The Truth About Cars » Limited 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 20:00:07 +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 » Limited http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Toyota Has Limited Tacoma for the First Time and It’s Significant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/toyota-limited-tacoma-first-time-significant/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 19:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133945 For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal. The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and […]

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For the first time in the nameplate’s history, Toyota will offer a Limited version of its mid-size Tacoma — which was the fifth-best selling truck of all trucks last month — and that’s probably a big deal.

The automaker outlined for us the lineup for the new Tacoma, which will hit dealers in September, and the walk up to the Limited trim — which is at the top trim, for now — sounded light at the bottom and heavy at the top. We’re not allowed to discuss pricing yet, so that’ll have to wait.

However, a top-end Limited trim means that Tacoma isn’t immune to the immutable First Law of Pickup Trucks: You can charge whatever you want for these things. And product planners probably have more in store for the Tacoma.

According to Toyota spokespeople, the Limited models will only account for 8 to 10 percent of the Tacoma’s overall volume, but at that clip it’ll drive profits just fine.

Last month, Toyota sold more than 17,000 Tacomas, making it the best month for the truck ever, and the fifth best-selling truck in the United States. With roughly one out of every two Tacomas being some sort of off-road or highly equipped trim — opposed to a work truck — the Tacoma has room to grow, profit-wise.

Basically what we’re saying is that instead of a belt-buckle, country-edition full-size, Toyota should make a Green Day-inspired, daddy-punk-rock version of the Tacoma for $50,000 — because that’ll sell like crazy, apparently.

Update: According to Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager Toyota in the U.S., the Limited grade is new for the Tacoma for 2016. Limited has been offered as a package before. For 2016, Toyota is moving to a grade-based, parent-child relationship in the Tacoma.

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2015 Subaru Legacy Rental Car Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-subaru-legacy-rental-car-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-subaru-legacy-rental-car-review/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129105 In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all. One night my parents tossed me […]

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2015_Subaru_Legacy_ext_17

In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all.

One night my parents tossed me the keys to drive them home from the restaurant. Mom’s whip was a mid-trim, 4-pot ’88 Camry. Yes, its limits were low, it was gutless, and it was tailored to bourgeois tastes with pastel upholstery here and fake stitching there. However, it was up front about its limitations, pridefully built, civilized in all its moves, and driving it was just so…easy. I one-fingered steered all the way home and made an earnest mental note.

Fifty VW defects later, I went Japanese and never looked back.

2015_Subaru_Legacy_ext_25This is the set of preconceptions I carried to the Avis counter the other day just before I walked away with the keys to a ’15 Subaru Legacy. My first impression of the car was, boy, boxy car in dull blue. My second was, hey, nice 18” alloys; this must be a high trim. And my third impression confirmed it. Upon opening the door, I encountered perforated — if rather anodyne — black leather, muted — if obviously fake — wood, and soft-touch surfaces everywhere I dash-stroked.

There were no badges inside or out, but I’ve subsequently deduced this example was the top-trim 2.0 Limited, albeit without the graduate-level nannies and navigation. It had the usual stuff to infuriate my Luddite self – the profusion of steering wheel buttons, the ersatz iPad above the console – but the buttons were at least logically arranged, and the HVAC was mercifully set free entirely from the gizmo prison. I heaved a sigh of relief and hit the road.

2015_Subaru_Legacy_int_28

The Legacy’s interior doesn’t say “premium,” but it exudes an integrity of build notably missing in, for one example, the embarrassing current-generation Camry. It’s not perfect; there are some odd angles and planes you’d only find in Nipponese iron, and the multi-adjustable driver’s seat only just sort of fits, with a head restraint that deserves its own restraining order. The stereo definitely has a subwoofer, though the treble was either dialed down or left out. The speedo is ringed in glowing blue as a fashion statement. There’s nothing all that fashionable about it anymore, but it’s also not executed via unevenly applied glops of cheapo blue paint like the previous-generation Fusion I once drove. This car was probably built in Indiana, but there’s nothing about it that needs to bow in inferiority to native Japanese workmanship. It reconfirms that American executives, not American workers, are the problem with American cars.

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The Legacy feels smaller and niftier in tight spaces than its size implies. Once underway, the chassis feels tight, body motions are firm but controlled, and the steering is firm and accurate — although electric-numb. Once I went into a decreasing-radius entrance ramp a little hot. The car stuck admirably while giving the driver no clue how it was doing so, which was the desired result but rather unsettling in concept. Whenever I buried the loud pedal, it wasn’t all that loud or coarse, just CVT-annoying like a distant motorboat. It wasn’t all that fast, either.

2015_Subaru_Legacy_ext_09

Over the road, I distinctly recall the 4-pot Legacy I took out a decade ago for an (almost literal) spin around the block. That car engaged me on pea gravel at 10 mph. This new one didn’t, at any speed. It just did whatever I asked. It tracked true on a wet and windy highway, went easy on its driver, effortlessly swallowed far more people and cargo than I could throw at it, and felt, at least by today’s pound-shaving standards, sturdy and untaxed by all of it.

