The Truth About Cars » truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:53:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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
Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:36:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904225 The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with […]

The post Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
volkswagen-saveiro-cross-avaliacao-2015-NA-41

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The post Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/feed/ 166
General Motors Bumps Up Next Pickups, Will Feature Aluminum Panels, Downsized Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:53:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875113 General Motors is advancing the launch of their next-generation pickups by 9 months, with the next-generation trucks due by 2018. Reuters is reporting that the fairly new generation of full-size trucks will undergo a thorough redesign by 2018, with new full-size SUVs arriving in 2019. While a new 8-speed automatic will arrive in GM’s full […]

The post General Motors Bumps Up Next Pickups, Will Feature Aluminum Panels, Downsized Engines appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
550x366x2014-Chevrolet-Silverado-1500-Exterior-550x366.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zW-iZYvyX3

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

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

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

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

The post General Motors Bumps Up Next Pickups, Will Feature Aluminum Panels, Downsized Engines appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-bumps-up-next-pickups-will-feature-aluminum-panels-downsized-engines/feed/ 69
Ford Announces 2015 F-150 Pricing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:02:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874697 The 2015 Ford F-150 will get a price bump, but the upgrade fee for an Ecoboost engine won’t be the most substantial part of the hike. For 2015, the 3.5L Ecoboost will carry a premium of $1,995, or $100 less than the 2014 model. The all-new 2.7L Ecoboost will carry a premium of just $495. […]

The post Ford Announces 2015 F-150 Pricing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015-ford-f-150-platinum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Platinum: $52,155, up $3,055.

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

The post Ford Announces 2015 F-150 Pricing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2015-f-150-pricing/feed/ 120
Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872362 Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but […]

The post Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
550x399xford-f-150_r-550x399.jpg.pagespeed.ic.G6qdiAdN5g

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

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

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

The post Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/feed/ 93
Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-wussy-xterra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-wussy-xterra/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:26:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871778   m koonce writes: Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s). I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question […]

The post Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

Capture

No correlation. (photo courtesy: http://images.gtcarlot.com)

m koonce writes:

Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s).

  1. I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question is, when should I have a “tuneup” done – i.e., change the spark plugs. Should I wait until Nissan’s recommended mileage (105k miles I think), or do it sooner? And should I replace all the coils at the same time (I presume the truck has a coil-on-plug ignition setup)? What else should I have done at the same time?
  2. Re: same vehicle: at 36k miles (May 2013) I did a transmission fluid dump and refill at local dealership, and did the same again at 49k miles in May 2014, again at dealership. My plan is to continue this dump and refill procedure every year for as long as I own the truck. Am I on the right track here? I’ve also had all other fluids replaced, except brake fluid which will be replaced when I have a brake job done.

Thanks for your advice, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev answers:

Actually you have three questions, come on son!  Now you know I’ll Google up some half-cocked give an enlightening answer for just about any question. And my goodness, do you need questions answered, for the sake of your poor, poor wallet!

Question 1: Squeaky rubber seals: spray them with a silicone based lubricant (safe on rubber, less sticky than WD-40) or do it right with this tube of magic.

Question 2: Direct injection systems aside…rarely, if ever, does a non-modified vehicle driven by a law-abiding motorist need new spark plugs before the recommended interval. Even DI motors won’t necessarily need aggressive plug replacements, and the supercharged versions of your Nissan are fine if you follow the owner’s manual. Spark plugs, be it iridium or platinum, have come a long way, baby!

Question 2.5:  Replace coil pack(s) when the engine computer says so. That is, when you get a stumble/misfire, you scan for codes, etc. and determine the misbehaving coil. Do not change them during the mandated tune up interval, only change normal wear items as per owner’s manual recommendations.

Question 3: ZOMG UR ON THE WRONG TRACK!  Unless this is a work truck towing a loaded trailer every day in city traffic, there’s zero reason for annual ATF changes. You’d be more than safe swapping it out every 50,000-100,000 miles.

Put more succinctly: stop treating this rig like it’s a delicate flower!

Vehicles in the last 25+ years successfully embraced electronic engine control technology, and “long life” fluids are held in high regard across the board…well, Dex-Cool aside. The sooner you embrace the robust beauty of modern vehicles (and fluids) the sooner you can stop punishing your wallet.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

The post Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-wussy-xterra/feed/ 33
Junkyard Find: 1972 International Harvester Scout II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1972-international-harvester-scout-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1972-international-harvester-scout-ii/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862233 Here in Colorado, Scouts are all over the place, which means that Denver-area wrecking yards get a steady stream of worn-out or abandoned examples. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’70, this ’71, this ’73, and this ’74, and I’ve skipped over a bunch of totally-stripped Scouts that weren’t worth photographing. Today’s find […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1972 International Harvester Scout II appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
01 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere in Colorado, Scouts are all over the place, which means that Denver-area wrecking yards get a steady stream of worn-out or abandoned examples. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’70, this ’71, this ’73, and this ’74, and I’ve skipped over a bunch of totally-stripped Scouts that weren’t worth photographing. Today’s find has donated a lot of parts to the local Scout ecosystem, but still intact enough to be of interest.
07 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe IHC V8 was a heavy, farm-equipment-grade brute. There’s probably some easy way to tell a 304 from a 345 at a glance, but I don’t know what it is.
08 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe smog sticker says it’s a 345, but owners of these trucks have always been notorious engine-swappers. Hey, why is there a California catalyst sticker on a ’72? This junkyard goes by VIN records when determining model year, so I suspect that some VIN-swapping magic was performed by a previous owner and we’re really looking at a late-70s Scout.
06 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIHC made a Rallye version of the Scout II, but this looks like a homegrown decal job.
09 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s not incredibly rusty, but there’s no reason to restore a truck like this when you can buy nicer runners for reasonable prices in Colorado.

Does everything a compact, big sedan, or station wagon can do!

01 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1972 International Harvester Scout II Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1972 International Harvester Scout II appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1972-international-harvester-scout-ii/feed/ 35
Capsule Review: 2013 Holden Commodore Ute http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853353   Luke Vandezande, Managing Editor of AutoGuide.com, submits his review of the Holden Ute. What if I told you that there’s a parallel universe where Europeans love muscle cars, have their own country music artists and care less for political correctness than Howard Stern in his heyday. Welcome to Australia. Holden is a subsidiary of […]

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

]]>
ute

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2013-holden-commodore-ute/feed/ 39
Nissan Navara Previews Next Frontier [Update: More Pictures] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-navara-previews-next-frontier/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-navara-previews-next-frontier/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842050 While light on details, Nissan has released photos and some specs on its newest mid-size pickup, the Navara. The new truck, which is likely to form the basis of the next Frontier, will come with two engine options in the world market, both of which are 2.5L 4-cylinder engines. The main difference lies in the […]

The post Nissan Navara Previews Next Frontier [Update: More Pictures] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
140611-01-01

While light on details, Nissan has released photos and some specs on its newest mid-size pickup, the Navara.

The new truck, which is likely to form the basis of the next Frontier, will come with two engine options in the world market, both of which are 2.5L 4-cylinder engines. The main difference lies in the fact that one is a gasoline engine while the other is a diesel. A seven-speed automatic and a six-speed manual are offered. The diesel is expected to make roughly 187 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque. We’ll have more details as they’re available.

