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2018 Ford F-150 Debuts with New Diesel Engine and More Tech

By Jodi Lai Jan 08, 2017

Just ahead of its hometown auto show in Detroit, the refreshed 2018 Ford F-150 was revealed with more technology, a new diesel engine, and a segment-first 10-speed transmission.

The biggest news with the 2018 Ford F-150 is the availability of an all-new 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbo diesel engine, which marks the first time the popular pickup is offered with a diesel. Although output for this new engine has not been fully revealed, expect it to be both fuel efficient and well-suited for towing.

The refreshed truck also replaces the base 3.5-liter V6 with a more efficient 3.3L unit that is expected to offer the same 282 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque as the engine it replaces. The second-generation 2.7L EcoBoost also gets tweaked for better efficiency, more output, and better durability and will be paired with the new 10-speed transmission. Not to be left out, the 5.0L V8 also gets upgraded for higher output and will also be hooked up to the new 10-speed. Ford has not yet announced specific output for the upgraded engines but has confirmed that stop/start will be standard on all F-150s.

A hybrid F-150 has also been confirmed to arrive in 2020.

In the looks department, the F-150 gets some tweaks to the front and rear styling with a new grille, new headlights, tail lights, and revised bumpers that combine to give the truck a wider, more planted stance. The tailgate also gets a new look and the truck gets six new wheel designs.

Bringing the truck up to speed on the safety front, the 2018 Ford F-150 finally gets available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring optimized for trailering, a 360-degree camera (sure to help with parking and hooking up a trailer), and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

A 4G LTE wifi hotspot that can connect up to 10 devices is also available, and SYNC and SYNC3 also enable Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The 2018 Ford F-150 goes on sale this fall, which is when pricing will also be announced.


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2018 GMC Terrain Gets 3 Turbo Engine Choices, Including Diesel

By Dan Ilika Jan 08, 2017

An overhauled 2018 GMC Terrain will get power from a trio of turbocharged engines — including a diesel option.

Unveiled on the eve of the Detroit auto show, the new version of the brand's compact crossover ditches the boxy look of old for something much more in line with the new Acadia that launched last year. But the big news is the three turbocharged engines that will be offered under the hood, including a diesel to go along with a pair of gas options.

The standard powerplant will be a new turbocharged 1.5-liter gas engine that makes 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque, which should be more than enough to motivate the smallest vehicle in GMC's lineup. Also of the gas-powered variety is an available 2.0-liter turbo borrowed from the Buick Envision that makes 252 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Both four-cylinders, which power the same-sized Envision in China, feature direct injection and idle-stop technology, and come paired to GM's new nine-speed automatic transmission. The larger of the two engines allows for a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lb (1,585 kg), matching what the current 3.6-liter V6 version is able to do.

Joining the new gas engines is a turbocharged 1.6-liter diesel-powered four-cylinder that's good for 136 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The turbodiesel engine also features idle-stop technology, and comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Like in its current form, the 2018 GMC Terrain will come in the choice of front- or four-wheel drive layouts, with the latter featuring a fuel-saving mode that allows the system to be disconnected until four-wheel traction is needed.

On the design side, the second-gen Terrain signals a major departure from its predecessor's look, and features a Nissan-esque "floating" roof look that compliments a similar design language introduced on the new GMC Acadia. Like its larger sibling, it will be available in three trims ranging from base to Denali.

The 2018 GMC Terrain is set to go on sale this summer. Pricing and official fuel economy numbers will become available closer to launch.


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2018 Kia Stinger Debuts as RWD Sports Sedan-Shaped Middle Finger to German Rivals

By Sami Haj-Assaad Jan 08, 2017

Kia may already have the best debut of the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and the show hasn't even officially started yet: The new Stinger sports sedan is finally here and it packages 365 horsepower in a fun-to-drive chassis and wraps it in a surprisingly sexy exterior.

Drawing inspiration from the Kia GT Concept that was first seen six years ago, the 2018 Kia Stinger is a rear-wheel-drive based luxury sedan that was honed on the grueling Nurburgring racetrack. It is one of the most exciting debuts from Kia in a long time and is being hailed as the sportiest and quickest Kia yet.

Kia is offering two engines in the Stinger, both mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions. Both engines are available on rear-drive and AWD models. The base engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder unit that makes an estimated 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The optional engine is a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6, which is expected to make 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Kia hopes the Stinger will hit 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds and achieve a top speed of 167 mph with the V6 engine.

While rear-wheel-drive models get a mechanical limited slip differential to more effectively put the power to the ground and increase traction, all-wheel-drive models get a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system, which automatically applies power and braking force to the correct wheel to keep the car tracking where drivers need it to.

The car rides on performance tires no matter what engine is picked, while V6 models get a staggered setup with ultra-high-performance tires and vented Brembo brakes.

The chassis uses a lot of high-strength steel to make it very rigid and stiff, which apparently leads to a quieter cabin and less vibration. The ride is controlled by a first for Kia: an electronically adjustable suspension called Dynamic Stability Damping Control. The system allows the Stinger to be more responsive and agile by softening the front shocks and firming up the rear. Additionally, improved high-speed stability is available when the system stiffens the front shocks and softens the rear. There are five different drive modes: Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort, and Smart, which adjust the variable ratio steering, shift patterns, and throttle response.

Featuring a bold yet sleek body style, the Stinger packs a few other elements that are essential in defining this car as a grand touring sedan. First and foremost is the rear-wheel-drive proportions: the long hood and muscular rear haunches. Between those two identifying factors is an extended wheelbase, hinting that this car has significant interior space. At 114.4 inches, Kia points out that the Stinger's wheelbase is longer than the Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe, and even the Lexus GS and Mercedes CLS. It's also longer overall (190.2 inches) and wider (73.6 inches) than the others in the segment, allowing for spacious accommodations.

