The Truth About Cars » Ram http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 21 May 2015 17:00:00 +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 » Ram http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com While You Were Sleeping: No Holden Volt, Super Troopers 2, and Meeke Gets a Win http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-no-holden-volt-super-troopers-2-meeke-gets-win/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-no-holden-volt-super-troopers-2-meeke-gets-win/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:03:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054985 The second-generation Chevrolet Volt won’t go on sale in Australia as GM will not convert it to right-hand drive. The Holden Volt is dead (CarAdvice) It appears a Holden version of the second-generation Volt will not come to fruition as General Motors has decided not to build the car in right-hand drive. Bolt still on the table. […]

The post While You Were Sleeping: No Holden Volt, Super Troopers 2, and Meeke Gets a Win appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mary Barra and Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS 2015

The second-generation Chevrolet Volt won’t go on sale in Australia as GM will not convert it to right-hand drive.

The post While You Were Sleeping: No Holden Volt, Super Troopers 2, and Meeke Gets a Win appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-no-holden-volt-super-troopers-2-meeke-gets-win/feed/ 17
Capsule Review: 2015 Ram Quad-Cab Tradesman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-dodge-ram-quad-cab-tradesman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-dodge-ram-quad-cab-tradesman/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 15:40:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1031329   Recently I had to go pick up a pallet of mortar for a temporary job I was managing. My Suburban was not up to the task, and I didn’t want impossible-to-vacuum-while-still-getting-into-every-crack concrete dust sitting in my wife’s BMW X1 for the next decade. So I snagged the keys to a coworker’s 2015 Ram 2WD 1500 […]

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Ram Quad-Cab Tradesman appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_0193

 

Recently I had to go pick up a pallet of mortar for a temporary job I was managing. My Suburban was not up to the task, and I didn’t want impossible-to-vacuum-while-still-getting-into-every-crack concrete dust sitting in my wife’s BMW X1 for the next decade. So I snagged the keys to a coworker’s 2015 Ram 2WD 1500 Quad Cab. I’ve driven Rams in the past, but this is my first interaction with the new ZF 8-speed transmission. It was introduced on the 2014 model year Rams, but the hardworking, good-looking editors here at TTAC elected to skip the launch to review another rented Ford Fusion Ecoboost[Not true-DK].

IMG_0187

 This particular Ram listed at $35K, but came off the lot at $27,000 before a trade-in. Ram dealers in the Atlanta area are throwing money at customers, despite growing sales. Even though Ram has seen double-digit percentage sales increases over the last two years they are very short of the number GM is pushing off the lots. For sheer numbers, believe Dennis Leary, Ford is the king of pickup sales.

IMG_0200

 Last year, Matt Gasnier piloted a Ram V-6 EcoDiesel across this vast and great land and had very positive reviews. Eight years ago I traveled from Montgomery Alabama to Altamont California in a 2005 Ford F-150 STX. I did not have the same pleasant experience, and it was actually my own truck. That speaks volumes for the ride quality improvement in trucks across the board. Alex Dykes also had a great review of the diesel 1500 Ram and gave it high marks. But dear reader, this is not a review of a sinister oil burner here pollutin’ up my green city with parh-tic-you-lates and whatnot.

IMG_0199No sirrie bubba, this here is an old-fashioned, pee-trol-fueled, 5.7-liter “Hemi” putting out 396 horses and 425 lb. feet of torque. That may not sound like a lot of twist in a conversation about diesels, but in a frame just over 3 tons and mated to the aforementioned 8 speed, this thing will go, and in a hurry. I discovered this as I pulled away from the worksite. Applying a little too much throttle I was rewarded with wheelspin. The owner wasn’t nearly as impressed as I was (Maybe it was the “Yee-Haaaww!” and throwing the horns out of the window). My experience with Rams of the past found their power and acceleration on par with the offerings from GM and Ford. But this transmission really makes a difference. The zero to 60 times don’t tell the same story on paper, but trust me; you could school some Gee-Em and FoMoCo pickup driver in this thing.

IMG_0183

In stark contrast to the modern drivetrain, the cabin is sparse even by truck standards. I was a little surprised to find the asking price north of $30,000 and even $27K might be a little much for this interior. When Ram “revolutionized” their trucks in the early 90’s, one of their selling points was a cabin designed for working. This tradition still carries with this Tradesman model, but at the expense of the material quality. It’s not the amenities, but the materials. The black door inserts are particularly out of place and look malaise era cheap. I can’t help but wonder how well these items will wear in a work environment compared to other pickups, including the imports. The seats are fine and comfortable, but the back seats are a bit of a joke. The headroom is great, but there is no room for a normal human being’s knees with another normal human sitting in the front.

IMG_0195

The stereo however, is excellent. with quality sound and compatibility for an entry level. The controls on the steering wheel, while a bit small, are instinctive and work well. The wheel-mounted shifters responded quicker that I expected, but ultimately the truck will override bad decisions and shift the truck with enough throttle input.

IMG_0202 It’s a good-looking truck; with chrome wheels raised white letter tires and factory dual exhaust. It’s an excellent, stable and comfortable ride. While it’s mostly an evolution of the 09 redesign, the transmission really transforms this into a vehicle that can be driven on the freeway and in complete comfort as was referenced by the cross-country trip. The owner is seeing upwards of mid 20’s in Atlanta traffic with makes my 11-year old Suburban downright embarrassing in comparison.

IMG_0191

The new all aluminum F-150 is much more expensive even before the repair costs are weighed in. In the realm of work trucks, the market Ram has clearly targeted, this is a real factor to consider. Even if you are fine with the nicks and dings that come with a truck that earns its’ living, it will have a negative effect on resale. Atlanta area Chevy and GMC dealers are putting cash on the hood, but it’s an eminence front (see what I did there?), as they are not getting their similarly equipped models under $30K. Why? Because here the Eh Tee El, they don’t have to. Those trucks will sell regardless, your market may vary.  Nissan doesn’t offer a Titan quad cab below $32 and good luck finding an entry level one at the dealer. Toyota Tundras start at $28, but when optioned to even this sparse level they hit $30K while being down on HP and MPG to the Ram.

So for a truck that will see work beyond hauling petunias from Home Depot on weekends, the Ram 1500 might be worth a test drive. Especially if your dealer is as aggressive about making a deal as this one was.

Ram didn’t contribute a thing to this test. The truck is privately owned and was a replacement for a previous 2004 Ram Quad Cab that blew a head gasket at 200,000 miles.  Mental did owe the owner lunch after boiling his tires like a drunken redneck in a Miranda Lambert song.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, still loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and makes Derek wonder if English is actually his first language. Follow him on Twiiter, Instagram and Vine at M3ntalward. 

IMG_0202 IMG_0201 IMG_0200 IMG_0199 IMG_0196 IMG_0195 IMG_0193 IMG_0192 IMG_0189 IMG_0187 IMG_0185 IMG_0183 IMG_0182 IMG_0181

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Ram Quad-Cab Tradesman appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-dodge-ram-quad-cab-tradesman/feed/ 140
Truck Sales: What Does “58 Consecutive Months Of Growth” Mean For The Ram P/U? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/truck-sales-58-consecutive-months-growth-mean-ram-pu/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/truck-sales-58-consecutive-months-growth-mean-ram-pu/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:25:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030345 “Sales of the Ram pickup truck were up 7 percent in February; its 58th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.” – FCA US LLC press release, March 3, 2015. What do 58 consecutive months of year-over-year U.S. sales improvement look like? The accompanying chart is one way of looking at it. Ever since May 2010, […]

The post Truck Sales: What Does “58 Consecutive Months Of Growth” Mean For The Ram P/U? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited“Sales of the Ram pickup truck were up 7 percent in February; its 58th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.” – FCA US LLC press release, March 3, 2015.

What do 58 consecutive months of year-over-year U.S. sales improvement look like? The accompanying chart is one way of looking at it. Ever since May 2010, Ram P/U sales have been on the rise. Most recently, this translated to a 24% year-over-year increase in calendar year 2014, a 14% jump in January 2015, and a 7% improvement last month.

No high-volume vehicle has even approached the level of consistent growth achieved by the Ram P/U, America’s third-best-selling vehicle line. The Audi brand’s 50 consecutive months of year-over-year improvement and 19 consecutive months of monthly sales records is similar, powered by an expansion of its model range, greater interest in entry-level luxury, and steadily improving brand image. Indeed, the Ram P/U’s parent company, FCA (née Chrysler Group) has posted consecutive U.S. year-over-year sales increases in every month going back to April 2010.

Ram sales chartOf course, part of the reason for the steady growth of the Ram truck line was its steady decline. Ram volume declined in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, tumbling 61% between 2003’s high of 449,371 sales and 2009’s 177,268-unit performance.

