The Truth About Cars » Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:05:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Cadillac Will Have Diesel Engines in US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-will-diesel-engines-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-will-diesel-engines-us/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145481 Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen said future Cadillac cars in the U.S. will have diesel powertrains, Automotive News is reporting (via Autoblog). De Nysschen told journalists that oil burners would make their way to the States after they’re launched in Europe, presumably around 2019. He said engineers at Cadillac were working on 4- and 6-cylinder models, but […]

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2016 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen said future Cadillac cars in the U.S. will have diesel powertrains, Automotive News is reporting (via Autoblog).

De Nysschen told journalists that oil burners would make their way to the States after they’re launched in Europe, presumably around 2019. He said engineers at Cadillac were working on 4- and 6-cylinder models, but wouldn’t specify what cars those engines would power.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes offer diesel power plants in their compact or mid-size sedans that would compete with the theoretical Cadillac.

In January, de Nysschen said as much, “If you want to play in Europe, you better have some diesels,” he told Reuters.

It wouldn’t be the first foray into diesels for Cadillac, Automotive News points out, but perhaps it’ll be a less smoky one.

Cadillac has shown off a hybrid CT6, but it’s unclear how electrification would play into Cadillac’s future plans.

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Colorado, Canyon Diesels Pricy Propositions With $3,730 Premiums http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/colorado-canyon-diesels-pricy-propositions-with-3730-premiums/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/colorado-canyon-diesels-pricy-propositions-with-3730-premiums/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127001 When the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon start arriving at dealer lots this fall, they’ll be sporting more than an additional diesel option under the hood. Monroney stickers will be afflicted with much higher prices to the tune of $3,730 more than an equally equipped V-6 model. However, you will get increased towing capability […]

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2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel

When the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon start arriving at dealer lots this fall, they’ll be sporting more than an additional diesel option under the hood. Monroney stickers will be afflicted with much higher prices to the tune of $3,730 more than an equally equipped V-6 model.

However, you will get increased towing capability thanks to a standard towing package, improved fuel efficiency, and a diesel engine brake to minimize wear on brake components.

2016 GMC Canyon SLE

According to GM, the trucks will get their 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from “the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced” by the company. The cleanliness of the diesel mill is due in part to cooled exhaust gas recirculation, says the release. The GM midsize twins will also use diesel exhaust fluid for cleaner emissions. It is recommended the DEF be topped up with each oil change at around 7,500 miles depending on vehicle usage, said Otie McKinley, Chevrolet’s representative in change of Trucks and Colorado.

Towing capacity is best with 2WD models at 7,700 pounds, an increase of 700 pounds over the V-6 model. Adding 4WD brings the tow rating down to 7,600 pounds. Keeping your load in control is a smart exhaust brake based on a similar system used in Silverado and Sierra HD trucks.

The Colorado and Canyon are now available for order.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel

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2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI Review – Hold Right There http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-tdi-review-hold-right-there/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-tdi-review-hold-right-there/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1122873 Great. Another diesel Volkswagen. This time it’s the Golf SportWagen — a car every enthusiast said, “I’d buy that with real, non-Internet money.” We all know exactly how this is going to go: The Golf is better than the Jetta. The Golf SportWagen is better than the 5-door Golf if you have two kids and […]

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2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (1 of 14)

Great. Another diesel Volkswagen. This time it’s the Golf SportWagen — a car every enthusiast said, “I’d buy that with real, non-Internet money.”

We all know exactly how this is going to go:

  • The Golf is better than the Jetta.
  • The Golf SportWagen is better than the 5-door Golf if you have two kids and a dog.
  • The 1.8 TSI is more fun than the 2.0 TDI.
  • The 2.0 TDI is more efficient than the 1.8 TSI, but not enough to justify the increased MSRP when fuel prices are low.
  • You should get the manual if you can.
  • Stop buying Tiguans and get the Golf SportWagen instead. (Never mind. Nobody’s buying Tiguans.)
  • You should also buy this if you care about manuals and wagons and diesels, especially as a package. (Brown is for Luddites.)

It’s with these points in mind I plunged into a week-long test of the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen — just a mere two weeks after driving the Jetta TDI.

And as much as I like it — really, really like it — the long-roof Golf is hard to justify for exactly two reasons.


The Tester

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI SEL [USA]/Sportwagon Highline [Canada]

Engine: 2-liter DOHC I-4, turbodiesel with intercooler, direct injection (150 horsepower @ 3,500-4,000 rpm, 236 lbs-ft @ 1,750-3,000 rpm)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic, DSG with Tiptronic

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 31 city/42 highway/35 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 39.9 mpg, approx. 70-percent city driving with a light foot

Options (U.S.): Lighting Package, Driver Assistance Package.
Options (Canada): Multimedia Package (includes bi-xenon headlights with AFS, 5.8-inch touchscreen audio with navigation, 8-speaker Fender premium audio, forward collision warning system, LED daytime running lights).

As Tested (U.S.): $33,995 (sheet)
As Tested (Canada): $38,120 (sheet)


But, before we get to that, let’s talk about the car in a vacuum.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (8 of 14)

Exterior
The Golf SportWagen (U.S., in Canada it’s called Golf Sportwagon … like the actual word … in English) replaces the Jetta wagon in Volkswagen’s American lineup. The wagonified compact earns its new name by being more closely related to the Golf than the Jetta this time around. Underneath its sheet metal is Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform shared with the current 3- and 5-door Mk7 Golf and Audi A3.

Thanks to a more modern platform, the Golf SportWagen is roughly 134 pounds lighter than the outgoing Jetta Wagon — and that’s with a longer, wider body. The long-roof Golf is 1.1 inches longer and 0.7 inches wider than the Jetta it replaces, though Volkswagen does make a point to mention the new wagon’s roof is 1.1 inches lower than its predecessor, possibly reducing the car’s frontal area.

The execution of the Golf SportWagon is at odds to the Charger I drove the week before. The Dodge looks completely different from its predecessor despite using the same platform, while the Volkswagen somehow looks more similar to its predecessor even while riding on a whole new platform.

Up front, the SportWagen is all Golf. Put the two side by side and there isn’t much difference. The headlights in our tester were fitted with LED daytime running lights that show up much better in person than they do in pictures on a rainy day. Below the bumper skin is a tiny square, hidden away, that houses the radar gear needed for the adaptive cruise control and other semi-autonomous and safety features. I must say that Volkswagen does a hell of a lot better job at hiding their new-fangled techno gear than most others (FCA and Hyundai, I’m looking at you two).

