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Classic Pickup: 1963-1971 Jeep Gladiator

Posted on 03. Sep, 2012 by .


Richard Truesdell

Revolutionary in his day saw the full-size Jeep Pickup a long production run, 1963 to 1987. Here we look at the first generation of full-size Jeep pickup that seemed at times to have nine lives.

With persistent speculation that Jeep back into the pickup market with a Wrangler-based pickup -. Gladiator either 2005 or J-12 this spring – it's a good time to check introduced the history of the original Jeep Gladiator, 1962

The Gladiator full-size pickup was ahead of its time in many ways. It was sold and sold primarily as a four-wheel-drive truck, but it was in front with an innovative single-overhead-cam six-cylinder engine and independent suspension that was offered advanced for its time.

The story begins with the Gladiator Jeep pickup that went before it, which was built in the chassis of the 1946-62 Jeep Station Wagon. A rugged, reliable trucks, the Jeep Station Wagon and pickups were a four-wheel-drive alternative to the Spartan Jeep CJ from that time. With simple and robust drives they competed against a few vehicles in the emerging markets, a four-wheel drive market, which was out of its utilitarian beginnings postwar movement geared toward multipurpose truck at a growing leisure market.

In the late 1950s, Jeep designers and engineers are looking forward to a platform at the end he would develop four different corporate cultures champion – Willys Motors, Kaiser Jeep, American Motors Corp. and Chrysler -. During the next three decades The chassis for the Jeep Gladiator (SJ-platform) has been developed in parallel and together with the father of the modern SUV, the Jeep Wagoneer.

Although the general Wagoneer / Gladiator style was often attributed to industrial designer Brooks Stevens, in fact its most important contribution to the design was the upright grille, often found as "rhino grille" on the early 1963-65 Wagoneers and Gladiator truck referred to 1970. In 1971, was acquired by jeep through the American Motors, has the Gladiator, then what was the full width, vertically slotted grille found on the then current Wagoneer, which was a more upscale grill itself.

Many Jeep enthusiasts do not realize that if the gladiator was introduced, it has two new features that had apart from its competitors, designed from the ground next to the all-wheel drive. (Two-wheel drive Gladiator made a small percentage of total sales). First, the overhead cam six-cylinder engine was 230 Tornado. It was the first mass-produced overhead-camshaft before Pontiac OHC Sprint Six presented in 1965 U.S. developed.

It was an update of the Willys "226 Hurricane flat-head six, a mainstay of the Jeep lineup from 1954 to 1962 was. During the OHC Tornado Six was an economical engine with good low-end torque, it developed a reputation for oil leaks out the undeserved warranty headaches. was the middle of the 1965 model year with AMC's new overhead-valve-232-cubic-inch Six replaced. This basic engine architecture for four decades in a variety of Jeep products, all the way up 2006, when the fuel injection 4.0-liter version of the Jeep Wrangler has been replaced by a Chrysler V-6 serves, a move that many Jeep purists complain to this day.

(Des Willys Tornado Six thinking as EcoBoost V-6 of his era, a time when a liter of gasoline cost only 25 cents per gallon read. For a more detailed analysis of the Jeep Hurricane and Tornado six-cylinder engines, Jim Allen earlier excellent document.)

While Jeep trucks have a well deserved reputation for durability due to their rugged front solid axle and Dana drive components was one of the innovations on the 1963 gladiators led a unique independent front suspension. The 1963 brochure is described in this way.

SUSPENSION SYSTEM: For better handling and improved ride, the all new "Jeep" pickup trucks are equipped with an advanced design front independent suspension system – a "Jeep" exclusively in 4-wheel drive. Independent front axle drive with protected three bars and closed axle shafts provide the ultimate additional 4-wheel-drive traction and still unsurpassed comfort of the front independent suspension. And do not bother for this function at competitive 4-wheel-drive truck look … You will not find it.

Like the Tornado OHC six this $ 160 option only lasted a few years before they set at the end of the 1965 model year, making it (as the IFS) a quiet footnote full size Jeep history. In rare cases, an original Gladiator with the Tornado six and IFS equipped not purist as a collector of anyone, but a full-size Jeep. In all my years in the Jeep community, I have never seen a gladiator with the SOHC six and IFS, like most gladiators were built with the standard solid-axle setup. In fact, I've only seen a Wagoneer with IFS. But just to prove that Kaiser Willys and built like an animal, please Bruce Rice on 1963 Jeep Wagoneer on John Master site.

What was the unique gladiator in 1963 really the combination of all-wheel drive with an automatic transmission. The transmission was offered Borg-Warner AS-8W severe three-speed automatic. In 1963, not even Chevy, Dodge, Ford, GMC, International, or offered such a combination. It's almost as if the engineers in Toledo could personal use, leisure 4X4 pick-up on the horizon, and decades later would housewives can use their three-ton pickups to Costco for bulk purchases of food.

Without V-8 in its lineup, Jeep certainly lost potential sales of its Big Three competitors in 1963 and 1964, when the gladiators ill-equipped to accommodate large loads or towing always had to carry larger boats and caravans. This was addressed in 1965 when Kaiser began offering AMC 327-cubic-inch V-8. Not to be confused with the small-block Chevy with which they taught nothing but her shift shares of AMC Vigilante V-8 Gladiator's biggest flaw, HP, and served strong commercial relations between Toledo, Ohio, and Kenosha, Wisconsin Strike the result was ultimately purchase the AMC Jeep brand from Kaiser in 1970.

The AMC V-8, which dates back to the mid-1950s, was almost perfectly suited for the Gladiator. It was a low-revving, high-torque motor, but as AMC to a new family of thin-walled, small-block V-8s was moved, it was discontinued after the 1967 model year, replaced by a 230-hp, 350-cubic- inch V-8 provided by Buick. , 360 – but bought by AMC Jeep, was the entire full-size Jeep lineup, trucks and Wagoneers, use in a crash program AMC 304, constructed and 401-cubic-inch V-8s instead of the Buick 350th

At the time of taking over the AMC Wagoneer SUVs were in the real price of the acquisition. AMC credit, after switching the moniker Gladiator, J-Truck in marketing its line of full-size pickups, the company did what ever they could to also continue to update the pickup truck next to the Wagoneer. Run while the rest of the production, AMC offered a number of option packages, such as the Honcho, which ran from 1976 to 1983. Chrysler almost immediately discontinued production of full-size pickups, Jeep, competing as they have with the poor-selling Dodge pickups. But the AMC era of full-size Jeep trucks history is best left for the next article in this series.