While it’s true that the truck market declined consistently during the same period, the class-leading Ford F-Series didn’t fall quite as hard, sliding 56% between 2004’s record high and 2009’s low point. Moreover, while the F-Series continues to be America’s top-selling truck and best-selling vehicle line overall, it hasn’t recovered to the same degree as the Ram: F-Series sales jumped 82% between 2009 and 2014 and even last year were still 20% off 2004’s pace.

Ram sales, meanwhile, jumped 148% between 2009 and 2014. Last year, the Ram P/U was only 9582 sales off its 2003 total.

And yet, even now, Ford’s overwhelming capacity and steady increases from the full-size GM twins keep the Ram at bay. In 2003, 18.8% of the full-size trucks sold in the United States were Rams. Over the last two months, that figure is only modestly higher at 20.1%.

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

The post Truck Sales: What Does “58 Consecutive Months Of Growth” Mean For The Ram P/U? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/truck-sales-58-consecutive-months-growth-mean-ram-pu/feed/ 33
Chicago 2015: 2016 Ram Laramie Limited Sports Fancy Duds http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-ram-laramie-limited-sports-fancy-duds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-ram-laramie-limited-sports-fancy-duds/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 22:12:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998714 Sajeev delivered his Vellum Venom on this one earlier. Now, it’s time for the rest of the 2016 Ram Laramie Limited’s story. The Laramie Limited offers rhinestone cowboys black leather, real wood trim, silver pinstripes and special badging inside the quad-cab, as well as the latest 8.4-inch uConnect system. The main feature, however, is the […]

The post Chicago 2015: 2016 Ram Laramie Limited Sports Fancy Duds appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-10

Sajeev delivered his Vellum Venom on this one earlier. Now, it’s time for the rest of the 2016 Ram Laramie Limited’s story.

The Laramie Limited offers rhinestone cowboys black leather, real wood trim, silver pinstripes and special badging inside the quad-cab, as well as the latest 8.4-inch uConnect system.

The main feature, however, is the truck’s updated face. Picking up where the Ram Rebel left off in Detroit, the truck’s chrome grill now resembles a nose thanks to the nostrils on either side. Meanwhile, the “RAM” name takes center stage in many a rearview mirror, while those following behind will get an eyeful of chrome-plated testosterone via the truck’s tailgate.

Other features include: air suspension (1500 only); remote start; power adjustable pedals; heated steering wheel and front seats; Berber carpet floor mats; French stitching; seven exterior colors; and 20-inch wheels.

The Laramie Limited will be offered on 1500, 2500 and 3500 single-wheel and dualie weight classes in two- or four-wheel drive on short- and long-wheelbase frames, with either Crew Cab or Mega Cab mounted on the frame. The 1500 will be first, going on sale in Q2 2015 as a 2015 model, while the 2500 and 3500 will hit the showroom in Q3 2015 as 2016 models.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-10 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-11 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-12 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-6 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-7 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-8 2016-Ram-1500-Laramie-Limited-4

The post Chicago 2015: 2016 Ram Laramie Limited Sports Fancy Duds appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-ram-laramie-limited-sports-fancy-duds/feed/ 62
Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997690   Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem. It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week. Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has […]

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

This just happened. (photo courtesy: Ram)

Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem.

It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week.

Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has been on the rise for over a decade.  Park a new Corolla next to a 1995-2000 model for proof.  The problem is empty real estate, sheets of painted metal with no landscaping. A big problem for a top-tier RAM, for the Laramie Limited trim. How do you visually separate a premium model when even the mid-level model has that in-yo-face look from a huge grille and acres of chrome?

Larger and larger emblems, apparently: on the grille and the tailgate.  Damn Son, dat tailgate!

As mentioned before, it’s all about proportioning: big butts need MOAR BLING. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the proportions are so extreme that creativity is stifled and the sheet metal cannot to rest on its design laurels.  A shame, as the RAM (like many new Chrysler designs) are quite fetching by themselves.

Here’s my suggestion:

1985 Dodge Power Ram (photo courtesy: www.fortrucksonly.com/truckforum)

Stamp a (unique to trim levels like the Laramie Limited) tailgate with negative area, then add a metal insert with small(er that what you did) lettering. Of course Ye Old School Dodge has a much smaller tailgate, but applying the concept of negative area to the Laramie makes sense.  Well, perhaps not the financial sense of slapping the biggest emblems you can make on dat butt.

Peak Emblem is real, it happened.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

The post Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/feed/ 103
Manley: Jeep Wrangler Truck Perfect For Brand, Business Case Not There http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-jeep-wrangler-truck-perfect-brand-business-case-not/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-jeep-wrangler-truck-perfect-brand-business-case-not/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983761 The B&B’s only bet for buying a Jeep Wrangler pickup at the moment is to buy a Wrangler, then send it to a third-party for conversion. CEO Mike Manley says he’d love to have such a beast in his brand’s portfolio, as well, but there’s a hitch. According to CarAdvice.au.com, Manley says that while “every […]

The post Manley: Jeep Wrangler Truck Perfect For Brand, Business Case Not There appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Jeep Wrangler Eliminator

The B&B’s only bet for buying a Jeep Wrangler pickup at the moment is to buy a Wrangler, then send it to a third-party for conversion. CEO Mike Manley says he’d love to have such a beast in his brand’s portfolio, as well, but there’s a hitch.

According to CarAdvice.au.com, Manley says that while “every international market” would take a Wrangler pickup, and that the idea “fits the portfolio exactly,” the business case for the truck still isn’t there.

Part of that case involves Ram: a Wrangler truck would do gangbusters on the showroom floor — the Wrangler made up 25.3 percent of the record 692,248 Jeep products sold in 2014 — but at the expense of the designated truck brand, an issue that has persisted for some time.

The post Manley: Jeep Wrangler Truck Perfect For Brand, Business Case Not There appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/manley-jeep-wrangler-truck-perfect-brand-business-case-not/feed/ 86
NAIAS 2015: 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE Adds Aero For High Fuel Efficiency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2015-ram-1500-ecodiesel-hfe-adds-aero-high-fuel-efficiency/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2015-ram-1500-ecodiesel-hfe-adds-aero-high-fuel-efficiency/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:45:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982081 Ram isn’t satisfied with wanting Baja Valley, as the brand sets its sights on Green Valley with the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE leading the charge. Joining the original 1500 EcoDiesel in the lush foothills below Truck Mountain, the HFE improves the former with extensive use of aero throughout. The result is an EPA-certified 29 mpg […]

The post NAIAS 2015: 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE Adds Aero For High Fuel Efficiency appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

Ram isn’t satisfied with wanting Baja Valley, as the brand sets its sights on Green Valley with the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE leading the charge.

Joining the original 1500 EcoDiesel in the lush foothills below Truck Mountain, the HFE improves the former with extensive use of aero throughout. The result is an EPA-certified 29 mpg on the highway, 21 mpg in the city, and a combined rating of 24 mpg, besting the nearest competitor by 12 percent in the fuel economy game.

The HFE is based on the 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab, boasts a 6-ft, 4-in bed, and rides upon 20-inch wheels. The truck can also be had with the Ram Express’ body-colored face for a more sporty appearance over the standard EcoDiesel. Other exclusives include wheel-to-wheel side steps, a tri-fold tonneau cover, and an HFE badge showing off how awesome it is at saving diesel fuel; considering the fuel’s current price per gallon, that might mean something.

The 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE is expected to arrive in showrooms late in Q1 2015.

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The post NAIAS 2015: 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE Adds Aero For High Fuel Efficiency appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2015-ram-1500-ecodiesel-hfe-adds-aero-high-fuel-efficiency/feed/ 17
NAIAS 2015: Ram Delivers A Rebel Yell Across Baja Valley http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-ram-delivers-rebel-yell-across-baja-valley/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-ram-delivers-rebel-yell-across-baja-valley/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:50:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980249 Ram unveiled the 10th trim addition to its truck lineup at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 1500-based Rebel off-roader, signalling the brand’s intent to tackle Baja Valley in so doing [Live photos now available – CA]. Power for the Rebel comes from a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 VVT, which produces 305 horsepower, 269 lb-ft […]

The post NAIAS 2015: Ram Delivers A Rebel Yell Across Baja Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ram unveiled the 10th trim addition to its truck lineup at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the 1500-based Rebel off-roader, signalling the brand’s intent to tackle Baja Valley in so doing [Live photos now available – CA].

Power for the Rebel comes from a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 VVT, which produces 305 horsepower, 269 lb-ft of torque, and 25 mpg on the highway. The optional 5.7-liter HEMI V8 VVT ups the ante to 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Both engines send their power to the rear or all four corners via an eight-speed automatic. Gear ratio for the HEMI is 3.92 in 4×2, 3.21 in 4×4; the Pentastar is 4×4-only, with a ratio of 3.92.

