In 1919, then-Army Major Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on a transcontinental journey with a military convoy to show off to the country the mechanical might used to conquer the Kaiser.
From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, Eisenhower traversed the Lincoln Highway over 62 days. The going was relatively easy until Kansas, but the hardest part, he wrote, came in Utah.
“Aug. 20 (1919) Departed Salt Lake City, 6:30 am. … Last 6 miles was natural desert trail of alkali dust and fine sand up to 2 (feet) deep, with numerous chuckholes. No rain for 18 weeks and traction exceedingly difficult,” Eisenhower wrote in his journal.
“Aug. 22 (1919) Departed Granite Rock (Utah) 6:30 a.m. … Personnel utterly exhausted by tremendous efforts, and will rest at Black Point. … Reduced morale.”
Admittedly, my journey in a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek would be less dramatic. In Utah, Eisenhower reported the convoy of 80 vehicles took 7.5 hours to do 15 miles in near-biblical sand in lieu of bad roads. I could manage 80 miles an hour in the diminutive hatchback with 148 horsepower — which likely has more horsepower than the entire 1919 convoy. Resemblance? I have a few.
2015 Nissan Murano SL AWD
3.5-liter VQ35DE DOHC V-6, Continuously Variable Timing Control System (260 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 240 lbs-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm)
Xtronic continuously variable transmission (2.413:1 – 0.383:1 range, 0.958:1 final drive)
21 city/28 highway/24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
22.4 mpg on the Soccer Dad test cycle, 75 percent city (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: SL trim, all-wheel drive
Base Price (S FWD):
$30,445* (U.S.)/$31,858* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$39,435* (U.S.)/$41,393* (Canada)
* All prices include $885 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,860 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).
“Damn, that’s ugly,” I thought to myself — in addition to saying it openly amongst my automotive journalist friends when Nissan unveiled the new, third-generation Murano at the 2014 New York Auto Show.
“Who’s going to buy this?” I asked myself — in addition to everyone who would possibly listen to my whining.
“I bet this won’t sell,” proclaimed my inner monologue — in addition to my external one.
Boy, was I wrong on that last point. The new Murano’s year-to-date sales in Canada have already eclipsed last year’s entirely (sales surpassed 1,000 units in June 2015 for the first time ever in Canada), and it will likely sell more in the U.S. than it has in the last couple years at the very least.
When I had a chance to drive the newest “lifestyle” crossover from Nissan, I realized why my predictions were so wrong. If you can look past the sheet metal, the aging VQ35DE V-6 engine and the continuously variable transmission that’s become ubiquitous with the Nissan brand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is arguably the best lifestyle crossover on the market.
That should be no surprise. One could make a case for the Nissan Murano being a pioneer in this segment. Back in 2002, Nissan rolled out the first-generation Murano to either fanfare or fiery criticism, depending on who you asked.
The non-luxury softroader was born — whether you liked it or not.
2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4
5.7-liter, variable valve timing, multi-displacement system Hemi V-8 (395 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; 410 pounds-feet @ 3,950 rpm)
8-speed 8HP70 automatic
15 city/21 highway/17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.1 mpg, 60 percent highway/30 percent off-road/10 percent at a lousy, never-ending stoplight (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Rebel Package; Dual rear exhaust with bright tips; Luxury group, $560 (Heated mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors); Protection group, $150 (Transfer case and front suspension skid plating); Monotone paint; Rear Camera and Park Assist, $595 (Backup camera, ParkSense rear park assistant); ZF 8-speed automatic, $500; Anti-spin differential rear axle, $325; 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, $1,150; Rebel instrument cluster, $175; Four corner air suspension; Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen w/nav, $1,005; RamBox cargo management system, $1,295; Trailer brake control, $230; Spray-in bedliner, $475.
Base Price (Ram 1500 Rebel 4×4):
As Tested Price:
* All prices include $1,195 destination fee.
Any debate about Jeep inevitably ends on a common, agreeable topic for all parties involved:
“Jeep really needs to make a pickup already.”
The idea that stuffed shirts at Auburn Hills, who make more in a day than we do in a year, have somehow missed the point is entirely possible (remember the center-mounted exhausts in the Grand Cherokee SRT8, effectively prohibiting any sort of towing?) but highly unlikely.
In fact: Jeep now has a pickup. It’s called the Ram Rebel.
Obligatory disclosure: I have no skin in the pickup game. None. My father owned exactly one of the following: A white Ford F-150, a black Chevrolet Silverado and a green Dodge Ram (when they were called as such). They were all new when he bought them, of 1990s-era vintage and equally pampered. No, we were not a wealthy family, and no, I still couldn’t back up a trailer with a gun pointed to my head.
To be even clearer: The only pickup I fondly remember is a dingy 1996 Toyota Pickup (pre-Tacoma years) that my brother took to college. It was five in speeds and six in cylinders; gutless and indestructible. It couldn’t run up a hill and run the A/C at the same time, but it felt like it could run over anything.
Put simply, in the domestic pickup war for dominance, I am Switzerland.
Now that you know where my allegiances fall, let’s get on to the important stuff.
2015 BMW X6 M
4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic
14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive Package – $4,500; Enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone – $500.
$103,050 w/ $950 destination charge
As Tested Price:
$109,950 w/ $950 destination charge
For most people who find themselves burdened with the choice between fast and big: Salud, you’ve made it somewhere. For the small number of people who scoff at those physical encumbrances: pay your taxes, please. You’re using the road more than the rest of us.
Imagine, if you can, a Venn diagram of two relatively equal circles representing a traditional buyer’s decision between two cars that, everything else being equal, represent the physical problem of mass and its direct effect on velocity. Two unrelated sets of realities — speed and size — very rarely converge in the physical world, unless those sets are colored Castrol red, Bavarian blue and of course, purple, I guess.
