2010 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab

2010 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab

2010 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab --

Click here to listen to the 2010 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab review.

I never thought I would use the word “massive” when referring to a truck produced by Japanese auto manufactures. But, the all new 2010 Toyota Tundra feels plenty massive when you’re trying to park it. It feels big on the inside as well. A friend at the office bought a new Toyota truck a couple of years ago. He’s a SOTA (slightly older than average) dirt bike racing dude. Point being, he uses the truck regularly to transport his dirt bikes and all the extras deep into the sticks in search of collar bone busting trails to ride. To date, there’s been no bad news from the guy regarding his truck. Also, I’m happy to report, no broken bones.

The Tundra feels tough. It definitely feels fast. The test Tundra was the extended cab powered by the 5.7 liter V-8 pushing out 381HP and plenty of truck grunting torque (401lbs) to satisfy almost any recreational towing need.
I was expecting much less. After testing all of the domestics, I was going to be hard to impress. After all, the domestics are impressive. From the quiet smooth ride of the Ford, to the interior of the Chevrolet, to the exterior styling of the Dodge, all of the trucks produced in the mainland are impressive. The Tundra, however, stands up nicely to the competition. I’m not a huge fan of the body lines on the Tundra but, I like my trucks like I like my lawyers…square. Don’t get too fancy with the sheet metal just give it some edge.

If I had to describe the Tundra in one word it would be “nimble”. It just drives smaller than it is. That’s great around town. As a matter of fact, its highway manners are impressive as well. There is the problem of the hard to reach dash board controls. Fortunately there are audio controls on the steering wheel to assist non Shaq-like humans. The controls are so far out of reach it can really distract you to adjust the climate control. As a matter of fact, although very comfortable, the interior was a bit pedestrian compared to the domestics. I’m sure for all of you “formidable” truck drivers, you could care less. But, if you ask me it needs more saddle leather.

The real surprise though was the power plant. 381HP is impressive. Put your foot down and prepare to be somewhere else quickly. Very quickly. The mileage for the 5.7 is respectable at 16MPG city and 20MPG on the highway. Those numbers out- perform the 4.7 power plant. Also, look to pay a $950.00 premium for the 5.7 over the 4.7. But, that’s less than ten dollars per HP. Not too shabby. Nowadays, anything you can get for ten bucks is worth it.

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After Clunkers tax rush, states come down hard

After Clunkers tax rush, states come down hard
Car buyback program gave quick boost to finances, but usually not enough
The Associated Press
updated 12:32 p.m. CT, Sun., Oct . 11, 2009

WASHINGTON – Struggling states and towns got a dose of badly needed money this summer from a Cash for Clunkers program that poured hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue into their budgets.

Now, like the auto industry, recession-ravaged governments are seeing revenue fall off as car buyers take a breather from the frenzied sales of July and August. That means less money for schools, roads, public safety and other projects that get much of their funding from sales tax collections.

And while officials welcomed the shot in the arm, the extra clunkers money won’t come close to filling the gaping holes in their budgets or do much to solve the worst revenue downturn in decades.

“It is chump change,” said David Zin, an economist with the Michigan state senate’s fiscal agency.

State and city officials say their budget problems are too severe for one government program to fix.

“Fifty-thousand is not to be sneezed at,” Dean Rich, finance director of O’Fallon, Ill., said of the city’s expected tax gain from its 16 car dealerships. But it’s not enough to prevent a job freeze and cuts to capital projects for the town of 29,000 people.

“It’s not the windfall that is going to fix the $1 million shortage we have this year,” he said.

Like most governments, O’Fallon suffered during the recession as people facing job losses, reduced pay, lost homes and general unease over the economy snapped their wallets shut. That means big drops in sales tax, which makes up around half of many state budgets. Sales of cars and trucks, big-ticket items with high price tags, are a big component of sales tax collections.