If you want to see a well-preserved example of an early Jeep Gladiator, look no further than Frank Sanborn's 1965 Gladiator. Well, it's a gladiator that it was the first in 1965 with the title, but the vehicle identification number indicates that it was built in 1963, according to Sanborn. "It's a pretty unusual truck, a 4,000-pound total weight two-wheel-drive truck," he says.

"The truck was originally purchased in early 1965 by a potato farmer in Munger, Michigan and has been in use on his farm until 1999," Sanborn says. "I bought the car in 2000 from the second owner and have done a lot of mechanical work to keep it on the road. It had 44,000 miles on it, when I got it and now has just 60,000. The original owner had the truck itself repainted in the mid 90s.

"The engine is the 230-cubic-inch OHC Tornado six with a three-on-the-tree transmission," says Sanborn. "The exhaust manifold on the 230 are prone to cracking, and somewhere along the way, a built very beautiful, handmade installed six in two headers. I have true dual exhaust system all the way back. It's have a very unique engine sound! It has over manual steering and manual drum brakes. It's very simple, very spartan and wonderful truck like. Currently riding on 7.00 to 15 ply tires winter tires, add the no-nonsense personality of the truck, but in all honesty to ride miserable. "

The most striking element of the NOS Whitco Convertible topper Sanborn is found in 2004. "It is practical and complements the look of the car," Sanborn says. "The truck gets a lot of use as my weekend errand runners and the occasional road back cruise. It runs comfortably on the highway at 55 to 60 mph, and I've driven on a few more drives, up to 250 miles in a day. But long-distance comfort is not exactly his forte. it is parked for the winter months here in Michigan to get, because I do not want that. the road salt to the rust worse "

With plans for renovations and cleanup Sanborn has all the makings of a true survivors. Another era of classic American pickup "I do not want to make it so beautiful that I was afraid to drive it, or use it as a bin 'truck'. It is very glad when it gets to actually do some work," said Sanborn.

The Jeep Gladiator, along with the companion Wagoneer has a large and vibrant online community. If you want to learn more about this remarkable truck, visit the International Full Size Jeep Association, and hosted by John Masters.

For further reading, check out this completely dealer brochure for the 1963 Gladiator.

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Review: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Posted on 02. Sep, 2012 by .


Public beta tests are common in the computer world, where a group of fanatics to death and pound your beta help you understand the issues. In the automotive world, this activity is not only rare, it runs contrary to the cash spent in dressing future cars swirly vinyl. The Prius Plug-in is different. Toyota built 600 demonstrators and sent them to major companies, Zipcar fleets and of course the press. TTAC also could a drive for a week. What does that have to do with the end product? And how does it stack up against the Volt, plug-in Fusion and the 2013 Accord Plug-in? Let's find out.

Click here to view the embedded video.

There is little to distinguish the plug-in from the "regular" Prius save the cargo door on the right rear quarter panel and (if you live in California) and the green HOV access stickers. The lack of distinctive character is either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how loud you want to proclaim your "green." The lack of differentiation made financial sense for the Toyota Prius is rumored to be redesigned for the 2015 model year. Compared to the beta car, Toyota moved the charging port on the back meaning I had to use in parking lots due to a number of public charging stations. Ever wondered why the blade port is in your nose? Now you know.

Since the Prius' chassis was designed for a large battery, no changes were required to the passenger compartment. The cargo area is a different story. The regular Prius is in EV mode up to 42mph with a range of 2 miles if you extremely gently on the gas. The plug-in range is 11-15 miles in a larger battery. Toyota achieved by increasing the capacity of dense lithium-ion batteries (instead of nickel-hydride) and converting the spare area in a battery compartment. The result is an increase in the capacity of about 1.3kWh 4.4kWh on costs of the spare wheel and the jack. The beta-car uses a 5.2kWh battery, segmented into a 1.2kWh pack and two packs 2kWh was. The reason for the change was the three sizes arrangement was not as efficient, and the beta testers complained there was no way to regenerate the power back into the dual 2kWh packs as they were exhausted.

A 3.1kWh jump does not sound like much until you understand how the Prius uses the battery. To extend battery life, is a regular Prius never fully discharged or download ("bear" batteries faster if you charge either extreme) the battery, thereby. Usable capacity to approximately 0.6kWh For plug-in service, Toyota expanded this useful capacity somewhere around 4.2kWh. In comparison, the Volt is the usable capacity to 12.9kWh and the 2013 Accord Plug-in is 6kWh.

Under the hood you will find the same 1.8L, 98HP engine and "power split device" as a regular Prius. The engine and electric motors, even the same combined 134HP. I know what Prius owners think: Wait a minute, if it's the same drive, why is my Prius restricted to 42mph in EV mode? You can not find the answer under the hood, it is the battery and the software. The Prius 'drive motor (MG2) is the motor connected to the wheels, and depending on how you look at the way in which ( great link for tech-heads), the transaxle works, MG2 is doing most of the work when you' forward again. Therefore MG2 is a 81HP motor. The "problem" with the regular Prius is the flow. Can deliver 1.4kWh NiMH battery only 36HP and 27HP peak of continuous power. The plug-in can provide the larger dough on the other side 51HP continuous output. When energy demand exceeds the neighborhood of 51HP, then the motor is turned on to the difference to 134 This battery has an additional advantage: greater ability to recover. On my daily commute, I go over a 2,200 ft pass, would be a regular Prius battery is about 1,700 ft. As the full plug-in able to regenerate all the way, I won seven miles of EV range, to makeup for the extra gas it took to get me up the mountain in the first place.

