The Truth About Cars » Platinum http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 03 Jul 2015 19:00:27 +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 » Platinum http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 4X4 Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2014-toyota-tundra-crewmax-platinum-4x4-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2014-toyota-tundra-crewmax-platinum-4x4-review/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862057 It’s been said that with the last Crown Victoria produced, the death of Ford’s Panther platform represented the extinction of the species, American sedanus body-on-framus, the last of the dinosaurs. Keeping in a biological frame of mind, it seems to me that the BOF American sedan didn’t go extinct, but transformed. Its trunk developed into an […]

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It’s been said that with the last Crown Victoria produced, the death of Ford’s Panther platform represented the extinction of the species, American sedanus body-on-framus, the last of the dinosaurs. Keeping in a biological frame of mind, it seems to me that the BOF American sedan didn’t go extinct, but transformed. Its trunk developed into an open cargo bed and those varieties with high ground clearance seem to have been particularly adaptive.

That’s the closest analogy I can come up with to describe how the 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Plantinum drives – it reminds me of the big American cars that were on the road when I got my driver’s license back in the early 1970s, and it should. It has body-on-frame construction, double A arm suspension up front, a live axle on leaf springs in the back, seats as flat as a sofa, and a powerful V8 engine up front, just like those old land yachts of yore. Oh, and it’s big.

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Actually, that comparison somewhat disrespects the Tundra that I drove for a week. Even with the ground clearance of a pickup and the added height of a 4X4 spec’d vehicle, the Tundra handles better than any large American sedan did back in the day. I’m not saying that you should take it autocrossing, just that it goes where you point it in traffic.

Since I was driving a 4X4 pickup essentially unloaded, the fact that the ride wasn’t as smooth as my dad’s 1974 Mercury Marquis Brougham should be expected. Unloaded pickups can tend to have a bit of the bouncy bouncies. Still, it was comfortable and all that suspension travel came in handy driving on Michigan’s terrible roads. You know that you’re going over a bump, but there’s so much there to absorb it that, while you’re aware of the craters, all the crashing is happening so far away and it’s so well dampened to not even be an annoyance.

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The V8 up front is a 5.7 liter engine derived from the UR family quad cam V8 first introduced in the 2006 Lexus LS460. Contrary to some urban legends, no, Toyota didn’t buy up the tooling for the old small block Chevy. The 381 horsepower motor is smooth and powerful, never lacking enough gumption to move into a spot in traffic as long as that spot was large enough.

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To be honest, it took me a day or so of driving the Tundra to get used to its bulk. Because of the vagaries of press fleet scheduling, I went from one of the smallest passenger vehicles sold in North America, a Fiat Abarth, to one of the largest. How large is it? It’s barely able to fit in either a standard shopping center or urban metered parking space; I had about 6 inches to spare at each end in each case. One reason for that is it’s a true four door truck. The back seat is as spacious as anything you’d find in the biggest Lincolns or Cadillacs of the 1960s. There is enough space for three adults with ample leg room, perhaps even more room than in a long wheelbase flagship sedan like a Jaguar XJL or comparable Chinese market Audi A8. Just as one could say the American sedan has grown a trunk and ground clearance, one could say that American pickups have grown back seats. Look around you in traffic. You won’t see many simple two door pickups. Everything is either a club cab or a crew cab.

Speaking of crews, the idea that this Tundra is going to be any kind of actual work truck is dispelled by a glance at the sticker. This is a $50,000 truck and the only way that I can see it showing up on a construction site is if it’s the daily driver of the guy or gal who owns the construction or drilling company, and they ain’t gonna haul around some greasy roughnecks on the nicely quilted leather upholstery.

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Concerning hauling, Toyota has heavily promoted the Tundra’s 10,000 lb. towing capacity. I believe that the owners of such blinged out Tundras will be hauling cargo, but it won’t be burly workers, room for them though there may be. No, a truck like this will use its 401 lb-ft of torque and five tons worth of towing capacity to haul things more valuable than a $50,000 pickup. One horse, let alone an entire horse trailer full of them, can exceed the Tundra’s value, as can a boat. The rest of the time the Tundra CrewMax Platinum will be used as a sedan, and that’s pretty much how I tested it. I had nothing to tow and, at 14.7 mpg over the week, I wasn’t going to drive it almost 200 miles round trip to The Mounds off-road park and back just to try out the 4X4 system.

