubbed T6, which just received a refresh for 2015 and will likely be due for a redesign for MY2019 — will make a return to the United States and Canada.

There has been some recent Ranger activity around Ford facilities in Michigan. However, the larger evidence at play to support the rumor is growing interest in smaller trucks.

Tacoma sales are up even though the next-generation truck hasn’t really started selling yet. The GM twins — Canyon and Colorado — are flying off lots as quickly as the General can build them. Why there’s an increased interest in the mid-size pickup segment is unclear; it could be that full-size pickups have just grown too big for a decent segment of the truck-buying public, that people again see mid-size trucks as alternatives to the seemingly dead, truck-based SUV segment (see: Xterra), or increased competition and marketing is making mid-size trucks more visible to consumers.

The fact the Wayne, Michigan facility needs product is another strong support for the rumor. The previous plant to build the Ranger has been shut down, so it can’t go there.

I have professed some “Charger Love” as of late and would never consider a full-size pickup. However, a mid-size offering would certainly fit my own lifestyle, as I’m sure it would for many others.

The second and more involved rumor: The Everest will come stateside with the Bronco moniker.

This rumor requires some finessing of the Ford lineup, which means we must examine the Explorer and Taurus.

It’s no secret that the Ford Explorer and Taurus gain a significant number of their sales from police departments.

Year-to-date, nearly 20 percent — 5,929 to be exact — of the Taurus’ 29,967 total sales are of the Police Interceptor variety. The other 80 percent of Taurus sales aren’t just retail; those sales are split between retail and other fleets. While a breakdown isn’t available, it does mean less than 24,038 Tauruses were sold retail year-to-date. (For comparison, FCA has sold 28,889 units of the Chrysler 300 to retail and fleet.)

The Explorer has become far more popular with police departments than the Taurus. Year-to-date, Ford has sold 14,920 Explorers to police departments, but it makes up a smaller percentage of the Explorer’s 145,785 total sales — just over 10 percent. Currently, the Explorer is the 6th most popular SUV in America behind the Nissan Rogue and ahead of the Jeep Cherokee.

The Taurus, as TTAC has reported in the past, is not long for this world … at least the American world. The sedan is likely to continue on in China, but is expected to be cancelled here. Other D4 platform mates — Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT — have also been rumored for the guillotine. That means if Ford wanted to keep the Explorer in its current form, it would likely be the only vehicle riding on a platform currently shared between five different models. Goodbye, economies of scale.

So, let’s assume that even though Explorer sales are doing fine, it’s not going to stick around either, leaving a significant hole in the Ford lineup above the Edge and below the Expedition. That hole is very similar to another one found within the Lincoln lineup between the MKX and Navigator.

Enter Everest — or, as you might be calling it in the future, the Ford Bronco (or possibly Explorer) and Lincoln Aviator.

The Everest is based on the Ranger, so the “Bronco”/Explorer and Aviator would both be a body-on-frame, rear-wheel drive SUVs. Instead of a Wrangler competitor, this would be a Grand Cherokee/Durango competitor. If you were hoping for a droptop Bronco, you’re out of luck here, folks.

“By 2020, we expect to expand the segments that we participate in by adding two new nameplates to the Lincoln brand,” said Stéphane Cesareo, spokesman for Lincoln, when we inquired on the Lincoln Aviator rumor, and the Everest would fit the bill for a premium, rear-wheel drive SUV for the Lincoln brand in addition to the return of Continental. There’s your two “new” nameplates.

This possible plan leaves Ford without a full-size sedan to sell to police departments and lacking a livery car for the Lincoln brand. However, that new Lincoln Continental could do livery duty, and a Ford-badged Continental derivative could fill the spot left by Taurus.

Whether this all comes to fruition, we’re not sure. However, as far as speculated plans are concerned, this seems like the only option for Ford (and Lincoln) going forward if the “Bronco” is anything but a rumor.

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Fiat Chrysler Reportedly Showing Dealers Impossibly Fun Cars That We May Never See http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/fiat-chrysler-reportedly-showing-dealers-impossibly-fun-cars-may-never-see/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/fiat-chrysler-reportedly-showing-dealers-impossibly-fun-cars-may-never-see/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153129 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may be showing off a Dodge Barracuda convertible, a next-generation Charger, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and a Grand Wagoneer — they probably put root beer in the fountains too — according to multiple media reports. At the dealer meeting in Las Vegas, FCA executives outlined the future for the brands (Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may be showing off a Dodge Barracuda convertible, a next-generation Charger, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and a Grand Wagoneer — they probably put root beer in the fountains too — according to multiple media reports.

At the dealer meeting in Las Vegas, FCA executives outlined the future for the brands (Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Fiat) that may include up to 30 new or refreshed products within two years.

According to reports, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne also addressed reports that the automaker was seeking a merger with another automaker, and any potential deal would be “to strengthen the competitive position of the companies involved,” he said according to Automotive News.

According to reports, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk was shown with all-wheel drive and FCA’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat engine. It was unclear if the super SUV would be all-wheel or just rear-wheel drive.

According to reports, a next-generation Wrangler was shown, but not in truck form.

