The Truth About Cars » Pickup Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Pickup Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1971 International Harvester 1200D Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1971-international-harvester-1200d-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1971-international-harvester-1200d-pickup/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054353 I find quite a few International Harvesters in junkyards, mostly because I live in Colorado and the IHC Scout makes sense here. IHC pickups, though, aren’t as easy to find. We’ve seen this ’62 Travelette, this ’72, and this pickup-related ’71 Travelall in this series, and now I’ve found this well-used ’71 pickup in a […]

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12 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I find quite a few International Harvesters in junkyards, mostly because I live in Colorado and the IHC Scout makes sense here. IHC pickups, though, aren’t as easy to find. We’ve seen this ’62 Travelette, this ’72, and this pickup-related ’71 Travelall in this series, and now I’ve found this well-used ’71 pickup in a San Francisco Bay Area yard.
03 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

I’m not sufficiently tuned in to the International Harvester world to be able to tell a 304 from a 345 V8 at a glance.

01 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Looks like this truck made a trip to Garberville, hundreds of miles to the north of this yard, before something broke and it took that last tow-truck ride.

02 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

As long as a truck can still carry a load, it’s worth something. When it’s 44 years old and a type that doesn’t have a huge following, though… well, The Crusher awaits when it needs a major repair.

Apparently, IHC didn’t consider Dodge trucks as real competition back then.

No IHC ads here, but you can get a sense of just how long ago this truck rolled off the assembly line. 45 years of work for this machine.

06 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1971 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Mercedes-Benz Truck Will Be Based On Nissan Navara http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mercedes-benz-truck-will-be-based-on-nissan-navara/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/mercedes-benz-truck-will-be-based-on-nissan-navara/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:26:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033881 A report in the Wall Street Journal is claiming that Mercedes-Benz’s newest pickup won’t be a home grown effort. The German auto maker is planning on expanding on its alliance with partner Renault-Nissan by using one of their existing pickups as the basis for the Benz. Per the WSJ The talks, which are at an advanced stage, […]

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A report in the Wall Street Journal is claiming that Mercedes-Benz’s newest pickup won’t be a home grown effort. The German auto maker is planning on expanding on its alliance with partner Renault-Nissan by using one of their existing pickups as the basis for the Benz.

Per the WSJ

The talks, which are at an advanced stage, involve using the basic architecture of Nissan’s Navara pickup truck for the new vehicle and producing it in Nissan factories, the people said. Nissan was not immediately available for comment. The Navara is called the Frontier in some markets.

“The details are still being worked out,” one of the people said.

Mercedes-Benz would use the Navara framework, but would provide “everything with which the customer comes in contact,” the person added. That would include the powertrain, the interior, the design and other elements.

While the Navara will provide the basis for the next Nissan Frontier, the two will *not* be similar vehicles. The Frontier, like the Toyota Tacoma, will be a specific vehicle for the NAFTA zone, while the Navara will be aimed at world markets. This further bolsters the notion that the Mercedes truck not only won’t make it to America, but is being built without the U.S. market in mind. Ex post facto regulatory hurdles, as well as the Chicken Tax would likely complicate any efforts to bring it to our market, to the point where it would be economically unfeasible.

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado: Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-chevrolet-colorado-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-chevrolet-colorado-reviewed/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033177 The Chevrolet Colorado is a good little truck, certainly sturdy enough, leading me to believe that it is a capable enabler of various human endeavors that involve catapulting, hurtling, or generally straining one’s body across hill, dale, snow-capped extremity and Ace Hardware parking lot alike. But its obvious novelty—one that so enraptured a certain publication’s staff […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 1

The Chevrolet Colorado is a good little truck, certainly sturdy enough, leading me to believe that it is a capable enabler of various human endeavors that involve catapulting, hurtling, or generally straining one’s body across hill, dale, snow-capped extremity and Ace Hardware parking lot alike.

But its obvious novelty—one that so enraptured a certain publication’s staff to bestow it a pair of calipers that will hardly strain the Colorado’s 1500lb-plus payload—lies in its rejection of the idea that every pickup truck must be the approximate size of a Normandy landing craft.

That’s right—our cars are creeping ever so bigger, ever so clumsier, and if all cars must expand then trucks must do so exponentially, until comes the day when a Silverado rear-ends a Ram, causing Santa Monica to fall into the ocean. But we can do good to admit, even against American exceptionalism, that not every man, woman, and child needs a full-sized truck. (Are those black helicopters I’m hearing?) Until the day that we stop believing in the weirdness of the front-drive mini-truck, a Southern Hemisphere vestige as bizarre as cuy chactao and the Plymouth Scamp, this conveyance in Red Rock Metallic is exactly what some of us deserve: a vehicle that can’t haul as much, can’t tow as much, can’t be ordered with High Country leather the color and texture of your grandfather’s elbows—but something so refreshing that it snaps us awake from thinking that every new pickup needs to be bigger, squarer, more chrome-laden, more ready for ramming than the last hulking beast it replaces.

And yet, the Colorado still manages to dwarf a jellybean F-150 from the Clinton administration—that tenth-generation F-150, has a 10-inch shorter wheelbase and length in its smallest configuration than even the shortest Colorado. Think about that.

Long truck is long.

Long truck is long.

Meanwhile the Colorado seems to defy spatial logic. It looks enormously long but feels small; it feels narrow but it’s hamstring stretching tall; it’s long and narrow and tall but it drives with surprising nimbleness. Yes, even this four-doored long-box. (Remember when such trucks only belonged to railroad companies?) Those coming out of a full-sized Silverado will find little culture shock within its cabin, which is scaled down, sure, narrower now, but never snug and never cramped.

I didn’t get a chance to take the Colorado off-road, or to Colorado, or even to the nearest Canyon. Instead, I drove it around Los Angeles, committing occasional errands, then a sprint up the 101 Highway to a stupendously lavish hotel where the valets asked excitedly not about what I would be driving but about what I was.

The 3.6-liter V6 is a stout little engine, usually relaxed—but ask it firmly and it’ll muster up 305 horsepower with enthusiasm and a nice noise. The six-speed automatic transmission takes some time and a lot of throttle to react, but when on the move it’s plenty smooth. Brakes are very controllable and very powerful, and the accurate and evenly weighted steering isn’t just pretty good, for a truck—it’s pretty good, period. Body motions are nicely reduced to the occasional rumble and jostling, reinforcing the feeling that it’s Like A Bob Seger Song.

Plenty of USB ports! Switchgear feels reassuringly imbued with quality.

Plenty of USB ports! Switchgear feels reassuringly imbued with quality.

Inside, it’s a quiet place to be. Nice and roomy. MyLink dominates the center console, same as in your Impala, y’know—all square buttons and sharp gradients, homely but effective. The flat, two-color gauges are easy to read but also gravely stark. Seats are firm like a doctor’s waiting room, while the rear bottom cushions flip up to stash various unmentionables, just like the Silverado’s. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is terrific to behold.

The rear benches flip up, but clearly not in this photo.

The rear benches flip up, but clearly not in this photo.

Praise to Corvette for its trick temperature gauges, an idea so neat it’s trickled down to every Chevy product, with a retrofit for the 1987 Celebrity Eurosport VR available sometime next Monday—evidently the same people who design showerheads figured out the Colorado’s automatic climate control, because the temperature swings wildly from the ass-freezing cold to Florida-esque mugginess within a single knob click.

