By Roger Boylan
The logic of people who are neither builders nor ranchers driving full-size pickup trucks in lieu of cars escapes many. I know it escaped me for a long time, even after I’d been living in Texas, world capital of pickupdom, for many years (after all, I’m an ex-New Yorker, and for a long time hardly even got the point of cars). But I finally get it: for a smallish family, a big, high-riding pickup can serve as a cut-rate SUV. Whereas a Toyota Sequoia, for instance, starts at $39K, a Double-Cab Tundra, the Sequoia’s truck cousin and platform mate, can be had for $26K. My test vehicle, which I have to thank for this revelation, was, in fact, one of these: a 2010 Tundra Double Cab SR5.
Its arrival was timely, obviating the need to subject our aging domestic fleet (Jag S-Type, Chrysler PT Cruiser) to the rigors of a road trip. Our daughter had recently started her college studies in Dallas, a drive of some 250+ miles from the Boylan demesne in south-central Texas. Over the Labor Day weekend, to help settle her in and provide her with a brief but intense dose of parental fussing for old times’ sake, my wife and I loaded up the Tundra and drove up to the big D.
By Charles Krome
Chevrolet is one of those brands that’s known nearly as much for its advertising as it is for the actual products that bear its name. Not only do its hits—like “Baseball, hotdogs, etc., etc.” or “Like a Rock”—have a tendency to become part of popular culture, but its misses get a surprisingly amount of coverage, too. Just witness the kerfuffle over the division’s move to drop the term “Chevy” from its marketing efforts and put the focus on “Chevrolet” proper.
This attention has been concentrated even further recently, since Chevrolet, as the General’s high-volume brand, bears the brunt of the responsibility for turning around General Motors as a whole. Buick, GMC and Cadillac no doubt sell some nice vehicles, but the Chevrolet Silverado alone moved more than 34,000 units in August, a number that topped total GMC sales by more than 15,000 vehicles. Looked at another way, the big pickup outsold Cadillac and Buick combined by roughly 4,000 units.
By Charles Krome
There weren’t too many automakers celebrating the U.S. sales results for August, with Chrysler being the only high-volume automaker to see a year-over-year sales increase for the month. Even Hyundai and Kia fell on hard times, with the former seeing a sales drop for the first time since May of 2009 and the latter earning its first decline since June of last year.
But even when the South Korean brands appear to be losing, they’re still winning. Keeping in mind that Hyundai owns a controlling stake in Kia, the two combined to move 86,068 units in August, while Nissan ( Infiniti) sold 76,827. Add those results to the South Korean’s very strong sales numbers from the first seven months of the year and, at this stage in the game, the Hyundai-Kia group has displaced Nissan North America from sixth place on the list of top-selling automakers here in the U.S.
The current score: 601,445 sales for Hyundai-Kia and 599,496 for Nissan-Infiniti.
By Chris Haak
The Chevrolet Cruze compact has been on the market in the rest of the world for over a year, and has done reasonably well for GM in markets like Australia and South Korea. US production in Lordstown, Ohio began in July, and it’s slated to hit dealer lots this month. The car is sold as a Chevrolet Cruze in Europe, a Holden Cruze in Australia, and a Daewoo Lacetti Premiere in South Korea, but the only visual differences are powertrain choices, design details like grilles and bumpers. All sheetmetal is identical among the variants. Overall, GM currently sells the Cruze in 70 countries worldwide.
By Charles Krome
Remember when the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was passed back in 2007? Me neither. But it turns out that EISA calls for the EPA to come up with revised window stickers for the 2012 model year, with the goal being to make it easier for customers to sort out the fuel-efficiency and emissions performance of new vehicles.
The redesigned stickers will still provide the traditional EPA fuel-economy ratings as well as information about greenhouse gas emissions, other air pollutants and annual fuel costs, and, again, the goal is to end up with a sticker that can “help consumers make easy and well-informed comparisons between vehicles.”
By Kevin Miller
The Chrysler Sebring is not the most modern, most spacious, best-equipped, or best-handling sedan in the mid-sized class. If anything, it is the most under-rated sedan. Slightly revised for 2010, the Sebring lost the odd hood strakes that were eye-catching (though not pretty). Even in Limited trim with chromed aluminum wheels, the Sebring has a particularly anonymous look. With Chrysler’s ongoing financial troubles and and an uninspired design, sales have been slow (despite picking up in August 2010, which is surely heavy with fleet sales). The Sebring sedan has become a rental fleet queen as a result.
Nevertheless, the Sebring is the Chrysler brand’s entry in the crowded mainstream sedan segment, and the company is pressing on with production and sales. The good news, however, is that Chrysler has acknowledged this car’s shortcomings and is planning to sell a revised Sebring with an improved interior and more refined exterior design later this year until a new sedan can be put in to production (perhaps the 200c we recently wrote about). Many Sebrings spend the early part of their lives in daily rental fleets, but those Sebrings aren’t the top-spec Limited model that Chrysler provided for a weeklong evaluation. Perhaps this under-rated and under-appreciated car is slightly more desirable with all of the option boxes checked off.
By Chris Haak
We’ve previously seen line drawings from the patent application for the upcoming Dodge Durango’s design, and we’ve seen a few spy photos of Dodge’s resurrected SUV people hauler. But today, Chrysler released the first official photos of the all-new 2011 Dodge Durango.
Sharing nothing but its name with the previous Durango, this third-generation model actually shares its platform with the brand new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle with serious off-roading chops that has been receiving some of the most favorable press reviews on new Chrysler vehicles in several years. Like the Grand Cherokee, the Durango features unibody construction and the buyer’s choice of either the new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 or the more powerful (and thirsty) 5.7 liter HEMI overhead valve V8. However, the Durango adds third-row seating absent in the Grand Cherokee, but subtracts the Grand Cherokee’s sophisticated (and expensive) off-road hardware in its transition to family hauler.
By Chris Haak
How deep does the 2011 Mustang GT Convertible’s beauty go? Hopefully it’s more than just skin deep, but we set out on a week’s worth of using the car for everything from commuting to the office, to running errands, to hours-long drives off the beaten path to definitively find the answer to that question.
Surely, it’s an attractive car. The design improvements made to the 2010 Mustang, which carry over nearly intact in the 2011 model, improved the breed by adding additional contours to the car’s flanks, chamfered corners that lend a sleek look to the original pony car, as well as helping the car’s aerodynamics. It retains all of the classic Mustang styling cues, yet manages to look trim and modern as well.