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"This thing rides pretty good for a pickup," my friends nearly echoed as we headed to the Laguna Beach Playhouse. That's right folks, even tough-guy Monticello goes out and gets a little culture now and then at the theatre. Now that I think about it, no one calls me a tough guy. Whatever.
But back to the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab. I agree with my friends, this new midsize Chevy truck does ride nicely. It's no cushy luxury car by any stretch of the imagination, but for an unladen pickup it's certainly tolerable.
The original GTI, the Rabbit GTI, (the Golf was initially called the Rabbit in the U.S.) debuted in the states for 1983. It was something of a landmark car, as it started the "hot hatch" segment and put to rest the belief that driving a small, practical and economical car had to be a snooze fest.
Being something of a car trivia buff, I wondered how our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI compared to the original in terms of size and performance. What a difference three decades makes...
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT redesign and overhaul generated so much scrutiny, attention and expectation that now that it's here, it's a bit of a hangover. It's here, it's rad and they didn't botch it. That may be faint praise, but in large-scale manufacturing of a successful product, I'd call that a win.
Our last 5.0-liter GT was a pretty special car. It nailed a combination of legacy, modern power and affordability that few cars can claim. After a few days in our new long-termer, I'd say it still does, with some evolution on all counts.
It's not the Eco as Monty mentioned. We opted for the Sport trim which adds a sport grille, sport door chrome molding, sport turn indicators on the side mirrors, sport touchscreen audio display, and sport automatic headlight control. But will it be sporty at the track?
I've had a lot of good experiences with our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel's UConnect system. This isn't one of them. I almost always check traffic on the 91 freeway before I jump on to travel a few exits to a place we frequent for dinner. Over the holiday I did just that. Often this check is performed with a smart phone from my driveway, which has proven reliable. This time, however, I only glanced at the Ram's nav screen.
"The normal aluminum labor rate is $120 an hour, but since you're paying out of pocket I'm going to cut you a deal," the service advisor said, holding back the computer print-out. "I'm only going to charge you our normal rate of $60 an hour but it's over 20 hours of labor."
When I dropped off our long-term 2015 Ford F-150 a week ago, I couldn't tell if the advisor was trying to soften the blow of a costly repair or if he was really taking pity on me. There was no "Aluminum Body Rate" on their posted list of prices in the waiting room, just the "Body Rate per Hour" of $60. Whether this was an exaggeration or not, it was a nice sentiment. I lied to the service advisor, so in his mind, I was the victim of a hit-and-run accident and I deserved a bit of leeway.
The damage was actually a result of two blows from a sledgehammer. We were testing the theory that aluminum is more expensive to repair than steel and I had lied about the damage to get the most realistic customer experience possible. So far, it seemed to be working. The repair would take "twice as long as steel" but I'd be paying half the standard rate. It was time to break out the calculator and do some funky math.
After bouncing an 8-pound sledgehammer off the side of our new long-term 2015 Ford F-150, twice, I went undercover and drove it to our local Ford dealer, Santa Monica Ford, for repair.
As explained in Part 1 of our adventure, the idea was to test the hypothesis that when the aluminum body of our 2015 F-150 is damaged, it takes longer and is more expensive to repair than a more traditional steel-body pickup truck.
Ford claims the 2015 Ford F-150 is up to 700 pounds lighter thanks to its aluminum panels, which increases overall fuel economy and payload. But what happens when Thor decides to use your truck for target practice?
The last time I drove our 2014 Mini Cooper, I was delighted to find that my daughter's rear-facing infant seat would fit in the backseat. But that was two months ago, and now I'm dealing with a larger child who rides in a convertible car seat.
For any non-parents out there, convertible seats have a five-point harness and are used from infancy through the preschool years. They are "convertible" in that you can install them front- or rear-facing. Right now, my kid is rear-facing and because of the way you have to angle the seat, this type of installation is very space-intensive. In other words, no more legroom for the front passenger.
After installing my gigantic First Years True Fit C680 SI in our Jeep Cherokee and our Nissan Rogue, I didn't even bother trying to squeeze it into the Mini. It would have been an ordeal even to get that big seat through the door opening. Fortunately, I have a back-up car seat that's a whole lot more compact and it fits well in our 2014 Mini Cooper.