After I turned in the Legacy, I looked up its road test in that tree-pulp car magazine. They said Subaru had resolved this generation to return the Legacy to its roots. Did they? I think not. Instead, they did something just as noble: Far better than their parent company has bothered to do in recent years, they returned to Toyota’s.

If “love makes a Subaru a Subaru,” it’s not the hot and dirty kind I used to experience with my tempestuous GTI bitch. It’s the kind you feel for the sheepdog who fetches your slippers for you every day of its life. Would I own one? If I got a fantastic deal, and if it had the Six, and I were short of funds for something more fun, mayhaps. But would I recommend one? To the right non-car-person friend, heartily. And I’ll bet they’d thank me for it the next 15 years.

Photography provided by the manufacturer.

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QOTD: When Will Pickups Cost $100,000? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-will-pickups-cost-100000/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-will-pickups-cost-100000/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1122289 An unnamed product planner for an unnamed truck company candidly told me off the record once: “There is no ceiling for trucks right now. It’s incredible.” He’s right. Ford’s announcement yesterday of a truck that’ll likely sniff $60,000 to start is a far cry from your grandfather’s Ram that he bought for three dairy cows […]

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2016 Ford F-150 Limited

An unnamed product planner for an unnamed truck company candidly told me off the record once: “There is no ceiling for trucks right now. It’s incredible.”

He’s right. Ford’s announcement yesterday of a truck that’ll likely sniff $60,000 to start is a far cry from your grandfather’s Ram that he bought for three dairy cows and a handful of sawdust.

Reuters reported that the average sale price for a full-size pickup is $42,429, which is 30-percent higher than it was six years ago. Certainly, trucks don’t have 30-percent more stuff or 30-percent more anything to justify the price hike. Truckmakers are just being good ol’ capitalists and testing what the market will bear.

And apparently it’ll bear a lot.

It’s hard to say if trucks have reached Nero-levels of excess yet, but it’s only a matter of time before the bubble bursts — after all, economics follows the law of gravity too. Who builds and when will it leave the factory with a six-figure tag? It’ll come sooner rather than later, is my guess.

A bit of background: We couldn’t price out a six-figure truck yet. We were close with Ford’s Super Duty F-250 Platinum, but that topped out at just under $74,000. The most expensive non-luxury vehicle we could make was a Chevrolet Suburban with every option — including a man-made ski mountain, or something on its roof — thrown at it, at just over $80,000. Volvo, who loves that it’s a “premium” brand and not “luxury,” will sell you a luxury-ish XC90 for just over $93,000.

That means bupkis for pickups, however. They follow their own law of profitability right now, evidenced yesterday by the F-150 Limited, which is only limited in the numbers that they’ll sell.

So how about it B&B: When will a pickup cost $100,000?

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Ford Announces Nearly $60K-to-Start “Limited” F-150 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-announces-nearly-60k-start-limited-f-150/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-announces-nearly-60k-start-limited-f-150/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1121473 Ford announced Tuesday its new range-topping truck, the F-150 Limited, which will go on sale this winter. The Limited replaces the Platinum as the most you can pay for an F-150, and while the automaker didn’t specify how much the Limited may cost, it’s clear it will be knocking on the door of $60,000 — if not […]

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2016 Ford F-150 Limited

Ford announced Tuesday its new range-topping truck, the F-150 Limited, which will go on sale this winter. The Limited replaces the Platinum as the most you can pay for an F-150, and while the automaker didn’t specify how much the Limited may cost, it’s clear it will be knocking on the door of $60,000 — if not kicking it down.

Limited only in name, not in price, Ford’s newest F-150 is aiming to push average transaction prices higher and further than they’ve ever gone before. According to Reuters, the average price paid for a pickup was $42,429 so far this year.

The Limited model sports 22-inch wheels, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6, 360-degree cameras and massaging seats.

The F-150 Limited will take head-on the Ram 1500 Limited and GMC Sierra 1500 Denali, which cost $51,370 and $51,160 respectively.

In addition to unique exterior and polished aluminum wheels, the F-150 Limited sports four colors: Shadow Black, Magnetic, Blue Jeans (!) and White Platinum Metallic.

The new Limited trim features all of the interior goodies available: Ford’s Sync infotainment system, panoramic sunroof, cross-traffic alerts, remote start and tailgate release, and a laser-engraved production number plate on the center console that shows the position of your truck in the likely five-figure “limited” production run.

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2015 Ford Explorer Limited Rental Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-ford-explorer-limited-rental-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-ford-explorer-limited-rental-review/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 14:35:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072858 I’ll put the pedal to the flo-ah/of my two-tone Ford Exploh-ah You know how it’s done. – Ice Cube, Down For Whatever The great O’Shea Jackson penned that lyric in 1993, and I know exactly what Ford Explorer he meant. Back in the day, the Explorer Sport was a three-door SUV that could be bought […]

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2015 Ford Explorer Exterior Three Quarter

I’ll put the pedal to the flo-ah/of my two-tone Ford Exploh-ah

You know how it’s done.