 

navara_rear 140611-01-31 140611-01-16 140611-01-01 mb1mox8q6jesqsewcimk nvt5gtq4smmrpriayydn sbvfiwuu5ujgvem2vlcv fvwj038yl8n3g6m2aoqw cshc5qvbfwnhi2rd6abe glmlh0rkc9zsosxy10nm pub3txscl83jrmi4abvd qhn6chessdvo9xfmvohj v2x1iusd04kpmtndldi5 isfqtdcqkax97xlcuano o533jf83by7yjmttyvjw whmzcolexdvffqyycnvi dk2o9t7epwvk92bijh83

The post Nissan Navara Previews Next Frontier [Update: More Pictures] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-navara-previews-next-frontier/feed/ 26
The Dakota That Could Have Been http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/the-dakota-that-could-have-been/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/the-dakota-that-could-have-been/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 14:23:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836241 Sometime around 2012, a Ram Trucks source told TTAC about an investigation into a smaller pickup for the brand, one that could have even turned out to be a front-drive pickup. “We won’t do another Dakota,” said our source, “but maybe something else.”. By all accounts, that truck would have been based on one of […]

The post The Dakota That Could Have Been appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2009-2011_Mitsubishi_Triton_(MN)_GL-R_4-door_utility_01

Sometime around 2012, a Ram Trucks source told TTAC about an investigation into a smaller pickup for the brand, one that could have even turned out to be a front-drive pickup. “We won’t do another Dakota,” said our source, “but maybe something else.”. By all accounts, that truck would have been based on one of Fiat’s small, unibody front-drive pickups. But now, Fiat seems to want a Dakota of its own.

Automotive News reports that Fiat will get a new body-on-frame midsize truck starting in 2016, which will be a variant of the Mitsubishi L200. The Thai-built L200 is a smaller, body-on-frame pickup with rear or four-wheel drive and both gasoline and diesel engines, making it a good fit for Fiat’s commercial vehicle lineup. And it’s very likely that we’ll never seen it here.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the most recent 5-year plan that FCA had tried out a smaller truck at clinics, but was unable to wow the crowd, let alone make a business case for such a truck. The L200 isn’t homologated for North America either, and a smaller truck isn’t a great fit for FCA in terms of CAFE either. FCA is already lagging behind other OEMs in terms of CAFE footprint, and small trucks are one of the worst vehicles when it comes to meeting those standards.

The post The Dakota That Could Have Been appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/the-dakota-that-could-have-been/feed/ 33
Compact Trucks Still Alive At Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/compact-trucks-still-alive-at-nissan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/compact-trucks-still-alive-at-nissan/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:39:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835777   Next Wednesday, Nissan will unveil a new compact truck, presumably the all-new Frontier/Navara.   Our resident compact diesel truck lovers have extoled the versions of the oil-burning Navara as a superior alternative to our full-sizers. With the next Titan getting a 5.0L Cummins V8 diesel, the smaller truck may be in line for one […]

The post Compact Trucks Still Alive At Nissan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
rmvnbvl3pc7jlhhceuff

 

Next Wednesday, Nissan will unveil a new compact truck, presumably the all-new Frontier/Navara.

 

Our resident compact diesel truck lovers have extoled the versions of the oil-burning Navara as a superior alternative to our full-sizers. With the next Titan getting a 5.0L Cummins V8 diesel, the smaller truck may be in line for one as well. Nissan did show off a Frontier “concept” with a diesel engine not long ago…

The post Compact Trucks Still Alive At Nissan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/compact-trucks-still-alive-at-nissan/feed/ 60
Marchionne: Mid-Size Trucks A Non-Starter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/marchionne-mid-size-trucks-a-non-starter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/marchionne-mid-size-trucks-a-non-starter/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 15:19:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818594 At this week’s FCA investors conference, the floor was opened up to a Q&A session for journalists and equity research analysts. One scribe asked FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne about the prospect of a mid-size pickup, and Marchionne’s answer confirmed what many of us already knew. According to Automotive News, Marchionne stated that “We’ve gone through this […]

The post Marchionne: Mid-Size Trucks A Non-Starter appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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

At this week’s FCA investors conference, the floor was opened up to a Q&A session for journalists and equity research analysts. One scribe asked FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne about the prospect of a mid-size pickup, and Marchionne’s answer confirmed what many of us already knew.

According to Automotive News, Marchionne stated that

“We’ve gone through this issue now for five years, and we can’t flip the frame right.”

Autoblog has Marchionne sounding a bit more optimistic

“I think there is room for a Ram 1000…We’ve tried this … we’ve actually taken it to clinics…response has been lukewarm.”

Not long ago, sources told TTAC that a small truck, based on a front-drive car architecture, was being considered. But those plans now appear to be off the table.

 

The post Marchionne: Mid-Size Trucks A Non-Starter appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/marchionne-mid-size-trucks-a-non-starter/feed/ 381
Junkyard Find: 1962 International Harvester C-120 Travelette http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1962-international-harvester-c-120-travelette/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1962-international-harvester-c-120-travelette/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791945 There was once a time when you could buy street vehicles made by a farm equipment manufacturer, and IHC products still show up in self-service wrecking yards today. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’70 Scout, this ’71 Travelall, this ’71 Scout, this ’72 1010 pickup, this ’73 Scout, and this ’74 Scout. […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1962 International Harvester C-120 Travelette appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
21 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was once a time when you could buy street vehicles made by a farm equipment manufacturer, and IHC products still show up in self-service wrecking yards today. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’70 Scout, this ’71 Travelall, this ’71 Scout, this ’72 1010 pickup, this ’73 Scout, and this ’74 Scout. The crew-cab Travelette is a machine you won’t see every day, so I shot this ’62 that I spotted in a Northern California wrecking yard.
01 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBeing a California truck, there’s minimal rust here, but 52 years of hard work have worn everything out.
04 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s a good old Black Diamond 240-cubic-inch straight-six, rated at 141 horses in 1962. Yes, that’s not much more power than a 2014 Corolla gets; pickup drivers were tougher back when instant annihilation threatened.
14 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinTwo huge bench seats, and a custom shag-carpet headliner.
26 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m a little puzzled by this bumper extension. Is this to protect the open tailgate when hauling extra-long loads?

01 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1963 International Harvester Pickup Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1962 International Harvester C-120 Travelette appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1962-international-harvester-c-120-travelette/feed/ 72
Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:03:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779481 Perhaps you haven’t lived in a flyover state where brown leather gear dominates your town during Rodeo season.  While the Ford+King Ranch press release celebrating the 15th Anniversary of those famous brown leather pickups reached the autoblogosphere, only a local writer with an internationally known knack for automotive snark both finds the sweet mochalicious lede and […]

The post Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Perhaps you haven’t lived in a flyover state where brown leather gear dominates your town during Rodeo season.  While the Ford+King Ranch press release celebrating the 15th Anniversary of those famous brown leather pickups reached the autoblogosphere, only a local writer with an internationally known knack for automotive snark both finds the sweet mochalicious lede and refuses to bury it in the dirt.

And what does that mean?  You gotta click to find out.

I’ve been blacklisted (brownlisted?) from Ford PR events as long as I remember, but I attended this shindig via the King Ranch side of the Ford+King Ranch love fest.  So I donned my cheap cowhide boots, my thrift store boot cut jeans and herded the Duratec Ranger’s 150-ish horses to the Rodeo…pardner.

