Autoline After Hours Tonight with Scott Burgess and Jim Hall

This week Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, takes the AAH reins while John McElroy is out on the West Coast. Mr. Renzo has summoned up two of his favorite car guys for this occasion: Scott Burgess, the automotive critic and columnist for The Detroit News, and “the man who knew too much” Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics. Together they’ll be diving into the deep issues of the week. With oil prices skyrocketing as a result of Middle East unrest, which of the small vehicles — Cruze, Focus or Elantra — will be poised to take advantage of the situation? Meanwhile, BMW will be giving all its alt fuel vehicles the “i” moniker. Also, Honda chopped down the size of its board of directors from 20 to 12. Just what is going on at that company? Join us as we get into all this and much more.

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Ford F250 Super Duty Powerstroke Diesel: A 21st Century Clydesdale

According to Wikipedia, the Clydesdale is “a breed that was extensively used for pulling heavy loads in rural, industrial and urban settings.”  If that doesn’t fit the 2011 F250 Super Duty Powerstroke diesel like a custom measured Savile Row suit, then nothing does.

Like the Clydesdale the F250 Super Duty is large and imposing.  It’s a truck that you don’t get into so much as you climb up and mount.  Unless you are driving an 18-wheeler, you will be looking down at all the traffic around you.

Short of hooking up a 53 foot semi trailer, there is little that you can think of that the this truck couldn’t pull with it’s 800 ft/lb of torque at the ready.  The motor has so much power and torque you often think it could tow the Space Shuttle to the launch pad.

What this truck was meant for though, was not runs to the local big box home improvement store, so much as it was for pulling 24-40 foot long trailers full of tools and construction equipment, racecars and horses.  Even then, you get the feeling that the truck would shrug that off as if it was just a light workout.

From the front of the car the F250 Super Duty has a strong presence.  The big two horizontal chrome bars give it a very muscular appearance.  If you see the grill of the F250 coming up quickly in your rear view mirror, you’ll move over right away.

Climbing up into the truck you are greeted by a wide-open, spacious cabin.  It’s a comfortable place to do business from with a commanding view of the road.  The revised instrument panel has a new LCD screen between the speedometer and the tach,  which has six different menus for the driver to choose from.  There are the ubiquitous fuel readings for instant mileage, average mileage, miles to empty, and there is a bar graph in it that tracks the information to give you a different take on it.  There are also menus, if you are going off roading, that show you pitch, roll and yaw angles graphically which is a cool touch.

With the new layout for the I.P. there is also a new layout for the buttons on the steering wheel to control the center LCD as well as the 7” touch screen with SYNC.

 The center stack has a seven-inch touch screen, which does a good job providing information but inside the massive cabin it feels a bit small in scale.  The center stack also includes four auxiliary switches for trailer lights or other off road lights.  There are inputs for USB, 1/8th inch aux and several 12V plugs as well.

As everything in the Super Duty is larger, not only is the center console extra wide, it’s about two feet deep!  There are also four cup holders between the two front seats rather than the usual two.

Outside of a Maybach 62, there are few vehicles that have more back seat leg room than in the Super Duty Crew Cab.  If you are bringing a crew with you to a job site, out to the lake towing a boat, or to the racetrack, throwing three full size adults in the back will draw no complaints.

With a three quarter ton truck this large you’d be surprised if the ride wasn’t a bit rough without any weight in the bed, or a trailer hooked up, but you would be wrong.  The ride is no worse than any standard SUV these days, the only exceptions were on some choppy freeways at times but it wasn’t too objectionable.  You would have no complaints if this was to be your daily driver.

Let’s make no mistake about it: this is a very large truck, in height, width and length.  We’ve talked about how you don’t get into the truck so much as mount it: it’s so tall that even with the tail gate step down and the grab bar up, it’s still a really tall step to get up into the bed.  In width it is right at seven feet wide in the rear track, with the side view mirrors brought in all the way you can add another eighteen inches to that, push out the telescoping side view mirrors to their full extension and it’s 28” wider!

If you live in an older neighborhood as we do where driveways are narrow, street can maybe fit one car down the middle if cars are parked on both sides, and if someone parks up close to your driveway, game over.  There were multiple times we had to execute a seven-point turn to get into the driveway.  The rear view camera was indispensable in situations like this since it’s difficult to judge those distances behind you.

Let’s talk about the all-new PowerStroke engine that’s in the Super Duty.  This is an all-new design by Ford.  The 7.3 PowerStoke that was designed by Navistar is still a well regarded engine, but the 6.0 and 6.4 had multiple problems that are still involved in litigation and ultimately killed the long standing relationship between Navistar and Ford.

This new engine is a world-class effort.  It is quiet; not something that could be said for the Navistar engines.  When you go through a drive through you don’t have to turn off the engine so you can place your order.  On the inside you occasionally get some noise from the injectors, but that is fairly subdued, and there is almost no diesel clatter that comes through into the cabin.  You aren’t going to mistake it for a gasoline engine in sound, but it’s not what you are used to from a big truck.