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Actually, I did get to try that out while trying to avoid a small town parade. Cutting through a parking lot I noticed what I thought was an unfinished apartment building with a driveway leading away from where the traffic was barred, so I put it in four wheel drive and took it over a curb and some vegetation, only to find out that it was an abandoned construction site and that the driveway was fenced in. Still, I got a chance to try out the 4X4, which worked fine. As it’s indeed a 4×4, not an AWD system, it’s for low speed use (and it does have a low range, too) so on pavement you’ll feel the scrubbing.

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On their way to the lake, or the equestrian center, the people who buy a Plantinum trimmed Tundra will have a very comfortable experience. As you’d expect from the price, the truck had all of the latest tech toys except, oddly, no smart key, so there was no keyless entry or push-button starting. The steering wheel does swing up out of the way, the seat goes back when you’re ready to exit and, when you do leave the truck, you’ll be happy for the quite functional running boards. It’s a long way up there. That explains why the front and rear passengers have pillar mounted handles to grab for easier entry. Interestingly, Toyota must figure the driver will use the steering wheel to hoist themselves up to the commanding steering position because there’s no grab handle on that side of the cabin.

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Even though you are sitting very high up, with outstanding visibility, it’s a good thing the Tundra has a parking assist system. While it won’t park the truck for you (and fie on anyone who thinks they deserve a driver’s license if they can’t parallel park), it will warn you when you’re getting close to things as ephemeral as vegetation. That particularly comes in handy because you don’t have a prayer of seeing where the offside front fender really ends. One of those camera-based, bird’s-eye views that Audi gives you would have been nice to have.

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The large touch screen based infotainment system worked as well as Chrysler’s highly praised U-Connect system. My Samsung Android phone worked seamlessly and reliably in both phone and audio modes with the Toyota solution. Navigation was easy to use and never screwed up, and there are enough actual knobs for the things you want to change right now. The climate control system worked flawlessly in summer heat. I particularly like the way the “eyeball” vents on the dash can be aimed wherever you want.

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I like taking 3D photos of historical sites around Detroit but one of my rules (along with avoiding taking photos of ’69 Camaros, ’57 Chevys, and perfectly restored Isetta microcars at car shows) has been to refuse to take any photos of the decrepit Packard plant on the city’s east side. I don’t do ruin porn and if I did, I’d be more creative than shooting that abandoned factory or the empty Michigan Central train station, another favorite of lazy photographers and editors. However, while I had the Tundra, it happened to be the anniversary of the end of Packard production in 1956. Some see the Packard plant as emblematic of the decline of the domestic auto industry and few vehicles represent the strength of Japanese automakers – Japan Inc. taking on Detroit Corp., if you will – than the Toyota Tundra. That’s why I decided to use the well-known overpass where unfinished Packards traveled from one section of the plant to another as a backdrop to my photos for this review.

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The historical reality, of course, is that Japanese and other foreign automakers had nothing to do with Packard’s demise.

Toyota’s first dealership in the U.S. opened up in October of 1957, more than a year after the last true Packards were made in the summer of 1956. To be more precise, while the last true Packards were made in 1956, the brand name and some hideous sheetmetal were slapped on some already funny looking Studebakers following the merger of those two companies.

Toyota and other Japanese brands didn’t really get a foothold in the American market until the late 1960s. Making mostly small cars that got good gas mileage, the Japanese car companies in the U.S. market benefited from the oil crises attending the 1973 Yom Kippur war and the 1979 seizure of American diplomats in Iran. It didn’t hurt that they used some smart engineering, packaging and marketing as with the first generation Honda Accord. As the U.S. automakers seemed to go from making the standards of the automotive world to making unreliable crap in the 1980s, Toyota, Honda and Nissan became preferred brands. Then Toyota dominated everyone with their “fat engineering” Corollas and Camrys in the early 1990s.

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Buoyed by the success of the Camry and Corolla with consumers in the 1990s and flush with cash, by the start of the 21st century, Toyota decided to go after the last remaining bastion of market segment dominance for the domestic car companies: full size pickup trucks.