Future products for the Chrysler brand weren’t immediately clear. Aside from a new Town & Country minivan, Chrysler may not have much on its horizon aside from a redesigned 300, which could be based on the new rear-wheel drive Giulia/Charger/Challenger framework.

We reached out to an FCA spokesperson who predictably said that the automaker wouldn’t comment on confidential news from its dealer meeting.

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Add Bronco To Today’s Ranger Return Rumor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/add-bronco-todays-ranger-return-rumor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/add-bronco-todays-ranger-return-rumor/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153329 Ford may bring back the Bronco name as a Ranger-based SUV if production returns to the U.S. in 2018, Bloomberg is reporting. The Bronco would be based on a mid-sized pickup frame, unlike the current Explorer. A Bronco could be targeted at Jeep, either Grand Cherokee — or Wrangler. Ford ended production of its Bronco in 1996. […]

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Classic 1966 Bronco Body Shell Available Soon

Ford may bring back the Bronco name as a Ranger-based SUV if production returns to the U.S. in 2018, Bloomberg is reporting.

The Bronco would be based on a mid-sized pickup frame, unlike the current Explorer. A Bronco could be targeted at Jeep, either Grand Cherokee — or Wrangler.

Ford ended production of its Bronco in 1996.

According to the Bloomberg report, both Ranger and Bronco could be built at Ford’s plant in Wayne, Michigan, which will lose production of the C-Max and Focus to Mexico in 2018. Adding the production of those trucks to that plant would replace production to appease the United Auto Workers during contract negotiations.

It’s unclear how the addition of a Bronco would fit into the Ford lineup, but I’m guessing Mark Stevenson has a good idea.

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The Modern Automobile Is Killing Chivalry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/modern-automobile-killing-chivalry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/modern-automobile-killing-chivalry/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152969 On April 1, 2014, I met my girlfriend Jennifer for the first time. We sipped on our coffee and tea late into the night at a local coffee joint while sharing stories and generally just trying to figure each other out. But, after a while, my legs grew restless, my rear had gone numb on […]

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2015 Nissan Micra S (1 of 10)

On April 1, 2014, I met my girlfriend Jennifer for the first time. We sipped on our coffee and tea late into the night at a local coffee joint while sharing stories and generally just trying to figure each other out. But, after a while, my legs grew restless, my rear had gone numb on the provided polypropylene seat, and I was long done with my coffee.

“Want to go for a drive?” I asked.

“Sure,” she replied.

I have no problem telling people that Jennifer and I met on Jack’s pick-up app of choice, Tinder. Jenn and I chatted back and forth for a couple of days before finally meeting. Thankfully, being an automotive journalist, I was prepared. On this particular week in April, I was driving a near-as-makes-no-difference $100,000 Audi A7 with as many options as the public relations budget could bear.

As we walked out of the coffee shop — let’s call it Jim Dortons — I reached into my pocket, pulled out the keys and unlocked the Audi’s doors.

I went to the driver’s side, she to the passenger’s side, and we both slipped into the German executive liftback.

“Wow, this is nice,” she exclaimed with the mild surprise I’ve come to love.

We explored the snow-covered streets of the city I now call home. Now and then, I let the rear of the A7 slide ever so slightly so I could prove my driving chops to my future Miss.


Earlier this year, and more than a year after Jennifer and I met each other on that dark wintery night in a coffee shop, Nissan loaned me a Micra S — base model spec with nary an option. It is, by far, one of the most basic examples of personal transportation money can buy in a First World country.

The Miss and I tend to both enjoy a burger here and there, so we headed to a local fast food joint after both putting in 10+ hours of work for the day.

We sat, traded the day’s stories (Warning to TTAC writers: She knows everything about you), and enjoyed our grill-fired deliciousness on a balmy summer evening. Nothing could be better in this moment.

When it was time to go, we walked out of the fast food joint — let’s call it Gag & Spew — I reached into my pocket, and …

… I walked to the passenger side of the car to unlock the door.

This is the first time you’ve ever physically unlocked a door for Jenn, I said to myself as the epiphany hit me like a fully loaded Amtrak train.

Not only that, I followed the unlocking action by opening the door for her.

She stood there, looked at me for mere seconds — but those seconds felt like an eternity — with a face usually reserved for times when she sees a fluffy, fresh out of the wrapper puppy (eyes that say “Awwweeee!” without the mouth needing to do so), gave me a kiss and jumped in the car. I closed the door for her.

While we can have a massive conversation about gender equality or traditional gender roles, the fact remains: until this moment, I had never unlocked nor held a car door open for Jenn. Not once. Not ever. And it all comes down to power door locks and, well, me never thinking to do it.

The same logic can probably be applied to climate control systems. Not so long ago, if your significant other was getting a little warm over on the passenger side, she might have said, “I am getting a little warm.”

“No problem, I can take care of that, dear,” you’d reply, adjust the single-zone temperature control so both of you would be comfortable — or you might even take one for the team and bear being uncomfortable yourself so she’d be content — and she would likely be appreciative of your efforts, however small it may be.