IMG_2924

As the massive complex–housing the once amazing Astrodome—filled up, I noticed how this Rodeo’s grown in the last 10-20 years.  Ford’s booth hawked their latest wares much like any auto show, complete with a “media only” area for us bloggers, social media influencers and local autojournos. There was the new aluminum F-150, the new-ish Expedition and the current Super Duty…all in King Ranch guise, ‘natch.

And yes, the King Ranch is actually a famous Ranch, much like Bill Blass was a name on Lincolns attached to an actual person. They sold cowboy grade stuff nearby at their Saddle Shop at the Rodeo, too. But I digress…

IMG_2890

So what does a native Houstonian think of the aluminum cage’d F150? Pretty cool inside and out, as their design/engineering embodies continuous improvement, even if the rig is far too big for its own good. The doors close with less vault-like heft of the last-gen steel body, but it still feels great. And even the door card is all kinds of broughamy from the days of Ford LTDs with covered headlights and Ghia-clad Granadas.

IMG_2896

Now, even more than before, Ford’s take on the American Workhorse is the unquestioned Audi of Pickups.

IMG_2922

The new Expedition is a modest evolution, lacking the “WTF” face of the Tahoe’s buzz saw headlights. Its refined snout is a pleasurable throwback to the beard trimming grille of the UR-Fusion.

The hallmark all-wheel independent suspension and the massive fold flat 3rd row seat still bowl me over: shame on GM for not following suit.  But the interior feels distinctly cheap compared to the F-150. But every Ford product takes an R&D back seat to the almighty F-series, right? #pantherlove

 

IMG_2939

The Super Duty (ever present on the Rodeo’s dirt floor) has a new oil-burnin’ motor for 2015, but the stuff you can touch looks about the same.  The new-ish center stack loaded with SYNC looks functional enough, but again, the interior lacks the refinement of the F150.  Ditto the exterior.  But the King Ranch trimming in all three models drove home the fact that this is the brownest lineup in the car biz. Or at least the truck biz…and it’s been that way for 15 years now?

And, as a founding member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society on Facebook, a tail-wags-the-dog group that made brown as “important” as diesels and manual transmissions to auto journos and to the PR flacks that do anything to get their attention, it’s nice to believe our mission adds to the King Ranch’s reach. Because brown makes the King Ranch a cut above, even if the leather isn’t as buttery soft as before: hopefully the lack of tenderness means it’ll hold up better than older models.

Ford also had a brief presentation, after most guests Frank Bacon-ized themselves with free food/booze in the luxury suite.  Succumbing to the urge I felt in 2011 when buying my Ranger, I asked the Ford F-series rep why Dearborn talked me out of an F-150 by making it impossible to configure what I wanted: a regular cab, XLT, short bed, 4×4, limited slip differential with the 6.2L Hurricane-Boss V8.  You know, a Ford Tremor without the poseur trim, the tacky console and a half-ton of big block V8 instead of that funny soundin’ EcoBoost motor.

The rep went into some detail about the cost-benefit of offering everything under the sun (a fair point for any corporation, to some extent) and then threw me a bone:

“You definitely know what you want, maybe we can accommodate you in the future.”

So if the BOSS V8 ever shows up in some twisted FoMoCo homage to the GMC Syclone…well…YOU ARE WELCOME, SON. For now, enjoy these chocolatey photos showing a time when Ford, King Ranch and a lot of brown joined forces to impress rodeo-going pistonheads.

 

 

IMG_2888 IMG_2889 IMG_2890 IMG_2891 IMG_2892 IMG_2893 IMG_2894 IMG_2895 IMG_2896 IMG_2898 IMG_2900 IMG_2901 IMG_2902 IMG_2903 IMG_2904 IMG_2905 IMG_2907 IMG_2908 IMG_2909 IMG_2912 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915 IMG_2917 IMG_2918 IMG_2922 IMG_2923 IMG_2924 IMG_2925 IMG_2926 IMG_2927 IMG_2928 IMG_2935 IMG_2936 IMG_2937 IMG_2939 kingranch photo IMG_2890 IMG_2896 IMG_2922 IMG_2936 IMG_2939 IMG_2924 kingranch photo

The post Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/feed/ 86
Ur-Turn: The Cruze-amino Is GM’s CAFE-Proof Small Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ur-turn-the-cruze-amino-is-gms-cafe-proof-small-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ur-turn-the-cruze-amino-is-gms-cafe-proof-small-truck/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779153 TTAC reader Evan Reisner thinks that a small pickup is just the ticket for GM. But it’s not the one you may expect. The prevailing wisdom on TTAC is that many Americans are interested in a compact pickup truck – but the same wisdom also suggests that such a truck would be bad for GM’s […]

The post Ur-Turn: The Cruze-amino Is GM’s CAFE-Proof Small Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
mm_gal_item_c2_0.img_resize.img_stage._2

TTAC reader Evan Reisner thinks that a small pickup is just the ticket for GM. But it’s not the one you may expect.

The prevailing wisdom on TTAC is that many Americans are interested in a compact pickup truck – but the same wisdom also suggests that such a truck would be bad for GM’s CAFE ratings. Market demand aside, CAFE is one of the reasons that Chrysler and Ford got out of the small truck game.

Yet few people know that The General has a product that can combine the best of both worlds. But they’ve chosen not to offer it in the USA.

 

mm_gal_item_c2_8b72.img_resize.img_stage._2

You can buy it in South Africa, where it’s called the Chevrolet Utility. In Brazil, it’s the Chevrolet Montana. When it’s built and sold in Mexico, it’s the Chevrolet Tornado. I call it the Cruze-amino. And Mexico, which is one of its assembly sites, can allow for duty-free importation, without the dreaded Chicken Tax.

In terms of wheelbase, the truck is squarely between a Cruze and a Sonic. Ironically, it has more in common with the Jeep Renegade than either of those cars, since it’s based on the same SCCS platform shared with Fiat Chrysler. And yes, a diesel is available too.

The Chevrolet is only available in a single body style, and two trim levels. The bed is 66″ long by 52″ wide. That bed would be plenty handy for a lot of folks’ needs. If you need to haul sheetrock or plywood on a regular basis, this probably isn’t the truck for you anyhow. But if you need to do the occasional Home Depot run, you can always buy a small trailer.

Pricing is reasonable as well – right in Sonic and Cruze territory. There’s a base model that’s pretty stripped, starting out at US$13,800. The next level up adds A/C and some creature comforts for around $15,500. The top of the line doesn’t get much over $18,000.

Some time ago, a front-drive “lifestyle” truck was apparently being considered by FCA, using a Fiat platform, but the project never made it to America. Unlike the mid-size Colorado, which is a revival of a declining segment, the front-drive truck has scarcely been tested in America – only the Subaru BRAT comes to mind. Maybe it’s time to try something new.

The post Ur-Turn: The Cruze-amino Is GM’s CAFE-Proof Small Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ur-turn-the-cruze-amino-is-gms-cafe-proof-small-truck/feed/ 172
Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 12:05:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769298 TTAC Commentator sastexan writes: With the extreme cold throughout the US and seeing a few shredded tires on the highway this week (in fact, I had a flat myself – not sure what caused it but possibly doing donuts in the FR-S on a parking lot last week with lots of broken up ice on […]

The post Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

TTAC Commentator sastexan writes:

With the extreme cold throughout the US and seeing a few shredded tires on the highway this week (in fact, I had a flat myself – not sure what caused it but possibly doing donuts in the FR-S on a parking lot last week with lots of broken up ice on the edges), I got to thinking about spare tires.