The Colorado starts at a hair over $20,000. Which is good. Because the one I tested was nearly twice that—and for $38,870 you get sweet darkened five-spoke wheels ($1,000), leather seats ($950), MyLink ($495), lane departure and frontal collision warnings ($395, and remember, the life you save could be mine), and another thousand-dollar luxury package, which means the aforementioned touchy automatic controls and chrome bits. Humans love shiny things, and pick-em-up truckers even more so.

Sure is shiny!

Sure is shiny. And handsome. But also shiny.

Macho posturing aside, the Colorado is far more accessible than any full-sized truck out there—small enough for a city, even one with four-lane boulevards, yet big enough to trick you into seeming invincible. Chevrolet’s marketing department imagines armies of scruffy young men in artfully cuffed denim and Target Merona plaid shirts staining their pits as they heave entire REI storefronts into the back, giving hardly a worry to the optional factory spray-in bedliner, before cranking the Black Keys through the seven-speaker Bose audio system (a $495 option!) and setting off to reclaim their manliness in lofty and Walden-esque ways, or at least tubing at Mt. Baldy. I don’t disagree with any of that. I know I’ve certainly helped load plenty of tents into tiny pickups during my time with Boy Scout Troop 227 of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, before heading off to summer camp and bounding down dirt roads at McRae-aping speeds while passing branches play drum solos off the A-pillars. Big trucks lumber, small trucks bound.

That would make a pretty good bumper sticker. Get me Chevrolet’s marketing department.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 2

“The new Colorado: guaranteed to fit into 65% of Los Angeles parking garages!”

We imagine such possibilities of vehicles like the Chevrolet Colorado, the Nissan Frontier, the Toyota Tacoma—both of which are getting upgraded, soon enough—and, of course, it may be the nostalgia portion of my mind that remembers the 2001 Nissan Xterra of my childhood that enabled so many trips, so many adventures, so many ideas of taking the next off-ramp from the 101 and winding up thoroughly and wonderfully lost, so far away from water. Is it a truck, or a call to arms? The easy-access Colorado carries forth a go-get-’em lifestyle that that sneakily guilts us into getting off our asses, to take up mountain biking or drywall installation.

Which makes sense—because pickup truck.

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2015 Ford Ranger Facelifted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-ranger-facelifted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-ranger-facelifted/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 18:57:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027737 If you live in the NAFTA zone (excluding Mexico, of course), your best bet at seeing a global Ford Ranger is in the movie The Counselor.  Otherwise, you’ll soon be able to buy a now-updated version of Ford’s F-150 for the rest of us. As you’ve been told countless times, the Ranger is redundant in America, thanks […]

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If you live in the NAFTA zone (excluding Mexico, of course), your best bet at seeing a global Ford Ranger is in the movie The Counselor.  Otherwise, you’ll soon be able to buy a now-updated version of Ford’s F-150 for the rest of us.

As you’ve been told countless times, the Ranger is redundant in America, thanks to being 90 percent of the F-150’s size but no less expensive. Along with an updated SYNC system, it gets a new suite of active safety features (active cruise control, park assist), as well as trailer sway control, hill descent control and things that our government considers mandatory, like tire pressure monitors. A basic mid-size pickup this ain’t.

Power comes from a gasoline 2.5L 4-cylinder engine or 4 and 5 cylinder diesels.

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Chevrolet Colorado Chassis Cab Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-colorado-chassis-cab-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-colorado-chassis-cab-debuts/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:36:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015290 For those who must have a chassis cab in something smaller than a full-size truck, Chevrolet’s got you covered. Available in two-wheel drive V6 format, the Colorado chassis cab can be ordered by checking the box for the ZW9 package. At around $300 less than the equivalent truck with a bed, the chassis cab gets […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package

For those who must have a chassis cab in something smaller than a full-size truck, Chevrolet’s got you covered.

Available in two-wheel drive V6 format, the Colorado chassis cab can be ordered by checking the box for the ZW9 package. At around $300 less than the equivalent truck with a bed, the chassis cab gets you  comes with a set  of temporary taillights mounted to the frame ends, a full-size spare, a Z82 trailer package and a limited-slip differential. Payload is set at 2,000 lbs.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Mazda B2000 Sundowner Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1984-mazda-b2000-sundowner-pickup/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005386 Plenty of Mazda B-Series pickups were sold in the United States, mostly badged as Ford Couriers, but starting in 1983 (when the Ranger appeared) your only choice for obtaining one of these cheap-and-simple little trucks was your Mazda dealer. I spotted this somewhat rusty ’84 in a Denver wrecking yard on Saturday, and it looked […]

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33 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of Mazda B-Series pickups were sold in the United States, mostly badged as Ford Couriers, but starting in 1983 (when the Ranger appeared) your only choice for obtaining one of these cheap-and-simple little trucks was your Mazda dealer. I spotted this somewhat rusty ’84 in a Denver wrecking yard on Saturday, and it looked like it still had some good miles left in it.
70 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 147k miles in 31 years.
56 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ignition key is there and the windshield sports auction-company “RUN AND DRIVE” stickers, which means we’re probably looking at a dealer trade-in that nobody wanted to buy.
06 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sundowner was the long-wheelbase version of the B2000.
12 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one is covered with clues that tell us a story about the final owner. “Hang Up and Drive” and Black Flag stickers plus a hand-painted mystical eyeball here.
46 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIs there the requisite “KILL YOUR TELEVISION” sticker? Yes, here it is!
26 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s the 1,970cc F engine, which was good for 90 horses in 1984. Can you imagine Americans buying a pickup with just 90 horsepower today? That would be like asking us to turn down our thermostats in the winter!

This tough little truck is loaded for bear!

When you’ve got something this good, you take care of it.

Here’s the optioned-up SE-5. Sakes alive!

03 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 33 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 36 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 38 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 40 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 42 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 44 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 45 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 46 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 49 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 52 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 53 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 55 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 56 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 59 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 63 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 64 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 66 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 68 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 70 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 71 - 1983 Mazda B2000 Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat-2/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960609 Ah, the Subaru BRAT. Just as you can’t find anyone who hates The Ramones, you can’t find anyone who wants to beat on the Subaru BRAT with a baseball bat. As perhaps the best-loved car that shows up in self-service wrecking yards with any regularity, the BRAT always inspires me to whip out my camera […]

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15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Ah, the Subaru BRAT. Just as you can’t find anyone who hates The Ramones, you can’t find anyone who wants to beat on the Subaru BRAT with a baseball bat. As perhaps the best-loved car that shows up in self-service wrecking yards with any regularity, the BRAT always inspires me to whip out my camera when I see a junked example. So far this series, we’ve admired this ’79, this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-ized ’86 crypto-BRAT.
04 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnly 88,288 miles! I found this car in a well-stocked yard just north of Los Angeles, not too far from the ranch where Ronald Reagan drove his BRAT. Yes, Midwesterners, that means that you’re looking at a low-mile 32-year-old Japanese car without the slighest speck of rust on its body… and it’s going to be crushed, shredded, put in a container in Long Beach, and shipped to China to make Emgrand EC7s.
10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has the “Twin-Halo” roof option.
05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA time-capsule early-80s Radio Shack cassette deck, complete with the coveted auto-stop feature!
06 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow many BRATs were made with factory air conditioning?
18 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can see evidence of a camper shell on this one. Poor doomed BRAT.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Shattered Glass And Small Pickups http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-shattered-glass-small-pickups/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/dispatches-brasil-shattered-glass-small-pickups/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:31:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951553 Youthful exuberance or nihilism? Urban despair or boredom? Lack of repression and punishment or the inevitable result of the marked differences in income and social-economic status in Brazil? All these questions sprang into my mind as I walked back to the car and saw it there, its back hatch window violated by a brick. A […]

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Youthful exuberance or nihilism? Urban despair or boredom? Lack of repression and punishment or the inevitable result of the marked differences in income and social-economic status in Brazil? All these questions sprang into my mind as I walked back to the car and saw it there, its back hatch window violated by a brick.