The Prius is not an EV, and it is not to attempt to "Toyota Volt" either. But it's more than just a car and CARB compliance. Unlike the Volt, Fisker, or even the new Accord hybrid, the Prius can not live without its engine. Even for short journeys. When the car floor, is on the motor, and as the beta car had a smooth heat pump to heat the cab, the series used as a normal car engine heat Prius. Instead, the Prius Plug-in is a new type of car, where locomotion combines two different sources of energy trading a portion of the gasoline you pay $ 4.35 per gallon in California for electricity at $ 0.10-$ 0.15 per kWh. The upcoming Ford plug-in hybrids operate in substantially the same manner.

Let's look at these numbers in terms of a commute. I drive 106 miles per day, and my commute includes city, highway and rural mountain roads. Starting with fuel without charging: The Volt 33MPG Prius averaged 50 and the Prius Plug-in was average 52nd (Credit regenerate the greater capacity for improved imaging.) With the charge on both ends my commute was the 40MPG Volt and the Prius Plug-in averaged 72MPG.

According to our calculations, if your commute under 27 miles in total, or 27 miles each way to the store at each end at $ 0.15/kWh is running the Volt the cheaper vehicle. The more expensive the current, the better the Prius the proposal. Even at $ 4.35 per gallon of gasoline. My average home is $ 0.27/kWh based on my agricultural rate, the unevenness of the operating cost of the Volt away higher than the Prius plug-in to a little over a 1-mile. Check your prices before you plug-in.

On the road, the plug-in as a normal Prius thanks to gains only 150 pounds. As expected, the tires provide low rolling resistance and moderate road noise very little grip. The steering is a bit numb get over impulses, body roll is average and acceleration is leisurely. Is that a problem? Not in my head. The Prius' mission is not efficiency and driving pleasure.

When in EV mode, causing more than 3/4 throttle to start the engine, is something I still think shame. However, the plug-in is definitely in a position stapling mountainous terrain in pure EV mode. At speeds above about 50mph must be gentle on the gas in order to prevent the engine from kicking in and starts at 62, the motor, no matter how you ginger. If it's a cold day outside, and you're using the cabin heater, the Prius' engine turns off immediately and keep the cabin warm up. Unlike a normal Prius when in EV mode

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Suburban Dad: Taking My Daughter to College in a 2012 Nissan Quest

Posted on 30. Aug, 2012 by .


It is a rite of passage for many families: Take your child to college. For our daughter, it meant a 1,500-mile journey from the suburbs of Chicago to the U.S. state of New York. Support us on this trip was the 2012 Nissan Quest minivan. Since I was recently in the Ford Flex for our summer vacation, this gave me a great opportunity to compare and two different types of family hauler, crossover against minivan. Here's what we found.

By the numbers
On the way there: 713 miles

Driving time: 11 hours 40 minutes Leg mpg: 22.8
On the way back: 633.6 miles (because we have relatives in the area, we started our return journey 80 miles closer to home)

Driving time: Leg 10 hours mpg: 21.6
Full speed: 1582 miles (including miles during the three days that we were broken in upstate New York)

How the Quest Held Up

If the Quest competed in our Ultimate Minivan Shootout, one of the best scores was it was for its comfortable seats. This is perhaps his greatest strength. Even after 13 hours of driving, my back did not hurt, and I was not at all unpleasant. While I'm a big fan of Flex seats, gave the Quest is a run for their money. Where the Flex seats envelop you more, the quest is supportive but not stiff, and it's a winning combination.

Also in the second row, where the college teenager and her grandmother sat outbound for the trip, there were few complaints about space or comfort.

Loading the Quest was OK, but it has a fairly high load floor. Could be one of the van of the benefits is, however, that reduced even in the third row, it's still impressive floor-space, which is great for things like toiletries and some loose items, which crushed or get projectiles in the cargo area was . Even with several milk crates of goods, a couple of suitcases and even a body pillow, there was still plenty of vision from the rear window for me.
Unloading the van when we arrived on campus simply, and this is where the higher load floor actually helpful because we push out their things and leave them down in the huge wheeled bins provided for in their stuff upstairs Cart leave.

When it comes to power, I'm always worried when I drove a minivan or a big car with four adults and a few hundred pounds of stuff am. Too often you feel like pulling the car and not be able to keep. The Quest, but moved very much – even more than the Flex I went earlier this summer. Well, it was not the race car that a Flex with EcoBoost engine has to be proven, but it was amazing and very helpful in sharing Midwestern highways.

The Quest had much less engine noise in the cabin as I drove in the Flex. Wind noise and road noise were about the same.

Styling is a personal decision, but I am coming to the view that I care less -. Much less these days – about exterior design, if I enjoy the ride Cars like the Infiniti QX56, which I think is ugly runs, great. The Quest is a little unconventional for me, but considering all its positive attributes, I can overlook its appearance.

The navigation dilemma
Well, as the Flex, I was astounded and off the navigation system in the quest checked, although it is not worried as the MyFord Touch system. My biggest problem was the chain of interactions:

  • Select the destination
  • Select the search location-near-your-option and the opportunity on behalf
  • In "Target"
  • First on the list? The goal in the Bronx, 194 miles away.

Can see it turned out, the system gave me all the goals in my region (which includes several states), and then literacy them place names (as they are all the same store name, target). Well, since I started the process with the words "in my area", then it should be sort from the nearest town to the farthest place, not by store name. It is illogical, and it's frustrating.


On the way back we were several hundred pounds lighter, but we actually get worse mileage than we had on the way there. Been a couple of things at work be:

  • On the way back, we had less traffic, so I have the cruise control far more frequently, and this may have contributed to the difference.
  • We had a higher average speed on the way home, and that certainly helped.

All in all we could my daughter moved with little effort and almost no tears. We need to go back in May, and see how we cut it.

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Staying Safe in the School Drop-Off Lane

Posted on 28. Aug, 2012 by .