Many of the Best and Brightest have “keeper” cars – myself included with our old Camry. Tires have limited lifespans due to dry rot, and I’m guessing spare tires are included in that category. The spare in the Camry is the original 14 year old tire (full size spare at least). How often do people change their spares, if ever? Has anyone with an aged spare had it blow out due to dry rot? Can you just order a new space saver spare off of tire rack?

Take care,

Steven

Sajeev answers:

Very interesting question, one that raises even more questions! Keep these in mind before we proceed:

  • Tires dry rot slower when living in an enclosed space with no exposure to sunlight (UV rays).
  • You may not see visible cracks like other rotted tires, but rest assured at some point the rubber has petrified like a rock.
  • The odds of getting stranded by a rotted temporary spare is less likely than an ordinary tire, as nobody wants to roll around on that tiny donut for an extended period.
  • Low air pressure can be the reason for a spare blow out, as they tend to leak profusely after a few years of hibernating in a trunk.
  • The items listed above will not necessarily apply to externally mounted spares in trucks/SUVs/CUVs. Treat those more like your other four wheels.

Externally mounted full size spare owners: change the tire every 5-10 years…more or less, depending on your risk tolerance and driving needs.  Or re-use one of your “old” tires as a spare when upgrading to new ones for your regular wheels. And if you are luckily to have a matching 5th wheel as a spare (or unlucky enough to have 5 steel wheels on your ride) just rotate it into the mix.

Externally mounted temporary spare owners?  Good question, as this is a future quandary of my little Ranger pick-em-up truck.  Then again, it might be similar to our next case…

Internally mounted spare owners?  Who knows the safe lifespan, but I’d wager that 10+ years is fine, since I’ve used the original spare in my Mark VIII for short distances in urban conditions. I’d change my tune if I was traveling hundreds of miles daily on rural roads…grabbing spare tires from crusher-bound Taurii and Fusions in the process.

Whenever you “internally mounted spare” folks are ready for new rubber, well yes, Tire Rack sells spares…but I’ll assume China’s finest off-brand donuts trade for less money from another vendor, as that happened when my 1983 Ford Sierra needed new tires in it’s unobtanium space saver-esque size for a measly $34 a pop.  Which is more than adequate for the job.

In the case of your Camry?  I say replace it (full size spare in the trunk) with one of the external tires when its time for new shoes. Or get a used tire from any local shop for $20-ish.  Or just make sure it’s inflated to spec and you drive SLOW (i.e. 50mph or less) for a short period of time. There’s no wrong answer here, unless you’re stranded in the middle of no where and must rely on a fresh tire to take you hundreds of miles away in a harsh climate.

As with everything in life, this Piston Slap boils down to: It depends.

So eyeball the rubber and keep it inflated to spec.  That’s a good start. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

The post Piston Slap: “Spare” Me from Dry Rot! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-spare-me-from-dry-rot/feed/ 41
Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Ups The Off-Road Ante http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-ups-the-off-road-ante/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-ups-the-off-road-ante/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 16:22:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735081 With Toyota serving as the market leader in body-on-frame trucks (the Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner and now departed FJ Cruiser), taking aim at the off-road segment seems like a logical next step for their TRD aftermarket division. The new TRD Pro lineup, shown above, clearly apes the styling cues of the Ford Raptor, and is evidence […]

The post Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Ups The Off-Road Ante appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
CHRIS BURKARD PHOTOGRAPHY, TOYOTA, TRD

With Toyota serving as the market leader in body-on-frame trucks (the Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner and now departed FJ Cruiser), taking aim at the off-road segment seems like a logical next step for their TRD aftermarket division. The new TRD Pro lineup, shown above, clearly apes the styling cues of the Ford Raptor, and is evidence that Toyota is not going to let the Blue Oval have that market all to itself

The TRD Pro trucks won’t get any engine upgrades, but every truck in the lineup gets  TRD Bilstein shocks with a remote reservoir, TRD-tuned front springs, a front skid plate, and unique grille with a large Toyota badge in the center. All three of the vehicles will have lifted front ends, with the Tundra and Tacoma getting a 2 inch raise while the 4Runner makes do with 1.5.

The Tundra will get 18 inch wheels, with the 4Runner getting 17 inchers and the Tacoma sporting 16″ wheels. Each vehicle will get an upgraded interior with TRD parts, with the 4Runner sports an extra inch of wheel travel and the Tacoma gets a TRD exhaust.

The post Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Ups The Off-Road Ante appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-ups-the-off-road-ante/feed/ 20
Junkyard Find: 1974 AM General FJ-8A Ice Cream Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1974-am-general-fj-8a-ice-cream-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1974-am-general-fj-8a-ice-cream-truck/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706234 We see quite a few AM General DJ-5 mail Jeeps in this series, but what about all the big FJ-series mail trucks built by AMC with help from its Overland-Willys-Kaiser ancestry? For that, I had to venture to Southern California. Most of those 1970s FJ-8s seem to have become more or less sketchy ice cream […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1974 AM General FJ-8A Ice Cream Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
21 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWe see quite a few AM General DJ-5 mail Jeeps in this series, but what about all the big FJ-series mail trucks built by AMC with help from its Overland-Willys-Kaiser ancestry? For that, I had to venture to Southern California. Most of those 1970s FJ-8s seem to have become more or less sketchy ice cream trucks, and it’s hard to find a creepier Junkyard Find than a dead ice cream truck.
BoogieManIceCream-1280px-4The ice cream trucks that aren’t in the junkyard yet can also be pretty scary. Here’s the “Boogie Man Ice Cream” truck, which I spotted on San Leandro Street in East Oakland a few years back. For the full effect, you’ll need to download some authentic ice cream truck music files.
18 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to beat this seat for simplicity.
05 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust a big steel box with an engine, a seat… and ptomaine.
14 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure this truck distributed many a stale Choco Taco in its day.
11 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe newest Long Beach food-vendor license seems to be 2005.
02 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAm I looking at this wrong, or is this AMC six installed backwards?

01 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1974 AM General FJ-81 Ice Cream Truck Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1974 AM General FJ-8A Ice Cream Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/junkyard-find-1974-am-general-fj-8a-ice-cream-truck/feed/ 40
2015 GMC Canyon Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2014 17:10:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=696777   So, it’s mechanically identical to the Colorado. But it comes in brown.

The post 2015 GMC Canyon Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
cyn16

 

So, it’s mechanically identical to the Colorado. But it comes in brown.

cyn1 cyn2 cyn3 (1) cyn3 cyn4 cyn6 cyn7 cyn8 cyn9 cyn10 cyn11 cyn12 cyn13 cyn14 cyn15 cyn16 cyn17 cyn18

The post 2015 GMC Canyon Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-gmc-canyon-revealed/feed/ 120
A Texan’s First Truck http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/a-texans-first-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/a-texans-first-truck/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=692865 I used to daily drive a 1969 Chevrolet CST/10. The 1967 to 1972 Chevrolet and GMC trucks were a big step towards what we see now as a modern pickup. Gone were the divorced hood and fender styling, strong (uni)brow hood line, and lean-forward look of the cab. This bodystyle would later define the bodylines and grille design of the later trucks, […]

The post A Texan’s First Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
cst10

I used to daily drive a 1969 Chevrolet CST/10. The 1967 to 1972 Chevrolet and GMC trucks were a big step towards what we see now as a modern pickup. Gone were the divorced hood and fender styling, strong (uni)brow hood line, and lean-forward look of the cab. This bodystyle would later define the bodylines and grille design of the later trucks, especially in the early GMT800 trucks where they share the same hood and style-line down the side.

