The Truth About Cars » AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Fourth-Gen Toyota Prius To Receive AWD, New Battery Packs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fourth-gen-toyota-prius-to-receive-awd-new-battery-packs/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866362 2014 Toyota Prius

Though it may be a while before the fourth-generation Toyota Prius leaves the assembly line, it may be worth the wait as far as batteries and drivetrains are concerned.

Automotive News reports the new hybrid will have two choices for battery power. According to senior managing officer of powertrain development Koei Saga, both a low-cost nickel-metal hydride unit and a larger-capacity lithium ion pack — for longer electric-only range — will help provide power. Though Saga was cagey regarding economy numbers, he claimed that the new packs’ economy would “surprise everyone.”

Meanwhile, the power won’t be directed toward just the front wheels. Saga says there’s a possibility that AWD could be in the cards for the new Prius, which will be underpinned by the company’s Toyota New Global Architecture.

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Piston Slap: New CV Boots? A Split Decision! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:53:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860313 TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes:

Long time no talk (I sound like a native American an Indian).  (Yeah, not so much. – SM)

I have an 09 Outback with ~65k miles.  I had noticed a bit of a burning smell after running it for a while and it was pretty strong after a recent trip.  I thought it smelled like a belt slipping but when I popped the hood the two belts looked fine.  After looking around for a minute I realized that the passenger side CV boot had torn and was dripping grease on to the cat.  Checking the other side revealed that the driver’s side boot was also torn.  Apparently this is a pretty common failure for scoobies.  The Internet says I should be concerned if I hear a “popping” sound or the clunk associated with failing bearings.  Luckily I am hearing neither.  The dealer had a set price of $370 per boot for replacing the boots that the service manager somewhat disconcertingly blurted out almost before I finished describing the problem.  The independent shop thought they could do both for less than $500 if the axles weren’t bad, but if they were bad then it would be another $450 per.

My question is this:  Can I just get split boots from JC Whitney and pack them with grease or do I really need to have the pros fix it?

Sajeev answers:

The split boots are probably a great idea, Dorman makes good stuff for old cars when the OEMs can or will not. That said, I’ve never used split boots on my rides as I roll RWD only.  But here’s the real problem: armchair analysis.

  • Do you think road dirt/debris lodged inside the boot will eventually eat the axle bearings?
  • Do you have any doubts to that question?
  • Is that your final answer?

Only you can answer that and decide what’s worth your time/money.  The $20-something for split boots is a cheap fix that’ll probably work, as you mentioned the axles are neither clunking nor popping: now try it from a standstill with the steering wheel turned at full lock (i.e. full left AND full right) and listen for the clunk.

If that test works out, well, go ahead and use the split boots.  They will probably extend the life of the axle long enough to justify their expense.

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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Junkyard Find: 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagovan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-honda-civic-4wd-wagovan/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=810810 17 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBefore Subaru finally nailed down the sales-clinching formula for a car that had four-wheel-drive but didn’t seem too truck-like, all the major Japanese car manufacturers took at shot at building little sedans and wagons with power going to all the wheels. Since I live in Colorado, I get to see examples of each of those 1980s efforts, most of which didn’t result in much showroom action but are still pretty interesting today. In this series, we’ve seen a Camry All-Trac, quite a few Corolla All-Tracs, lots of Tercel 4WD wagons, countless elderly Subarus, and so on. The Honda Shuttle aka Civic Wagovan shows up in Denver wrecking yards as well, and I don’t bother to photograph most of them. This late Wagovan with the futuristic “Real-Time” four-wheel-drive system, however, is a rare find even in Colorado.
26 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReal-Time 4WD didn’t require the driver to throw a lever or push a button when snow or mud threatened, and thus you didn’t have to worry about leaving the car in four-wheel-drive on dry asphalt and tearing up the tires (or worse). Of course, there was a fuel-economy penalty for using a center differential and driving all four wheels all the time, but Subaru proved that this doesn’t hurt sales.
22 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere are emblems boasting of this technology all over the car.
03 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ’88 4WD Wagovan also got a super-low (I assume that’s what the “SL” stands for) first-gear, which was probably great for climbing steep driveways and busting CV joints.
12 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnder the hood, the pretty-potent-for-1988 106-horse D16A6.
02 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNearly 180,000 miles. No rust on the body, interior not too bad, so my guess is that a blown head gasket doomed this car.

I couldn’t find any Japanese-market ads with the screeching tires and macho voiceovers that the Civic Shuttle deserved.


At least they still appreciate the 4WD Wagovan in Sweden.

01 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1988 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 4×4 (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/review-2014-jeep-cherokee-limited-v6-4x4-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/review-2014-jeep-cherokee-limited-v6-4x4-with-video/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=739825 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-002

The folks at Jeep have known for some time that high volume on-road models have to be part of the mix to keep low volume off-road models viable. From the 1946 Willys Station Wagon and the original Wagoneer, to the Grand Cherokee and the Compass, Jeep has been on a steady march towards the word no Wrangler owner wants to hear: “crossover”. Their plan is to replace the off-road capable Liberty and compete with the RAV4, CR-V and 20 other small crossovers with one vehicle: the 2014 Cherokee.

With two ambitious (and contradictory) missions and unconventional looks, the Cherokee has turned into one of the most polarizing cars in recent memory. It is therefore no surprise the Cherokee has been getting mixed reviews. USA Today called it “unstoppable fun” while Consumer Reports called it “half baked” with a “choppy ride and clumsy handling.” Our own Derek Kreindler came away disappointed with its on-road performance at the launch event, though he had praise for the Cherokee’s off-road capabilities. What should we make of the glowing reviews, and the equally loud dissenting voices?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

I’ve always said styling is a personal preference and although the Cherokee is far from my cup of tea, I’m glad Chrysler decided to color outside the lines. The “bent” 7-slot grill still strikes me as peculiar, but what made me scratch my head more is the lighting. You’ll find the headlamps in the middle of the bumper cover behind a smoked plastic lens, while the daytime running lamps and turn signals live in a separate module high up on the front, Meanwhile, the fog lamps are nestled at the bottom of the bumper. Out back the Cherokee is far more mainstream with a fairly plain (and very vertical) rear hatch. Overall the looks are certainly striking and unmistakable, I’m just not sure if that’s a good thing.

The Cherokee is “kinda-sorta” based on the Dodge Dart which itself is more-or-less a stretched and widened Alfa Romeo Giulietta. While some Jeep fans call any car-based Jeep heresy, the Cherokee isn’t the first car/SUV hybrid at Jeep and it won’t be the last. The side profile, specifically the front overhang, is where the Cherokee’s dual mission starts to show. A transverse mounted engine creates a long overhang compared to a traditional RWD SUV. This isn’t a problem in the Patriot, which has much lower aspirations, but does pose a problem for “the off-road crowd.” To compensate, the Cherokee rides higher than the competition (7.8 to 8.8 inches) and uses two different bumper designs. Sport, Latitude and Limited trims get a more traditional (if you can call it that) bumper design with a fairly flat front while Trailhawk models pull the bottom of the bumper up to allow a 50% better approach angle and causing a “wedge-like” front profile. Out back similar changes to the rear bumper improve the Trailhawk’s departure angle.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-004

Interior

While the Grand Cherokee continues it’s mission as the “American Range Rover,” anyone looking for the Cherokee to be the “American Evoque” is going to be disappointed. Even so, I found the the interior to be class leading in many ways, with more soft touch plastics than you’ll find in the competition. Chrysler fitted the Grand Cherokee’s chunky steering wheel to the smaller Jeep which gives the cabin a more premium feel. Most Cherokees on dealer lots will have a leather wrapped wheel, but base models get a urethane tiller. The Cherokee retains the optional steering wheel heater from the Grand Cherokee, but ditches the paddle shifters.

The wide front seats are deeply padded, supportive and easily the best in the segment in terms of comfort. Thankfully, the engineers ditched the “dome-shaped” bottom cushion found in other Chrysler products allowing you to sit “in” the seats, not “on” the seats. Most models get a fold-flat front passenger seat improving cargo versatility, but that option is incompatible with the optional “ventilated front seats and multi-way with four-way power lumbar support” package for the front passenger.

IMG_1374

Although not as comfortable as the front, the second row is easily the most comfortable in the segment. Seat cushions are thickly padded, recline, and slide fore/aft to adjust the cargo area dimensions. (Or get a child seat closer.) The Cherokee offers two inches more rear legroom than CR-V, three more than RAV4 and nearly four inches more than Escape. The seat bottom cushions also ride higher off the ground so adults won’t feel like they have their knees in their chest.

Because of the need for off-road-capable departure angles and ground clearance, a compromise had to be made and I found it behind the [optional] power tailgate. The Cherokee suffers from the smallest cargo hold among its target cross-shops by a wide margin at 24.8 cubic feet. The next smallest entry (the CX-5) will hold over 40% more behind the second row (34 cubes) while the Rogue’s generous booty will swallow 40 cubic feet of whatever. Note: The Cherokee’s spec sheet lists cargo capacity at 29.7 cubic feet but that measurement is taken with the 2nd row adjusted all the way forward in its tracks which cuts rear legroom down to well below the competition.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior uConnect 8.4

Infotainment

Depending on trim level, you’ll find two different systems in the dash. Things start out with uConnect 5.0 in the Sport and Latitude. Running on a Microsoft OS (like Ford SYNC), this unit is more sluggish than the UNIX-based 8-inch system but offers many of the same features excluding navigation. While other Chrysler/Fiat models with uConnect 5.0 have the option to add TomTom navigation at a later date, that doesn’t seem to apply here. The touchscreen features full USB/iPod integration, optional XM satellite radio and a Bluetooth speakerphone in addition to acting as the climate control display and seat heater controls. Sound thumps out via 6-standard speakers, and you can pay $200 for an optional CD player if you haven’t joined the 2st century.

Optional on Latitude and standard on Limited/Trailhawk is the 8-inch QNX UNIX based “uConnect 8.4.” The system features polished graphics, snappy screen changes and a large, bright display. All the features you expect from a connected car are standard, from voice commands for USB/iDevice control to smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart or Slacker. You can have text messages read to you, dictate replies and search for restaurants or businesses via Yelp. In addition to the smartphone-tied features, it integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network for over-the-air software updates and access to the new “App Store.” Since there’s a cell modem on-board, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices. Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services from traffic updates to fuel prices. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports.

For an extra $795 you can add Garmin’s navigation software to the system and Chrysler tells us that the nav software can be added after purchase. Our tester had the $395 optional 9-speaker sound system with a subwoofer. Sound quality ranged from average with the standard 6-speaker setup to excellent with the optional speakers. Unfortunately, the up-level speaker package requires you have navigation as well, bringing the price bump to $1190 if you were only after the louder beats.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Engine-002

Drivetrain

All trims start with Chrysler’s 2.4L “Tigershark” four-cylinder engine delivering 184 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of twist. Optional on all but the Sport is a new 3.2L V6 good for 271 horses and 239 lb-ft. Sadly we won’t get the 2.0L Fiat diesel on our shores, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to burn oil in your country, that engine delivers 170 ponies and 258 lb-ft of twist. Power is sent to the ground via a controversial 9-speed automatic designed by ZF and built by Chrysler. The 9-speed is very similar to the one used in the Range Rover Evoque although few parts are directly interchangeable.

While most crossovers offer a single AWD system Jeep gives you three options. First up we have a traditional slip-and-grip AWD system with a multi-plate clutch pack (Active Drive) that sends power to the rear when required. Jeep combined this with a “rear axle disconnect” feature to improve fuel economy. This is the system you’ll find on most of the Sport, Latitude and Limited Cherokees on dealer lots.

IMG_1376

Available on Latitude and Limited is Active Drive II which adds a segment-exclusive rock crawl ratio. Because of the way transverse transaxles work, this system operates differently than a longitudinal (RWD) system in that there are actually two two-speed transfer cases. Power exits the transmission and enters a “PTU” where power is split front and rear. Up front, power flows from the PTU to a 2-speed planetary gearset and then back into the transmission’s case to the front differential. For the back wheels, power flows from the multi-plate clutch pack and rear axle disconnect clutch inside the PTU to an angle gear unit which rotates power 90-degrees and connects to the prop shaft. The prop shaft connects to another 2-speed planetary gearset and then finally to the rear axle.

Engaging 4-Low causes the PTU to engage the rear axle and engage the primary low ratio gearset.  At the same time, the low ratio gearset in the rear axle unit engages. Vehicle electronics confirm that the system has engaged both units before you can move forward. Should you need the ultimate in off-road ability, the Trailhawk throws in a locking rear differential (this is the third system, called Active Drive Lock), hill ascent/descent control and various stability control programs for off-road terrain. Before you ask “is this a real low-ratio?” 4-Low is 56:1 with the 2.4L engine and 47.8:1 with the 3.2L. That 56:1 ratio is lower than anything Jeep has sold, save the Wrangler Rubicon’s insane 73:1.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-004Modifications

Being the owner of a Jeep with a minor four-inch lift kit installed, after-market options are near and dear. Of course RAV4/CR-V/Escape shoppers aren’t your typical lift-kit demographic, so for many of you, this section isn’t germane. Because of the Cherokee’s design, ride height modifications are not going to be as easy as with solid-axle Jeeps of yore. With longitudinal engine mounting and solid axles, lifting is an easy task up to around four-inches, at which point you may need to start thinking about new driveshafts and possible U-joint replacements. With a design like the Cherokee’s, anything beyond an inch or two can result in serious suspension geometry changes that have a huge impact on handling and tire wear. While it would be possible to design kits with four new half-shafts, springs and suspension bits that would lift and correct the geometry change, I suspect the costs would be prohibitive, so don’t expect much more than a 2-3 inch spring-spacer kit for base models and 1-2 inches for the Trailhawk.

Pricing

Most shoppers will be deciding between the Sport, Latitude and Limited trims starting at $22,295, $24,495 and $27,995 respectively for FWD models. Adding AWD increases the price tag by $2,000 and on Latitude and Limited and you can get the low ratio gearbox with a 1-inch suspension bump for an additional $995. The Sport model comes well equipped compared to the competition with that 5-inch infotainment system, auto-down windows and most creature comforts you expect except for air conditioning. You’ll find A/C in the oddly named $795 “cold weather group” which also includes heated mirrors, a leather steering wheel, remote start, heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. At the base level the Sport is roughly the same price as the Toyota and Honda but adding the $795 package pushes the price comparison in the Jeep’s favor by more than $1,000.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-008

Latitude adds a standard 115V outlet, leather wrapped steering wheel, auto up/down windows, fold flat front seat, ambient lighting, A/C, steering wheel audio controls and fog lamps in addition to allowing access to the more robust AWD system, V6 engine and navigation. Limited tosses in power front seats, the 7-inch LCD instrument cluster (seen above), an auto dimming mirror, heated steering wheel, soft touch plastics on the doors, automatic headlamps, one year of XM radio, turn signals on the side mirrors and the ability to option your Cherokee up to $40,890 by adding self-parking, cooled seats, HID headlamps and more options than I care to list.