It's a sharp looking sedan with a fastback shape, but the design is also functional. Improved airflow around the car is achieved by using air curtains up front, wheel arch gills, and an integrated rear diffuser. Around back is a quad tailpipe design that hints at the Stinger's performance capability.

While the Stinger is a sport sedan through and through, it packs a lot of driver assistance and convenience features including driver attention alert, forward collision alert with automatic braking, a lane keep assist feature, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross traffic alert. There's also an available color head-up display.

Kia also packs a wireless phone charger into the center console and is promoting that its UVO infotainment system varies slightly between models equipped with four cylinders and six cylinders. Four-cylinder equipped models come with six-speakers and a seven-inch touchscreen, while six-cylinder models up the speaker count to nine and include an external amplifier. Buyers can also choose an upgraded sound system from Harmon/Kardon that pumps out 720 watts of sound through 15 speakers and a seat-mounted subwoofer.

The interior of this car is nicely appointed with available nappa leather and aeronautical-inspired circular vents. The gauge cluster is made up of a combination of analog and digital displays, and those gauges feature metallic rings and sporty red needles.

Pricing for the 2018 Kia Stinger hasn't been revealed, but it is expected to arrive at dealerships late this year. With a great blend of performance, styling, and luxury, the Stinger may already be the best debut of this significant auto show.


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2018 Toyota Camry Gets Aggressive Overhaul

By Dan Ilika Jan 09, 2017

Toyota is challenging the perception of what its midsize sedan should be, ditching the Camry's reputation for reliability in favor of something more riveting.

It starts with the design, with the 2018 Toyota Camry featuring a new look that is out to shed the car's perception for pragmatism, replacing it with something that errs on the exciting side. Featuring a much sleeker profile than before, the Camry's hood, shoulder line and roofline were lowered for improved aerodynamics and aesthetics. New accents help round out the revised exterior package, with the two sportier SE and XSE trims getting a host of distinctive details.

Of course, the Camry's newfound attitude had to extend beyond its looks. Riding on the same new global architecture that underpins the new Prius hybrid, the Camry is being billed as more than just a pretty face, with a dynamic drive to match. The car's wheelbase has been extended by two inches (51 mm), helping pull the wheels closer to the corners for what should be better responsiveness. The platform is also more rigid than before, improving all-around agility.

Also new for 2018 is the trio of powertrain choices offered in the Camry, including new 3.5-liter V6 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engines, and a new hybrid system. Power numbers weren't provided, but Toyota says the 2.5-liter was developed to make the most of the new platform. It will come paired to a newly developed eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The new hybrid powertrain builds off of the same 2.5-liter engine, and uses a continuously-variable transmission that features a Sport mode intended to emulate a six-speed sequential gearbox. Anticipated output for the hybrid, as well as the V6 engine, weren't provided by Toyota.

Expect more info as the Camry gets closer to launch.


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Audi Q8 Concept Jumps on the Coupe SUV Bandwagon

By Jodi Lai Jan 09, 2017

The Audi Q8 concept has just debuted at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show previewing a new full-size offering that will sit at the top of the German automaker's SUV lineup.

The Audi Q8 is the first "coupe SUV" from the automaker and will debut as a production model in 2018. With a strong stance, no window frames, a massive grille, futuristic-looking headlights, and sharp design, the Q8 concept has an impressive presence and even with its sloping roofline, Audi promises the rear-seat passengers will have ample head and shoulder room.

The Audi Q8 concept has a plug-in hybrid powertrain with a total system output of about 442 horsepower and a stout 516 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. The combustion engine of the system is a 3.0-liter V6 producing 245 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque and the battery has a capacity of 17.9 kWh that enables an electric driving range of 37 miles (60 km). Total range on a full tank of gas and a full charge is said to be 621 miles (1,000 km).

All in, the Audi Q8 Concept can hit 62 mph in 5.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. Audi says the concept is also rated at 102 mpg, which is almost unheard of. With torque vectoring, an adaptive air suspension, a generous power output and different driving modes, Audi is also promising a dynamic yet efficient drive.

Of course, the Audi Q8 will have an expanded version of the Virtual Cockpit, which is accompanied by an augmented reality head-up display. And the Q8 has fricken lasers! Digital Matrix lasers with more than one million pixels are used for the high and lowbeams.

With 22.2 cubic inches of cargo capacity, the Audi Q8 concept has room for four people and their luggage. The concept will also have all the connectivity, autonomous driving features, safety and driver assistants that are now becoming the norm. The interior mixes textures and colors to create an inviting cabin, and most of the surfaces are touch capacitive, which gives the dashboard a clean look because of the lack of buttons.

When the Audi Q8 debuts as a production model likely later this year for sale in 2018, a lot of the technology from the concept is likely to carry over, however, the styling will likely be toned down significantly.


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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus Review

By Craig Cole Dec 21, 2016 FAST FACTS
  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Output: 287 horsepower, 262 lb-ft
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic
  • Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 12.9 city, 8.4 hwy, 10.9 combined
  • As-Tested Price: $43,765 including $995 in delivery fees

FCA is having a tough time.

The Italian-American automaker recently discontinued its slow-selling Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans, models that compete in core segments of the market, Alfa Romeo's U.S. rebirth has been agonizingly slow, many of the company's mainline models are well past their sell-by dates, and FCA is too reliant on trucks to make ends meet.

And then there's quality, which has historically been a sore spot on both sides of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, this remains an issue today, with many of their brands and products faring poorly in studies released by firms like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

Amidst this turmoil, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan launched earlier this year replacing the long-running Town & Country nameplate. Despite riding atop an all-new platform and offering more features than ever, I must confess that my hopes weren't very high for this family hauler.