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Sure, the original Tundra was sort of a 7/8ths scale American pickup, but in 2003, when Toyota announced at the Chicago Auto Show that it was going racing in NASCAR’s truck series, it was clear that Toyota was serious about selling trucks to Americans. Then, in 2006, also at Chicago, Toyota finally introduced a genuinely full sized Tundra that competed on equal footing with GM, Ford and Dodge/Ram. To do so, the Japanese automaker made as American a truck as they could. The Tundra was engineered at Toyota’s billion dollar plus R&D center in Ann Arbor, just west of Detroit, with styling input from Toyota’s Calty facility in California. While the engine was designed in Japan, the block and heads are cast in the U.S. and, like the rest of the truck, it’s assembled here as well. The Tundra is put together at a facility in Texas built with an even larger investment than the design center in A Squared. Not coincidentally, Texas is America’s biggest pickup truck market.

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When they introduced the truly fullsize Tundra about a decade ago, Toyota executives were under no illusions that they were going to get “Ford guys” or “Chevy guys” out of their trucks. Brand loyalty is about as strong as it gets with pickup truck buyers. However, at the time, Toyota made a point of how about 6% of the pickup market does shift from model year to model year based on whoever most recently introduced a redesigned truck. Those buyers tend to be businesses making dollars and cents decisions on fleets and they aren’t swayed by brand loyalty. Toyota was aiming for those buyers, hoping to expand from there. That expansion may be on the horizon. A quick check at goodcarbadcar.net shows that the Tundra’s market share for 2014 was at 5.7%, within hailing distance of that 6% baseline.

Photos by the author. You can see the full gallery here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2015 Ford F-150 Platinum 4×4 3.5L Ecoboost Review [With Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-ford-f-150-platinum-4x4-3-5l-ecoboost-review-video/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094033 Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their […]

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2015 Ford F-151

Ford’s F-150 is an important vehicle for Ford and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say it’s an important vehicle for America. In 2014, the F-150 was not just the most popular truck in America, it was the most popular anything in America, selling more than 740,000 examples. For those that love their numbers, that is more F-150s than everything Hyundai sold in the USA put together.

Redesigning the F-150 isn’t just putting Ford’s profits on the line. Hundreds of suppliers and countless employees are worried about Ford’s aluminum gamble.

First let’s talk aluminum. There seems to be plenty of confusion about the first “all aluminum pickup.” Here’s the deal: the F-150 is aluminum bodied. If you were worried about how an aluminum frame would hold up, fear not, the F-150’s body rides on a high strength steel frame, which is half the reason for the high towing and payload numbers. The other half is the aluminum body. Although, there has been plenty of argument about the supposed 700 pound weight saving, Ford does say that about 450 lbs comes from the aluminum body alone. In a simplistic sense, for every pound you take out of the body, you can put it right back in the form of payload. This is the single largest reason the F-150 has payload figures that are 400-600 lbs higher than comparable GM and RAM models.

The majority of the body is made of 6000-series aluminum, which is about 33% lighter than sheet steel of the same thickness. Ford heat treats most of the F-150’s aluminum panels to improve strength and saves a little bit of money by using less expensive 5000-series aluminum in areas like the cab floor and interior parts. According to an engineer at BAE Systems, aluminum also has better dent, ding and corrosion resistance than steel, which is why it is used in military vehicles where those properties are important. If you’re thinking about how easily an aluminum soda can bends, a steel can of that same thickness would dent easier and, according to the engineers, shatter more easily. This is a huge benefit in the bed of the F-150, where Ford was able to make the panels thicker and still save weight. The bugaboo of course is the cost of repair. Body shops have less experience with aluminum, it’s more expensive to replace and labor costs are higher at the moment.

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Exterior
As you’d expect from a modern American pickup, the F-150 is bigger, bolder and angrier up front than the model it replaces. If you’re willing to pony up the cash, Ford will sell you the segment’s first full-LED headlamps, but I found the headlamp brightness to be somewhat lackinglike all the main players in this segment. Out back we find a new tailgate design that is not only lighter because it’s aluminum but also damped like the Japanese competition so it doesn’t slam down on you. The benefit of an aluminum tailgate is immediately evident as it was much easier to close than the competition even though our model had the integrated tailgate step.