Then there is the Trailhawk. As the only CUV with a 2-speed transfer case, locking differential, tow hooks, off-road oriented software programming and all-terrain rubber, this Cherokee is in a class by itself. It’s also priced in a class by itself. Starting at $29,495 and ending at $40,890, the Trailhawk has a similar MSRP spread as the Limited but it trades the optional luxury items for off-road hardware.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-014

Drive

Chrysler decided to make the Cherokee the first recipient of their new technology onslaught. If you’re willing to pay, you can option your Jeep up with a full-speed range radar cruise control, collision warning and collision prevention with automatic braking, cooled seats, lane departure warning and prevention and rear cross path collision detection. The Cherokee is also Chrysler’s first self-parking car, and like the new Mercedes S-Class, the Jeep will back itself into perpendicular spots in addition to parallel parking. The tech worked well and is as easy to use as Ford’s system, although I’m not sure I want to live in a world where folks can’t perpendicular park. (You know, in regular old parking spaces.) If you opt for the ultrasonic parking sensors, the Cherokee will also apply the brakes before you back into that shopping cart you didn’t see.

Most reviewers are so caught up in the way the 9-speed automatic shifts. The truth is, hybrids, dual clutch transmissions, robotized manuals, CVTs and automatics with new technologies are only going to become more common and it’s time we in the auto press adjusted. If you want to know more about why the 9-speed does what it does, check our our deep dive on dog clutches. All I’m going to say here is that I got used to the way the transmission shifts and it never really bothered me.

IMG_1373

At 4,100lbs the Cherokee is 600lbs heavier than a comparable RAV4 or CX-5. The extra weight is caused by the structural reinforcements required for off roading. Unfortunately it causes some on-road compromises. Acceleration with the 2.4L engine is adequate but sluggish compared to the lighter competition. The V6 on the other hand hits 60 MPH in 6.5 seconds which ties with the 2.0L Ecoboost Escape as the fastest in the class. Regardless of the engine you choose, the Cherokee has one of the quietest cabins in the segment thanks to extensive sound deadening. All the foam comes in handy on 2.4L models as the small engine spends more time in lower gears thanks to the Cherokee’s heft.

Once on the highway the 9-speed automatic helped the porky crossover average a respectable 23.7 MPG, just 1.3 MPG behind the much slower RAV4. The economy is all down to the rear axle disconnect feature and the 9-speed transmission. By completely disconnecting the rear axle via a clutch, parasitic losses drop to nearly zero when compared to other small crossovers. The downside to this is that when the system is in “Auto” power is sent 100% to the front axle until there is slip at which point the Cherokee must re-connect the rear axle then engage a secondary multi-plate clutch to move power. This system allows greater economy but is much slower to react and adds some weight to the mix. To compensate, the Cherokee allows you to fully lock the center coupling and engage the rear axle at any speed by engaging various drive modes. Thanks to an extremely tall 9th gear, the V6 spins at a lazy 1,500 RPM at 82 MPH allowing a reported 25 MPG on level ground.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Wheel

The heavy and substantial feel on winding roads and reminded me more of the Grand Cherokee than your average CUV. Soft springs and well-tuned dampers delivered a supple ride on a variety of surfaces and the Cherokee never felt unsettled. However, those same suspension choices allow plenty of body roll in the corners, tip when accelerating and dive when braking. As with most entries, the Cherokee uses electric power steering so there is precious little feel behind the wheel. When pushed near its limits, the Cherokee delivers reasonable grip thanks to wide tires and a 57/43 (F/R) weight balance which is essentially the same as the CX-5. If this sounds like the on-road description of a body-on-frame SUV from 10 years ago, you’re not far off base. But is that a bad thing? Not in my book. Why? It’s all about the other half of the Cherokee’s mission.

With more ground clearance, a rated water fording depth of 20 inches, 4,500lbs of towing capacity and a more robust AWD system, the Cherokee can follow the Grand Cherokee down any trail without fear. Of course both Jeeps should be careful not to follow a Wrangler, as neither is as off-road capable as they used to be, but the gist is that both are far more capable than the average crossover. Jeep’s traction and stability control systems are different than what you find in the on-road oriented competition in that the software’s objective is to move power from wheel to wheel rather than just limit wheel spin. Competitive systems reduce engine power first, then selectively brake wheels. The Jeep system in “Mud” mode is more interested with keeping the wheels all spinning the same than curbing engine power. The Cherokee also allows the center coupling to be locked at higher speeds than the competition, offering a 20-inch rated water fording depth, 7.9 to 8.8 inches of ground clearance and available skid plates. While the Cherokee will never be as much fun off-road as a 4Runner, Wrangler, or other serious off-road options, you can have a hoot and a half at the off-road park in stock Trailhawk trim.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-015

If a crossover is supposed to be a cross between a family sedan and an SUV, the Cherokee is the truest small crossover you can buy. Trouble is, most shoppers are really just looking for the modern station wagon: something with a big cargo hold and car-like manners. In this area the Cherokee comes up short. It’s big and heavy and it drives like it’s big and heavy. But it’s not without its charms, the Cherokee is the only compact crossover capable of the school run and the Rubicon trail. It’s also the quietest and most comfortable crossover going, even if it is short on trunk space. If you’re willing to pay, it’s also the one loaded with the most gadgets, goodies and luxury amenities.

Is the Cherokee half-baked like Consumer Reports said? Perhaps. The Cherokee’s off-roading mission results in limited cargo space and vague handling while the on-road mission demanded a FWD chassis with high fuel economy. But it faithfully manages to give 99% of Liberty shoppers and 80% of RAV4 shoppers a viable alternative. Is that half-baked or a successful compromise? If you’re after a soft-roader to get you from point A to point B with stellar fuel economy, great handling and a massive cargo area, there are better options than the Cherokee. If however you “need” a crossover but “want” a go-anywhere SUVlet, this is your only option.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.15 Seconds

0-60: 6.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.75 Seconds

Average observed fuel economy: 23.7 MPG over 453 miles

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 67 dB

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Engine 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Engine-001 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited 3.2L V6 Engine-002 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-001 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-002 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-003 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-004 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-005 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-006 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-007 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-008 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-009 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Interior-010 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-001 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-002 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-003 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-004 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-005 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-006 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-007 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-008 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-009 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-010 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-011 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-012 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-013 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-014 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited V6 Exterior-015 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Wheel IMG_1373 IMG_1374 IMG_1376 ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1982 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=733825 15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith so many old Subarus in Denver wrecking yards, I do run across the occasional BRAT. We’ve seen this ’79 and this very rare Sawzall Edition ’86 so far in this series, and today we’ll be looking at a well-used ’82 that still has the very rare lawsuit-inducing jumpseats in the back.
14 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, those Chicken Tax-skirting jumpseats that made the BRAT, legally speaking, a car instead of a truck were loose in the bed of this Subaru when I found it a couple weeks back.
13 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought about buying the seats for my Dodge A100 van, but they’re missing the headrests and one of the grab handles, plus the floor-mounting brackets were beat to hell.
12 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars rusted very quickly, though Colorado’s arid climate spared this one from full-on Michigan-grade cancer.
10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNice BRATs are worth quite a bit these days. Thrashed ones are worth scrap value.
05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStrangely, I saw three vehicles with variations on this sticker during this trip to the junkyard. There’s meaning there somewhere.

01 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Review: 2014 Dodge Durango Limited V8 (with Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-dodge-durango-limited-v8-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-dodge-durango-limited-v8-with-video/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695921 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-002

Car shopping used to be so simple: you could buy a truck or a car. Then came the wagon, minivan, sport utility and the latest craze: the crossover. There’s just one problem with the crossover for me however: it’s not a crossover. With a name like that you’d assume that a modern crossover blended the lines between a truck/SUV with a car/minivan. The reality of course is that the modern three-row crossover is just a front-driving minivan that doesn’t handle as well or haul as much stuff. In this sea of transverse minivans in SUV clothing lies just one mass-market vehicle that I can honestly call a three-row crossover: the Dodge Durango. Instead of a car that’s been turned into an AWD minivan with a longer hood, the Dodge uses drivetrains out of the RAM 1500 combined with a car-like unibody. While rumors swirled that the Durango would be canceled in favor of a 7-seat Jeep, Dodge was working a substantial makeover for 2014.

Click here to view the embedded video.

So what is the Durango? Is it an SUV? Is it a crossover? In my mind, both. If a Grand Cherokee can be a unibody SUV and not a crossover, the Durango must be an SUV. But if a crossover is a hybrid between a car and a truck, then the Durango is one as well. While the first and second generation Durangos were body-on-frame SUVs based on the Dakota pickup, this Durango is a three-row Grand Cherokee, which is a two-row Jeep version of the three-row Mercedes ML which is quasi related to the Mercedes E-Class, which is quasi related to the Chrysler 300. Lost yet?

Exterior

2014 brings few changes to the outside of the Durango. The design first released in 2011 still looks fresh to my eye but that could be because I don’t see many on the road. Up front we get a tweaked corporate grille and new lamps while out back we get “race track” inspired light pipes circling the rump. Aside from a lowered right height on certain models and new wheels, little has changed for the Durango’s slab-sided profile, which I think is one of the Dodge’s best features. No, I’m not talking about the plain-Jane acres of sheet metal, I’m talking about RWD proportions. Bucking the trend, this three-row sports a long (and tall) hood, blunt nose, short front overhang and high belt-line.

To create the Durango from the Grand Cherokee, Chrysler stretched the Jeep’s wheelbase by 5-inches to 119.8 inches and added three inches to the body. The result is four-inches longer than an Explorer but two inches shorter than the Traverse, Acadia and Enclave triplets. Thanks to the Durango’s short front overhand, the Dodge has the longest wheelbase by a long way, beating even the full-size Chevy Tahoe. Speaking of the body-on-frame competition, the Durango may have been a size too small in the past, but this generation is just 8/10ths of an inch shorter than that Tahoe.

DG014_043DU

Interior

Body-on-frame SUVs have a practicality problem when it comes to space efficiency. Because the frame sits between the body and the road, they tend to be taller than unibody crossovers despite having less interior volume. Like the rest of the crossover crowd, this allows the Durango to have a spacious interior with a comparatively low entry height. 2014 brings a raft of much-needed interior updates to the cabin including a new soft touch dashboard, Chrysler’s latest corporate steering wheel with shift paddles, revised climate controls, Chrysler’s latest uConnect 2 infotainment system and a standard 7-inch LCD instrument cluster. Like the other Chrysler products with this LCD, the screen is flanked by a traditional tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge. Oddly enough, the standard infotainment screen is a smallish (in comparison) 5-inches.

Front seat comfort proves excellent in the Durango which was something of a relief, as the last few Chrysler products I have driven had form and oddly shaped seat bottom cushions that make me feel as if I was “sitting on and not in the seat.” As with all three-row vehicles, the accommodations get less comfortable as you move toward the back. By default all Durango trims are 7-passenger vehicles with a three-across second row. For $895 Dodge will delete the middle seat and insert a pair of more comfortable captain’s chairs and a center console with cup holders and a storage compartment. The third row is a strictly two-person affair and, like most crossovers, is best left to children and your mother in law. Those who do find themselves in “the way back” will be comforted by above average headroom and soft touch plastic arm rests. With large exterior proportions you’d expect a big cargo hold like in the cavernous Traverse, alas the RWD layout that makes the Durango so unique renders the interior less practical. With more of the body used up for “hood,” we get just 17 cubes of space behind the third row. That’s three less than an Explorer, seven less than GM’s Lambda triplets and about the same as a Honda Pilot. On the bright side this is more than you will find in a Highlander or Sorento and shockingly enough, more than in the Tahoe as well.

DG014_030DU

Infotainment

uConnect 2 is the first major update to Chrysler’s 8.4-inch touchscreen system that launched in 2011 and the first version of this system the Durango has ever had. Based on a QNX UNIX operating system, the system features well polished graphics, snappy screen changes and a large, bright display. For the second edition of uConnect, Chrysler smoothed out the few rough edges in the first generation of this system and added a boat-load of trendy tech features you may or may not care about. In addition to improved voice commands for USB/iDevice control, uConnect 2 offers smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart Radio or Slacker Radio. You can have text messages read to you and dictate replies (if your phone supports it) and search for restaurants and businesses via Yelp. In addition to all the smartphone-tied features, uConnect 2 integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network into the unit for over-the-air software updates and access to the new “App Store” where you will be able to buy apps for your car. Since there’s a cell modem onboard, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices as well. Keep in mind speeds are 3G, not Sprint’s WiMAX or LTE network.

Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services which include traffic, movie times, sports scores, fuel prices and weather reports. As with uConnect data services, there’s a fee associated after the first few months so keep that in mind. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports. Garmin’s navigation software is still available as a $500 add-on (standard on Summit) and it still looks like someone cut a hole in the screen and stuck a hand-held Garmin unit in the dash. The interface is easy to use but notably less snazzy than the rest of the system’s graphics. If the bevy of USB ports has you confused, you can rock your Cat Stevens CD by paying $190 for a single-slot disc player jammed into the center armrest.

2014 Dodge Durango 5.7L HEMI V8 Engine-001Drivetrain

Dodge shoppers will find two of the Grand Cherokee’s four engines under the hood. First up we have a 290HP/260lb-ft 3.6L V6 (295HP in certain trims) standard in all trims except the R/T. R/T models get a standard 360HP/390lb-ft 5.7L HEMI V8 which can be added to the other trims for $2,795. 2014 brings a beefed up cooling system and a number of minor tweaks in the name of fuel economy. Sadly Chrysler has decided to keep the V6 EcoDiesel engine and 6.4L SRT V8 Grand Cherokee only options, so if you hoped to sip diesel or burn rubber in your three row crossover, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Both engines are mated to a ZF-designed 8-speed automatic. V6 models use the low torque variety made by Chrysler while V8 models use a heavy-duty 8HP70 made in a ZF factory. If you’re up to date on Euro inbreeding, you know this is the same transmission used by BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce. To say this is a step up from the vilified Mercedes 5-speed or the Chrysler 6 speed (the 65RFE featured some of the strangest ratio spacing ever) is putting it mildly. Fuel economy jumps 9% in the V6, 10% in the V8. No small feat in a 4,835lb SUV (as tested). All Durangos start out as rear wheel drive vehicles but you can add a two-speed four-wheel-drive system for $2,400. Although Dodge bills this as AWD, it is the same transfer case that Jeep calls 4×4 in Selec-Trac II equipped Grand Cherokees. Thanks to the heavy-duty drivetrain towing rings in at 6,200lbs for the V6 and 7,400lbs for the V8. Like the Jeeps the Durango has moved to more car-like 5-lug wheels which should widen after-market selection.

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior

Drive

The engineers took the refresh opportunity to tweak the Durango toward the sportier side of the segment with stiffer springs and beefier sway bars. While far from a night-and-day transformation, the difference is noticeable and appreciated out on the roads. While never harsh, it is obvious the Durango is tuned towards the firm side of this segment. Thanks to the long wheelbase the Durango feels well composed on the highway or on broken pavement.