Suspension includes Bilstein front and rear shocks, a 1-inch lift, air suspension, softer rear stabilizer bar, and modified alignment of its independent front suspension. Toyo’s 33-inch Open Country A/T all-terrain tires, mounted on 17-inch silver and black cast aluminum wheels, help improve on-road comfort while providing better snow traction. The combination results in a ground clearance of 10.3-inches.

The Rebel is exclusively a crew cab model with a 5-ft, 7-in bed and optional RamBox. Five colors — Granite Crystal Metallic, Bright Silver Metallic, Flame Red, Bright White, Brilliant Black — are available in either monochrome or two-tone, while the interior is done in Radar Red and Black with Light Diesel Gray and Radar Red accent stitching throughout.

Other features include: a black RAM grill in the vein of Ford’s Raptor; powder-coated billet silver skid plate; front tow hooks; LED lighting; optional backup camera; all-weather mats; and tri-fold tonneau cover.

The Rebel is due in showrooms in early H2 2015.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 interior 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 interior 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 interior 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 interior 2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4 interior

The post NAIAS 2015: Ram Delivers A Rebel Yell Across Baja Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-ram-delivers-rebel-yell-across-baja-valley/feed/ 56
Benson: Ram ProMaster City Portfolio Could Expand Via Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/benson-ram-promaster-city-portfolio-expand-via-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/benson-ram-promaster-city-portfolio-expand-via-demand/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=969937 Right now, one can pick up a new Ram ProMaster City for catering tacos and installing cable down Flower Shop Lane. If that’s not enough, however, Ram might soon have a few more tricks up its sleeve. According to Edmunds, Ram commercial truck operations chief Joe Benson says consumer demand could increase the current ProMaster […]

The post Benson: Ram ProMaster City Portfolio Could Expand Via Demand appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ram ProMaster City 01

Right now, one can pick up a new Ram ProMaster City for catering tacos and installing cable down Flower Shop Lane. If that’s not enough, however, Ram might soon have a few more tricks up its sleeve.

According to Edmunds, Ram commercial truck operations chief Joe Benson says consumer demand could increase the current ProMaster City portfolio beyond the two-passenger commercial panel van and five-passenger people carrier. Possibilities include diesel power, shorter wheelbases, seven-passenger models, a taller panel van, and a pickup variant with drop-down sides for easy cargo-box access.

Regarding the overall picture for Flower Shop Lane, Benson believes combined U.S. sales could climb to 100,000 by 2016, compared to the predicted 50,000 units sold in 2014. The increased demand is likely to come from Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari owners looking to replace their aging units with those from not only Ram, but Ford, Chevrolet and Nissan.

The post Benson: Ram ProMaster City Portfolio Could Expand Via Demand appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/benson-ram-promaster-city-portfolio-expand-via-demand/feed/ 85
Coast to Coast 2014: Being Modern in Palm Springs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/coast-coast-2014-modern-palm-springs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/coast-coast-2014-modern-palm-springs/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:35:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954777 Albert in West Cielo Drive, Palm Springs CA * You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * After surviving Death Valley we now arrive at our last stop before reaching the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles: Palm Springs California, the mid-century architecture mecca of the world. The traditional Photo Report, car landscape study, Palm Springs […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Being Modern in Palm Springs appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
1. Albert Palm Springs 1Albert in West Cielo Drive, Palm Springs CA

You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

After surviving Death Valley we now arrive at our last stop before reaching the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles: Palm Springs California, the mid-century architecture mecca of the world. The traditional Photo Report, car landscape study, Palm Springs trivia and a guide to the unmissable architectural attractions in town are below.

2. Ford Thunderbird Palm SpringsThe Ford Thunderbird is the Hero in Town in Palm Springs CA

Before we go into some Palm Springs trivia and the reasons behind this small desert town’s popularity, I have to spend a bit of time on the Hero in Town: the 11th and last generation Ford Thunderbird, on sale from November 2011 to June 2005. I had seen a couple in New Orleans but apart from that the Thunderbird had been extremely discreet, in line with its poor sales during its short-lived career. That was before Palm Springs. Very noticeable notably in its vintage colours – turquoise, torch red and bright yellow – they are everywhere to be seen in town. Obviously not the most frequent car in the Palm Springs streets, but way more popular here than in all the cities I have visited so far in this Coast to Coast trip… combined.

As opposed to the 9 generations in between, the 11th generation Ford Thunderbird followed a then-recent trend for retro styling initiated by models such as the VW New Beetle, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Mini Cooper, and used design cues from the first generation Ford Thunderbird launched in 1955. In this context, its popularity in Palm Springs is more understandable, as it suits the mid-century architecture, furniture and car obsession in town.

1955 Ford ThunderbirdThe original 1955 Ford Thunderbird

Living in Palm Springs means you probably own a house designed in the fifties, with the corresponding vintage furniture you have accumulated throughout the years, so it only makes sense to own a car that takes its design cues from this era. It’s the second-best option to owning a car actually made in the fifties. Add to this the unusually low ratio of family with kids in Palm Springs (15% of households) and you have the perfect breeding ground for vintage-looking 2-seat coupés/cabriolets like the Ford Thunderbird.

3. Palm SpringsCasa Blanca Motel in Palm Springs CA

Though it was initially well received by the automotive press in its first year of existence, many publications changed their mind after a few years, with Car and Driver Magazine even making it one of the “10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History”. Ford expected sales of 25,000 units per year, but despite a great start in 2002 which saw dealers charging well over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and 31,121 units produced, subsequent years did not reach half that figure. Forbes attributed this failure to lack of marketing: “Ford dealers have been successful selling $40,000 trucks but have little experience selling automobiles in the near-luxury price range. If there was a marketing effort by Ford Motor, I wasn’t aware of it. Naturally, sales didn’t meet expectations.” said Forbes writer Jerry Flint.

Ford Thunderbird production – last generation:

Year Production
2002 31,121
2003 14,506
2004 12,671
2005 9,220
Total 67,518

Source: Wikipedia

4. Albert Palm Springs 2Albert in Palm Springs CA

Now that we have cleared the cult status enjoyed by the 2002 Ford Thunderbird in Palm Springs, let’s get into some trivia. Palm Springs is a desert resort city located just 107 miles (172 kilometres) east of Los Angeles within the Coachella Valley in California. It is home to just 44,552 inhabitants and enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year. The city became a fashionable resort in the 1900s when health tourists arrived with conditions that required dry heat. Palm Springs was more comfortable in its microclimate because the area was covered in the shadow of Mount San Jacinto to the west and in the winter the mountains block cold winds from the San Gorgonio pass. In the 1920s, Hollywood movie stars, attracted by the hot dry, sunny weather and seclusion, started building homes and estates here.

5. Palm Springs House 1Palm Springs house in Monte Vista

After World War II, architectural modernists flourished with commissions from the stars, using the city to explore architectural innovations, new artistic venues, and an exotic back-to-the-land experiences. Inventive architects designed unique vacation houses, such as steel houses with prefabricated panels and folding roofs, a glass-and-steel house in a boulder-strewn landscape, and a carousel house that turned to avoid the sun’s glare. In 1946 Richard Neutra designed the Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann House. A modernist classic, this mostly glass residence incorporated the latest technological advances in building materials, using natural lighting and floating planes and flowing space for proportion and detail. Culver (2010) argues that Palm Springs architecture became the model for mass-produced suburban housing, especially in the Southwest. This “Desert Modern” style was a high-end architectural style featuring open-design plans, wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning, swimming pools, and very large windows.

6. Dodge Challenger Palm SpringsDodge Challenger in Palm Springs CA

Although the home of dozens of striking mid-century houses, it’s relatively hard to find a reliable list of must-see architecture in Palm Springs online. The Palm Springs Modern Committee however sells (for a mere $5) an awesome map of Modern Palm Springs, featuring no less than 82 mid-century landmarks, their location, exact address, date of construction and corresponding architect. A goldmine, also available as an app on palmspringslife.com/psmodapp. I highly recommend it and can happily report I have spent a good 5 hours making sure none of the 82 landmarks went unchecked.