My son started kindergarten last week. After weeks of everyone asking him how excited he was, he went into the building very nervous last Friday. He was a wreck, but do not cry (I could have just a little), and he ended the day with an abundance of positive energy and excitement.

People were also asked how I'm doing, and the truth is that I do. Also a bit nervous, but not as you might think As the mother of three young children, always the first in the school was more sweet than bitter, especially since my son learn how I crave one of Stella McCartney Falabella Bag longs. The thing that caused me fear, the school drop-off and pick-up routine itself

The combination of a still timid son of an excitable crowd of other parents and children, and many cars in a small room is fearful.

I left (uphill, through the snow, 5 miles) to school when I was a kid, so go to my son's elementary school is a first for both of us. At his school, you can stay in your car and drive through the hug-n-go circuit, thereby. Out of your car Or you can park in the crowded lot and greet or leave your child in the playground when the bell rings.

Since I have strapped two small children always in the car, would hug-n-go is much easier to (no loading and unloading of the littler are), but we've done the parking routine, because my son and I are due to easily Hug-n-go intimidated. Ominous questions swirling around in our heads: How would he find me? Would we be rushed? We are so new that no one knows us, how could the crew of the district teachers know how to draw you to him for me?

As I always say that my children do one thing every day that scares them, I felt obliged to give the hug-n-go a whirl the other day. My son and I were nervous, but it all worked out, thanks to the leadership of the head teacher and the teachers to leave the district running smoothly. Other, experienced parents and children were a big help, too.

The advice shared by the wise men mentioned contributed to the hug-n-go a success for us. Here are a few things you should keep in mind, you should find yourself in a situation similar to ours:

Manage expectations. I told my son before we left school, we use the drop-off hug-n-go and pick-up that day. We talked about how it would work, I assured him that I will find him and a teacher would help him find me. I also know you can from the teachers that this was the first time so that they could look for him.

Be early. I made sure we got to the school a few minutes in the early morning and in the afternoon so that we could secure a good spot near the front of the hug-n-go lineup. This ensured that a teacher immediately saw us and helped my son in the morning and in the afternoon, and that he did not wait around for us wondered if he had forgotten (as I once was as a child). As the initial tension and reduces stress.

Ditch your phone. No gossip, no SMS. It's dangerous. Rumor has it that a mother's embrace-n-go circuit ran over her child's foot, because she was mindlessly yapping away on the phone. Have not enough parental guilt, even without crossing your child walk to? No call is so important. In addition, you probably do not do the time for a trip to the emergency room, among many other settings you.

Eighth. These first days of school are anxious times, if you have a preschooler or a fifth grader. Watch him walk in the morning. Eagerly looking for him when he comes in the afternoon. Smile and a big hug him both times. Whether you are in the embrace-n-go or parked in the yard for him, a few minutes of your undivided attention go a long way.

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First Drive: 2013 Ram 1500

Posted on 24. Aug, 2012 by .


We saw Ram's ambitious plan at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, and now we had the chance to drive several versions of the 2013 Ram 1500th

We are not going to recap all the new technologies and features – you can see that by doing this – but we will let you know what parts and pieces caught our attention, as we move through a full spectrum of Ram 1500 models.

The Big News

The new Rams will go on sale around October, but only with the new Pentastar V-6 with the TorqueFlite 8 transmission and the two 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and 4.7-liter V-8 with the six-speed 65RFE. The eight-speed transmission can be ordered with the Hemi, but these vehicles are not available at dealers until the first quarter of 2013. Likewise, the new 149.5-inch wheelbase, the crew cab and 6-foot 4-inch bed hospital will not start in 2013 until the end of the second quarter. Unfortunately, the only version that we could not drive was the new, longer Crew Cab Ram.

The other big news for this vehicle is that the HFE (high fuel consumption) model the best half ton gas mileage figures have any full-size pickup snatch the title away from the 3.7-liter V-6 Ford F-150th The HFE Ram is expected to get 18/25 mpg city / highway and 21 mpg combined. Also it is the first and only model in the Ram lineup for the new Fiat-source start / have his stop engine technology.

We assume the HFE model is popular with fleet buyers and commercial use businesses, but we must wait and see if the start / stop function invisible enough for the average consumer. For now, the new engine is shutdown tech are limited, although it could roll to more models later next year. Non-HFE models are still strong fuel economy figures, rated at 17/25 mpg.

Getting this type of fuel consumption improvement means a lot of big and small changes. For just a few of the new features: has There is a new, lightweight frame, aluminum hood and suspension pieces that save new Pentastar and gear about 75 pounds, new electric power steering reduces drag, the TorqueFlite 8 both bigger and closer gear ( which means higher, lower transaxle) functions, active grille shutters reduce the resistance as well as, heat management receives the engine speed at optimal temperatures, improve harder tire rolling resistance, the new air bag suspension allows the truck to sit lower, and the lower valance helps the truck cut through the wind like never before.

Behind the Wheel

From the moment we have behind the wheel, it's obvious that the guys took full Ram, a segment leader, not just a good enough replacement for the previous Ram. One could argue they had nothing to lose, so why not swing for the fences, but we know better. Make big changes, no matter what the vehicle, is still a major risk, and if your boss does not understand how to win a lot of it, they are not likely to give their full support.

The new interiors throughout the lineup are the most obvious example, the guide gives the Chrysler Ram Truck team a lot of room for experimentation. Our first truck was a Laramie Longhorn with Canyon Brown interior. The door design, leather seat and re-arranged and skinned dashboard and center console impressive. Seams are tight, feel like living room furniture materials, and the amount of information you can access is mountainous, but well organized.

The new instrument cluster still has the tachometer and speedometer in the same places, but now there is a scrolling data screen in the tach, with which you are all kinds of truck and engine manufacturers access embedded info. Depending on what package you have and the options that you can a lot of information, ground clearance of the suspension to stumble engine temperature information, and more.