A quick stop at the supermarket became a full-blown shopping excursion, so instead of the 10 minute affair, it takes longer, much longer. As luck would have it, the parking lot was full, so I parked on a side street off to the side of the place. A mere hour later I return and the Sandero is there, looking forlorn, the back window smashed. Looking around I see everyone going about their business and avoiding eye contact, so no witness I guess. I quickly survey the damage, put the purchases on top of the many millions of glass shreds on the back seat, open the hatch and all the books, sweater and umbrella I had there are still there. I take off my shirt to brush aside as best I can the glass on the driver’s seat and, as there is nothing I can do, I get in and decide to head back home. Before going off in that direction, I feel the need to drive around the block once to see if I could make out anything or anyone suspicious. Glad I did because as now I think I can understand what happened.

Back a ways from where I had parked the car, there is a house undergoing some construction. The work nearly done, the workers put excess bricks out on the sidewalk and somebody would surely come collect them up later. Some simpleton must have walked by, seen the bricks, picked one up on a whim and decided to smash my car window in, for “fun” I guess. Being that the incident happened in the middle of the morning with plenty of people around, it seems to me the most plausible explanation. I decide to put it down to youthful exuberance or nihilism…

Living in Brazil, being 43 years of age, and driving (officially) since the age of 20, besides owning a car since 18, I am not unduly bothered by this. Sure it sucks, but I had never before been the victim of any sort of violence. I have never been mugged, my car has never been broken into, nor any of the houses I’ve lived in. To be honest, not many of my friends have suffered this kind of thing either. It could be that Belo Horizonte is still a nicer, calmer sort of place than Rio or São Paulo. Or it could just be that there is a huge personal security business feeding and feeding off of a sort of generalized fear, creating something bigger out of something that exists, but that they only stand to benefit from, blowing it out of proportion.

What I am bothered by though is my insurance company’s handling of the matter. Smashed windows are covered, but it will take a week for it to be fixed. It takes them that much time for them to set me up on a date with a company specialized in changing car windows, or one day more for a technician to pay me a house call and change the window on my premises. What is a day more, I think, so I set the house visit. In traditional Brazilian business practice, the visit would happen at any time during commercial hours (from 8am to 6pm), so I guess I’m stuck home for the day.

The technician arrives around 10 and I immediately notice his car. A mini-truck, it is the famous Chevrolet Montana, exported to Mexico and similar to the often discussed on TTAC Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro. Due to clever packaging and some well-designed accessories, the Montana is very well equipped for this business. As examples, the man’s tools are all contained in a tray he can easily pull from under the window’s support mechanism, which in its turn can carry around 10 window panes I believe. Capable of hauling around 600 or so kilos and served with a 106hp, 1.4 engine, the trucklet is capable of serving this and other business applications more than adequately.

As the man worked, I took pictures of his car. Surprisingly to me, this one was equipped with air conditioning. I am very happy to see this as I realize Brazilian businesses are finally giving their employees a degree of necessary respect. As a car guy, I naturally ask him how old the car is and he tells me it is two years old.  He has driven almost 150,000 kilometers in it over the period serving Belo Horizonte and other cities in a 250 kilometer radius. To my eyes the interior looks sharp after all this while, with the same gimmicky flat-bottomed steering wheel sold to private buyers. The fabrics have held up well too, though I do notice the driver’s seat is covered. Simple stuff, but made to last.

The worker tells me the car has not skipped a beat in this time and mileage. The company is fastidious about maintenance and believes the preventive sort is the way to go. As such, it has gone in for a dealer pit-stop every 10 thousand kilometers as GM recommends. Using Brazilian ethanol-laced gasoline (to the tune of 30% sugarcane content), the car returns a steady 8 to 10 km/l in the city and about 15 on the road (the car has a system to monitor the driver, so that figure seems good to me). This small GM power unit is quite square, meaning it doesn’t like to rev, but has ample low end torque and will provide adequate economy if driven conservatively.

I ask him how long they keep the cars and he tells me the Montana will be gone by year-end. The company will then buy a new batch and it could be any of the small trucks available in the Brazilian market, Strada, Saveiro or a Chevy again. I ask him his preference, he smiles coyly and says he’d pick the Saveiro. I inquire as to why and he says that truck is a much better looker and that guys and gals talk to him about it though for different reasons…

After about half an hour his work is done and he goes off to change another couple of windows. As I see the little Montana speeding away, I can’t help but ponder on my friends at TTAC, most especially my American ones. How would their experience compare? I decide that if such a service exists there, the technician would have showed up in some sort of V8 Ecoline van, or F250. That thought conjures up right away the word “why”. The Montana availed itself of the job at hand nicely, doing it so economically, capably and reliability.

I can’t help but to think on the American lifestyle and its consequences. Everything seems so big and can be done and had so cheaply. However, it does seem that my amigos americanos are enamored of bringing a machine gun to what essentially amounts to a knife fight (most small business applications like home repairs and maintenance and such). Or, alternatively, it could just be that the rest of the world is just too poor and unable to enjoy the finer things in life.

Unlike my smashed window and the brick laying the car, I have no answer for that question, nothing to plausibly base an opinion on. As such we use the instruments at hand, and here in Brazil and elsewhere, U.S. included, I foresee a long future for the car-based mini-truck. Somehow I suspect though the future for full size pickups, even if all-aluminum, especially for use in mundane tasks, may probably not be so bright.

 

 

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Ford Courier http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-ford-courier/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1976-ford-courier/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941073 After the ’79 Chevy LUV Junkyard Find we saw yesterday, it seems appropriate to follow up with another Malaise Era Japanese small pickup with Detroit badging. I found this Ford-badged Mazda B1800 just a couple of rows away from the LUV. It’s three years older and much rougher than the Chevy (Isuzu). Vehicles mostly don’t […]

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18 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter the ’79 Chevy LUV Junkyard Find we saw yesterday, it seems appropriate to follow up with another Malaise Era Japanese small pickup with Detroit badging. I found this Ford-badged Mazda B1800 just a couple of rows away from the LUV. It’s three years older and much rougher than the Chevy (Isuzu).


17 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinVehicles mostly don’t rust much in the Denver area, thanks to the single-digit humidity, but this one appears to have spent some time in the Midwest.
01 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs is often the case with junked vehicles, all sorts of stuff belonging to the previous owner was still inside. Here’s a notebook with records of fuel and oil purchases stretching back to the mid-1980s. Check out the sub-dollar-per-gallon prices of February 1986; while this era’s crash in oil prices was a boon for me as I delivered pizzas in my 351W-powered Mercury Cyclone, it was also the primary cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as the sales death of little trucks like this one.
03 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReally cheap new-vehicle buyers in the 1970s didn’t want to spend several hundred bucks for a factory AM radio— yes, audio gear was expensive back then, even before the vehicle manufacturers’ markups— so they got the “radio delete” package and then added a relatively cheap aftermarket rig like this Philco.