Cash for Clunkers held some promise — customers bought nearly 700,000 new vehicles during late July and August, taking advantage of rebates of up to $4,500 on new cars in return for trading in their older vehicles. The program ended up tripling the size of its original $1 billion price tag due to its broad popularity. For government budget offices, that represented some rare good news.

The auto forecaster Edmunds.com estimated that the average clunker sales price was $26,321, meaning roughly $18 billion worth of new vehicles were sold under the program. Multiplied by the average combined state and local sales tax of 7.5 percent, the total tax bill amounts to a loose estimate of $1.36 billion.

But here’s some perspective — the budget shortfall of Michigan alone, the symbolic heartland of the U.S. auto industry, amounts to $2.8 billion. And it pales in comparison to the $240 billion that states collected in total general sales taxes in 2008.

“That’s more than a drop in the bucket … but not much more for state budgets,” said Robert Ward, director of fiscal studies for the Rockefeller Institute of Government in New York.

The taxes brought in by clunkers offered a summer shot of adrenaline for most states. The funds — often earmarked for school aid, highway repairs and law enforcement — came at a time when they were struggling with big shortfalls.

Kentucky reported that clunkers’ taxes propped up its Road Fund, which supports the state’s network of roadways. Motor vehicle usage taxes grew 11.4 percent to $36 million in August, helping keep the fund flat for the month. The state estimates it can now afford to see receipts fall more than 4 percent for the rest of fiscal year and still meet its budget forecasts.

Legislative estimates in Michigan show the state may have taken in $39 million from Cash for Clunkers. About a third of that money is devoted to education.

Massachusetts reported that motor vehicle sales tax revenue rose nearly 36 percent in August from a year earlier, higher than the state’s monthly target. That gain, combined with a rise in the overall sales tax that month, pushed vehicle tax collections above the monthly goal.

The extra money may be a help, but state budget officials say it’s minor compared with their huge problems.

Kentucky officials have warned that until unemployment improves — about 11 percent of state residents are now jobless — tax revenues will remain in the doldrums.

In Michigan, where the state sales tax is the major source of aid for schools, lawmakers proposed cutting $218 per pupil from the aid the state government gives to local school districts. That’s despite the clunkers money and extra vehicle sales tax revenue from laid-off auto workers who got vouchers for new cars as part of their severance. Sales tax collections are still down 9 percent.

Auto sales nationally fell 41 percent from August to September, a drop caused largely by people who would have normally waited a few months to buy a new vehicle rushing in to take advantage of the federal program’s big rebates.

That hangover showed up in Massachusetts’ sales tax collections last month, which were 5 percent below forecasts. That worries Robert Bliss, a spokesman for the state revenue department.

“Has the pool been drained as a result of this program for the next couple of months? That is the question,” he said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33266927/ns/business-autos/

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2009 Fall Barrett-Jackson Auction Fails To Impress

1965 Shelby Cobra

1965 Shelby Cobra

Is it me or has the economy taken the bite out of Barrett-Jackson. Three years ago buses were being sold for millions. This past weekend the auctioneers worked overtime to convince the buyers to break out there big boy wallets, mostly to no avail.

The first few years it was televised on The Speed Channel it was must-see T.V. I would actually attend parties designed for nothing more than viewing the yearly automotive spectacle. Seemed like Saturday nights were just huge. Never knowing what overly cool ride was going to take the stage next.

Last year the auction took a turn, not a good one. The auctioneers and the two Barrett-Jackson namesakes became more vocal by necessity. Trying to convince the world’s most informed buyers of this or that particular nuance that made the car or truck on the block more valuable than the bidding suggested.

Also, the number of cool Mopars has seemed to diminish. The Ford products reined this year with a 1965 numbers matching, one owner Shelby Cobra, bringing in $400,000.00. I think there was only one car higher than that.
Granted this wasn’t the big auction. The big Daddy is in the spring of each year. But, I have to wonder will next year’s Barrett-Jackson even beat Pas Time in the ratings. If it keeps trending this way maybe someday guys like me can make the trip…even without the big-boy checkbook.