8. Albert Kaufmann House Palm SpringsAlbert reverse parking into the world-famous Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs CA

The highlights among these 82 landmarks are – very subjectively – with their construction date and architect:

  1. Franz Alexander House (1954 – Walter White), Palevsky Residence (1968 – Craig Ellwood), Edris House (1953, E. Stewart Williams) and pretty much all houses towards the up-end of West Cielo Drive. Breathtaking views from here and casually manicured desert gardens. To me, the essence of Palm Springs.
  2. Village Manor – Orbit In hotel (1955 – Herbert W. Burns)
  3. Kaufmann Desert House (1946 – Richard Neutra)
  4. Casa Blanca Motel (1970s renovation – Hugh Kaptur)
  5. Most houses around Monte Vista and Camino Sur in Palm Springs North
  6. House of Tomorrow / Robert & Helene Alexander Residence, Elvis Presley Residence 1966-1967 (1962 – William Krisel)
  7. City National Bank / Bank of America (1959 – Victor Gruen Associates)
  8. Coachella Valley Savings & Loan No. 3 / Chase Bank (1960 – E. Stewart Williams)
  9. Dinah Shore Residence (1964 – Donald Wexler) but would have been better to see inside the house – Google it for pics
  10. Frank Sinatra Residence (1947 – E. Stewart Williams) here again better inside than out – see Google for pics

One disappointment: Southridge Drive in Palm Springs South offers fantastic views down below on the city but no way to stop the car to take it all in as it is fiercely guarded. That means both the Steve McQueen Residence (1968 – Hugh Kaptur) and Bob Hope Residence (1978 – John Lautner) are off limits along with a couple of other landmarks.

Albert Elvis house Palm SpringsAlbert in front of the House of Tomorrow (Elvis Presley’s residence 1966-1967) in Palm Springs CA

9. Bank of America Palm Springs1959 Bank of America building in Palm Springs CA

7. Nissan Versa Palm SpringsNissan Versa and Chrysler 200 in Palm Springs CA

Now onto the Palm Springs car landscape. Apart from the surprising (but logical) frequency of 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbirds, Palm Springs is the first town in this Coast to Coast trip where the Toyota Prius is truly successful. Once again this is logical: we are in California where the Prius family tops the sales charts, and on top of it we are in a very wealthy town – which has proved to be a good pre-requisite for environmentally aware customers that want to show that even though they spend gallons of water on their golf course, they still care for the earth enough to drive a hybrid car. Hollywood stars were a big part of making the Prius mainstream, and they still have residences here. In fact, it seemed that as we were here on the weekend, every second person we spoke with lived in LA and only spent a weekend in their 2nd home in Palm Springs here and there. Such a hard life…

10. Nissan Sentra Palm SpringsNissan Sentra in Palm Springs CA

Even though the hispanic population in Palm Springs is only 25% vs. over 50% for most parts of California, Nissan still very strong here with the Versa fighting for the title of best-selling nameplate in Palm Springs, and the Sentra potentially inside the Top 5. A hypothetical ranking based on meticulous street observation of the most recent cars in town gives us:

1. Honda Accord

2. Nissan Versa

3. Toyota Prius

4. Honda Civic

5. Nissan Sentra

Beyond the absolute best-sellers, other observations on the Palm Springs car landscape include the particular popularity of GMC with the Sierra, Acadia and Enclave very successful, the rarity of Ford F-Series (in accordance with Californian sales charts) with only a couple of private F-150 spotted, the Audi A3 sedan already making its mark and a shiny-as-new 1987 Ford F-150 spotted in the centre of town. Most pickups are company cars used for road work (there is a lot of it in Palm Springs) and are the heavy duty variant, for example the Ford F-350 or Ram 2500 Tradesman, my very own Albert’s big bro.

8b. Albert Palm Springs Car Wash 1How much more perfect can this picture be?

Best-sellers in California – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Toyota Prius (all models) 69,728
2 Honda Civic 66,982
3 Honda Accord 63,194
4 Toyota Camry 56,788
5 Toyota Corolla 52,167
6 Ford F-Series 41,671
7 Honda CR-V 31,850
8 Nissan Altima 31,029
9 Toyota Tacoma 28,182
10 BMW 3 Series 27,026

A quick reminder of the best-sellers in California last year, and this time (as opposed to Death Valley) we are getting a little closer in Palm Springs with the Prius, Accord, Camry and Corolla all very frequent. It would appear Nissan over-performs in Palm Springs as well, particularly the Versa and Sentra.

12. Albert Palm Springs 5Albert in front of the 1965 Tramway Gas Station, now Palm Springs Visitors Center

Let’s finish on a review of the Orbit In Hotel where I stayed while in Palm Springs, described by Time as “the place to stay” in Palm Springs and a “modernist heaven”. For once the critics have it right. A quintessential mid-century modern property set around a saline pool with all rooms sporting designer furniture by Eames, Noguchi, Jacobsen and many more, the Orbit In was actually relatively cheap for the luxury it offered (from $149 per night). Plus the owners, a lovely couple, were there almost the entire time making sure every one was happy. Once you pay for the room, everything is free including cocktails during the cocktail hour which ended up lasting 3 hours, breakfast, daytime sodas and snacks, wifi and cruiser bicycles to borrow. A typically American generosity that, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find in one of the poshest hotel in this uber-posh town. The cocktail (3) hour(s) brought all guests together to exchange travel stories and our Coast to Coast trip with Albert made them all envious. As they should be!

Next is the very last episode of this series, the arrival in Los Angeles and my final review of Albert. Stay tuned so you don’t miss it!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

Many thanks to David Curry for the pictures in this article.

13. Orbit Inn HotelOrbit In hotel in Palm Springs CA

14. Ford F-150 Palm SpringsFord F-150 in Palm Springs CA

15. Albert Palm Springs 6Albert in Palm Springs CA

11. Hyundai Elantra Palm SpringsHyundai Elantra in Palm Springs CA

Chevrolet Impala Palm SpringsChevrolet Impala in Palm Springs CA

Garage Palm SpringsArguably the best-looking garage entrance in the world… (in West Cielo Drive)

Albert Palm Springs 3Albert in Palm Springs CA

Ford F-350 Palm SpringsFord F-350 in Palm Springs CA

Hummer Palm SpringsHummer in Palm Springs CA

Hyundai Sonata Palm SpringsHyundai Sonata in Palm Springs CA

Honda Accord Palm SpringsHonda Accord in Palm Springs CA

Albert Palm Springs Car Wash 2Albert getting a thorough cleanup in Palm Springs CA

Hyundai Elantra Palm Springs 2Hyundai Elantra in Palm Springs CA

Palm Springs Street scenePalm Springs street scene

Albert Palm Springs 4Albert in Palm Springs CA

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Being Modern in Palm Springs appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/coast-coast-2014-modern-palm-springs/feed/ 40
Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 14:36:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=952105 Albert’s first incursion below sea level at Badwater, Death Valley CA * You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! * We now leave Las Vegas to enter the final state of this Coast to Coast trip: California. Crossing the state line, we enter Death Valley National Park and this is the perfect location for […]

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Albert Badwater with sea levelAlbert’s first incursion below sea level at Badwater, Death Valley CA

You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

We now leave Las Vegas to enter the final state of this Coast to Coast trip: California. Crossing the state line, we enter Death Valley National Park and this is the perfect location for an extended photo session with Albert. I give you the Photo Report, California sales data, Death Valley trivia and a review of how Albert coped with Death Valley heat below.

Ford F-150 AmargosaFord F-150 at Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Just past Nevada is Death Valley Junction, home of the sleepy Amargosa Hotel and… Opera House. Yep. In the middle of the desert. We almost missed this gem and are so glad we persevered despite windows decidedly harbouring a ‘closed until further notice’ look. The Amargosa Opera House, aka Martha Becket’s Opera House (more detail on www.amargosaoperahouse.com), has a fantastic story worth relating here.

In March 1967 while finishing her One Woman Show tour of America, actress, dancer, choreographer and painter Marta Becket came to Death Valley Junction to repair a flat tire at the former service station. While exploring the abandoned buildings, Marta found the old social hall in pretty bad disrepair. She rented the building, moved in and has lived here ever since! Marta began performing to empty seats as she was not known yet, so she decided to paint an audience as murals inside the Opera House. She began performing to a live audience in February 1968 and did so for over 40 years. Now aged 90, Marta still lives in a room in the adjacent Amargosa Hotel, but was resting when we visited. We would definitely have said hi otherwise!

Amargosa (2000), Todd Robinson’s documentary about Marta Becket, won a 2003 Emmy Award for cinematographer Curt Apduhan.

3. Albert Death Valley 1There’s no denying it now Albert…

Less than 20 miles further West from Death Valley Junction is the actual entrance of Death Valley National Park and time for Albert to prove he’s been here with a pose next to the road sign above. It was late September when we visited so still in the midst of summer. As its name indicates, Death Valley is a pretty extreme place to be finding ourselves in. The free Visitor Guide and Map available at information points peppered through the park airs stark warnings for all visitors. Among them:

  • Clothing keeps you cooler. If you are not wearing a shirt, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat you are not prepared to walk anywhere in Death Valley! 
  • The most common cause of death in the park is not heat but single car accidents. A moment of inattention can send you, your car and your loved ones flipping into the rocky desert! 