Around back, the SportWagen receives its own sheet metal and taillights that are tenfold more appealing than the old Jetta wagon. The taillamps festooned to the rear of the Jetta were quite rounded off and lacked even a modicum of personality. The new SportWagen says, “Yes, I’m practical, but I’m oh-so sharp at the same time.”

From the side, the SportWagen does the long-roof body style justice by keeping the D-pillar fairly upright and the lines as simple and cohesive as possible. This is no Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon and it shouldn’t pretend to be. The bright, deep shade of Silk Blue Metallic paint is enough to call attention to this long-wheelbase Golf. Other than the color, the Golf makes no sporting boasts, though the wheels are a tad much.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (11 of 14)

Interior
Inside is the same as any other Golf — good materials, well-planned design, simple dials, decent controls, all wrapped around a cheap infotainment display with crummy navigation and limited media input options — but more on that later.

When you run through a new car every week and have to wash each one, you notice some cars are much, much easier to keep tidy than others. The SportWagen only asked for a simple microfiber cloth to bring luster to the shiny plastic bits and dusting the remaining dash was a breeze.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (12 of 14)The instrument panel is clear and easy to read — thank you, Volkswagen, for getting rid of the stupid, retina-searing blue lighting accents that left ghosts in our vision — and the driving position was perfect for my 6-foot-1-inch frame. The seats are comfortable but nothing to write home about.

But, if there’s one gold star to be given to the SportWagen — and this applies to the Jetta and Golf as well — it’s for visibility. Volkswagen has figured out how to keep passengers safe without lifting belt lines to a driver’s pupils, and that’s doubly important when driving a low vehicle with a large interior volume and a rear window that’s seemingly eleventy billion feet away from your rear-view mirror. This enhanced visibility also contributes to a very open, airy feeling in the cabin.

Infotainment
Remember when I said there are two reasons that make justifying a Golf SportWagen difficult? This is one of them.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (14 of 14)I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you have a modern phone that doesn’t use the old-style iPod/iPhone connector and you don’t need a Volkswagen right freakin’ now, wait until next year. There is supposed to be a better infotainment system and actual, honest-to-goodness USB ports.

Let me be clear: If you buy a Jetta, Golf, or any Volkswagen with this red-headed stepchild combination of haphazard technology and later complain about how much it sucks in the comments, I will link to this review each and every time screaming, “I told you so!” before throwing you to the rest of the B&B. The combination of no USB ports and a sub-par infotainment system in a modern car, especially one in the $30,000 range, is inexcusable in 2015.

Another niggle is the process you’re forced to go through to pair a phone or media device via Bluetooth. You, the driver, must use the steering wheel controls and instrument panel display to pair phone and audio devices instead of the center touchscreen used by every other automaker. Before you say, “Mark, I only ever paired my phone to the car once … when I first bought it,” this design introduces a problem for those of us who have passengers who want to connect their own devices as the driver is then forced to perform pairing process. Expect to see this functionality move to MIB II’s center touchscreen for MY2016 — though, by then, you won’t need it because Volkswagen will finally provide USB ports along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Drivetrain
Just like the diesel Jetta from weeks ago, diesel hesitation from a standing start is evident in the Golf SportWagen as well. Thanks to almost no initial torque from Volkswagen’s turbocharged compression-ignition four cylinder, the Golf is slow off the line until the snail starts to spin. It’s unnerving in the beginning, but you can compensate for it after a couple of days.

The six-speed DSG automatic is the same as the Jetta TDI, too. Crisp shifts are the norm and there’s no driveability issues outside of those detailed above.

The fuel economy surprised me. Even with all the additional weight of the wagon metal, the Golf still nearly crested 40 mpg with minimal effort.

However — and this is a big however — I’d still have the turbocharged, gas-fed 1.8 TSI instead. Unless you are clocking massive mileage or have an unrestrained desire to burn fryer fat on Oregon, the 1.8 TSI is more fun, delivers improved driveability and costs less initially. Also, I’d have the manual, just because.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI (7 of 14)

Drive
You know what? As much as journalists admonish the Jetta and heap praise upon the Golf, Volkswagen has taken strides in making the refreshed Jetta a much more compelling proposition. So much so that — and I expect to get a bit of flack for this — the Golf isn’t really that much better than the Jetta, or at least not enough to justify the higher price.

If you were led to each car, the Golf SportWagen TDI and Jetta TDI, blindfolded, and asked to rate which one is better, 95 percent of the buying public would simply shrug and say, “They’re both good to me.”

The Golf SportWagen TDI suffers from the same off-the-line latency as its diesel sedan counterpart. They both have competent suspensions, but both feel a bit heavy, probably due to the big diesel lump at the front. Both testers had brakes you needed to lean on before they’d really grab those discs.

And this is a great segue into the second reason to not get a SportWagen.

Unless you really, really want a wagon, get a Jetta. Now, you probably noticed I didn’t say Golf, and there’s a reason for that, too.

The Golf SportWagen is, like DR Period says, “money”. One cannot simply ignore the massive bargain for which a Jetta can be had. If you are looking to get a car today, go out and lease a cheap Jetta for next to nothing, wait out the term, and go back to the Volkswagen dealer to see what improvements have been made in three years. This is a good solution for the aforementioned infotainment/USB problem above, as well. It gives you the car you need now — even though it might not necessarily be the one you want — and you bridge the gap to newer, better product at a cost that amounts to lint-covered pocket change.

So, there you have it: the best Golf SportWagen TDI is a diesel Jetta. You’re welcome.

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Audi Confirms 2017 A4 Diesel for US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/audi-confirms-2017-a4-diesel-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/audi-confirms-2017-a4-diesel-us/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 15:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112009 The ninth-generation 2017 Audi A4 will sport a diesel engine for the first time in the U.S., Motor Authority is reporting. When the sedan launches next March, the 2.0-liter turbocharged oil burner will make 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of twist. That’s on top of the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that’ll make 252 hp and […]

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2017 Audi A4 Sedan

The ninth-generation 2017 Audi A4 will sport a diesel engine for the first time in the U.S., Motor Authority is reporting.

When the sedan launches next March, the 2.0-liter turbocharged oil burner will make 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of twist. That’s on top of the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that’ll make 252 hp and 273 lb-ft.

But that may not be the best part.

According to Motor Authority, the diesel sedan may make it stateside with a manual transmission, which are definitely not dead, or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission if you’re not into fun things. An S4 will certainly follow, an RS4 may be in the works and an A4 Avant will definitely not be stateside — that’s what we have the Allroad for, apparently.