Nowadays, your reply might be, “You have your own temperature control knob, dear. You can set it to whatever you want!” Feminists might call that empowerment. I call it a missed opportunity.

All these modern features — remote power locks, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote automatic starters (the end of “Don’t worry dear. I can go out and start the car for you.”), roadside assistance (the end of “Yes, dear, I can drive out and help you change that tire.”), and numerous others — are all aimed at making the car more convenient, but also fly in the face of car guys being a chivalrous sort. Even bench seats are limited to pickups these days, unless you want to pick up an Impala Classic through a friendly fleet manager.

While Jenn and I did end our coffee date all those months ago with a kiss, I wonder: If I had held the door open for her, would I have received that kiss before our drive? And would our drive have turned out to be a much different experience?

Maybe, maybe.

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Ford May Bring Ranger Back To US in 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ford-may-bring-ranger-back-us-2018/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152977 Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting. Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus […]

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xNew-Ford-Ranger-1_Front-3qtr.jpg.pagespeed.ic.jFsDbCT0gvbowdRxGcgr

Ford is reportedly discussing bringing back the mid-size Ford Ranger pickup to America and Canada in its bargaining negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the Detroit News is reporting.

Ford may be assembling the truck, which could be brought back as early as 2018, at its Wayne, Michigan plant. The truck would replace the outgoing C-Max and Focus at the plant. Ford announced production of those two products would move to Mexico in 2018.

The last U.S.-spec Ranger was most recently produced at Ford’s St. Paul, Minnesota plant, which shuttered in 2011.

According to sources, the formal decision would need to be ratified by Ford executives and the union’s board.

According to the report, Ford was enticed by the small, but growing, mid-size pickup segment. Although the segment only accounted for 227,000 sales in 2013, it is expected to grow in coming years. Toyota’s Tacoma dominates the segment, accounting for more than half of the segment’s sales, but General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon could slowly gain a higher market share.

Ford produces the Ranger in Thailand, South Africa and Argentina for 180 global markets including Mexico. Recently, Ford announced it would produce the Ranger in Nigeria.

It’s unlikely that Ford would would bring the global Ranger to America without significant modifications for safety and fuel economy. The Ranger’s size and classification places it firmly in the CAFE “dead zone,” which could make it difficult for Ford to find a suitable (read: efficient) powertrain.

The Ranger was last redesigned in 2011 and facelifted in 2015. A redesign for the Ranger would align with the 2018 production start date in Wayne. The C-Max and Focus are scheduled to leave that plant in 2018 as well.

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Bark’s Bites: All Kids Love Fast Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/barks-bites-kids-love-fast-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/barks-bites-kids-love-fast-cars/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152809 On the rare occasion that my schedule gives me the flexibility to do so, I am always thrilled to pick my son up from school. It’s such a treat to see the little ones with their faces pressed against the glass of the exit doors, bursting with the excitement of the end of the school […]

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boss parking grass

On the rare occasion that my schedule gives me the flexibility to do so, I am always thrilled to pick my son up from school. It’s such a treat to see the little ones with their faces pressed against the glass of the exit doors, bursting with the excitement of the end of the school day, counting down the seconds until their teachers finally open up the proverbial floodgates and unleash them into the waiting arms of their parents.

My son is usually among the first to bound out of the building, and when he sees that I’m the one who has the happy job of retrieving him for the day, his eyes always light up just a little bit more. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with his love for dear old Dad.

And if I, for just one second, happen to think that he might be particularly excited to see me, he always puts an immediate pin in my balloon with the following question:

“Did you bring the Mustang today?”

As a parent of young children, I find that much of my responsibility in life is to eliminate as much of the disappointment from their lives as possible. Unfortunately, the older that they get, the more challenging that becomes; there are already disappointments from which I have no power to shield them. So when I have the power to make them happy, even in the smallest of ways, I try my best to do it.

I have long since learned answering the boy’s question with, “No, I brought the Fiesta,” brings a swift and severe look of disappointment to my little guy’s face. Therefore, even though it’s a hassle to put the car seat in and out of my Boss 302, and even though I have to contort myself into poses that would make Tony Horton proud of me on “Yoga X” day just to buckle my son into his seat, the look on his face is all worth it.

But one might expect the son of an automotive enthusiast to also have a passion for cars, so there’s nothing terribly unusual about that. No, what has always struck me is the way every single child in that building responds to a pony car that wears a paint scheme normally reserved for a vehicle that’s much more common in a school parking lot.

When the Boss is on the scene, my son makes sure to call out a hearty “Bye!” to all of his friends, just so they can see him getting into the car. The reactions I’ve heard from them are not only universal, they’re priceless:

“Wow! That car is awesome!”

“Hey, Mom — can we get one of those?”

“Aww, man. Your dad’s car is faster than my dad’s car.”

One particularly sunny afternoon, I parked next to a shiny, candy apple red Prius with temporary tags. The owner, a rather peppy-looking grandmother, was excited to show her grandson her new car when she picked him up. He took one look at the Prius, looked at my 302 sitting adjacent to it, and treated us all to a dose of that glorious honesty that all children of preschool age possess in spades:

“Nana, can you take it back and get one of those instead?