Death valley deaths

But this remains my favourite warning:

  • Do not rely on technology! Your cell phone will not work in most of the park. GPS devices frequently tell Death Valley visitors to turn off well-travelled roads, and take “shortcuts” over the desert and into canyons. Common sense and good judgement are far more reliable

Sadly, Death Valley keeps justifying its name year after year and this Summer there has been 2 heat-related deaths in the valley.

4. Death ValleyThe view upon Death Valley from Coffin Peak

But how hot is it really in Death Valley? Based on temperatures recorded at the official weather station at Furnace Creek down at what felt like the hottest point in the entire National Park, the average maximum temperature is at its coldest in December at 65°F (18°C) but reaches 110°F in June (43°C), 116°F in July (47°C), 115°F in August (46°C) and 106°F in September (41°C). True to form, Albert’s exterior temperature gauge was stuck at a balmy 105°F (40°C) the entire time we were down the Valley. Not that impressive? Wait there’s more…

5. Chevrolet Impala Coffin PeakChevrolet Impala in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

The highest temperature ever recorded on earth was at Furnace Creek on 10 July 1913 at 134°F (57°C). A high temperature of 129°F (54°C) is the closest we have come to tying this record and was recorded on 17 July 1998, 6 July 2007 and 30 June 2013. The heat is coming back strong as you can see… Another interesting record is the driest stretch of weather: only 0.64 inches of rain over 40 months between 1931 and 1934.

6. Albert mpg Coffin PeakAlbert’s mpg average right after the Coffin Peak climb – still a very good 24.2 mpg.

One way to escape the heat is to climb the steep paved road to Coffin Peak and Dante’s View, easily the most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, more than 5000ft (1524m) above the floor of Death Valley. From here you can simultaneously spot the highest and lowest points in the contiguous USA: Mount Whitney at 14,505ft and Badwater at 282ft below see level. The climb is harsh but Albert hardly noticed, with no overheating, no engine ventilation on for decades after we parked (contrary to all other vehicles parked here) and a fuel economy average down, granted, but to a still very impressive 24.2 mpg – that’s higher than the EPA average for the all-new 2015 Ford F-150. This would end up being the lowest mpg Albert would display in the entire trip.

7. Chevrolet Spark Coffin PeakChevy Spark and a slew of rentals at Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Expectedly, being almost a tourist-only region, 95% of vehicles in circulation in Death Valley are rentals, but interestingly people haven’t seemed to shy away from the smallest, arguably more ‘tender’ options in these harsh conditions like the bright red Chevy Spark pictured above or the Nissan Versa. The traditional rental staples as described in my Monument Valley report are back with a vengeance: Chevy Impala, Tahoe and Suburban as well as GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, along with the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave as pictured above in Coffin Peak.

8. Albert Coffin Peak 3Albert in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

All in all though, the most frequent car in Death Valley is a rental Ford Mustang, seemingly the preferred way to complete a one-day tour from Vegas. I remember last time I was in Vegas there were special offers for 1-day Mustang convertible rentals that made them cheaper than the smallest car available – difficult not to be tempted, and apparently these ‘special’ offers are still on to this date. Talking about the devil/Mustang, I saw a camouflaged 2015 model zip past Albert as well as a hardly-camouflaged Jaguar XE. Death Valley is a notorious extreme weather testing ground and each summer day a couple of manufacturers are torturing prototypes on the valley’s roads. Last time I was here in 1995, I saw a string of Smart Fortwos a full 3 years prior to their European launch, and at the time they weren’t even scheduled for a North American career which made their presence here all the more interesting…

9. Chevron Furnace Creek 1Lucky we didn’t have to refuel here… (in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

9b. Chevron Shoshone…nor here! (in Shoshone, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

Remoteness and being in one of the worst places in the world for a car breakdown have encouraged service stations in the Valley to practice simply outrageous gas prices, a full 2 dollars per gallon above the prices that were the norm in Las Vegas at the time of our visit (see pictures above). These have receded by now but remain way above the national average. According to Gasbuddy.com, as at 27 November the Furnace Creek Chevron station (first picture) was selling Regular Gasoline at $4.22 per gallon and Diesel at $4.51. Shoshone Chevron prices were unavailable, but should still be at a shamefully extravagant $4.50 Gas and $5 Diesel even if they decreased at roughly the same rate as in Furnace Creek. That’s close to double the national average! Funny thing is Shoshone is much closer to ‘civilisation’ than Furnace Creek yet gas prices are even higher.

10. Ford E-350 Furnace CreekFord E-350 in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA

Furnace Creek perfectly earned its name by displaying a hair dryer-like heated wind that grips you to never leave you alone as soon as you leave the car, making your eyes water. Even though the visitor centre encourages to turn off air con in the car to lessen strain on the cars and minimise the risk of breakdown, I knew Albert wouldn’t let us down, and he didn’t. In fact, our Ram 1500 ecodiesel was at its best in the heat and a mix of gravel roads and seemingly infinite stretches of bitumen. This workhorse is made for galloping.

11. Albert Devils Golf Course 3Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Another attraction right in the bed of Death Valley is Devil’s Golf Course, an immense area of crystallised salt deposited by ancient salt lakes and eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.”  On a windy day (not when we were there), you can apparently hear a metallic cracking sound as the salt pinnacles expand and contract.

12. Devils Golf Course 2Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

13. Devils Golf Course 3Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

14. BadwaterBadwater, Death Valley CA

Finally our last stop in Death Valley was Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (read the Americas) at 282ft or 85.5m below see level. Death Valley belongs to a worldwide geographic rogues. Finding oneself below sea level is an extremely rare occurrence, a map displayed at Badwaters actually shows only 16 other ‘minus’ locations worldwide, including the Dead Sea in Jordan/Israel at -1360ft / -414m, Lake Assal in Djibouti at – 508ft / – 155m and Lake Eyre in Australia at -49ft / -15m. Like most of these locations, Death Valley was not created by a river’s erosion. Movements in the earth’s crust have dropped it to such great depths.

14. Matt BadwaterIt’s bloody hot out here! In Badwater, Death Valley CA

We’ll finish on the official best-sellers in California, although as we have seen earlier, these do not translate into the car landscape of Death Valley, but are rather a reflection of the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets.

Best-sellers in California – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Toyota Prius (all models) 69,728
2 Honda Civic 66,982
3 Honda Accord 63,194
4 Toyota Camry 56,788
5 Toyota Corolla 52,167
6 Ford F-Series 41,671
7 Honda CR-V 31,850
8 Nissan Altima 31,029
9 Toyota Tacoma 28,182
10 BMW 3 Series 27,026

California is the second state and in this trip after New York to not feature any pickup truck in its official Top 5 best-sellers, with the Ford F-Series ranking at a paltry 6th place, and the Toyota Tacoma at #9. One can argue the Honda Civic is the real Californian best-seller, as the entire Prius family (including the c small car and the v MPV) is accounted for in its sales figure. Honda also brilliantly places the Accord at #3 and the CR-V at #7 while Toyota positions the Camry at #4 and Corolla at #5. Very impressive performance of the BMW 3 Series in 10th place with over 27,000 sales.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

15. Toyota Corolla BadwaterToyota Corolla in Badwater, Death Valley CA

Albert Devils Golf Course 1Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

AmargosaDeath Valley Junction CA

Amargosa HotelAmargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Albert NevadaAlbert in Nevada just before the California state line 

Land Rover Freelander AmargosaLand Rover Freelander at Death Valley Junction, CA

Dodge Ram 3500 AmargosaDodge Ram 3500 at Death Valley Junction CA

Albert AmargosaAlbert at Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

Nissan Sentra Coffin PeakNissan Sentra in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Albert Coffin Peak 1Albert Coffin Peak 2Albert in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

Chevron Furnace Creek 2Chevron Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA

Furnace Creek RanchFurnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley CA

Devils Golf Course 1Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Albert Devils Golf Course 2Albert at Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley CA

Chevrolet Tahoe BadwaterChevrolet Tahoe in Badwater, Death Valley CA

Albert BadwaterAlbert in Badwater, Death Valley CA

The post Coast to Coast 2014: Among Coffins, Furnaces And Devils In Death Valley appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/coast-coast-2014-among-coffins-furnaces-devils-death-valley/feed/ 9
Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950129 With its unprecedented shift to an aluminum body for the next Ford F-150, the Blue Oval appeared to be pivoting towards a serious improvement in fuel economy. But with the release of the official EPA figures, the newest truck appears to offer only modest improvements. Ford’s own release stresses a comparison between the new truck […]

The post Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
30-mpg-600x421

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

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

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

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

 

The post Editorial: Look To The Future For Further Ford Fuel Savings appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-look-future-ford-fuel-savings/feed/ 117
2015 Ram 700 Newest Entrant In Mexican Compact Truck Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ram-700-newest-entrant-mexican-compact-truck-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ram-700-newest-entrant-mexican-compact-truck-market/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939625 For some, the Chevrolet Colorado’s “technology and stuff” is just what they need in a truck. For others, however, the mid-size pickup’s footprint is still a tad too big. If you call Mexico your home, Ram has just what you need. According to Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah, the Fiat Strada-based 2015 Ram 700 hails from […]

The post 2015 Ram 700 Newest Entrant In Mexican Compact Truck Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ram 700

For some, the Chevrolet Colorado’s “technology and stuff” is just what they need in a truck. For others, however, the mid-size pickup’s footprint is still a tad too big.