With a nearly 50/50 weight balance, wide 265-width tires, and a lower center of gravity than a “traditional SUV”, the Durango is easily the handling and road feeling champion. That’s not to say the Durango is some sort of sports car in disguise, but when you compare a well balanced 360 horsepower rear wheel drive elephant to a slightly lighter but much less balanced front driving elephant on skinny rubber, it’s easy to see which is more exciting. Thanks to the Mercedes roots there’s even a whiff of feedback in the steering, more than you can say for the average crossover. Despite the long wheelbase and wide tires, the Durango still cuts a fairly respectable 37-foot turning circle.

Those statement may have you scratching your head if you recall what I said about Jeep on which the Durango is based, I must admit I scratched my head as well. Although the Dodge and the Jeep share suspension design elements and a limited number of components, the tuning is quite different. The Grand Cherokee Summit rides 3.1-inchs higher and was equipped with the off-road oriented air suspension.

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-005

When it comes to performance, the new 8-speed automatic makes a night and day difference shaving a whopping 1.4 seconds off the 0-60 time versus the last V8 Durango we tested. The reason is all in the gear ratios. While the 545RFE and 65RFE transmissions suffered from some truly odd ratios, the ZF unit’s ratios are more evenly spread and dig deeper in the low gears. The result is a 6.0 second sprint to highway speeds which finally nips on the tails of the Explorer Sport which we’re told will do the same in 5.9-6.0 (TTAC hasn’t tested one yet). This proves what extra gears can do for you because the Explorer is 200lbs lighter and has a far more advantageous torque curve thanks to the twin turbos.

You can also thank the ZF transmission for the Durango’s robust towing numbers. V6 models are now rated for 6,200lbs while the V8 can haul up to 7,400lbs when properly equipped. That’s nearly 50% more than you can tow in any of the crossover competition and just 1,000 lbs shy of the average full-size body-on-frame hauler.

The transmission is also responsible for a whopping 20% increase in fuel economy. The last V8 Durango I tested eked out a combined 14.8 MPG over a week while the 2014 managed 18.0 MPG. While 18 MPG isn’t impressive in wider terms, it is 1/2 an MPG better than GM’s Lambda crossovers or the Ford Explorer on my commute cycle. The V6 yields improved fuel economy at the expense of thrust, but you should know that although the acceleration provided by the V6 is competitive with the V6 three-row competition, the 20 MPG average falls short of the new Highlander, Pathfinder and the rest of the FWD eco-minded competition.

After a week with the Durango I was no closer to answering the biggest question car buffs have: is this Dodge a crossover or an SUV? One thing is sure however, the Durango is likely the most fun you can have with 6 of your friends for under $50,000.

 

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

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.4

0-60: 6.0

1/4 Mile: 14.6 Seconds @ 96 MPH

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 69dB @ 50 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 18 MPG over 811 miles

 

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-014 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-013 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-009 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-004 2014 Dodge Durango 5.7L HEMI V8 Engine-002 2014 Dodge Durango 5.7L HEMI V8 Engine-001 2014 Dodge Durango 5.7L HEMI V8 Engine 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-003 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-002 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-001 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-005 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-006 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-007 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-008 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-012 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-011 2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-010 DG014_058DU DG014_057DU DG014_051DU DG014_043DU DG014_030DU ]]>
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Piston Slap: Is The 2WD ‘Burb Ready for The Snow? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-is-the-2wd-burb-ready-for-the-snow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/piston-slap-is-the-2wd-burb-ready-for-the-snow/#comments Mon, 09 Dec 2013 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=675570

Jay writes:

Professor Mehta,

I have some friends that are moving to Colorado from native South Florida. They’ve never lived in a 4 season climate let alone driven in snow. They own outright a 2007 2WD Suburban (80k miles) L33/LS1 FTW. The other car is an Acura TL he drives for work.

Since I’m the resident car guy, they’ve asked for advice. Should they trade the Suburban and get her a CPO X5 (her dream car)? Or buy an MDX, RX350 AWD?

My thought is they should keep the Suburban, at least for the first winter, and put a really nice set of Blizzaks on it. That way they can learn to drive in snow, and get a feel for what kind of vehicle would thrive in their new town (commute, traffic, snow etc).

After all, if it’s horrible, they can always mosey down to the dealer and trade out. It’s also my concern that AWD would be seen as a cure all and/or bring overconfidence on the road. I told them AWD doesn’t do squat with braking. Am I giving proper advice? What do you think?

Don’t let Sanjeev anywhere near this Piston Slap!

Sajeev answers:

When I was a wannabe-car designer in Detroit, a friend (rural Ohio native) explained why he almost never used four-wheel drive in his Blazer.  He liked the control of a RWD power train, eliminating understeer with tail wagging oversteer as needed. Because, as you mentioned, AWD can inspire overconfidence…and understeer into something unforgiving.

That said, Detroit did plow/salt the roads when needed. And when it really, really snowed, you didn’t want to go outside until the plow could keep up. Such is metropolitan city life: there’s a chance your friends don’t need a 4×4/AWD SUV…unless they live on a real steep hill. Or they live in a suburb with less frequent plowing. Or…

Take it from me: your advice only goes so far with others (especially when that advice is horrible – Sanjeev) so if they either want OR need an AWD vehicle, they should test drive the X5 and some others, and let them buy whatever they want.

See if they’ll put Blizzaks (or similar) on the ‘burb, because it’s the smart use of their money.  That might be enough to make them believers.

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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BMW to Turn FWD Up to Eleven With UKL1 Chassis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/bmw-to-turn-fwd-up-to-eleven-with-ukl1-chassis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/bmw-to-turn-fwd-up-to-eleven-with-ukl1-chassis/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 15:31:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=672834 BMW Active Tourer Concept

If thought of a front-driven ultimate driving machine seems like either the best thing ever or a nightmare, then BMW Sales and Marketing board member Ian Robertson has some good/bad news for you: 11 BMWs and MINIs will soon arrive in the showroom, all underpinned by the UKL1 FWD/AWD chassis.

Though the UKL1 already made its debut last month as the next iteration of the MINI, Robertson confirmed that the first BMW to wear the chassis — the Active Tourer, to be exact — will bow sometime early in 2014. He says that not only will the production version of the mini-crossover be the Bavarian’s first-ever front-driver, the Active Tourer will also sport their first-ever three-pot behind the famous kidney grill.

Regarding the 11 UKL1-based models overall (cut down from a proposed 20), eight MINI variants are expected to come down the ramp, including a Mazda MX-5 fighter and a saloon tailored for the Chinese market, as well five- and seven-seat versions of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, an SUV slotted underneath the X1, and supermini aimed at Audi’s A1.

The BMW Group as a whole has enjoyed a record year in sales, with 1.6 million total units through October 2013 heading out to the motorways of Europe. Robertson adds that his employer moves 300,000 MINIs and 200,000 1 Series annually, and is confident that the UKL1 will do just as well.

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Junkyard Find: Lada Niva http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-lada-niva/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-lada-niva/#comments Tue, 26 Nov 2013 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=663946 01 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen I went to Iceland to abuse some Subarus, I managed to visit a couple of Reykjavik junkyards and poke around a bit. In addition to the weird-to-American-eyes French cars and puzzling quantities of 1990s Chrysler products, I found this VAZ-2121 aka Lada Niva 3-door wedged nose-to-tail with a green Megane.
05 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe car’s doors were locked and the yard’s proprietor didn’t speak much English, so I couldn’t determine this Russian’s year of manufacture. The marker lights and some comments by Lada-admiring Icelanders later suggest that this car is from the early 1980s.
07 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s no way this car could have competed in the United States market, what with all the cheap Subarus, reliable Toyota Tercel 4WDs, and the perception that Ladas were just Fiats built by enslaved Stakhonovites in dirt-floored tents in the Gulag. Elsewhere, however, the Niva built up a reputation for T-34-grade toughness.
02 - Lada Niva Down on the Reykjavik Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThese days, the Niva’s appeal in Iceland has waned, and so this car will likely end up getting crushed soon.


Not many products benefit from association with the Soviet Union. The AK-47 and the Niva, that’s about it.


That’s how you treat a Lada.


In Iceland, they’re a little rougher on their Ladas.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Subaru Leone 4WD Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-1978-subaru-leone-4wd-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-1978-subaru-leone-4wd-wagon/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=661010 01 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon.
22 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack in 1978, your choices in four-wheel-drive vehicles were very limited; you could get a truck, you could get an AMC Eagle that drove like a truck… or you could get a Subaru.
12 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese things were ludicrously underpowered, rusted quickly, and didn’t come close to the reliability standards set by Honda and Toyota, but they got decent fuel economy and were competent in mud and snow.

Subarus were quite rare in the United States back in the Malaise Era, but the marque made it into popular culture with songs like this one.

Or this one.
07 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJudging by the quantity of pine cones and animal nests in this car, it hasn’t run for many, many years.
13 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot many places in Colorado damp enough for moss to grow on cars.
29 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in Colorado, will be crushed in Colorado.

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Jeep Grand Comanche Episode 2: We Jack ‘Em Up In The Yard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/jeep-grand-comanche-episiode-2-we-jack-em-up-in-the-yard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/jeep-grand-comanche-episiode-2-we-jack-em-up-in-the-yard/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 23:24:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=644274 2000 Jeep Grand Comance Project Car

If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new project car in TTAC’s “garage,” a 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited. I of course use the term garage simply because “gravel driveway” fails to have the same ring. Why a car guy doesn’t have a garage is a story for a different time. All I will say on the matter is that I was promised a garage with a 2-post lift and I am still waiting…  Back to the car. Before we chop the lid off the WJ Grand Cherokee to convert it into a two door, two seat Grand Comanche we needed to tackle a few projects. We need a lift kit, off-road rubber, then we need to ditch the interior and take care of some general housekeeping items.

Iron Rock Off Road 3-inch lift kit

The whole point of this project car is for the Jeep to act as a farm utility vehicle. Since this 2000 Limited model was equipped with the “Up Country” suspension package it had a factory lift of one inch to 10.3 inches of ground clearance. If that sounds better than a John Deere Gator’s 8.5 inches, remember that the farm utility vehicle has a really short wheelbase. Translating that up to the project car meant adding three inches. (Keep in mind that since our Jeep had the factory one inch lift, the three-inch lift kits increase the height by only two inches since their base number uses the stock 4×4 ground clearance. )

After a an intense Googling session, I settled on the $499 Iron Rock Off Road lift kit. My logic was simple: it was the cheapest three-inch lift kit I could find. Why not four? According to the Jeep experts I asked, a four-inch lift would have required more complicated modifications including lowering the transfer case. I fell for the suggestion to toss in a $70 shock upgrade and my out-the-door was $633.98 after shipping.

Lift Kit In Progress

The kit arrived on time and in two large and heavy boxes. Everything was well packaged but the instructions could have been a bit better. While I pride myself as an above average DIY-wrencher, I would have liked some more detailed instructions simply as a safety margin. If you’re not comfortable disassembling your suspension, you’ll be paying hundred for the installation.

Because I’m a moron with a desire to live, when one of my spring compressors gave up on me, I decided instead of compressing the spring on side (and making it look like a big banana) I would just unbolt the suspension from the body so it would be low enough to install the springs without the compressor. This meant jacking the Jeep up one side at a time (two jacks would cost money and I’m cheap), placing a large concrete paver on the gravel to support a jack stand and then raising the other side in the same way. Right about the time I was breaking suspension bolts loose with a 24-inch breaker bar and making the Jeep sway on my dollar-store jack stands I realized this was stupid. Yet I continued.

With the lift kit installed after about 6 hours total I was able to bolt on the next item.

ProCom 16 inch steel wheels

Pro Comp 16-inch steel wheels

No project Jeep would ever be complete without steel rims. Black steel rims. Since I didn’t want to go crazy big and I wanted a large aspect ratio tire, I stick with a 16-inch wheel diameter and jumped up to an 8-inch wide wheel. Cost: $377.88 delivered. Yeehaw.

Pro Comp Xtreme MT2

Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 265/75R16

When it came to the tires my choice was limited. Because I opted for just a three inch body lift, I knew I couldn’t go too crazy on the rubber. I trolled all the Jeep forums I could find and my 30 second research indicated that a 265/75R16 would be the biggest thing I could stuff in there without pushing the wheel outside the body or sawzalling the body to pieces. After 30 seconds of online comparison I found a deal on Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 tires in just the right size for a grant total of $1,007 at my door. In hind sight a 4-inch lift kit would have helped me out here and something around 6 inches would have allowed me to get more serious 33-inch tires, but I was committed at this point.

Because I have a few connections in the fleet world, I was able to snag some time in the mechanic’s bay of a local company with a service vehicle fleet. Being the cheap bastard I am, I mounted and balanced the tires myself for free. This is also why one wheel has about 7 wheel weights on it, although I seem to have balanced them fairly well as there isn’t even a faint vibration on the highway. Score one for the cheap dudes.

Although there are more aggressive tires out there, I decided that it would be handy to be able to drive the Grand Comanche to the feed store directly. The alternative would be to drive something else to the feed store, pick up hay, straw, feed, etc, then swap it into the cut-up-hoopty for delivery. Even so the on-road toll is obvious with the tires being significantly louder than all terrains.

Jeep on alignment rack

Oops

This brings our total to $2,018.86 in parts followed by a $79 four-wheel alignment which is required after you disassemble this much of any car.  Since the car was gifted to the project, I considered this good value thus far. Then I decided to cross the creek and drive through the woods. More on that later.

 

This project is obviously for entertainment value only. My entertainment value primarily, but if you find it interesting to watch then we’re on to something. This means that comments like “why don’t you sell it and buy a X instead?” are pointless. Also obvious is the fact that I’ve never done anything like this before so it is incredibly likely that I’ll be doing stupid things, getting things wrong and generally making an ass of myself. That’s just par for this course. While I may mention specific products, I’m not endorsing anything and no person or company has given this project any free stuff. (This makes me very sad.) Lastly, if you have any suggestions, know of any sources for parts, or are in the area and want to check the disaster out, let us know.

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Piston Slap: Say “Audi 5000″ to your Tow Vehicle! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/piston-slap-say-audi-5000-to-your-tow-vehicle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/piston-slap-say-audi-5000-to-your-tow-vehicle/#comments Mon, 16 Sep 2013 12:17:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=518609

TTAC commentator Trend-Shifter writes:

I have a 1984 Audi 5000S Avant that is used as the wife’s car and our traveling/towing vehicle. Here is my dilemma…

  1. The air conditioning works as designed in 1984 (still using R12) but it is not to the standards of a modern “Merican” car. It is only comfortable at freeway speeds and without too much sunlight in that expansive greenhouse. The wife complains loudly all summer!
  2. The engine is only 110 horsepower. So when the air is turned on it dramatically impacts drivability. If I pull any kind of grade I need to turn the air off as not to impact drivers behind me.
  3. Right now I tow my jet ski with the car. It pulls it great at any speed as long as the air condition is off. (Refer to item 2, Wifey is not happy when the air is off!)
  4. I also have an 18 ft boat that I will need to tow in 2~3 years as my Grandsons get of age.