And it’s not just a Boy Thing, either. Now that my daughter has begun preschool, she’s made her preference for her afterschool chariot known as well.

“Just don’t go super fast on the way home, Dad,” she reminds me. “I kinda like going fast, but I kinda don’t.”

Seeing the purely visceral response that all of these ten-and-under boys and girls have to a car that sometimes seems like it was visually designed to impress ten-and-under boys and girls makes me wonder: At what age does society request — nay, require — us to take a more common sense approach to cars?

After all, it’s not like the other parents couldn’t afford a Mustang. In the sea of Tahoe LTZs and Explorer Limiteds, one could make the argument that the Boss 302 places right about in the middle of the parking lot’s economic strata. There’s one other somewhat older dad who picks his young son up in his gorgeous green Boxster, but the rest of the vehicles are nondescript variations of the same silver, white, or black CUV.

On some level, there’s a practicality that exists in a CUV that simply isn’t found in my Mustang. Yet I still manage to pick up two children, place them safely in car seats, put their backpacks in the trunk, and head home. One dad approached me and asked me if there was enough room in my car for kids and all their stuff. I replied that I wouldn’t necessarily want to drive to Disney World in it, but that it worked just fine as a daily commuter.

“Good,” he replied. “I really want one of those Shelbys.” Then he grinned and walked back to his Traverse. That was over a year ago. He still has the Traverse.

My guess is that he just couldn’t sell the idea to his wife — or, more likely, that he just couldn’t sell the idea to himself. Back when I had my G8, I remember feeling almost sad for a coworker who had his young son strapped in the back of a New Edge Mustang — like maybe he couldn’t afford a proper family car. Society has us all convinced that we need to make safe, easily defensible choices when it comes to our cars. Just as I’m entirely certain that every kid in that parking lot loves the Mustang, I’m entirely certain that nearly every parent judges me for putting my kids in it. Society tells us that we need a crossover for our family lives, and as the owner of one, I’m not entirely convinced society is wrong.

But you know what? I’m not entirely convinced that society is right, either. Because along with that judgment comes a piquant hint of envy. Maybe it’s a longing look from a guy who traded in his Camaro on a Grand Caravan. Maybe it’s a smile from a woman whose boyfriend used to take her out in a convertible V6 ‘Stang back in high school — or maybe she had one of her own. But, at some point, almost every right-thinking adult took that lust for a fast, loud, brash car and shoved it squarely into the deepest recesses of his brain. So, after a momentary lapse of reason, the envy goes back to that limbic part of the brain, and the cerebral part goes back to justifying the smart, sensible choice of buying a Ford Edge.

Well, I’m here to tell you that sometimes your cerebral part of your brain betrays you. Sometimes it’s okay to go back to being that nine-year-old boy who wants his car to go fast. Maybe you don’t have to go Full Mustang. Maybe you can get a slightly bigger engine in your Camry or Accord. Maybe you can look at a Charger instead. Maybe your CUV can have a Hellcat engine.

Let your inner nine-year-old out. Then, when your nine-year-old child hugs you just a little tighter for bringing his favorite car to pick him up, you’ll both be reminded why you loved cars so much in the first place.

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If You Drive A Smart Today, You Can Drive An Exotic Later http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/drive-smart-today-can-drive-exotic-later/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/drive-smart-today-can-drive-exotic-later/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152137 Two weeks ago, I wrote about the slings and arrows of car2go membership. A few members of the B&B took issue with my claim that car2go was the cheapest way to operate an automobile. One of them decided to do the math. And did he ever. If you have a modern version of Microsoft Excel […]

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about the slings and arrows of car2go membership. A few members of the B&B took issue with my claim that car2go was the cheapest way to operate an automobile. One of them decided to do the math.

And did he ever.

If you have a modern version of Microsoft Excel you can download his spreadsheet at this link. It doesn’t work perfectly in OpenOffice, but other than “Free Software” nutjobs such as myself I doubt anybody uses OpenOffice, so that’s totally fine.

“Being in finance allows me to separate hype from speculation (most of the time),” he notes, and since he’s one of our readers who hails from outside the United States, about sixteen hours by air outside in this case, I’ll give him a pass on the idea that “being in finance” and “speculation” are anything but joined at the hip. The spreadsheet allows you to plug in various values for leasing vs. buying vs. car2go. What I like about it is that it allows you tweak nearly every parameter instead of limiting you to fixed assumptions about pricing or residuals.

Having fussed with the spreadsheet for an hour or so, I can tell you that it is very difficult to make the numbers come out in favor of leasing or owning unless you really get funny with your assumptions or you plan for some very long trips behind the wheel of a Smart. But even TTAC readers who have no intention of ever getting behind the wheel of a shared automobile will enjoy the lease vs. buy calculations.

