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80 posts categorized "Share your Car and Truck Stories"

March 06, 2013

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SRT Take on the Texas Hills and the new Circuit of the Americas

Jeep-frontAustin, Texas: Jeep’s update of its 2014 Grand Cherokee model makes it new; there are new drivetrains, more luxury and a bevy of options for off-road prowess define it and its sizzling sibling- the high-performance, lap-of-luxury 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT. One of the original mid-sized luxury SUVs to come to market in 1992, the newest version seats five and is an authentic competitor to VW, Land Rover, BMW, and other high-end sport utes. It’s priced from $28,795 to $50,995; the Grand Cherokee Limited with Jeep’s new EcoDiesel V6 is the lowest priced diesel SUV in the market at $40, 295, says Chrysler.

The exterior strikes a nice visual balance between refinement and ruggedness, with a grille that has been redesigned to give more luxo character overall, with distinguishing trim around each of the signature vertical slots. Slimmer headlamps and a shorter upper grille put a check in the “more refined” category, while 17-inch all-season tires (standard on base Laredo models) and a beefy lower grille have “rugged” cred – plus, depending on the trim level, tires get as big as 20 inches. The rear has new, larger tail lamps with smart LED lighting, a larger, more aerodynamic rear spoiler, and a re-sculpted tailgate. Dual exhaust tips are standard on all Limited, Overland and Summit models. Front and rear LED lighting, including bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps on higher end models, make Grand Cherokee grandly bright on the road.

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February 25, 2013

Kia Shows off Two Updated Models with More for Your Money

Sorento-1For its fourth birthday as a unibody crossover SUV, the Kia Sorento is getting the equivalent of a pony, a piñata party and a wardrobe of amazing new clothes all at once. Among its gifts: a completely new chassis, a new V6 engine, a redesigned interior and some vamped-up, top-of-the-line features including an entirely new high-end trim line. Kia wants to be known for design, safety and value.

  The Sorento’s facelift freshens its design, while inside you’ll find improved conveniences, upgraded materials and more amenities. A top IIHS safety pick, Sorento seats five or seven (there are 2-row and 3-row versions), and comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive models that start at $24,950, including destination charges. In case you have not noticed, there are a lot of vehicles in the competitive compact and medium-sized utility vehicle (CUV) segment – and they start to all look alike after awhile. Although Sorento doesn’t look radically different from its contemporaries, it has a few distinctive features that help it stand apart. Among them: a beefy grille and deep front air dam with black hexagonal grille inset behind chrome trim. Vertically set rectangular fog lamps offset sleek, slanted headlamps.

The rear end sits high and is capped at the bottom by a kickplate with a sweet-looking oval tailpipe.

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February 20, 2013

The 2013 Chicago Auto Show: The Windy City’s Annual Show is Top for Consumers

CAS_2013_LOGO_330Auto shows have a personality and the Chicago Auto Show is described by automakers and autowriters as a “down-home” show—and they love it! There’s even an event sponsored by all the automakers for the press and other early attendees called “Sweet Home Chicago”! But, don’t let its slower pace and more comfortable setting make you think it’s small. In fact, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and this year’s show marked the 105th annual event, which makes it the longest-running and one of the best-attended shows in the world. Sponsored by the Chicago Automobile Trade Association dealers, the show is held at the McCormick Place Convention Complex where the enormous amount of space on hand brings an ease for car makers to offer free concerts and set up experiential test tracks. There’s also a ‘social media day’ now held annually that draws a wide variety of presenters and consumers to come together to evaluate and promote this new landscape and its effect on the automotive industry. AskPatty.com was one of the presenters this year, helping to showcase the exciting and rapidly-growing arena of Marketing to Women.

But, at the end of the day, an auto show is really about new sheet metal and the introductions of new models soon to hit the streets along with the unveiling of concept vehicles that are experiments in design and technology and are meant to take the temperature of the audience, plus help automakers make decisions about whether to move forward with a particular model or technology. There were a number of both-new models that will be in dealerships soon and a few hot concepts. My personal favorites were the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the 2014 Ram Promaster, the 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO and Nissan NV200, and the Kia Crossover CUT Concept.

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February 04, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500: The General’s Next-Generation Pickups

IMG_0331General Motors says that today’s pickup truck buyers don’t just use their trucks from 9-5, but also from 5-9, too! They want trucks that have the DNA or core technology of toughness for work, carrying payload, and hauling trailers, but also comfort and room for taking their kids to ball games and ferrying their family around town, as well as connectivity and good gas mileage. Listening to their customers, who are also buying more extended cab models, GM has just taken the wraps off of its next generation Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 that have been updated and renovated for 2014.

Scheduled to go on sale later this year, the stablemates have a refreshed exterior, a completely redesigned interior and upgraded powertrains for more power—but also improved fuel economy. We took a ‘first look’ at the new models recently in Detroit; pricing has not been announced. While General Motors played it safe with this model year update, and kept some familiar exterior design cues and, in some areas made modest changes, there are also some significant improvements, particularly with some technology features – the improvements offer a welcome change and are clearly a sign of many new and good things to come from The General.

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January 28, 2013

The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: Automakers Keep the Sport in Sport Utes

IMG_0277Although southern California is celebrated as a sports car mecca, sport utility vehicles of every size and type were among the biggest hits at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show. More than 40 different brands parked their new models and concept renditions on the ‘red carpet’ at the Los Angeles Convention Center, as 50 new vehicles made their premier entrance or global debut. The LAIAS is among the most significant shows in annual big-city show season in the U.S. and the home of the Greater Los Angeles Auto Dealers Association (GLANCDA), the umbrella organization for local and regional dealers. The LAIAS is followed by 2013 auto shows in Detroit (January), Chicago (February), New York (April) and other cities across the nation.

