Autos

Ford F-150 expanded portfolio: Harley and Raptor

If it seems like reviews of certain brands seem to come in waves it is because I get the vehicles by brand in waves. There are five companies regionally located here in north Texas that rep for the major automakers. A couple of them only handle families of brands, i.e. the Ford office delivers Ford/Lincoln/Mercury product and the agency working for Toyota only brings Toyota/Lexus/Scion models. As I have been on the rotation schedule with Ford recently, my columns seem…


Chevrolet celebrates diamond anniversary of Suburban

I attended an event today at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Arlington, Texas, that gave me cause for deeper reflection. Chevy is celebrating the 75th year of the Suburban model. A single product with three-quarters of a century lineage – now that is something. It got me to wondering: In this modern era of “here today, gone tomorrow” and disposable lifestyles what new products would be able to survive 75 years. Sure, brands can live long lives, and of…


2010 Jeep Liberty offers bit of freedom from the day-to-day

Photos courtesy Jeep While Jeep heritage has been going strong for more than half a century, most of its product lineup is still in its infancy. Compass and Patriot are actually more like adopted children – loved by their new parents but not sharing any DNA. Then there is Liberty. The Jeep Liberty was first introduced as a 2002 model but was quickly relegated to popularity around college campuses and sorority houses. Seeking to get back to its roots, Jeep…


2010 Toyota 4Runner the “Miley Cyrus” of SUVs

Photos courtesy of Toyota The State Fair of Texas hosted the world debut of the fifth-generation 4Runner midsize SUV this past fall. The event marked the 25th anniversary for 4Runner, and celebrating more than 1.5 million units sold since launch. “Backed by a quarter-century of heritage combined with the integration of the latest comfort, convenience and performance technologies, the all-new 4Runner has evolved into one of the most advanced mid-sized truck-based SUV’s on the market while at the same time…


Ford’s EcoBoost a real “Ego”Boost

Ford’s new engine technology – dubbed EcoBoost – might be a bit misleading to some underestimating driving enthusiasts. “The power of a V-8 with the fuel economy of a six” may not have motoring maniacs lining up at Ford and Lincoln dealerships, but it should. My first experience with EcoBoost was in the new Taurus SHO, and more recently I received both a Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS sporting the twin-turbocharged V-6 powerplant, and in all of them I was…


Ford SYNC Technology Hits Milestone

photo courtesy of Ford The Ford SYNC voice-controlled communications and infotainment system made headlines this week with the 2-millionth installation. While all new Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles I have been testing over the past couple of years include this feature I must admit I rarely, if ever, use it. For one, I don’t talk on the phone while driving if at all possible. Secondly, I am not in most of these vehicles long enough to take full advantage of all of the…


2010 Nissan 370Z Roadster

For some strange reason (dumb luck I suppose), my time behind the wheel of the new 370Z from Nissan has been met with frustrating limitations. When first released in coupe form last year, I found myself only getting to spend an afternoon with the vehicle and most of that during rush hour. More recently, Nissan sent me the roadster version of their little sports car, and this occurred during the freak snowstorm around Valentine’s Day. Needless to say it was…


Chevy launches social media vehicles at SXSW

Austin, Texas, home to the “Keep Austin Weird” campaign, is preparing for one of the hottest gatherings around – the annual South By Southwest Film, Interactive and Music festival – March 12-21. The breakdown is such: Interactive: March 12-16 Film: March 12-20 Music: March 17-21 Corporate sponsors have jumped on board and this year that includes Chevrolet, who seeks to showcase the automaker’s embracing of the social media world.