Some of us, however, require a little more out of our lives than the quiet satisfaction of knowing that one has thoroughly crunched the numbers and reduced one’s transportation expenses to a minimum, all the better to save a million dollars or so in today’s Bernankified fiat currency for an extra thirty days’ worth of life in a nightmarish assisted-living facility at the dementia-ridden end of one’s mortal coil. So our anonymous-by-request B&Ber has thoughtfully added a corner to the spreadsheet that allows one to plan a splurge with one’s savings. It includes a flight to California and an exotic-car rental. There’s even space for some expenses at the Chateau Marmont, where your humble author took a BMW i8 a few months ago and where it is possible, given the right combination of car, cash, and confidence, to engage in unprotected sex with someone who had a minor role in an episode of a made-for-cable sitcom. If that is not an incentive to save a bit on your daily grind, I don’t know what is!

I’d encourage you to download the spreadsheet and try your own calculations. Let us know how it goes. As for me — well, I compared car2go with leasing an Aventador or buying a Viper ACR, and I can state with conviction that the car-share service is definitely the lowest-cost option.

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Chart Of The Day: Mini Countryman Sales Are Crumbling In The United States http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-mini-countryman-sales-crumbling-united-states/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-mini-countryman-sales-crumbling-united-states/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141985 A rising tide lifts all boats? Not in the Mini Countryman’s case. One of the oldest models on the block, the Countryman, is suffering from a sharp decline in U.S. sales even as consumers develop greater interest in subcompact crossovers. The addition of new rivals from rival automakers certainly doesn’t help. But the Countryman may […]

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Mini Countryman sales chart TTAC 3A rising tide lifts all boats?

Not in the Mini Countryman’s case.

One of the oldest models on the block, the Countryman, is suffering from a sharp decline in U.S. sales even as consumers develop greater interest in subcompact crossovers.

The addition of new rivals from rival automakers certainly doesn’t help. But the Countryman may also be affected by the arrival of a four-door version of the regular Mini Cooper. That Mini uses new engines and is significantly more economical.

2015 Mini Countryman green

Countryman volume is down 26 percent through the first seven months of 2015. Most recently, in July, year-over-year Countryman sales were off July 2014’s pace by 45 percent, a loss of 980 units.

Meanwhile, the category in which it competes is up 64 percent this year thanks to continued gains from vehicles like the Buick Encore and added sales from new urban crossovers like the Jeep Renegade and Honda HR-V. Subtract Mini from the equation and sales of these small, sometimes-AWD tall cars are up 74 percent.

The Countryman certainly lacks a certain freshness, and it wasn’t a terribly common vehicle at the best of times. (In the Countryman’s best ever month, August of last year, 2,412 were sold.) Through 56 months, Mini USA has reported 91,721 Countryman sales. Countryman volume peaked in 2014 after a 26-percent increase in 2012, a 1-percent uptick in 2013, and a 6-percent improvement last year.

Mini is on track for fewer than 17,000 Countryman sales in 2015, the approximate number of Countrymans sold in the model’s first full year.

Mini has, however, sold 9,297 copies of the Cooper 4-Door already this year, which more than makes up for the lost Countryman sales.

Perhaps true passenger cars can still be helpful, after all.

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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Junkyard Find: 2000 Volvo S80 T6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-2000-volvo-s80-t6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/junkyard-find-2000-volvo-s80-t6/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152257 I promised more 21st-century Junkyard Finds recently, so here’s a high-end Volvo with turbo boost rivaled only by its turbocharged depreciation levels. Yes, it’s the Volvo S80, complete with twin-turbo 286hp tranverse-mount straight-six. Looks like an insurance-auction car, and it was a runner. Except for the banged-up hood (which may have been the result of […]

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18 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I promised more 21st-century Junkyard Finds recently, so here’s a high-end Volvo with turbo boost rivaled only by its turbocharged depreciation levels. Yes, it’s the Volvo S80, complete with twin-turbo 286hp tranverse-mount straight-six.
17 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

Looks like an insurance-auction car, and it was a runner.

03 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

Except for the banged-up hood (which may have been the result of junkyard employees prying it open after the inside release failed), the body and interior look to be in nice shape.

13 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I’ve heard possible urban legends stating that this engine — yes, it’s possible to get six cylinders sideways in an engine compartment — will bolt up to the bellhousing in a manual-transmission Volvo 760, which opens the door to all sorts of fun with 240 swaps. The crazy Swedes building a 500-horse Volvo 142 drift car have a couple of these engines stashed in the shop for future projects.

15 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

I’m not sure what’s going on with the steel mesh over the grille.

My goodness!

It was a futuristic-looking car, 15 or so years ago.

00 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 01 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 02 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 03 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 04 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 05 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 06 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 08 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 09 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 10 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 13 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 15 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 17 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 18 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 19 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 20 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 21 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin 22 - 2000 Volvo S80 T6 Junkyard Car - photo by Murilee Martin

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1994 Nissan Pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/crapwagon-outtake-1994-nissan-pathfinder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/crapwagon-outtake-1994-nissan-pathfinder/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144433 I loved my 1st gen Pathfinder. Unlike today’s CUVs, it was a proper SUV — derived, and barely civilized from the compact pickup truck beneath. The ride was, as they say, trucklike. The accomodations, Spartan. And, until my wife decided the normally-sturdy VG30 V6 needed some additional positive crankcase ventilation on a subzero February morning, indestructible. […]

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I loved my 1st gen Pathfinder. Unlike today’s CUVs, it was a proper SUV — derived, and barely civilized from the compact pickup truck beneath. The ride was, as they say, trucklike. The accomodations, Spartan. And, until my wife decided the normally-sturdy VG30 V6 needed some additional positive crankcase ventilation on a subzero February morning, indestructible.