– Ice Cube, Down For Whatever

The great O’Shea Jackson penned that lyric in 1993, and I know exactly what Ford Explorer he meant. Back in the day, the Explorer Sport was a three-door SUV that could be bought as either RWD or 4WD. It was based on the Ranger, and it was available in a black-and-silver combo that would have undoubtedly pleased Cube, who was the world’s most famous Raiders fan (somewhat presciently, he also accented the word Fleeeeeeex in that song). Back then, the Explorer was being leased by everyone from wannabe rappers to bored Northern Virginia Housewives because Ford was guaranteeing residual values that were simply otherworldly. It was the first SUV that I can remember being that ubiquitous.

Then the whole Firestone thing happened.

For those that are too young to remember that, here’s a brief history as told by Wikipedia. The tl;dr version is that over 250 deaths and 3,000 serious injuries were linked to Ford Explorers rolling over when their Firestone tires experienced tread separation, earning the popular SUV the nickname “Exploder.” In a 2015 world, it’s hard to believe that neither Ford nor Firestone’s parent company, Bridgestone, were sued into oblivion.

But, remarkably, the Explorer name survived. Today’s Explorer, however, bears little resemblance to Ice Cube’s ride. Let’s all just call it what it is now – a crossover, based on the same D4 platform as its much less popular cousin, the Taurus. Ford refuses to admit this; they still call it an SUV, and they still use truck trim level names like XLT.

When I bought my own Ford Flex nearly three years ago, I cross-shopped the Flex against the Explorer and came away massively disappointed with the latter. Same OEM, same platform, same motor, yet the Flex was a much better driver. So when I selected this blacked out Ford Explorer Limited with about 6,000 miles on the clock from the rental car lot, I was prepared to be disappointed again.

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t. Well, not entirely.

2015 Ford Explorer Dash Interior

The interior on the Limited trim is splendid in its execution. Everything about the ergonomics of the car simply works. Granted, I daily drive not one, not two, but three Fords. The 12-speaker Sony sound system worked well for everything from Iggy Azalea to Iggy Pop. The seating position is perfect for smaller female drivers as well as 5’9″ men. Visibility everywhere is outstanding. The ride is quiet to the point of isolation for highway driving. My only complaint is that it should just feel bigger inside than it actually does. The second row is surprisingly small – I wouldn’t recommend that anybody larger than I sit there for any length of time. The third row is useless for anyone larger than Verne Troyer, but when folded down, it provides adequate storage space for a couple of 27 inch suitcases. I’m not sure that the lack of headroom and legroom matters all that much, considering that the target audience for the Explorer nowadays is thirty-something women who need to take two kids, two lawnchairs, and a crate of juice boxes to the local soccer field. The Explorer’s diminutive cabin might actually feel cozier and less intimidating for such a customer.

2015 Ford Explorer Middle Row Interior

That being said, the floating roof look of the Explorer, especially in black, makes it the most masculine of the choices in this segment. Between the Highlander, Traverse and Explorer, I know which one I’d feel coolest driving (cool is relative term when it comes to car-based crossovers, obviously). When I pulled up to meet a colleague for breakfast, she couldn’t find me in the lot because she knew that I was driving a rental car and, as she put it, “That thing looks like it cost a lot of money.” Which is good, because it does, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

The 3.5L V6 doesn’t hurt, either. While the Limited doesn’t have EcoBoost as an available engine, the 290(!!) horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque means you won’t find yourself on the losing end of too many stoplight races or squeezed out of highway merges. Ford quotes a 0-60 time of somewhere around eight seconds, but it feels much stronger than that on the butt dyno. And, of course, what crossover doesn’t need giant 20-inch rims? I mean, if you ain’t rolling on twenties, you ain’t really rolling.

2015 Ford Explorer Instrument Panel

However, all that power and ballerness comes at a cost, and that cost is fuel economy. While my Flex averages around 21-22 MPG in combined driving, that same engine in the Explorer returned considerably less – around 18 MPG. The ride on the highway is spectacularly smooth, but in-town driving in hip and trendy Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan was a less pleasant experience. Potholes and cracks in the road were translated much more directly to the driver than I would have liked for a vehicle of this size. I spent all of my time driving in FWD mode, although I wish I had been able to experience Ford’s Terrain Management System, which gives the suburban mom who likes to go mud running on the weekends four different selectable options to “optimize traction electronically.”

In my dream world, I would use this Explorer Limited to tow around a matching black Shelby GT350 to racetracks around the country where I would dominate all, because it’s rated to pull around about 5,000 pounds with ease. Okay, maybe an F-150 makes a little bit more sense as a tow vehicle, but the Explorer is certainly capable.

So why did my disappointment rear its ugly (lack of) head(room)? Because it still isn’t as good as a Flex. The Flex does everything that the Explorer does, and it does it all just a little bit better. And in Limited Trim, optioned exactly the way my rental was, this Explorer is going to sticker out at $43,695 before all incentives. While that’s a relative bargain when compared to a similarly engined and equipped Highlander, it still just feels like a big chunk of money for a CUV – excuse me, SUV – from a non-premium brand.

My recommendation? Definitely grab one from the rental lot if you have the chance. But for your own driveway, go find a Flex SE or SEL.

