2015 Ford F-150 2.7 Liter Eco Boost

2015 Ford F-150 2.7 Liter Eco Boost

Full size trucks have V-8’s, or at the very least V-6’s. because even “City Trucks” need to haul or tow every now and then. Here in Texas not only does one’s truck need to look tough, it must sound tougher. That’s right, one of the first things Bubba changes on his truck is the exhaust, and no any old exhaust will not do. The exhaust must sound as mean and cruel as a Mel Gibson recording to his girlfriend, as menacing as Laurence Taylor on a three day bender. And it’s got to have a ride height that says, hell yes, I wear boots.

Well Ford…yes Ford has turned Bubba around faster than a sign for free light beer. The all-new F-150 2.7 liter Eco-Boost has forever changed the way I view truck engines.

You see, as much as I hate to admit it and I do, I’m Bubba. I have been a slave to the V-8. Ever since the first Eco-Boost started giving Bubba a reason to check V-6 on the order form with pride, I’ve been blown away with how powerful and well mannered they are. I had to get past the fact that it was a V-6. Don’t get it twisted the forced induction of the twin turbo Eco-Boost made the acceptance a lot easier. But now Ford wants me to go even smaller. To Bubba going smaller is NEVER better. But, wait, What if you started to get even better mileage and only gave up 1/10 of a second zero to sixty. Now Bubba hears you.

Ford, of course, helped themselves by knocking off 700lbs of heft that the previous F-150 had to pull around. They achieved this by constructing the body out of aluminum. Ford tells me it is actually stronger than the previous f-150. You subtract 700lbs from any car or truck and the power you need to push the truck around can diminish without affecting performance. One of the first reactions I had to the 2.7 liter Eco Boost was that there was plenty of power. There was not one time, in traffic or hauling something reasonable that I felt I needed more power. And the sound, the 2.7 twin turbo sounds as menacing as most V-8’s on the market now. That’s under WOT of course.

Tooling around town you wouldn’t even know the F-150 was running. It’s whisper quiet, especially when the Start/Stop technology kicks the engine off at stop lights. With some early versions of the Start/Stop tech, the A/C would falter. That’s not the case anymore, as Ford has managed to keep the cab not only quiet but cool.

I for one love the Start/Stop technology. It saves gas and cuts down on emissions. How many trucks can claim that?

2015f-150-interiorThe new interior of the 2015 F-150 is an improved version of what I think was already one of the best interiors in its class. The controls for the infotainment stack are straight forward and do not require complete attention to either adjust the climate or the radio dial. Note to other manufacturers, bring back the knob, on the radio. The seats are very comfortable and offer great support. Even in cloth which comes on the XLT version.

Yet another thing that makes the all-new 2015 all-aluminum F-150 appeal to me personally is the step assist on the side of the bed, near the cab. At 5’10” it’s getting harder and harder to get in the bed of modern trucks. The trucks seem to get taller as father time continues to wither me down to nothing, like a frail eighty year-old Burt Reynolds.

With the help of this step I can easily retrieve items from the bed without having to crawl inside.

The stated mileage on the 2.7 liter is 18mpg city and 23mpg hwy. I was able to get around those numbers, even better at times. This is thanks to the Start/ Stop tech I love so much.

The 2015 F150 is impressive on many fronts but none more obvious than the new 2.7 liter Eco-Boost version. Starting out around $32,300.00 well equipped, it’s hard to go wrong if you choose this truck, even if you answer to Bubba.

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2015 Mustang GT “Modern Muscle”

2015 Mustang GT “Modern Muscle”

Everywhere you go, if you are into fast cars, the term “modern Muscle” is sure to come up in conversation. What does modern muscle mean? What it means to me is an element of controlled chaos. A high horsepower, high torque power-train, paired with brakes as large as a Lance Armstrong lie and a suspension capable of competing in weekend autocross events while also handling daily driving with ease and poise. There are many examples out there, some better than others.

I’m not sure there is a better all-around example of “modern Muscle” than the 2015 Mustang GT. The newest version of the Mustang must have the Blue Oval Boy’s smiling more than Ted Cruz at an open carry demonstration in South-Central Texas.

Ford delivered the Mustang GT a couple of weeks ago. Deep Impact Blue was the color and it caught my eye immediately. The color was just really compliments the body lines which are perfect for me. I remember, the 2014 DFW Auto Show was the first place I laid eyes on the car. Older purist did not seem impressed. One remark I heard over and over was, to Euro. Not for me!

