Auto News for May 25 – Honda Civic Type R truck? It’s for real!

 Auto News for May 25  

 The column will take some time off over the long holiday weekend and resume on May 29. Please take some time over this period to pay your respects to those who have died in our nation’s wars.

 Perhaps take a trip to your local cemetery, find the grave site of just one fallen soldier, and put your hand on the headstone and say, “Thank you.”


 Motor Trend, quoting a Japanese newspaper, said Honda is working on an all-electric version of the Fit. Whether it will ever make to its way to the U.S. is not known at this juncture. The goal is to introduce it in China during the first half of 2020.

 Wilder than that, set your sights on a Honda Civic Type R pickup truck!!!  It was created by a team at the Honda plant in the UK.

 To create the Project P concept, the team used a pre-production version and adapted the design rearwards from the B-pillars of the car, with sweeping lines from the roofline to the back hiding a flatbed loading area in the center of the car where the rear seats and storage space would normally be.

 (Shades of the old Subaru Brat!!!)


 Finished in Rally Red, the concept retains the iconic rear wing associated with both the FK2 and FK8 Civic Type R, which is movable to allow unfettered access to the rear of the truck.

 Using the same powertrain, suspension and gearbox as the Type R, it is estimated Project P will complete the 0-   62 mph sprint in under six seconds and reach a top speed of over 165 mph. It also possesses the same driving modes of comfort, Sport and +R, Project P offering both ride comfort as well as a unique racing capability on track.

 Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK, added: “This Civic Type R Pickup Truck concept by the special team at our Swindon-based plant demonstrates the passion and commitment of the team there – going above and beyond outside working hours to deliver the final product. There are no plans to put this in to production but we will be using it to transport our lawn and garden products as and when required!”

 Subaru announced its 2019 WRX will carry a starting price of $28,000 including delivery. The WRX STI will start at $37,480. That compares to 2018 model prices of $27,855 and $36,955. The STI will gain five more horsepower for the New Year to 310.

 Instead of moving out, this car company is moving back into Detroit. Ford is moving its electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle business teams into a refurbished former factory in the Corktown neighborhood of the Motor City.

 Talks are continuing on a more extensive redevelopment plan involving Ford acquiring a long abandoned Michigan Central railroad station in the neighborhood. The Detroit News reported an announcement on that one is expected in mid-June if the acquisition talks are successful.







Auto News for May 24 – $3.3 million for the fastest car!

Bugatti #100
Bugatti celebrated the delivery of its 100th Chiron, the fastest car on Earth. The buyer is said to be located in the Middle East and the lucky owner was able to afford $3.3 million for the new custom made wheels. That for a 1,479 horsepower vehicle with an 8.0 liter 16 cylinder engine with 1,180 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is 261 mph. The speedometer goes to 310! Only 500 Chiron models will be produced.

Chicago is the number two destination city for U-Haul trucks with an 11 percent increase year over year. The number one city will be announced later.

The rest of the top 10 Destination Cities are: Columbus (10); Charlotte (9); Philadelphia (8); Austin (7); Las Vegas (6); San Antonio (5); Brooklyn (4); and Orlando (3).

If we are not moving, where are we going? Hankook, the tire people, took a look and found that Miami and Denver are this year’s most popular summer destinations for those taking road trips. Other popular cities are New York, Palm Springs and Atlanta.

And as drivers hit the road, what will be the first song on their travel playlists? “Life is a Highway” takes the number one spot for top road trip songs this summer.
Those who do travel face the highest Memorial Day gas prices in four years according to AAA. The national average for a gallon is now at $2.93. If that sounds like a lot of cash, we paid $3.65 a gallon over the same holiday in 2014.

Auto News for May 23 – No GPS? No Worry! CR Will Test Model 3 again

  Let’s have some fun to start the day! I highly recommend Steven Petrow’s column in today’s Detroit Free Press on what it would be like to chuck your GPS and go back to old fashioned printed paper maps. Or just take a drive somewhere just to see where you end up. 

 Here is a link. Enjoy!

 Consumer Reports says it will test its Model 3 Tesla again after it receives updates to improve the car’s braking performance. In CR tests it took 152 feet to halt the car from 60 mph which the magazine said was “far worse than any contemporary cars we’ve tested.” Elon Musk said engineers are working on a fix and if all goes well it will be deployed OTA to the Model 3 fleet this weekend.”

 Edmunds predicts that new vehicle sales will increase 16 percent from April and 3.5 percent from May of 2017.

