Sorry Chevy, lighter Ford F-150 still a strong hauler
The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States virtually forever and there’s a reason for that, it’s a darned nice truck.
Now that it has an aluminum body and notwithstanding the funny Chevy commercials poking fun at it, it’s even better. It’s lighter and more fuel efficient and at least from all outward appearances, just as strong and reliable as in the past.
Chevy can tweak Ford all it wants, but over the past several years Ford has come up with a series of new Ecoboost engines that are high horse, high torque and more fuel efficient. Now it lightens its pickups by roughly 700 lbs. by developing high-strength aluminum for the bodies. Hmm, sounds to me like a leader protecting its lead!
Let’s make no bones about it, the bright blue (blue flame metallic) test truck, a 4×4 SuperCrew was still plenty heavy, tipping the scales according to Ford and other automotive test sites, at nearly 4,700 lbs. But that’s about 900 lbs. lighter than a Toyota Tundra I tested earlier this year and a several hundred pounds lighter than a similar Chevy Silverado.
That does help fuel economy, which I realize is of minor importance to some folks now that gasoline has dropped back below $3 a gallon. But it’s a money saver over the life of the truck, and, one could argue, better for us all.
The test truck was rated 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, which may not sound great, but is an improvement over most trucks and better than the 14/18 mpg that the previous F-150 I’d driven was rated. This time I got 18.4 mpg in about 60% city driving and 40% highway. Continue reading 2016 Ford F-150 4×4 SuperCrew→
Chevy’s new ‘mid-size’ Colorado only slightly smaller than Silverado
Chevrolet is patting itself on the back and most of the automotive media are ladling on the praise for Chevy’s new “mid-size” pickup, the Colorado.
The later probably has more to do with ad dollars being spent in the national publications, but there’s some justification. Yet let’s not go too full-bore crazy here, this is simply a slightly smaller pickup.
First, the idea of a mid-size truck has been out there a while, witness the Dodge Dakota. Years ago, Ford and Chevy both made compact pickups too, the S-10 in Chevy’s case. DO NOT confuse the Colorado with the S-10.
As trucks have gained popularity, they, like cars, have grown in size and stature. So this second generation Colorado is still big, just not as big as a full-size Silverado.
Let’s take some stock of the differences. But first note that the Colorado comes in two styles, Extended Cab and Crew Cab. Gone is a Standard cab without extra cargo room behind the front seat. Extended cabs now are the norm. The bright red test truck was the crew cab, which gives you full-size rear doors and a second row bench seat. This allows five people to ride in the Colorado comfortably, with rear seat room being particularly generous.
But here are the numbers you need to consider. The Colorado rides on a 140.5-inch wheelbase, just three inches shorter than a full-size Silverado. A Colorado is 224.9 inches long, just 5.1 inches shorter in length than a Silverado. The width is where you’ll notice the most difference when riding in a Colorado, as it is just 74.3 inches wide, about 5.7 inches narrower than Silverado. You’ll notice that in a lack of elbow room. More on that in a minute. Continue reading 2015 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Z71 Crew Long Box→
Before I reveal what they are, I want to get a couple of things out there. I love cars, some that get great mileage, some of them are small, and some of them are unusual designs. This comes from a guy who drove a Gremlin and a Pacer which by the way are no longer manufactured. However, a Gremlin X with a 304 and Levi’s interior is a popular collector car since they are difficult to find in good shape. I’ve seen some for sale in the $20,000 range. I know you’re probably thinking, a guy who lives in a glass house….. you will for sure once I get rolling on the list so here goes. Continue reading 5 cars that will never be classics…→
Luxurious GMC Sierra the Cadillac of pickups GMC is the Cadillac of pickups, juicing up the chrome levels on the exterior and adding a bit more finery to the interior, compared to its kissin’ cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado.
Make no mistake, both trucks can be equipped and decked out much like any fine luxury sedan, but GMC’s Sierra has always held sway with more glitz and glamour, such as it is on pickups. So the new 2014 pickup touts a mighty chrome grille that challenges the likes of the Ram pickup in size and look-at-me swagger.
Likewise the Sierra is quiet and comfy inside and the tested Crew Cab SLT, just one level down from the line-topping Denali, ladles on plenty of luxury touches, starting with a comfy leather interior and then adding perks like a heated steering wheel ($400) that comes packaged with a power sliding rear window that opens in back by the pickup’s bed.
This is the long-bed model with a 6 ½-foot bed as opposed to the shorter 5 ¾-foot bed. There are footholds in the rear bumper too so you can step up to load the bed, if you’re using the pickup like the truck it is. Since this is the 4-wheel-drive model, the difference is about $400, the tested dark metallic gray truck starting at $43,610. Luxury doesn’t come cheap.