(I blame my wife, but really, I’m probably at fault, as I likely botched the coolant ratio when I changed fluids the prior fall. Alas, she doesn’t read TTAC.)

Unfortunately, when our truck was hauled to the nearby Nissan dealer, our phone call came not from the service department, but from sales. A quick inspection while on a lift revealed entirely too much of the inside of the frame rails, and not enough of the outsides. The Ohio winters had claimed another victim.

I reminisced about my truck while scouring eBay, Cars.com, and Autotrader today. I noticed that there are plenty of early Pathfinders out there, but very few with low miles. I saw a bunch with over 250,000 on the odometer, which is remarkable for any car with a propensity for rust.

This ’95 looks quite clean, with around 150,000 miles under the seemingly-rust-free body. The dealer only offers three photos, so I’d insist on more photos and/or a third-party inspection before winging it to Idaho. This is a no-frills, take the family anywhere machine, unlike the modern cute-utes which wince at the suggestion of gravel.

I miss my Nissan. It never let me down (let’s forget about the better half for a moment), and carried everything I threw at it. It even hauled a dead Mazda RX-7 a couple hundred miles on a heavy trailer with no complaints. I wouldn’t try that with a modern CVT-equipped equivalent.

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2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD Review – Suave Ugly Duckling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-nissan-murano-sl-awd-review-suave-ugly-duckling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-nissan-murano-sl-awd-review-suave-ugly-duckling/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152009 2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD 3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V-6, Continuously Variable Timing Control System (260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm) Xtronic continuously variable transmission (2.413:1 – 0.383:1 range, 0.958:1 final drive) 21 city/28 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 22.4 mpg on the Soccer Dad test cycle, 75 percent city (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: SL trim, all-wheel […]

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2015 Nissan Murano (1 of 13)

2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD

3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V-6, Continuously Variable Timing Control System (260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm)

Xtronic continuously variable transmission (2.413:1 – 0.383:1 range, 0.958:1 final drive)

21 city/28 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

22.4 mpg on the Soccer Dad test cycle, 75 percent city (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: SL trim, all-wheel drive

Base Price (S FWD):
$30,445* (U.S.)/$31,858* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$39,435* (U.S.)/$41,393* (Canada)

* All prices include $885 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,860 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).

“Damn, that’s ugly,” I thought to myself — in addition to saying it openly amongst my automotive journalist friends when Nissan unveiled the new, third-generation Murano at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

“Who’s going to buy this?” I asked myself — in addition to everyone who would possibly listen to my whining.

“I bet this won’t sell,” proclaimed my inner monologue — in addition to my external one.

Boy, was I wrong on that last point. The new Murano’s year-to-date sales in Canada have already eclipsed last year’s entirely (sales surpassed 1,000 units in June 2015 for the first time ever in Canada), and it will likely sell more in the U.S. than it has in the last couple years at the very least.

When I had a chance to drive the newest “lifestyle” crossover from Nissan, I realized why my predictions were so wrong. If you can look past the sheet metal, the aging VQ35DE V-6 engine and the continuously variable transmission that’s become ubiquitous with the Nissan brand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is arguably the best lifestyle crossover on the market.

That should be no surprise. One could make a case for the Nissan Murano being a pioneer in this segment. Back in 2002, Nissan rolled out the first-generation Murano to either fanfare or fiery criticism, depending on who you asked.

The non-luxury softroader was born — whether you liked it or not.

2015 Nissan Murano (2 of 13)

Exterior
To better understand the Murano and its “Predator with a Beverly Hills facelift” styling, one must understand the competition — namely the Ford Edge. Neither vehicle communicates a modicum of off-roading intentions, even though both are available with all-wheel drive. Both are targeted directly at yuppie dinks with money to burn and status to reinforce. They want a vehicle that’s visually loud so they can be unique just like everyone else.

Compared to prior generations, the Murano is more visually windswept up front due to its corporate V-motion grille and Z-inspired headlights. It’s a cohesive design regardless of how visually off-putting I might personally find it.

Around the side, the Murano flaunts the same floating roof treatment craze that’s seeing more use at Nissan and elsewhere. Our mid-trim SL tester wore standard 18-inch wheels shod with 235/65R18 rubber that didn’t visually fill the wheel wells as much as the 20 inchers available on the Platinum trim, but still did a much better job of not making the car look plebeian compared to the Edge on its smaller wheels. Actually, the 18s make the Murano look trendy, expensive and — viewing it as a car guy — comfortable.