Imagine Johnnie Taylor buzzing tinnily out of that dash-mounted whizzer cone!
06 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe driver’s door is hanging by a thread. This truck gave its all.
11 - 1976 Ford Courier Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hubcaps stayed with it to the end, though.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-luv-mikado/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940441 Once Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had […]

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02 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce Toyota Stouts and Datsun 520s began selling in sufficient numbers (in spite of the Chicken Tax) to attract Detroit’s attention, the idea of selling small pickups— without actually tooling up to build them— seemed appealing to the Big Three. Chrysler had the Mitsubishi-built Plymouth Arrow pickup, Ford had the Mazda-built Courier, and GM had the Isuzu Faster-based Chevy LUV. Each type rusted with great eagerness and were near-disposable cheap, so they’re all very rare today. I see maybe one LUV per three years of junkyard visits, so this ’79 LUV Mikado grabbed my attention right away.
07 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mikado option package, if we are to believe online sources, gave the buyer striped seats and a three-spoke steering wheel (plus the cool-looking Japanophilic fender badges).
03 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe three-spoke wheel is there, but I don’t see any seat stripes. Perhaps the owner of this truck swapped in a later Isuzu P’Up bench.
06 - 1979 Chevrolet LUV Mikado Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe G18 engine, making 80 horses. 21st-century Americans require at least that much power for their lawn tractors, not to mention a crew-cab in their “small” pickups. The G18 was also found in the “Buick Opel” (an Isuzu-ized Opel Kadett sold in North America during the darkest days of the Malaise Era).

Now there’s even more to LUV, for everybody!

Did anyone buy the 4WD LUV?

This Thai-market Isuzu Faster Spacecab ad is for a second-generation truck, but I had to include it due to the little spaceman.

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Junkyard Find: Electric-Powered 1988 Ford Ranger Custom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-electric-powered-1988-ford-ranger-custom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-electric-powered-1988-ford-ranger-custom/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926825 I’ve just driven a couple of modern electric cars, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, and they’re real cars. Actually, the i-MiEV is a perfectly serviceable short-distance commuter and the Model S is the best street car I’ve ever driven, but I was ready to hate both of them a lot, because all […]

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15 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI’ve just driven a couple of modern electric cars, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, and they’re real cars. Actually, the i-MiEV is a perfectly serviceable short-distance commuter and the Model S is the best street car I’ve ever driven, but I was ready to hate both of them a lot, because all my previous experience with EVs had involved growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s and hearing a lot of eat-yer-vegetables talk from earnest green types about how electric cars are good for you, when in fact those cars sucked stringwart-covered pangolin nodules. Then, of course, there are all the flake-O electric conversions from the 1980-2000 era that I’ve seen, a fair number of which appear in self-service wrecking yards as long-abandoned EV conversions are towed out of back yards and driveways. In this series, we’ve seen this EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro and this 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport, and there have been others too stripped to be worth photographing. Today we’re going to look at a California-based Ford Ranger that still has just about all its electric running gear.
14 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinSome EVs like this were put together for driving around in warehouses, others were built by government agencies trying to showcase green technologies, and still more were built by backyard electric-car fanatics. Ford even built their own electric Rangers later on.
04 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinSince the battery box (or what I am assuming is the battery box) is so small, my guess is that this truck was made for short-distance indoor use. Running parts inside hangars at nearby Oakland Airport?
Note: Crab Spirits did some research and found this truck on the North Bay Electric Automobile Association website for us. It turns out to be a veteran of the 2004 North Bay Eco-Fest, i.e., it was admired by a lot of earnest Marin County green types, all of whom probably abandoned their 20-mile-range EVs the moment they could buy a Leaf.
17 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI thought about buying these gauges for eBay reselling later, but it didn’t seem worth the hassle.
09 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe motor was still there when I visited this yard about a month ago, but the value of the copper inside it means that this is one part that will not go to The Crusher.
06 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGreat big Bycan battery charger under the hood.
16 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI doubt that the sight of this truck had Chevron execs trembling.
19 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI didn’t check underneath to see if the original automatic transmission was still installed. The shifter might have been just used to control forward and reverse.

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Diamond Star Redux: FCA’s Getting A New Mid-Size Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/diamond-star-redux-fcas-getting-new-mid-size-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/diamond-star-redux-fcas-getting-new-mid-size-truck/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:11:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916402 The Chrysler/Mitsubishi pairing that brought us the turbocharged DSM twins and the Colt cars is being resurrected in a roundabout way. A new mid-size truck for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup will be sourced from Mitsubishi, which will lend FCA the use of its upcoming L200 truck. Automotive News is reporting that the new truck will, […]

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The Chrysler/Mitsubishi pairing that brought us the turbocharged DSM twins and the Colt cars is being resurrected in a roundabout way. A new mid-size truck for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup will be sourced from Mitsubishi, which will lend FCA the use of its upcoming L200 truck.

Automotive News is reporting that the new truck will, of course, not be sold in North America, and will be built in Thailand for the European and Latin American markets. Mitsubishi and Chrysler have already agreed to sell a rebadged version of the Mirage sedan in Mexico, for sale as a Chrysler product.

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Behold, The Leafamino http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/behold-leafamino/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/behold-leafamino/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 19:37:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914794 Engineers at Nissan’s Arizona proving grounds have created a one-off pickup truck variant of the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf truck was apparently built to haul people and goods around Nissan’s campus, but is apparently “not very tough”. I can’t say its terribly appealing to me, but I’m sure there are a few of you who […]

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Nissan engineers marry a LEAF to a Frontier for use around the s

Engineers at Nissan’s Arizona proving grounds have created a one-off pickup truck variant of the Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf truck was apparently built to haul people and goods around Nissan’s campus, but is apparently “not very tough”. I can’t say its terribly appealing to me, but I’m sure there are a few of you who would gladly disagree.

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GM Already Adding Third Shift At Mid-Size Truck Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-already-adding-third-shift-mid-size-truck-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-already-adding-third-shift-mid-size-truck-plant/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:04:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913754 GM’s new mid-size pickup trucks aren’t even on sale yet, but the auto maker is already preparing to add a third shift at its Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant, which will result in 750 additional jobs. The third shift will come online in early 2015. GM claims to have received as many as 30,000 dealer orders […]

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GM’s new mid-size pickup trucks aren’t even on sale yet, but the auto maker is already preparing to add a third shift at its Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant, which will result in 750 additional jobs.

The third shift will come online in early 2015. GM claims to have received as many as 30,000 dealer orders for the mid-sizers so far – whether they end up in customer hands without major incentives or discounts is a whole other matter.

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Ssangyong Builds TTAC’s Dream Vehicle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ssangyong-builds-ttacs-dream-vehicle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ssangyong-builds-ttacs-dream-vehicle/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:30:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913522   While researching Ssangyong, I came across this photo of a true unicorn – a brown, compact pickup truck. The Actyon is Ssangyong’s version of a crew cab compact truck that has become so popular in Australia. Yes, it has a diesel and an available 6-speed manual transmission.

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While researching Ssangyong, I came across this photo of a true unicorn – a brown, compact pickup truck.

The Actyon is Ssangyong’s version of a crew cab compact truck that has become so popular in Australia. Yes, it has a diesel and an available 6-speed manual transmission.