So based on the fact that the Audi 5000 Avant will not pull the boat, I think my best plan is to replace the Audi 5000 Avant in the next two years to fix all the problems I identified rather than modify the air conditioning or the engine.

I have looked at various SUV’s for towing. I want just real RWD, not some wannabe FWD disguised as AWD. The big ole freighter SUV’s are really expensive, not good at high speeds, and suck a lot of fuel. So I started to lean towards a 2006~2009 Cadillac SRX with the Northstar V8. (engine issues resolved in 2005) I think a 2000~2010 low mileage (under 40,000 miles) Lincoln Town Car is the best choice for all my problems. (Can’t handle the Grand Marquis & Crown Vic styling)

The Lincoln Town Car is RWD, has a V8, sits lower, cuts the wind, is very reliable, and gets decent mileage compared to other RWD frame SUVs. A set of plus wheels, Michelin Pilot Sports, and a transmission cooler should complete the package.

Does this sound crazy –OR- crazy as a fox (I mean Panther). If you agree, what years are the best?

Audi 5000 pair

BTW… My other car is also an Audi 5000. It is an 1987 Audi Quattro. (I drive it 110 miles round trip everyday to work on the Deeeetroit freeways) So the RWD Lincoln can sit in the garage on those snowy days.

Sajeev answers:

I’m impressed with your Audi 5000 collection (sorry I couldn’t do a Vellum Venom remotely) but I had no clue der avant was a tow vehicle! Good to hear this rig is saying Audi 5000 to THAT job! And your wife has the patience of a Saint to put up with situations that inhospitable for 110 horsepower. But I digress…

“The Lincoln Town Car is RWD, has a V8, sits lower, cuts the wind, is very reliable, and gets decent mileage compared to other RWD frame SUVs.”

I found this quote interesting, as I should also find it appealing. So you need a tow vehicle for bulky things, but you want one with a design aesthetic as your 5000. Longer, lower and wider than an ordinary truck?  More fuel-efficient too, right? So why not?

This is a fool’s errand. You WANT a bigger and taller nose/face when towing to punch a bigger hole in the air for your trailer! A Panther can do the job adequately, but it will struggle more because the boat will make it its bitch. I’d recommend a full-sized conversion van to maximize the size of the hole punched for that 18ft boat.

Not that you NEED a conversion van to punch an adequate hole for a boat that small, but why the hell not?  SUVs and real pick-em-up trucks lack the aero of a van, are overpriced, and vans are so frickin’ great for road trips. Keep the 5000 Avant for your wife’s normal commute, buy a nicely depreciated custom van for towing.

A 1994-2003 Dodge Ram Van, 1996-present Chevy Express Van and the 1992-present Ford Econoline are the proper successors to your Audi 5000 tow vehicle.  Find one with a towing package and the options you’d like.  I’d go with a mid-90s Econoline for it’s most Bauhausian Styling to appeal to your Audi-conscious style, get it with the torquey (but thrifty!) 4.9L big six, modernize/upgrade the brakes/wheels/transmission cooler for light towing duty and lose the conversion van paint job for a stark, Germanic gun metal gray. Yummy.

A perfect machine for one’s Piston Slap pragmatism and one’s Audi 5000-worthy Vellum Venom demands.

And for you Best and Brightest peeps who thought I’d take the Panther Love bait: I never did, son!

 

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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Junkyard Find: 1974 International Harvester Scout II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1974-international-harvester-scout-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/junkyard-find-1974-international-harvester-scout-ii/#comments Sat, 17 Aug 2013 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=499600 15 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere in Denver, the Jeep DJ-5 often shows up in Junkyard Finds. Another truck that forms a regular part of The Crusher’s diet in Colorado is the International Harvester Scout. Yes, there was once a time when a farm-equipment manufacturer made highway-legal light trucks, and the Scout was (and is) a Colorado favorite. Here’s a battered ’74 I spotted a few weeks back.
02 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn this series so far, we’ve seen this ’70 Scout, this ’71 Scout, and this ’73 Scout. Today’s find has a bit of rust, a well-worn interior, and seriously sun-bleached paint.
13 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOh yeah, and it appears to have had a minor rollover mishap.
10 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen IHC needed to add instructions for window-regulator replacement, they went for combine-harvester-style stenciled instructions rather than the decals that the Detroit Big Three would have used.
03 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m pretty sure this is the 304-cubic-inch IHC V8, but I don’t know enough about these engines to distinguish the 304 from the 345 at a glance. Either way, it’s a little four-wheel-drive truck with farm-grade V8 power!
01 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe blue-and-white two-tone paint is more like light-blue-and-off-white by now, but it probably looked great when new.
12 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there any Scouts without a hunting- or fishing-related window decal? No, there are none.

18 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1971 AM General DJ-5 Mail Jeep Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Used Car Review: 2008 Pontiac Torrent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/used-car-review-2008-pontiac-torrent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/used-car-review-2008-pontiac-torrent/#comments Sun, 14 Jul 2013 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494983 145

It doesn’t take graphs and analytics to tell you that the crossover utility market is red hot right now. The roads are absolutely jammed packed with them and as their popularity has been on the rise the fortunes of other once popular family vehicles like the minivan have been on the wane. To be honest, I am at something of a loss to really explain why that is. They are, in my opinion, an odd combination that offers none of the real benefits of a true four wheel drive SUV, none of the room or cargo capacity of a van, and virtually none of the economy or road handling of a small car. Why oh why, then, did I buy one?

My particular crossover utility is a 2008 Pontiac Torrent. Since the Pontiac brand was officially discontinued in 2010, my little trucklet is officially an orphan but thanks to the fact that it was constructed on General Motors’ Theta platform it lives in a world surrounded by half-brothers and half-sisters. Introduced in 2002, the theta platform underpins the Torrent as well as the Chevrolet Equinox and the Saturn Vue and the current Chevrolet Captiva, a version of the Vue that continues to be built for the rental market under the bow-tie brand, and the GMC Terrain among others. My car is powered by a 3400 V6 backed by an automatic transmission but GM also offered an Ecotech 4 and, so my research indicates, your choice of two different manual 5 speeds.

torrent fascia

Although GM has done a much better job of differentiating the three Thetas currently for sale in the US in the last few years, giving the GMC a more blocky look that is similar to the trucks they sell, the Chevrolet a slicker more modern “Malibuesque” look while the Captiva retains the rounded look that made the Saturn a popular and distinctive vehicle, such was not the case when my Equinox was sold back in 2008. In those days, only the Saturn Vue had its own look, the Equinox and the Torrent were differentiated only by their front fascias on the outside and, so far as I know, only by Pontiac’s signature red dash lights on the inside. In my opinion, the Torrent is the more attractive of the two as Chevrolet hung their center bar grill and an oversized bowtie on the Equinox while Pontiac reached back into their history and pulled out a twin hole grill ala the GTO Judge and stuck a small, brilliant red arrowhead between the twin snouts.

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Moving back past the fascias the two rigs are, as I have said, identical and are designed to look more like the “normal” body on frame SUVs that preceded them rather than the slicker more car like crossovers that have since evolved. My Torrent has a solid upright look to it, with blocky fenders and over sized wheel wells. A sloping c-pillar gives the design a little bit of forward motion and the back glass that slopes down to a fairly upright tailgate completes the truck like effect. On top, large diameter tubing set into rugged plastic mounts runs from just above the driver’s door to the back of the rig and two removable crossbars, now safely in the garage. allow me to utilize this space for cargo should I desire.

Inside the Torrent is built to a cost. The dash, and all the plastic parts for that matter, is made of cheap looking, hard black plastic. There are some obvious seams where the pieces fit together but I cannot go so far as to say that there are any gaps between the panels. In fact, they seem to fit together well, it is only the mating of two different angles that draws the eye to them. The seats in my Torrent are scratchy, utilitarian cloth rather than the nicer leather than would have come on a more well optioned vehicle and the carpets are just simple black carpets and mats that are standard fare in most vehicles today. Rubber flooring, I think, would have been a better choice.

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The instrument panel is big and has easy to read numbers which is good because I rely upon bifocals to see these days. The controls are all easy to use and intuitive, the climate controls with three easy to find knobs and the radio above with one large volume knob like the ones below it. It would be easy to get them confused at night but for the fact that they are fairly well separated. Between the speed and tachometers is a digital information system that shows the regular and trip odometers while you are driving but which will also occasionally alert you to vital information like low tire pressure, when an oil change is needed, low oil pressure or other engine vitals and even when the outside air temp gets low enough to create possibly icy conditions.

The CD player allows 6 discs to be loaded and the buttons on either side of the aforementioned volume knob do all the usual seek and scan duties. Changing between discs is difficult to do on the fly because the forward and backwards controls are included in the row of buttons right below the display that would in days gone by be used the pre-programmed radio stations. The fact that these buttons’ functions changed when different parts of the sound system were brought into play escaped me for a while, but now that I have had the vehicle in regular use it has become more natural. The radio also features an equalizer function that requires accessing a menu something that, like added or removing CDs, is best done while stopped. There are always ways to hook in your i-pod which I might know about if I wasn’t a cave man.

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The wheel is leather wrapped and feels good in my hands but it is connected to a steering gear that I think is a little on the twitchy side. Perhaps it is my increasing age but I prefer just a little more play in my steering, this thing is instantaneous and the slightest input will point you in a new direction. The brakes are good. The car has about 38,000 miles on it now and I have recently replaced the pads on all four wheels. The front were definitely needed but the backs could have gone a while yet. I did tires when we got it 3 years and around 16K miles ago and they are wearing a little more than I expected, especially on the front. But given the fact that my AWD trucklet is closer to a front wheel driver than a rear wheel driver I suppose I should have expected that. The trick, I think, is to keep the tires rotated and everything will be fine.

Performance wise I have been disappointed; the Torrent seems under powered to me. The 3400 V6 demands to be revved in order to make any power and any sudden acceleration results in the transmission downshifting in order to force the engine high in to the rev range. I have never abused my cars and I am reluctant to put my foot down and force an engine to work hard, but the Torrent, it seems to me, likes to be wound up tight all the time. In a hot little turbo car I would not have an issue, but in something that at least otherwise looks like a truck I find it disconcerting. In varied city/highway driving it is returning about 18 miles to the gallon, not as good as I thought it might when I purchased it but not horrible either.

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Paint is another area where I am suffering some mild disappointment. There are two small areas, neither where one would expect to find any real rock damage, where the clear coat has flaked away. This is a vehicle I drive year round so it is exposed to salt, but it is generally taken to a car wash several times during the winter and then gone over carefully by yours truly in the spring. My own detailing includes a thorough underspray with the garden hose, a wash and a wax with Meguiars Gold Class. I wax the vehicle at least one more time during the summer and again in the fall before winter comes. I have, at this point, touched up the edges of the flaking clear coat and the peeling has stopped, but I am unhappy as these two areas, each about a 50 cent piece in diameter, are the only blemishes on the car’s otherwise attractive black paint.

The only mechanical issue I have to report after three years of ownership was an issue with the coil packs. Last summer it began acting up on the highway, stuttering and not accelerating like it should. A simple Google search pointed me in the right directions and a trip to the local dealer, now a Buick shop, had the entire thing resolved in just the amount of time it took me to walk a block to the nearest McDonald’s, eat my breakfast and get angry at the Fox N Friends Morning Show they had on the TV there. Because GM was aware of the issue and tweaked their warranty to cover the parts and service, this little problem was handled on their dime and without too much hassle. Props to GM and our local Buick dealer, they did a good job.

I purchased the Torrent in the autumn of 2010 shortly after I arrived in Buffalo and it was intended to be primarily my wife’s car. Although I was originally looking for a minivan a chance stop at the dealer closest to my house turned up this Torrent, recently traded and adult owned with just 18K miles on the clock. At the time I paid about $16K which seemed like a fair deal and I have since seen others selling for similar money despite not appearing to be as nice. Currently Thetas can be found in virtually all price ranges and in all states of condition but I would realistically guestimate that mine is worth somewhere in the $10K to $12K range as it sits now.

IMG_1647

Ultimately my family’s situation has changed since we purchased the Torrent. My third child, now 18 months old, necessitated the purchase of a van and I began using the Torrent as my daily driver. In the last 18 months it has served me well on my modest commute, sits on a fairly busy thoroughfare while I earn my daily bread and out in the driveway exposed to the elements the rest of the time. It works reasonably well in this role, still looks great and still performs decently.

The rub is that I do not think I would buy this vehicle again knowing what I know now. Although my third child forced us to buy a minivan the truth is that we would have been better off buying one in the first place. Ingress and egress with a four door is a pain in the butt, especially when you have strollers and car seats involved. The back seats are close enough to the front seats that, with my car seat ensconced little-ones in the back, I get a never ending series of kicks to the seatback which causes me a rough ride and lots of dirty little foot prints that demand cleaning. It is not a great family vehicle for little kids and its limited space feels quite similar to the VW Golf TDI I used to own. At least in the Golf, while it ran, I was rewarded by its fuel sipping frugality, but here I am getting econobox space without any of the benefits. That bothers me.

IMG_1653

Should you buy one? That depends, I suppose. The Torrent, I think, is a decent bargain priced entry into the midsized crossover market. If you must have a crossover, are sans children and have a commute that requires some AWD capability, and I have to confess that the Torrent has been fantastic in the Buffalo winters it has endured, making the commute on its normal, all weather tires without so much as a slip or a slide, then why the heck not? If you have a burgeoning family, need something that gets great mileage or are looking for a place that you can comfortably grind out a long commute, then I would advise against it. That then, is The Truth About Cars from this author’s perspective.

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Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Alphabet Soup: 4×4 vs 4WD vs AWD Where’s the Differential? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/alphabet-soup-4x4-vs-4wd-vs-awd-wheres-the-differential/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/alphabet-soup-4x4-vs-4wd-vs-awd-wheres-the-differential/#comments Mon, 17 Jun 2013 23:09:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491128 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude, Exterior, trail rated badge, Photography by Alex L. Dykes

Four wheel drive, all wheel drive, 4WD, AWD, full-time, part-time, 4Hi, 4Lo, 4×4. There are many names and just as many ways of motivating every wheel a vehicle has on the ground. What’s the difference between four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive? In one word: Marketing. Want to know more? Click past the jump as we dive in the most controversial topic since “Dodge vs Chevy.”

Motivating four wheels in a car isn’t new, we’ve been doing it for over 110 years. If you thought this was a recent affectation, you’re not crazy. Over the last 30 years there has been an explosion in the number of vehicles powering a quartet of tires. There has also been a similar explosion in the number of ways we power four wheels. At the same time the way systems are designed, marketed and used have converged and with them the terms AWD and 4WD have have practically merged. Of course, the SAE does have a definition “an all-wheel-drive vehicle is one that has an on-demand feature that occasionally sends power to the non-primary powered wheels.” But what that means has changed a great deal over time.