If you call Mexico your home, Ram has just what you need.

According to Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah, the Fiat Strada-based 2015 Ram 700 hails from Brazil — where the Strada is also assembled — and battles against the Chevrolet Tornado and Volkswagen Saveiro in the Mexican market. Both single- and extended-cab versions are available, beginning at $14,000 USD for the stripper model, $18,000 for the Adventure trim (which also offers a locking-diff and digital inclinometer for off-roading adventures).

Under the bonnet, a blast from the past moves the front wheels: the 115-horsepower 1.6-liter Fiat E.torQ. The four-pot 16-valve SOHC mill is derived from the Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth Neon’s 2-liter unit, and has been in production as the E.TorQ since 2011.

Regarding its name, the 700 was planned to be called 750, but instead took the name to identify a payload capacity of 705 kilograms, or approximately 1,500 pounds.

As for the possibility of seeing the 700 in the United States, Ram and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles haven’t said much on the subject. Though FCA could get around the Chicken Tax by assembling U.S.-bound units in Mexico if need be, low fuel prices and consumer demand outside of enthusiast circles are another matter.

The post 2015 Ram 700 Newest Entrant In Mexican Compact Truck Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ram-700-newest-entrant-mexican-compact-truck-market/feed/ 82
Ram de Mexico Will Get Fiat Strada Based Small Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:23:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909386   Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market. A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered […]

The post Ram de Mexico Will Get Fiat Strada Based Small Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Fiat-Strada-Adventure-Aggressive-and-a-Spirit-of-Offroad

 

Speculation about a Ram small truck based on the Fiat Strada has been rampant recently, and it looks like Ram is getting ready to move in that direction for the Mexican market.

A Brazilian outlet is reporting that the Strada will be sold in Mexico as the Ram 750. The 750 will be offered in both single and double cab configurations and powered by small 4-cylinder engines.

Perhaps these were the Strada mules being tested around Detroit, and there were never any plans to bring a small truck to the United States. With UNECE rules and a totally different set of market conditions (as well as no chicken tax), Mexico is a much better place to import a small, front-drive car-based pickup than the United States. Or maybe FCA will surprise us all?

The post Ram de Mexico Will Get Fiat Strada Based Small Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ram-de-mexico-will-get-fiat-strada-based-small-truck/feed/ 157
Super Piston Slap: Thrifty Texans Trump Tailgate Theft? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/super-piston-slap-thrifty-texans-trump-tailgate-theft/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/super-piston-slap-thrifty-texans-trump-tailgate-theft/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 12:39:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=907985   Yesterday’s post on Texas Tailgate Theft definitely struck a nerve with this Native Texan, especially the NCIB’s Quote: “Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.” Yeah, not quite… Yup, a hose clamp…well not just a hose […]

The post Super Piston Slap: Thrifty Texans Trump Tailgate Theft? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

Tailgate-theft-lock-it

(photo courtesy: hardworkingtrucks.com)

Yesterday’s post on Texas Tailgate Theft definitely struck a nerve with this Native Texan, especially the NCIB’s Quote:

“Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.”

Yeah, not quite…

photo 1

Just a little trip to my local Home Depot.

Yup, a hose clamp…well not just a hose clamp, but that’s for later.

Thanks to TTAC commentator, Editor in Chief of another blog and all around nice guy, Mr. Lyndon Johnson (yes, really) for planting this seed in my mind. He posted a photo on Facebook of a rusty hose clamp around the tailgate hinge of his Ranger. It instantly made sense: even if you don’t have a few of these rattling around, why the hell wouldn’t you spend $3 for these?

tailgate

Hose Clamp PROS: Cheap, easy to install, readily available and slows down a would-be thief to the point they’ll look for another tailgate to swipe. And its an extra measure of protection, even if you have a lock in your tailgate release handle. (As they aren’t too hard to punch out with a screwdriver, too.)

(photo courtesy: pickupspecialities.com)

Hose Clamp CONS: The expensive-ish aftermarket alternatives are more theft resistant. And the clamps are kinda ghetto-trashy ugly, if you care about those Vellum Venom type of design hang ups.

Here’s how to narrow the gap between the clamp and the lock: level the playing field with a bit of silicone adhesive.  You know, the stuff you already have in your garage.

photo 2

It’s not rocket science: coat the screw head and clamp’s threads in the stuff. It’s an extra level of complication, and as the night photo shows, a bit more complicated to comprehend. It’ll certainly drive a thief nuts trying to scrape that crap off.

Only to then need to unscrew the clamp. And finally lather-rinse-repeat on the other side. Or just leave my rig alone, find another Texan not wise to the hose clamp + silicone trick.

Now you know what I know: what say you Best and Brightest? Should all truckers spend $3-4 on this anti-theft modification?

 

 

The post Super Piston Slap: Thrifty Texans Trump Tailgate Theft? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/super-piston-slap-thrifty-texans-trump-tailgate-theft/feed/ 55
The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:28:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906633 Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results. The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that […]

The post The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
U.S. auto sales growth by units gained August 2014Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results.

The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that growth lasting forever – particularly when a month like August is compared with a very strong month like August 2013 – seemed slim.

Yet auto sales increased by 5.5% to more than 1.58 million in August 2014, an improvement of more than 80,000 units.

The forecasts weren’t all wrong. High-volume brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Volkswagen all reported losses, a 13% decline in Volkswagen’s case, the 17th consecutive month in which Volkswagen brand sales have decreased in the United States.

Jaguar volume fell 31%. Infiniti volume fell 23%. Fiat was down 20%. Scion sales likewise slid 20%. Cadillac volume was off August 2013’s pace by 18%. Sales at BMW’s Mini brand were down 17%. Buick and Volvo both lost 10%; Acura and Land Rover fell 9%. Lincoln was just south of level.

The bright spots, however, were particularly bright. Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Nissan, and Toyota were the biggest brands to post significant increases. Maserati, Porsche, Smart, Mitsubishi, and Audi were among the lower-volume auto brands to post meaningful improvements: 278%, 36%, 34%, 28%, and 22%, respectively.

Mazda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GMC, and Lexus all grew by at least 10%. Toyota brand sales were up 7%. Hyundai grew 6%. (Kia, Chrysler, Honda, Bentley, and Ford improvements were all below the market’s 5.5% growth rate.)

Back to those five large and fast-growing brands, Jeep reported its best-ever sales month for the new Cherokee, America’s eighth-ranked SUV/crossover in August. Ram’s market share in the full-size truck category grew by more than four percentage points. Subaru sold more than 50,000 vehicles for the first time in a single month, and Nissan reported a car sales improvement of 18% in a car market that improved by just 2%. Toyota shot the RAV4 up to top spot among utility vehicles with record sales in a second consecutive month.

As for the fast-growing lower-volume brands, Maserati outsold Jaguar, albeit by just 49 units. Even with the Macan excluded, Porsche sales jumped 7.3%. Mercedes-Benz reported more than 1000 Smart Fortwo sales for the third time in five months, having not done so previously since September 2012.

Mitsubishi is not back to being a brand that can sell more than 300,000 cars annually in the United States, but sales have increased in six consecutive months and in ten of the last eleven months.

Audi reported its highest-ever monthly sales in the U.S. in August, generating 41% of the brand’s sales with Q models and the A4 Allroad, including the first 243 Q3 sales.

The post The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/feed/ 12
Ram Trucks Remaining True To Steel Until 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/ram-trucks-remaining-true-steel-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/ram-trucks-remaining-true-steel-2020/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899106 Though Ford and General Motors may be exchanging their iron fists for aluminum gloves in this upcoming battle atop Truck Mountain, Ram plans to remain beholden to the steel until 2020. Reuters reports two sources close to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plans for Ram’s truck offerings proclaim that while significant changes will come to the trucks […]

The post Ram Trucks Remaining True To Steel Until 2020 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-front (1)

Though Ford and General Motors may be exchanging their iron fists for aluminum gloves in this upcoming battle atop Truck Mountain, Ram plans to remain beholden to the steel until 2020.