On Ram 1500 with the UConnect multimedia system (the more intelligent navigation), a huge high-definition 8.4-inch screen has equipped as a concierge. You can get weather updates, check sports scores, and select recording radio station shows. Or download Ram truck apps that give you even more specialized info. The new system will eventually want some personal computer (it will serve as a hotspot) and part of its smartphone. As far as we could tell, the system seemed to be easy to use and understand, but we have to live with it for a while to make any meaningful conclusions. We think to read too many stories about MyFord Touch, we know enough of just one day by car.

Once we got on the open road, what impressed us was the new four-corner air suspension (called Ram Active Level). This new option has its roots in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it seems to have adapted quite well to the half-ton pickup chassis. We did not get the chance to drive one of the trucks at or near maximum payload ratings, but we had three good size trailer (two with weight distribution margins) drive – a big boat, a long camper trailer and a mini excavator .

The airbags provide strong load balancing in all situations, but they also give the driver real-time feedback, if the tongue weight or. Near the truck limits We look forward to an early warning system, as in all pickup trucks, as well as a kind of selection, which tells us how much load (probably in pounds) haul we see. Once the sensors are, the bags turn into a scale should not be too difficult. We would also like to see the help Ram use some kind of active substance suspension capability at some point too, especially that. Truck stable during cornering or dealing with changing loads

Off the Road

We tested the air suspension in an outdoorsman in customized off-road route set by the Ram guys. It was nothing too serious, but let's play with the two off-road settings. Off Road 2 gives you a little over an inch more ground clearance, unfortunately, this led to a stiffer ride, which we did not like too much. (Be sure to check out our 2013 Ram 1500 videos, because we pretty much recorded footage of the off-road course.)

At the highest setting – basically at full airbag expansion – we appreciate the extra ground clearance, but we would have liked a little more flex and cushion when navigating the off-angle ridges and hills. We guess a lot of the advantages of 4×4 Outdoorsman have to do with the 265/70 Goodyear Wrangler tires as much as anything else. With that said, we really liked the look of the darkened wheels and the new Diesel Gray interior on the black market Outdoorsman we drove.

We had no problems with either of the two transfer cases that are offered in the new Ram, both sporting 2.64:1 low-range ratio. For more entry-level models, usually paired with the six-speed transmission, the part-time system 2WD, 4WD Lock and 4WD Low offers a dial, easily fall on the driver's side on the right (where the eight speed dial would, if available) . The second four-wheel drive, usually offered at the high-end packages, coupled with the TorqueFlite 8, and it has several buttons below the electric e-Dial: 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4WD Lock, 4WD Low and Neutral . On Rams equipped with the air suspension allows the center to see the drivers gauge screen, an icon of your truck, just what ground clearance set your truck to

On the Road

If we would choose a piece of technology that sets the new Ram, it would be the new transmission and computer controllers. What these two TorqueFlite to do 8 transmissions for these trucks (8HP45 and 8HP70, each with a different maximum torque) can not be overstated, and we're the computer control and software algorithms as part of this impressive technology, because they all work very well put together.

We found the transmission wonderfully comfortable cruising with light when empty, but to move quickly if we wanted to get more enthusiastic. We are not big fans of the "tap up, tap down" for the transmission setup on the steering wheel, but we never had any problems finding it quickly and get the transmission to do what we wanted shifter.

You eight-speed can choose which and how many top gears lock and can show you exactly what crammed equipment that are in a particular time and want, but the numbers can be lost with all kinds of information the center instrument cluster . We are caught in the act a few times trying to move this information to a prominent place in the cluster, or at least change it to a larger font, with no success.

Likewise, some of the lower trim packages with the six-speed manual (which you can get at the 4.7-and 5.7-liter V-8, but not the V-6) is fitted, there is no way to get any gear selected information other than to the Top Gear or whatever you manually control. It seems to us that any driver, no matter what the trim level of the pickup should have the opportunity to see exactly what to do with the transfer at a certain time, whether it be a six-speed manual or a new eight-speed is.

When pulling the trailer, has the eight-speed fine, solid shift through the gears and not have any hard blows from one gear to the next pass. We have found that with Tow / Haul mode is activated (via a small button, almost hidden, deep in the bottom line of the center console) held the gears a little longer, but we would be a little more aggressive downshifts to have preferred. We could not quite figure out if the note-Shifting function does not work or if there are not enough inputs trigger aggressive shifts. We would have to live with a truck a little longer and may slope a heavy trailer on a larger. (Do I smell Davis Dam or Loveland Pass road trip?)

The teeth of the eight-speed is impressive, with 1st Gang at 4.7:1. This makes for some very solid start on flat ground, whether equipped with the V-8 or V-6. Even if a fairly steep hill noted pulling from a stop, the truck seamlessly second then third shifted up quite quickly to keep shifts seamlessly, as if sensing the driver was not much interested in keeping the lower gear. Overall, we do not mind the e-dial on the dashboard. Fortunately, both the rubberized (lower trim levels) and billet feeling (upper packages) dial shifter feels solid and substantial, though. "Click" on one of the four stops (P, R, N, D) to another

No doubt, an intelligent and smaller (and lighter) allows transmission Ram engineers have more flexibility in axle ratios. They told us that they expect that the majority of 3.21:1 final drive ratios in the crew cabin truck either or 3.55:1. However, they assured us that they understand that there are many types of trucks that this 3.92:1 gears want to keep it so that the option open as well. And two relatively high overdrive gears in the eight-speed, there is almost no penalty for shorter gear. (FYI, it will be a 4.10:1 option, but we are just guessing at the upcoming R / T model will be offered.)

How much?

Pricing information should not surprise anyone. Ram needs to continue to keep their full size pickup swing aggressively. With the exception of a few new models to see which are priced under their direct competition, it looks like most of the carryover models to about one percent of 2012 prices. We suspect this will help quite a bit of revenue and should their strong movement to the growing market share, especially with the new GM still continue offering 6-10 months away. Some of the highlights include an entry-level price for the half ton at $ 23,585, with the base engine for the preparation is the familiar 4.7L V-8. And for an extra $ 1000, you can use a smaller engine (the 3.6L Pentastar V-6) and a transmission with two gears (the TorqueFlite 8 – 8HP45).