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January 21, 2013

First Drive: The 2014 Ford Transit Connect Van and Wagon

People need to move—and carry things. Adding some all-new and updated game-changing, people-and-cargo-movers to its line-up, Ford has recently expanded its truck brand in the U.S., with new models that go on sale later this year. The Blue Oval is already the best-selling truck maker in North America and now adds two new vehicles for 2014-an updated Transit Connect Van and an all-new Transit Connect Wagon.

We recently took a look and climbed aboard the two new vehicles in Detroit, with Ford’s designers, engineers and marketers on hand to educate us about the new models. First, let’s take a closer look at the van, which came to the U.S. in 2010 as a creative solution for small business owners and others that had the need or desire to own a somewhat utilitarian, compact panel van. If you’re not familiar with the first-generation version that came stateside from its popular run in Europe for close to a decade, you might think of a bulky, rectangular box with four wheels and the “Airport Shuttle” image, or the name of your electrician painted on the side of a van. You might even think back to the velour swivel seats and dastardly fuel economy of vans in the 1970s and 1980s.

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January 11, 2013

My Shades of Grey Moment: The Aston Martin Vanquish 2014

004-aston-martin-vanquishThis story began at a New Orleans race track. I was test driving the 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish with my own driving instructor.

I could bore you with superlatives or say, very honestly, that after many years of trying out vehicles on racetracks, this time I got it! The exhilarating feel of driving at speed, the sound of the engine, the smell of the leather, the way the Vanquish catches light when it is in motion. Yes, I finally understood the lure of the racetrack and the draw of the Aston Martin. And yes --(ladies you will understand) ---it was a ‘shades of grey’ moment!

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January 02, 2013

The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Takes Off its Top By Sue Mead

IMG_0257Santa Monica, California: The Beetle is a model that needs no introduction; it’s not simply that the “bug” is known around the globe- it’s unique and carries with  it a rich history of fun motoring.

Volkswagen brought its latest iteration, a convertible version of the updated Beetle, to the Los Angeles International Auto Show for the global debut of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible. Although Beetle isn’t the best seller in this German automaker’s lineup, it is definitely the ‘halo’ for the brand and there was no better place than trend-setting LA to take the top off of the halo and also to talk about VW’s increased sales momentum in the U.S. and around the world. VW also brought a group of auto writers to the show and to the sunny and fun California coastal region that runs from Santa Monica to Malibu for a day of top-down motoring in the new Beetle Convertible. It is priced starting at $24,995, with its high-level version priced at $31,195. What defines the new Beetle is an updated sleek, redesigned exterior and reworked interior. Volkswagen’s convertible bug is an airy, cute and clever version of the car that once redefined the very term “automobile” in the U.S.. Introduced in 1949 as the ‘type 15’ and reinvented in 2003 after a hiatus from the mainstream, the Beetle is an icon of the internal combustion engine, with seating for four adults and a happy-go-lucky character. This year’s model looks both more modern and more retro at the same time, with a flattened-out, aerodynamic stance that juxtaposes design elements like plain button wheels.

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December 19, 2012

2013 Toyota Avalon: Grandma’s Car No More-It’s named for Camelot Lore

San Antonio, Texas: One of my favorite car stories is about my friend Bob’s elderly grandmother, who drove a Toyota Avalon. She would take four right-hand turns to avoid a left. For a number of years, I thought of this driver as the demographic for this four-door, full-sized sedan. I surmised that this Toyota model was designed to appeal to older, more cautious drivers who loved rolling along in large and long lumbering boats. Times have changed, cars have changed, and so have my impressions of Toyota’s flagship Avalon. I have an all-new impression of the all-new 2013 Toyota Avalon which, by the way, is named for a mythical island in Camelot lore.

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December 03, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Takes a New Road

IMG_0010Calistoga, California: Nissan’s fourth-generation Pathfinder is completely new—and different in ways that will appeal to more women and families. The SUV weighs less, has more room and gets better fuel efficiency than the model it replaces. What’s also appealing is some clever cargo features and technology capabilities that you can’t find anywhere else in the mid-sized SUV segment. The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is available in 2WD and 4WD versions and starts at a base MSRP of $28,270, while top-of-the-line Platinum versions start at $40,770. Its competitors are the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot/Passport, Toyota Highlander/4Runner, and the Chevy Traverse/Trailblazer.

IMG_0082 Nissan brought a group of automotive testers to the Solage Calistoga Hotel and Spa to cool our heels at night in quiet luxury, and spend our days motoring on the Calistoga Wine Trail, along twisty and scenic coastal routes. We also drove the 4WD version of the Pathfinder on the dirt track of a nearby ranch, and used the SUV to tow a trailer to assess its pulling prowess. Just as many modern SUVs have evolved, the Pathfinder’s looks have changed to give it a more car-like, crossover appearance. The new model is lighter by some 500 pounds, more aerodynamic, and has changed from body-on-frame architecture to a unibody build; this makes it ride less like a truck and more like a minivan. Pathfinder’s front end is distinguished by an attractive curved grille, dominated by a large Nissan badge and backed by a black honeycomb design; it stretches like a pair of wings across the entire front end. Large halogen headlamps wrap around to the sides. Optional fog lamps are mounted in the lower part of the grille. The roofline slants downward from the shoulders to the tail end, giving the Pathfinder a more coupe-like stature despite its longer, three-row size. Character lines scoop out the middle section like a waist, and the rear liftback has an integrated spoiler. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys, with bold 20-inch wheels available on the highest-end models. Inside, Pathfinder is bigger than the previous generation version by 8.4 cubic feet overall, and there is ample room for seven passengers in the three rows of seats.

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