The Good Old Days

Let’s set the way-back-machine to 1970. Trucks and “Jeeps” had 4WD aka 4×4 systems. The system had to be engaged manually once you were on a loose surface because they “locked” the inputs of the front and rear differentials together making turning difficult on high traction surfaces. Engaging AWD on pavement could result in damage to the systems, or at the very least strange road manners. These systems were found on vehicles that would otherwise be RWD like trucks and truck-based “things.” Frequently the transfer case featured a reduction gear for more severe situations. 1970 Land Rover Range Rover, picture courtesy of Land Rover

Then came the 1970 Land Rover Range Rover (above), the self-proclaimed “first mass-produced vehicle with full-time AWD.” (Note they didn’t call it 4WD until later.) The system used a lockable center differential that allowed the front and rear axles to spin at different rates on pavement allowing the system to be engaged at all times. The system was designed with off-roading in mind, so the transfer case had a low range like like the rugged truck based systems at the time in addition to the full-lock feature.

Then came the AMC Eagle. AMC jammed a new NP119 transfer case made by New Process Gear behind a Chrysler transmission. The unit featured a viscus coupling to the front axle that would allow power to flow to both axles simultaneously while still allowing them to turn at different rates. But this AMC wasn’t a truck, didn’t have a low-range and had an independent front suspension. Not knowing what to call it, AMC called it 4×4. So much for standards.

16 - 1989 Dodge Colt 4WD Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

Then Audi released the Quattro in 1980, but despite featuring a manually lockable center differential, Audi chose to call it “all-wheel-drive” or AWD. (Later Quattros were automatic.) The AWD vs 4WD differentiation was born. Soon everyone was getting into the four-wheel-motivation game but nobody agreed what to call the systems. In 1982 Fiat introduced the world to the first four-wheel-motivated vehicle with a transverse engine layout and a transaxle (the Fiat Panda 4×4). It was the start of a revolution. Some car companies followed Audi’s suit and referred to car systems as AWD while the  Toyota Tercel, Dodge Colt and others sported 4WD or 4×4 labels. This was the start of the “that’s not four-wheel-drive, that’s all-wheel-drive” argument.

By the ’90s SUVs started to roam the land. The box-on-frame creatures borrowed their drivetrains from  truck parts bins and brought with them 4×4 and 4WD monikers. (And a bevy of full-time and part-time systems.) Meanwhile, the proliferation of AWD systems exploded and we soon started seeing them in everything from Chrysler minivans to the Porsche 993. Despite the proliferation, the industry had more-or-less settled on calling longitudinal “truck” systems 4WD/4×4 and “car” systems (especially transverse systems) AWD.

2012 MINI Countryman, Exterior, rear, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The 21st Century

Crossovers happened. In truth the crossover was born in the 20th century, but the era of the “modern crossover” dawned within the last 15 years. In 1995, crossovers were a microscopic segment composed of jacked-up station wagons. By 2005 the non-truck utility vehicles accounted for more than 50% of the segment. At the dawn of the 2014 model year there are few “traditional” SUVs left, especially in the volume mid-sized segment. Those that remain account for a minority of sales.

Back to the marketing. Now, more than ever, the lines between truck and car are being blurred by marketing speak. Ford calls their Explorer AWD while Nissan is claiming the Pathfinder had 4WD and Chrysler says the Jeep Patriot is a 4×4. The truth is all three drivetrains operate on the same general design as that 1982 Fiat Panda: the transverse AWD system. The system Fiat called “4×4″ in the 1980s is now thought of as “AWD” by Fiat in this decade. What gives?

2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, Exterior, Photography Courtesy of Alex L Dykes

The Current State of Affairs

This brings us to the present. Now that we know the AWD vs 4WD vs 4×4 battle is a war of marketing speak, and we have a bit of history under our belts. Let’s talk about how AWD systems work. Why? Because it’s more important to know how the systems work than what they are called. Let’s go over them one by one. Since I’m not a graphic artist I’ll toss in a rough power-flow diagram to show how each system works.

Part time locking AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Part time locking systems with a longitudinal layout

In the picture above we have a traditional “truck” system, the one that some people will call a “real 4×4.” There is no center differential so the system shouldn’t be used on-pavement because the front and rear axles cannot spin at different speeds. The system has to be engaged by the user in some manner, either with a lever or a button. Most systems use a chain drive to connect the front and rear axles so power flow is (in theory) locked 50/50 front/rear. If one rear wheel is freely spinning, the front wheels will still have grip. If one front wheel and one rear wheel freely spin, the vehicle won’t move. To solve that problem the systems usually include some form of locking or limited slip differential in the rear or both rear and front axles. The systems are typically very rugged and if the system employs fully-locking axles on the front and rear power is exactly 25/25/25/25 percent wheel to wheel and if three wheels lost traction the remaining wheel can consume all 100% of available power. Some systems integrate a low-ratio reduction gear into the transfer case.

Full time locking RWD based AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Full time systems with a longitudinal layout

Based on the part-time systems we just talked about, Land Rover was the first company to use an existing idea to improve their new luxury off-roader and added a center differential after the reduction gear. This system became all the rage after AMC brought it to the mainstream in 1979 for the 1980 Eagle. These systems can take a variety of different forms. The “center differential” can be a simple open unit, a limited slip, a Torsen that apportions power unequally (i.e. 75% rear, 25% front unless slip occurs) or a simple viscous coupling which isn’t technically a differential at all. Each type of stem has benefits and drawbacks depending on your application. Open diffs apportion power equally, but if the front or rear wheels loose traction the car can’t send power to the other axle. Limited slip systems (including manual or auto-locking units) can connect the front and rear together, thus operating like a part-time system when the unit is fully engaged. If the system engaged on pavement however you can get a “binding” feel in tight turns. Torsen units are primarily used in performance oriented systems like high-performance variants of SUVs where you want added traction but a decidedly RWD bias.

You’ll find full-time systems of some description in the current Audi Q7, Jeep Grand Cherokee/Wrangler, Mercedes ML/GL/GLK/G, BMW X1/X3/X5/X6, GM’s full-size SUVs, Dodge Durango, Infiniti EX/FX, Land Rover LR4/Range Rover/Range Rover Sport, Lexus GX/LX, Nissan Armada, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg, Subaru Forester/Tribeca/Outback/XV, Toyota FJ/Land Cruiser/4 Runner/Sequoia.

Is that a long list? Yes. However that a complete list (insofar as I know) of SUVs currently sold on our shores with this type of a system. Why did I bother to list them all? Because it shows how few of this type of system there really are in the utility vehicle segment. Just a few years ago this number was higher and the market share of this system was higher still.

Subaru AWD Comparison, Courtesy of Subaru

Subaru and Audi you ask? Yes indeed. Audi’s longitudinal systems and Subaru’s AWD systems claim to be different or superior to the competition, but in reality the only difference is that they merge the center and front differentials into the transmission housing resulting in a space savings, but not necessarily a weight savings. (Mercedes claims 4Matic will take a scant 150lb toll in 2014, 50lbs lighter than Quattro.) This also means that the Subaru systems share design elements with traditional rugged body-on-frame SUVs, something that Subaru owners seem to rarely know but might want to brag about.

Front Wheel Drive Biased Transverse AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Transverse engine based systems

British Motor Corporation popularized transverse engine front-wheel-drive systems in 1959 with the launch of the original Mini. The drivetrain layout has been so popular that the same basic design is used by 16 of the top 20 best-selling vehicles in America. (Everything but the full-size pickups on the top-20 list.) This drivetrain layout represented a challenge to AWD development, so it wasn’t until 1982 that Steyr-Daimler-Puch produced a four-wheel motivation system based on a transaxle. (For that Fiat Panda.)

What’s a transaxle? Excellent question. A transaxle is a transmission that integrates a front differential into its casing. That’s an important thing to keep in mind because the transaxle is why FWD layouts are preferred for fuel economy. In a transverse transaxle the power doesn’t have to “turn” 90 degrees to spin the front wheels. HOWEVER, in a transverse transaxle based AWD system, the power has to make two 90 degree turns on its way to the rear wheels. First power leaves the transmission, then heads to an angle gear which sends it to the back. Then power flows to the rear differential which turns power 90 degrees to the wheels. This is part of the reason that transverse full-time systems that always send power to the rear are [in general] just as efficient as longitudinal “RWD based” AWD systems. (This is why most of them disconnect the rear wheels whenever possible.)

V70R_AWD_System

While there are exceptions to this rule, 99% of transverse FWD systems have a fundamental difference from longitudinal systems because of the integrated front differential. Instead of creating a purpose built AWD transaxle, what car makers do is just extend the power output of the transmission (before the differential) out of the transmission case and into the angle gear that sends power to the back. (See the diagram above.) This means that the input to the front and rear differentials are tied, just like a part-time locking system that we discussed above. To keep the system from binding and improve fuel economy a clutch pack or a viscus coupling is placed between the angle gear and the rear differential. This allows the rear wheels to be uncoupled, but does nothing about the front wheels. Systems like this are incapable of sending more than 50% of the power to the rear unless the front wheels have zero traction. Acura’s SH-AWD system takes things one step further and uses an “acceleration device” aft of the clutch pack to make the rear wheels spin faster than the front wheels thereby giving the vehicle a slight rear “bias” even when the front wheels have traction.

Transverse systems come in many different flavors so it’s important to know what you’re buying before you sign on the line. Some systems on the market are “slip-and-grip” systems like the Honda CR-V which won’t lock the center clutch pack unless front wheel slip occurs. Then we have systems like the Ford Explorer which usually sends some power to the rear, locks the coupling during hard acceleration and varies it depending on vehicle dynamics. The Honda Ridgeline allows the center coupling to be locked in first gear while Jeep’s Patriot allows the center coupling to be almost fully locked at all speeds.

Jeeo Cherokee Front Wheel Drive Biased AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Perhaps the ultimate hybrid and head scratcher will be the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Chrysler has yet to release complete details about the system, but what we can glean from the spec sheets and interviews is a system that meets all the criteria of a “traditional” 4×4/4WD system but has a functional layout similar to the systems “real” off-roaders would laugh and point at. We have a 9-speed automatic, nothing unusual there, but next we get something new for a transverse vehicle: a 56:1 (I4) or 47:1 (V6) reduction gear positioned after the transmission but infront of the differentials. (That’s lower than the Grand Cherokee and not too far off the 71:1 in the Wrangler.) Like the other systems, inputs for the front and rear diffs are mechanically tied and a clutch pack is used to connect or disconnect the rear axle from the transmission. Unlike many of the systems however, the 2014 Cherokee can fully lock the center coupling and Jeep tossed in an electronic locking rear differential.

I’ll close by posing a question: If my 2001 GMC Envoy (GMT360 SUV) with its two-speed transfer case and locking center differential can be considered a 4WD/4×4 vehicle. What is the Cherokee? AWD or 4WD? With 4-Low range and a locking rear differential it meets all the traditional requirements, but under the hood you’ll find a four-cylinder or V6 engine sitting sideways. This author’s humble opinion is that the name doesn’t matter if the vehicle does what you expect of it. That Cherokee? We’ll have to wait and see but I suspect it will be as capable as a Grand Cherokee mostly thanks to a substantially lighter curb weight.

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Dodge Colt Vista 4WD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/junkyard-find-1991-dodge-colt-vista-4wd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/junkyard-find-1991-dodge-colt-vista-4wd/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486040 Unless there’s a super-rare find that requires immediate action or it’s half-price day, I usually avoid hitting Denver junkyards when it’s snowing and/or below freezing out. Thanks to the magic of high altitude, it feels more like December than late April here… but checking the online inventory at my local self-service yard revealed a potential engine-donor for my ’41 Plymouth project. Disregard the snow, pack up the tools!
The ’41 Plymouth is a bare frame with Lexus SC400 subframes mocked up on it at the moment, and I’ve decided to go with the Vortec 4200 six as its powerplant. I’ll be buying a complete donor vehicle, preferably a 2006 or newer Trailblazer/Envoy/Rainier/97-X/Ascender, but having an engine that I can strip down to a bare block for chassis-fit purposes would be a big plus. Sadly, the ’02 Trailblazer I found in the online inventory turned out to be picked completely clean of anything I might want.
With so much snow on the cars, I didn’t see many photographic opportunities. However, a Mitsubishi Chariot aka Dodge Colt Vista 4WD looks best when covered with the white stuff.
Chrysler used the Colt name for quite a few members of the Mitsubishi family over the decades, and it will always be a disappointment that they didn’t call this car the name they used for the Chariot in Europe: Space Wagon. Space Wagon!
213,000 miles isn’t too bad for a Mitsubishi of this era.
Supposedly there’s a 98-horse 4G63 engine in there.

It appears that Japanese-market Chariots of this generation had some sort of weird marketing arrangement with Disney. C-H-A-R-I-O-T!

For added incomprehensibility, here’s the European Space Wagon Trance Remix.

Calling it the Colt Vista led to boring North American ads.

02 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1991 Dodge Colt Vista Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1995 Range Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1995-range-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/junkyard-find-1995-range-rover/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481910 Here in Colorado, retired members of the Land Rover family are lined up in large numbers in every self-service wrecking yard. Range Rovers and Discoveries were (and are) extremely popular here, most likely as a form of rebellion against the Subaru Outback-driving hordes whose maintenance expenses (even with all the blown head gaskets and nuked center diffs) come to a boring 0.004% of the total per-vehicle annual cost of Range Rover ownership. I’ve been ignoring these trucks when I see them in junkyards, but today we’re going to look at a typical example, chosen at random.
The most interesting thing about these trucks, from a junkyard-scavenger perspective, is the fact that most of them have the 4.2 liter Rover V8 engine, which means that a homemade MGB-GT V8, or even— shudder— a TR7-to-TR8 conversion— is an easy, low-budget proposition. You’ll want to ditch the Lucas fuel-injection system, of course, but that sort of goes without saying.
These things are very comfortable for those willing to keep them running; this one made it to a pretty respectable 164,774 miles during its 18 years of service.
Of course, there are some Land Rovers around here that are safe from the cold steel jaws of The Crusher!

02 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/review-2013-subaru-xv-crosstrek-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/review-2013-subaru-xv-crosstrek-video/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 19:03:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480465

Apparently I’m a stereotypical Subaru shopper. I’m in my 30s and live on 9-acres of redwood forest in Northern California where I run a small organic egg farm. My nearest neighbor is a mile away and the closest concrete or asphalt driving surface is a 3 mile trek through the woods. During the winter I value AWD and high ground clearance, not because I need it (my 2005 Jaguar XJ has never been stuck) but like most Americans, I feel safe and secure by having a larger margin for error. I also have a special place in my heart for station wagons. It was therefore no surprise to my neighbors when I drove home one day in the Outback’s little brother, the XV Crosstrek.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

If the XV looks familiar, you’re not imagining things, you have seen this body before. This is an Impreza 5-door with off-road body cladding, black wheels and a lift kit. If that sounds like the old Outback Sport, you’re half right because this time Subaru went the extra mile when “offroadifying” (like my new word there?) the Impreza. Instead of confusing shoppers with an Outback and an Outback Sport that have little to do with one another, they renamed the Impreza crossover utility wagon (CUW) for 2013 to end the confusion. In addition to the name change it gets real dirt-road cred an SUV-like 8.5 inches of ground clearance. (The Outback Sport made do with a trifling 0.2-inch height increase vs 3 in the XV.) Subaru’s corporate design elements are all at play on the XV and while it may seem plain to some, it’s unlikely to offend, except for the shocking orange paint our tester wore. (You can get your XV in shades other than orange but regardless of the hue, the wheels are always black.) Instead of the sashless windows Subaru has long been known for, the XV gets standard doors with window frames making them feel more substantial than Subaru models of the past.