What arrived was a clean-cut design, with more upright styling, streamlined front and side sheet metal, and modern proportions. The coil spring trailing arm suspension in the rear was a revolution in handing and ride comfort; so much so that NASCAR still uses an identical rear suspension today. The long control arms are resistant to axle hop, and improve the behavior of the rear axle. The front suspension was a short/long-arm design, similar to contemporary GM sedans at the time, though much stronger.

And for HD applications, you could still get a traditional leaf sprung rear end, though on paper the two were rated for the same payload. By far, GM had the best truck chassis at the time compared to Ford and Dodge’s relatively uncivilized pickups. Dodge was still using a dead-beam front axle, and Ford was in full swing with their front swing arms; which after recently driving one makes me appreciate my CST/10′s SLA suspension.

Settling into the 2000′s, these attributes made the truck popular with hotrodders of all types. The custom truck scene clamored to shove airbags into the trailing arm trucks for a cheap and easy bagged suspension. The Pro-Touring scene found that overall suspension package was relatively capable. And the muscle truck guys found comfort in the fact that a fair number of them came with a 396 big block and 4spd, or often a TH400 auto — making these a decent drag truck.

I was in high school when I first started seeing these trucks, but my tastes ran towards the mini-truckin’ scene, and I read Truckin’ mag religiously. Pages and pages of air kits for Hardbodies and S10′s, wheels of every shape and taste and a wealth of custom suspension to gawk at in the various feature trucks. The ’67-’72′s always stood out, since they were just damn good looking no matter what you did, while the platform lent itself to an array of different builds and drivetrains.

My neighbor, also a gear head, had brought home a ’69 CST/10 one day. It took all of five minutes for him to realize it wasn’t going to fit in his garage once he got it here, and offered it to me for $500. It was a rolling shell, no motor or transmission. I scrounged up cash from my parents, and in January of ’07, it was mine.

Most of the big money parts came from my family during Christmas and my birthday. New light lenses, door panels, giant 4-core radiator, lights, etc. I dredged through the 67-72Chevytrucks.com forums for build ideas. Some of what I took back were upgrading to 73-87 “Heavy Half” 12.5” disc brakes up front, seats out of a modern ’08 Silverado (GM has used a flat floorpan since forever, seat swaps are easy), shoulder belts out of an 80′s S10 (the cab has threaded anchors for the upper belt), and H4 conversion headlights. In the winter of ’07, I sold my ’90 Pontiac Firebird and used the cash to finish the truck. It eventually gained a new gas tank, 3” lowering springs and shocks, and a few other tricks before hitting the streets.

On my birthday, February of ’09, I took it for its first legal drive. To say that it was the baddest truck at the highschool parking lot was an understatement. My orange, low, loud, black-steelied CST/10 stood out from the cookie-cutter bro trucks, with its retro looks and the distinct rumble from the mild cam in the 350 small-block.

I drove it hard for four years, before driving it from Austin to College Station for a weekend of drinking and partying, and then to Houston to store it. At the time, I was flipping cars to pay for college, and making half-decent cash. But storage was an issue, and I was stuck with 4 cars at once. My dad had a side driveway for a trailer that I could stash the truck in for the time being.

The truck ended up sitting for three years, partly due to unresolved mechanical issues. I would take it out every few months to go around the block and burn off some fuel, and top it off with fresh gas to keep the fuel happy. Unfortunately, during one nostalgic full throttle run, it blew a freeze plug, and began to overheat. While my Dad was confident that I could drive it the last mile home by driving to speed and coasting with the motor off, I was unsuccessful

I managed to push the orange behemoth into a parking lot and started walking home. I was surfing Craigslist for a new small block, or cheap LS 5.3 truck motor. A buddy of mine came over and we rope-towed the truck to my house. Once I got home, I was so frustrated, I didn’t bother to look at it. When my dad came home later, we put a wrench on the crank and found that the motor still spun. Meaning, it wasn’t seized. The level of relief I felt is hard to put into words. Must be the starter, I thought.

After running to 4 different parts stores, trying to remember where I had a lifetime warranty on the damn thing, I installed it only to find no change. Then, it hit me. Battery cables. The steam from the freezeplug had flash-corroded the terminals and killed the connection. Sure enough, a little backwoods trick of soaking the cable-ends in Coke was all it took to get it fired up. Even so, I never really got around to replacing the freezeplug, on account of my studies and other events in my life.

 

culprit

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I got around to replacing it, fixing the motor mounts and all the other fun stuff that needs to be done after a vintage truck has been sitting idle for years.. My goal now was to get it ready to drive back to Austin on the next weekend. After a few hours messing around with the thing, it came time to fill it with coolant and fire it up.

Almost instantly there was a leak from the back of the block.

No.

Both sides of the block.

No, no.

A quick rev of the throttle to knock the carb off high-idle, and then two more freeze plugs blew. Nope. No more of this day. As the steam billowed from the engine bay I took a long look at the truck. Visions of “For Sale” signs danced around in my mind.

 

The post A Texan’s First Truck appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/a-texans-first-truck/feed/ 36
Commercial Break: The Elusive Female Truck Buyer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/commercial-break-the-elusive-female-truck-buyer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/commercial-break-the-elusive-female-truck-buyer/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=692849 A woman and her horse: the pairing that GM hopes will persuade female consumers to consider the Chevrolet line of trucks. At a time when truck ads are pushing masculinity to absurd heights, it’s a bold move. Even so, it’s a fundamentally conservative approach to a difficult marketing problem. How do you sell pickup trucks […]

The post Commercial Break: The Elusive Female Truck Buyer appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Click here to view the embedded video.

A woman and her horse: the pairing that GM hopes will persuade female consumers to consider the Chevrolet line of trucks. At a time when truck ads are pushing masculinity to absurd heights, it’s a bold move. Even so, it’s a fundamentally conservative approach to a difficult marketing problem.

How do you sell pickup trucks to women? For a long time, the answer has been that you don’t. Close to 90% of pickup buyers are male, a ratio which hasn’t changed much in decades. Making the business case for attracting more women to the pickup market isn’t hard. Full-size trucks have been the prime moneymakers for Detroit for years, a market that the Japanese would like a bigger piece of as well. A skewed sex ratio means that valuable female consumer dollars are gravitating towards other, less profitable segments. In GM’s case, CUVs like the Equinox, Terrain, and Enclave have proved popular with female buyers. But pushing those consumers towards the loaded pickups on the other side of the showroom is even better news for the bottom line. Brand strategists have realized that the full-size truck is now the de facto top of the model hierarchy, at least for the Detroit 3. Upselling women into pickups and SUVs is a natural evolution of an age-old marketing scheme: turn in your smaller vehicle for a bigger, more luxurious one.

If only it were that easy. The thorny dilemma that immediately rears its head is how to market trucks to women without compromising their masculine image in the eyes of male consumers. As long as strong, rugged maleness remains the accepted paradigm for truck ads, the hands of agencies and marketing departments are tied. For the dominant manufacturers in the truck game, there’s no need to shake up the status quo on a product that already sells in droves. The companies with a smaller slice of the pie seem content to ape the strategy of the more successful brands in the hopes of gradually elevating sales. The result is an echo chamber of advertising which intentionally minimizes the role of women or excludes them entirely.