In fact this one adds heated and cooled front seats for $650, the leather seats for $325 and three other packages with such items as front and rear park assist, a lane departure warning system, forward collision alert and vibrating safety alert seat, plus an 8-inch color touch screen with navigation system. In total the options here add up to $5,440, but a value discount cuts $1,000 off the price.
I remember when the Chevy Citation was introduced by General Motors in 1980. This X-body car was Chevy‘s front wheel drive car. Because of the transverse mounted engine, no transmission hump, it had tons of interior space. My experience comes from working at two TV stations where the news department bought entire fleets of Citations. Those entire fleets sometimes spent more time in the shop than gathering the news. I was on a trip from Green Bay to Indianapolis to cover the 500, and on our way back, the clutch gave out just south of Chicago. So it was rush hour, on a Friday, a tow truck comes along, cha-ching, a couple hundred bucks, then tows us to a transmission shop, cha-ching, more hundred bucks. Luckily the shop had a hotel right across from it because we were going to have to stay overnight. So when I get back, this is good, you’ll like this, I hand in my expense account in and the bean counter questions the towing charge, ah, hello, you don’t make deals with tow trucks on the Illinois Tollway at rush hour, and then about the bill for the new clutch. So again, hello, no clutch, no car, so were my photographer and I supposed to push the car from shop to shop? Jeez, these guys. Don’t they know that sometimes you’re in a situation where there is no cheap?
Kind of got off topic there, back to the Citation. It was built to try to fight back the Japanese cars like the Honda Accord, still alive and kicking, and the Volkswagen Dasher, not around anymore. The Citation had through the roof sales its first year and the production lines were unable to keep up with the demand, causing huge delays in delivery to customers, some waiting nine months to receive their vehicle. Can you believe waiting nine months for a car? Well maybe a special one but not this one. First-year sales were more than 800,000, good enough for No. 1 among cars sold in the United States.
The automotive press loved it…but then didn’t
Car and Driver magazine named the Citation their 1980 Car of the Year but there was skullduggery a foot. Turns out that GM provided the writers with specially modified versions of the X-body vehicles in which the often noted torque steer (famous for) had been engineered out. Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver later admitted that they were completely surprised when they later drove a production version. In an article in 2009, the magazine put the Citation on their 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History list. What a surprise, the 1983 AMC/Renault Alliance was also on the take back list. Go figure.
The reason it made the list was, because like so many other cars of that era (including AMC), were built crappy. Citation owners were having trim bits fall off in their hands, hearing their transmissions groan and seize, and the cars started rusting in a very short time. At times it seemed the suspension in some X-cars wasn’t even bolted in correctly. Because of an on-center dead spot in the steering, the ride motions grew funkier and funkier. GM tried to save the train wreck by introducing the Citation II along with the performance-enhanced Citation X-11. Chevrolet wanted to remind the car buying public that this front wheel drive newcomer was made by the same people as the Corvette and Camaro. It actually won at SCCA events running in the Showroom Stock B class. Bob McConnell drove a 1981 X-11 to SSB National Championships in 1982 and 1984. Of the 1.64 million Citation models built between 1979 and 1985, only 20,574 were in X-11 trim, meaning that surviving examples are a rare sight today.
And we’re done
GM dropped the Citation, and it’s other X-body siblings, after the 1985 model year, ultimately replaced by the L-body Berettacoupe and Corsicasedan in 1987. Better, sort of. This is a familiar car story from the 80’s, a ground-breaking car that never lived up to its billing. You have to wonder had the cars, GM’s or the other manufacturers, displayed both the initial build quality and lasting reliability of the Japanese competition, the automotive world might be very different today.
And they made a promo model
So I found this black one, an ’82, which is pretty good shape for being over 30 years old. Some minor scratches but otherwise everything was good but has little value, around 20 bucks. I suppose somebody might buy it to remind them of their time waiting in the shop. Then I found this Citation, probably a kit, and got a laugh. This guy probably hung around at the junk yards a lot. I know, I know, I’m an AMC guy so shouldn’t be throwing stones.
The company parking lot was alive with color, as was the driveway at home. People stared, gave a thumbs up and admired what for 60 years has been America’s Sports Car.
This was a Torch Red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, fresh off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky., and raring to have its legs stretched, its engine thrummed, its giant near slick ZR-rated tires warmed and spun. The Corvette remains a two-seater, but by the late 1960s had transitioned from sports car to muscle car.
Oh, these babies are raced to be sure, but on the highway, on our city streets, it’s their muscle that most folks admire. They are low, so low I found myself looking up to a Mini Cooper that I was passing on the freeway. Vettes are fast. Chevy claims 3.8 seconds from 0-60 mph and even it if it’s 4.0 or a touch more, it’ll haul butt.
Top speed? It’s rated at 190 mph and there’s no good place to test that out, legally. Suffice it to say I got within 90 mph of that. Highway entry ramps are too short in a Corvette, which for its seventh generation that debuts as a 2014, brings back the much loved Stingray name.