Reuters reports two sources close to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plans for Ram’s truck offerings proclaim that while significant changes will come to the trucks in 2017, the switch to aluminum is not among them. Maintaining the status quo would prevent alienation among its commercial consumer base, as well as keep production costs low from not having to convert steel parts to aluminum.

The plan echos what FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told investors in May, stating the use of the metal would be “better suited in other vehicles than pickup trucks.” Instead, Ram will focus on more fuel-efficient engine-transmission setups, stop-start technology, and other methods of meeting 2018 U.S. emissions and fuel economy standards.

As for what happens after FCA’s current five-year plan comes to a close in 2020, the automaker isn’t saying much on the subject of an aluminum Ram beyond that no decisions have been made thus far, according to representative Rick Deneau.

The post Ram Trucks Remaining True To Steel Until 2020 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/ram-trucks-remaining-true-steel-2020/feed/ 52
Management Shuffle At FCA Sends Bigland To Head Up Alfa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/management-shuffle-fca-sends-bigland-head-alfa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/management-shuffle-fca-sends-bigland-head-alfa/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:56:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894242 FCA is shuffling the management deck, assigning two experienced executives to new roles within the company. Reid Bigland, formerly the head of the Ram Brand, will now become Alfa Romeo’s top executive for the NAFTA region. Bigland, who once oversaw the Dodge brand, currently is also responsible for Chrysler Canada and is on the company’s […]

The post Management Shuffle At FCA Sends Bigland To Head Up Alfa appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
550x330xRed-550x330.jpg.pagespeed.ic.j8D6rJYskf

FCA is shuffling the management deck, assigning two experienced executives to new roles within the company.

Reid Bigland, formerly the head of the Ram Brand, will now become Alfa Romeo’s top executive for the NAFTA region. Bigland, who once oversaw the Dodge brand, currently is also responsible for Chrysler Canada and is on the company’s Board of Directors. Bigland has been mentioned as a potential successor to CEO Sergio Marchionne, and the Alfa appointment will be a major test of his management abilities, given the uphill climb that the brand will face in establishing a solid foothold in North America, and meeting Marchionne’s lofty sales goals.

Taking Bigland’s place at Ram is Bob Hegbloom, a Ram veteran with wide ranging experience both at the truck brand and with Chrysler’s other truck products. Hegbloom will assume control of one of FCA’s growth engines, but will also be responsible for ensuring that the truck brand doesn’t fall behind technologically, in the wake of developments like Ford’s upcoming aluminum F-150, and the new V8 diesel Nissan Titan being developed by former Ram boss Fred Diaz.

The post Management Shuffle At FCA Sends Bigland To Head Up Alfa appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/management-shuffle-fca-sends-bigland-head-alfa/feed/ 17
Question Of The Day: Is SFE The Key To MPG? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/question-day-sfe-key-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/question-day-sfe-key-mpg/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 19:28:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882618 When we published the 2015 Ford F-150 order guide, we focused on the trim level changes (the FX4 and STX trims are gone, while the police-oriented SSV package is back) while forgetting three very important letters. SFE. On other Ford models, the SFE package is used to denote a high fuel economy trim – think […]

The post Question Of The Day: Is SFE The Key To MPG? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015_Ford_F-150_Pickup_Truck

When we published the 2015 Ford F-150 order guide, we focused on the trim level changes (the FX4 and STX trims are gone, while the police-oriented SSV package is back) while forgetting three very important letters. SFE.

On other Ford models, the SFE package is used to denote a high fuel economy trim – think the 1.0L Fiesta Ecoboost. As The Motley Fool’s John Rosevar found out, the volume XL and XLT trims of the F-150 will have an SFE package with smaller 17″ wheels, a special tonneau cover and the new 2.7L Ecoboost engine. The SFE trim will only be available in regular or SuperCab configurations, not the popular crewcab style.

Depending on how you look at it, Ford has two targets to hit. The Ram 1500 HFE, which is a V6 model with active grille shutters, start-stop and other technologies that provide incremental gains in fuel economy, can hit 25 mpg on the highway. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which uses a diesel V6 engine, can get as much as 28 mpg.

If I were to place a bet, I’d say that Ford will go for broke and try to at least match the EcoDiesel. That would give their much-touted aluminum truck the em-pee-gee bragging rights in the entire segment. And from there, it’s only a matter of time before the 30 MPG truck arrives.

The post Question Of The Day: Is SFE The Key To MPG? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/question-day-sfe-key-mpg/feed/ 71
Which Will Be Our First Renault? Mitsubishi Or Ram? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872338 First it was Mitsubishi that inked a deal with Renault Samsung to bring their wares over here as Mitsubishi branded cars. Now Fiat is getting into the action, by having Renault produce an unspecified commercial vehicle. Renault and Fiat announced a vaguely worded deal to have Renault build a commercial vehicle for Fiat starting in […]

The post Which Will Be Our First Renault? Mitsubishi Or Ram? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
800px-Renault_Trafic_II_front_20080120

First it was Mitsubishi that inked a deal with Renault Samsung to bring their wares over here as Mitsubishi branded cars. Now Fiat is getting into the action, by having Renault produce an unspecified commercial vehicle.

Renault and Fiat announced a vaguely worded deal to have Renault build a commercial vehicle for Fiat starting in 2016. There is no indication of what it could be, but now that the Ram ProMaster lineup is firmly Fiat-based, it’s not out of the question. Between that and the Samsung SM5, we’ll have an even better idea of all of the wonderful oddities currently off limits to our unsophisticated automotive palates…

The post Which Will Be Our First Renault? Mitsubishi Or Ram? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/feed/ 30
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 […]

The post Capsule Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-front (1)

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.

TTAC-2014_Ram-1500-EcoDiesel-Laramie

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.

TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-badging
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.

TTAC-2014_Ram-1500-Ecodiesel-Laramie-rotary-shifter
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.

TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-Laramie-interior (1)

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.

TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-front TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-badging TTAC-2014_Ram-EcoDiesel-front (1) TTAC-2014_Ram-1500-EcoDiesel-Laramie TTAC-2014_Ram-1500-Ecodiesel-Laramie-rotary-shifter

The post Capsule Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel/feed/ 57
Ram Truck Lineup Adopts SAE Towing Standard From 2015 Forward http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ram-truck-lineup-adopts-sae-towing-standard-from-2015-forward/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ram-truck-lineup-adopts-sae-towing-standard-from-2015-forward/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867234 The Society of Automotive Engineers recently introduced a new designation standardizing maximum towing ratings, with the aim of sorting out the mess automakers have made with their internal measurements of towing capacity. Called J2807, the new system’s first champion is none other than Ram, who have gone all-in with the standard. Autoblog reports all 2015 […]

The post Ram Truck Lineup Adopts SAE Towing Standard From 2015 Forward appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014-ram-3500-laramie-longhorn-front-three-quarter-03

The Society of Automotive Engineers recently introduced a new designation standardizing maximum towing ratings, with the aim of sorting out the mess automakers have made with their internal measurements of towing capacity. Called J2807, the new system’s first champion is none other than Ram, who have gone all-in with the standard.

Autoblog reports all 2015 light- and heavy-duty Ram pickups will use J2807. The new ratings are as follows:

  • Ram 1500 with 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 – 7,600 pounds
  • Ram 1500 with 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 – 9,200 pounds
  • Ram 1500 with 5.7-liter Hemi V8– 10,650 pounds
  • Ram 2500 with 6.4-liter Hemi V8 – 16,300 pounds
  • Ram 2500 with 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six diesel – 17,970 pounds
  • Ram 3500 with 6.4-liter Hemi V8 – 16,420 pounds
  • Ram 3500 with 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six diesel – 30,000 pounds

Automakers wanting to use the SAE towing standard must put their offerings through a battery of tests, ranging from handling checks, to being able to climb a grade without slipping below a designated speed. No word on when other manufacturers will adopt J2807.

The post Ram Truck Lineup Adopts SAE Towing Standard From 2015 Forward appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ram-truck-lineup-adopts-sae-towing-standard-from-2015-forward/feed/ 35
European Review: Ram 1500 Ecodiesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:27:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865297 With the new Ecodiesel engine, the 2014 Ram 1500 adds a bit of a European flavor to the most American vehicle of them all – the fullsize pick-up truck. So, how does one look from the view of an European? Here, I must admit to not being a typical European, when it comes to American […]

The post European Review: Ram 1500 Ecodiesel appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_6968

With the new Ecodiesel engine, the 2014 Ram 1500 adds a bit of a European flavor to the most American vehicle of them all – the fullsize pick-up truck. So, how does one look from the view of an European?