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Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:36:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904225 The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with […]

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The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with Fiat’s Strada dominating the segment. Since that time, nearly every challenger has been vanquished by the Strada’s unquestionable longevity – except for Volkswagen’s Saveiro.

According to VW do Brasil, the Saveiro is now the market leader in single and extended cab configurations. It has sold roughly 40,000 units up until the middle of the year while Fiat sold roughly twice that. Volkswagen says half of Strada sales were of the double cab line. So finally VW reacted and launched its own double cab (the Strada’s arrived in 2009).  Its take on this style of small pick up is different from Fiat’s. As of 10 months ago, the Strada now comes with three doors, which of course (in theory) helps entry. The Volkswagen offers just two. Getting in the car and reclining the seat, I wiggle my 6 foot, 220 lb  frame into the back seat.

Nice surprise. While the Strada seats just four, the Saveiro does it for five. There are three headrests and three point seat belts only for those who sit off to the sides. The middle passenger, besides fighting for space, has to make do with a lap belt. Space is larger than in the Strada, though I wouldn’t want to be there with two friends for more than short jaunts. The rear side windows open by popping out, while the back window is fixed. There are two cupholders and even an auxiliary jack and a compartment under the seats. Some thought was indeed put into it.

Getting into the front and sitting in the driver’s seat, the whole ambience is very typically Volkswagen. That means a sober, almost boring layout, hard but well assembled plastics, monotone decorations and lots of unmarked plastic covers where commands for optional equipment would be. All in all it is an ambience I don’t especially admire or find pleasure in being, while I can appreciate why others do. The seat is placed a little low, and the dashboard quite high leading to that sunken feeling that many nowadays equate with safety. What’s safer than driving a tank, right? As such, it’s good the Saveiro CD comes with parking sensors. That way you won’t smash the bed into anything.

Speaking of the bed, it has been reduced to 1.1 m in length and capacity is now 580L. The spare has been placed under the bed. Just to compare, the Strada has a volume 100L greater and can carry 50 more kilos (650 to the Saveiro’s 600). Though short, it is longer than the Strada’s and offers 10 tie-down points, a number its rival can’t touch.

The Saveiro Double Cab offers two engines. Both are 1.6L. One however has 8v while the other 16. The 16v is new and corrals 110 or 120 ponies (depending of fuel chosen, the first figure for Brazilian gasoline, the second for Brazilian ethanol) while the simpler mill makes do with 101 or 104 horsepower. While this output is relatively low, the multi-valve engine pulls well and vibrates less than the old one. Pulling power is steady and its capacity to rev higher makes it more comfortable to drive at high speeds on the highway. Top speed is 179 km/h, almost 10 more than the 8 valve unit. It has been on the market for a while now, and so far has not shown the same propensity of the old unit of going kaput at very low mileage. Keeping fingers crossed, one can hope Volkswagen do Brasil has finally figured out what kind of oil is needed to lubricate its 1.6 L motors.

Finally, and exclusively for its segment, the new engine also makes do without an auxiliary start up tank. In low temperatures, cars running on ethanol can have trouble firing. To avoid this, most cars here come with an extra tank you must fill with gasoline to aid firing. The new engine dispenses with this, aiding comfort and safety as there is no need for the extra tank, usually placed in the engine bay.

The Saveiro Highline comes with the 1.6 16v. I chose to drive it as I’m well acquainted with the 8v unit. It really helps the experience and makes the car that more enjoyable. Faster than ever, the little pickup has always been a handful to drive at high speeds with an empty bed. So much so that cars like these are known as caminito al cielo (road to heaven) in some South American markets. This time around VW has endowed the picape with stability control but only on the top-level Cross trim. Lower trim level buyers will have to be wary and drive with special care trying to make it around bends. While very sure-footed and planted in a straight line, the driver must not forget he is in a pickup and not a car. The bed will try to find the front of the car if the driver abuses it.

All double cab Saveiros come with disc brakes all around. Stopping power is of course enhanced, and emergency braking is done without drama. It helps that the Saveiro offers EBD throughout the Double Cab line. It’s very interesting how Brazilian cars are getting more equipped. Besides the mandatory airbags and ABS, the pickup comes with a hill holder function and special programming that allows VW to claim an off road traction launcher (depending on trim level). The Germans also claim their ABS and EBD have special programming offering better braking in muddy conditions. All of this was not present in the car I drove. For now, these are reserved for the pseudo-adventure Cross trim line.

The steering is precise as in most VW cars. In the city it’s not the lightest out there, but on the highway it beefs up nicely. Being a hydraulic unit, it offers more feedback than electric setups. The car comes with a manual 5-speed gearbox that remains among the best in Brazil. Its short and precise throws are better than the competitions and it can shift fast and true. Better yet, this time around the thumping noises of its engagement have been largely avoided.

I enjoyed this little truck. Pressure is now on Fiat to improve its Strada. Volkwagen pricing is in line with Fiat’s, but always offers just a bit more content. The drive is certainly modern and the use of an interdependent axle with longitudinal arms and springs in the back make it a less jumpy vehicle than the Strada. While the engine in the VW is smaller than the Strada’s 1.8, 16v, 132hp unit, it makes the car almost as fast and more economic, plus smoother than Fiat’s. Pulling power is aided by the hill holder function while the Strada has more torque. The Saveiro is now on par with the Strada and it will be interesting to be seen whether it will fulfill Volkswagen do Brasil’s prediction of taking over first place from the Strada. Though that will be a tough, uphill battle, the Saveiro now has what it takes.

 

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-subaru-brat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-subaru-brat/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=892298 The Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples […]

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03 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersThe Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples built after the early 1980s. Here’s a reasonably nice-looking ’84 that Shawn Rodgers (you may recognize him as the hero of the Junkyard Build Quality Challenges, as well as the captain of the very fast Bunny With a Pancake On Its Head 24 Hours of LeMons Rabbit team) saw in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard last week and was kind enough to photograph for us.
02 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersI shoot junkyard BRATs whenever I see them, and so far in this series we’ve seen this ’79, this ’82 (which still had its jump seats), and this Sawzall-converted ’86 (I’m a sucker for cruelly hacked-up Subarus).
21 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers73 horsepower, which would be considered absolutely unacceptable in any vehicle attempting to be even vaguely truck-like today.
10 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersNice nearly-a-T-top double sunroof— called a “Halo Twin Roof”— on this one.
16 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersJust the lo-fi solution for listening to bad mid-80s AM hits!

In Australia, the BRAT was called the Brumby and it was marketed with ads featuring pig passengers.

In the United States, Ruth Gordon pitched the BRAT.

01 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 02 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 03 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 04 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 05 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 06 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 07 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 08 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 09 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 10 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 11 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 12 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 13 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 14 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 15 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 16 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 17 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 18 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 19 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 20 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 21 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 22 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 23 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 24 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 25 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 26 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 27 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 28 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 29 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 30 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers

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Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon Pricing Announced http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chevrolet-colorado-gmc-canyon-pricing-announced/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chevrolet-colorado-gmc-canyon-pricing-announced/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 21:18:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883042 GM announced pricing for their mid-size trucks, with the Chevrolet Colorado starting at $20,995 and the GMC Canyon starting at $21,880. Those sticker prices are ostensibly for a base, 2WD extended cab with a 6-speed manual transmission. Crew cab versions with V6 power and 4WD will cost more, with GM telling the media “…the Colorado LT […]

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GM announced pricing for their mid-size trucks, with the Chevrolet Colorado starting at $20,995 and the GMC Canyon starting at $21,880.