Finally, we have just heard, the Ram Air Suspension Active Layer option will be $ 1,595, pretty much across the entire lineup. Expect more stories to come, as we get our hands on more versions as they make their way into the press fleet and we make together more direct head-to-head comparison tests. More information to come. (** Sorry, currently our drive, we can not any pricing information so we do not offer pricing information for the truck we drove.)

** Can see the full specifications on the 2013 Ram 1500 can be downloaded here.

** To a maximum payload and towing capacity download figures for the Crew Cab RamBox configurations, click here.

And ** obtain the most up-to-date pricing information on the most popular configurations, Click here.

Check ** If you do not already found it, first the bottom of our homepage for putc 2013 Ram 1500 videos.

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2013 Nissan Pathfinder: From Tough Guy to Family Guy

Posted on 23. Aug, 2012 by .


It's what's inside that counts, right? In the case of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, definitely. But the outer surface is as much a part of the transformation of the once robust SUV.


In 2013, three-row SUV Nissan was completely revised to shed the wings, stocky appearance and truck like body-on-frame architecture of the curves and the unibody platform crossover class. The fourth generation of the Pathfinder also gain a warm, inviting interior full of family-friendly features, a strong comparison to his old self utilitarian.

Why the change? It's what the people wanted, according to Tom Smith, director of the Nissan truck marketing. Smith, the former Pathfinder was "The Last of the Mohicans," he said. As a body-on-frame SUVs and crossovers were dinosaurs rolled, to take their place, the Pathfinder was outdated.

Sales have been on a steady decline, too. The last generation model reached a high of 70,000 units per year, but only 25,935 were sold in 2011.

The new Pathfinder, Nissan hopes to gain what Smith "savvy, cool parents." As Translation: busy, active families – the market to conquer every crossover target. As will be explained to the Pathfinder? A cabin is loaded with physical well sure to appeal to console along with the Pathfinder shifted focus from utility companies.

For 2013, the Pathfinder interior goodies like a dual panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats, the Around View Monitor Camera System, which packs Easy-Fill tire warning system and a dual-screen 7-inch DVD entertainment system.

Nissan also says there is more room for passengers. The 2013 Pathfinder offers 8 more cubic feet of people. How flexible seating of the Infiniti JX system, the Pathfinder second row slides 5.5 inches to facilitate access to the third row, and the seat also lifts and slides into a maneuver, so keep that a forward-facing child safety seat is installed in the second series. We tested the system in the JX and was impressed.

But what about the truck previous audience, the off-road enthusiasts! Although the Pathfinder lost its V-8 for 2013 – replaces a 260-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 – Smith says the revamped vehicle provides the capabilities of an SUV in a modern-looking package. The 2013 version does not have a competitive towing capacity rating of £ 5,000 (previous year: £ 6,000) and a rugged four-wheel drive, and both should appeal to the audience hall of the previous Pathfinder, Smith said. The goal, he said, was "getting a foot in the SUV camp."

The 2013 Pathfinder goes on sale this fall from $ 28,270 without destination charges, which are not known at this time. This would. Pathfinder one of the lowest prices from the competitive class that includes the Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse and Ford Explorer

Research the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan presents a leaner, more efficient Pathfinder
Infiniti JX Smart Second Row Means No More Squeeze Play

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New Nissans Need to Solve Three Issues

Posted on 20. Aug, 2012 by .


There is no question that Nissan truck designers and engineers a big challenge in front of them: Both the Fontier and titanium urgently need an update and a great leap forward in technology.

The Frontier recently seen some solid progress in sales of mid-size segment, such as the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota have exited the market. The Frontier was also a strong player in our recent Midsize Shootout, finishing in second place behind the Toyota Tacoma. But if Nissan wants to increase market share in this segment stagnant, it will need to. Their game with the next-gen trucks Likewise, the Titan is not aging and in need of significant competitive advantage assets.

We sat recently with Rich Miller, the Nissan Truck and SUV product planning, to talk about how the auto manufacturer, theoretically going to upgrade to map out a strategy and to enhance each product, car or truck lineup in the company's history .

"Each new design is a big deal, but here's how to stay focused," Miller began. "We first break the project into three key areas, we ask three questions. First, how we can our current buyers satisfied with their choice and what features they are looking for that they like or do not recognize that they want? "Naturally able to get in touch with the owners, who have lived with their products each day can be a lot of good input to maintain supply, he said. (At this point of the conversation suggested that we could get a lot of information by reading our comments from and avid reader as well).

"Secondly, we have to ask ourselves what is the regulatory environment and it could possibly move in the next three, five, 10 years," Miller continued. "This is probably the fuzziest of our strategies, but Nissan has seen a pretty good track record, which is on the road and is ready for it." Miller added that issues of safety and fuel economy is always significant predictors on how consumer preferences could change, but other governmental and economic changes must also be considered.

"Finally, we have, as we appeal of a vehicle and any other segment could (related or unrelated) to be ready to look for conquesting expand," he said. A lot of this issue, he told us, turns to see where buyers have been gravitating and where they are likely to move in the future. "We saw an entire segment to make radical changes, because consumer demand changed, and that the door has been striving all of us an important step (away from SUVs and toward crossover)," Miller said, so new, the most obvious example of Nissan – for-2013 Pathfinder, which used a traditional SUV, but now fall more in line with other cross-over requirements.

What does all this mean for an upgrade Titan and Frontier? Unfortunately, our guess is that there going to the latest figures and trends for the Frontier just in the right direction, the next frontier is. Not many significant changes or segment-first technologies With that said, we can only hope that the seats and interior decisions get a huge redesign, improved connectivity along with some drivers. And we would not mind a better, more aggressive PRO-4X package.

For titanium, we hope to lose nothing attitude gives the designers and engineers more freedom to experiment and take a few interior and exterior upgrades to new heights. Also overhaul the engine choices would be. Adding a small turbo-diesel in the mix, a huge USP (unique selling point) in a tight half-ton market All of these ideas would certainly address each of the three questions that are keeping Nissan product planners with their focus.