Think of the XV as the Impreza’s outdoorsy brother. You know, the one that moved to the country, wears flannel on the weekend but still commutes to a day job in the city. Early crossovers had a similar mission, but demand for a car-like ride has caused the current crop of CUVs to return to car-like ride heights while warehouse shopping excursions demand minivan-like cargo holds. That’s not to say CUWs are “true off roaders,” that much is obvious by the size of the front overhang, long wheelbase and on-road tires. Instead, the mission is to provide an efficient, civilized ride for that outdoorsy brother on the way to downtown and the ability to ford that low-water-crossing on the way to his organic farm.

Interior

The XV shares interiors with the $17,895 Impreza from the seats to the soft-touch dashboard. While plastics aren’t as nice as the Outback, they do represent a significant step up from the last generation Impreza and Outback Sport and aren’t out-of-place here. The XV is $1,700 more than a similar Impreza 5-door but when you factor in the standard 17-inch wheels, body cladding and lift kit the cost difference is minimal. Starting at a reasonable $21,995 and ending at $27,290, the XV is one of the best AWD values going. Oddly however, the 2014 Subaru Forester starts at exactly the same price.

The base XV is the “Premium” trim which sports durable fabric seats in black or ivory. Ivory lovers beware, interior color is dictated by exterior color and ivory is only available with black, red, blue and white paint. Limited models spruce up the cabin with leather seating surfaces, single-zone automatic climate control and heated seats.

I found the driver’s seat extremely comfortable on my long commute, but shoppers should spend time in the car before buying as the seat’s don’t offer adjustable lumbar support and the front passenger seat doesn’t offer the same range of motion as the driver’s. I heard a number of forum complaints about the leather seats feeling “mushy” in reference to the padding but my short stint in a dealer provided vehicle left the same impression as the cloth models in my mind. Perhaps there were some early production quality issues? All models feature a manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel with a good range of motion and CVT equipped XVs get attractive shift paddles attached to the wheel, not the column.

Rear seats in the XV are firm and the seat bottom cushions are low to the floor which should be fine for children but can be tiresome for adults on long trips. Because of the XV’s mission as a mud-rut crawler and stream-forder, the door sills are high to prevent water intrusion meaning you have to lift your feet higher than you’d expect to gain entry. That combined with the sloping rear profile made me feel like I had to contort myself more to get in the XV than I had expected, and certainly more than vehicles like the RAV4 or CR-V.  Once inside, headroom proved excellent for my 6-foot frame and legroom was adequate even with a taller driver up front. If you have kids or regularly schlep folks in the rear, pony up for the Limited model, in addition to leather being easier to wipe-up than cloth, it’s the only way to get cup holders in the rear. If you don’t opt for the cow, you’ll be left with only the rear door “bottle holders” which should never be used for drive-thru style sodas.

The XV is only a few inches shorter than the Escape, CR-V or even its cousin the Forester, but the cargo area is considerably smaller thanks to the wagon profile. Our tester’s 22 cubic foot cargo area easily held a foursome’s weekend luggage as long as camping wasn’t on the agenda. While that’s a significant step up from most sedans that XV shoppers may be looking to trade out of, it’s two-thirds the cargo area provided by the Forseter or Escape. Why am I comparing these non-wagons to the XV? Because they are all a similar height and length. How is that possible you ask? Because the XV trades cargo space for ground clearance. Pick your poison.

Infotainment

Infotainment has long been an area where Subaru lags behind the competition and the XV is no different. Because the XV is positioned above the Impreza, things start with the optional audio system from the small Subie. The 6-speaker system features a single CD player, USB/iPod integration, Bluetooth phone integration with audio streaming and a 3.5mm AUX input jack. Limited trim XVs get Subaru’s display audio system with a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen. The display upgrade also brings a backup camera, improved iPod/USB control, HD Radio and a greater suite of voice commands. For some reason this middle-ground head unit is not available at all on the base trim of the XV.

For $1,200 as a stand alone option on the XV Premium, and $2,000 as a bundle with the moonroof on the XV Limited model, Subaru offers an optional 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation unit. (The moonroof is a stand alone option on the Premium but only comes with the nav on the Limited.) Unless you’re buying the Premium model and want the sunroof, just save the $1,200 and spend it on an aftermarket system. While the unit isn’t as outdated as some systems on the market, the interface is strangely unintuitive, the on-screen buttons are small and the low-contrast color scheme makes it difficult to find what you’re after. On the bright side, perhaps because of Toyota’s minority investment in Subaru, the system uses the same voice command interface as Toyota and Lexus’ current product line including voice commands to control your media device.

Drivetrain

Subaru’s fascination with boxer engines and AWD is nothing new, but the 2.0L DOHC engine under the hood is. The smaller mill replaces the old 2.5L SOHC four-cylinder found in the last generation Impreza and Outback Sport.Power drops with the displacement reduction from 170 HP to 148 at 6,200 RPM while torque takes a similar tumble from 170 lb-ft to 145 at 4,200 RPM. The smaller mill isn’t any quieter or more refined than the older engine, but it is 28% more fuel-efficient when equipped with the same manual transmission and a whopping 36% more efficient when you compare the new 2.0L/CVT combo with the old 2.5L/four-speed automatic. EPA numbers for the XV come out to 23/30/26 (City/Highway/Combined) for the 5-speed manual and 25/33/28 for the CVT. On my mixed commute I averaged 29.4MPG over 475 miles of mixed driving, 0-60 testing and soft-road shenanigans.

The three-pedal XV makes the power reduction seem more obvious while the CVT’s infinite ratios help mask the loss in power more than you might think. While AWD is standard, the AWD system is different on manual and automatic models. The 5-speed is mated to a mechanical viscus center coupling that can neither be fully coupled or uncoupled allowing a torque split range from 80/20 to 20/80 (front/rear) and normally apportions power 50/50. The CVT uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch pack to apportion power 60/40 under normal circumstances with the ability to completely lock when wheels slip, or when the car’s computer feels like it.

Drive

Jack anything up three inches and handling will suffer, even an Impreza. Fortunately, the XV is unusually light at 3,164lbs. In a sea of overweight crossovers, this helps the XV feel more nimble than the usual suspects but it does taker a toll on ride quality with the XV feeling less “polished” than the Outback or the heavier small-CUV competition. On the downside, a light vehicle can sometimes feel cheap, and the XV’s noisy cabin doesn’t help. Being pragmatic, I would rather spend the money on a robust AWD system than sound insulation, but on long trips the noise can be tiresome. Despite the robust AWD system and boxer engine, the XV cuts a very tight rug with 34.8 foot turning radius, something important when you’re trekking off the beaten path.

In general journalists despise CVTs but this is a hatred I have never fully understood. On my daily commute I climb a 2,200ft mountain pass, a perfect demonstration of how CVTs make less powerful cars more drivable. Cars with a typical automatic suffer from the slow down, downshift, speed up, upshift, slow down, rinse, repeat problem on steep mountain passes while CVTs maintain a constant speed and vary the engine RPM as required. Yes, the 2.0L boxer engine is vibration free but unpleasant sounding and the CVT has an uncanny ability to keep the engine at the most annoying harmonic. Even so, if given the choice I would take the CVT over a 6-speed automatic on an engine this small. Bolt a turbo to the 2.0 and I’d want the 6-speed slushbox. Speaking of speeds, all CVT equipped models come with sexy shift paddles that attempt to mimic an automatic transmission but the shifts from one ratio to another feel mushy and slow.

Designed to carve unpaved corners on weekends and paved corners on weekdays you’ll find an inherent compromise in every corner. On true dirt roads, the street rubber (Yokohama Geolander H/T G95A) lacks lateral grip allowing the rear of the XV to feel a little light (in a fun sort of way) and on pavement the tall springs allow the body to roll more than a traditional wagon shopper might expect. Despite the lean, the XV never lost its composure even when pressed to 9/10ths, a place few owners will take their granola-hauler. The always-on nature of Subaru’s AWD system makes the XV feel more confidant off-road than the sip-and-grip systems found on the competition, but there is less of a difference on road. Back on the asphalt, most of the competitor’s systems allow partial lock-up from a standstill thanks to improved electronic systems and honestly the difference in snow performance for most driving conditions is going to be fairly small.

For some reason we expect SUVs and CUVs to deliver a less exciting driving dynamic but we expect wagons to handle like sedans with a tailgate. If that describes you, the XV will disappoint. If however you’re looking for the utility of a crossover with better road manners and a low center of gravity, the XV delivers in spades. There’s just one problem: Subaru’s new Forester is the same price and staring at you from across the Subaru dealer’s lot.

Hit it

  • Subaru AWD reputation.
  • Well priced and well equipped base model.
  • I’ve always been a fan of CVTs for hill climbing.

Quit it

  • Black wheels.
  • The lack of gadgets, gizmos and options is a bummer for my inner nerd.
  • The cabin is noisier than most small crossovers.
  • Not everyone loves CVTs as much as I do.

 

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.3 Seconds

0-60: 8.7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 81.5 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 29.4 MPG over 475 miles

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front, Picture Couretsy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, XV Badging, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Drivetrain, 2.0L Boxer Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Drivetrain, 2.0L Boxer Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Drivetrain, 2.0L Boxer Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Infotainment, Navigation System, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Infotainment Nav System, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Dashboard Trip Computer, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Dashboard and Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Front Seat Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, rear door sills, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Interior, Rear Seats Folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1989-toyota-corolla-all-trac-wagon-3/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1989-toyota-corolla-all-trac-wagon-3/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477898 I now believe that at least half the Toyota All-Tracs ever sold ended up in Colorado, based on the quantities I see in junkyards around Denver. We saw the only Camry All-Trac I’ve ever found anywhere last month, and the Corolla All-Trac wagons are well-represented by this ’89, this ’89, and now today’s ’89.
Toyota didn’t go in for crazy-futuristic dashes like so many of their 1980s Japanese competitors (unlike, for example, Subaru and Mitsubishi), but the Corolla All-Trac still got this cool center-diff control panel. Yes, back in those days you had to make decisions about car four-wheel-drive while driving.
Bondo as rust repair?
213,269 miles on the clock, which is pretty good for a 1980s car.
The Toyota 4A engine family was the real workhorse of its era, going into everything from AE86s to MR2s. This one appears to be the not-particularly-hot 4A-FE.
The interior in this one is pretty nice, but the rust is bad by Colorado standards and it just wasn’t worth keeping. Next stop, crusher!

01 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1989 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1971 International Harvester Scout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1971-international-harvester-scout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/junkyard-find-1971-international-harvester-scout/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477137 Because I live in Colorado, I see quite a few Scouts in wrecking yards— this ’70 and this ’73, for example— and most of the time I don’t photograph them. IHC pickups and SUVs, sure, but the Scouts just blend in like DJ-5 mail Jeeps. This ’71 had a cool custom paint job, plus I’ve realized that all Scouts are interesting, so we’ll check it out.
It’s disappointing that you can no longer buy a new street vehicle made by a farm equipment manufacturer.
Did all Scouts get the Canadian seal of approval?
I’ve never been much interested in off-road machinery, but I must admit I’ve been tempted to buy a Scout (or a Subaru Justy 4WD) since I moved to Colorado.
01 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1971 IHC Scout Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-cadillac-ats-3-6-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-cadillac-ats-3-6-awd/#comments Wed, 06 Feb 2013 10:15:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475106

BMW’s 3-Series is always the benchmark, always the target, and always on a pedestal. So when GM announced Cadillac would once again “complete head-on” with BMW’s money-maker, the world yawned. Then an interesting thing happened, publications started fawning over the ATS, proclaiming the 3-Series has met its match. Could such a thing be true? Even our own Michael Karesh was smitten by the ATS at a launch event. To find out how the ATS matches up with its German rival, Cadillac tossed us the keys to a loaded ATS 3.6 AWD. Can Cadillac beat BMW at their own game? Let’s find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

While the ATS fails to make a dramatic new statement of Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design, it is the most balanced rendition of the form to date. Compared to the 3-Series, the ATS strikes a more aggressive pose in the parking lot thanks to the hard lines and aggressive stance. Up front, Cadillac has kept the bold angular grille we’re used to, but ditched most of chrome bling found on other Cadillacs. Out back you’ll find a short trunk overhang with a perky tail light/spoiler and “mini-fins.” You may laugh, but I think the resurrection of Cadillac fins and funky tail lamps are some of the best touches on the ATS.

Does that make the ATS better than the 3 on the outside? Not for me, but your mileage will vary. The ATS is undeniably more expressive, flashier and aggressive compared to the plain-Jane A4, dowdy C350 or the elegant (but very reserved) 3. Oddly enough it’s BMW’s understated elegance and limo-like proportions that do it for me. What does that mean for you? If you’re a traditional BMW 3-Series shopper, then the  ATS is more likely to be your thing. If you’re after a soft entry level luxury sedan but the ES350 is “too FWD”, the 3′s long hood, soft suspension and graceful lines will seal the deal. In my mind the 3 and the ATS tie in this category.

Interior

The ATS wears, hands-down, the best production cabin GM has made. The styling may not be your cup of tea, but the interior possessed none of the strange quality concerns I noticed in the new XTS. Does that mean the Caddy has the best cabin in the segment? No, that award still ends up a tie between Audi and Volvo. However, the ATS’s cabin is nearly the equal of the 3-Series. Why nearly? It’s all about consistency.

Everything inside the BMW’s cabin is of a similar quality, from buttons on the dash to the headliner, everything is exactly what you expect from a $30,000-$55,000 car. The ATS on the other hand is full of “highs and lows.” Caddy’s highs include perfect dashboard stitching, comfortable seats and an excellent tiller. Sadly the gauge cluster didn’t get the memo. Instead of the SRX’s funky new three circle gauge cluster, buyers get the frumpy base gauges from the “this is your Grandfather’s Cadillac” XTS. Still, it would all have been OK if Caddy had offered the XTS’s  gorgeous full-LCD cluster as an option, but sadly it wasn’t to be. In our Facebook page’s weekly “hit it or quit it” contest, the ATS’s dials received a unanimous “quit it.” The fervor even spawned a Vellum Venom Vignette. What was all the drama about? Check out the day/night comparison below.

The ATS is available in an impressive array of interior colors, something lacking in many European sedans. While our tester arrived wearing a Germanic black-on-black-on-black ensemble, a quick trip to my local dealer revealed (thankfully) that the tasteful red and black interior and light grey interior with brown dashboard and door treatments were easy on the eyes and plentiful on the lots. Another rarity I noticed is a passenger seat with the same range of motion as the driver’s seat making long journeys more comfortable for your spouse.

When it comes to seating and cargo hauling, Cadillac benchmarked the last generation 3. As a result, front and rear accommodations are comfortable but snug with leg room coming in several inches behind the 3 and A4. The trunk also comes up short at 10.2 cubes vs the 12.4 cubes from the A4 and C350 or the ginormous 17 cubic foot trunk in the BMW. While the ATS represents huge strides in quality from GM, the tighter quarters and lack of consistency shown in cabin trappings gives the BMW the edge in this category.