When The Car Show returns on October 25th be prepared to review the Barrett-Jackson auction. Who knows, maybe the show will be good enough to win a Nobel Prize.

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Iconic Hummer Brand Sold to Chinese Manufacturer

Hummer, the off-road vehicle that once epitomized America’s love for hulking trucks, is now in the hands of a Chinese heavy equipment maker.

Iconic Hummer Brand Sold to Chinese Manufacturer

Iconic Hummer Brand Sold to Chinese Manufacturer

General Motors Co. and Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp. finally signed the much-anticipated deal for GM to sell the brand on Friday.

Tengzhong will get an 80 percent stake in the company, while Hong Kong investor Suolang Duoji, who indirectly owns a big stake in Tengzhong through an investment company, will get 20 percent. The investors will also get Hummer’s nationwide dealer network.

Financial terms were not disclosed, although a person briefed on the deal said the sale price was around $150 million. The person did not want to be identified because the terms were being kept private. GM’s bankruptcy filing last summer said that the brand with military roots could bring in $500 million or more.

Suolang Duoji also is the controlling shareholder and chairman of Lumena Resources Corp., a Hong Kong listed mining company.

GM and Tengzhong said in a statement that the transaction still must be approved by the U.S. and Chinese governments. Chinese regulators initially expressed reservations about Tengzhong’s ability to run such an enterprise.

Hummer’s current management team will stay with the new company, which will be headquartered either in Detroit or suburban Auburn Hills, Mich.

James Taylor, the GM executive who has run Hummer recently, will remain as its chief executive officer.

Taylor said in an interview with The Associated Press that he knows resurrecting the brand will be difficult, but the key will be quickly rolling out more fuel-efficient models that get over 20 mpg.

“I’m not in any kind of denial that we have a very steep uphill challenge in front of us,” Taylor said.

Hummer, he said, has been in a state “suspended animation” since June 2008 when GM announced it would be reviewed for sale or closure. Since then, its future has been uncertain and it got no marketing support or new products. Financing for leases, a big part of its luxury market, also dried up, Taylor said.

Still, GM sold 1,000 Hummers in some months, proving that buyers are out there.

“There’s still a loyal customer base underneath there that loves Hummer,” he said.

Hummer hopes to keep buying fuel-efficient engines and transmissions from GM, but can seek them elsewhere, Taylor said.

He said the brand has been unfairly tagged as a symbol of the American gas guzzler, saying other vehicles get worse mileage.

He wants to make sure “at least we aren’t a victim of misinformation that we stand alone as the ultimate bad guy in the space, which we aren’t.”

Hummer hit the streets for civilian use in 1992 while owned by AM General LLC, which makes Humvees for the U.S. Army, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was among the first customers.

The brand, whose smallest model gets 16 miles per gallon (14.7 liters per 100 kilometers) in combined city and highway driving, sold well until the middle part of this decade when fuel prices began to rise. Sales peaked at 71,524 in 2006.

But only 8,193 Hummers have been sold in the U.S. through the first nine months of the year. That’s down 64 percent from a year earlier. And only 426 Hummers were sold nationwide last month, according to Autodata Corp.

GM, which spent 40 days in bankruptcy protection during the summer and has received about $50 billion in U.S. government aid, also plans to sell its Saab brand and scrap Pontiac and Saturn as it tries to streamline its operations.

The Hummer deal is a victory for GM, which saw a similar agreement to sell the Saturn brand blow up at the last minute. Auto dealership magnate Roger Penske’s bid fell through just before the deal was to close last week when a contract to make vehicles for Saturn was rejected by the Renault board.

The company wants to focus on four core brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

With backing from a well-capitalized company, Hummer will now focus on improved efficiency and performance and include alternative fuels, more efficient gas engines, six-speed transmissions and diesel engines.