We can only hope that their focus is to achieve some interesting and segment-leading results.

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Living with MyFord Touch on a 3,500-Mile Road Trip

Posted on 20. Aug, 2012 by .


Ford's MyFord Touch to repeat questions and they say if you live with the system, you'll love it. They say that would be 80% of Ford owners with the system would recommend to others.

My family and I stayed with him for two weeks. Let me be clear: we do not love.

Some of the topics that were widespread, as it still debuted on the 2013 Ford Flex, though it supposedly have updated software. Our topics:

  • The system shut down and restarted on us. Twice. In one afternoon. Without warning or explanation. The first time we were driving through rural Wisconsin. Get if we deduct the street some fuel and a soda, the screens were topsy-turvy. What I mean is, the navigation system can not change perspective could (I could not get a view of going closer or further away) and satellite radio screen showing the preset buttons, but no longer shows which station has been programmed on the button. Finally, the screen went blank and then restart the system. Later in the afternoon, when we were leaving and looking for the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and a restaurant in the area, the screen went blank again. In Ford defense, the temperature moved outside the car around 100 degrees, but when you consider how many computer chips are in each car and how few of those who failed in the hundreds of temps, it seemed like a be particularly bad, especially since I really the nav system used in an unfamiliar area.
  • The nav system also had problems with simple mathematics. I MyFord Touch is Waypoint option, which tells you how long it will take. To a point in your route to your destination as well as a couple of times to get during our long journey Waypoint at least twice gave us information impossible. He told us that we were 54 minutes from our final goal, and we arrive at 5:33 clock Unfortunately, it was after 05.33 clock when we read that. It was not a time zone issue as much as we can say, it was just wrong.
  • One of the great things in the Flex was the multiple USB ports, so that we could every iPhone and iPod Touch devices calculate. The downside? Every time someone is connected to a new device, MyFordTouch decided we wanted to listen to music on this device. And with that decision MyFord Touch would tell us that we keep our eyes on the road. My solution? Do not get MyFord Touch the selected device automatically change the driver can decide what's going to listen to the stereo.
  • Also a musical problem: The Bluetooth audio streaming worked great sometimes, so I change myself and skip songs using the steering wheel controls, and other times, they forced me to use the commands on my iPhone. It was completely arbitrary.
  • Time delay in the selection of commands on the touch screen continues to be a problem. At first, you hit a "button" (I use quotes because it really is a touch-screen) several times and then see that you have turned on again. By the decisions because of your lack of patience Later think you have become wise, you hit a button and wait until something happens – or not. In any case, the driver will spend much too much time looking at the screen and not the road.
  • The navigation system also suffers from the same mistake of many, if not most, nav systems: the inability to understand that left turn lanes exist rather than that you, "a legal U-turn" to get to your destination, come the inability just find addresses for shops and restaurants, is cut off by as little as a few hundred feet, as much as half a mile and an input system, the logic and reason.

It is possible that we drivers (and journalists) blunted by being with each new gee-whiz gadget as exposed out there, but if I'd use this system again on a long-distance trip, I would find some applications for my smartphone The jobs that I could not leave to chance.

A 3445-Mile Road Trip in the 2013 Ford Flex
Exclusive Video: MyFord Touch in the 2013 Ford Super Duty
MyFord Touch Gets Upgrade

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Why Isn’t the Buick Regal Selling Well?

Posted on 17. Aug, 2012 by .


In recent years we have seen a global convergence and streamlining of the major vehicle lineups, which means that more of the Euro-centric vehicles, the automotive enthusiast desire to come here. But many of them are not selling well.

Look for evidence, only the relatively poor-selling BMW 1 Series, Smart ForTwo, Suzuki Kizashi or Scion iQ. (The latter two were designed with Europe.) At the top of the list is the Buick Regal, which was historically one of the best selling models Buick. In 2004 it was remodeled and renamed LaCrosse – now Buick flagship sedan in the U.S. after a six-year hiatus in the U.S. returned to the shelf to our shores, but as a different animal.

From Germany, With Love

The new section has been developed and designed in Germany by GM Opel division, and it was originally built and shipped from Germany to the U.S., when the model was launched in 2010 as a 2011 model year. In Europe it is known as the Opel Insignia and is the flagship sedan for the brand, with a hatchback, station wagon and sedan body styles. The Insignia also offers high-end luxury items, such as Adaptive Forward lights and a camera system, pavement markings and stop signs to read.

The shelf was a major component of the Buick renaissance in America billed but never really that lived. GM has moved more than 500,000 shelf in Europe and more than 200,000 in China, but has only managed to sell about 70,000 in the United States over its lifetime. In fact, in 2012, despite a series of updates and new trim packages shelf sales have tanked. They are down 34.9% year to date, and they are one of the main culprits for the brand select sales, which are down 5.3% year on year so far. It is the slowest seller Buick four-model range, and his days off dealer lots has been above the industry average.

In the shadow of the LaCrosse and Verano

One problem is that the shelf overpriced. Moreover, the more America-minded Buick Verano and Buick LaCrosse spacious and offer more value for the money. Both sedans (especially the Verano) are likely to cannibalize sales shelf.

Some may think this unfair argument because the shelf is against the Volkswagen CC, compete Acura TSX and Volvo S60 and performs pretty well in terms of sales when. Exclusively on this group In addition, the shelf has a high conquest rate for GM, with about 22% of the buyers. Trading in their imports for a shelf from 2011 The average age of a rack shopper, 56, is below the average Buick buyer age of 59 years, according to RL Polk & Co. The average age for the high-performance Regal GS is 43, says GM.

This is all well and good, but Regal sales fell more sharply, mainly due to the more American-focused Verano. Started in December of Verano has a larger trunk and almost identical front legroom, headroom and shoulder width of a shelf, although the passenger compartment, the rear Verano considerably smaller than the shelf. The Verano drove the Buick Regal as the lowest, with a starting price of almost $ 6,000 less than the shelf. In addition, if the Verano, GM debuted cut incentives based on shelf, while significantly increasing transaction prices affect sales by GM Inside News, a GM enthusiast forum. As the Buick went on sale in 2010, the model has seen a $ 2,655 increase in its base asking price.