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Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995058 The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy […]

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2015 Subaru Outback side

The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy wagon and lifted it, added some molding, big fog lights with mesh screens, and a roof rack. The marketing people ingeniously called it the Outback and hired the best known Aussie in America, Paul Hogan, to promote it.

The results of this marketing brilliance were sales that exceeded expectations, possibly saving the company. The Outback was such a huge hit Volvo and Audi followed suit and jacked up their own wagons, creating the Cross Country XC and the allroad quattro.  At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, with yours truly in attendance, two models first dressed as vegan organic French-press coffee drinking hipster hikers, and later as that blissfully ignorant well-dressed couple that every thirty year old yuppie think they will always be, unveiled the fifth generation of the Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback front

Three inches taller, four inches longer, and five inches wider than the original, the new Outback is the same as the old Outback. Some found the styling of the new car lacking originality. Those are the same people who would have complained that Subaru killed a great product had the Outback looked any different. I was never a fan of the previous generation Legacy/Outback, so I found the new, dare I say more generic, look rather refreshing.

But Subarus have never been about looks. In fact I would go so far as to the say that most Subaru cars have been ugly in a cute way, sort of like a Pug or a Bulldog. Subarus have always been about functionality, reliability, all-weather traction, and price. The new Outback continues these traditions placing function over form and cost over perceived opulence. From the outside, the two-tone scheme of the original has been reduced, the fog lights got smaller, and the roof rack more pronounced but the two-box shape on stilts cannot be mistaken for anything other than an Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback interior frotn details

Inside, functionality and simplicity triumphs, but its quality has significantly improved over the previous generations. The infotainment system is much improved, it is now easier to see, and simpler to use and set up. The test vehicle did not have a navigational system, but controlling the radio, phone, and auxiliary input devices is similar to using a Windows tablet. In the front of the center console is an auxiliary audio input and two USB ports (that’s two more than Audi). The audio system did sound pretty good, too, for what is essentially a base vehicle. Looking from inside out, at night, the headlights are not overly bright given the recent technical advances in headlight technology.

Dual zone climate controls are equally simple to use, but there are no vents for rear passengers. There are cup-holders in the center console, bottle holders in the doors, big door pockets, sunglass holder on the roof, a simple covered cubby for phones, and a large glove box. It’s these little things that make daily life easy and it’s amazing how many automakers cannot get that right (I’m looking at you Range Rover). Nothing is perfect, however, and my eight year old daughter, who reads a dozen books a week, completely wrote the Outback off for not having reading lights for rear passengers.

The front seats are comfortable, but the headrests could use a rake adjustment and bottom cushions could be longer. Someone at Subaru finally figured out that heated seat buttons are invisible when they are located under the center armrest and moved them to climate control panel. The rear bench is wide with plenty of leg and head room. The seatback is split 60:40, but there is no center pass-thru, so skiers with more than two rear passengers have to use the meaty-looking roof rack. That roof rack itself is functional, too, with standard cross-bars that slide and fold into the rails when not in use. There are also four tie down loops which can secure up to 150 pounds of cargo.

2015 Subaru Outback details

With high ground clearance and a high center of gravity, Subaru did not intend to make a driver’s car out of the Outback. The 2.5-liter pancake engine also won’t impress anyone with its 175hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Worse, this engine is attached to a continuously variable transmission. This powertrain combination makes buzzy and whiney noises turning an otherwise quiet cabin into a noisy one. For that noise buyers are rewarded with fuel economy of 25mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway, which was once considered excellent for a small econobox. Despite all that, the Outback somehow manages not to be a soulless appliance and is somewhat fun to drive. Perhaps it’s the car-like seating position and the jacked-up ride height, along with suspension tuned to nicely absorb the winter ridden roads, that create the feeling of being a rally driver.

Subaru makes a big deal of their AWD system, so it was a nice coincidence that the Northeast got hit with a big snow storm while the Outback was in my possession. It is common knowledge that tires are the most important thing in winter driving but this car was equipped with a set mediocre Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport. Automakers like to use these tires because they are cheap, quiet, comfortable, and last long. I have personally had some bad experiences with these tires, so I was very cautions driving the Outback in the snow. To my surprise, the big wagon proved capable; granted the snow was packed and it wasn’t deep. In an empty lot near my work I turned the hoon knob up a little and even then, with stability control off, the vehicle stayed totally composed and controllable. There is a good reason why New England and Denver are Subaru’s biggest markets – with a proper set of snow tires this would be an amazing winter vehicle.

2015 Subaru Outback rear hatch open

The test vehicle was equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system, which is optional on all but the base Outback. The system works off two cameras mounted between the rear view mirror and the windshield. The system is able to detect speed differentials, brake lights, pedestrians, and bicycles. It has the ability to cut power, apply brakes, and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, if not avoiding an accident completely, than at least minimizing the impact. It tells those who bury their heads into their phones at traffic lights that the vehicle in front has moved. When reversing, it calmly alerts you that a vehicle is coming from the side. The whole system can be fully disabled for those with mad driving skillz, but for the majority of buyers this is a no-brainer option – it can protect the not only vehicle occupants but everyone else on the road, too, and will likely repay for itself in the first near-hit.

