Due to some technical computer issues, the Auto News column and Road Tests will be available only on Facebook under Ron Amadon’s Roads. Please check it out! I do hope to return to WordPress in the near future.


Auto News for Nov. 15

 On Dec. 10 McLaren will unveil the next model in its Ultimate Series said to be “the most intensive driver experience around a circuit” and the “most extreme road-legal McLaren ever…” It is the third of 15 new models or derivatives McLaren will introduce by the end of 2022. The reveal will take place on line with the public debut coming at the Geneva show in 2018.

 Toyota and Mazda will locate their new joint manufacturing plant in either Alabama or North Carolina, according to Bloomberg. It cited unnamed individuals familiar with negotiations. The new plant may create as many as 4,000 jobs.

 The largest Subaru ever made will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 28, its maker has confirmed. It will be a three row crossover for people who want a Suby but also need more room than is currently offered. Power will come from a 2.4-liter turbo four and the Ascent will likely go on sale sometime next year as a 2019 model. 

 Mazda said its 2.5-liter turbo four will be added to the engine lineup for its model 6 sedan. The turbo is rated at 227 horsepower in the CX-9 and that would be a significant gain in the 6 which now tops out at 184 hp.  

Auto News for Nov. 14

  c max energi

 Ford has stopped production of the C-Max Energi and will stop making the hybrid model in mid-2018 due to a lack of demand for the compact hatchbacks. Green Car Reports said they were slow sellers as consumers buy more crossovers, SUV’s and trucks. They were also controversial with Ford having to lower gas mileage ratings twice on the hybrid and the electric range of the Eneregi plug-in hybrid once.

 If you noticed that gas prices seem to be on the rise in your neighborhood, you are not alone. Triple A reports prices have increased nine cents a gallon in the last 13 days for a national average of $2.56 a gallon.

 And that is, on average, 39 cents more than we paid a year ago.

 Prices rose 13 cents per gallon in Florida, but dropped by that amount in Indiana. Meanwhile, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina came in with the lowest prices for a fill up.

 AAA said it expects nationwide prices to decline as November rolls along.

 Nearly two out of three parents say traffic is the most stressful part of a family road trip along with packing and the cost of the journey according to a new Harris poll.

 Those items topped the decades old, “Are we there yet?” More than a thousand parents were polled nationwide ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

 More than half said that Wi-Fi/internet connectivity would help make family road trips more enjoyable, making it the top in-vehicle tech on their wish list for trips.

 Despite all those concerns, families still want to hit the road together. The survey found that 93 percent of parents enjoy road trips with their family, and more than half said they “love” them.

 How do you get to know and feel comfortable with all of the high tech features on your new vehicle? J.D. Power said ineffective tech training sessions at the dealer are one reason why 20 percent of vehicle technologies never get used. If you are a millennial, that percentage is even higher, raising the question of why buy tech equipment you may never use?

 Now a Ford dealer in Phoenix is offering on demand house calls where an expert will give tech lessons right in a customer’s driveway.

 One owner said that approach avoided a task he dislikes intensely – reading the owner’s manual, most of which are 400 to 500 pages long, or more.

 Studies have found that if a customer doesn’t learn to use technology within the first 30 days of ownership, odds are that tech will go unused.




Auto News for Nov. 13 – Two VERY different Vehicles

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever – the 755-

 The most powerful Corvette ever, the ZR1, will go on sale next spring with an SAE-certified 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. Also offered will be two wind tunnel-honed aerodynamics packages, including an available High Wing that provides an estimated 950 pounds of downforce.

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever – the 755-

 The 6.2 liter V8 delivers the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle, thanks in part to a new and more efficient intercooled supercharger that delivers 52 percent more displacement than the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. Top speed is over 210 mph.

 Interested parties will be able to choose either an eight speed paddle shift automatic or a seven speed manual tranny.

 An all-new front fascia is designed to channel air for propulsion-system and drivetrain cooling, with four new radiators bringing the heat-exchanger total to 13. A special carbon-fiber “halo” hood is open in the middle to clear the LT5 engine’s supercharger/intercooler assembly.