GM said its assembly plant at Shreveport, La. would continue to assemble the commercial Hummer H3 and H3T pickup trucks on a contract basis until June 2011, with a one-year option until June 2012. The military H2 version will continue to be assembled by AM General in Mishawaka, Ind., under the same terms.

South Bend, Ind.-based AM General retains ownership of the military versions of the vehicles, which have been used frequently in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Shreveport GM plant is currently slated to close by June 2012. For the time being, the plant also is assembling the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks.

CEO Taylor said GM has agreed to make the H3 models under contract through 2012, but he expects the manufacturing relationship to end when production of other products made in Shreveport ends.

“GM’s not in the business of supporting other OEMs or niche manufacturers like us,” he said.

He sees a potential for a manufacturing relationship to continue with AM General, he said.

———

AP Business Writer Alan Sayre in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Ain’t It Great-Ten Cars We Love To Hate

By Dan Carney, contributor

Introduction

Uptight art snobs periodically work themselves into a lather when a respected art museum decides to host an exhibit celebrating automotive design as an art form.

Outside the orthodoxy of such rigid thinking, however, it is obvious to most people that the very best automotive design is unquestionably the product of the very best artistic inspiration.

But what about the worst designs? What of the automotive equivalent of atrocious community college art class watercolors?

Museums have no space for the ugliest cars, but fortunately, we do, just as a reminder that artistic daring doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Such selections, of course, are subject to debate and opinion. It is impossible to include every deserving offender on our list of 10 of the most egregious cars, so please submit your own suggestions, with a description of why they deserve to be considered among the ugliest cars ever.

Here is our list, in random order, so take a look and be glad that one of these babies doesn’t (dis)grace your driveway.

Vote: Which car do you think is the ugliest?
’70-’78 AMC Gremlin
Hulton Archive / Getty Images file
’70-’78 AMC Gremlin

It may be an unsubstantiated legend that American Motors designer Richard Teague sketched the Gremlin on an airline airsickness bag, but it is a fact that AMC launched the car on April Fools Day, 1970, a fitting arrival for a car with clownish ill-proportioned lines.

The long hood and near-vertical tail gave the car the aspect of a clown’s oversized shoe.
’74-’77 AMC Matador Coupe
AMC
’74-’77 AMC Matador Coupe

AMC surely deserves some credit for recognizing that even on a limited budget, it could imbue its cars with distinctive styling. Unfortunately, as happens in military campaigns, daring sometimes meets with legendary failure rather than the hoped-for surprise victory.

So it was for the lumpy Matador Coupe, which looked like a designer’s droopy clay model that was accidentally left in the sun. In an uncharacteristic failure to identify a naked emperor when it saw one, Car and Driver magazine inexplicably named Matador coupe the “Best Styled Car of 1974.”

Any question of the Matador’s place on this list is put to rest by the ’77-’78 Barcelona version festooned with a padded vinyl top, opera windows and two-tone paint. Earth tones only, natch.
’75-’78 AMC Pacer
Anonymous / AMC via AP
’75-’78 AMC Pacer

The Pacer really deserved better than this.

There was true innovation in the Pacer’s fishbowl body, such as the industry-leading elimination of rain gutters to reduce wind drag (now accepted practice), a longer passenger-side door for more convenient back seat access from that side, and rack-and-pinion steering which was uncommon among domestic cars at the time. A planned rotary engine would have truly put the Pacer on the cutting edge.

But the rotary engine never reached production, leaving the Pacer with AMC’s antiquated straight-six engine, and the unorthodox, bloated styling never got any less shocking to the eye.
’80-’83 Cadillac Seville
GM Corp.
’80-’83 Cadillac Seville

Cadillac designers were apparently not paying attention to the ridicule heaped on the Gremlin for its unbalanced proportions and chopped-off rear end.

Evidently enamored of ‘70s neo-classics like the Excalibur (a worthy candidate in its own right), Cadillac sought to lend its mid-size model weight of heritage by borrowing the “bustle back” trunk from an earlier era. At least they didn’t attempt running boards or exposed exhaust pipes.