However, there are three factors which might motivate companies to pursue female truck buyers more aggressively. The first is the already-discussed temptation to upsell and broaden the pickup market generally. The second is that for a major product with such lucrative margins, the 10-15% of women who already buy new trucks is “not an insignificant number,” as Chevrolet truck marketing director Maria Rohrer explained to Business Insider back in July. Thirdly, advertising campaigns that incorporate women or themes relevant to women may influence purchasing decisions regardless of who signs on the dotted line. Although women are the direct buyers in a relatively small portion of truck sales, they influence countless more as the wives, daughters, business partners and girlfriends of male truck purchasers. Chevrolet’s “Strong” music video seems to take this influence into account. Although there’s a single female driver at around the 2:46 mark, there are many other women interspersed throughout the ad. The lyrics to the song are a paean to the sturdy blue-collar man who puts work and family above all else, a move away from the kind of brashness that characterizes Ford’s current ad series for the F-series. It’s one thing to give women a nod by putting them in the background, but how do you sell to them directly?

Chevrolet’s solution is an ad featuring a woman that explicitly eschews traditionally feminine themes. There are no kids being buckled into car seats, no painted fingernails tapping touchscreens, no group of women disembarking from a quad cab at the beach or the mall. It’s the opposite of the (in)famous Porsche “school bus” commercial, which dropped Porsche vehicles into a variety of mundane scenarios. Instead, we get a tough, independent woman hurling hay bales into the back of her new Silverado. She’s thin, youngish, and attractive, but not “pretty” or delicate: her hair is loose and wild, she has a tattoo on her wrist, and she looks at home in her cowboy boots, flannel, and sunglasses. She’s the only woman in the entire ad, outside of a quick crowd shot at the rodeo. She handles her horse and her truck entirely by herself; independence is the clear message. At the end of the day, she wins “a ribbon that goes on her wall, not in her hair.” As the author of the Business Insider piece astutely observed, and ad chief Rohrer confirmed, the narrative is designed to be “something that everyone could relate to.” And therein lies the fundamental conservatism of this approach: it seeks to attract female consumers within the existing, male-centric paradigm. There’s no serious risk of the masculinity of Chevy trucks being watered down from this ad, even though the main character is a woman. It engages women within the context of an open but overwhelmingly male-dominated activity. This is the safe approach, but is it the right one?

                The issue with this spot is that the direct appeal is ultimately very narrow. Even among the women who already buy pickups, the number of rodeo-competing horse enthusiasts is tiny. And it is very remote from the lives of the small business owners, industrial professionals, and affluent suburbanites who might form the core of a new female class of truck buyers. In other words, the appeal of the ad is deep within its narrow target, but not broad. Were I asked to design my own ad campaign for pickup trucks that targeted women, I would try to choose a widely relevant situation. A woman loading up home improvement supplies would be an example. So would a female contractor visiting a job site, or a business owner making a delivery. It might be worthwhile to toss a few kids into the ad as well, but not as the main focus. A woman and her horse is a step in the right direction, but it’s not likely to get many more women to consider a truck than those that already do. That’s probably what Chevrolet was going for, but expanding the market should be a long-term strategic goal.

The post Commercial Break: The Elusive Female Truck Buyer appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/commercial-break-the-elusive-female-truck-buyer/feed/ 69
Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-tradesman-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-tradesman-van/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684786 The Dodge Tradesman cargo van of the 1970s was quite popular among customizers back in the days of 20% annual inflation and talk-box guitar solos, as we saw with this ’72 Tradesman Junkyard Find last year. In the very same San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, here’s a Slant-6 Tradesman that doesn’t quite qualify as […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
11 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Dodge Tradesman cargo van of the 1970s was quite popular among customizers back in the days of 20% annual inflation and talk-box guitar solos, as we saw with this ’72 Tradesman Junkyard Find last year. In the very same San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard, here’s a Slant-6 Tradesman that doesn’t quite qualify as a custom van— not with just tinted glass and aftermarket wheels— but is still a nice time capsule.
05 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinChrysler kept the same basic design for its truck HVAC controls for nearly 20 years; my 1966 Dodge A100 has nearly identical cable-operated controls.
03 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSlant-6 engine, 3-on-the-tree. Not very quick, but about as reliable as you could get in the 1970s.
17 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t see many of these vans with the single rear door option.
08 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinJust a plain steel box with the base engine, but it kept going for nearly 40 years.

01 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 -1976 Dodge Tradesman Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1976 Dodge Tradesman Van appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1976-dodge-tradesman-van/feed/ 23
Exclusive: Next-Generation Ford F-150 Delayed By Nearly Three Months Due To Aluminum Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/exclusive-next-generation-ford-f-150-delayed-by-nearly-three-months-due-to-aluminum-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/exclusive-next-generation-ford-f-150-delayed-by-nearly-three-months-due-to-aluminum-issues/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2013 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=677538 TTAC’s supplier sources have reported that Ford is facing issues regarding their next-generation F-150 pickup, which is slated to use aluminum extensively. Having previously reported on the F-150′s aluminum body, our source told us that the aluminum (said to be an alloy) supplied by Alcoa and other Tier 2 suppliers did not meet internal forming requirements for the “tooling tryout” […]

The post Exclusive: Next-Generation Ford F-150 Delayed By Nearly Three Months Due To Aluminum Issues appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
13-Aluminum-Tile

TTAC’s supplier sources have reported that Ford is facing issues regarding their next-generation F-150 pickup, which is slated to use aluminum extensively. Having previously reported on the F-150′s aluminum body, our source told us that the aluminum (said to be an alloy) supplied by Alcoa and other Tier 2 suppliers did not meet internal forming requirements for the “tooling tryout” phase of pre-production. As a result, Job 1 at the Dearborn Truck Plant, which is the lead plant for the program, will be delayed between 6 to 10 weeks.

Our source claims that the main issue with the aluminum comes in its inability to be properly formed. Aluminum’s “elastic or Young’s modulus” (the materials property to return to its normal shape after hitting it with a die) is roughly 1/3 that of steel. If the material properties are even slightly off, then it completely derail a given project.

According to our source, Alcoa and other aluminum suppliers will be under the gun to deliver the proper materials on time and not drag the delays out any further. Ford will have already blown their Memorial Day launch target, with the new F-150 said to be late availability in 2014, with Ford’s Kansas City plant said to be cranking out current generation trucks, which will now feature a frame that is one full gauge thinner on “non-tow” models.

The delay further pressures Ford when it comes time to  launch Dearborn Truck Plant’s body shop.  Since building Aluminum bodies will be new to DTP, pre-production builds will take place at the body shop tooling vendor’s site, and then dropped into Dearborn’s paint shop for Final Assembly.

Ford will then dive headfirst into the MP1 and MP2 cars, which are considered saleable units, leaving them with far less breathing room to iron out the bugs on what is undoubtedly Ford’s most complex and crucial launch this decade. Ford’s gamble on aluminum, which initially looked to be a bold play with lots of potential upside, is now looking like a much riskier bet. And with the F-Series accounting for the vast majority of Ford’s global profits, the Blue Oval literally cannot afford to make a mistake.