The base Outback, steel wheels and all, starts at about $26,045. The 2.5i Premium model seen here starts at $27,295. EyeSight with power tailgate package is $1695, mirror compass is $199, and rubber floor mats are a bargain at $72. For some reason Subaru charges a mandatory $300 for the vehicle to meet the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard. Total price, with destination charges, is a very reasonable $30,111. Other options on the 2.5i Premium are sunroof and a nav system. Limited model comes with leather and the 3.5R Limited has more powah!

For thirty grand, the mid-level Outback gives you large SUV functionality, solid reliability, and all-weather traction while not looking like a cookie-cutter CRA-V4. Fun-to-drive factor, latest and greatest safety systems, and good gas mileage are the icing on this frosty cake. I was surprised by home much I liked this Outback and I would put it high on my shopping list of two-row SUV-ish vehicles, along with the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner.

2015 Subaru Outback rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He is known to enjoy organic coffee made in a French press, day hikes, and nights out on the town. He has yet to find one ideal vehicle for all those activities.

Subaru of America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

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Quick Look: 2015 Jeep Renegade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/quick-look-2015-jeep-renegade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/quick-look-2015-jeep-renegade/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:12:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889786 Chrysler has been on a steady upswing since the dark days of bankruptcy. Throughout its merger with Fiat, each model has been updated or completely replaced. Jeep has been the shining star of the core brands, selling every Grand Cherokee and Wrangler they can make. Even the controversially styled Cherokee has been fairly well receieved. […]

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2015 jeep renegade trailhawk

Chrysler has been on a steady upswing since the dark days of bankruptcy. Throughout its merger with Fiat, each model has been updated or completely replaced. Jeep has been the shining star of the core brands, selling every Grand Cherokee and Wrangler they can make. Even the controversially styled Cherokee has been fairly well receieved. The next  vehicle in the Jeep lineup will be the small Renegade, designed to attract “a new wave of youthful and adventurous customers around the world to the brand.” We concur.

2015 jeep renegade trailhawk side

I recently attended a local media event where Jeep brought two Renegade pre-production vehicles, which were previously seen on the auto show circuit; red Latitude and a gray Trailhawk. Because they’re such early builds, there was no driving allowed. What we did get was a close look at these early examples, and lots of face time with the people responsible for the Renegade.

When it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2015, the Renegade will be available in four flavors: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. All models will be available in either front or all wheel drive, with the exception of the Trailhawk which will be exclusively 4×4. Jeep is mum on two key factors: gas mileage and price, but expect over 30mpg on the highway.

2015 jeep renegade latitude muliair engine

Under the hood will be one of two familiar engines: the Sport and Latitude will come with a 1.4 liter turbo which produces 160hp and 184lb-ft of torque, and the Tigershark 2.4 liter, which makes 184hp and 177 lb-ft. The Tigershark engine will be standard on Limited and Trailhawk, but optional on other trim levels. The turbo engine will be available with a six-speed manual transmission in both 4×2 and 4×4 versions. The 2.4-liter engine will be available only with a 9-speed automatic. When properly equipped, this Italian-made Renegade will be able to tow 2000lbs.

Despite the front-drive bias, the full-time 4×4 mode can be manually engaged, and each Renegade has a Land Rover-like terrain response system, dubbed Selec-Terrain, with an available rock crawling mode. The Trailhawk adds increased ride height, skid plates, tow hooks, a full-size spare, hill-descent control, and unique fascias that sacrifice aerodynamics in favor of better approach and departure angles. There will also be a low-range mode with a 20:1 crawl ratio.

2015 jeep renegade latitude preproduction interior

Where every vehicle in this category looks like a different flavor of the same blob, the Renegade is very square, and its Fiat roots are covered up by a shrunken down Wrangler mold. Jeep says it “combines the Jeep brand’s heritage with fresh new styling” but everyone will say that looks cute. Despite the somewhat cartoony looks, I like it just because it is so square and so different looking.

Renegade’s most interesting exterior design is a roof which consists of two manually removable roof panels. Inspired by Wrangler’s hardtop, the My Sky roof will be available on all models. On all but the Sport model, the My Sky can be ordered with power retraceable glass sunroofs, a la BMW wagons, which are also manually removable.

2015 jeep renegade my sky sunroof panels

The interior is very similar to other new Chrysler vehicles. Front and center is the newest version of the familiar Uconnect system which has developed a reputation for being quick and easy to use.  Keeping it simple are three dials for climate control, with the minimum amount of buttons. Below that are aux and USB inputs, 12v receptacle, and the Selec-Terrain system knob. Interior materials on these pre-production vehicles were not the final molds, but expect something similar to what is on the Chrysler 200. Subtle Jeep design cues are also present throughout the interior.

The Renegade is a very interesting vehicle and a huge step up from the Patriot and the Compass. Like those two vehicles, it will be frowned upon by hardcore Jeep enthusiasts, but if the final product is a good mix of the two Cherokees and the Wrangler, there is no way it cannot succeed.