 “The summer selling season is off to a healthy start,” said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds manager of industry analysis. “Despite rising gas prices, shoppers are clearly demonstrating their confidence in the strength of the economy as they continue to seek out larger, more expensive vehicles.”

 The Memorial Day holiday is also expected to contribute to increased sales.

 Hyundai said its recent partnership with data firm Xevo will allow you to, one day, pay for coffee, gas and parking using their car’s infotainment screen. Xevo also will help create the Hyundai Wallet payment platform that securely stores the customer’s credit cards or PayPal account information.

 While the average new car costs more than $35,000, there are still plenty of vehicle options available at a more affordable price, without sacrificing on comfort and style. The editors at Kelley Blue Book have named what they feel are the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $20,000 for 2018:

 Mazda 3

 Honda Civic

 Hyundai Kona

 VW Golf

 Jeep Renegade

 Subaru Impreza

 Honda Fit

 Hyundai Elantra

 Chevrolet Sonic

 Two longstanding criteria – that the vehicle is both fun to drive and fun to own – are critical among the deciding factors of what Kelley Blue Book editors freely admit is a very subjective “cool factor.”

Auto News for May 22 – Tesla 3 – No Recommendation From CR. Super Snake Coming!!!

The headline said, “Tesla Model 3 Falls Short of a CR Recommendation.” Consumer Reports said it fell short on braking, controls, and ride quality during its tests, despite record range and agile handling.

A stopping distance of 152 feet from 60 mph was “far worse” than any contemporary car the magazine has tested and 19 feet longer than cited by the maker.

CEO Elon Musk said the braking issue could be fixed via a firmware update that will be rolled out in a few days.

Car and Driver recently cited inconsistent stopping distances in its tests of the Model 3.
CR said Tesla’s center dash mounted screen where virtually all controls are located required multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks thereby leading to driver distraction.

And it also cited a stiff ride.


Shelby American will produce 10 GT500 Super Snakes built from original 1967 donor Mustangs, with factory VIN’s and original titles. Each receives a Shelby serial number for the official registry.

Each of the ten will come with original signatures by Carroll Shelby and Don McCain who spearheaded the program back in ’67.

Shelby built an engineering study dubbed the “Super Snake” for high-speed tire testing by Goodyear in 1967.

The Super Snake was an expensive vehicle, which discouraged McCain and Shelby from continuing the program. Back then the asking price was $8K!

Fifty years later, the company will complete Carroll Shelby’s “unfinished business.”

Another 10 of the muscle cars will be offered to enthusiasts worldwide with a starting price of $250,000. Yet, an original prototype recent sold at auction for a cool $1.2 million!

A race-inspired 427 V8 powers the cars producing an impressive 550 plus horsepower with a four speed stick. The donors will be stripped to the frame and rebuilt with new sheet metal to be adorned with those legendary stripes!

Jeep is recalling 51,000 Cherokees from model year 2018 because of fuel supply tubes that could leak and cause a fire hazard. The recall does not pertain to the 2019 model tested last weekend on these pages.

Jeep said it was not aware of any accident or injuries related to the defect.

Following high-profile incidents involving autonomous vehicle technologies, a new report from AAA shows that consumer trust in these vehicles has quickly eroded.
Today, 73 percent of American drivers report they would be too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, up significantly from 63 percent in late 2017. And 63 percent said they would feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle while walking or riding a bicycle.

Surprisingly, AAA’s latest survey found that Millennials – the group that has been the quickest to embrace automated vehicle technologies — were the most impacted by these incidents.

The percentage of Millennial drivers too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle has jumped from 49 percent to 64 percent since late 2017, representing the largest increase of any generation surveyed.

The auto club said with autonomous vehicles being tested, there’s always a chance that they will encounter a situation that challenges even the most advanced system.

“To ease fears, there must be safeguards in place to protect vehicle occupants and the motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians with whom they share the road,” said Megan Foster, director of Federal Affairs for AAA.


Auto News for May 21 – A Silverado 4?

2.7L Turbo with Active Fuel Management and stop/start technology
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will offer six engine and transmission combinations including a 2.7-liter turbo four that the maker said will replaced the 4.3-liter V6.
The four is expected to offer 22 percent more torque and increased fuel economy, Chevy said.

Look for the four to be standard equipment on the LT and RST models with an SAE certified 310 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. It will be married to an eight speed automatic.