I headed home a few nights ago for the first time in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Tried pairing my phone when I jumped in but was met with the above note telling me that the "Hands-free system is loading. Please wait."
I hit our brand-new long-term 2015 Ford F-150 4X4 SuperCrew with a sledgehammer. On purpose.
We bought the $52,000 F-150 from Galpin Ford in Van Nuys, California. The day after the truck was delivered to our Edmunds office in Santa Monica, I went to work with the BFH, intentionally denting the Ford's right quarter panel.
Crazy? Maybe. But we wanted to find out if repairing the aluminum-bodied Ford is more expensive and time-intensive than repairing traditional steel-bodied trucks. Remember, the F-150 is the first pickup truck with a lightweight aluminum body and bed. After much thought we chose to smash the bed side because it would need to be repaired, as opposed to a dented door, fender or hood, which could simply be replaced.
So in the name of consumer awareness we dented our truck with two big blows from a sledgehammer (the impact also cracked the taillight) and drove it straight from the Edmunds garage to our local Ford dealer, Santa Monica Ford, and asked for an estimate. Take the jump to check out the sledgehammer video.
There's a lot to like about the new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab, not the least of which is its ruggedly handsome styling. I wouldn't exactly mind if somebody said that about me sometime...
But even though the new Colorado is the best midsize pickup you can get right now, the V6 is a bit disappointing. Sure, it has good power and all, with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, but it's just not all that pleasant of an experience, especially at full throttle.
Whack the gas pedal to the floor and the Colorado moves out pretty well, but as the tachometer clears 4,500 rpm you can feel vibrations creep into the cabin and the engine takes on a more coarse sound.
When Dan and Kurt drove our then-new 2015 Audi A3 from Houston to Los Angeles back in November, they observed that the A3 was pretty invisible on the roadway. No real head turns, no thumbs-up, no cell phone paparazzi. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise. The A3's styling is pretty similar to Audi's other sedans, and that familiarity just isn't going to wow the motoring public when you're moving along at 65 mph.
That said, I've gotten quite a few compliments about our A3 when the car's been parked.
One of my best friends recently bought his first house, and I offered a bit of extra muscle to move his considerable amount of stuff to the new place. Muscle being a euphemism, as lifting anything heavier than an empty hamster cage triggers a medically alarming amount of perspiration and ends with my damaged body crumpled in the fetal position with a slipped disc. I had the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI that weekend, and it doesn't exactly have enough storage space to move an entire apartment. However, I was still able to take boxes and assorted items with the rear seats folded.
After driving 1,500 miles in our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue I turned around and headed home. The trip had taken me from Los Angeles to Nevada City, then to Portland and Seattle and back to Portland again. With about 1,000 miles left in front of me, I split up the remaining distance into two legs: Portland to Sacramento and Sacramento to Los Angeles.
The 600 miles from Portland to Sacramento had several elevation changes and I stopped multiple times for food, so I wasn't setting any records. From Sacramento to Los Angeles, though, was a different story. I was on a self-imposed mission to hit the EPA's highway fuel economy estimate of 32 mpg in the Rogue and I pulled out all the stops, literally.
With our week in Bend, Oregon, sadly at an end, my wife and I packed up the Cherokee once again and set course 822 miles due south for what would hopefully be a full day of driving. I say hopefully, because you never know what weather or a jackknifed tractor trailer on a mountain pass might be ahead.
The countdown began on the northbound leg of our Oregon holiday trip in the 2015 Kia K900 sedan. We were just approaching our first overnight stop at Harris Ranch when a prominent Service Required message flashed its first warning indicating 1,000 miles to go.
More than 1,000 miles would pass before we got back home, so we'd be a little tardy. But at least they would be easy cruising miles, I told myself.
Monday morning saw me first in line at my local Kia/Suzuki/Isuzu service center. The service writer had never seen a K900 before, and indeed the sales lot was thick with lower-price fare that consisted mainly of Optimas and Souls.
Seattle, Washington is about a four-hour drive from Portland, Oregon. I had just arrived in Portland the day before but on day three of my holiday road trip in our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue I decided to make the four-hour trek and meet my friend Russell for lunch. He had just taken delivery on his new Tesla Model S P85D and that was worth the extra 200 miles on its own, but there was some Thai food thrown in to sweeten the deal, so I couldn't resist.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.