Initially, the A4 will be married to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system with front-wheel drive variants arriving later in the year.

There’s been no word on fuel economy figures, but Audi engineers say they expect the car will improve by more than 20 percent even with the horsepower bump. Pricing for the A4 hasn’t been announced.

Like the A3, the new A4 will be seriously tech heavy and options-laden. Along with Audi’s compartmentalized MMI system with Google Maps, the A4 can sport Apple’s Car Play, a 7- or 8.3-inch infotainment screen, handwriting recognition system and a 12.3-inch instrument display screen.

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Golf TDI Makes Lap of US on $300 of Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/golf-tdi-makes-lap-us-300-diesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/golf-tdi-makes-lap-us-300-diesel/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 17:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110385 Volkswagen’s Golf TDI traveled more than 8,200 miles around the lower 48 states on less than $300 of diesel in 16 days, the automaker said today. The 16-day trip around the U.S. set a narrowly-defined world record for “lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. contiguous States non-hybrid car” by averaging 81.17 mpg in the Golf TDI. […]

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golf_tdi_sets_guinness_world_records_achievement__5070

Volkswagen’s Golf TDI traveled more than 8,200 miles around the lower 48 states on less than $300 of diesel in 16 days, the automaker said today.

The 16-day trip around the U.S. set a narrowly-defined world record for “lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. contiguous States non-hybrid car” by averaging 81.17 mpg in the Golf TDI. The car was driven by automotive journalist Wayne Gerdes and electronics engineer Bob Winger.

Quick math: If the duo averaged 15 hours of driving per day, the pair managed an average speed of 34.306 mph throughout the entire journey.

The record attempt improved on the 2013 mark set by a Volkswagen Passat TDI, also driven by Gerdes, which managed 77.99 mpg in a round-trip run of the U.S.

golf_tdi_sets_guinness_world_records_achievement__5069

“Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel engines are just amazing,” Wayne Gerdes said in a statement. “I don’t think people realize the potential mileage you can get from them. In our experience, it is possible to get truly impressive mileage results by using just a few simple fuel-saving techniques.”

Although the latest record run set the mark for a run around the U.S., it still fell short of a 2013 mpg record set by an Australian couple driving from Texas to Virginia. John and Helen Taylor managed 84.1 mpg in their 1,626-mile drive in a Volkswagen Passat TDI.

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2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SEL Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-tdi-sel-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-volkswagen-golf-tdi-sel-review/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101225 Why yes, it has been only three weeks since our last Volkswagen Golf feature story. Why do you ask? Maybe it’s because the little VW is on fire. The car is nearly single-handedly bringing back hatchback sales with the introduction last year of its 7th generation model. Winner of numerous national and international auto journo awards, MkVII Golf […]

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IMG_0279

Why yes, it has been only three weeks since our last Volkswagen Golf feature story. Why do you ask?

Maybe it’s because the little VW is on fire. The car is nearly single-handedly bringing back hatchback sales with the introduction last year of its 7th generation model. Winner of numerous national and international auto journo awards, MkVII Golf sales in the U.S. are up 230% through June over the same period last year, and are tracking towards a record-setting 84,000 sales for 2015.

There are two 2015 Golfs in my driveway this week: my own two-door GTI 6-speed and today’s tester, the above four-door TDI SEL with the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. This is not a comparison test but the variation between the two cars’ equipment levels makes for some interesting perspectives.

The wide range of 2015 Golf models and drivetrain options available is one reason for all the hype and sales growth. From the base Golf to the sporty GTI, the all-electric e-Golf to the 292 hp all-wheel drive Golf R, and even this TDI Clean Diesel, Volkswagen has all hatchback prospects covered.

The Golf TDI’s turbocharged and intercooled 4-cylinder diesel motor produces 150 horsepower at 3,500 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque at only 1,750 rpm. Our tester came with Volkswagen’s slick dual-clutch six-speed DSG transmission. A handful of diesel TDIs are produced with a 6-speed manual transmission, but are actually slightly slower in acceleration than DSG-equipped cars. (A friend at a West Coast Volkswagen/Audi store thinks that VW only builds stick-shift diesels to satisfy the TDI “evangelist” — owners who are on their third diesel and sit around his showroom while their cars are in for service, telling everyone how their 200,000-mile TDI is still on its original clutch. He says they are the same folks who ask about “that European diesel that gets 70 mpg that Volkswagen won’t sell in the US.”)

The car comes in three versions, all available as a four-door model only. The base S model starts at $22,345 and comes well equipped with heated outside mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, side curtain airbags, a hill holder (!), split folding rear seats, rear wiper and washer, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

Step up to the $25,895 SE model and you add 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a power glass sunroof, heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, front fog lights, a rearview camera and a 400-watt Fender audio system.

Our tester is the top of the line SEL model wearing an MSRP of $28,329. It adds 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a navigation system, automatic climate control, keyless entry, push-button start and a 12-way power driver’s seat. Our tester had pleasant grey and black “pleather” seats. (In the strange world of Volkswagen option packages, leather seating is only available on the sporty GTI and R models.)

IMG_0303

Our car also came with the $995 Lighting Package, which features bi-xenon headlights and an adaptive front-lighting system I found far superior to the standard lighting on my GTI. The $695 Driver Assistance Package, which includes front and rear parking distance control and a forward collision warning alarm, was a bit sensitive. I also think the package needs to add blind spot warnings in the mirrors to make it a worthwhile value.

The total MSRP of our TDI was a heart-stopping $32,005. According to auto broker TrueCar, the average discount available nationwide on this model is around $1,050. Volkswagen is currently offering 1.9% APR financing for up to 60 months on all TDIs, as well as a $249/month lease special for 36 months on the base model TDI.

A full 76% of the TDIs available for sale within 200 miles of me are the base S model. My Volkswagen dealer friend says the SEL variant sells well but availability is scarce so, like I learned with my GTI, getting the exact options and color you want will be near-impossible unless you are willing to order one and wait 6 months.

The TDI’s 18-inch wheels and Night Blue Metallic paint actually makes the hatchback look downright luxurious. (I wanted to use the phrase “screams luxurious” but then I would have to determine what my two-door GTI “screams” and all I could think of was “USC exchange student.”)

I have previously lamented how I should have purchased the 4-door variant of the GTI and the TDI drives the point home: while interior volume is identical on two- and four-door Golfs, ingress and egress to the roomy back seat can be a pain. Fold down the rear seats and you have the cargo room of a small CUV.