The exterior styling was a huge gamble and it paid off big time. The 2015 Mustang GT is a world class car that leaves the old straight line track runners of the past in the grave where they belong. Nostalgia is cool, as long as you can turn it, stop it and cool it. But, for me, give me this modern interpretation of the original every time. My favorite body line of the Mustang is the C-pillar to rear-quarter slope. My next has to be the rear-end. I even posted a picture of the rear of the Mustang on Facebook with a description I can’t post here.

The 2015 Mustang GT is much more than a pretty face….and nice butt. It is a track warrior. With the available Track-Pack you can monitor and log all kinds of useful gear head info. This car even allows you to view air/fuel mixtures in real time. GPS allows you to run your own quarter mile blast anywhere you want….yeah, I did it. The steering has three different settings that allow you to twist the steering wheel with the ease of an eighties Oldsmobile or, choose the sport or track settings and get more response than an ad for free gas.

Also, new for this year is the IRS. No more solid rear axle. The best thing about the IRS system besides cornering, is the ability to gain traction. Much like the Corvette, the Mustang GT wants to go in a straight line under hard acceleration. Going sideways is for Paul Giamatti, not muscle cars….not modern muscle cars

2015fordmustang2One thing I would suggest. Unless you are a super model pass on the Recaro racing seats. I’m not a big man, 5’10” 185, but I found the seats way too snug for any kind of comfort. And, as for the back seat…bahahahahahahaha! Come on Ford, there is no back seat to speak of. We tried fitting grown men in the back seat with hilarious results. None of those results looked comfortable.

I will say this, I think Ford has the easiest infotaiment system to use. All the needed setting can be adjusted with ease. No reaching too far or trying, unsuccessfully to provide over-exaggerated dexterity.

The 2015 Mustang GT pricing starts at $32,000.00 and can hit $46,000 with the Trac-Pac option. That’s an option I would exercise if I were buying this car.

Chevrolet, the ball is now in your court. The new bar has been set.

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2015 Volkswagen Convertible R-Line

2015 Volkswagen Convertible R-Line

Every now and then you come across a car so fun to drive that it requires a nick name. So, when Volkswagen dropped the newest version of the Beetle on me I had to come up with a great name for this fun to drive little ride.

There is a Ten-spot lady-bird Beetle, a Beet Carrion Beetle and a Black Ground Beetle. None of these names seem to do this little chariot justice. So, I’ve settled on Torque Beetle. It’s the best name I can come up with to describe the sheer thrill of driving the most feminine of automobiles, the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible.

I don’t know how I feel about writing this but, from the cockpit of the 2015 Beetle Turbo R-line, it feels extremely masculine. Mind you, I never dropped the top. The whole time I had with the Beetle the convertible top was closed tighter than mountain top mining operation’s record books.

More and more of the” pedestrian” cars are coming equipped with turbochargers to aide in performance and fuel economy. One of the obvious extra benefits of turbo charging is a ton of normally missing torque. Seriously, can you ever remember getting out of a Volkswagen Beetle and saying to yourself, man, that car has a ton of torque. If your answer was yes to this question before 2014 then, I’m sorry you’re more clueless than Marshawn Lynch at a Super Bowl presser. Hmm, I guess I could also use the name “Beast Mode Beetle”.

Volkswagen took steps a couple of years ago to make the Beetle more appealing to the guys. It seemed to me at the time that they must have consulted Porsche because now the Beetle looks more racer than renter. The lengthening of the C-pillar was a huge help in making the Beetle appear to have broad shoulders. By doing this it also helped with that old Beetle rounded look.
What really surprises me about the ‘Torque Beetle” is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re driving in the city or, on a curvy East Texas road, you will have trouble wiping the smile off of your face.

There is one thing you will need to know before taking a road trip, however. The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle is extremely limited on trunk space. You would think with the Beetle being a front engine design now that a small trunk would not be an issue but, it is. with the top cover in the trunk there is room for little more than a six pack of pop.

As I’ve mentioned above the Beetle is fast but, it is also very economical getting 25/33 mpg city/highway.

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The interior on the R-line is sporty and warm, with trim accents throughout. The steering wheel feels fat and comfortable in your hands and the front seats are extremely comfortable. As for the backseat….well, not much there. I would not recommend the Beetle for a family of more than two.

