By on August 14, 2019

Image: Ford

In all fairness, the newly announced FX2 Package does boost the off-road cred of the two-wheel drive Ford Ranger, albeit modestly. If memory serves this writer correctly, RWD trucks can be a load of fun in the rough, assuming that backcountry trail isn’t too slick, greasy, or soupy.

An obvious ploy to capture the hearts and minds of those enamored by Ford’s popular (4×4) FX4 Off-Road Package, the FX2 seeks to slightly improve the off-roadability of rear-drive Rangers while elevating the truck’s visual brawn. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

2017 Chrysler 300C - Image: FCA

Brace yourselves and hide the kids. The Chrysler 300, an aging full-size sedan whose best sales days are long behind it, wants to add a little flair to its top-flight 300C model.

No, there won’t be a monster of an engine borrowed from a Satanic-sounding Dodge. There won’t be head-turning paint options. Instead, Fiat Chrysler will endow its glitziest model with something found on the lesser-ranked 300S. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

Thanks to its unique ability to keep old things fresh, Dodge has become the Tupperware of automotive brands. Instead of a patented burp that locks in freshness, the automaker fields an endless supply of special editions, and yet another entry has appeared for 2019.

While Dodge has spent time refining its aged LD platform vehicles by repeatedly sprucing up their powertrain and bodywork, its specialty seems to be appearance packages that add stripes, decals, and unique paint options. A gradually expanding roster of factory racing stripes greeted buyers in recent years. First available on SRT variants of the Charger and Challenger, Dodge eventually made them an option for R/T buyers, adding a broader choice of colors for good measure.

There have also been numerous black editions, one of which wandered over to Chrysler to help butch up the Pacifica, but it’s the Charger Hellcat that receives the latest injection of attitude — not that it needed the help.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Fifty years ago, Datsun showed New York that Japan was perfectly capable of producing a sporting automobile that offered everything drivers wanted, without breaking the bank. It may not have been cutting edge, but the 240Z was a GT car well worth coveting. Somewhere between the nimble, although sometimes underpowered, European roadsters and clumsy but savage American muscle cars, Datsun’s Z provided a well-balanced package for enthusiasts and racing teams alike.

This week, Nissan’s paying tribute to the vehicle that launched the Z line with the 2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Edition. Painted to resemble the No. 46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) 240Z that helped John Morton win back-to-back SCCA National Championships in the 1970s, the Anniversary Edition is the upside of living in the past.  (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2019

Despite being manufactured in Canada, the Dodge Charger and Challenger feel like the most American vehicles currently on the market. Large, brash, and deliciously unapologetic about it, the vehicles embody multiple historical stereotypes thrown onto the United States citizenry. While those characteristics aren’t a good fit for everyone, Dodge says its holdout muscle cars capture the highest percentage of active military buyers in their respective segments (according to mTAB).

Now, Fiat Chrysler says it’s time for Dodge to “celebrate the men and women who serve our country,” providing a new Stars & Stripes Edition for the Charger and Challenger — along with some fleshing out of their existing appearance packages. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2019

With sales of the IS 300 leaving something to be desired these past few years, Lexus has bestowed the obligatory black-themed appearance package on the compact sedan for the 2019 model year.

Available on both rear- and all-wheel drive IS 300 F Sport models for 2019, the Black Line Special Edition offers a handful exterior features that help to distinguish it from the standard IS. However, the appearance package will be only be available in three exterior colors: ultra white, obsidian and atomic silver. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2019

Eager to celebrate the Land Cruiser’s 60th birthday (in America), Toyota has released preliminary details on the 2020 model year’s Heritage Edition before its official debut at the Chicago Auto Show. While technically an appearance package with a handful of retro-themed clues hinting at the model’s lengthy lifespan, it’s one of the more endearing makeovers in recent times.

Suckers for nostalgia will love the vintage-looking Land Cruiser badge on the SUV’s D-pillars. But the limited-production model also comes with bronze 18-inch BBS wheels with some throwback charms of their own. Heritage Editions also receive widespread black accenting on the exterior and nixed running boards for a cleaner look.  (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2018

Toyota will be unveiling blackened versions of the Camry and Highlander at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, indicating that we’re one step closer to the trend ending. Factories started adopting the “murdered-out” look a few years ago after the movement gained steam in the aftermarket. Now it’s cropping up on the most mainstream of models.

Officially, the Japanese automaker claimed its newest Nightshade Editions are “preempting the earlier sunset associated with the end of Daylight Savings Time.” But we know they’re primarily an opportunity to markup existing models by adding a few darkened bits of trim. However, you’re unlikely to mind if you’re interested in conveying a more-sinister image on the road.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2018

Minivans are great for a lot of things, but intimidating the neighbors is not among their many attributes.

While you could spend the weekend welding spikes onto one and giving everyone on your block “the stare down,” alternative options exist. You could purchase some custom wheels and replace the chrome accents with something darker, or you could have Chrysler do it for you if you’re in the market for a Pacifica.

As much as I hope this brings back a dark and sinister version of 1970s van culture, I would be satisfied with just seeing more of them on the road. According to Chrysler, the murdered-out look offered by the S Appearance Package has proven quite popular with standard Pacifica shoppers. Now, it wants to extend the opportunity to those interested in the plug-in hybrid model.  (Read More…)

By on November 28, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line, Image: Volkswagen of America

Volkswagen’s American fortune will not come by way of an electric, next-generation Beetle. No, the automaker’s U.S. game plan rests firmly on the success of existing and future utility vehicles. With no new models kicking around to bring to L.A., the automaker decked out its recently introduced second-generation Tiguan in ever-so-edgy R-Line trim and headed to the show.

Featuring an added (but not heaping) dose of visual aggression, the Tiguan R-Line, available in the first quarter of 2018, should give crossover buyers something new to look at while the company fleshes out its lineup with new tenants. It’s early days yet, but it seems the company’s crossover push is already working. (Read More…)

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