The Prejudice Trap

But as the old saying goes, "When you assume you make an ass out of you and me," I'm happy to report my fears were completely unfounded because this is the best vehicle FCA builds. Let that soak in for a moment. I'm declaring that its latest minivan is better than the ever-popular Jeep Wrangler, stupid-fast Hellcat cars and even the 505-horsepower Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which, admittedly, I've yet to sample. Yeah, you read that right.

While the abovementioned vehicles may be very good, they're all something of niche products; the Pacifica is a mainstream model and it's all kinds of excellent, which should be apparent at first glance.

Its body brings new style to a staid segment. Contrasting sharply with the angular Honda Odyssey and Toyota's mouth-breathing Sienna, the Pacifica looks like luxury. Resembling a pumped-up 200 sedan, this minivan's bodywork has a sculptural elegance to it; a breadbox on wheels it most certainly is not.

Smoothly flowing lines fill this van's interior as well. Most of the Pacifica's cabin is made of hard plastic, but the graining is upscale and everything well built. No obvious fit-and-finish anomalies were spotted in my test model.

Pop open a sliding bin on the dashboard or center console and they roll like they're on ball-bearing slides; their motion is eerily friction free, something that exudes quality.

Engineering Excellence

The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is built on an all-new architecture that's supposedly the stiffest and lightest in its class, attributes that contribute to the reduced intrusion of noise and harshness. Per the specs sheet, it indeed undercuts Japanese rivals by a small amount, clocking in at a claimed 4,330 pounds. While in motion, there are no jiggles or rattles to cheapen the experience. Everything is tight and solidly built; you can tell the people who screw it together in Windsor, Ontario, really care.

Chrysler's ingenious Stow ‘n Go second-row seats remain and are still a marvel of mechanical engineering, folding, tumbling and dropping into the floor with the simple pull of a strap. No other minivan makes it as easy to transform from passenger-carrying to cargo-hauling duty.

When people aren't on your manifest, the Pacifica offers nearly 141 cubic feet of interior volume for all the stuff of modern life. The requisite 4-by-8 sheet of building material has no trouble sliding between the wheel-wells and being enclosed by the hatch, neither will dishwashers, bags of potting soil or other bulky goods.

In their upright and locked position, those second-row seats are extremely comfortable, offering plenty of knee- and headroom with a lower cushion that's nicely elevated off the floor. Even this van's third-row bench is adult friendly with plenty of space for full-grown humans. With these seats in use, the Pacifica still offers more than 32 cubic feet of space in the way-back.

Curiously, this van's rear accommodations may be more comfortable that its front buckets, which are too flat and tailored a few sized too wide for my narrow body. A bit more padding or bolstering would have been appreciated in these otherwise lifeless seats.

Keeping up with rivals, the Pacifica offers plenty of advanced technology. Some of its most desirable options include a 360-degree Surround View camera, hands-free sliding doors and liftgate, automatic parking and adaptive cruise control. Top-trim Limited models even feature Stow ‘n Vac, an integrated vacuum that should make cleaning up spilled cookie crumbs or other detritus a snap.

Keeping the kids entertained is Chrysler's available Uconnect Theater system, which allows passengers to watch movies, play games or even surf the internet on two 10-inch, high-definition screens.

The Drive

The Pacifica is motivated by a familiar friend, FCA's versatile and refined 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. As smooth-running as ever, it sports a raft of enhancements for 2017 including two-stage variable valve lift and cooled exhaust-gas recirculation. Thanks to these changes and others, it delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Start-stop technology, which saves fuel by killing the engine when not moving, will be added late in the model year.

A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission offered but don't worry, it's smooth and speedy, swapping ratios without any fuss, which is exactly the way it's supposed to function. Chrysler's had myriad issues with this ZF unit in other products like the Jeep Cherokee and 200 sedan where it's earned a reputation for being both harsh and unresponsive. Well, at long last engineers have managed to civilize what was once unruly; the dream of an efficient, responsive nine-speed automatic is finally realized.

This powertrain combination is a winner, promptly propelling the portly Pacifica to extra-legal speeds in no time flat. Low gearing gets things moving with unexpected authority off the line, while taller ratios minimize fuel burn in cruise mode. When it comes to consumption, this family-friendly vehicle stickers at 18 miles per gallon city and an impressive 28 on the highway. Combined, it should average 22 mpg, though in mixed driving I've managed to beat that by almost two.

The Pacifica's ride is silken, with luxury-car levels of silence and smoothness. In particular, impact-harshness seems remarkably low. When a tire hits a pothole or bump you feel the body move but there's no abrasiveness to the motion. This vehicle is refined in almost every motion.

If there's any downside to driving Chrysler's latest and greatest minivan it manifests at low speeds. Because of the sloping hood, it can be difficult to see the Pacifica's front corners, which makes parking and other low-speed, tight-quarters maneuvering difficult. Fortunately, parking-assist technologies take the stress out of this.

With five models in the range, there's a Pacifica for every budget. An option-free LX starts off around 30 grand. Bringing far more features and amenities to market, the high-end Touring L Plus model I tested cost a ritzy $43,765 including $995 in delivery fees.

The Verdict: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring L Plus Review

Minivans are far from the sexiest vehicles on the market. They prioritize function over form to a lopsided degree, but Auburn Hills has tried – and largely succeeded – in making one of these family haulers both emotional and attractive. Not only is their new Pacifica the best vehicle FCA builds today, it may also be tops in its segment. When's the last time we could say something like that about a Chrysler?