The ugly styling and a plague of mechanical problems from its new front-drive layout and attempts at fuel-efficient engines dropped sales of the once-popular model in the tank.
’58-’59 Edsel
Ed Carlin / Getty Images file
’58-’59 Edsel

In the 1950s, Ford wanted to establish a new luxury division, so to create this new brand’s prestige bona fides, naturally the company named the new car after Henry Ford’s well-liked but unusually named late son Edsel.

They then bestowed upon it laughable styling that closely approximated the expression formed by people laying eyes on the car for the first time. This negative first impression of the “sucking a lemon” grille on the ’58 Edsel models was reinforced by Ford’s months-long ad campaign building up consumer anticipation of the big reveal.

Like a blowout game in a much-hyped Super Bowl, much of America felt tricked when they’d been led to expect something exceptional, only to find something exceptionally ugly.
’60-’62 Plymouth Valiant
’60-’62 Plymouth Valiant

The observant reader may have noticed a trend by now. Most of the cars on this list are the result of car manufacturers operating outside their comfort zones, attempting to enter new markets or entice new customers.

That is why so many of our ugliest cars are the early attempts at compact car design by domestic carmakers. You can’t get much farther outside the comfort zone than old Detroit trying to conceive small cars when General Motors still held 60 percent of the U.S. market all by itself.

The 1960 Plymouth Valiant apparently tried to set itself apart with all manner of slashing lines and jutting edges, but the resulting mess earned the car a solid spot on this list.
’70-’80 Ford Pinto
Ford Motor Co. via AP
’70-’80 Ford Pinto

Animal forms serve as the inspiration for many automotive designs. The reason is obvious; their organically powerful and efficient lines can be quite evocative.

Why the Ford Pinto designers thought anyone would be excited by an automotive frog, though, has never been discovered. Especially when finished in the popular dull green of the era, the Pinto looked like it should have been named after it amphibious inspiration rather than wild equine.

If Ford had been able to use even smaller wheels so it could seal off the wheel wells, the look would have been complete.
’74-’78 Datsun B210
Nissan
’74-’78 Datsun B210

One might think from the earlier entrants that only domestic companies have made ugly cars, but that would be untrue.

It is just that many of the most ugly foreign cars either never came to the U.S., or sank so fast upon arrival that they didn’t even leave a ripple.

Datsun’s mainstream, high-volume compact model of the mid-‘70s, the B210, is a notable exception. Its lumpy silhouette, tiny windows and suspect details like the honeycomb hubcaps firmly established Japan as a force to be reckoned with when it came to uglifying American roads.
’76-’78 Datsun F10
Nissan
’76-’78 Datsun F10

In case the domestic car makers thought the B210 was a fluke, Datsun followed it up with its first front-wheel-drive ugly-mobile, the F10.

“As with the B210, the F10 is a bit garish, with its GREAT BIG EYES for headlights,” noted Road & Track magazine in 1976.

The absurd headlights and taillights bookmarked an absurdly high beltline that squeezed the side windows to squinty proportions, and raised the rear hatchback to the height of a rear sunroof.
’01-’05 Pontiac Aztek
’01-’05 Pontiac Aztek

Though bankruptcy was still a decade away when General Motors was designing the 2001 Pontiac Aztek, the same desperation that led American Motors to build its verge-of-bankruptcy atrocities in the ‘70s had Pontiac executives willing to risk anything on the chance for a breakout hit.

But while consumers have at times embraced cars with unorthodox styling, like the original Volkswagen Beetle, there are no recorded instances of popular cars which violently defile basic standards of design decency, such as the enduring appeal of balanced, flowing lines.

Instead, the Aztek was a contrived, hunch-backed, trying-too-hard, plastic-clad abomination and its failure was certain before it even rolled off the assembly line.

Vote: Which car do you think is the ugliest?

Updated: 5:10 p.m. ET Oct. 8, 2009

© 2009 MSNBC.com

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33194543/ns/business-autos

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