At the other end of the LaCrosse is only costs about $ 2,600 more than the shelf and much more spacious. It also gets the same great gas mileage with the mild hybrid system: 25/36 mpg city / highway. This is not much reason to look at a shelf, especially if you are in a car dealership does not know much about Buick sedans last three step happen.

GM would say shoppers choose the shelf above the other two, because it is the brand sports model. Fair enough, I suppose. The automaker taunts in his ads, that the shelf "German engineered" and "injected sport." Most of 's consumer reviews also mention the sporty handling and luxurious interior like, and even the most silent of the German roots, too.

On the other hand, most consumers complain of shoddy interior fit and finish, something. Industry Analyst Kelsey Mays also complained in his review And the model below-average reliability, according to Consumer Reports.

Combine the advantages and disadvantages, sporty handling and a rich interior with poor reliability and a high asking price, and you need a European formula car technology and marketing, which is safe to use. Unfortunately, this formula has never worked well in the U.S., and the proof is in the pudding. It will be interesting to see whether fighting the same problems of the Buick Encore, a small crossover as the Opel Mokka known in Europe. The car seems to have developed primarily for the old country and for China. Pricing of Encore probably will be the key to success.

2013 Buick Verano Turbo: First Look

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Review: 2013 Dodge Dart SXT Rallye

Posted on 17. Aug, 2012 by .


You have to Sergio Marchionne credit for at least one thing to give: He is a master negotiator. The Italian-Canadian FIAT General Motors exec bluffed not buy into paying $ 2 billion for the right to the Italian company. He went to a majority stake in Chrysler to earn any cash. Instead, deliver the agreed FIAT automobile manufacturers, hollowed out by Daimler and Cerberus, with drives and platforms. Three years after this deal, Chrysler introduced the first car for North America around FIAT offal developed compact Dodge Dart sedan (pre-production review).

Take a Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback, stretch and expand, add a trunk, and you. Somehow end up with a car that would aesthetically fit right into the late 1990 Dodge Lineup The bloated front clip and clean, rounded surfaces are reminiscent of those of the Avenger sedan, with a touch of the second-generation Neon. But the relative of the car is pure 2012, so there is a lot more metal over the wheel arches, as you have found on a circa-2000 Dodge. Perhaps the Dart will look right in R / T form (this fall). The SXT rally wheels, although 17 inches in diameter appear undersized. That said, those who might find the styling of the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra overwrought of Dart prefer the simpler forms.

Parts of the Dart inside seem like dated, with the center console and the console by the organic shapes and non-flush faceplates marked a 1990 Pontiac. Other parts, especially the reconfigurable LCD instruments in the upper trim levels, and the large 8.4 "" Uconnect "touch screen could no longer current. Then there's the grille over the speakers that looks like it belongs in a different car another continent, if not another planet. adjusted This conglomeration padded pretty good in the upper trim levels, with the hood over the instruments, the upper IP Surround is lit in red, and additional splash of color are on the door panels and seats. The exterior is in a dozen colors, while the interior in 14 trim combinations, both numbers will be offered well above the current segment norm. For some reason, though, were all the cars I saw on dealer lots drably furnished in black or worse, gray. Materials quality is pretty good, with comfortable arm rests among the many soft-touch surfaces, but is not quite on that. in a Ford Focus or a Chevy Cruise

Drop-down. In the driver's seat and the first thing you notice is that you do not drop down very far Compared to the Focus or cruise, you sit high in the Dart-another aspect of the car, the more than 2000 today. Even the base Dart has manual rel adjuster on both front seats, but only the shortest people are likely to employ. That would be good for the visibility-if the dashboard is not very deep and raked A-pillars were not something thick and steep. I drove the dart on a hot day, and the amount of heat radiating from the top of the IP loaded the A / C. The rear visibility could have A in the case for mandatory rear-view camera. A good with lines that trace the path the car packed with a 8.4-inch screen.

The Dart, the front seats, though not deprived lateral support, feel slightly positive as crowded. Compresses the German flavor of the recent Ford and GM is missing here, perhaps because FIAT if European, not German. Like the Focus and Cruze, and unlike that in the Americanized VW Jetta offers the Dart the backseat feels barely enough head and legroom for six-foot-tall passengers and their pillows undersized.

The new Dodge Dart base engine is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine good for 160 hp. Spend $ 1,300 and receive a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine good for … 160 horsepower. But the engine is increased significantly torquier at medium speed, 184 pound-feet at 2,500 rpm vs. 148 at 4,600. Also, the 2.4 is the power of the R / T has less twist (171 Pfund-Füße@4.800) if more power (184). This is what the data sheets, anyway. On the road, the 1.4T feels soft south of 3,000 revolutions per minute. The car of the portly, middle-class sedan-like 3,200-pound curb weight does not help, but a variant of the same engine must also north of 3k in the 2,500-pound FIAT 500 Abarth for any semblance of alacrity are spun. This engine is offered with a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, but intro was only with the three-pedal variety. The third pedal leaves much to be desired, packed with little feedback only near the tip of his long, spongy travel. The shift lever is too long of throw and a bit clumsy, but is navigable except for a metal button, the finger-scorching temps warmed in the sunlight.

The Dodge Dart deserves FIAT five percent of Chrysler by the government more than 40 miles per gallon in the EPA tests, before adjustments to make realistic figures on the window sticker. The window sticker numbers are not very impressive with the 2.0: 25/36 with the manual gearbox and 24/34 with the automatic. The 1.4T with the manual is better, 27/39, but still below the segment best.

The Dart chassis behaves well, with decent balance, moderate slim and minimal float or slop. Nevertheless, the loss is not as tight as in a Ford Focus or even a Buick Verano. Between this, a feedback-free electric-assist power steering and the always evident mentioned heft of darts missing the character of a precision instrument. A connection between car and driver proves elusive. Those that isolation is satisfied. The Dart rides softer

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