LOVE IT
  • Comfortable accommodations
  • High-quality interior
  • Powerful drivetrain
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Smooth ride
  • Versatility

LEAVE IT
  • Flat, lifeless front seats
  • Gets expensive

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2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium Luxury Review

By Dan Ilika Jan 03, 2017
FAST FACTS
  • Engine: 3.6L V6
  • Power: 310 hp, 271 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 18 city, 26 hwy (AWD)
  • US Price: $59,520 (as-tested)

It's no secret that Cadillac is on a crusade to recapture a glory it lost long ago.

While sports cars like the excellent ATS-V will surely help, they aren't enough to draw the average consumer. For that, the brand needs a model with mass appeal, and it may have struck gold with the 2017 Cadillac XT5, a crossover that could be its best vehicle in years.

But that doesn't mean the XT5 is ready to stake its claim among the top premium crossovers on the market. In fact, it's facing long odds of edging out the competition as the segment grows increasingly crowded with a number of impressive offerings. But the XT5, alongside the CT6 sedan, is charting a new course for Cadillac.

Second Time's a Charm

The XT5 isn't Cadillac's first foray into crossovers. It was preceded by the SRX, a model that did little to break through in the burgeoning segment. In the new XT5, Cadillac has started with a clean slate — kind of. It still shares a platform with another member of the vast General Motors family — in this case, the new GMC Acadia — and features a design that looks more like an evolution of the last one rather than an all-new aesthetic.

Some pundits have been critical of the XT5's design — AutoGuide.com's own Craig Cole called it "rather frumpy" — but it's nothing if not unique. It carries on Cadillac's rather angular and chiseled design language, which flies in the face of most the rest of the segment's rather conservative looks.

Under the hood lies a 3.6-liter V6, which is the same as the engine available in its predecessor, though it has been extensively overhauled to include cylinder deactivation for efficient highway driving, as well as idle-stop technology that shuts the engine off when at a prolonged stop.

But the naturally aspirated engine's biggest bonus is that it runs on regular gasoline. That's right: No need to pay a premium for, well, premium gasoline. With 87-octane in the tank, the engine is good for 310 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque, which is more than adequate when it comes to motivating the 4,257-lb (1,931-kg) crossover. Transferring that power to the optional twin-clutch all-wheel drive system is a new eight-speed shift-by-wire automatic transmission.

An Entirely New Cabin

That the transmission is electronically controlled marks just the beginning of what is an entirely new and technology-filled cabin. The shifter, which is identical to the one found in the new 2017 Buick LaCrosse, is more akin to a joystick than a traditional gear lever, which takes some getting used to.

Ahead of the shifter lies the climate control panel and eight-inch infotainment screen, both of which are far different than the XT5's predecessor. While the touch-sensitive infotainment screen is a welcome inclusion when competitors from Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi, to name a few, use screens that can't be controlled by fingertip, the same can't be said about Cadillac's center stack-mounted volume and climate control functions. Streamlined they are, but intuitive they certainly are not, particularly the volume control, which can be frustrating to use at times. Thankfully, the steering wheel features tried and true buttons for everything from cruise control to forward collision warning and, of course, audio volume.

Elsewhere inside, the XT5's interior materials look and feel fantastic, with properly stitched bits of leather everywhere to go along with aluminum and, in the case of our Premium Luxury trim tester, real wood trim. Likewise, the seats are covered in soft leather and proved comfortable in the front and back.

When it comes to space, the cabin provides about what's expected from a midsize crossover. Up front, driver and passenger are treated to nearly equal parts head- and legroom, which is to say plenty, while shoulder room is linebacker-friendly. The rear seats aren't quite as roomy, with headroom reduced in a big way thanks to the panoramic sunroof. Thankfully, the seatbacks do recline, however slightly, to provide some reprieve for taller passengers.

Cargo volume measures 30 cu-ft (849 liters) behind the second row, and 63 cu-ft (1,784 liters) with them folded — both of which are respectable numbers, and outdo the Lexus RX and Audi Q5 by a substantial margin. The only real complaints around back come by way of the wide C-pillars, which create huge blind spots.

The XT5 also boasts plenty of standard and available technology features, including hands-free 4G wireless connectivity with built-in WiFi hotspot, a new rearview mirror that's actually a high-definition screen displaying what a rear-mounted wide-angle camera sees, head-up display, and a revised CUE infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

It all makes for a cabin that, while perhaps not top of class, comes pretty close to offering everything one could want or need in their commuter-friendly crossover.

A Well-Rounded Ride

And it's on the daily commute that the XT5 is most in its element. While most premium crossovers err on the sporty side, Cadillac's latest doesn't — though that's not a bad thing.

The powertrain os smooth, with the naturally aspirated V6 providing steady acceleration and the eight-speed gearbox offering smooth shifts, while the all-wheel drive can — and indeed will — be decoupled most of the time for front-wheel drive fuel efficiency. Our tester did slightly better than the XT5's advertised 21 mpg (11.2 L/100 km) combined rating.

The adaptive damping system, which comes standard on higher-grade trims like the Premium Luxury, helps to reduce road imperfections, with only the largest of cracks in the asphalt making their presence felt. That's most likely due to our tester's oversized 20-inch wheels wrapped in 235/55R20 all-season rubber, which do nothing to contribute to what is an otherwise smooth ride.

The only complaints that cropped up in our tester's driving characteristics were a steering setup that felt really tight towards full lock, feeling more like a non-power system, and an adaptive cruise control system that was jerky at times, jarring the brakes suddenly as opposed to slowing down steadily.

The Verdict: 2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium Luxury Review

As Cadillac continues on its renaissance mission, it finally has a model with mass appeal. It also has one that's priced right, starting at a reasonable $38,995 ($45,200 in Canada) and ranging up to $62,500 ($68,595 in Canada). For that price, the XT5 comes pretty decked out, offering what it takes to compete in this popular segment.