Here, I must admit to not being a typical European, when it comes to American cars. As you may already know, I drive a Panther now, and I daily drove a GM B-body for several years. I even paid (little) money to own a Ford Tempo (don’t ask),. but I still live in Europe and drive lots of European cars, so I still have a good idea of what an average European will think about this truck.

First of all, it’s interesting to note that pickup trucks are one of the most common American vehicles here in Czech Republic – and probably even in surrounding countries like Germany or Austria. When you discount for the officially imported stuff – mostly diesel Jeeps, diesel Chrysler minivans and diesel Chrysler 300Cs, the most popular American cars are the pony cars trio, Corvettes, and then the fullsize trucks and luxury SUVs, like Escalade or Navigator. You will never see a Dodge Dart here, and probably not even fullsize sedans like Taurus or Impala. Even the typical US crossovers are extremely rare here – and if something gets imported, it’s usually the “butch” stuff. A Charger. A Durango. But no Equinox or Explorer.

IMG_7248

So large American trucks are not exactly unheard of here. They’re definitely not common, but odds are at least two or three Rams (most popular), F-150s, Silverados or Sierras will be running at any larger town (like mine, with 100,000 people). And in the capital, you’ll probably see one or two every day.

Most of these trucks are highly optioned, shiny V8 ones, never used for any serious work. Most of them probably tow a trailer from time to time, but hardly any will ever get its bed dirty. Quite a big portion of them get converted to LPG, but there are many owners who consider it a “disgrace” to American V8 and insist on pouring loads of gas into their truck. These same people usually frown upon diesel engines, and are probably not the ones who will buy the new Ecodiesel, as it burns the wrong fuel and doesn’t produce the right sound.

IMG_7134

So, to succeed in the European market, the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel needs to cater to several types of customers. It has to persuade the US car crowd that even with the Italian diesel, it’s still American enough and represents a way to finally get into truck ownership without rigging the car with high pressure LPG tanks. And it also has to impress the typical pickup/SUV owner that it is European enough in its frugality, sophistication and road manners.

As you can see from my recent Suburban review, it’s not easy for an American truck to impress an European driver – even one who is rather fond of American automobiles. Suggest buying something like the Ram 1500 to the typical customer in Europe, and you will quite certainly hear something about “primitive technology”, “agricultural suspension” or “ugly, cheap interior”. Not to mention terrible fuel consumption.

But if you follow the suggestion by forcing said person to sit in a Ram 1500 Laramie for a while, the whining will probably quickly stop. While it’s still no Audi when it comes to interior quality, the materials, the craftsmanship and ergonomics are leaps above what an average guy in Europe would expect from American truck. And quite on par with what Europe offers at this price point – a loaded Laramie Ecodiesel costs about $80k incl. VAT, which is about 20% more than a four-cylinder VW Amarok, or about the same as similarly equipped Touareg V6 TDI. And it’s definitely comparable.

IMG_7011IMG_7009

 

Above: My 6′ 6″ boss in the front, and then in the back…

The Ram rids itself of the typical problems of older American automobiles – one that is still noticeable in the last generation of Suburban – that they are smaller on the inside than on the outside. The space inside is stunning. I’ve seen my boss, who is about  6′ 6” sit “behind himself” in the Ram, without having any problems with head or leg room.

With the air suspension and the new coil-sprung four link rear suspension, the Ram even drives well enough for European customers to be satisfied. Above all, the ride is supremely comfortable, and even the handling isn’t half bad, considering the sheer size and weight of the thing. Of course, there can be no talk about steering feel, balance and so on, but the Ram feels stable enough even in mildly swift driving (say, 60-70mph on a backroad). The steering wheel feels much more car-like than truck-like, with just enough assistance and the right size.

But, even without driving the other big US pickups, I can guess that the competition will be on the same level as the Ram. And yet it’s not very likely that F-150s and Silverados start appearing on European roads en masse. The real difference, which can make or break the US pickup on the European roads, is the Ecodiesel engine.

IMG_6996

I have already experienced it (albeit shortly) in Lancia Thema, and I did quite like it, although it certainly wasn’t at the top of its league. Here, the story is a bit different. The Ecodiesel is still not the best V6 diesel out there – and it certainly can’t hold a candle to the likes of BMW 35d or VW/Audi 3.0 TDI biturbo. But in a fullsize pickup truck, it has no direct competition.

This means that even though it’s a little less sophisticated than some of the competitors, it’s still much quieter than any other truck diesel engine. And while it’s not as powerful or as frugal as other V6 diesels, it’s still much more torquey than the V6 Pentastar, much more frugal than the 5.7 Hemi, and still powerful enough to make the Ram lively enough. The ZF eight-speed gearbox is quite smooth and doesn’t seem to shuffle around for gears, like the six-speeder in the last-gen Suburban does.

IMG_7053

If the Ecodiesel fulfills its promise – and everything looks like it will – of being able to run on less than 10 liters per 100km on the highway, it will be the first American fullsize pickup to really make sense in Europe, at least in the last 70 years or so. Its combination of utility and comfort may be enticing for certain European buyers, and the fuel consumption shouldn’t scare them away this time. Yes, the Ram 1500 is still ungodly big, and will be a royal pain to park and drive in countries like UK or France. But here in Central Europe, it’s fairly livable, and, even with taxes and customs added, quite cheap – the top-of-the-line Laramie still costs about the same as a poverty-spec Touareg. The bad thing, though, is that you have to make do with the short bed – the bigger one makes the 1500 truck under EU regulations, increasing the custom duty from 10% to 20%. But it would be too long to park, anyway.

So, will the Europe be flooded by diesel American trucks in the near future? I don’t think so. But I’m willing to bet money that Rams will become much more common (less uncommon) here. And I would venture to say that of the current FCA portfolio, the Ram 1500 would be one of the more successful vehicles on European market. Certainly they would sell more of them than Lancia Themas. And likely even more than Lancia Deltas (I have seen about two of those in the wild, ever).

IMG_7334

And if the VM Motori power plant doesn’t turn out to be a turd, like the 1990s four-cylinder in the Jeeps and Chryslers was, I may be buying one in a few years, to replace the Town Car.

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

JD8_9249 JD8_9193 JD8_9188 JD8_9183 JD8_9178 JD8_9171 JD8_9152 JD8_9150 JD8_9140 JD8_9082 JD7_2319 IMG_7111 IMG_7052 IMG_7048 IMG_7044 IMG_7217 IMG_7226 IMG_7123 IMG_7334 IMG_7326 IMG_7057 IMG_7053 IMG_7050 IMG_6996 IMG_7033 IMG_7040 IMG_7008 IMG_7009 IMG_7011 IMG_6974 IMG_7318 IMG_7248 $$ IMG_7333 IMG_7134 IMG_6968

The post European Review: Ram 1500 Ecodiesel appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/feed/ 39
FCA Is Hungry For Diesels http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:22:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860921   Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America. VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both […]

The post FCA Is Hungry For Diesels appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 
2014-Ram-1500-diese-logo-450x337Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America.

VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both the Ram 1500 pickup as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But a report in Automotive News paints an interesting picture of the demand for the V6 in each vehicle. The take rate for diesel Grand Cherokees has leveled off at about 8 percent, or 15,000 units annually.

By contrast, Ram boss Reid Bigland claims that

“We got well in excess of 10,000 orders in just the first few days that we opened this thing up, and that ordering and demand has really sustained itself,”

According to Bigland, the EcoDiesel Ram 1500s spend an average of 13 days on dealer lots, versus 94 days for gasoline versions. A search of Cars.com shows just 1,839 EcoDiesel Rams, but 3,907 Grand Cherokees, suggesting that the Ram (which sells in much bigger numbers) has a much tighter supply of their oil-burners.

Even so, Manley and Bigland denied that they are horse trading over diesel allocation for their respective brands.

The post FCA Is Hungry For Diesels appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/fca-is-hungry-for-diesels/feed/ 150
Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857073 Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby. Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most […]

The post Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby.

Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most off-roaded in a 2013 J.D. Power study, where 29.5 percent can be found departing the highway for the trail; only Ram and Jeep bested Subaru at 30.2 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Subaru’s director of corporate communications, Michael McHale, added that owners of his company’s offerings were “190 percent more likely to do outdoor activities than other brands,” meriting those treks off the beaten path.

Regarding individual vehicles, the Outback sees the highest use in the dust and mud at 34.7 percent. Meanwhile, most Jeep Grand Cherokee owners prefer the high street over high peaks, with only 21.1 percent deciding to experience just how “trail-rated” their SUVs are. The Outback is also among Subaru’s top three best-selling vehicles in 2013, sandwiched between the Forester and the XV Crosstek as the automaker celebrated its sixth consecutive year of record sales; 424,683 units were sold in the United States alone that year.

The post Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/feed/ 19