I have also learned why I’m apparently the only Golf owner who likes the 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment center: my GTI does not have navigation. This TDI has this option and, between the too-small screen and its too-low location (not to mention its silly graphics), the system is awful. Word is that an 8-inch touchscreen is coming next year on all VWs. As I said about my GTI, the dash and controls are near Audi-worthy.

IMG_0289

The TDI’s keyless start/stop button is located on the console next to the shift lever — exactly where it belongs — rather than on the dash. You can push the button and grab the shift lever in one simple move. Why do most other carmakers put it on the dashboard?

At idle, the torquey diesel is barely louder than a direct injection Mercedes. Hit the accelerator from a standing start and you discover what may be the TDI’s biggest glitch: a hesitation followed by a too-sudden drivetrain engagement, enough to squeal the tires at three-fourth’s throttle. Our esteemed Managing Editor noticed the same thing in his test of a TDI Jetta. After a week in the saddle, I barely noticed it.

The TDI has been clocked at around 8 seconds for the 0 to 60 sprint. For most traffic situations, the car responds instantly to your right foot. It could use a little more highway passing power, but that is the price you pay for great fuel economy. The DSG shifter lived up to its hype: shifts are crisp and quick whether in automatic or manual mode.

While not quite a GTI, the TDI is also a lot of fun in the curves. It remains stable and firmly planted, though does share the slightly-sloppy steering of other Golf models. I did miss the World’s Largest Dead Pedal from my GTI in the turns.

The TDI eats up the miles on the open road with little tire or wind noise. My only complaint was a bit of monkey butt after a few hours from the seats being a bit too hard, but I will take that as the seats are super-supportive.

The TDI is EPA rated at 31 mpg city and 43 mpg highway. This car’s fuel consumption indicator showed 41.0 mpg after a spirited mixed-use 350 mile run. I was skeptical of this number and sure enough, upon fill-up I hand-calculated the drive at 38.6 mpg. It turns out that other media outlets have also spotted this over-optimism of the fuel economy calculator. Let us hope that at least the Golf’s speedometer is accurate. (Perhaps we should add the feature from 1970s buff book tests that measured “Actual” vs. “Indicated” speedometer numbers. I seem to recall “Indicated” speed was usually 3 to 10% higher than “Actual” speed before Japanese brands came along and started hitting the mph number on the head.)

IMG_0316

Two- and four-door Golfs have the same exterior dimensions and interior volume.

What kept running through my mind as I was testing the TDI was that this automobile is two steps away — leather seats and better navigation — from being an Audi A3. Apparently Audi agrees as they are bringing back the A3 Sportback this year and among its engine options will be the TDI motor.

My friend at the VW/Audi dealership notes that the A3 hatch may hurt the TDI as Audi’s superior residual values means that lease payments on a higher-priced Audi may actually be lower than those on a VW TDI, as is currently the case on the A3 TDI Sedan. Although few diesel customers lease their cars, this payment disparity is one of the challenges created by Audi and Volkswagen sharing platforms.

The Golf TDI is a sophisticated high-mileage hatch that does a lot of things well. It is the most fun you can have at 40 mpg.

Picks:

  • Another variation of the all-around goodness of the Golf
  • Smooth and quiet TDI diesel motor
  • An Audi in disguise

Nit Pics:

  • Out-of-date navigation system and display
  • Loaded SEL model is pricey at $32,000
  • Off-the-line acceleration hesitation

Wife Sez: So tell me again why we did not get a moonroof in our GTI?

Volkswagen provided vehicle for one week along with insurance and one tank of gas.

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

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

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

What else does the Cruze have up its sleeve?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1998 Alfa Romeo 164 2.5 TD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photography:author

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

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (4 of 8)

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

That’s a serious dearth of variety.

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

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

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


The Tester

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

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

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

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

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


2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (2 of 8)

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (5 of 8)

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (6 of 8)

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8)

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

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

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

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (2 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (3 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (4 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (5 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (6 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (7 of 8) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (8 of 8)

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Please Make a Business Case for Hand Grenade Gear Shifters, Jeep http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/please-make-business-case-hand-grenade-gear-shifters-jeep/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/please-make-business-case-hand-grenade-gear-shifters-jeep/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085961   Jeep has this whole concept car thing figured out. Whereas most manufacturers use concept cars as a glimpse into the near future (or not, See “NSX, Acura”), Jeep makes weird-ass, proof of bad-ass concepts like this Chief, a 2012 “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Wrangler turned surf-weirdo-baby blue-SUV that goes to show how […]

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The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is an homage to the full-size Cherokees of the 1970s.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is an homage to the full-size Cherokees of the 1970s.

Jeep has this whole concept car thing figured out.

Whereas most manufacturers use concept cars as a glimpse into the near future (or not, See “NSX, Acura”), Jeep makes weird-ass, proof of bad-ass concepts like this Chief, a 2012 “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Wrangler turned surf-weirdo-baby blue-SUV that goes to show how much lead Jeep designer Mark Allen has nothing to do all day.

(Allen once told me his job with the Wrangler is done every year when nothing changes and that’s how it should be.)

Part of the package Jeep brings out every year for Easter Jeep Safari, the Chief is a one-off with a 2-inch lift, Dana 44s, Fox shocks and massive BFGoodrich Mud-Terrains with 17-inch slotted mag wheels. It’s an homage to the full-size Cherokee, because the current Cherokee isn’t exactly a direct successor anyway.

The Tiki-style shifter is perhaps the best touch; the “Magnum P.I.” sticker in the back is a close second. The Hawaiian-style seats aren’t entirely awesome.

 

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" sports a tiki shifter that would be cooler if it were a hand grenade.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” sports a tiki shifter that would be cooler if it were a hand grenade.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief" is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief” is apparently Magnum P.I. approved. Says so right on that sticker.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Chief," which may or may not come standard with Beach Boys soundtrack.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Chief,” which may or may not come standard with Beach Boys soundtrack.

The Moab models very rarely make it onto dealer lots — and if they do it’s mostly trims like the Renegade Desert Hawk — but they do offer a tantalizing glimpse ahead.

 

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari Renegade dubbed "Desert Hawk." Because "Desert Fox" was something completely different.

The 2015 Easter Jeep Safari Renegade dubbed “Desert Hawk.” Because “Desert Fox” was something completely different.

This year’s Wrangler Africa sported a 2.8-liter diesel, something that may or may not make it into the next generation Wrangler. Although Jeep is hedging on whether there is a business case for an oil-burning Wrangler, it’s clear the current 21 mpg fuel economy won’t pass muster in 2017 or beyond. A diesel with an 8-speed could be a tempting solution.