Pricing for the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle R-line is right around $30,000.00. That seems about right to me given the performance level the R-line reaches.

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2015 Infinity Q60S

2015 Infinity Q60S

You never know in life what will appeal to you. You may think you have your taste refined to the point of your personal perfection, and then you see something that speaks to you in a way that can’t be denied.

Before I was able to get serious seat time in the 2015 Infinity Q60S Convertible 6MT, I would have classified it as a “chick car”. Rather jelly bean in its design, the Q60S gives off that vibe as it sits there.

Then you open the door, slide in the driver’s seat and hit the start button. The sound of the 3.7 liter DOHC 24-Valve VVEL V6 engine is glorious. I decided right then and there that I would put away my initial impression. This Q60S is anything but feminine.

Delivering 325HP and 267lb-ft of torque, the Q60S offers more than enough power to make driving a blast. But, power, as great as it is, may be the least impressive part of the Q60S. The overall driving experience…the total package is what sets the Q60S apart.

A six-speed close-ratio gear box and independent front and rear suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars and a 14.7:1 sport tuned steering gear give you complete control. The steering is quick and precise and the brakes are outstanding, using 4 piston brakes at the front, and 2 pistons at the rear. The whoa is as impressive as the go.

The centerpiece to me however is the folding retractable hood on the Q60S convertible. When closed the roofline is crisp and clean. What impressed me even more though was how clean the Q60S looks with the top down. My eleven year old was speechless (which never happens) when he saw the mechanical, transformer-esque folding style of the roof, for the first time. I have to admit, it got my attention too.

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Once inside the Q60S you slide quite comfortably into the leather-appointed, heated driver’s seat. The lumbar support is tight enough to keep you seated properly but, comfortable enough for any extended trip you would want to take.

And speaking of road trips, the Q60S shines on the highways. the cockpit is Monday morning meeting quiet at highway speeds. I did hear a bit of gripping from the backseat occupants. But hey, it’s a sports car. It is.

As with anything Infinity produces there is tons of usable tech like a Bluetooth hands-free phone and Homelink universal transreciever. I found the basic controls for the infotainment system to be very straight forward and the Bose Open Air Sound System sounds great whether the top is up or down.

With a sticker price of $54,000.00 you should expect a certain feel, and Infinity must realize our expectations because the Infinity Q60S convertible is a perfectly executed play on sport/luxury.

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4X4

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4X4

The rebirth of the mid-sized truck has become a reality. How ironic is it that GM releases their first mid-size truck in three years and the price of gas is at 1.98 a gallon, in Texas?

I’ve been preaching to anyone who will listen for years that there is a market out there for these mid-size trucks. Ford has one of the best examples…if you live in Central America. Oh, and for the rednecks reading this review Central America is not Oklahoma, it’s actually south of us.

Why did it take so long for this to happen? If you ask the dealers they will tell you the death of the mid-size truck came about because of pricing. In 2006 a Full size Ram 1500 was about the same price as a similarly equipped Dakota. They told me that when bubba was in the market for a truck, and a full size was the same price they took the larger truck…every time.
It turns out Manufacturers won’t produce what they can’t sell, and well, they couldn’t sell mid-size trucks. So, we had a three year period without a domestic offering.

The Chevrolet Colorado won the 2015 Truck of the Year and it should have. Driving different cars each week allows me to take inventory of the looks the cars get on the road. The Colorado turned heads daily. Full-size truck guys too. Everywhere I went people asked about it. So, if you’re curious, here goes.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 a few weeks ago. delivered in red with charcoal interior and a great stance, I couldn’t wait to get in. My expectations were through the roof and I was preparing myself for the let down that I did not want. Not only was I surprised, I was shocked. The 2015 Colorado is quiet and rides as comfortably as any full size on the market. What is even more impressive to me is how nimble it is.

You full size guys will never understand what it’s like to zip in a parking place. I see you parking your full size trucks, in the city. It looks like Shaq squeezing into a Chevy Cruz. Fun to watch, hard to do.

Let’s talk towing. If you own cows buy a full size. If you tow a twenty foot trailer, buy a full size. But, if you’re like me and so many other city dwellers and like to have a truck to haul stuff at times and pull anything that goes on dirt street or, water then the Colorado will be more than adequate. With a tow rating of 7,000lbs with the added 250.00 trailering package you should never have a problem.