 Update: Alcoa responds

The post Exclusive: Next-Generation Ford F-150 Delayed By Nearly Three Months Due To Aluminum Issues appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/exclusive-next-generation-ford-f-150-delayed-by-nearly-three-months-due-to-aluminum-issues/feed/ 89
Junkyard Find: 1978 Dodge Ramcharger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1978-dodge-ramcharger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1978-dodge-ramcharger/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=670298 Even though Denver wrecking yards are always full of old trucks, the Dodge Ramcharger isn’t quite as common as its GM, Ford, and Jeep rivals. In fact, this Royal SE ’83 Ramcharger is the only example we’ve seen in this series, prior to today’s find. This tan Dodge is every bit as Malaise-y as the […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1978 Dodge Ramcharger appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
15 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinEven though Denver wrecking yards are always full of old trucks, the Dodge Ramcharger isn’t quite as common as its GM, Ford, and Jeep rivals. In fact, this Royal SE ’83 Ramcharger is the only example we’ve seen in this series, prior to today’s find. This tan Dodge is every bit as Malaise-y as the yellow ’76 Wagoneer we saw last month, so let’s look at these photos and imagine what it was like driving a 9 MPG truck during a period of high inflation and steep gas prices.
03 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinTan with brown and orange stripes. I think the library— wait, I mean “media center”— in my junior high school was done up in very similar colors, back in 1979.
12 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t want to know what kind of horsepower the 318 (or 360) made in 1978. The torque was enough, let’s leave it at that.
05 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAt least it has a real transmission.
13 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYou don’t see many of these engine-coolant heaters these days.
10 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s a bit rusty, but probably still had some life left.

An all-around family car!

01 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1978 Dodge Ramcharger Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1978 Dodge Ramcharger appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/junkyard-find-1978-dodge-ramcharger/feed/ 33
Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-ram-1500-eco-diesel-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-ram-1500-eco-diesel-with-video/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=664570 There’s just something about a diesel pickup truck that makes grown men regress into Tonka-loving children. Even my Prius-driving environmentalist friends in Berkeley admit they secretly want a diesel pickup. The problem of course is that diesel pickups are expensive (the cheapest diesel Ram 2500 is $36,975 and it doesn’t have an automatic transmission, the cheapest […]

The post Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-005

There’s just something about a diesel pickup truck that makes grown men regress into Tonka-loving children. Even my Prius-driving environmentalist friends in Berkeley admit they secretly want a diesel pickup. The problem of course is that diesel pickups are expensive (the cheapest diesel Ram 2500 is $36,975 and it doesn’t have an automatic transmission, the cheapest oil-burning F-250 is $38,250) and, for the majority of us, the high payload and towing capacities are overkill. While economical in a specific sense, the large diesel trucks aren’t “fuel-efficient” either. Until now. Mark your calendars folks, The 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel is the half-ton truck in America sporting a small diesel engine.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

Although new in 2010 and refreshed for the 2013, the 1500 is undeniably a Ram. That’s because Chrysler prefers evolutionary rather than revolutionary styling when it comes to their volume truck. That’s not a bad thing, since the 1994 style cues that have lived on were sexy back then, and still attractive today. The big-rig  front end still captures my attention, but despite my family’s Ram addiction, I find the 2014 Silverado’s nose to be the better looker. As with most redesigns, the front end got bigger, brasher and has more chrome than ever before.

As you’d expect from Chrysler’s best-selling vehicle, you can get your Ram in a bevy of configurations. There are 9 trim levels, three cabs and three bed sizes available. Mix and match them and you can drive for miles without seeing an identical Ram. Of course two of those 9 trim levels cannot be injected with some diesel love. Thankfully however the trims are excluded are the Sport and Express, meaning the base Tradesman trim is diesel eligible, bringing the diesel pickup entry point down to $28,465, $8,150 less than the cheapest diesel truck in 2013. Interestingly, nothing outside calls attention to the engine under the hood aside from the EcoDiesel badging on the front quarter panels. Out back, we get twin chrome exhaust tips, just like the V8 model and the engine idles so quietly most people assumed a gasoline V6 was under the hood. More on that later.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-002

Interior

As I said in my Silverado review last week, I was surprised that GM didn’t delay the Silverado launch to spend some time polishing up the interior. Despite the re-tweaked 2013 Ram being on the market a year before GM’s truck launched (and the basis for that interior landing in 2010) the Ram still has the best interior in the segment. Your level of interior refinement varies by trim level with the entry-level Tradesman model using plenty of hard plastics while the top-end Ram coats in the interior in stitched leather and real wood trim. In an interesting move, SLT and Laramie models can be optioned to have the same two-ton dash as the top-end Long Horn edition although the real wood and a few other niceties are skipped. Regardless of the trim, controls are conveniently located and easy to operate. While certain models keep a traditional column shifter, most Ram 1500s will be equipped with Dodge and Ram’s Jaguar-like rotary-knob shifter. While I agree that it saves console space vs a console mounted unit, it strikes me as “gimmickier”. I found it tricky to use at first but did become used to it after a week.

Front seat comfort in the Ram is excellent, but a hair behind the Silverado. That’s thanks largely to someone at Chrysler’s ergonomics department that has a concave posterior. All of Chrysler’s latest seat designs have a pronounced (and firm) bottom cushion that feels like you’re sitting on an exercise ball. Although less of a problem in the Ram than in the Chrysler 200, the problem is still present. Despite this I had no issues driving the Ram for 2 hours at a time and I still found it a better place to spend my time than an F-150. Rear seats are lower to the floor than in Chevy’s new truck and slightly less comfortable as well.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-005

Infotainment

Things start off with uConnect 3.0 which is a basic head unit with a 4-line monochromatic display. Similar to Ford’s basic SYNC system, uConnect 3.0 offers full MP3/iDevice integration for media without the fancy graphics. Next we have uConnect 5.0. While this middle tier system may look like the uConnect system we have seen before, it’s actually unrelated. Running on a Microsoft embedded OS and not QNX (a UNIX variant), the unit is more sluggish than the 8.4-inch system but offers many of the same features excluding navigation. While other Chrysler and Fiat models will have the option to add TomTom navigation later, that doesn’t appear to apply to the Ram.

Our Laramie model was equipped with the second generation uConnect 8.4 system. The second generation system adds smartphone app integration, emergency crash notification and 911 assist (along the lines of OnStar). The big deal here is the inclusion of a dedicated Sprint cellular modem integrated into the system. This allows the head unit to function similarly to OnStar in that you don’t have to have a paired Bluetooth cell phone to get emergency services (like you do with Ford’s MyFord Touch). uConnect can also act as a 3G WiFi hot spot if you pay for the right subscription. Software updates can be downloaded over the air and the user can buy/download apps via the integrated app store, just like a smartphone. The standard 6-speaker sound system is not much to write home about, but the seven or nine speaker Alipne system that comes standard with the 8.4-inch touchscreen on most models has a balanced and natural sound.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine-001Drivetrain

Base models still have a 305 horsepower 3.6L V6 borrowed from Chrysler’s passenger cars, good for 269 lb-ft of torque. That’s about the same as Ford’s 3.7L V6 but well below GM’s truck-only 4.3L engine. Shoppers can still get some HEMI-love by checking the box for the second generation 5.7L V8 making 395 ponies and a healthy 410 lb-ft of torque. But gasoline engines aren’t what’s new, it’s the diesel burning 3.0L V6 that we’re all here to talk about. But first we need to walk back in time.