Although I think the RAM is attractive, the growing overbite is a design I’d have left on the cutting room floor, and GM’s square wheel arches have always made me scratch my head. Therefore the pickup aesthetics award goes to Ford since the 2015 model brings just enough “butch” without looking ridiculous.

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Interior
When designing a vehicle that spans from $26,100 to over $62,000 there will invariably be trade offs. If you use the same core interior parts in all models, you have to either be willing to make the base models look and feel more expensive, or be willing to have some hard plastics in the top end trims. Ford, like GM and Chrysler, chose the latter. This means that our nearly fully-equipped Platinum model sported real wood trim and soft leather, but inches away were hard plastic door panels and trim pieces. Note: that’s not a negative, it’s simply a statement of fact. Personally, I don’t have a problem Ford’s use of hard plastics because that’s the norm in the pickup truck segment. It would only be a problem if nobody else was doing it.

While I think the RAM’s interior is better looking, especially in the brown and tan version, the F-150 is the king of the hill in terms of parts quality, especially in the platinum trim where you get acres of aluminum trim and fit and finish beats the competition. While I found the base front seats in the Silverado to be more comfortable than the Ford, the Platinum model gets Ford’s massaging and anti-fatigue system. Basically, it’s the same system we saw in the Lincoln MKS. Ford places several air bags inside the seat bottom and back cushion that are tied to a compressor and computer-controlled valve system. In addition to providing multi-way adjustable lumbar support, the software can inflate and deflate the bags in sequence to “massage” your back and improve leg circulation. At first, it just seemed like the truck was slowly groping my bottom, but after an hour and a half in the seat I was hooked. Most luxury cars with similar systems only run for 15 to 20 minutes, but the Ford system stays on until you turn off the car or the compressor noise gets to you.

 

2015 Ford F-162Infotainment
Ford’s touchscreen infotainment system is slated to be replaced by the highly anticipated SYNC 3 system as soon as next year. Until then, the F-150 soldiers on with the same infotainment systems we’ve seen for some time. Base models get a 4.2-inch color LCD radio with SYNC voice recognition software and 4-speakers. Top end trucks jump to 11 speakers (with a subwoofer) and the screen grows to an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, satellite and HD radio.

Dropping LCDs into the instrument cluster is all the rage, and Ford has three to choose from. Base models get a small 2.3-inch LCD, mainly for trip computer functions; mid-level trucks use a 4.2-inch LCD and top end trims get customizable 8-inch display. Compared to the RAM and Chevy disco dashes, the Ford LCD looks more polished and was more responsive than the system in the Chevy

Drivetrain
The big three have chosen different paths to fuel efficiency nirvana. Chrysler is doubling down on the ZF 8-speed automatic, GM designed a new family of 6 and 8 cylinder engines with aggressive cylinder deactivation and Ford has chosen a two prong strategy with aluminum bodies and small displacement turbo V6 engines.

smart-trailer-moduleThe engine lineup starts with Ford’s familiar 3.5L V6 used in everything from the Explorer to the Taurus. Good for 283 horsepower and 255 lb-ft, the V6 is a little down on power vs the Chrysler 3.6L V6 and certainly less “torquey” than GM’s new pickup-only 4.3L V6. Instead of a V8, the next stop is a 325 horsepower 2.7L V6 with twin turbos. While that sounds down on power vs the GM 5.3L V8, keep in mind the Ford is lighter than the Chevy and the 375 lb-ft of torque comes to the boil sooner and hangs out longer than GM’s V8. Chrysler’s 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed automatic yield better power, torque and 0-60 performance, but fuel economy is drastically lower.

Next up is the only V8 on offer, but it’s not the top-end engine option. Producing 385 horsepower a 387 lb-ft, the 5.0L produces more torque just above idle and over 3,000 RPM, but at certain speeds the 2.7L actually beats the V8. The halo engine is the same 3.5L twin-turbo V6 we have seen for a while. For 2015, it’s tuned to 365 ponies and 420 lb-ft of twist but Ford has implied it will get some significant updates for the upcoming Raptor.