2015 Nissan Murano (3 of 13)

Around back are some of the most confusing shapes and surfaces you’ll find on any crossover on sale today. The rear lamps sport the same boomerang styling as those up front. The blacked-out floating roof section, when inspected closely, even has some metallic flake in the plastic so it doesn’t look flat and cheap. Like the side, a chrome strip breaks up the lower body cladding and high-gloss paint, like a belt separating black pants and a loudly colored button-up shirt.

Overall, the Murano looks expensive and expressive, but its execution is far from my cup of tea. The Ford Edge ticks the same boxes without being visually nauseating.

2015 Nissan Murano (5 of 13)

Interior
Years ago, I listened to a stand-up comic — whose name completely escapes me — do a bit on yuppies and yard sales.

“Yuppie yard sales are just like normal ones — except nothing is for sale. Yuppies just want you to look at their stuff.”

Nissan knows the typical Murano buyer isn’t going to have kids — or if they do have that elusive single child, the chances of he or she having more than two friends willing to ditch their Facebooks and video games to actually drive somewhere is pretty slim. Instead, what yuppies do have is personal belongings — or at least more personal belongings than their kid has friends — so, understandably, there’s no third row seating. In its place is a cavernous cargo area so you can take all your stuff to the local yuppie yard sale, show it off, and bring it home in a flashy ride.

Unfortunately for the Murano, the Edge can hold even more yuppie junk in its upwardly mobile trunk; 32.1 cu. ft. of cargo space is available behind the second row in the Murano (minus 1 cu. ft. with the moonroof) versus 39.2 cu. ft. in the Edge.

You’d think that maybe the Murano is shorter than the Edge, but it’s actually longer on the outside by 4.7 inches. Wheelbases are similar at 111.2 and 112.2 inches respectively. And, as far as I can tell, the space isn’t being shifted to the passenger compartment.

2015 Nissan Murano (12 of 13)Murano (w/o moonroof)

Front headroom – 39.9 inches
Front legroom – 40.5 inches
Front hip room – 55.4 inches
Front shoulder room – 59.5 inches
Rear headroom – 39.8 inches
Rear legroom – 38.7 inches
Rear hip room – 55.2 inches
Front shoulder room – 58.8 inches

Edge

Front headroom – 40.2 inches
Front legroom – 40.5 inches
Front hip room – 55.9 inches
Front shoulder room – 60.3 inches
Rear headroom – 40.3 inches
Rear legroom – 40.6 inches
Rear hip room – 57.5 inches
Front shoulder room – 60.5 inches

(Bold is the greater measure.)

I’m flummoxed.

Regardless of the numbers, the Murano is incredibly comfortable up front and I didn’t once think I lacked space for my 6-foot-1-inch lanky frame. Nor did passengers ask for me to scootch the driver’s seat up to give them additional rear legroom. However, if you’re a sizable dink, you might want to opt for the Edge.

2015 Nissan Murano (7 of 13)

When you do find your place of comfort in the driver seat, you’re greeted by a steering wheel that could be found in almost any other Nissan. The push-button start is easily found in the center dash instead of tucked somewhere being the steering wheel. Other controls are quite simple, with HVAC knobs and buttons located below the infotainment screen and shortcuts to navigation, radio and other infotainment features placed on either side. Nissan says it has decreased the number of buttons needed to operate their system and this amount seems like a happy medium.

2015 Nissan Murano (8 of 13)

The instrument panel consists of two large dials separated by a very clear, 7-inch LCD screen with pages that are easily accessible through the steering wheel mounted controls. Unlike the Micra, the Murano is fitted with an actual fuel gauge and not just an LCD representation.

As I mentioned above, the front seats are incredibly comfortable, though they do have a look of cheapness. Maybe it’s the semi-gloss sheen. I just wish they looked as good as they felt. Same goes for the rear.

At least you will be safe, with a full suite of airbags that includes a driver’s knee airbag, just in case.

2015 Nissan Murano (4 of 13)

Powertrain
The 3.5-liter VQ35DE V-6 sitting under the hood of the Murano has to be one of the oldest engines on sale today. Introduced in 2001, the VQ series engine has been constantly updated and comes in a number of tunes depending on its application. However, it doesn’t come with direct injection or some of the other goodies found in competing products.

That said, the VQ is still one of the best sounding engines money can buy — probably because it doesn’t come with direct injection or the other goodies. Even when paired with Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, the VQ rumbles with its all-but familiar growl.

When Nissan started fitting its lower-end, four-cylinder cars with CVTs, I moaned a great moan. But this — with the V-6 and some torque to keep revs low — makes boatloads of sense and is exceptionally smooth without the typical whine experienced with smaller engines mated to similar transmissions. To top it all off, Nissan’s combination is 4 mpg easier on fuel on the combined cycle than the Edge, representing a $350 annual savings according to the EPA calculator.

2015 Nissan Murano (13 of 13)

Infotainment
Nissan’s Around View has been on the market for quite some time, but this is the first time it’s been fitted to the Murano (incidentally, after it was fitted to the Versa Note). As one can expect, images from the camera are fairly distorted to give you a better field of vision, but there’s something else that bothers me about it. Image quality is, well, a bit subpar. Even though other systems obviously don’t give you a full 360-degree view of the vehicle on an 8-inch screen, the images offered on the Nissan system look pixelated to the point where you might actually miss something — though if that something is moving, the Moving Object Detection should pick it up. Meanwhile, the “Camera” button on the console lets you activate the system when parking nose first, which is great for someone like me who can’t place a vehicle square between two white lines.