Infotainment & Gadgets

Today’s compact luxury sedans come with more computing power than a 1990s dorm room. While the Euro players favor infotainment systems driven by a knob and button array, Cadillac has followed Lincoln’s lead with a 100% touch-screen driven interface called “Cadillac User Experience” or CUE. Caddy makes the system standard on all but the base 2.5 and 2.0 turbo models of the ATS although base shoppers can add it as a $1,350 option. The heart of the system is a gorgeous 8-inch LCD. Up till now, most touchscreen systems have used the older “resistive” touchscreen tech which uses a soft, matte plastic surface to detect digits. Displays like this (MyLincoln Touch uses this type of screen) can easily scratch and images can look “fuzzy” since you are viewing the image through the touchscreen layer. Cadillac stuck out their neck and used a more expensive “capacitive” touchscreen with a hard surface that is easy to clean, scratch-resistant, and delivers graphics that are crisper than any system I have seen to date. What was Caddy’s muse? Think iPad.

Cadillac tossed in “natural” voice commands for the entire system (including USB and iPod control), three high power USB ports (capable of charging an iPad), and smartphone app integration. If you want to know more about CUE, check out the video at the top of the review.

In comparison to BMW’s iDrive, the ATS’s touch buttons and iPadesque operation wow for a while, but proved less elegant and less reliable than iDrive after the first few hours. Keep in mind that CUE is in its first release while iDrive is the product of a decade of software development. The difference shows. While I haven’t seen iDrive crash since 2002, CUE crashed several times during the week. In addition, “multi-touch” gestures for “zooming” the map sound cool, but the response time was slow and the process proved more aggravating than useful. Cadillac’s mapping software is a notch below BMW’s in terms of visual appeal and the system just isn’t as intuitive as the latest build of iDrive.

Cadillac counters their “youthful” software with a bevy of standard and available features that you won’t find on many of the non-BMW competition including a full color heads up display, magnetic ride control, cross traffic alert, dynamic cruise control, collision prevention, and front and rear automatic braking in low-speed parking situations. When all the bells and whistles are tallied, the number comes out even, but BMW’s more elegant software gives the Bavarians the edge.

Drivetrain

Competing with the 3 properly, means offering your wares globally and providing a range of small displacement and turbocharged engines. As a result, the drivetrain chart for the ATS starts with a brand-new high-compression 2.5L direct-injection four-cylinder engine designed to battle BMW’s budget 320i. While GM tells us the same engine will find its way under the hood of the Malibu and Impala, Cadillac’s version gets a power bump to 202HP and 192lb-ft with a high 7,000 RPM redline. While this is the engine of choice for rental cars and lease specials, it competes quite well with BMW’s discount 320i with 180HP and 200lb-ft of torque.

Competing with BMW’s 328i (and costing $1,805 more than the 2.5) is GM’s thoroughly redesigned 2.0L turbo. The direct-injection mill packs a serious punch with 272HP and 260lb-ft of twist compared to BMW’s 240HP and 255lb-ft. While Cadillac’s torque curve isn’t as low as the German’s, Cadillac has kept their curb weight low ringing in around 40lbs lighter than the 328i. The difference is small but shows Cadillac was paying attention.

If six cylinders is your thing, Cadillac will jam their 3.6L direct-injection engine under the ATS’s hood for an extra $2,200. The 321HP six-pot cranks out more HP than BMW’s 3.0L turbo I6 (300HP) but delivers less torque (274lb-ft vs 300lb-ft) and of course the lack of a turbo means the 3.6L engine has a torque peak instead of a plateau. Once again Cadillac counters by being lighter, this time by 94lbs.

Regardless of your engine choice, all engines use the same 6-speed GM automatic transmission. If you want to make your BMW owning friends scratch their heads, this is essentially the same transmission used in a variety of BMW 3-Series, X1 and X3 models before BMW started buying the ZF 8-speed. If you opt for the 2.0L or 3.6L engines, Cadillac will drop their AWD system ($2,000) or a Tremec 6-speed manual into the ATS, but sadly the options are mutually exclusive.

As much as I like BMW’s torque-happy 3.0L I6 turbo, Cadillac’s naturally aspirated V6 sounds better. The BMW is still faster to 60 (thank the torque deficit), but the ATS ties with the BMW in my book thanks to the combination of a great sound, no turbo lag and excellent power delivery characteristics. The small turbo match up is more cut and dry. GM’s turbo four cranks out more shove and matches the German mill in terms of refinement. Meanwhile at the bottom of the pile, BMW’s base 320i engine provides more useable power than Caddy’s base engine, but the 2.5L four has a better sound, no lag and is eager to rev.

Refinement and aural sensations are one thing, balanced performance is another and this is where the ATS shines (just not in a straight line). The ATS’s moves on the track are defined by several things: a suspension that is firmer than the sport line 3-Series, excellent weight balance, 225 width rubber on all four corners and “only” six forward gears. Starting with the transmission, while it has a negative impact on MPG numbers, having fewer gears translates into less “hunting” while craving your favorite mountain road. That brings us to the suspension and tires. You’ll find plenty of 335i “sport line” models on the showroom floor with staggered rubber (225 in front, 255 out back) which gives you a bit more traction in the rear for stoplight races. The unequal rubber also causes the 335 understeer a bit more when taking a corner sans-throttle, a situation most drivers find more predictable than oversteer. The ATS on the other hand is extremely neutral in almost every situation. Cadillac’s AWD system turns the moderately “tail happy” ATS into an Audi-esque corner carver sans Audi’s nose-heavy tendencies. Last, and least, the ATS’s steering feel matches or exceeds the feel in the 335i. Why least? Because anything with EPAS is going to be rubbery and numb. If you hadn’t guessed by now, the ATS is the performance winner.

According to my tally sheet, the ATS is one point behind the 3 as we enter the final stretch: pricing. The ATS starts at $33,095 and the new 320i undercuts it at $32,550. If that sounds bad for Cadillac, BMW cuts corners by making leather a $1,450 option among other “decontenting” tricks. For most shoppers the ATS 2.0 is going to be the starting point at $35,795, at which point the ATS is lower than the comparable 3-Series ($36,850) both on paper and at the check out counter. Load up your ATS to the gills with a V6 and AWD and you’re talking $54,000, about $4,000 less than a similar 335xi. Toss in inevitable GM discounts and cheaper financing, and the ATS is the value leader.

Checking back with the tally sheet reveals a dead heat. Is this where the import biased press says “being German gives the 3-Series an extra point“? Not quite. I’m going to resort to an entirely different cop-out: it depends on what you’re after. Huh? Personally, the ATS falls just sort of “beating” the 3-Series, but that’s based on my preferences. If however you’re a BMW fan boy who thinks the new (F30) 3-Series has gone soft (Trust me, it has. That’s why I like it.), the ATS is your “new” E90 BMW. Think of it as E91 by Cadillac. Seriously. The ATS drives like an E90 with a naturally aspirated engine and a slightly dulled steering response. What then is the ultimate driving machine? With BMW succeeding as the “new Mercedes” and Cadillac trying to be the new BMW, your guess is as good as mine. There is one thing I know for sure however: it’s a day to remember when we can talk about a BMW 335 and a Cadillac in the same sentence without any irony.

General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.92 Seconds

0-60: 5.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.66 Seconds @ 103 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 23 MPG over 598 miles

 

2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Rear Spoiler Brake Light, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Fins, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Finlet, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Infotainment, CUE, Cadillac User Experience, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Cargo Area, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, dashboard, CUE, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, front door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, Dashboard, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Interior, rear HVAC vents, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Engine, 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6 AWD, Exterior, Lights, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1986 Subaru BRAT, Sawzall Style http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1986-subaru-brat-sawzall-style/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1986-subaru-brat-sawzall-style/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473945 You could buy the Subaru BRAT in the United States until the 1987 model year (though removing the Chicken Tax-loophole jump seats— which made the BRAT a passenger car, legally speaking— meant that it got a lot more expensive in 1985). Thing is, Coloradans love BRATs, which means you can’t even find a total basket-case example for cheap here. What to do? Why, take a beater 4WD Leone aka GL hatchback and apply ingenuity!
Other than the mini-pickup-bed in the back, there really isn’t much difference between the mid-80s Subaru Leone hatchback and the BRAT of the same era.
Oh, sure, nitpickers might point out that the BRAT had a rear window and associated body structure, but the problem of roof flutter at high speeds can be solved with a couple of S-hooks and an old bicycle inner tube. Bungee cords are too expensive!
There’s this weird hallucination among Subaru lovers that 80s Leones were million-mile survivors that needed zero maintenance, when in fact most of the examples of these things I see in the junkyard have less than 200,000 miles on their clocks. 80s Subarus fell somewhere between 80s Nissans (pretty good) and 80s Mitsubishis (don’t ask) on the Japanese-car reliability spectrum.
One of the dangers of the Sawzall convertible can be seen in this photograph. Safety tip: always duct-tape some pipe insulation over the sharp metal pillar edges after you make a “roadster” out of your car. Your passengers will be glad you did!
Given that it spent the final months of its life with wind-in-your-hair (and face, and everywhere else) modifications, passengers in the Sawzall Subaru probably didn’t look at this placard and curse the original buyer for cheaping out on the dealer-installed AC.
We’ll grant you that this car was about half as good as a real BRAT. But it only cost a fourth as much! WINNING!

02 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1986 Subaru Homemade BRAT - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac LE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-camry-all-trac-le/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1990-toyota-camry-all-trac-le/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473580 Here in Colorado, the self-service wrecking yards tend to be museums of four-wheel-drive cars that disappeared into obscurity a couple of decades back. When it comes to Toyota, everyone knows about the Celica All-Trac, and of course you still see the occasional mid-80s Tercel 4WD wagon. Go to a Denver junkyard, though, and you’ll see lots of Corolla All-Tracs. But a Camry All-Trac? We’ve all heard of them, but this may be the first four-wheel-drive Camry I’ve ever seen in person. It was fitting that I found this one during my freezing-cold Half Price Sale adventure on Saturday.
This was the generation of Camry that really established the car’s reputation as a cockroach-immortal, if stunningly boring, family sedan.
Just another 1,397 miles— Denver to San Francisco via Cheyenne and I-80, more or less— and this car would have made it to the magical 300,000-mile mark.
Because I’ve never been in a Camry All-Trac, nor has anyone I know, I can’t tell you what it’s like driving one in snow or mud.
Fortunately, at least one All-Trac driver has documented the experience for us.
01 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1990 Toyota Camry All-Trac - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2013 Ford Escape Titanium Take Two (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-ford-escape-titanium-ecoboost-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/review-2013-ford-escape-titanium-ecoboost-video/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2013 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471808

Like their products or not, Ford has been on a roll. It all started when the blue oval financed their metamorphosis by mortgaging everything that wasn’t nailed down a year before the bankocalypse. Next came a wave of new products like the Astonesque Fusion, Prius fighting C-MAX and the Euro-derived Fiesta and Focus. Ford’s recovery plan hinges on unifying their worldwide lineup rather than making unique vehicles for every market. Ford calls this plan “One Ford,” while I call it “Ford’s Euro love affair.” The latest warrior in the Euro invasion is none other than the Ford Kuga, you’ll know it as the new Escape. It would appear Ford’s timing couldn’t be better since they just lost the small-SUV sales crown to Honda. Can the European soft-roader take back the crown? Or has Ford gone too far by ditching the boxy Escape for world-wide homogeny?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The old Escape attracted as many buyers because of its practical functionality and efficiency as it’s mini-truck appearance. Several Escape owners I know felt they could step down from an Explorer to an Escape without being emasculated by a “cute-ute.” If this describes you, consider a boxy Jeep Patriot while they last. When Michael Karesh took one for a spin last year he found the design pleasing to the eye, but in a modern crossover kind of way. The new exterior is full of crossover curves and overall looks like a jacked up Focus hatch with AWD. This description isn’t that far off base since the Escape rides on a heavily modified Focus platform. Although it looked smaller to my eye, the new Escape is nearly four inches longer, one inch wider and rides on a longer wheelbase than the last generation. Ford’s baby crossover has also been lowered from a Jeepesque 8.4-inches of ground clearance to a decidedly CUV-like 7.9-inches to improve on-road manners. In a segment dominated by fuel economy claims (and with Ford trumpeting the “lightweight” new Explorer) it is surprising that the Escape has gained 350lbs over the last generation now topping the scales at 3,840lbs as tested. Ouch. (The 2013 RAV4 looses 470lbs for 2013.)

Interior

The new Escape doesn’t just share the majority of its interior with the Euro market Kuga. Most of the dashboard is used in the new C-MAX Hybrid, and all three share heavily with Ford’s new world Focus. What does this mean to you? It means the Escape shares no styling cues from Ford’s truck line, a sharp departure from the last model. On the plus side, the parts bin Ford raided to create the Escape is full of high quality switch gear and squishy dash bits. While the earlier Escape’s cabin sold on mini-truck charm, the new Escape ties with the 2013 RAV-4 for the nicest interior in this segment.

Despite growing on the outside, passenger room is largely unchanged with a slight reduction in headroom (1/2 inch in front and 2/10ths in back). The drop in headroom isn’t really a problem since the old Escape has such a high roof-line to start with. Taller drivers will notice that Ford decided to reapportion legroom in the Escape by taking 1.2 inches from the front seats and moving it to the rear. Front seat comfort proved excellent on longer trips thanks to an upright seating position and comfortable padding but shoppers should keep in mind that only the SEL and Titanium models get a power driver’s seat. While there is no power passenger seat at any price, the Escape offers something never seen in this segment: optional full leather upholstery for $895.

Escape S, SE and SEL models come with an old-tech manual liftgate standard. Should you need some assistance, SE buyers can opt for an optional $495 power liftgate. Included as part of an $1,895 package with an up-level audio system and keyless ignition, the SEL model can be had with Ford’s new “hands-free” tail opener. The system (standard on Titanium) uses a sensor under the rear bumper that detects your foot. As long as the car’s key is with you, a gentle upwards kicking motion under the rear bumper will cause the liftgate to open or close. While the feature sounded gimmicky, I found it fairly handy when you have your hands full. Once inside, you’ll find three more cubes of space than the old Escape, but the cargo hold isn’t as square as the old CUV, making bulky item schlepping a bit less convenient.

Infotainment

The Escape S targets fleet shoppers and allows Ford to advertise a low $22,470 starting price. To make sure sales of the base models are limited outside of fleet sales, there is only one option: $295 for the SYNC system with Bluetooth phone integration. As you would expect, SYNC is standard on the $24,070 SE model along with XM Satellite radio and Ford’s “keyless” entry keypad on the door sill. If you dislike MyFord Touch, stop here since the system is standard on SEL and Titanium trims.