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All four engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic and available four-wheel-drive. This puts Ford two speeds behind most RAM models and the 6.2L Chevy which finally gets GM’s heavy-duty 8-speed. The Raptor will receive Ford’s new 10-speed automatic and we should see that filter down to other V6 models, but Ford hasn’t said when. In the mean time, the most efficient F-150 is the RWD 2.7L Ecoboost model at 22 MPG combined while the least efficient, the 5.0L V8 4×4, rings in at 17 MPG combined. Meanwhile the Chevy ranges from 17-20 (despite the cylinder deactivation on the 4.3L V6) and the RAM runs from 15-24 thanks to a thirsty 5.7L V8 and the fuel sipping diesel at the top end.

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Drive
Although the F-150 was put on a diet, the base V6 still feels a bit sluggish compared to the competition. RAM’s heavier 1500 has a hair more torque, a lower first gear and 33% more gears to choose from overall. GM’s 4.3L V6 offers considerably more low-end torque which allows it to feel peppier when towing.

Of course, the naturally-aspirated V6 and V8 engines are arguably less important to the F-150 shopper since a whopping 63% of sales have been twin-turbo equipped. Ford hasn’t broken out sales of the 2.7 and 3.5L Ecoboost engines separately, but I suspect the new 2.7L engine is quiet popular. While our tester was 3.5L equipped, I spent a day in a dealer provided 2.7L model for comparisons.

Although the 3.5L Ecoboost is fun, I think the 2.7 fits my needs better. The turbos largely make up for the slight torque reduction you get compared to the competition’s V8s, and although the 5.7L HEMI and 8-speed auto are faster and nicer to tow with, the 2.7L engine is quite simply the most well-rounded truck engine out there. There’s more than enough torque for towing 7,500 lb trailers with ease, dropping 2,000 lbs into the bed, or piling the kids into your SuperCab. Over 110 miles in the 2.7L RWD tester, I averaged 21 MPG, below the EPA numbers but still above the V8 competition.

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The 3.5L twin-turbo engine allows up to 12,200 lbs of towing in some configurations thanks to the healthy torque figures. 0-60 times came in at 6.45 seconds, among the faster times in this segment, but thanks to GM’s new 8-speed automatic, the 6.2L  Silverado is fastest. Fuel economy in the 3.5L Ecoboost model was lackluster, coming in at 16.4 MPG during our week, nearly 1MPG behind the 2014 6.2L Silverado before GM added the 8-speed to the mix.

Apples to apples comparisons are hard because of the multitude of cab, bed, axle, tire, wheel and drive line choices in all the trucks in this segment, but you can bet if everything were equal, the F-150 would be the handling champ simply because it is lighter. When it comes to the ride, the RAM 1500 wins hands down due to the coil springs in the rear and the available cushy air suspension system.

I hinted about it earlier, but the main benefit to the reduced curb weight of the F-150 is not fuel economy but load capability. It’s most obvious when we compare like model to like model as shown below. All three models are within $1,000 of one another with the F-150 being the most expensive at $43,950 and the RAM the least expensive at $43,010. I chose the 2.7L V6 in the Ford because it is seen as the alternative to an entry-level V8.

F-150 TowingFord advertises a maximum 3,300 lb payload capacity and 12,200 lb towing limit, but like every other truck, most configurations are below the maximum. The take away here is that the payload is consistently higher than the competition. Keeping in mind that the payload is the total of cargo and passengers, it is easy to see how this improves practicality. In the F-150 you and your two 190-pound friends can grab 1,500 lbs of concrete at Home Depot with ease. In the Ram or Chevy you’d have to make two trips. Opt for the 5.0L V8, and the payload jumps to 3,020 pounds and towing increases to 9,200 in the same configuration. If that’s not enough the 3.5L Ecoboost will tow 10,700 in approximately the same configuration. You should note that conventional towing over 10,000 pounds will require a commercial Class-A or non-commercial Class-A license in some states, so depending on where you live, towing over 10,000 may not be material.