Those sticker prices are ostensibly for a base, 2WD extended cab with a 6-speed manual transmission. Crew cab versions with V6 power and 4WD will cost more, with GM telling the media

“…the Colorado LT crew cab with 2WD and the 5-foot box has a starting price, including dealer freight, of $27,985. The Colorado Z71 crew cab 4×4 with the 5-foot box starts at $34,990…”

GM was more loose with details on the Canyon

“…beginning with the SLE trim level, with prices starting at $27,520 (2WD extended cab), Canyon customers get aluminum interior trim, soft-touch instrument panel and door pads, EZ-lift and lower tailgate, eight-inch diagonal color-touch radio with Intellilink, and OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with a three-month or three-GB trial (whichever comes first).  A 4WD Canyon SLT crew cab short box model starts at $37,875, and includes the 3.6L V-6 engine with 305 horsepower, leather-appointed seating, automatic climate control, 18-inch polished cast-aluminum wheels, remote start and an automatic locking rear differential.”

Detailed pricing and fuel economy figures are said to be announced closer to launch.

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Report: Nissan Scraps Small Truck Plans, Navara Now On For North America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/report-nissan-scraps-small-truck-plans-navara-now-north-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/report-nissan-scraps-small-truck-plans-navara-now-north-america/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:15:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=876322 Our industry source who reported that Nissan would use an old version of the Frontier has reported back to us with some bittersweet news. The reported next-generation Frontier, which would have been based on the bones of the old, first-generation Frontier, has been abandoned. According to our source, bringing the old technology up to modern […]

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Our industry source who reported that Nissan would use an old version of the Frontier has reported back to us with some bittersweet news.

The reported next-generation Frontier, which would have been based on the bones of the old, first-generation Frontier, has been abandoned. According to our source, bringing the old technology up to modern crash standards was too onerous a task, and the costs were simply too high – even with using an already paid for architecture.

The big issue at hand is this: Nissan still wants to have a small, basic, fuel-efficient affordable truck, since they see it as an untapped niche. Their original thinking was that the D22 Frontier would let them get their in a cost-effective way (remember, small trucks are low-margin, difficult to price and carry significant regulatory burdens). But now that this option is off the table, Nissan is forced to use the all-new Navara as a starting point.

From a superficial perspective, that’s not such a bad thing. The Navara is a modern, global mid-size pickup that is a proven design and a sales success across the globe. The problem is that, as it sits now, it’s far too expensive for what Nissan USA is looking for. So, the North American truck will use the Navara architecture, due to its crashworthiness, and ability to fit a modern, diesel engine under the hood, but the tradeoff will be a fair amount of content will not make it across the ocean.

As with the now dead D22, Nissan Mexico will be responsible for engineering the truck to meet NAFTA standards. This “clean sheet” approach, if it can be called that, will cause further delays. The current Frontier will soldier on until 2018, when the new truck arrives. A diesel variant arrives a year later. The new truck will likely have a different look and stick to the original mandate of being akin to a modern-day Hardbody. But instead of actually being a a modern day Hardbody, it will be a revamped modern truck.

Nissan had planned to give North American truck buyers something truly unique, but it was not to be. We will be getting what is arguably the better, more modern option, but this new approach will just add more time, effort and expense to the program. The goal of a low-cost, fuel-efficient pickup is still in sight. Nissan will just be approaching it in a different way.

 

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General Motors Bumps Up Next Pickups, Will Feature Aluminum Panels, Downsized Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:53:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875113 General Motors is advancing the launch of their next-generation pickups by 9 months, with the next-generation trucks due by 2018. Reuters is reporting that the fairly new generation of full-size trucks will undergo a thorough redesign by 2018, with new full-size SUVs arriving in 2019. While a new 8-speed automatic will arrive in GM’s full […]

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General Motors is advancing the launch of their next-generation pickups by 9 months, with the next-generation trucks due by 2018.

Reuters is reporting that the fairly new generation of full-size trucks will undergo a thorough redesign by 2018, with new full-size SUVs arriving in 2019.

While a new 8-speed automatic will arrive in GM’s full size trucks and SUVs for 2015, the next generation is expected to be even more radical. TTAC has previously reported that the next generation trucks will use substantial amounts of aluminum in the body panels, and a new manufacturing process is expected to reduce both cost and complexity.

The new trucks will also reportedly use a 10-speed automatic transmission (jointly developed with Ford) as well as smaller engines that feature fuel injection, turbocharging and stop-start systems. The end result is a major paradigm shift for the truck market. Consumers may still care about payload and tow ratings, but auto makers are pulling out all the stops to make sure that their trucks meet stringent CAFE rules, which kick in around 2017.

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Ford Announces 2015 F-150 Pricing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:02:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874697 The 2015 Ford F-150 will get a price bump, but the upgrade fee for an Ecoboost engine won’t be the most substantial part of the hike. For 2015, the 3.5L Ecoboost will carry a premium of $1,995, or $100 less than the 2014 model. The all-new 2.7L Ecoboost will carry a premium of just $495. […]

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The 2015 Ford F-150 will get a price bump, but the upgrade fee for an Ecoboost engine won’t be the most substantial part of the hike.

For 2015, the 3.5L Ecoboost will carry a premium of $1,995, or $100 less than the 2014 model. The all-new 2.7L Ecoboost will carry a premium of just $495.

The breakdown for trim levels looks like this (prices include a $1,195 destination charge:

•XL: $26,615, an increase f $395. The XL, a basic work truck, will come standard as a regular cab with rear-wheel drive and 6.5-foot bed.

•XLT: $31,890, up $395. The base price is quoted for the same RWD/regular cab/6.5 foot bed configuration.

•Lariat:$39,880, or an increase of $895. Its basic spec is an extended cab RWD truck with a 6.5 foot bed.

•King Ranch: $49,460, an increase of $3,515.

•Platinum: $52,155, up $3,055.

Prices will change depending on the bed length, whether 4WD is selected, various option packages and other factors. Ford is also touting higher standard levels of content, and the fact that the XL through Lariat versions, which see only modest price increases, make up 85 percent of their F-150 sales. The King Ranch and Platinum trucks will get steep increases, since they are the profit-rich trim levels, and keeping prices low is likely less critical.

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Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872362 Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but […]

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Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but Ford is projecting a big shift in take rates for the next-generation F-150.

According to Autoblog, Ford is projecting that roughly 28 percent of F-150s will be equipped with the 5.0 V8, while roughly 56 percent of buyers will opt for either the 2.7L or 3.5L V6 Ecoboost engines. The remainder, about 15 percent, will go to the base 3.5L V6. As to the other 1 percent? Perhaps there’s a CNG powertrain lurking somewhere in the shadows, Ford’s projections aren’t entirely rigorous, or the reporter in question is just bad at math, as reporters tend to be.