Other available engines will be a 5.3-liter, 365 horsepower V8, a 6.2-liter 420 horsepower V8, and a 3.0-liter turbo diesel, the latter two will be matched to a 10 speed automatic.

If there is a major off-road event near you this summer, you might check out the Nissan Armada Mountain Patrol, a one off with features suggested by followers of Nissan Trucks on social media. Nissan Armada Mountain Patrol

That weird looking thing on the roof is a four person tent “that keeps occupants safety above the ground and a little close to the stars,” Nissan said.

The project includes a Lowrance navigation system, an
off-road radio system, pull-out drawer system, Pelican gear cases, Dometic refrigerator/freezer and Otterbox Venture coolers.

And as you can see in the picture it is designed to do some rugged off-roading. If one does get stuck there is a 12,000 pound winch, recovery board, hi-lift jack, and if all else fails, shovels.

It retains the Armada’s 390 horsepower 5.6-liter V8 with 8,500 pound towing capacity and rides on 17-inch Icon Rebound wheels and Nitto Ridge Grapplers 35/12.25/17 tires.

Did you know that Hot Wheels is celebrating its 50th anniversary? The company claims it is the number one selling toy on the market.

Weekend Road Test – What A Jeep!


2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Elite

Let’s Go Get Dirty

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – There have been no reports of anyone building an ark yet, but days and days of heavy rain showers resulted in mud slides, some flooding, and dramatically longer commutes for our area.

And millions yelling, “Enough!!!!”

Yet while no one was gathering animals two by two, I was reveling in weather made for a 4×4. After all, mud attracts Jeeps like catnip to a kitten.

There is something magical about taking on a muddy (once dirt) road with Willie singing “On the Road Again.” And Jeep is right in line with the wishes of the current consumer who wants to get where they are going regardless, all the while being pampered.


Such was the case with the Granite Crystal Metallic Trailhawk Elite 4×4 model exhibiting its legendary off-road capabilities over the side of Sugar Loaf Mountain. There were no “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

When you have equipment like this one never worries about making it to the end of the road:

Active Drive II with two-speed Power Transfer Unit and low-range gear reduction.

Active Drive Lock with two-speed PTU, low-range and mechanically locking rear differential.

Selec-Terrain traction control system with up to five customized modes – Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock.

Up to a 51.2:1 crawl ratio (where was this during military basic training?)


But you might as well crawl in comfort. Here the operator enjoys premium leather trimmed eight-way adjustable seats with four way adjustments for the front passenger, chairs that are heated and ventilated with lumbar adjustments. Also one of the easiest to use infotainment systems I have ever seen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Automatic temperature control kept the interior just toasty right, and in all this comfort I am thinking perhaps babies should grow up to be cowboys.

Under the hood was a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It was matched to a 9-speed automatic. The combo was right at home off road and cruising interstates.

Passing slow moving trucks was a snap on rural roads, as was merging onto our favorite, I-70. It was surprisingly quiet inside, well when the audio was not blasting, and the ride was not stiff at all, a rather amazing feat given this rig’s love of roads more attractive to goats than gas powered vehicles. It was tempting to stick with 70 all the way to Denver.

Twenty-two miles per gallon was the overall economy figure for the week, in line with the EPA’s 20 city, 26 highway, for a combined 22 mpg.

Two regrets. I was never able to open the sunroof due to the weather, and head room was a bit limited for tall folks in the second row that otherwise was more than adequate for grown-ups.

Okay, three regrets. They took it away when the week’s trial run was over.


In short, there are few vehicles over the past 15 years, aside from some sports cars, that I have so thoroughly enjoyed driving as this Trailhawk Elite.

From a base price of $33,320 to an as delivered $41,245 with delivery it really comes down to, “If You Got the Money Honey, I’ve Got the Time.”

I want one!


What’s new for 2019?

All-new front fascia, hood, LED headlamps, daylight running lamps and fog lamps

New lightweight, hands free power liftgate

Five new wheel designs, including premium 19-inch wheel on Overland models

The available dual-pane sunroof.

Improved rear cargo volume and more convenient storage space.

UConnect system offers a choice of 7.0- or 8.4-inch touchscreens with pinch-and-zoom capability.

Cherokee also had virtually all the safety equipment one could want.

Trailhawk has an approach angle of 29.9 degrees, a departure angle of 32.2 degrees and breakover angle of 22.9 degrees. Running ground clearance is 8.7 inches.