One thing that should be available immediately: dealer installed hand grenade shifter. Awesome.

 

The hand grenade gear shifter on the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari "Staff Car" should be hitting dealerships soon — I hope.

The hand grenade gear shifter on the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari “Staff Car” should be hitting dealerships soon — I hope.

These cars are drivable (sometimes barely) and mostly functional, but live very short lives.

Chances are good the concept crop for next year, which is Jeep’s 75th anniversary, are already under construction. It’s possible that Allen is cooking up all kinds of weirdos to take to southern Utah, or that he’ll bring back some of the greatest hits like the Lower Forty.

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Piston Slap: Oil Burning and Carbon Cleaning? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-oil-burning-carbon-cleaning/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/piston-slap-oil-burning-carbon-cleaning/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 11:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085625   Arley writes: Sajeev, I have a 2003 Jetta TDI with 178k miles. Runs 100%. My mechanic recommends a carbon cleaning. What are the positives and negatives? To be more succinct, what can go wrong? You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish. (Good to know! – SM) Sajeev answers: Conventional wisdom (for […]

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Looks legit. (photo courtesy: n0str9 @ forums.tdiclub.com)

Arley writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2003 Jetta TDI with 178k miles. Runs 100%. My mechanic recommends a carbon cleaning. What are the positives and negatives? To be more succinct, what can go wrong?

You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish. (Good to know! – SM)

Sajeev answers:

Conventional wisdom (for both diesel and gas engines) is carbon buildup occurs more often when the owner subjects the engine to excessive idling and a severe lack of full throttle acceleration. Today’s direct injected, EGR equipped diesels (and direct injected gas engines lacking a piggyback port-EFI setup a la Toyota V6s) are sensitive to carbon buildup due to idle time, EGR design and cooling system inadequacies, and perhaps even fuel (i.e. varying quality of bio diesel). Don’t take my word, this company’s blog did a good job assessing the problem.

Whew!

So carbon cleaning is commonplace and a good idea. And be it a seafoam-alike treatment or physical removal/cleaning of critical parts, there’s no downside if performed with even a modicum of care.

Question is, do YOU have a problem? 

Considering your mileage (less idling and more highway driving?) and engine performance: probably not. Watch this video (go to 1:39) and DIY if you are even the least bit handy. From the video, make a trip to the parts store for vacuum lines too!

Or just do nothing aside from performing an Italian Tune-Up. That’d work for sure, and it’s totally fun.

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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While You Were Sleeping: Phaeton Axed in UK, Porsche 911 GT With A Stick and GM Is Down in China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-phaeton-axed-in-uk-porsche-911-gt-with-a-stick-and-gm-is-down-in-china/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084185 The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car. Here’s what happened overnight. Volkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar) The current-generation VW Phaeton has […]

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2011 VW Phaeton

The Volkswagen Phaeton, the pride of former chairman Piëch, has been discontinued in the UK. Don’t worry, though, if you’re one of those people who enjoy such understated luxury. Volkswagen is still planning a next-generation version of the car.

Here’s what happened overnight.

2011 VW PhaetonVolkswagen Phaeton axed in the UK (Autocar)
The current-generation VW Phaeton has been removed from the company’s UK lineup due to engines not meeting Euro 6 emissions.

opensesameThis Hacked Kid’s Toy Opens Garage Doors in Seconds (WIRED)
Using the pictures Mattel IM-ME kid’s texting toy, security researcher Samy Kamkar has developed a way to open garage doors relying on an insecure “fixed code” system.

Chevy-Cruze-SalesChevy has Sold 3.5 Million Cruzes Globally (AutoGuide)
“Globally, the bow-tie brand has sold more than 3.5 million copies of its Cruze compact car, making this nameplate their best-selling automobile in the world.”

lesabreWatching This 1990s Buick LeSabre Get Thrown Around Off-Road Makes Us Wonder If Grandma Regrets Loaning Out Her Car (BlipShift)
Rally LeSabre? Okay.

Maruti-Suzuki-Celerio-diesel-0Suzuki Builds Its First Diesel Engine, A 0.8L 2-Cylinder Rated At 47 HP (CarScoops)
But it does has a whopping 92 (!!!) pound-feet of torque.

Formula 1 Testing, JerezF1 refuelling decision imminent (Motorsport.com)
Teams are discussing the possibility in efforts to liven “the show”.

img_4613Unique vintage Alfa Romeo took $2-million to restore (Driving.ca)
“Timelessly elegant Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale was a complete basketcase, but the story behind it makes the car truly unique.”

B99276667Z.1_20150604082658_000_GQBH60D4.1-0GM China sales drop 4% in May (The Detroit News)
Drop blamed on “vehicle model changeovers and phasing out of older vehicles.”

porsche-911-spy-nov-2014-194_0‘Pure’ Porsche 911 GT planned (Autocar)
New GT model will get a manual transmission and be distinct from other 911’s with GT badging.

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While You Were Sleeping: Jeep GC Pickup Render, Brilliance V3 Debut and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (Or a Lack Thereof) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-jeep-gc-pickup-render-brilliance-v3-debut-jobs-jobs-jobs-lack-thereof/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 10:11:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064017 As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.” Jeep Trailhawk (Theophilus Chin) Self-titled Automotive Manipulator Theophilus Chin has put together a compelling image of a Jeep Grand Cherokee pickup. Exclusive: Honda Australia pensions off Civic diesel (GoAuto) As car enthusiasts scream for diesel […]

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Jeep Trailhawk Truck Render

As trucks ride a heat wave of interest from consumers, I look at this Grand Cherokee render and think, “That’ll do.”

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Piston Slap: What makes Premium Fuel More Expensive? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-makes-premium-fuel-expensive/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:21:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041953   TTAC Commentator sastexan writes: Sajeev, I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta […]

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Just the long and short of it. (photo courtesy: chemistryland.com)

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve been driving cars requiring premium fuel (91+ octane). When I bought my Contour SVT in 1998, high test was $0.20 more a gallon (just under a 20% premium over regular). But it was regularly always only $0.20 more. In the past decade or so, I noticed the delta going to $0.30 and even more. The correlation did not seem to be to the price (eg, premium did not seem to track a consistent 15% increase). Rather, the difference appears to be a flat rate.

Question for the best and brightest – what in higher octane fuel makes it more expensive?

What inputs are there and how much more does it cost to manufacture?