LOVE IT
  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • Regular fuel required
  • Exterior styling
LEAVE IT
  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • Rear seat headroom
  • Plastic bumper cladding

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2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Review

By Michael Accardi Dec 28, 2016
FAST FACTS
  • Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8
  • Power: 650 hp, 650 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic
  • 0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
  • Fuel Economy (MPG): 14 city, 20 hwy
  • Price (USD): Starts at $63,435 (includes destination)

Almost everyone makes fast metal these days – Those of us gathered at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains just north of Los Angeles know our time here will be exquisite, eviscerating and excessive all at once — we are children of the liberated cortex and it is our duty to inform you of the haunting pleasures baked into the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Almost everyone makes fast metal these days – from 500-horsepower grocery getters to felony-prone family sedans – but this is different, this is a serious soundtrack punctuated with full-bodied fury. This is immaculate sanity.

If you think about it, no one needs $63,453 ($69,200 CAD) worth of supercharged spitfire, nor a 10-speed transmission calibrated by a mad scientist who knows what you want before you need it. But, hey, we don't usually want what we need, but we definitely, always, need what we want.

The new Camaro ZL1 tips in with 200 lb (90 kg) less weight to lug around, plus an extra 70 more horsepower and 94 more lb-ft of twist compared to the fifth-gen car. Pilfered from the Corvette Z06 – minus its dry sump oiling system – is the ZL1's 650 horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The LT4 is a literal loudmouth that barks atavistically whenever your right shoe solicits, but it's the car's 650 pound-feet of torque that will swallow whole you without chewing.

How do you tame such a savage beast?

With savagely smart electronic wizardry, that's how. Camaro Chief Al Oppenheiser and his crew threw every trick they could at the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, including an all-new 10-speed transmission (a $1,595 option), a new electronic limited-slip differential, and a suite of track and performance applications to help you harass the trembling tarmac.

Same, Same, But Different

It's easy to think of the Camaro ZL1 as a 1LE that sniffed too much speed on a Saturday, but that would be a gross oversimplification of the overwrought engineering that went into the ZL1 program.

From the windshield forward, the ZL1's sheet metal is totally bespoke — the aluminum hood was given new aero-optimized surfacing with a carbon fiber scoop to suck hot air away from the 1.7-liter supercharger, and 16 mm wider front fenders to accommodate 10 heat exchangers jammed into the engine bay.

The wider face and high-flow grille also force feed gulps of cold air to the gargantuan 15.35-inch (390-mm) front rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers. Aaron Link, the ZL1's lead development engineer, tells us the front brakes are actually the largest iron discs ever offered on a Camaro, sharing diameter with the fifth-gen Camaro Z28's carbon-ceramic rotors. The rear wheels make do with 14.4-inch (365-mm) rotors that are bitten by four-piston Brembos.

The Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual makes another cameo in the Camaro with new gear ratios and a heavier clutch, and so do Goodyear's Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires (285 front, 305 rear), which wrap 20-inch forged aluminum wheels. GM's magical magnetorheological dampers have been made better thanks to a second magnetic coil that improves dampening response rate and overall capability by 40 percent.

Helping turn torque into thrust is GM's slick eLSD, which Link calls a "major tuning element for dynamic response." By pushing standard clutch packs together using hydraulic pressure, it's capable of up to 2000 Nm of coupling torque – a standard mechanical LSD can only hang on until 200 Nm. The eLSD's real party trick, however, is its ability to vary coupling based on steering trace and throttle inputs.

On corner entry, the diff is able to gradually reduce coupling as the steering moves away from center and the throttle gets light; then on exit, it starts to recouple in step with steering angle coming down and throttle demands getting heavy.

Behind the scenes, GM's five-mode Performance Traction Management system acts as an invisible hand helping to fill in the gaps between talent and ambition. Atypically, when you move the ZL1 into more aggressive modes, throttle response flattens for a smoother power delivery.

Hang Ten

Where the ZL1 begins to set itself apart from the other jets GM sells is the brand new, never used, Hydra-Matic 10R90 10-speed automatic transmission.

GM doesn't mind admitting the transmission was born from a beast with two backs, but that doesn't mean the genes are bad. Yes, the base 10-speed design and 7.39 ratio spread is shared with the "other partner" that cannot be named (Ford), but the ZL1 gains a new torque converter, clutch components, planetary carriers, output gearsets, and software.

First gear is an in your face 4.70 ratio, which then steps down in small increments until the 1:1 seventh gear; everything after that is basically overdrive. Goons will accuse the 10-speed of being weird, and totally brown-nosing CAFE fuel economy targets, but they're not capable of grasping just what this transmission means to raw pace.

Jim Borgerson, the assistant chief engineer of the new transmission, is practically glowing as he explains how more ratios mean more performance. "If you want to have wider performance windows, you have to have a certain ratio span to match what the engine can do to what the vehicle really wants."

The 10-speed allows the LT4 to constantly stay in the fat bit of its rev range, which Borgerson describes as "more chances" to optimize what the engine can provide, when the car wants, and when the driver needs it.

Borgerson's partner in crime, lead calibrator Jeff Trush, calls it "sportbike-esque" because of the micro-drops in engine speed as the transmission flips through gears faster than you can process the logic. I call it a bottomless pit of torque.

Trush and his team are responsible for the ZL1's progressive performance shifting algorithms. The base level uses simple throttle and brake inputs to switch into Performance Lift mode, where it will hold gears when you lift out of the throttle during spirited driving to prevent superfluous upshifting and downshifting.

If the car notices heavier throttle and brake applications accompanied by lateral acceleration rates above 0.65g, it will switch into Performance Shift mode, stretching shift points out to 4,700 rpm.