 Inside, one will find standard leather-trimmed seats, with suede microfiber inserts offered. Heated and vented Napa leather-trimmed seating is also available, as well as a carbon fiber-rimmed steering wheel, competition sport seats, Performance Data Recorder, Bose premium audio system and more.

 No word yet on prices, with those figures expected closer to the introduction date. It is believed to be the last model in the C7 Corvette series.

 By now you are wondering about a 0-60 figure. Chevrolet did not disclose that information but it would be fair to assume this new King of the Road will come in somewhere in the upper two second or very low three second range.

 Now on to the direct opposite.


 So you want to go way off road and explore new places, but most motor homes are allergic to anything other than paved surfaces. Then say hello to the EarthRoamer XV-HD. As you can see from the picture, this rig WILL GO darn near anywhere.

 It is built on the chassis of a 4WD Ford F-750 pickup and is “designed to accommodate up to 6 people in total comfort” its maker claims.

 Power comes from a 6.7-liter diesel, it rides on 46” Michelin tires, sports a 30,000 pound winch up front, a full LED light array, and rear air suspension. The turbo diesel is rated at 330 horsepower with 725 lb-ft of torque. Handy when the rig has a GVWR of 33,000 lbs.

 With 2,100 watts of solar capability, a 20,000 watt Lithium Ion battery bank, a hydraulic generator, 250 gallons of fresh water and 115 gallon diesel fuel capacity this big guy is prepared for extended stays in the wild.

 And you are not roughing it either. Inside is a full bathroom with separate shower, washer/dryer, and full kitchen with premium appliances, in-floor radiant heating, Bose Surround Sound entertainment, plus upscale King Ranch trim in the cab.

 EarthRoamer will design a custom floor plan for buyers, with prices starting at a cool $1.5 million.





Saturday Road Test – A big ole, so American, pickup



                  Ram 2500 Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4

                                 The Beast

  By Ron Amadon

  DAMASCUS, MD. – A beast in the best possible definition of the word. And Americans love them because many want the best of all worlds.

 You want power?

 How about a Cummins diesel with 800 (!) lb-ft of torque and 385 horsepower that can carry just under 4,000 pounds of cargo in the truck bed, and tow 17,980 pounds worth of trailer. A 6-speed automatic is standard.

  You want luxury?

  Leather wrapped seats, 10-way adjustable powered and ventilated driver’s seat and 6-way adjustable passenger seat with room for three adults to the rear. A large 8.4-inch touchscreen display, automatic temperature control with dual zone control, power adjustable pedals, 7-inch driver’s information display, and much more.

 You want to go off road?

 Turn a knob and you are in 4-wheel drive, and there’s hill descent control, ample ground clearance, Bilstein Performance Tuned shocks front and rear, a transfer case skid plate and, if worse comes to worse, tow hooks.

  Plus with its big 20 x 8 inch wheels, up from the standard 18 inchers, the Big Horn gives you a commanding view of the road. They are part of a $2,795 “Night Special Edition” package that adds a lot of black exterior trim in keeping with modern expectations, body colored door handles and fender flares, LED interior lighting and LT 285/60R20E Owl, on/off road tires.

 Climb aboard and suddenly, all those cars around you at the stop light look soo much smaller.

 It is a big step up to gain entry, so Ram added Black Tubular side steps. But mud can accumulate there so be careful if you are in your tux when entering.

 But really, this is an old jeans kind of vehicle anyway!

 With the diesel look for ample acceleration when called for. Once on the interstate the interior was so quiet and the diesel so unobtrusive that was very easy to cruise along unknowingly at 80-85 in a 70 mph zone.

 This is a big vehicle so you might want to consider the convenience of parking in the back 40 at your local supermarket or mall, if you still have one.

 Like any heavy duty truck the ride was firm, the seats were comfortable on an all-day drive, and the Ram’s Uconnect 8.4 inch navi screen was easy to get acquainted with.