This is not intended to be a debate about the “requirement” for premium – my SVT had an extreme dislike of 87 octane and I won’t try it in my FRS with the high compression engine. However my mother runs 87 in her  with no issue for the past 5 years despite the assertion from the salesman that the “premium product requires premium fuel” and did the same for her old I30 for 14 years (Camry engine and Maxima engine, respectively).

Sajeev answers:

I’m far from an oil and gas expert, but let’s hyperlink to relevant sources and give it the ‘ol college try.

What makes premium fuel more expensive is the effort to adjust the ratio of long to short chain hydrocarbons in grades of gasoline. A notable quote from the Quora link above.

“Effectively, the long-chain hydrocarbons (like asphalt and diesel) can be broken into shorter-chain hydrocarbons (like gasoline). You end up with more gasoline. You can also adjust the regular/premium output ratios with these methods.”

Perhaps more importantly, overall fuel cost is proportional to oil quality.

Not all crude oil is created equal. The Keystone XL pipeline (that everyone’s formed an opinion about) is proof: the quality of “tar sand” oil delivered to my Texas backyard is poor. Light, sweet crude is the good stuff: more expensive as a raw material but easier to refine. But there are varying grades here too: light crude oil is “defined as having an API gravity higher than 31.1 °API (less than 870 kg/m3).” 

Whatever that means.

Need more detail? Too bad I didn’t accept that Petroleum Engineering scholarship when I was a freshman. Perhaps there’s one within the ranks of our Best and Brightest?

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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Piston Slap: FCA Makes the Case for Czech Bicycle Ownership? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-making-case-bicycle-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-making-case-bicycle-ownership/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:49:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1038801 TTAC writer Vojta Dobes writes: Hello Sa(n)jeev, As you already know, I had to get rid of the borrowed ’98 Town Car which served me for last 15 months. When I mentioned to you that I’m getting a ’94 Chrysler LHS instead, you told me that it would be wise for me to purchase a reasonable, domestically […]

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(photo courtesy: eBay.com)

TTAC writer Vojta Dobes writes:

Hello Sa(n)jeev,

As you already know, I had to get rid of the borrowed ’98 Town Car which served me for last 15 months. When I mentioned to you that I’m getting a ’94 Chrysler LHS instead, you told me that it would be wise for me to purchase a reasonable, domestically produced (which means European for me) car, so I have something that’s easy to fix and easy to get parts for.

I found afairly nice Alfa Romeo 164 Diesel, with just a few dings and scratches and in mostly working condition, save for some unimportantelectricals. Is that what you had in mind?Do you think those two cars will be enough to keep me mobile, or shall I better buy a new bicycle for times when there’s no press car for me?

Thanks for your input!

Sajeev answers:

Oh. My. Damn. Son.

I must remember all those Sierra parts you shipped for TTAC’s project car before I proceed. Because it’s very, very hard to avoid internet flaming when considering a transaxle-munching Chrysler LH car in the Czech Republic! And then, salt in the wound, maximum FCA  pain via used Alfa?

But you got press cars. (Not jealous!) And maybe your city is like others in Europe; flush with a strong infrastructure for bicyclists. Ditto public transportation. With that in mind, why not?

What could possibly go wrong?

You tell us, Best and Brightest.

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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Report: US New-Diesel Registrations On The Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028297 Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late. According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Highline brown

Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late.

According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel registrations in 2014 came to 7.4 million vehicles. California, Massachusetts and Nevada lead the rest of the country in those registrations.

Greater fuel economy, cleaner diesel technology, and more vehicles with diesels — like the BMW X5, Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze — are helping to fuel the spike in registrations, despite diesel still being more expensive at the pump per gallon than regular gasoline.

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DeltaWing Entering GT, Eyeing Future Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027369 Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road. The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on […]

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DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis

Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road.

The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing® architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unimagined fuel economy and efficiency.”

The GT will, like the DWC13 Coupe campaigned by DeltaWing Racing Cars, be a coupe using weight distribution to its advantage, thanks to its narrow nose and wide backside putting 30 percent up front, the rest in back. The project won’t interfere with the team and its efforts in IMSA’s TUDOR series.

Meanwhile, that same basic design forms the basis for two- and four-passenger prototypes that could lead to a road-legal version of the DeltaWing. Preliminary data suggests the design would net “an unadjusted EPA fuel economy rating of nearly 74 mpg Highway and over 57 mpg combined rating,” adding that if one could buy a DeltaWing from the showroom today, they would have a vehicle that was not only the most fuel efficient conventionally powered vehicle in the United States, but would also meet the 2025 54.5 mpg standard. The ratings are for a DeltaWing powered by a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine placed in the four-passenger variant.

Aside from traditional ICEs, the company says the prototype could be fitted with hybrid, diesel, CNG, hydrogen and electric power, with results ranging from better range for diesel, EV and FCV versions, to a 42 percent reduction in emissions for gasoline models.

DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 1 DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 2 DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis DeltaWing common chassis

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GM Retaining Current Malibu, Cruze As Fleet Specials, Diesel Dead For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:54:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025193 Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”. While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L […]

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2014-Chevy-Cruze-Diesel-46-mpg. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”.

While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L I4. The Cruze will drop the diesel variant, but retain the “Eco” version, as well as the manual transmission option.

med_gallery_51_2_61213 med_gallery_51_2_38143

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-tdi/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:14:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1021513 To say the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t about fuel savings is to miss the point. But to say it’s about all-around money-saving is to tell a lie. If your only mission was to spend less money on personal transportation in the new vehicle realm, jaw-dropping highway mileage generated by a 2.0L turbocharged diesel is […]

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI brownTo say the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t about fuel savings is to miss the point. But to say it’s about all-around money-saving is to tell a lie.

If your only mission was to spend less money on personal transportation in the new vehicle realm, jaw-dropping highway mileage generated by a 2.0L turbocharged diesel is not necessarily the ticket to personal financial freedom.


• USD Price As Tested: $30,020

• Horsepower: 150 @ 3500 rpm

• Torque: 236 @ 1750 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 44.4 mpg


There are much less costly ways of getting around town than in a highbrow Jetta like our test example, with its leather seating, navigation, upgraded audio, and Volkswagen’s dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox.

So why can’t the two objectives comingle? I’d argue that they can, that a new car buyer can enjoy the benefits of an upgraded, torquey, semi-luxurious, and spacious German compact car – and spend the money that’s required to do so – while also enjoying weeks of fuel tank range.