Of course, towing is all gears, torque and horsepower and with two engines available Chevy delivers on this too. For now, you can choose between a 2.5L I-4 or a 3.6 liter V6. the 3.6 liter offers 305hp and almost 300 lbft. of torque. There is a turbo-diesel on the way and I for one, can’t wait. If you drive a truck you need to think in the terms of turbo-diesel in the future.
The bed of the 2015 Colorado is deep and can accommodate large loads of mulch or dirt, or engine parts. With almost nine inches of ground clearance on the Z71 you can tackle challenging off-road obstacles.

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The interior is whisper quiet and very comfortable. As a man of considerable size….5-10 180. I found the seat height to be perfect for slipping in and out.

Fuel prices will rise again. Why not rethink the big truck next time you’re ready to make a purchase. You can get a well equipped mid-size, do anything, four-wheel-drive truck for less than the full size and you’ll never look at parking the same again.

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2014 RAM 3500

2014 RAM 3500

As a boy growing up in Texas there was a time when you put on a grown mans boots, while you were still less than six years old. The top of the boots usually hit you about the groin but, that was fine. All you knew is that you could fill your dad’s or grandpa’s boots. I’ll never forget the feeling I got from walking around is those old smelly things.

Fast forward a half a century and I was able to recapture that feeling again, behind the wheel of a 2014 Ram 3500 Dualie. This truck is big. With hips that make a Kardasian blush, you have to take great care in cornering and parking but, the good news is most drivers will get out of your way on the road.

This wasn’t my first time to drive a daulie. As I mentioned, I’m from Texas. When I was in college I worked at a local nursery and from time to time I had to drive a flat bed daulie to make deliveries of trees or grass. This was the legal kind of course. That truck would skip all over the road when the rear had no payload. It was loud, mud fouled, and the steering had more play in it than a one year-old puppy.

The 2014 Ram 3500 suffered none of these shortcomings. With 375Hp and 850lbft of torque you could haul anything UP TO 15 tons. Or, put another way, you could haul anything. In Tyler, Texas dualies are a way of life. I see them everyday doing what the manufactuers intended them to do, haul horses, hay, cars, and many different kinds of freight. The life of a daulie is usually hard, so all of the big three offer trucks that are designed to be almost bullet proof. But, unlike the dualies of the past the 2014 Ram 3500 has an incredibly quiet cabin.

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The ride is much smoother than I anticipated and I drove it quite a bit. It was my pleasure to take this behemoth on a round trip to the DFW Auto show last week. Hell, it even got to park at the downtown Omni Hotel. It should be no surprise to you that it was the only daulie in the parking garage. There was a small bit of levity as the parking attendant ran out to protest my arrival, in vein of course. No one can stop a three ton truck from going where it wants to go.

It was on this trip that I was able to acclimate myself to piloting the big Ram. After you get used to it, it’s really quite easy to drive, comfortable in fact. Just don’t plan on parking it anywhere but a pasture. Even with four-wheel drive the turning radius is a little over a mile in diameter.

But enough about my metrosexual take on the truck let’s talk about what this truck has to offer the hard working potential buyer. For starters it has a new 11.8-inch rear axle and Hotchkiss leaf spring rear suspension. I have the same hothkiss brand on my 1974 Camaro. I’m sure it’s the same one. Power is transferred from the Cummings to the ground via a very responsive 6-speed transmission that allows the Ram to get decent mileage. And although the Chevy and Ford are more impressive on the track, the Ram cam still offer more torque.

Look, no one buys a daulies unless they need one. If you are in the market for an Armageddon vehicle you owe it to yourself to check out the 2014 Ram 3500. Pricing starts at $54,385.00 and top out just north of $70,000.00. But, hey, when it comes to payload, that’s around two bucks per pound. And that’s cheaper than the cows you’ll be hauling.

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2014 Dodge Avenger SXT

2014 Dodge Avenger SXT

For a car named the Avenger the 2014 Dodge Avenger SXT is fairly pedestrian. That’s a good thing. Sure, it’s a blast to get the, over the top cars like the Charger SRT8 but, it’s also nice to get the cars I see a lot of people buying, like the new Avenger.

