2010 Ford Raptor

2010 Ford Raptor

2010 Ford Raptor

Click here to listen to the 2010 Ford Raptor review.

Every now and then, even for a forty three year-old, something different comes along. Something you can’t quantify with reasonable logic. Much like a boneless Pilgrim’s Pride chicken, the all-new Ford Raptor boggles the mind. It is the most efficient off-road factory racer ever built. It may redefine what we think of the ½ ton pick-up forever.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some off-road savant who can recite the highly complicated mathematical equations that off-roading requires to succeed. I’m just a guy who loves driving trucks through pastures. The faster I can go the more I like it. Sounds very country I know. But growing up in East Texas I got to drive fast on dirt roads for most of my adolescent life. I think the vehicle of choice was my grandfather’s 1970 something Chevy Luv. That’s right, I said it, a Chevrolet Luv completely decked out with a bench seat, four on the floor and throwing, I don’t know maybe forty horsepower to the rear wheels. I carved the Ark-La-Tex up in that truck. The rice fields were particularly enjoyable.
Imagine if my grandfather’s truck would have been a Ford Raptor. I coulda been a contenda.

Of all of the vehicles I’ve reviewed over the years none has been more unique than the Raptor. It’s a truck that drives like a car and runs like a Baja racer. The raptor has been selling like crazy in the desert west where there is ample territory to showcase the amazing ability of the truck. A very stock, slightly modified version of the Raptor was entered in the 2008 Baja 1000 and placed third in its class in its very first race. Think about that, something that you can purchase at the Ford house and drive on the street can race at speeds over a hundred miles an hour across the desert. Have you driven a Ford lately? Seriously?

Okay, here are the specs. The Raptor’s base price is $38,995. It is based on a Ford F-150 Super Cab with a 5.5-foot bed. Under the hood (for now) is a 5.4 liter V8 that delivers 320HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission assures the motor will always be in the proper power curve. The differentials are conventional F-150. But the Raptor has an electronic locking rear differential and carries 4.10:1 gearing, enough to move the massive 315/70R17 (35 inch) BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires and to get the truck out of the hole quickly. In the future the Raptor will be even faster with the all-new 6.2 liter motor expected to bring a hundred extra horses on board.

Like any good off-road truck the Raptor is all about the suspension. Ford’s SVT team, the ones that brought us the 03 SVT Cobra and the never forgettable Ford Lightning, made sure the Raptor could handle anything standing in its way. Most notable to the naked eye is the wider stance of the Raptor. Ford widened the F-150 stance by 7-inches. There are special upper and lower control arms. The lower control arms are actual mini skid plates designed to deflect any rocks or debris from corrupting your control. There is over 11-inches of travel up front and well over thirteen- inches in the rear. At each corner there are Fox Racing shocks and micro-cellular urethane bump stops to smooth out the most punishing terrain. And maybe the most impressive of all, maximum electronics allow the Raptor’s suspension to be tuned on the fly. In full off-road mode there is no ABS or traction control. I love things with no control.

I wasn’t sent to an exotic location to test drive the Raptor. Well, it’s not like I write for Motor Trend or the Roger Gray blog. I’m just a grunt…who tested this truck in the brutal, urban wasteland known as Dallas Texas. More potholes and ridiculous dips than a Yes concert . It was a great place to test the truck on “paved Pastures”. As you would expect I can only relay small parts of the story but suffice to say the Raptor performed… well, very well.

I think I could rule the rice fields for decades. Hats off to Ford. I have a friend who is a died in the wool Mopar guy. When he was riding in the 2010 Raptor he said “You know I’m not a Ford guy but, if I was I think now is the best time in history to be one”. Well said.

Visit Ford’s website to see more on the most original truck built in years. The Ford Raptor.

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Spyker Cars Renews Bid to Buy Saab From GM


In a final attempt to rescue Saab Automobile AB, Dutch auto maker Spyker Cars on Sunday submitted a new offer to buy the Swedish brand from General Motors Co.

Spyker Cars Renews Bid to Buy Saab

Spyker Cars Renews Bid to Buy Saab

Spyker said it has submitted a new 11-point proposal to GM, addressing the issues that made talks collapse earlier this week.

GM on Friday said it would wind down Saab because issues arose during the sales talks with Spyker that could not be resolved, and the window of time to complete a deal was small.

Spyker Chief Executive Officer Victor R. Muller said he hoped the new offer would make GM change its mind.

“We are very confident that our renewed offer will remove the impasse that was standing in the way of an agreement on Friday, and this would still allow us to conclude the deal prior to the expiry of the deadline originally set by GM of Dec. 31,” he said in a statement.

“We have made every effort to resolve the issues that were preventing the conclusion of this matter and we have asked GM and all other involved parties to seriously consider this offer,” he added.

Muller said the new offer removes a demand that a loan from the European Investment Bank to Saab be approved before the end of the year, and has the full backing of Saab’s management.

It said the new offer expires on Monday, giving GM little time to make a decision.

Saab employs about 3,400 people worldwide, most of them at its main plant in Trollhattan, Sweden.

Gert-Inge Andersson, leader of the local government in Trollhattan, daid he did not yet dare to believe in the new offer.

“It’s bordering on torture, of citizens and the employees at Saab, when messages like these fly back and forth,” he told local news agency TT

Swedish government officials declined to comment.

GM bought a 50 percent stake and management control of Saab for $600 million in 1989 and gained full ownership in 2000 for $125 million more.

In February, the Swedish brand went into creditor protection in an effort by GM to sell the unit. A consortium led by Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg Automotive AB signed a preliminary deal to buy the brand in June but dropped out in November.