If my money were on the line, I suspect I would be torn between the 2.7L F-150 and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. In that mash-up, the EcoDiesel with the air suspension would be my choice largely because I tow more than I haul and the EcoDiesel not only has a higher tow rating but the way it tows it also superior thanks to the epic torque and the 8-speed automatic. Does that make the RAM the better truck? No, it’s just the one that suits my need better. After a week with the F-150, I have to say the 2.7L engine is a 10-speed automatic away from perfection and the 3.5L Ecoboost would be perfect if the fuel economy was 4 MPG better.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 6.45 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.12 Seconds @ 92.56 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 16.4 MPG

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Piston Slap: 100,000 Mile Tune Ups, Dex-Cool, Grandma’s S.L.A.B. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-100000-mile-tune-ups-dex-cool-grandmas-s-l-a-b/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/piston-slap-100000-mile-tune-ups-dex-cool-grandmas-s-l-a-b/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:52:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477112 Justin writes: Sajeev, I have a 2001 Buick Regal LS. I bought it in 2007 with 14,000 miles on (yes, from a grandmother). It has 72,000 miles on it as of this morning. It’s not a great car and has required plenty of maintenance (for example, I’ve had to replace the brakes completely 3 times […]

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Justin writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2001 Buick Regal LS. I bought it in 2007 with 14,000 miles on (yes, from a grandmother). It has 72,000 miles on it as of this morning. It’s not a great car and has required plenty of maintenance (for example, I’ve had to replace the brakes completely 3 times already). However, I have a few questions about long term items:

1. Spark plugs. Should I change them? The owner’s manual specifies 100,000 miles; does time play a factor in that at all? I’ve read that sometimes the back 3 never get changed anyway (apparently it’s a PITA).

2. Coolant. I had it changed once in 2008 (it’s Dexcool) because I had been reading the horror stories. How often should I be changing this?

I’m unsure how long this car is going to last, but I’ll keep limping it along until the cost gets too high. So cost is a factor here too.

Thanks!

Sajeev answers:

As you learned, buying a low mile original car isn’t necessarily a great idea. Unless you buy it for an occasional, collector type of vehicle. (*cough* H-town swanga *cough*) Though a 6-year-old car with low miles doesn’t exactly fit this definition: you replaced the brakes three times in the past 58,000 miles?  Whaaaa?

 

Either you got screwed by a mechanic or you are a seriously aggressive driver that needs elbows and vogues to slow yourself down.  Perhaps you should take a page from the Houston playbook, and keep that GM sedan Slow Loud And Bangin’.  But I digress…

  • Spark plugs: the 100,000 mile tune-up interval has been proven valid for every car I’ve seen, mostly because platinum plugs are that great. There’s a chance that age hasn’t been kind to the ceramic part of the plugs, but if the car idles smooth when cold, gets good mileage, decent power, no check engine light, etc…don’t worry about it.
  • Previously discussed here, here and here, Dex-Cool is a bizarre case where you can either flush it out (entirely, no margin for error) and switch to another type of coolant, or continue topping off with a Dex-cool compatible coolant, or you can continue to use Dex-Cool and service it as per the owner’s manual.  If you choose the latter, I’d service a little more regularly than suggested…out of fear of the Dex-Cool devil that comes from neglect.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

 

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Review: 2012 Ford F-150 Platinum 5.0L V8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-ford-f-150-titanium-5-0l-v8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-ford-f-150-titanium-5-0l-v8/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2012 17:15:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424371 I live in the country, well outside city limits in the septic tank/well/propane tank kind of area. Like many that live out where the blacktop ends, we have some farm animals, over a mile of fencing and a pasture in need of TLC. Since I’m a DINK and have a day job that has nothing […]

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I live in the country, well outside city limits in the septic tank/well/propane tank kind of area. Like many that live out where the blacktop ends, we have some farm animals, over a mile of fencing and a pasture in need of TLC. Since I’m a DINK and have a day job that has nothing to do with my animal husbandry, I’m apparently the perfect demographic for a luxury pickup. True to form, the last 5 times I shopped, I wanted a pickup truck. Badly. Every time it came time to put money down however, I ended up with a sedan, station wagon or SUV. Still, I’m not ashamed to admit my loins burn for a “cowboy Cadillac”, and now that my GMC Envoy has 140,000 miles on the clock it’s time for a 6,000lb tow-capable replacement. Since the HD pickup trucks are honestly overkill for the majority of us, I hit Ford up for an F-150 Platinum to see if I should take the plunge.