2015 jeep renegade rear seat room

 

 

 

2015 jeep renegade trailhawk side 2015 jeep renegade trunk 2015 jeep renegade details 2015 jeep renegade latitude muliair engine 2015 jeep renegade latitude preproduction interior 2015 jeep renegade my sky sunroof panels 2015 jeep renegade trailhawk 2015 jeep renegade rear seat room

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Ford Taurus X “LITIMED” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/vellum-venom-vignette-ford-taurus-x-litimed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/vellum-venom-vignette-ford-taurus-x-litimed/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 12:27:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451755 TTAC Commentator SupremeBrougham starts us off: Hi Sajeev, I found this jem at my local Ford dealer the other day and I thought I’d share it with you so you can share it with the others. It’s a real one of a kind!!! Sajeev brings it home: What’s in a name? Let’s first marinate on […]

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TTAC Commentator SupremeBrougham starts us off:

Hi Sajeev,

I found this jem at my local Ford dealer the other day and I thought I’d share it with you so you can share it with the others. It’s a real one of a kind!!!

Sajeev brings it home:

What’s in a name? Let’s first marinate on the irony of someone named “Supreme Brougham”, one of the most imagery-evoking trim levels in automotive history, pointing out the fallibility of the bland “Limited” trim designation.  Well then!

I was quite thrilled to see both the Taurus and the Taurus Wagon (i.e. X) come back to market, yet that thrill was short lived.  The Taurus’ unique American value (and style, love it or leave it) faded almost the moment Ford installed the typical stick-on floating chrome emblems. First in 2000, then in 2008.  But I will spare you my thoughts on how and why I came to that conclusion. Let’s stick (get it?) with the little chrome bits: new age emblems that are too easy to deviate from the original design.

And there you have it: this hunk of dealer inventory enjoyed a quick re-spray for reasons unknown, complete with incorrect emblem adhesion.  It’s physically impossible for this to happen at the factory, anyone who’s been on a tour of one know what I’m talking about. So why make these badges?  Why not make the ones from yesteryear…over a decade ago?

I personally liked the one piece, somewhat stylish, script writing of the GEN III Taurus, or the original hunk of Taurean goodness.  Badges that can’t be screwed up are important, we need to bring them back. Don’t believe me?  Have a look at the difficult-to-deface Lexus emblem.

Best and Brightest: your thoughts?

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Review: 2012 Ford Edge Limited EcoBoost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-ford-edge-limited-ecoboost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-ford-edge-limited-ecoboost/#comments Fri, 06 Jul 2012 17:35:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=449592   Once upon a time, in a country known as America, SUVs roamed the land with large-displacement inline 6s, optional V8s, and locking axles. Nobody had heard of a “cute ute.” Of course, gasoline was also under a buck a gallon. Today the landscape is different. While the last energy crisis caused entire vehicles to […]

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Once upon a time, in a country known as America, SUVs roamed the land with large-displacement inline 6s, optional V8s, and locking axles. Nobody had heard of a “cute ute.” Of course, gasoline was also under a buck a gallon. Today the landscape is different. While the last energy crisis caused entire vehicles to downsize, the response to the latest energy “crisis” (and government pressure) has been to downsize engines while leaving the rest of the vehicle intact. Case in point? The Ford Edge EcoBoost. No, this isn’t the 3.5L fire-breathing twin-turbo you’ve heard about before, this is the all-new 2.0L engine that puts the Eco in EcoBoost.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

In 2007 Ford sold over 130,000 Edge CUVs, but sales slid slowly as the financial meltdown and high gasoline costs put shopper on notice. In order to keep things fresh, Ford face-lifted the Edge for 2011. While the proportions remain the same—a wide stance, slab sides, stubby schnozz and a raked windshield—Ford seems to have ditched their attempt at styling the Edge to look smaller. To that end, the formerly demure three-bar “Gillette” grill has been replaced with an Audi-esque billy-the-big-mouth-bass affair covered in all the chrome bling you could wish for. While some were offended by the large expanses of chrome-effect plastic, I think a bold front end is exactly what Ford needs to differentiate the Edge from the plethora of me-too CUVs on the road. That being said, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is still more visually exciting.

Interior

Our Edge tester was a “Limited” trim model. Starting at $34,940 and bringing standard goodies like dual-zone climate control, leather, 10-way power seats, an up-level Sony audio system and Ford’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, the  Limited sits at the top of the Edge food chain. If these goodies don’t piqué your interest, the Edge SEL crosses the infotainment upgrades off the equipment list for $31,400 and the base Edge SE EcoBoost starts at $28,845 with cloth seats and manual HVAC knobs. Regardless of trim level, the Edge’s parts quality and fit-and-finish are easily the best in its class. Even the Limited’s faux-wood trim is plausible in terms of realistic texture and tasteful distribution. The Edge seems to represent Ford’s continuing march toward premium interiors at premium price points. While this is no doubt a good direction for the brand, if you’re looking for a cheap, rough-and-tumble CUV replacement for your old Bronco II, this isn’t it. Strangely, the only real problem I have with the Edge’s interior is that it’s nice enough that I see little reason (aside from some real-wood) to upgrade to the Lincoln MKX. Thanks to the generous, corn-fed proportions, the cargo capacity of the Edge is a large 32 cubic feet expanding to 69 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