If you’re a tech lover like me, the optional (on SE, standard on SEL) $775 MyFord Touch system is a must have. The system uses a high-resolution 8-inch screen in the dash divided into four sections for entertainment, climate, phone and navigation. (If you don’t spent $795 for navigation, the system displays a compass in the upper right.) Rather than the dual 4.2-inch LCDs flanking a speedometer found in other Ford products, the Escape uses a single LCD like the Ford Focus. When MFT landed in 2010, the software had more bugs than a 5-year-old bag of flour. Thankfully, the latest version is more responsive and less problem prone, but MFT is still less reliable than the display audio systems from Nissan, Toyota and Honda. Despite the still-present flaws, this is still the sexiest system in this segment. Unlike the Fusion, Ford has decided to offer their excellent 12-speaker Sony branded audio system in the SEL model, although it only comes bundled with keyless ignition, the power tailgate and backup sensors thanks to the trend of packing features into option packages.

Drivetrain

Instead of the typical four-cylinder and V6 engine lineup, the new Escape’s engine bay is home to a four-cylinder only lineup. The base 2.5L engine and 6-speed automatic are largely carried over from the previous Escape and good for 168 horses and 170lb-ft of twist. As you would expect, this engine is only found in the FWD Escape S, a model that Ford expects to be sold almost exclusively to fleets.

Next up is the same 1.6L direct-injection turbocharged “Ecoboost” engine used in the Fusion. Proving yet again that turbos are the replacement for displacement, the 1.6L mill produces more power (178HP) and more torque (184lb-ft) at lower RPMs than the 2.5L while delivering 1 more MPG in the city and 2 more on the highway (23/33 FWD, 22/30 AWD). (Ford has opted not to offer the Fusion’s MPG-boosting start/stop system with the 1.6L for some reason.)

Optional on SE and SEL models ($1,195) and standard on Titanium is Ford’s ubiquitous 2.0L Ecoboost engine. The 240HP boosted four-pot replaces the old 240HP 3.0L V6. While the old V6 cranked out 223lb-ft at 4,300RPM, the 2.0 spools up a whopping 270lb-ft of torque from 1,750-4,500 RPM. In addition to the twist bump, fuel economy rises from 19/25 (FWD) and 18/23 (AWD) to 22/30 and 21/28. Trust me, you’ll never miss those two cylinders. What you will hiss however is the hybrid system. Ford has decided that the closely related C-MAX now replaces the Escape Hybrid in the lineup. It’s important to note that if you decide to feed your Ecoboost engine regular unleaded, you’ll experience about a 10HP power drop vs Premium.

If you need to bring that Ski-Doo or pop-up camping trailer with you, the 2.0L Escape has an optional towing package allowing up to 3,500lbs of trailer pulling. Ford’s AWDsystem is a $1,750 option on all models of the Escape (except for the base S model) and uses a JTEKT multi-plate clutch pack between the front and rear differentials. The system is capable of connecting or disconnecting the clutch pack any time it chooses to direct up to 100% of the power to the rear, assuming the front wheels have zero traction. If all wheels have traction the system can only vary power to the rear rubber from 0-50%.

Drive

The old Escape didn’t just look like a little truck, it drove like one too with plenty of body roll, brakes that didn’t inspire confidence and plenty of wind and road noise. Despite the weight gain, the new Escape feels far more nimble than the outgoing model thanks as much to the lowered ride height as the new suspension setup. Drivers will also enjoy a much quieter ride as the Explorer has benefited from the same extensive sound deadening treatments applied to the Fusion and C-MAX. Thanks to the longer wheelbase, and perhaps that extra curb weight, the new Escape never lost its composure on broken pavement.

Thanks to the turbo engine’s torque plateau, straight line performance is improved notably in spite of the 350 extra pounds. We hit 60 in 6.42 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds faster than a 2012 Escape V6 4×4 we got our hands on and about the same speed as the 2012 RAV4 V6. Of course all comparisons to a V6 CUV from Toyota are now moot since Toyota dropped the V6 for 2013. Ford’s 1.6L Ecoboost engine will be the base engine for most Escape buyers and this is the engine that should be compared with the competitions four-cylinder offerings. Regardless of engine choices, Ford’s 6-speed automatic is up-shift-happy and reluctant to downshift unless you bury the throttle. This shifting behavior is nothing new as most manufacturers resort to this kind of programming to improve fuel economy. On the bright side, the broad power band provided by both engines masks the transmission’s shift programming by allowing you to hill climb in high gear.

Our Titanium tester came equipped with all the features you need to traverse the urban jungle, from blind spot monitoring with cross traffic detection to a self-parking system. Ford’s “Active Park Assist” system is easily the most intuitive and easy-to-use system on the market. If you want to see it in action, check out our video on our YouTube page.

Ford claimed our 2.0L AWD Titanium model was rated for 21MPG in the city, 28 on the highway and a combined rating of 24MPG which is an improvement of 4MPG over the outgoing V6. During our 710-mile week with the Escape, we did see an improvement over the V6 tester, but it was only about 2MPG. The reason for this is obvious, in real-world mixed driving where you’re climbing hills and sitting in stop-and-go traffic, curb weight has a big impact since there’s more car to motivate. This the same reason the C-MAX performed below expectations in our tests as well. No matter what your Ford sales person might tell you, no, the 1.6L Ecoboost engine won’t give you the same economy as your old Escape Hybrid. Sorry.

Aside from no longer looking like a butch trucklet, the Escape is better in every way than the outgoing model, and isn’t that what progress should be? Of course, progress rarely comes free. The base Escape is $1,000 dearer than year’s model and our fully-loaded Titanium tester busts the budget at $35,630. With a three-engine lineup, more gadgets than many luxury cars and optional full-leather upholstery, the Escape is both a Kia Sportage competitor and gives the Acura RDX a run for its money. Until we can get our hands on the refreshed RAV4, the Escape is at the top of my shopping list and it should be on yours as well. Let’s just hope Ford doesn’t recall that 1.6L Ecooost engine again.

 

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.36 Seconds

0-60: 6.42 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.95 Seconds @ 91.2 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 22 MPG over 710 miles

2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Ecoboost Badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Engine, 2.0L Ecoboost, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Engine, 2.0L Ecoboost, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Engine, 2.0L Ecoboost, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Engine, 2.0L Ecoboost, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, HVAC Controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, memory controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, center console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Front Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Ford Escape Titanium, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-land-rover-range-rover-evoque-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/review-2013-land-rover-range-rover-evoque-video/#comments Tue, 13 Nov 2012 20:31:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465637

Land Rover and Jeep are the original go-anywhere brands and the brands most resistant to losing sight of their hard-core mission. Unfortunately this focus can’t shelter them from the need to meet evermore stringent emissions and fuel economy standards. What’s an iconic sub-brand like Range Rover to do? Dress up a small cross over in high-fashion bling for the urban set. This presents today’s question: does the Evoque dilute the off-road brand or is it an extension into uncharted waters?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Once upon a time, SUVs roamed the land with large-displacement engines and locking axles and you only bought a Range Rover if you owned a ranch or wore a crown. Now of course a trendy SUV is a fashion statement which explains why Victoria Beckham was chosen to flog the baby Rover. Of course, this makes total sense for the brand since the majority of Range Rover shoppers in America will never take their SUV off-pavement let-alone off-road. This departure from the full-size Range Rover’s Rubicon requirements meant the boffins could sharpen the Evoque’s edges, lower the stance, raise the belt line and slam the rear roofline. The result is perhaps the most aggressive vehicle Land Rover has crafted, and quite a relief to my eye since the Freelander and LR2′s proportions never looked right to me. Further extending the Evoque’s fashion credentials, Land Rover crafted both a three and five door Evoque, although the exterior dimensions are identical. Completing the Evoque’s reputation as the trendy Roverlet are puddle lamps integrated into the side view mirrors that project an Evoque silhouette on the ground when you approach the vehicle. Think of the Evoque as the “clutch purse” to the Range Rover Sport’s diaper bag.

 

Interior

Normally when you work your way down the model-line food chain you get cheaper interior bits. This is almost a universal law and is part of the reason shoppers will buy a 528i instead of a 335i. It would seem that Land Rover didn’t get the memo when designing the Evoque’s interior however as even the base Pure model we tested had a gorgeous stitched/padded pleather dash. Aside from looking good and attracting caresses from passengers, the Evoque’s touch points are notable better feeling than the more expensive Range Rover Sport. The Evoque also benefits from a fairly exclusive parts bin sharing turn signal stalks with the Range Rover line, steering wheel buttons with the Jaguar XJ and the gear selector with the Jaguar XK.

Range Rovers are known for their extensive (and expensive) options lists, but the Evoque take a different tactic bundling high levels of standard equipment into three different trim levels: Pure, Prestige and Dynamic (the two-door is available only in Pure and Dynamic). The base Pure model gets a standard aluminum roof for 2013 turning the ginormous fixed glass lid into an option (standard on Dynamic and Prestige). Also new on the option list for 2013 is a self-parking option that parallel parks your Baby Rover hands-free.

Seating in the Evoque is suitably plush with front thrones that are supportive and well bolstered for sporty driving. However, the driver’s seat doesn’t have the same range of motion as much of the competition and the foot-well is a bit crowded so if your body deviates much from my 6-foot 190-lb frame you should spend some time behind the wheel before you sign papers. The Evoque’s rear cabin is extremely well-appointed with no corner-cutting plastics of harsh seams to be found. Rear space is limited however by the Evoque’s footprint limiting the rear to two passengers with short legs, possibly three in a pinch.

Infotainment

Nestled in the middle of a sea of supple pleather is the same 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system found in the Jaguar XJ and he 2013 Range Rover. If you’ve experienced Land Rover’s old infotainment interface, forget everything you know about it, this is thankfully a totally different system. While the menu interfaces are still not as polished as BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI, they are far more intuitive and responsive than anything Land Rover has done in the past. The system sports excellent USB/iDevice integration although we noticed it was not cable of charging an iPad. In keeping with the Evoque’s premium image, the base audio system is a 380-watt, 11-speaker Meridian surround system that sounded like it belonged in a much more expensive vehicle.

Options bundling helps keep dealer inventory manageable so logically Land Rover limits the gadget menu to two: the Climate Package and the Luxury Package. The $1,000 Climate Package is the only way to get heated front seats and includes the heated thrones, steering wheel, washer jets and an electrically heated windscreen. The only downside to this package is that the heated windscreen’s embedded wires may annoy some drivers, so check that out in sunlight before you buy. The $4,000 Luxury Package (standard on Dynamic and Prestige) is a must for the gadget hound as it includes navigation, digital music storage, keyless go/entry, HID headlamps, auto high beams, a surround camera system and a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian sound system. While I would honestly rate the system below the offerings from the other Euro brands, the Evoque does score points in my book for allowing  destination entry while in motion.

Powertrain

If  you’re worried about drivetrain reliability ,peeking under the Evoque’s boxy hood will either allay your fears or give you a lesson in world geography. Nestled sideways in the engine bay is a Ford-sourced 2.0L engine shared with everything from the Ford Taurus to the Volvo S80. (Before Land Rover enthusiasts turn their noses up at a Detroit engine, remember that the old Rover V8 was really a Buick 215.) Starting with an aluminum block, Ford added twin cams with independent variable valve timing, bolted on a Borg Warner (KKK) K03 turbocharger and lathered on the direct-injection sauce to deliver 240HP at 5,500RPM and 250lb-ft of twist from 1,750-4,500RPM. The small engine idles as smoothly as BMW’s 2.0L turbo, and like the German mill it has a vaguely diesel sound to it thanks to the direct injection system. Power is sent to all four wheels via an Aisin 6-speed transmission (Aisin is Toyota/Lexus’s in-house transmission company) and a standard Haldex AWD system from Sweden. The international combination is enough to scoot the Evoque from 0-60 in 7 seconds, about the same time as a Range Rover Sport HSE. My only disappointment is that while Tata had their hands in the Ford/Volvo parts bin they didn’t swipe Volvo’s smooth 325HP inline-6 engine for the Evoque Dynamic model.

Drive

No Range Rover would be complete without a bevy of off-road features. Of course, the Evoque is the on-road off-roader so there’s no height-adjustable air suspension, the differentials don’t lock and there’s no low-speed transfer case. Instead, buyers get a simplified terrain management system with push buttons instead of a knob that tell the traction and stability control system what to expect. Our Facebook readers asked us how the Evoque “handles wet leaves,” the answer is: as well as any other crossover. Since this is essentially the same AWD system that is in the LR2 and the Volvo XC60, the Evoque is similarly capable with the going gets wet/muddy/sandy. I wouldn’t want to try my hand rock-crawling with the Evoque, but it’s not claiming to be rock-capable anyway. Sure the Evoque does offer short overhangs, 8.4-inches of clearance and nearly 20-inches of water fording capacity, but the Volvo XC60 offers more.

In reality the Evoque is designed to traverse the urban jungle and it shows with moderately stiff springs, low profile rubber and impeccable road manners. Of course there’s no denying that Evoque is a front-heavy vehicle and it won’t ever feel as nimble as a BMW X1, but it is surprisingly well-behaved when it meets a corner. The AWD system is tuned to lock the center coupling as often as possible resulting in predictable corner carving wet or dry. The Dynamic trim’s optional lower profile rubber and MagneRide active damping suspension further refine the Evoque’s corner carving skills but they do take a toll on refinement delivering a ride that borders on harsh.

When the road straightens, the reality of a 240HP engine motivating 4,000lbs comes to light. While the Evoque’s 7 second 0-60 time isn’t sloe, the 2.0L turbo equipped X1 dispatched 60 in 6.2 seconds with the 3.0L turbo X1 entering sports sedan territory. The BMW X1 is also more efficient than the Evoque dishing out 22MPG City and 33MPg Highway thanks to the 8-speed transmission and a lighter curb weight.

There aren’t too many luxury crossovers that I would willingly flog on the winding mountain back-roads in Northern California, but the Evoque is a member of this select club that includes the BMW X1 xDrive35i and the Volvo XC60 R-Design with Polestar (I still can’t believe how long these names are). There is just one problem, the Evoque’s brakes aren’t up for the kind of abuse the chassis and engine can dole out, fading noticeably during a session that wouldn’t have made the Volvo or the BMW break a sweat. Even so, the Evoque is fun to drive hard and looks good in the process.

Being stylish isn’t cheap. Just ask the folks at Prada. The cost of the Evoque’s style is an MSRP range from $41,995 to $60,095, a stating price nearly $10,000 higher than the faster and more efficient X1. Even adjusting for feature content the difference is still nearly $8,000. This kind of pricing premium is nothing new to the brand, just price a Range Rover out if you don’t believe me. In a way, this pricing premium (and the resulting exclusivity of the mode) and a dedication to world-class interiors are what make the Evoque as much a Range Rover as the go-anywhere Range Rover. Let me answer the “is it worth it?” question with a question: what kind of shopper are you? Do you shop Prada or Wal-Mart?

Land Rover provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.6 Seconds

0-60: 7.0 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.4 Seconds @ 90MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 24.5 MPG over 811 miles

 

2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Engine, 2.0L Direct Injection Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Engine, 2.0L Direct Injection Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, silhouette Puddle Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, silhouette Puddle Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Shifter, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard,Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, HVAC, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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