When g-forces, acceleration, and brake rates punch through an even higher threshold, the 10R90 will switch into High-Performance Shift mode, holding gears all the way to redline and downshifting in the most aggressive way possible.

In fact, when ride and handling engineer Drew Cattel hot-footed a ZL1 around the Nurburgring in 7:29.60, he was using the top-shelf shift algorithm, letting the car dictate which gear and when. Trush gushes about how on Cattel's run, the 10R90 made a 7th to 8th gear upshift at 170+ mph into the off camber Tiergarten lefthander after the never-ending Döttinger Höhe straight.

Either in full auto or using the paddles, shifts happen inside of 300 milliseconds; tap shifting is slower, but only because your fingers aren't fast enough. The transmission isn't perfect – at times it would find itself hung on a gear, almost unsure if it should grab another – but it's damn close.

Hammer Down

We're at the legendary Willow Springs and I'm jittery and on edge. Chain smoking, unable to shake the realization that I'm about to strap myself into the most powerful Camaro ever built to hot lap one of the fastest tracks in the country, not to mention one of the worst maintained.

I just watched IndyCar star Josef Newgarden step out of a 10-speed ZL1 and call this place "f–king gnarly." The tarmac at Willow is bumpy and narrow, the apex curbs are crumbling from decades of abuse, and where the tarmac ends the desert begins – how else am I supposed to feel?

Whatever.

Zuuttt, screams the supercharger overtop the exhaust's rhythmic raaaawwllll, hook another gear, SPLAT – more please – zuuuuttttt, raaaaaawwwwwwlll, SPLAT – YES, MORE – zuuuuuuuuuutttttt, rawwwwaaawwwwwwllllllllllll, SPLAT — oh my god is there actually more???

When aimed in the right direction at high speed, the ZL1 has unnatural capabilities.

Turn 2 at Willow is long sweeping right-hander littered with bumps, making the car squirm under 1.20g cornering loads. Feeding it more gas off the apex, the 10-speed slips into fifth for the short shoot to the uphill Turn 3, then under braking, the ZL1 fires off a pair of quick downshifts, literally vacuuming the car down to the apex. Square off Turn 4 for the run down to 5, which sets up the immaculate blind transition at Willow's Turn 6, which can be attacked nearly flat, letting the PTM do its thing as the rear end gets light before launching onto the triple-digit back straight.

Around Big Willow, the car is terrifying until the point where fear paradoxically turns to fun, electromechanical intoxication scattering senses, spitting thunder – it's the perfect partner in crime: hell bent, controlled, crazy and definitely ready for ruckus.

The Car That Makes Manual Transmissions Irrelevant

There's no room for pointless nostalgia because, in this business, you better move ahead in quantum leaps. Plain and simple, the manual ZL1 is an irrelevant memento from the last millennium.

Rowing gears yourself will forever amuse, and the six-speed ZL1 amuses like any other high horsepower, rear-drive car; but I don't want to be amused – I want to be enamored. The new 10-speed transmission does just that and more.

The Verdict: 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Review

With more gears than a Formula One car and driving dynamics that will make Porsches weep, the new transmission offers newfound control of the car underneath you; it's no longer a conversation, it's a synthesis, you don't need to communicate with the 10-Speed ZL1, your brains are wired together.

I am a slave to speed, and the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is the democratization of fast.

LOVE IT
  • Bottomless pit of torque
  • 10-speed automatic
  • Raw pace
LEAVE IT
  • Tire noise
  • Self-restraint

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The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes

Back in 1997, Ford launched the first Expedition, the full-size big brother to the Explorer. Both were body-on-frame chassis SUVs at the time. Today only the Expedition remains a true SUV while the Explorer has switched to a crossover. Seriously, it’s based on an old Volvo sedan platform. The Expedition, meanwhile, rides on the same platform as the previous generation F-150. A complete redesign is expected very soon, but we think right now is a great time to snag a 2017 Expedition because there are good deals to be found.
Our tester, a fully loaded Expedition Platinum, is powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, with power going to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic. What about a V8 option? Forget it. The previous 5.4-liter Triton V8 has been permanently canned.
The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes
But that’s OK because the new V6 is even more powerful and more fuel efficient. With three rows of seating for up to eight passengers, the Expedition is anything but small, and we like that. However, there are a few signs of this SUV’s age (this generation launched in 2007) like some cheap interior plastics. But oh well. The 2017 Ford Expedition is the SUV that’s here to stay. Special thanks to Future Ford of Sacramento for letting us film the car.

The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes
The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes
Back in 1997, Ford launched the first Expedition, the full-size big brother to the Explorer. Both were body-on-frame chassis SUVs at the time. Today only the Expedition remains a true SUV while the Explorer has switched to a crossover. Seriously, it’s based on an old Volvo sedan platform. The Expedition, meanwhile, rides on the same platform as the previous generation F-150. A complete redesign is expected very soon, but we think right now is a great time to snag a 2017 Expedition because there are good deals to be found.
Our tester, a fully loaded Expedition Platinum, is powered by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, with power going to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic. What about a V8 option? Forget it. The previous 5.4-liter Triton V8 has been permanently canned.
The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes
But that’s OK because the new V6 is even more powerful and more fuel efficient. With three rows of seating for up to eight passengers, the Expedition is anything but small, and we like that. However, there are a few signs of this SUV’s age (this generation launched in 2007) like some cheap interior plastics. But oh well. The 2017 Ford Expedition is the SUV that’s here to stay. Special thanks to Future Ford of Sacramento for letting us film the car.

The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes
The 2017 Expedition Is The Only Real SUV Ford Still Makes

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Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?