Infotainment

Like the Android vs iPhone debate, infotainment systems spark fierce controversy. No system since iDrive has received as much bad press mixed with forum fan-boy rave reviews as MyFord Touch. Let’s cut to the chase. The 2012 Edge benefits from major software update designed to make the system more responsive and easier to use. During a previous week with the 2011 system, we experienced frequent freezing, random crashes, periodic reboots and the ever-so-popular “blue screen of death.” The 2012 version performed reliably. That’s not to say MyFord Touch is now perfect. The system is still dreadfully slow when compared to iDrive, UConnect 8.4 and Cadillac’s new CUE system. If slow interfaces bother you, just buy an Edge SEL, select every option except the Ford MyTouch system and you’ll essentially have a Limited without MyFord Touch. By doing so you can still get the backup camera and the voice activated SYNC system which work flawlessly. The downside? You won’t get the snazzy 4.2-inch LCDs on either side of the speedometer. Despite the sloth, my opinion is that MyFord Touch is one of the best systems on the market (after iDrive) in terms of functionality, aesthetics and ease of use. Yes the system is painfully slow at times, but I’d rather have a sluggish system that did everything MyFord Touch does than a snappy system that only covered the basics.

Drivetrain

Ah, the section you’ve all be waiting for. Aside from the revised MyFord Touch system, the reason we’re looking at the Edge is the new EcoBoost engine. No, this isn’t the fire-breathing 3.5L twin-turbo monster that Ford is jamming under as many hoods as possible, this is the engine that puts the “eco” in EcoBoost. Ford started out with a 2.0L four cylinder aluminum block, added twin cams with independent variable valve timing, bolted on a Borg Warner (KKK) K03 turbocharger and lathered on the direct-injection sauce. The K03 is good for 16psi of boost which yields 240HP, 270lb-ft of torque and a “claimed” 30MPG on the highway.The observant in the crowd will note that while this is a 45HP decrease from the 3.5L V6, there is an extra 17lb-ft of torque-on tap. Speaking of torque, all 270lb-ft come to the boil at 1750RPM and stay strong to 4,500RPM while the 3.5L V6 peaks at 4,000. As long as the turbos are spooled up, the engine produces more torque at a given RPM than the V6. It’s this broad torque curve that allows the EcooBoost Edge to scoot to 60 only 0.4 seconds slower than the 3.5L V6 despite the drop in HP and the slight delay in off-the-line acceleration. The cost for this gem? $995. Power is sent to the front wheels via Ford’s 6-speed automatic transmission. Why there is no AWD option for this engine is anyone’s guess. The EcoBoost engine idles as smoothly as BMW’s 2.0L DI turbo – in other words, it sounds like a quiet diesel engine.

Drive

Thanks to extensive sound insulation, the only way you would know the 2.0L turbo lurks under the hood is by the way the Edge drives and gulps gasoline. Unlike the fuel-efficient engine choices of the last century, I prefer the way the 2.0L turbo drives to V6. Why? It’s all in the way the power is delivered. With all that twist arriving at low RPMs, the fact that the transmission is programmed to be recalcitrant to shift (for fuel economy) is not only a non-issue, it makes maintaining speed on a mountain grade a smoother affair than the V6 Edge which constantly hunts for the right gear. As you would expect with 270lb-ft on tap, torque steer and one-wheel burnouts are a mere throttle stab away. If I hadn’t driven an EcoBoost and V6 Edge back-t0-back I would have thought the turbo was the faster vehicle to 60 which arrived in just under 7.6 seconds.

The suspension in the Edge is tuned toward the softer side of CUVs, delivering a ride that is compliant and composed over all the broken pavement we could throw at it. This is thanks to the tall 60-series tires standard on the Edge as well as the wide 65-inch track. While I wouldn’t ever call a two-ton crossover a “corner carver,” the Edge is in many ways a grossly overweight Mazda 6 and handles as such. Remind you of a CX-7? It should. On windy mountain roads it can pull up its support hose and feign some dance moves, but it is unlikely the average buyer will ever try.

If you’re shopping for a two wheel drive crossover and need the generous capacity the Edge offers, the EcoBoost model is hand-down Ford’s best offering. If however you’re looking for fuel efficiency in a 5-seat crossover the Edge EcoBoost becomes a less exciting proposition. During our 734-mile week with the Edge we averaged 24.2MPG with conservative driving and plenty of highway miles. While this does represent a nearly 5MPG improvement over the 3.5L V6 Edge on the same driving cycle and a break-even point of around 4 years for the $995 engine option, city dwellers and those with lead feet will find themselves averaging 19-20MPG. Despite the active shutters and a cool, A/C-free coastal California drive, the Edge struggled to average 29MPG with the cruise control set to 65MPH. Despite not living up to its EPA numbers, the EcoBoost delivered a superior driving experience and a true 20-25% improvement in fuel economy meaning. There is just one problem: the all-new Ford Escape. Despite being rated a very similar 22/30MPG, our short stint with the 2.0L EcoBoost Escape proves that its real world average is around 27MPG. While the Escape is smaller than the Edge, it’s also more nimble, handles better, lighter, faster, cheaper and AWD is an option.