The F-150 has been Ford’s best-selling nameplate and the best-selling vehicle for 30 years and the best-selling truck for 35 years. If you wonder how the F-150 manages to be all things to so many buyers, you have to look at the F-150 as if it were several different vehicles that share the same name. With 10 different models ranging from the $22,990 no-frills XL to a nearly $56,000 Platinum model, few other vehicles have a price spread like the F-150. Adding to your shopping dilemma is a line-up with four different engines, three cab sizes, four bed sizes and more axle options than you can shake a stick at. For our review we were given the high end F-150 Platinum 4×4 with the 5.0L V8.

In 2009 Ford released the 12th generation F-150 which was bigger in almost every way compared to the 2008 model, adding a taller hood, bigger cabs and a nifty tailgate spoiler. In typical Ford fashion, the powertrains were largely carried over and we had to wait until 2011 to get the full picture of the “completely new” F-150. Let’s shake up the typical review format by talking engines first: the 2009 and 2010 F-150s were V8-only trucks, with the old 4.6L or 5.4L V8 under the hood. 2011 brought not one but four new engines to the F-150; two V6 options and two hefty V8s. All engines for 2011, including the base V6, are mated to Ford’s six-speed automatic transmission and optional 4WD.

Platinum F-150s come with a standard “Coyote” 5.0L V8 (as our model was equipped) which delivers a healthy 360HP and 380lb-ft at 5500 and 4250 RPM. Our 4×4 equipped tester delivered a 6.75-second sprint to 60. If you have displacement envy, you can jump up to the 411HP and 434lb-ft 6.2L V8 for an extra $2755, but the ringer in the group is the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 model which delivers 365HP at 5000RPM and a whopping 420lb-ft of twist at a diesel like 2500RPM for only $895 more than the base 5.0L V8. If the bang-for-the-buck doesn’t pique your interest, the EPA numbers on the 4×4 models might: 14/19 for the 5.0, 12/16 for the 6.2 and 15/21 for the Ecoboost (eco is a relative term apparently). While the 6.2L V8 sounds incredible, a short towing demo I had in an Ecoboost V6 (and the larger payload capacity of the Ecoboost model) made me doubt whether anyone would be better off with the big-daddy V8. The only downside we noticed: slight turbo lag at the stoplights.


On the outside, Platinum models are distinguished with a revised grille that attempts to soften the bold lines worn by its blue-collar brethren with perforated bars. Unique wheels and an enormous brushed-aluminum panel on the tailgate tagged with “PLATINUM” complete the “I run the company” image. While the badging is more subtle than an Escalade, it still lets other F-150 drivers know how you roll.

GM’s pickups feature your choice of a “work-truck” interior, or a car-like dashboard borrowed from GM’s full-size SUVs while Dodge’s mantra seems to just be “cheap plastic”. Instead of taking either approach, Ford uses one interior theme for all models but as you climb the price-ladder, bits and pieces are swapped out for swankier duds. The base XL gets a rubbery steering wheel, mono-tone dashboard and a durable black plastic center console while top-end F-150s can be had with two-tone dashes, a stitched pleather gauge hood, and faux-wood trim or acres of brushed aluminum. Unlike some of GM’s attempts at “tarting-up” their work trucks, the F-150 feels comfortable all-dressed up.


Joining the new engines for 2011 is a tweaked instrument cluster which now sports a 4.2-inch LCD between the speedo and tach (not offered on the F-150 XL, optional on XLT and standard on other F-150s). The screen is used for the usual trip computer and vehicles settings as well as displaying off-road information like vehicle pitch and yaw. Joining the snazzy in-dash LCD on the Platinum model is a revised steering wheel, standard backup camera, ambient lighting, power-lowering running boards, integrated trailer brake controller, remote start, 110V power outlet, power folding mirrors, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, backup sensors, heated and cooled seats, and dual-zone climate control. If you don’t plan on adding a lumber rack, an optional sunroof is available, as is Ford’s SYNC navigation. MyTouch critics will be pleased to note that the updates SYNC system hasn’t made its way to the F-150 just yet. The up-side is improved reliability and a snappier interface, the downside is the loss of WiFi connectivity and the second USB port, a small price to pay in my mind. While the build quality isn’t up to Audi levels, entry level luxury shoppers will find just about every creature comfort they could ask for.