 Major controls were easy to figure out and reach and the leather wrapped steering wheel contained a multitude of switches and buttons at the ready.  

 Throughout the interior there was ample storage space for stuff you would not want to leave in the truck bed. 

 And don’t forget the additional fender storage available on either side of the truck bed, the so-called RamBox. It is lockable and ever so handy making me wonder why others have not copied this feature.

 This was a feature laden pickup given its $19,515 worth of options. Neat stuff included front/rear park assist system, LED bed lighting, clearance lamps, four adjustable cargo tie-down hooks, cargo bed divider/extender and spray in bed liner.

 Big Horn was right at home during some off road running in rural West Virginia. Lose dirt, mud, deep puddles, steep inclines, were just no big deal in this rig.

 There is an extremely long list of Ram truck trim lines, options, and colors for a customer to choose from. Enough so that price alone will help whittle down your preference list.

 All week long the big beast was fun to drive, caught the attention of neighbors and I was sorry to see it go at the end of the test period.

  Lots of people agree – Ram truck was Fiat Chrysler’s best seller by a wide margin in October.

 With all the optional equipment, the test Big Horn carried an MSRP of $65,860, in line with the feature laden pickups consumers want these days.

 For sure, we have come a long way from the bare bones pickups of the ‘50’s!


 A 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
















Auto News for Nov. 10 – That’s a Bentley?

 Bantley Continental GT3

 If I say Bentley your first thoughts would be lots of luxury, the finest leather, exotic wood trim, and classic good looks. Now look at today’s picture of the Continental GT3 race car from Crewe. Bentley, you see, does some racing and will enter the GT3 in the “Intercontinental GT Challenge” series.

 Based on the Continental road car, the racer is substantially lighter and more powerful, in excess of 550 horsepower, Bentley said.

 Helping to lower the weight are carbon fiber front splitter, rear wing and body panels, lightweight, aerodynamically-optimized bumpers, bonnet, sills and fenders.

 Powering the racer is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 and Top Gear proclaimed the total package as “mouth-watering.” Racers can purchase one starting in June of next year.

 I included it this morning because of its eye catching design that simply had to be shared.

 The Green Car Journal has named the Chevrolet Colorado as its Green Truck of the Year and the Mazda MX-5 Miata as its Performance Green car of the Year.

 The awards honor environmental leadership in the automotive field by identifying the best-of-the-best ‘green’ models in the pickup and performance car fields, the journal said.

 The U.S. Senate’s tax reform measure does not eliminate the $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of an electric vehicle, according to Automotive News. The House measure would eliminate that credit.





Auto News for Nov. 9 – Ready For Winter?

 Allstate released a new survey revealing that 35 percent of drivers say wet winter driving stresses them out, and 48 percent are concerned by the prospect. While the Allstate survey found that only 26 percent feel confident in their winter driving abilities, a resounding 92 percent take active steps to better prepare themselves for slick roads. Those include increasing following distance behind another vehicle and checking the weather before heading out.


 Nissan has announced pricing for one of the most fun cars one can drive – the GT-R. Added to the lineup is the Pure model with a starting MSRP of $99,990.

 The differences between the Pure and Premium grade, which is priced at $110,490, includes an 11-speaker Bose audio system, Active Noise Cancellation and Active Sound Enhancement systems, and Titanium exhaust system.

 New features for 2018 include the addition of Apple CarPlay with Navigation and Services, and a new black “Kuro Night” color for the Premium Interior Package.

 Nissan is also expected to announce a new crossover model at the L.A. auto show later this month. There is some speculation that it may be a replacement for the Juke.

 BMW said it will “showcase” five electric vehicles at the L.A. extravaganza including a world premiere vehicle on Nov. 29.


 And Aston Martin has confirmed that it will reveal an all new Vantage model on Nov. 21. Instead of the “tell us nothing teaser photo” normally used, Aston released a picture of a wolf. How that relates to the new car will have to wait.