However, it’s not as easy for me to say that as it was in the past. After years of local parity or even diesel-favouring prices, diesel now costs significantly more than regular gas in Nova Scotia. The new turbocharged 1.8L four-cylinder gas-fired engine I experienced in the Mk7 Golf also eats into the TDI’s efficiency advantage in ways the old 2.5L five-cylinder never dreamt of doing. And the CAD $2300 premium for the TDI over that flexible 1.8T is frightening, at least before resale value is taken into account.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Highline brownThe TDI isn’t quite on the same level as a Tesla Model S, whose owner who can afford the initial outlay and enjoys the combination of electrified transportation and ridiculous performance. Nor can a direct comparison be drawn with a Chevrolet Volt owner who accepts the higher price of the car because he finds satisfaction in lengthy periods of electric-only driving without the penalty of limited range. Nevertheless, in a similar manner, the up-front cost and premium at the pump won’t hinder a TDI owner from sourcing pleasure in her car’s real-world pace and its aversion to fuel consumption.

See, just because a new car consumer purchases or leases a car with clear fuel saving intent doesn’t mean the consumer must showcase frugal tendencies across the board. They can still drive the car they want. And strangely enough, despite forgettable styling, a lack of auto headlights, not quite Golf-like steering, some wind whistle around the A-pillar, an antiquated infotainment unit, and one of the less effective DSG pairings, the Jetta TDI is, in fact, desirable.

Granted, I’d argue that it’s less desirable as the equipment level rises. The Highline-trim car loaned to us by Volkswagen Canada creeps deep into Passat territory. Yes, the Jetta is very roomy considering its exterior dimensions – at 182.2 inches long, it’s only two inches longer than a Mazda 3 sedan. But the Passat’s interior is utterly massive.

In the U.S., diesel-powered Jettas start at $22,460. The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic adds $1100. A Jetta SEL TDI with the DSG and the $1690 Driver Assistance package (forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, etc.) tops out at $30,020, including the $1750 diesel option. A mid-level Passat TDI costs $29,945.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Highline interiorBut remember, the 2015 Jetta is not like the 2014 Jetta. Independent rear suspension aids ride quality, which really is quite serene. The upgraded interior, aside from the laggy touch screen system with its poor graphics, never once let me down in terms of material quality or ergonomics. Jetta steering still lacks the Golf’s sharpness, and the DSG’s lack of instantaneous response works with the comfort-minded chassis to steer you away from aggressive driving on twisty back roads. The Jetta’s overall on-road behaviour, however, provides a mature ambience, leaving me the with the feeling that the Jetta is perhaps better at taking the fight to midsize sedans as a slightly downsized alternative rather than challenging compacts with its upper-crust price tag.

Also updated for 2015 was the powerplant. The diesel is still a 2.0L with 236 lb-ft of torque, but it’s not the same 2.0L diesel of old. It’s quieter, smoother, and just a little bit happier to rev, and it’s also more efficient. The EPA highway rating moved up from 42 mpg to 45. In a week of driving around the city and its suburbs, the 44.4 mpg this Jetta registered was simply astonishing. With temperatures below freezing and a heavy right foot, the test example easily outperformed its city and combined ratings and very nearly matched the official highway figure.

Question the wisdom of spending $30K+ on a fuel miser if you must, but 44 mpg in city driving is the kind of mileage that engenders diesel loyalty. I just wish the 2015 Jetta still looked like the fourth-gen model, handled like the GLI, and could be filled up with fuel that didn’t cost an extra $0.47/gallon.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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France Encouraging Diesel Drivers To Go Electric Via €10K Incentive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/france-encouraging-diesel-drivers-go-electric-via-10k-incentive/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994258 Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD). Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) […]

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Renault-ZOE-Leclerc-Brittany

Starting in April, France will encourage diesel drivers to replace their oil burners with electric power through an incentive up to €10,000 ($11,422 USD).

Automotive News Europe the incentive would help “convince buyers to try an electric car,” per a Renault representative. The automaker’s Zoe would leave the showroom with a price of €12,400 ($14,203) instead of €22,400 ($25,658), while its partner Nissan would see a drop from €18,090 ($21,650) to €14,390 ($16,483).

France Energy Minister Ségolène Royal says the nation “must eliminate old diesel cars that are more than 13 years old and have no filters,” adding that measures will make diesel “harder and harder” to use overall.

One measure in particular would align diesel taxes with those of gasoline. The alignment would help reduce smog, according to Royal, stating that “60 percent of the French population breathes air that isn’t healthy.”

At present, 80 percent of all French drivers move about with diesel power, though new-diesel sales have declined over the past two years, from 73 percent of all new cars to 64 percent.

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Glass’s: Falling Fuel Prices Mean Return Of Big Gas Guzzlers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/glasss-falling-fuel-prices-mean-return-big-gas-guzzlers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/glasss-falling-fuel-prices-mean-return-big-gas-guzzlers/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983873 As the price at the pump continues to plummet — diesel not so much — British valuation guide Glass’s predicts big gas guzzlers new and used will return to the motorway. According to Just-Auto, Glass’s valuation chief Rupert Pontin says that despite such vehicles with 3-liter+ engines falling out of favor in the United Kingdom […]

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2014-rolls-royce-wraith-left-view

As the price at the pump continues to plummet — diesel not so much — British valuation guide Glass’s predicts big gas guzzlers new and used will return to the motorway.

According to Just-Auto, Glass’s valuation chief Rupert Pontin says that despite such vehicles with 3-liter+ engines falling out of favor in the United Kingdom since austerity took hold five years ago, falling oil prices could soon motivate consumers into ditching their Ford Fiestas for BMW 335i Sedans:

While no-one could call petrol and diesel prices exactly cheap, they are certainly falling to a level where some consumers won’t place fuel economy as high on their list of priorities as we have seen in recent years. Bigger engined cars are suddenly more viable.

Pontin adds that while this makes for a wonderful few years for bigger-engined vehicles, the environment could take a hit for the duration due to increased emissions from said vehicles.

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Nair: Ford Hard At Work On F-150 Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955650 Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix. Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was […]

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2015 Ford F-150

Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix.

Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was too soon to go into detail on when it would hit showrooms or how the system functioned.

Regarding diesel, Nair said that fuel prices — already falling below $2/gallon in a few spots in the United States — are making such a thing tough to bring about, that even a hybrid system would pay for itself long before a diesel F-150 could. That said, if the demand is there, Nair believes Ford could tap into its diesel portfolio to make that model happen.

Speaking of fuel prices, truck marketing chief Doug Scott said he didn’t think sales of EcoBoost models would be dampened by cheap fuel, citing customers’ choice to buy an EcoBoost F-150 for the performance as well as fuel economy.