In 2007 GM purchased 50% of the Italian engine maker VM Motori. The logic was that GM needed a smooth Euro compliant diesel engine for the Cadillac CTS (and other models) in order to compete with the Germans. Sadly, GM declared bankruptcy between the engine being designed and the engine actually being used so it sat on a shelf. In 2011 Fiat bought the other half of VM Motori and found the engine gathering dust. Fiat had some quick tweaks done to the engine to make it more suitable for their use and the EcoDiesel V6 was born. While there was much talk about GM getting their hands on this same engine for Silverado duty, Fiat recently snapped up the other half of VM Motri making this a Fiat/Chrysler engine in every way that matters.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine

The high revving single turbo aluminum-block V6 engine produces 240 horsepower and a stout 420 lb-ft of torque. If those numbers sound impressive, consider this. The first 5.9L Cummins engine Chrysler used in the 2500 and 3500 series RAM trucks produced 94 fewer ponies and 20 fewer twists. In the biggest statement of progress I have seen in a while, that Cummins also delivered its power via five fewer gears.

Like the rest of the Ram 1500 lineup (except for one model with a 5.7L HEMI), all 1/2 ton Rams now use ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission. If you’re worried it’s just a passenger car transmission that’s not up to the task, ZF’s 8-speed transmissions are also found behind the insane twin-turbo V12s that the Germans love so much.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior

Towing & Payload

The 2014 Silverado’s 1,875 to 2,100 pound payload easily bests the Ram’s 1,340-1,620 pound range and even the F-150′s 1,510-2,090 is superior depending on how you align the trim level comparisons. (Ford still offers a “Heavy Duty” package on the F-150 which gives it a stronger frame comparable to the F-250 but Ram and GM have killed similar packages on their models.) Likewise the Ram Eco Diesel’s 9,200lb tow rating pales in comparison with the Silverado’s 12,000lb towing rating. Until you actually tow or haul that is.

Drive

Unless you need those extra pounds of payload capacity (a valid point to be sure), most shoppers will be better off with the Ram. Why? Because of how it tows and hauls. Let’s start with the 8-speed automatic. Even if you don’t choose the diesel engine, the 8-speed automatic’s greater ratio spread and faster gear changes more than bridge the 30-36 lb-ft divide between the Silverado and the Ram V6 and V8. That ratio spread and the high 4,800 RPM redline of the small diesel engine combine to make the Ram drive more like a gasoline V8 truck around town. With my 7,500lb trailer (loaded) attached, the 1500 Eco Diesel pulled effortlessly up steep grades with the transmission cranking out shifts like a Gatling gun. The small diesel and tall final gear allowed the 5,800lb pickup truck to average an impressive 24.2 MPG during my week with the truck which included out towing, hauling and 0-60 tests. On the open highway it had no trouble averaging 29 MPG at 70 MPH.

This is going to sound nuts to some, but I’m actually disappointed with the way the engine sounds. Chrysler fitted an ultra quiet exhaust system and more foam padding than a teenager’s bra to the 3.0L V6. This means that aside from a glow-plug icon on the dash that flashes for a millisecond, you’d be hard pressed to know a diesel is under the hood. After the engine has been started you get a brief moment of diesel clatter before it settles down to a quiet idle. When pressed, the engine clatters a hair more but it never sounds like a 3/4 ton diesel. Pity.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-010

Ram raised eyebrows when they announced that their half ton truck would use coil rather than leaf springs in the rear suspension. The change has been lauded by some and vilified by the folks with Calvin-peeing-on-Ram stickers on their trucks. The truth is of course somewhere in the middle. Coil springs are more complicated to design because the spring doesn’t locate the rear axle, making trailing arms and other links necessary. Coils also handle overloading poorly when compared to a more traditional leaf setup. On the flip side, coils weigh less, provide a better ride, greater articulation and help in reducing wheel hop when the bed is empty. The simple truth is that the vast majority of pickup trucks spend their time with an empty bed. The spring rate chosen is an obvious trade off to deliver the RAM’s class leading road manners but it does result in payload capacity being about 400lbs lower than the Silverado at a maximum. Thankfully Chrysler’s 5-link suspension design, adapted from the previous generations of Grand Cherokee, maintains its poise when fully loaded (unlike GM’s 1960s attempt at coils.)

The bigger benefit of using a four-corner coil suspension is that it was relatively easy for Chrysler to adapt the Grand Cherokee’s height-adjustable air suspension system to the 1/2 ton truck. The $1,695 system is available on all quad cab and crew cab models, in all trims and in every driveline and engine configuration. In my opinion, the air suspension and $230 integrated trailer brake controller are worth every penny. Yes, the suspension allows you to vary the RAM’s ride height from 6.7 inches to 10.7 inches, but the real reason I’d pay money for it is that it also load levels. Keeping the suspension at the middle of its travel results in a better ride and more effective damping whether your truck is loaded or not.

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-009

The Eco Diesel is listed as a $4,000 option over the V6, but there are a few “hidden” costs. The only model that can’t get the 3.0L wonder is the short bed, short cab Tradesman meaning you’ll have to pay $385 for the 8-foot bed to be eligible. You’ll also have to pay $500 extra for the heavy-duty version of the 8-speed automatic bringing the total up to $28,465. That means the true premium is $4,885 at the Tradesman level. Versus the 5.7L HEMI, you’ll pay $3,350 more. When you run the numbers, the diesel won’t save you much over the 3.6L V6 but the V8 is a different matter. Even at the high fuel costs in California (and considering the cost of urea) the diesel would save nearly $750 a year in fuel resulting in a possible payback in under 5 years at 15,000 miles a year.

Even without the Eco Diesel, the Ram is the first choice in the half ton market unless you needed the maximum towing or payload capacities delivered by the 2014 Silverado. It doesn’t hurt that the Ram is slightly cheaper than the Ford or Chevy when comparably equipped. Toss in the first small diesel, the only 8-speed automatic, a load leveling air suspension system and you have quite simply the best tow vehicle in the half-ton segment. Considering that the Ram Eco Diesel is only $2,720 more than a V8 F-150 and $2,560 more than a V8 Silverado, your pay back window is even shorter than compared to Ram’s own HEMI. Or for folks like my dad who are looking to replace their 15 year old RAM 2500 Cummins but are suffering from modern 3/4 ton sticker shock, the 1500 diesel makes an interesting proposition. Compared to that generation of Ram 2500, this Ram 1500 is more capable in nearly every way. Thanks to GM needing a European market diesel Caddy and Chrysler’s bankruptcy and resurrection by Fiat, we have quite simply the most exciting vehicle I have driven this year.

 

Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of diesel for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.38 Seconds

0-60: 7.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.03 Seconds @ 84 MPH

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 67 dB

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 24.2 MPG over 765 miles

 

2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine-001 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel Engine-002 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-001 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-002 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-003 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-004 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-005 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-006 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-007 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-008 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-009 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-010 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-011 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Exterior-012 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-001 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-002 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-003 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-004 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-005 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-006 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-007 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-008 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-009 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-010 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-011 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel Laramie Interior-012 2014 RAM 1500 Eco Diesel LCD Instrument Cluster

The post Review: 2014 Ram 1500 Eco Diesel (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-ram-1500-eco-diesel-with-video/feed/ 103