Around View aside, the new NissanConnectSM system is enhanced over the last generation, though its ease of use has been hampered because of it. Thanks to a number of new connectivity features and other digitial knickknacks, the Nissan infotainment system is a bit more bloated. If you like fully featured infotainment, this is a great solution, but this might not be a selling point if you are like the vast majority of vehicle buyers who don’t use all the features provided by automakers.

Drive
What sets the Murano apart from the rest is how it drives. The 3.5-liter engine is as smooth as you can get. The CVT will do some “shifting,” but only so you can feel a little bit of torque transmitted into the seat now and then. Also, those seats are as good as they come.

However, these pieces aren’t the Murano’s killer app. Instead, its suspension tuning and decent tire sidewalls on our SL-trimmed tester that give the Murano a ride befitting its Infiniti luxury brand. Platinum models give you 20-inch wheels as standard, and I’m not sure that’s a good buy if ride quality is No. 1 on your car hunt.

In addition to the suspension, the Murano’s electric power steering also makes it light to handle. Who cares if it feels a bit disconnected? If you are looking for an engaging drive, you are shopping in the wrong segment by looking at the Murano. For a few thousand more, there are some interesting options from the Germans, though you might have to downsize.

Aaron Cole, Chris Tonn, and I all had a chat about the Murano styling. They quite like the Nissan … and they’d take it over the Ford Edge. I’d rather the Blue Oval, based on styling alone, inside and out. Yet, if the Edge didn’t drive as nice as the Murano (and I’m not sure if it does but an Edge is on the way) I’d probably have the Murano … the fuel economy bump for me is a nice to have.

If you’re a yuppie with some coin to spend, the Murano and Edge are like white and red wine: they’re both wine and they both get the job done of looking classy, but it’s all a matter of taste. The Murano, to most, will taste just fine.

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Who Reads The Instruction Manual? (Update: No One) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/reads-instruction-manual-update-no-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/reads-instruction-manual-update-no-one/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:22:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152689 J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist. According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 […]

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manual characteristics

J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist.

According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 percent); mobile Internet connectivity (38 percent); automatic parking aids (35 percent); heads-up displays (33 percent); and apps (32 percent).

Owners said their smartphones probably do all those things better, and who has time to learn systems when you have to text and drive anyway?


“While dealers are expected to play a key role in explaining the technology to consumers, the onus should be on automakers to design the technology to be intuitive for consumers,” said Kristin Kolodge, who is the executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “Automakers also need to explain the technology to dealership staff and train them on how to demonstrate it to owners.”

Ongoing cost could be a concern too. For example, Chevrolet’s mobile WiFi hotspot, which is equipped in all of its new cars, requires a subscription to OnStar in addition to monthly fees for data usage beyond the initial 3 GB of data. A monthly plan for data could range between $25 and $85 a month for 200 MB to 5 GB of data.

Beyond what the dealer doesn’t tell you about your new car, there’s no real resource for drivers to learn about their car, is there? (Answer: maybe.)

The study doesn’t directly ask the question, but many car manuals are disorganized encyclopedias of frustration that few people seem to use. For example, a current-generation Mini comes with seven booklets (the longest is 222 pages, the shortest is a fold-out brochure) one USB drive and three informational cards.

(Included in the instruction manual are gems such as: “Due to system limitations, warnings may not be issued at all, or may be issued late or improperly. Therefore, always be alert and ready to intervene …” Owner’s manuals are too much and not enough, all at the same time.)

More importantly than wasting your time, unused tech may be wasting money.

“In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers,” Kolodge said in a statement announcing the findings.

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Nissan’s Next Z Vehicle Could Be a Death Star http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissans-next-z-vehicle-death-star/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissans-next-z-vehicle-death-star/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152625 Nissan’s next Z could be a crossover because the world needs another crossover, Autocar is reporting. The next-generation Z may appear in Frankfurt as a concept to gauge the new direction for the model, according to the report. The car could be a two- or four-door crossover, powered by a gasoline or hybrid powerplant — […]

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2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Nissan’s next Z could be a crossover because the world needs another crossover, Autocar is reporting.

The next-generation Z may appear in Frankfurt as a concept to gauge the new direction for the model, according to the report. The car could be a two- or four-door crossover, powered by a gasoline or hybrid powerplant — or it could be a sub-orbital military base with the power to destroy planets. (We just don’t know!)

A crossover Z could be a logical step for the company to appeal to more buyers, or it could cannibalize sales from the Juke. At least we know the next-generation Z won’t be the IDx.

According to Autocar, the crossover Z could be based on the future shared global CMF B platform and theoretically home a 1.6-liter turbocharged mill.

We may have to wait until the Frankfurt Auto Show next month to see what Nissan’s up to, but any concept would likely be a far first step in some kind of product planning.

Car rumors are fun.

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