Right now, Ecoboost engines account for about 45 percent of F-150 sales, and even though everyone has an opinion on the efficacy of a turbocharged V6 engine in a full-sized pickup, nobody can deny their commercial success. Ford’s V6 push is also being aimed at potential buyers of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks, with Ford’s own PR team already taking shots at the new GM trucks before full curb weights, mpg figures and other specs have been released for either truck.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:10:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868082 Although diesel and pickups go together smoothly in our minds, this is the first light-duty diesel-powered pickup truck available in our market since before I was born. I wasn’t born yesterday. The Ram to which I’ve been granted the keys over the last number of days features the enticing new 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine, but […]

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Although diesel and pickups go together smoothly in our minds, this is the first light-duty diesel-powered pickup truck available in our market since before I was born.

I wasn’t born yesterday.

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The Ram to which I’ve been granted the keys over the last number of days features the enticing new 3.0L turbocharged diesel engine, but it’s also a four-wheel-drive, Laramie-trimmed, crew cab-bodied pickup with a vast array of options.

It isn’t just a pickup. It’s a luxury limo, a work truck, a fuel miser, an all-weather traveller, a style statement, a secure vault, and a family car.

You don’t need your Ram EcoDiesel to be a $70,090 (CDN) Laramie model like the one Chrysler Canada sent me. A Quad Cab will perhaps suffice for those without rear-facing child seats. The V6 diesel is available in trims other than Ram’s high-end Laramie model. You won’t be required to tick off all the checkboxes on the options sheet. And though the new engine can take over a review, the Ram 1500 is good enough that the diesel isn’t the only positive part of the experience.

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The 240-horsepower V6 diesel generates 420 lb-ft of torque at just 2000 rpm. Not at all unlike other diesels, there’s still a moment of hesitation when the throttle is first applied, during which the owner of a Hemi-engined Ram will say to himself, “I ain’t sure she’s got enough pies in the oven.” Thankfully that moment is brief, and the swell of torque enjoyed when overtaking on a rural two-lane is something Pentastar Ram owners ought to try at least once.

The diesel doesn’t deserve full credit. It works in conjunction with an excellent 8-speed automatic. You’re always in the right gear, and the next gear is only a blink away. Together, they make for a tremendously refined powertrain. There’s a hint of dieselly clatter when manouevring in tight spots, back and forth in a nine-point turn. (Thank-you to the Elantra and Civic drivers in Herring Cove, Nova Scotia, who boxed me in. I needed my father’s help to direct me out, which wasn’t embarrassing at all in front of my wife and mother.) But overall, this diesel has been forcefully silenced with enough sound deadening to hush a crowd of guffawing fishermen.

Better yet, the Ram diesel doesn’t use very much fuel, not by pickup truck or even large crossover standards. In the real world, where I can fill the tank, measure the distance travelled, and then calculate consumption by re-filling the tank, the Ram used 13% more fuel than its onboard computer led me to believe. Yet at 20.1 mpg, in mostly urban driving, we used 9% less fuel than we did in a 5.3L V8-engined GMC Sierra tester last fall, and that Sierra was driven mostly on the highway. (We also used 16% less fuel in this diesel Ram than we did in the Pentastar V6 Ram last summer.)

Then again, for American customers, the EcoDiesel is a $2850 option on this Laramie model, over and above the Hemi V8 and $4000 more than the 3.6L V6.

The premium might not matter as much once you start driving the EcoDiesel, once you see how slowly the fuel gauge needle falls, once you solidify your long-held belief that Truck = Diesel. With our family of three in the cabin, a cooler full of sandwiches and chips and pop in the bed, and Ramboxes full of hoodies and blankets, we picked up my parents for a picnic on a hill high atop the ocean outside the city. But we were hardly consuming any fuel, relative to other pickup trucks, so without a moment’s thought we extended our journey from York Redoubt to three different coves and one little harbour.

That’s the kind of freedom that, once paid for on transaction day, diesel owners enjoy throughout the rest of their ownership period. You don’t convince yourself of the long-term financial benefits of a sunroof, and you shouldn’t need to establish the economic advantages of this diesel, either.
Regardless of the engine under the hood, Ram’s crew cab body, like the full-fledged four-doors from Ford and GM and Toyota, is huge inside. Stretch-out-your-legs huge. The bed is shortened, but the available leg room and under-seat storage is truly luxurious whether the seats are leather-clad or sheathed in cloth. It won’t be long until the feature count of a high-priced premium vehicle of today will underwhelm, but space will always equal luxury.

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Two-tone paint, heated leather seating up front, dual-zone climate control, and Chrysler’s big 8.4-inch UConnect are key Laramie features. It also says Laramie three times inside and once outside. (This Laramie badging tags along with four “Ram” mentions outside and eight inside, the Ram logo which appears twice outside and once inside, and just two exterior “EcoDiesel” badges, both of which the truck-loving teens on our street felt were the exact opposite of truckish toughness.)
Our test truck, optioned quite nicely by Chrysler Canada’s PR department, included numerous expensive options, which in U.S. speak would cost $1295 (RamBoxes, which we used on a couple occasions for big grocery loads), $1695 (air suspension, which with 5 modes can be rather useful), $995 (power sunroof), $500 (leather buckets), $600 (side steps), and then more than $4000 in smaller options. Plus the diesel powerplant.

The seats won’t massage, the sunroof isn’t panoramic, there’s no blind spot monitoring or adaptive cruise or even a soft-opening tailgate. By the standards of $70,000 luxury cars, this is under-equipped. But it’s still luxury living, particularly when one considers the flexibility of the package.
I remain convinced that by a small margin, Ram offers the best-handling pickup truck lineup. This is most noticeable when encountering the expansion joints of an overpass mid-corner, where the Ram will feel perfectly normal and other trucks skitter, even if only a little. Yet by an equally small margin, the structure of GM’s new trucks feel stronger and more solid, and the overall sensation is of the superior work truck. (This sensation was clarified during back-to-back drives on an off-road course at an event sponsored by, yes, GM.)

We’re hair-splitting now though, and it would surprise me if the new F-150 isn’t the superior truck in most aspects. At least until the Ford’s competitors receive their own updates. And so the cycle goes.

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I prefer the Sierra/Silverado’s rear seat design; the wider availability of F-150 configurations locally available to me; the simplicity of Ram’s UConnect; the exterior design of the Ram; the silence of a Sierra’s cabin; a column shifter rather than the Ram’s rotary dial; the upcoming Ford’s freshness. The Ram’s touch screen needs to be canted more toward the driver, the fuel gauge should be larger, the dual glove compartments aren’t that large, there’s no built-in helper to enable jumps into the bed.

But it’s easy to see why Ram is picking up market share. The aluminum-intensive 2015 F-150 aside, Chrysler has brought Ram to the forefront of truck awareness by offering us things other truck makers aren’t providing, most notably in the form of the 8-speed automatic and this light duty V6 diesel.

With Ram offering the power we require and the fuel efficiency we dreamed of, do we really need to measure the trivial interior quality differences, the slight towing capacity disparities, and the narrow pricing discrepancies?

A diesel engine might just negate arguments that aren’t typically settled in the Ram’s favour. Especially since, where I live, diesel costs 20 cents less per gallon.

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Capsule Review: 2013 Holden Commodore Ute http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853353   Luke Vandezande, Managing Editor of AutoGuide.com, submits his review of the Holden Ute. What if I told you that there’s a parallel universe where Europeans love muscle cars, have their own country music artists and care less for political correctness than Howard Stern in his heyday. Welcome to Australia. Holden is a subsidiary of […]

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Luke Vandezande, Managing Editor of AutoGuide.com, submits his review of the Holden Ute.