The Platinum can only be had with the four-door “SuperCrew” cab and as a result, the payload suffers somewhat starting at 1,800lbs with the 5.0L V8 and 2WD, jumping to 2,000 with the Ecoboost V6, dropping sharply to 1,680lbs due to the added weight of the 6.2L V8. These are some serious hauling numbers that required a ¾ ton pickup truck to achieve not too long ago. Thisare a hair shy of the 3100lb payload capacity mentioned in some F-150 ads, possible in only two of the 57 axle/cab/engine combinations.  Compared to the Ram and Chevy, the Ford offers consistently higher payload capacities but more configuration options to wade through, so be sure to check the configuration and the door labels on your truck before you add a pallet of concrete to your weekend.

For the trailer-loving truck-buyer, the endless battle between the big-three for top-dog towing numbers has resulted in some impressive figures. Depending on your axle ratio and drive (2WD or 4WD) choice, towing tops out at a whopping 11,300lbs for the Ecoboost, 11,200 for the 6.2L V8 and a notably lower but still substantial 9,500lbs with the base 5.0L V8. Making towing easier, Ford includes an integrated trailer brake controller standard on the Platinum and a few other F-150 models. If you tow regularly and care about maintenance on your rig, there’s now an app for that. While Ford obviously ripped Apple with their “Truck App” name, it does provide some handy features like keeping track of the mileage on 10 different trailers and remembering the brake gain for each trailer. In order to keep your “distance to empty” figures more accurate, it also recalculates the averages when you have a trailer connected.

If you’re looking at the Platinum, you’d better have deep pockets Then again, if you’re the weekend warrior type, it’s cheaper than your comparable BMW X5. Our tester started with a sticker of $44,325 on top of which was added a $470 electronic locking axle, 6-1/2-foot bed, $325 folding side-steps and a $2,465 option package which included a sunroof and navigation system taking our tester to the nose-bleed section at $52,405. If that price frightens you, $27,670 buys you my personal favorite: the F-150 XL with the Ecoboost V6, 8-foot bed, 3.55:1 locking rear axle, cloth seats, power accessories, CD player and cruise control. Configured in this way the F-150 delivers 3060lbs of payload capacity and 9,800lbs of towing ability.

At the end of the week I found myself more in love with trucks than when I started. There was just one problem. The F-150 is huge. As with most vehicles these days the F-150 has been growing like the Stay Pufft Marshmallow Man. While I used to feel like a man when I was in college out muddin’ in my buddy’s F-150, the 2011 Ford makes me feel small, and adult-Alex has at least 40lbs on his former college self. With the CUV craze killing off SUV towing capacity, the day for me to finally take the truck plunge is rapidly approaching. The four-door luxury pickup truck may be the right truck for an Austin professional with a ranchette in the burbs, but I can’t shake the feeling that I would be best served lusting for the new Ford Ranger from afar and buying a diesel Touareg. I’d still dream pickup dreams in my sleep however.

 

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

Statistics as tested

0-30: 2.514 Seconds

0-60: 6.75 Seconds

Fuel Economy: over 555 miles, 17.0MPG

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Luxury Brand Luxury Trim Brands? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/ask-the-best-and-brightest-luxury-brand-luxury-trim-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/ask-the-best-and-brightest-luxury-brand-luxury-trim-brands/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 18:14:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341558 Once upon a time, luxury brands built unique cars and added special editions for extra profit. Now luxury brands tend to build more cars based on volume brand platforms, the special edition seems to be giving way to a new phenomenon: unique luxury trim levels. GM has been a proponent of this system for some […]

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Where's the beef?

Once upon a time, luxury brands built unique cars and added special editions for extra profit. Now luxury brands tend to build more cars based on volume brand platforms, the special edition seems to be giving way to a new phenomenon: unique luxury trim levels. GM has been a proponent of this system for some time, adding Denali trim levels to its GMC upgrades of Chevrolet trucks. Now, The General’s Cadillac brand has announced it will be adding Platinum trim level options to every vehicle that isn’t available in “V” form. The impetus for this is clearly the dream of coaxing BMW “M” or Cadillac “V”-style markups from consumers who don’t care about dynamics or power, but it also fundamentally undercuts Cadillac’s status as a true luxury brand… as well as Buick’s raison d’etre as an entry-lux brand. Or does it?

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