The 2017 Audi A6. A fine German luxury performance sedan in every way possible, and yet we have a problem with it. Honestly, we kind of have a problem with all Audi sedans. How come? They all look way too much alike. This likely isn’t the first time you’ve read something that criticizes Audi’s Russian doll design mentality. Compare the A8, A6, and A4 and, heck, even the A3 sedan. They are the Russian Matryoshka dolls of car design. And we think that needs to change.
We recently checked out the 2017 A6 3.0T competition Quattro and, exterior design aside, were nothing but impressed. Power comes from an excellent 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic.
Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?
With its Black Metallic exterior paint combined with an all-black interior with leather upholstery, the A6 competition Quattro had something of a stealth-like feel. Those big 20-inch, 5 double-spoke titanium wheels and LED headlights further add to that badass appearance. So, as a standalone model, yes, we really like the A6’s design. But when you factor in its sedan siblings, it loses something, and that’s really a shame because there’s so much to like here. Audi is finally beginning to take more design chances and we hope that’ll carry on with the eventual next generation A6. But for now, the 2017 A6 soldiers on with style. Special thanks to Niello Audi-Sacramento for letting us film the car.

Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?
Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?
The 2017 Audi A6. A fine German luxury performance sedan in every way possible, and yet we have a problem with it. Honestly, we kind of have a problem with all Audi sedans. How come? They all look way too much alike. This likely isn’t the first time you’ve read something that criticizes Audi’s Russian doll design mentality. Compare the A8, A6, and A4 and, heck, even the A3 sedan. They are the Russian Matryoshka dolls of car design. And we think that needs to change.
We recently checked out the 2017 A6 3.0T competition Quattro and, exterior design aside, were nothing but impressed. Power comes from an excellent 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic.
Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?
With its Black Metallic exterior paint combined with an all-black interior with leather upholstery, the A6 competition Quattro had something of a stealth-like feel. Those big 20-inch, 5 double-spoke titanium wheels and LED headlights further add to that badass appearance. So, as a standalone model, yes, we really like the A6’s design. But when you factor in its sedan siblings, it loses something, and that’s really a shame because there’s so much to like here. Audi is finally beginning to take more design chances and we hope that’ll carry on with the eventual next generation A6. But for now, the 2017 A6 soldiers on with style. Special thanks to Niello Audi-Sacramento for letting us film the car.

Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?
Seriously, Why Do All Audi Sedans Look So Much Alike?

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Buying An EV? Here Is How Your Electric Bill Will Change

Buying An EV? Here Is How Your Electric Bill Will Change

If you’re buying an EV, it is easy to predict how much electricity you will use and how much it will cost you. Here are the facts.

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CRAIGSLIST FIND: Subaru-VW Beetle Hybrid Answers the Question No One Asked

CRAIGSLIST FIND: Subaru-VW Beetle Hybrid Answers the Question No One Asked

Are you tired of driving a car that matches front-to-back? Have you grown weary of the workaday drudgery of cohesive design? Do you hate logic?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then your car has arrived.

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CRAIGSLIST FINDS: Cars Of The Year – Where Are They Now?

CRAIGSLIST FINDS: Cars Of The Year – Where Are They Now?

chevrolet_camaro_1982

Auto show season means it’s also the time when the Cars of the Year are awarded. Motor Trend is of course the best known. This year, the futuristic Chevy Bolt got the prize from MT as well the 2017 North American International Auto Show, and so we took a look on Craigslist to see how some past winners are faring these days.

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Hilarious Pre-Owned Mini Cooper Ad: Better Than Peanut M&M’s

Hilarious Pre-Owned Mini Cooper Ad: Better Than Peanut M&M’s

Sometimes work gets boring, no matter how much you like your job. There are days when you’ve simply had enough. Sometimes that means calling in sick, but other times it means you show up for work and go a little off the rails.

The latter scenario is what happened to the guy who wrote the description for this listing of a 2013 MINI Cooper Hardtop at Flow MINI of Raleigh in North Carolina.

Looking for a MINI Cooper? Check out our BestRide listing search here.

The ad seems normal enough at first glance. There’s a picture of said MINI in front of the dealership with the unassuming title, “Preowned 2013 MINI Cooper Hardtop.” All the requisite info is included with fuel economy, color, mileage and plenty of photos. Scroll a little further to the description and that’s where things take a bit of a turn.

Our hero, because he is a hero, describes this particular MINI as “literally the cleanest three-year-old vehicle I have ever seen,” which is high praise coming from a guy who has probably seen quite a few used cars. You might wonder what he means when he says “literally” given how the word has come under much discussion lately.

He understands this could be confusing, so he clarifies in the most brilliant way possible.

This is literally the cleanest 3 year old vehicle I have ever seen. And I do not mean literally in the figurative way, like many people use it. As in, “Hey! Peanut M and Ms are literally the best thing ever!” Come on people! Sure, they are a delicious chocolatey snack wrapped around an irresistably crunchy peanut, but its not literally the best thing ever. What about a Kit Kat bar or classic ice cream sandwich..? Seriously, even the proverbial Sliced Bread has clearly definied its greatness in the upper echelons, WAY above a Peanut M and M. Slap some real peanut butter on that sliced bread. Sprinkle some M and Ms on that and serve it with a side of frozen Kit Kats and BOOM! Now you have the literal best thing ever…. I am starting to think I may be too hungry to write vehicle descriptions…

There’s no mincing words in that description. He’s trying to sell you the peanut butter bread with M&M’s and Kit Kats of the automotive world. Bet you didn’t even know such a thing existed, but now that you do, you’re craving both a delicious, chocolate treat and a MINI.

Well done, vehicle description guy. Well done.

Looking for a MINI Cooper? Check out our BestRide listing search here.