 

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.73 Seconds

0-60: 7.59 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.95 Seconds @ 84.7 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 24.2 MPG over 734 miles

 

 

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Review: 2010 Ford Taurus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/06/review-2010-ford-taurus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/06/review-2010-ford-taurus/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2009 11:48:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=320567

Don’t believe the hype. The 1986 Taurus was not “the car that saved Ford.” Trucks saved Ford in the late Eighties and early Nineties, as consumer tastes moved away from the one-sedan-fits-nearly-all market in favor of the newly popular SUV. Nor can the 2010 Taurus save a Ford beset by problems on all sides. There are no longer enough potential mid-sized car buyers to make a huge impact on the company’s bottom line, and most of those buyers are really better candidates for the smaller, more affordable Fusion.

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Don’t believe the hype. The 1986 Taurus was not “the car that saved Ford.” Trucks saved Ford in the late Eighties and early Nineties, as consumer tastes moved away from the one-sedan-fits-nearly-all market in favor of the newly popular SUV. Nor can the 2010 Taurus save a Ford beset by problems on all sides. There are no longer enough potential mid-sized car buyers to make a huge impact on the company’s  bottom line, and most of those buyers are really better candidates for the smaller, more affordable Fusion.

No, the Taurus is neither Ford’s savior nor the vanguard of an American sedan renaissance. Instead, it’s a return to that quaintest of quaint American ideals: that of the premium Ford, primus inter pares in the millions of tract homes and leafy streets in that oft-derided “flyover country.” The original Taurus was notable for its unabashed futurism; the 1996 model, for a tragically ovoid miscalculation of the importance of price versus product in the market. This Taurus is something new and old at the same time. It’s intended to be a car that people want to own.

Our exposure to the 2010 Taurus took the form of a press introduction in Knoxville, Tennessee, followed by a long drive to Asheville, North Carolina, in conditions that could best be described as “forty percent chance of loading pairs of animals into a homebuilt ark.” The particular vehicle we drove was a white front-wheel-drive Taurus Limited with a reasonable but not comprehensive selection of the available options. Although the Taurus SE starts at $25,995, same as its predecessor, expect real-world stickers to range between twenty-eight and thirty-four grand for “popularly equipped” lot stock.

The alert reader will note that this price range is not really “Camcord” territory. The vast majority of the Japanese-brand mid-sizers sold are automatic-transmission four-bangers which leave the lot for a price well south of the base Taurus. This is fine with Ford; those buyers will be shown a Fusion. Instead, the Taurus is aimed upmarket. The media kit mentions the Audi A6, Lexus GS350, Chrysler 300, and Toyota Avalon. The first two comparisons can be dismissed as fantasy, the third is likely to be increasingly irrelevant, but the fourth is critical. There are plenty of older people in America who like the idea of buying a large sedan with a few gadgets on it, and those people are very fond of Toyota’s big Camry derivative.

Towards that end, Ford’s made no fewer than ten killer-app gadgets available on the Taurus, including radar cruise control, a surprisingly effective blind-spot warning system that can also notify the driver of cars approaching from the side in a parking lot, and the Orwellian “MyKey” that allows a top speed to be set for the valet key. Presumably this last feature is aimed at overprotective parents.

The MyKey setting on our car was turned off, so we headed for the hills to engage in a little bit of the old ultraviolence. Seated behind the Ford corporate steering wheel and fiddling with SYNC to our hearts’ content, we mercilessly tortured the charmless Duratec 3.5 for every last pony. This is not a fast car by any means—the SHO (in a forthcoming review) will address this—but it can be driven very hard in lousy weather. Stability is outstanding, steering feel is usable, and the chassis provides a sound ride while preserving a modest ability to be turned in on the brakes, should some irresponsible Boomer try it.

Over space and time, the new Taurus proved itself to be a quiet, comfortable vehicle with plenty of useful features. The exterior styling is up for debate, but the interior really does satisfy, providing ninety-five percent of the Lincoln MKS experience for about sixty percent of the price. Lon Zaback, Ford’s Interior Design Manager, waxed eloquent to us on the terribly complex process by which the absolutely convincing-looking faux-stitched leather doors were produced. The doors deserve a story all by themselves, but for now just consider it emblematic of the effort put into the Taurus by all hands.

The last Ford sedan to have this kind of whole-hearted effort devoted to it was the 1996 Taurus, and we all know what happened to that well-intended but ultimately star-crossed effort. It was a premium product and design statement masquerading as a family car, but the 2010 suffers from no such mission confusion. Comparing this very competent and interesting big sedan to the aging Impala or Chrysler 300 is bringing a gun to a knife fight. Against the Maxima, Avalon, and Azera, the Taurus offers size, styling, unique features and perhaps the most focus on the driver to be found in the segment. Don’t expect it to save Ford, but don’t expect it to fail, either.

[Ford provided the vehicle reviewed, gas, insurance, transportation, lodging and food.]

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