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Chrysler Won’t Re-pay 3.7 Billion

Chrysler won’t repay $3.7 billion TARP loan
Plan filed with bankruptcy court has no provision to return money
updated 2:39 p.m. CT, Tues., Dec . 15, 2009

NEW YORK – The U.S. Treasury will not recover any portion of the $3.7 billion still outstanding in loans it made to automaker Chrysler under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the terms of a plan filed with bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

The U.S. government has filed proofs of claim for unpaid principal, interest, fees and expenses, but “will receive no recovery on account of such claim,” according to court documents filed on behalf of Old Carco LLC, the units of Chrysler that remain under bankruptcy protection while they are liquidated.

The proposal was laid out in a disclosure statement filed with the New York bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

A disclosure statement is a comprehensive document sent to creditors before they vote on a plan of reorganization. The Old Carco plan also proposed repaying Class 1 priority claims in full.

The case is In re Old Carco LLC, US Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-50002.

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2010 Buick Lacrosse

2010 Buick Lacrosse

2010 Buick Lacrosse

Click here to listen to the 2010 Buick Lacrosse review.

This has to be the most difficult review I’ve done yet. This week I took delivery of a 2010 Buick Lacrosse. Okay, I know what you’re thinking… Lonnie’s going to bash the Buick on the basis of retirement , last time buyers program, etc. Well, no, I won’t take the low road. I’ll just tell you everyone loves this car, except me.

Upon arrival it’s hard not to notice the similarities between the Lexus 350 and the Buick Lacrosse. The exterior lines are remarkable. Smooth and soft curves cover the body of the Buick in a Kardashian fashion. The front grill sits like a jewel on the front fascia. The headlights remind you that this new Buick is sly, maybe even a little sinister. Kind of looks like Jack Nicholson after a night out in Hollywood. And until now, only customers Jack’s age were interested in this car. That’s not the case with the all new Buick Lacrosse. Even Jack’s grandkids probably like it.

Overall, what’s not to like? Power plants ranging from a pedestrian 2.4 liter I-4 putting out 182HP to the somewhat nasty little 3.6 Direct-Injected V-6 putting down 280HP. Also, offered this year, an all wheel drive Lacrosse can now gallop its way into your stable. But, it’s not the power that will grab potential buyers, it’s the elegance.

The Lacrosse is elegant inside and out. The interior is quiet, comfortable, and plush. Base models even include full power driver’s seat, full power accessories and a seven-seven speaker CD/MP3 audio system. I’m guessing a few years ago the typical Buick buyer had no idea what an MP3 player was. Man, how times have changed. In the higher level trims blue tooth (no denture jokes here please), heated power seats, rear parking sensors, heated steering wheel, and an eleven speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with a USB port greet you as you enter the Lacrosse.

I suppose the most impressive aspect of the Lacrosse is the ability to retain the unprecedented Buick ride without compromising the very agile handling. The new Lacrosse is far and away the most nimble Buick I’ve ever driven. Buick achieves this goal with adjustable shocks that devour the road while keeping you clueless to the work they are doing on your behalf.

So, who are you going to listen to? The hordes of people who loved the all-new Lacrosse or, someone like me who just can’t get by the silly wood trim accents and awkward instrument cluster? Exactly. You’ll listen to the masses.
If you have ever thought about a Buick but were scared off by the fact Tiger Woods is the sponsor, do not be afraid. While the underside of the Buick is as wild as a Tiger visit to Vegas, the cabin is as quiet as Tiger on the fourteenth whole six shots down in the tournament.

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Dodge Rams it Home

2010 Dodge Ram

2010 Dodge Ram

NEW YORK – The 2010 Ram Heavy Duty was named Motor Trend magazine’s truck of the year on Thursday, beating out contenders from Ford and Toyota in the closely watched competition.

The award is a welcome piece of good news for Chrysler Group LLC, which has seen its sales continue to lag even as competitors rebound. The Ram Heavy Duty beat out three other competitors: The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, the Ford Transit Connect van and the Toyota Tundra 4.6-liter work truck.

The vehicle of the year designation is important to automakers, who often use Motor Trend’s endorsement in their advertising. Last year, Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 truck took the prize. Last month, Motor Trend gave the 2010 Ford Fusion its car of the year award.

Motor Trend praised the Ram Heavy duty for its powerful yet clean engine and its quiet comfortable ride. The magazine also said the truck’s 17,500-pound towing capacity beats out rivals, while the platform received significant upgrades that improve ride, handling and noise compared with the previous model.

“The 2010 Ram Heavy Duty absolutely nailed the award in terms of our criteria, from the attractive exterior styling, to the plush and quiet cabins, to the tough and capable powertrains,” said Angus MacKenzie, editor in chief of Motor Trend, in a statement.

The 2010 Ram Heavy Duty is available in five trim models and sports suspension and brake improvements that are designed to help in carrying heavy loads. The truck starts at $28,165 for a regular cab model, $36,865 for crew cab models and $36,865 for Mega Cab models. It is slated to arrive in dealerships before the end of the year.

Motor Trend said it has refocused the prize this year to reward trucks with greater utility, as leisure truck buyers have largely deserted the market. The magazine said the new focus is reflected in the choice of finalists, like the Ford Transit Connect, a cargo van.

The accolade comes at a time when Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler continues to suffer from poor sales as the broader industry is recovering. Sales at Chrysler, which merged with Italy’s Fiat Group SPA earlier this year, fell 25 percent in November. Industrywide sales were flat during the same month.

The Ram truck is the best-selling vehicle in Chrysler’s lineup, though sales fell 37 percent to 9,787 in November.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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