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Tesla Falls Short of 2016 Delivery Goals

Tesla Falls Short of 2016 Delivery Goals

Tesla delivered 22,200 cars in the last quarter of 2016. That’s a lot of luxury electric vehicles, but it isn’t enough to meet Tesla’s goals for the year.

The company forecast deliveries of between 80,000 and 90,000 cars this year, but it came in at 76,230. Before you start counting Tesla’s glory days as a thing of the past, take a look at what happened with the company this year and the picture gets less bleak.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Since you don’t walk into a dealership, find a car on the lot, and drive it home the same day when you buy a Tesla, the company counts only vehicles delivered and not vehicles sold. There are people out there who purchased cars in 2016, but because those vehicles haven’t been delivered, they’re not counted in these figures.

It’s not as much a sales problem as a production problem. During the second half of the year is when the numbers fell short. Their target was 50,000 vehicles, but the actual figure was 46,700. Production issues in the last quarter involving new Autopilot software pushed out deliveries.

Despite efforts to push out as many cars as possible before the year’s end, Tesla missed shipping cutoffs in Europe and Asia. They had the cars, but simply couldn’t deliver them in time to count for their 2016 figures. Tesla says:

Although we tried to recover these deliveries and expedite others by the end of the quarter, time ran out before we could deliver all customer cars. In total, about 2,750 vehicles missed being counted as deliveries in Q4 either due to last-minute delays in transport or because the customer was unable to physically take delivery. Even where these customers had already fully paid for their vehicle, we still did not count these as deliveries in Q4.

Despite the lack of delivered vehicles, Tesla insists everything is going swimmingly. Demand was high during the fourth quarter with Models S and Model X orders setting an all-time record. Orders were 24 percent higher than in the third quarter and 52 percent higher than the same period in 2015.

The delivery delays may help Tesla see a bump at the start of this year. There are 6,450 vehicles waiting to be delivered. They’re all in transit and will count toward first quarter deliveries for 2017.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Even with the delayed deliveries, Tesla produced 83,922 cars for the year. That’s a 64 percent increase over 2015, and it’s a sign things are still going strong.


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PRODUCT REVIEW: Honda HSS1332ATD – Putting Snow in the Neighbor’s Yard

PRODUCT REVIEW: Honda HSS1332ATD – Putting Snow in the Neighbor’s Yard

As a matter of course, we review cars, trucks, SUVs and other things powered by engines. When the folks at Honda Power Equipment asked us to review the HSS1332ATD snowblower, we jumped at the chance.

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Honda Ridgeline, Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Bolt Earn 2017 NACOTY Titles

Honda Ridgeline, Chrysler Pacifica, Chevrolet Bolt Earn 2017 NACOTY Titles

The 2017 North American International Auto Show kicked off today with the announcement of the North American Car of the Year Awards. This year the awards grew to include not just a car and truck, but also a utility vehicle.

The Honda Ridgeline nabbed Truck of the Year beating out hefty competition and was also our BestRide Best Compact/Midsize Pickup. Finalists in the group included the Ford F-Series Super Duty and the Nissan Titan. The Ridgeline stands out from the competition as something of an unconventional truck. It delivers the perks of a pickup with a car-like ride not found in other trucks.

Looking for a Honda Ridgeline? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

The Ridgeline also includes unique features that you won’t find in other trucks. There’s an in-bed trunk that is a fantastic cooler for tailgating. It’s accompanied by an in-bed audio system. The Ridgeline also has a double-hinged tailgate that opens down or from the side to make loading the bed and hopping into it easier.

The Car of the Year award went to the electric Chevrolet Bolt. It won over the Genesis G90, which is the debut from Hyundai’s new luxury brand, and the Volvo S90. The Bolt can travel up to 238 miles on a single charge and is priced under $30,000 once buyers take advantage of available tax credits. The Bolt was a standout in the category for its range and pricing, which might finally lure the masses to consider electric cars as their daily drivers.

Looking for a Chrysler Pacifica? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.

Rounding out the awards this year was the Chrysler Pacifica minivan as the Utility of the Year. This is a new category that recognizes the popularity of vehicles that don’t quite fit in the car or truck categories. Last year’s truck of the year was the Volvo XC90. It is a fantastic vehicle, but calling it a truck doesn’t make a lot of sense. The addition of the Utility category takes care of that problem.

The Pacifica is Chrysler’s new minivan, and it won out over the Jaguar F-Pace and Mazda CX-9. The Pacifica replaced the old Town and Country minivan and the Dodge Caravan in Fiat Chrysler’s lineup. It is loaded with family-friendly features and is the only minivan currently available as a plug-in hybrid. A single charge will keep it going for 35 miles before it needs to switch to the gas engine.

The North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year are awarded annually by a jury of roughly 60 professional automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.


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Battle of the Network Cop Cars: The Best Police Cars From 1960s, 1970s and 1980s TV

Battle of the Network Cop Cars: The Best Police Cars From 1960s, 1970s and 1980s TV

The cars detectives drove on TV get all the attention, like Thomas Magnum’s Ferrari, Rick Simon’s Dodge Power Wagon or even Enos Strate’s beat-up Chevelle on the spinoff from The Dukes of Hazzard.

But what about the stalwart police cruisers from the TV shows of the 1970s and 1980s? Where’s the love for the black-and-white? Here’s some of the most memorable, in somewhat chronological order

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STREETSIDE: 1979 Ford LTD Landau – Rusty Panthers, Part 2

STREETSIDE: 1979 Ford LTD Landau – Rusty Panthers, Part 2

ford_ltd_landau_1979-1

Here’s the second big rusty Ford I came upon while covering the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Gotta admire the staying power of these tough old sleds, even as the tinworm makes its way through them. Let’s take a closer look.

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