Painted in Billet Silver Metallic and sporting 18-inch Black spoke wheels the Avenger looks sporty and a little aggressive. Black wheels always set off the color of a car and this is no exception. The avenger appears a bit small from the outside but once inside I found ample room for a family.

Speaking of family, protection comes by way of Advanced Multistage Front Airbags, Supplemental Side Curtain Front and Rear Airbags and Front Seat Active Head Restraints. Collectively, these bags could hold enough hot air to accommodate a Fox News segment. At the end of the day, however, your cranium will thank you.

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Other safety equipment includes ESC, speed control and Front and rear stabilizer bars to keep you on the road, shinny side up.

The interior is appropriate for the segment and comfortable with a Power 8-Way Driver Seat with Manual Driver Lumbar Adjust. The front seats are very comfortable and don’t pinch all of the wrong areas. My one big gripe with the interior is the lack of descent lighting in the car. The front and rear Aimable LED lights are dim and inferior when trying to find anything in the Avenger at night.

What the Avenger does with great success is fit the needs of the family. With a 60/40 split rear seat with trunk pass-Thru, you can pack skis and small items from the local Home Depot. One of the things that I find with my family is that versatility rises to the top every time. And the 2014 Dodge Avenger is versatile. Its size allows you to jump in and out of parking places with ease. Never at any time does versatility cost you comfort.

Powering the Avenger is Chrysler’s 3.6 literV6 24-valveVVT Engine mated to a 6-speed Auto that shifts smoothly through all of the gears. Power was adequate but I’m wondering if the little turbo might be a good fit for the Avenger. While 22MPG city and 29MPG highway are respectable numbers, I was hoping for a bit more. The Avenger is just not exciting enough to get below 35MPG on the highway. Trucks are getting 25MPG.

The bottom line, in the Avenger, Dodge has given us what we need in a package that we might want.
Also, not to be forgotten is the 5-year 100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warrany. Nothing screams family like protection.

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2014 Dodge Charger SRT8

2014 Dodge Charger SRT8

I’m almost 47 years old and right now nothing seems faster than father time. It seems I’ve been racing that scrappy bastard for years and have yet to gain a car length on him.

Maybe, if I bought the 2014 Dodge Charger SRT8 that was just left for me by the fine folks from Mopar I might actually give Mr. Time a run for his money.

The Charger is fast, really fast, 470 being the operative number for both horsepower and torque. What I wasn’t prepared for was how well the engineers translate that power to the ground. The car is a complete “fun box”. I remember driving the 2014 Jeep SRT8 and being disappointed by the limits placed on the car thru electronics. Someone at SRT must have noticed that. The 2014 Charger is as loose as honeymooning couples, on a deserted beach , in Maui.

Keep your foot out of the rev zone and it feels like you’re in your father’s well matured sedan. Actually, you are. This one just happens to have an extra 270 horsepower. The moment you plant the right toes though, you can do any number of things. You can quickly spin the tires and pitch the car ever so gently to the left and continue gently on your way. You can switch the driving mode to a competition mode and prepare for a 0-60 or a quarter mile blast, in just under 13 seconds. The charger will let you know how well you’ve mastered the car…of course I did very well. Or, finally, you can just play with the throttle. The throttle response is nothing short of amazing.

2013 Dodge Charger Daytona

Maybe the best part of the power-plant however, is the ECO mode. This allows you to save enough fuel to roast the rear tires even more. The power of the 6.4 liter allows you to move the car from A to B with almost zero effort. I can’t tell you how much fun I had driving around town trying to stay in ECO mode. I know that that is in stark contrast to the ‘Power” talk, but, it’s challenging! And if there is anything that a fast car should be, it is a challenge to master.

Of course, all that power has to be harnessed in some way. That’s where the huge Brembo brakes on all four corners; seem to harness this water buffalo of a sports car into quiet submission.

Keeping you in command of the beast is a heated (nice) fat steering wheel that feels in perfect scale to the car, although, it does block much of the gauge cluster. But, really who cares about the gauge cluster when part of the SRT package is a set of gauges appearing in the center of the 4.3 touch screen mounted front and center that displays oil temp, water temp, and voltage.

The seats are more comfortable than you can imagine and my ten year old tells me there is tons of room in the rear seat.

So, why go and purchase a 470HP, four door, and well matured sedan for $44,435.00? Go test drive one and find out. Hey Fiat, don’t kill the SRT program.

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