What if I told you that there’s a parallel universe where Europeans love muscle cars, have their own country music artists and care less for political correctness than Howard Stern in his heyday. Welcome to Australia.

Holden is a subsidiary of General Motors that develops, builds and sells cars for the island. Much the same as the fierce yet faded loyalty to old Detroit iron is found among Michiganders, Aussies harbor a passion for Holden as a beacon of the country’s once-glorious auto industry.

Now, most of Holden’s products are re-badged global products. For example, there’s a version of the Spark sub-compact and Colorado mid-size pickup truck bearing the lionized badge.

Genuine Aussie cars are failing to stack up against cheaper imported products. The Holden Commodore is one of the last legitimately domestic vehicles down under and it’s sold in several variations. There’s a sedan, wagon and most notably the uniquely Australian “Ute.” It’s a modern day version of the Chevrolet El Camino, muscle car status and all.

It also might be one of the most heavily hyped obscurities among automotive enthusiasts. It has all the right stuff: an available 6.0-liter V8 powering the rear wheels, a manual transmission and looks mean enough to curdle milk. With virtually no weight over the rear end, breaking the tail loose is easier than slipping back into smoking cigarettes.

Having spent over 30 hours travelling (including layovers), I couldn’t help but wonder if I was in for a disappointment. To a certain extent, I already knew things wouldn’t be as sweet as I had originally planned. The range-topping SS-V Redline model was booked by other members of the media until long after my planned departure. So instead I borrowed the SV6 model with an automatic transmission.

It seemed the sort of hooliganism I had been dreaming of for so long would have to remain a fantasy. Still, it will be a cold day in hell when I forget exactly how fortunate I am to be in the position to borrow cars in the first place. Color me grateful for the chance to drive one at all.

I set about familiarizing myself with the car by spending two hours bombing through the winding roads west of Adelaide. The 3.6-liter V6 and automatic does not disappoint. It makes about 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (converted from metric figures advertised there). It’s still worth noting that the stick is a better choice for more than the fun it offers. The SV6 is Holden’s entry-level sport Ute and as such it comes with a suspension better tuned for sporty driving than you’d expect. Manual models also come with a limited slip differential, but the automatic doesn’t.

I wasn’t in a position to drive anywhere near the point at which that sort of equipment would yield dividends, but it’s hard to ignore nonetheless. Consequently, I can’t speak to its merits. I can tell you how the slushbox V6 drives: surprisingly well.

Throttle tip in feels natural and linear. A light foot delivers moderate power while speed builds progressively when pressing the pedal further toward the floor. It allows driving for fuel economy to be easy without sacrificing any of the spirit that makes the Ute so much fun.

Electrically boosted steering essentially mutes feedback from the road, but the act of actually turning the tiller still feels responsive.

The SV6 model also comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, reverse traffic alert, sport seats trimmed in either faux suede or leather and a soft tonneau cover. A rear-view camera, parking sensors, hill start assistance, six airbags, trail sway control, dual-zone climate control and a remote starter (auto only) are also all included in the standard equipment list across the model range.

The blind spot monitoring and parking assistance are both welcome features in the low-slung vehicle with challenging sightlines. Large a-pillars can make it tough to see through tight corners and looking for oncoming cars while waiting to turn is equally tough. At least the rear-view camera and radar sensors both make navigating tight spaces easy.

Of course, it isn’t a full-fledged truck and its ability to serve in that capacity is limited. It has almost no ground clearance and a payload capacity well under one ton, meaning any legitimate pickup truck will beat it on a job site with one proverbial hand tied.

In an effort to test how the pseudo-truck drives with a heavy load, I put approximately 525 lbs worth of beer and wine into the bed. Yes, Australians love to drink. No, this wasn’t a normal Thursday. I was helping a friend prepare for his wedding the next day. Impressively, the car’s trip computer reported 9.1 liters per 100 kilometers in fuel consumption (25.8 mpg), including cargo that would make Bo and Luke Duke blush.

Even with the multi-link rear suspension squatting under such a heavy burden, passing tractor-trailers on the highway presented little difficulty. Everything about driving it feels understandably more sluggish when loaded up, but performance remains admirably intact. Six cylinders are enough; the other two are like Vegemite on toast. It’s a lot of extra flavor, but you might not want it every day.

The two-seat trucklet is pretty tight on cabin storage space depending on driver and passenger height. You’ll have some storage to speak of with the seats slid back for maximum legroom, but it’s sparse.

Even halfway around the world, General Motors’ penchant for “frugal” interior materials is alive and well. That’s probably not enough to scare off patriotic purchasers, but the widely-used hard plastics are a weak point. Cheesy checker-pattern faux carbon fiber accents don’t help though the light blue accent lighting in the interior door latches is a nice touch.

With power adjustable lumbar support for the driver and well-bolstered sides, it might be a bit of a tight ride but at least its comfortable. You’ll feel bumps and imperfections, but it’s a pleasant place to be; even over dirt roads littered with little ridges from rainwater.

With a relatively low entry-level price and the potential for hair-raising hoonage, it’s hard not to agree with the Holden Ute’s generally positive reputation. Despite that, it’s a far-fetched option as a primary vehicle. On the other hand, it would make a hell of a supplemental choice.

And to a certain extent, it’s priced that way. Holden dropped the price of its SV6 Ute by $5,500 (AUD) for a suggested starting tag of $32,990. Strangely enough, that means the base version and uplevel SV6 carry the same MSRP. For some perspective, an SV6 Commodore sedan costs almost $5,000 more.

In an unusual twist, the current VF Commodore is much cheaper than the VE it replaces. In some cases by almost $10,000. Holden’s big rear-drivers are struggling to sell and it’s a damn shame.

GM won’t ever offer what would likely be a new El Camino to the U.S., but if that ever changed it would sure be a tempting alternative for anyone with a taste for muscle cars and a need to haul heaps of junk.

The post Capsule Review: 2013 Holden Commodore Ute appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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Ford Claims Aluminum F-150 Is On Track, TTAC Sources Report Delays http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-claims-aluminum-f-150-is-on-track-ttac-sources-report-delays/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-claims-aluminum-f-150-is-on-track-ttac-sources-report-delays/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=851881 A recent note by MorganStanley warned of a “slow changeover, with tight supply” for Ford’s new aluminum F-150, and while Ford America’s boss Joe Hinrichs told Bloomberg that “everything is “on schedule and everything is going as planned”, TTAC is hearing different things. Dovetailing with earlier reports that Ford was having difficulty stamping the aluminum spec’d by […]

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A recent note by MorganStanley warned of a “slow changeover, with tight supply” for Ford’s new aluminum F-150, and while Ford America’s boss Joe Hinrichs told Bloomberg that “everything is “on schedule and everything is going as planned”, TTAC is hearing different things.

Dovetailing with earlier reports that Ford was having difficulty stamping the aluminum spec’d by the Blue Oval – which forced Job 1 to be pushed back by as much as 10 weeks – our sources informed us that MorganStanley’s prediction is likely to come true.

While our source was vague, he noted that the F-150 launch team was in danger of missing key milestones for the project, and that team members may have to work through the summer shutdown.

So far, Ford has been able to deftly work around the aluminum stamping issue – although an earlier launch was initially planned (we heard initially, launch was planned for anywhere from Memorial Day to Q3 2014), Ford PR never announced anything but a Q4 launch date (or “late availability” as another source put it). But now, word of delays appears to be spreading further.

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