2011 Ford Super Duty the answer to the $64,000 question

Didn’t Ford just give us a new Super Duty, like, two years ago? Yes they did. So why a complete makeover for this segment? The government. Yes, lawmakers in our nation’s capitol have mandated stricter emissions guidelines for the (diesel-powered) heavy duty pickup segment for 2010 and automakers have hit the end of their “grace periods.” Ford (with GM to soon follow and Chrysler did theirs last year) gave its Super Duty pickup line not only a pair of totally…


Suzuki makes Grand Vitara a bit, well, grander

The (possible) internal memo from Suzuki management to product team: “Make our sport utility Grand Vitara a bit grander.” Under the mantra of “Travel light and live fully,” Suzuki positions the Grand Vitara (along with some of its other vehicles) as a “lifestage” vehicle, not a move up or a move over.



As the wheel turns

With all of the headlines screaming recall, stuck pedals and brake failure, what is a driver supposed to do or think? First, don’t listen to the headlines or the top of the hour teasers as gospel, they are only there to hold your interest. Second, hit the good old internet, but take all commentary with a grain of salt. The flood of information, both good and bad, is sure to have many eyeballs straining, giving curious consumers headaches and more…


2010 Chevy Camaro RS

I admit I am old school and I apologize … for nothing. I learned to type (originally) on a manual typewriter and perfected that craft on an IBM Selectric. I learned to drive in the family station wagon, before I had to wear a seatbelt. I still look forward to receiving the National Geographic magazine in the mail each month (although for slightly different reasons than when I was a young lad), and I get my hair cut by a…


10 for 2010

Once again automakers rolled out some eye candy at the annual North American International (Detroit) Auto Show. And once again it leaves many of us wondering which of the vehicles on display will actually make it into production, will they be affordable and are they really practical. Inspired by this, I am rolling out a list of 10 things to watch in 2010.


Mercedes E Coupe and Honda Insight

I am going to wrap a pair of vehicles into this Grinding Gears entry. As we head down the 2010 highway I need to do a bit of housekeeping left over from the last decade. This time around I offer a coupe from across the Atlantic and a hybrid from across the Pacific.


Detroit updates: Keep up with all the 2010 NAIAS news

For those wishing all the latest news from media days at the 2010 North American International Auto Show here are a few suggestions: Follow: @NAIASDetroit or @FreepAutos Automakers will be generating lots of news at breakneck speed at this year’s shortened media preview event today, Jan. 11 and tomorrow, Jan. 12. When it is all said and done I will provide my own wrap-up along with my promised 10for’10, a look at the top 10 things to keep an eye…


2010 Ram Heavy Duty

As the automotive industry prepares for the 2010 North American International Auto Show I thought I would lead my ‘teen’ reviews with the vehicle that garnered truck of the year honors, the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty. Notice I did not say “Dodge Ram” as the vehicle brand. Chrysler has chosen to spin its truck division apart from the Dodge world and simply call it “Ram.”


Grinding Gears top nine from 2009

This past calendar year has been an active one in the automotive industry. The federal government moved in to assist two of Detroit’s brands survive into the new year. We saw severe budget cuts, inventory and dealership reductions, reorganizations and a renewed push towards a “greener” future. As we prepare for 2010, much is still the same. Politicians are still politicians, we still have loved ones defending the world on foreign soil and consumers are still buying cars and trucks….


Jaguar and Land Rover spice things up but hold the curry

They may not be serving hamburgers at the corporate cookouts anymore, but luxury marques Jaguar and Land Rover still have the heart and soul of the British Isles. The 2008 purchase by India’s largest automaker Tata is yet to be readily apparent and each luxury brand is still about two-thirds UK sourced and about one-fifth German. For 2010, each line gets some minor touchups (OK, the Jag XJ is all new, and Land Rover upgrades LR3 to a 4), but…


New Dodge Ram 1500 charges head-on at competition

It all started on a frigid morning in downtown Detroit outside the North American International Auto Show in January, 2008. Anticipation was in the air (along with our frozen breath) as thousands of journalists eagerly waited for the thunderous roar that was coming around the corner. Dodge decided to introduce the all-new Ram 1500 pickup to the world in unique fashion – a cattle drive through the streets of motor city. About one hundred longhorn steers escorted the new Dodge…