Power-wise, with the factory ECU re-flash, the engine produces 400 horsepower and 800 ft/lb of torque.  You can tell just how much power this is when you put your foot into it with the traction control fully engaged.  By 1,900 rpm, you can feel the power being pulled pack and if you stay in the throttle you can really feel how much the computer is holding back the truck.  Turn off the traction control and it’s night and day.  When the turbo builds up to full boost, which it does very quickly you can smoke the rear tires at will.

Pulling away from stop lights or merging onto the freeway, you never have a problem getting where you need to go, and with a truck this big, when people see you coming they tend to yield to you since they know they aren’t going to win that fight.

The other part of the engine is the fuel mileage.  When we had the Ford Raptor with the 6.2 V8, we were light on the throttle and just squeezed out 11mpg city and 14 highway; there were often times we were seeing single digit numbers for fuel economy.  With the SuperDuty diesel, which is a larger truck that weighs another 1,500-2,000 pounds more than the Raptor, we never tried to take it easy with the throttle, and still we saw 15.5mpg in the city and 19mpg on the highway!  You see that and you no longer have to wonder why so many people want to see a diesel in the Raptor or any half-ton truck.  Our highway loop is a 90-mile run where we can set the cruise control at 78mph and never touch it, and with that we got 19 mpg on the highway: for us, that is an amazing number for an 8,000 pound truck.

When you see a $60,000 sticker price on a pickup truck it’s a bit shocking to say the least.  But when you look at the level of equipment and technology that comes with that sticker price, it’s a little easier to take.  Compared to the SuperDuty’s peers from GM and Dodge, the price is right in line, and for the people that would buy a crew cab 4×4 diesel truck, you know what you are getting into.

Would we buy this truck?  Not at the moment as we don’t have a racecar, boat, RV or heavy equipment to move.  If we did, this truck would be very high on the list because it does everything you could ask of it, and does it with style and class, and if you are going to drop sixty larger on a truck, you are going to demand perfection, and the F250 SuperDuty comes very close to that.



Reviewed: 2011 Cadillac CTS Sedan

 

Having previously tested and really enjoyed the Cadillac CTS SportWagon, we wanted to sample the CTS that 90% of people will purchase: the Sedan.  We will say till we are blue in the face that people are missing out if they don’t sample the wagon, as it’s a brilliant package.

So how is the Sedan different than the SportWagon?  Very little, and that’s a very good thing.  The original CTS was the official reboot of the Cadillac brand and with this latest generation of the CTS a car that has pulled even with the best in the world.

Many of the opinions that we had with the Wagon remain with the Sedan.  The Art & Science design was controversial when it appeared almost a decade ago, but today, it’s almost mainstream with many other companies having taken elements of that design language, sharp edges, compound surfaces and tight packaging.  With its deep front end and prominent grill the CTS has a very aggressive look from the front, it looks as if it’s eager to eat up the miles on the road.

The side profile of the car is less radical, though it has a number of lines that sweep upwards towards the rear to give the car a wedge look which continues the theme of forward motion.  The rear view again is a study in angles giving the car texture from the rear.

The interior of the car is made up of quality materials and soft touch surfaces.  There are a few bits of hard plastic material in the car, but for the most part they are in places where you wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t care.  The Wagon that we tested had the pop-up screen that had navigation, DVD and other touch screen functions. Our sedan was not so equipped.  While we didn’t miss the nav system, the big screen did make working through the bevy of menus somewhat easier. If you would like it, it’s a $2,145 option.

One item we would like to see as an option that comes standard on the Premium Collection model would be a heated steering wheel.  Come the winter months in many parts of the country, grabbing a cold leather wrapped wheel with bare hands can be uncomfortable.  There are cars in GM’s product line that cost less money than the CTS like the Buick LaCrosse, which have the heated wheel as standard equipment, and you never knew how much you’d love this feature until you use it the first time.

The driver’s seat is a nice place to do business.  It doesn’t matter if you are stuck in traffic commuting to work, piling up the miles on the highway, or out on a two lane road for a Sunday drive.  Our CTS was equipped with the optional 3.6-liter direct injection V6 which has 304 horsepower.  The standard engine is a direct injection 3.0 liter with 274 horsepower, but this 3.6-liter unit is the one to have.  While the horsepower numbers aren’t that different, torque numbers tell the story.  The 3.0 V6 only produces 223 lb/ft while the 3.6 has 273.  The CTS is no lightweight at 3,900 so that extra torque is helpful in getting the car moving quickly.  The 3.6 likes to rev and does so willingly.  When you put your foot down, the car gets up to speed quickly, but it’s not a kick you in the pants kind of power.  It’s smooth, almost turbine-like, and before you know it, you are approaching triple digit speeds.

There are a very vocal minority of people who think that Cadillac needs to slot a 6.2 liter LS3 engine from the Camaro and Corvette into the engine bay of the Caddy to have something in-between the V6 and the Supercharged CTS-V, but it’s our opinion that it’s unnecessary and few people would pick that option, the 3.6 has enough power that will keep an enthusiast happy, and the rest of the world more than satisfied.

For those that might be considering an Audi A4 or A6 the CTS does have an AWD option although our test unit did not come equipped with it. As a bonus, there is no fuel mileage penalty for choosing the AWD either.