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France Begins Divorce Proceedings Against Diesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/france-begins-divorce-proceedings-diesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/france-begins-divorce-proceedings-diesel/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954617 For the longest time, France loved the diesel. Alas, the thrill has gone away. Just-Auto reports the French government introduced a program aimed at removing the most polluting vehicles — diesel-powered passenger vehicles in particular — from the roadways, along with provisions for local officials to limit access to said vehicles. Prime minister Manuel Valls […]

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2006 Peugeot 908 RC Concept

For the longest time, France loved the diesel. Alas, the thrill has gone away.

Just-Auto reports the French government introduced a program aimed at removing the most polluting vehicles — diesel-powered passenger vehicles in particular — from the roadways, along with provisions for local officials to limit access to said vehicles. Prime minister Manuel Valls laid it out as such:

In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically.

Presently, 80 percent of the nation’s drivers operate diesel-powered vehicles, thanks to the lower price for the fuel over gasoline. Thus, to encourage them to consider more eco-friendly options, the government will raise the excise tax on diesel to €2 ($2.50 USD) per liter, and will begin in 2015 to identify vehicles by the amount of pollution they produce. Further, energy minister Segolene Royal introduced earlier in 2014 a tax credit of up to €10,000 ($13,500) for exchanging their diesels for an electric vehicle, while other subsidies linked to the new plan will help drivers in anti-pollution areas convert their old diesels.

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Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950129 With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements. Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck […]

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30-mpg-600x421

With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements.

Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck and the 2008 model equipped with the now obsolete 4.6L V8 engine. One could make the argument that Ford is attempting to show how a returning customer might see significant gains from his old, V8 truck versus a brand new Ecoboost V6 rig. But Ford also didn’t compare the figures to the outgoing 2014 model, which is the typical convention.

That may be because the gains, on paper, are modest at best. Of the two carry-over engines, the 3.5L Ecoboost now returns 17/24/20 mpg (city/highway/combined), versus 16/22/18 mpg for the 2014 model. The 5.0L now gets 15/22/18 mpg versus 15/21/17 mpg. And the Ecoboost engines are notorious for doing well on standard EPA tests, while delivering lower results in real world driving.

If Ford’s past product rollouts are any indication, we will see incremental improvements over the next few years. A 10-speed automatic, due within the next 1-2 years, is sure to add further improvements in fuel economy. A new V6 diesel engine, set to compete with the Ram 1500 and its 28 mpg highway rating, is also said to be in the works.

 

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The Streets Of R-Ado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/streets-r-ado/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936762 I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the […]

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2006 R500 Courtesy cimg.carsforsale.com

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

The Laredo facility included an assortment of handling, hill-climb and torture tracks, all on the infield of an imposing high-banked 5-mile circle track. The first impression of the scene was intoxicating to a car nut: Hey, there’s a Dodge Magnum, looks just like the spy photos! There goes the next generation S-Class! We were shown the upcoming GL-Class and the next-generation M-Class SUVs. Those vehicles, as well as the future S-class circling the track, were lightly masked but easily recognizable while the “sport touring wagon” was heavily, almost comically, disguised.  It looked like a giant black shoe box with a sloping hood.

My group of five folks and an engineer jumped into the future R-Class. The interior was well-crafted and amazingly roomy: I could stretch my legs out in the third row. Our moderator led us through the various obstacle courses around the grounds, switching drivers along the way. Finally we headed for the 5-mile circle. It was “Clockwise Day” which seemed strange to someone used to driving counterclockwise on oval tracks.  Our leader cranked it up to an indicated 150 mph and took one hand off the wheel to demonstrate the wagon’s stability. We were duly impressed.

We then each proceeded to take two laps each behind the wheel and several of us hit the magic 150 mph barrier. We were quietly cruising with six people aboard and blasting past Plymouth Neons on the inside lane doing endurance testing.  The original R500 with the 302 hp V-8 had a governed top speed of 135 mph. The Benz engineers would not answer questions about this drivetrain. In retrospect, I think it must have been the 503 hp V-8 from the planned R63 AMG under the hood.

We always said the R-Class would make a great hearse...

We always said that the R-Class would make a great hearse…

Years later I think: Were we really doing 150 mph with six passengers in a prototype with a drag coefficient of Melissa McCarthy?  Was the speedometer clocked? Or is driving on a banked, circular track as safe and easy as driving in a straight line? Regardless, I highly doubt there are many car companies who would allow a bunch of yahoos to drive their mock-up models at high speeds on their secret proving grounds. That day in Laredo was one of the highlights of my time in the car business.

Two years later when I first saw a production R-Class, I was shocked: it looked awful, a combo of awkward lines. I thought about Laredo. Were they hiding the R’s styling from us because previous groups had given it a thumbs down? Or was Germany so proud of the edgy styling that they did not want it leaked?  By disguising its looks, letting us behind the scenes to drive flat-out at their proving grounds, and not talking price or specs, were they guaranteeing that we each would  vote an enthusiastic “yes” when asked if we would consider buying one, which we did?

I was pleased to see one suggestion from our focus group about the poor location of the third-row shoulder belt hanger had been addressed.

 

It appears the Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track within the 5-mile highbank circle.

Daimler is now selling their Laredo test track. Note the 2-mile oval track inside the 5-mile circle track

The R-Class was released in the summer of 2005 to the sounds of crickets on the showroom floors. Press reactions were mixed, (“It’s big and it’s ugly, but inside it you can live like a king,” said the Sunday Times.) Within 30 days of the launch, Benz had to add dealer incentives to counter consumer resistance to the base MSRP of $48,000 for the R350 and $55,500 for the R500. A constellation of factors led to the R-class being a rare failure for Daimler: high pricing, murky marketing and product positioning, mediocre gas mileage, the recession and most of all due to its undeniable ugliness.

Sales of the R-Class in the US peaked at 18,168 units in 2006, far short of the corporate objective of 50,000 sales per year. Less than 3,000 were sold each year between 2009 and 2011 before the car was discontinued in North America in 2012. The R-Class continues to be assembled in Mercedes’ Alabama factory for sale in overseas markets. (US dealers toured the plant recently and upon seeing the R line, several joked, “Oh noooo, it’s back!”)

I had an R-Class company car in 2009 and it rode as well as I remembered, every bit an S-Class on the highway. Even better was the fact it was the CDI diesel variant with its gobs of torque and great gas mileage, a truly underappreciated engine.

I still think the R stands for Repulsive but if I could find one of those eighty 2007 R63 AMGs brought into this country…

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