I’m making this point because the BMW X6 M seems, well, kind of pointless. On paper, the big SUV doesn’t scream that it wants to be taken off road (and dent those 21-inch wheels?!) nor does it seem like it wants to go that fast. After all, 5,185 pounds is large enough to have its own weather system.
2015 GMC Sierra Crew Cab SLT 4×46.2-liter OHV V-8, direct injection, cylinder deactivation, CVVT (420 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; 460 lbs-ft @ 4,100 rpm)
Hydra-Matic 8L90 8-speed automatic
15 city/21 highway/17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
16.5 mpg, mostly city driving while yelling “AMERICA!” at full trot. (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: 6.2L Ecotec3 V-8, navigation, polished exhaust tips, sunroof, spray-in bedliner.
A farm, lots of mud thanks to rain from the previous day, and a dose of sunshine to dry out the ground just enough so my feet wouldn’t lose their boots in the slop. This is the perfect location — along with the perfect conditions — to test one of the latest from the pickup crop, the 2015 GMC Sierra.
Or is it?
Under the hood of the SLT-trimmed Sierra sits a V-8 less suited to farm duty and better equipped for automotive trolling.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the Sierra, I have a small announcement to make. TTAC now has an off-road area for testing trucks and SUVs. Sort of. It probably won’t be fully available for us for a little while, but shenanigans will be had before the end of the summer. Here’s hoping the automakers send us some metal so we can put it to the test at this newfound playland.
As for this Sierra, well, it isn’t a farm truck. Hell, it’s barely a work truck. The Sierra is available in four different trim levels — base, SLE, SLT and the top-trim Denali. Our SLT-trimmed tester arrived with its bench seat still intact, which is great for mid-summer-romance canoodling and one of the reasons girls dig guys with trucks, maybe.
Interior configuration aside, the real news for this Sierra is under the hood. The 6.2-liter Ecotec3 V-8, with its 420 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque, is a nod to old-school solutions to making power and a pragmatic approach to efficiency. The pushrod V-8 might sound antiquated next to the new turbo and diesel units from Ford and Dodge, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.
In my recent test of the 2015 Ford Expedition, I wanted to give a sense of real-word pricing rather than just MSRP, so I quoted TrueCar’s estimate of the average discount available on the vehicle. I had planned to quote available cash and lease incentives direct from Ford’s website, but after 15 minutes of research my head started hurting and the story would have been longer than DeadWeight’s diatribes on what’s wrong with Cadillac.
So let’s take a separate look at the quagmire of incentives that Ford offers you to buy an Expedition. Before you click the jump, do you know the expansion of the above acronym “RCL” ?
Luxury shoppers have an interesting “problem.” If you want something spendier and more unique than a Lexus LS, but aren’t ready for a baby-Bentley or Roller, you have but one option: the Mercedes S-Class. Trouble is the last generation S-Class lagged behind more plebian options in both gadgets and luxury. That was a serious problem since the price tag on the S spans from just under $100,000 to nearly a quarter of a million. Like the new C-Class, the redesigned S-Class is restoring my faith in the premiere German luxury brand.
Has there ever been a longer running runner-up in an automotive category than the Ford Expedition? The large three-row SUV has been outsold by the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins for years by as much as a 2:1 margin in the ever-shrinking large SUV segment. Throw in the Tahoe and regular Yukon numbers and the Expedition lags even further behind. The Expedition does outsell its luxo Lincoln stablemate, the Navigator, by about a 4:1 margin.
It may not be able to overcome the years of momentum and iconic brand image of the Suburban — proclaimed back in 1986 as the “ National Car Of Texas” — but the latest iteration of the Expedition is fighting back.
According to CAR (via AutoGuide), the next round of Porsche Boxsters and Caymans will have turbocharged, four-cylinder powerplants ranging from 240 to 370 bhp. Porsche could also position a base model Cayman below the Boxster depending on region.
The British outlet says the Cayman and Boxster will become four-cylinder-only affairs, except for top-end specials such as the GT4.
If you are looking for a new midsize car to add to your driveway and the Buick Regal is on your shortlist, you might want to wait a few months.
According to a dealer communique sent out by Buick head Duncan Aldred, the Regal will receive a massive price cut for 2016. Even the top-trim Regal GS will have its price slashed to make it more competitive as an older offering in a crowded segment.
It’s not often you get to see the future when you look at a car.
Admittedly, the 2015 Buick Regal GS AWD looks nothing like a crystal ball — it’s a deep shade of white that I never knew existed and its 20-inch wheels wrapped with summer rubber are … challenging.
But I can see the future of Buick in this car.
Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.”
With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of trims and absolutely zero options. Wind-up windows. Manual locks. An actual, honest-to-goodness metal key. All it needs is a cassette deck and a bench seat to take you back to a time when parachute pants were cool and Wesley Snipes was paying taxes.
Yet, this diminutive, red hatchback is much more than its price and lack of options suggest. While my predecessor likened the Micra to the EK Civic, I’m going to take it one step further: The Nissan Micra is a four-door Mazda Miata.
In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all.
One night my parents tossed me the keys to drive them home from the restaurant. Mom’s whip was a mid-trim, 4-pot ’88 Camry. Yes, its limits were low, it was gutless, and it was tailored to bourgeois tastes with pastel upholstery here and fake stitching there. However, it was up front about its limitations, pridefully built, civilized in all its moves, and driving it was just so…easy. I one-fingered steered all the way home and made an earnest mental note.
Fifty VW defects later, I went Japanese and never looked back.
It is truly a great time to be a gearhead. Not in the sense of there are no bad cars, because there still are, but rather because the cars that are good are really damn good. Take for example this Camaro SS. For three days, I lapped it around the freshly repaved tarmac of Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.