One of the intriguing things about our time with the CTS SportWagon and now again with the Sedan is how it really grows on you.  First impressions of the car are good, you think it’s a nice car, but it doesn’t knock you out.  After four or five days of driving the CTS a light bulb goes off and you realize just how special the CTS is.  While this is great for long-term ownership, we wonder how this effects impressions with the typical 20-30 minute drive potential buyers have at a dealership.

Pricing is reasonable for the CTS as well. Our Performance Collection RWD edition stickers at $41,565; the only option our test unit was equipped with was the compact spare tire, so our as delivered price was $42,740.  Looking over the options list, the only thing we might consider choosing is the optional $2,400 Recaro seats that are both heated and cooled.

The Cadillac CTS is certainly a car that can go up against the worlds best, and anytime Cadillac wants to send one over for us to drive we will be happy to do so.  If you go buy one, or just drive one, you won’t be let down.



RoundAboutShow #71 The ‘Objects in Podcast are … Somethinger than They Appear’ Episode

Warning, objects in this episode of RoundAbout are somethinger than they appear.  Subaru turned to sumo wrestlers for its latest TV commercial in Canada, but the result is, perhaps, a bit cheekier (yes, pun intended) than it appears.  A French comedian created a real-life version of the popular Nintendo game Mario Kart and the result is more hilarious than you’d assume.  Find out which iPhone app you SHOULD NOT download because, once you think about it, it’s way creepier than a computer program should ever be.  Of course the RoAb crew covers a vast diversity of other topics in addition to these, which makes this episode of RoundAbout, #71, more informative than it appears based on the preceding paragraph.

Play RoundAbout Episode 71


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Autoline After Hours Tonight with Art Spinella, CNW Research

This week we’ll use the magic of the Internet to bring a little bit of Oregonian wisdom into our studio. Said wisdom will come from none other than friend of the show, Art Spinella, the President of CNW Research, who will join us via Skype. We’ll be asking Art about the latest gems of automotive insight to be unearthed from his research. We’ll also be getting into the news of the week including the chance that Bob Lutz could be headed back to GM as well as Roger Penske’s smart car debacle. John McElroy is joined in studio by the often imitated, but never duplicated Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo.

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Too Fast To Race: Group B Rally

As you know we are big fans of Group B Rally, it’s what we grew up with.  In the mid 1980’s when we were in high school, ESPN would show WRC and U.S. Rally Racing, as hard as that seems to believe in this day and age.

The Group B cars were turly monsters in their days, 5-800 horsepower was not unheard of, and much of the technology from the turbo Formula 1 cars made their way in to rally racing.  It came to an end at the end of the 80’s though as the cars became to fast, there were a few to many fatalities of drivers and spectators, so this shining moment of racing came to an end.

We found this series on YouTube and thought we would share it with you, it’s a documentry, broken up into seven sections to show you this history of this great series.

Autoline After Hours with Sandy Munro, Munro & Associates

This week we’re back with another episode of Autoline After Hours as well as one our audience’s all-time favorite guests. You asked for it, and now you’ve got it: the irrepressible, always knowledgeable Sandy Munro of Munro & Associates. He’ll tell us about a new material he’s working with called “covitic aluminum,” which could be a major manufacturing breakthrough. We’ll also see how much info we can get out of him about the top secret work he’s doing for Chrysler. But, don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of the week’s news to talk about as well. In particular, we’ve got a bone to pick with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who just won’t call unintended acceleration what it really is: driver error. Plus, we’ll get into the huge number of automotive Super Bowl commercials seen on Sunday’s game. Did they hit the mark? John McElroy is joined in studio by Gary Vasilash of Automotive Design & Production as well as the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo.

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Chevy’s New Hotness: ZL1 Camaro

The name ZL1 Camaro is one of the most reveried in the GM history books.  The COPO special was a hand assembled aluminum block 427, and only 69 were ever built.  It was in the day when horsepower ratings were done with a wink and a nod in conjunction with the NHRA to slot into different catagories in either Stock or Super Stock racing.

This time the ZL1 name is pulled out as a 550+ horsepower LSA engine is slotted under the hood.  The LSA engine is the same one that that powers the CTS-V series of cars, itself a slightly detuned version of the engine from the ZR1 Corvette.

This new ZL1 isn’t just designed for the drag strip, it is built to carve corners and tear up road courses.  It comes with larger tires, a much larger brakes, short throw shifter, magnetic ride shocks, and a new limited slip rear end.

Pricing was not announced but we’d guess that this Camaro will come close to, if not surpass $50,000.

 

Autoline After Hours with with John Waraniak, SEMA

Tonight it’s “Home Sweet Home” as the After Hours crew returns to the studio for another outspoken edition of your favorite LIVE webcast. We’re joined by special guest John Waraniak, SEMA’s vice president of vehicle technology. We’ll be asking him if performance cars can survive the CAFE crunch. We’ll also get into the other news of the week including Ford’s plummeting profits, January sales figures and GM’s incentive pricing and what Dan Akerson has to do with it. John McElroy is joined in studio byFrank Markus of Motor Trend and Mr. Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo.

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