The 2019 Ram 1500 Classic is new but is also old

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If you’ve been following the interesting strategy that Jeep employed by keeping the old Wrangler on sale alongside the brand new JL Wrangler (at least until the Scrambler needed the production line), Ram’s move here – slapping a “Classic” badge on the end of the old 1500 – shouldn’t be all that surprising. And that’s what’s happening. Not all the trim levels will be available, and the move is targeted at fleet buyers and those on a tight budget. For those cost-conscious buyers, snagging a Classic rather than a new Ram might be a prudent move. After all, while the brand new Ram 1500 is a very nice truck and a decided upgrade from the old one, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the outgoing truck – particularly if your needs are utilitarian.

So, onto the changes. The reduced trim level spread on the 1500 Classic goes like so: Tradesman, Express, Big Horn (or Lone Star if you’re in Texas), and SSV (Special Services Vehicle) intended for law enforcement. You’ll notice that some trims are missing, and there’s nothing fancy here. If you want anything beyond the Big Horn, like a Laramie, Rebel, Longhorn, or Limited, you’ll need to step up to the newer truck.

There’s good news, though. Some stuff from the higher trims that are now out of production can be had on 1500 Classics through some new packages. The Chrome Plus package offers some upgrades to the Tradesman trim, like body-color bumpers, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, and carpet. The Tradesman SXT gets chrome bumpers, fog lamps, dual exhaust (on V8 models), and 20-inch chrome wheels – some of which is new to the Tradesman trim, even as an option. And the Express Black Accent Package blacks out the badges wheels, and headlight bezels. So while there’s less choice overall, you can still add some up-level touches to the 1500 Classic.

The powertrain and bed/cab configurations are still robust. You can get the Regular Cab with a regular or long bed, the Quad Cab with the regular bed, or the Crew Cab with the short or regular bed. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 and 5.7 Hemi V8 are both available with 2- or 4WD, and the EcoDiesel will go on sale later.

We don’t have the all-important pricing information to tell you how good of a deal the Ram 1500 Classic will be, but buyers dragging their feet on buying a lower-trim 2019 Ram 1500 might want to cool their heels until later this year when the 1500 Classic goes on sale to see if it better fits their needs.

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Ford Fusion hybrid and diesel Transit Connect taxis revealed

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It has been a big week for Ford and alternative powertrain commercial vehicles. Earlier it showed a hybrid Explorer police vehicle called the Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid. Now the company is showing off taxis, including its first Fusion Hybrid Taxi, along with a diesel-powered Transit Connect Taxi.

The 2019 Fusion Hybrid Taxi, aside from being the first of its kind offered by Ford, is also interesting because it uses parts from the Ford Police Responder Hybrid. Yes, Ford went Blues Brothers on its latest taxi. Specifically, it has cop suspension and cop brakes that are more durable. The former adds some more ride height, perfect for potholed city streets whether they’re in Detroit or New York. Ford also expects it to have roughly the same fuel economy as the Police Responder, which is 40 mpg in the city, 36 on the highway, and 38 in combined driving.

The other relatively frugal taxi offering from Ford is the 2019 Transit Connect Taxi, which will be offered with the new 1.5-liter diesel four-cylinder. That engine makes 120 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which should be quite handy dicing it up with dense city traffic. Fuel economy isn’t as impressive as the Fusion Hybrid, with an estimate of 30 mpg on the highway, but that still puts it as the most efficient version of the little van. It also retains all of its van practicality.

Ford is currently taking orders for the Fusion Hybrid Taxi, and it will take orders for the Transit Connect a little later. Both will be available by the end of the year.

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Honda Ridgeline Review | Don’t waste your money on something else

What we want and what we need are usually pretty far apart. We need shelter, food, water, transportation, and if you asked 98 percent of truck owners in this country, they’d say they need a body-on-frame pickup truck equipped with nothing less than a V8 and solid axles. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You don’t.

Enter, the Ridgeline, Honda’s entry into the mid-size pickup market, and Autoblog‘s latest long-term test vehicle.

The first-gen Ridgeline debuted back in the 2006 model year. Like this model, it shared its unibody platform with the Honda Pilot, had four-wheel independent suspension, a transversely-mounted V6 and is available in front-wheel drive. The original model also didn’t look like any other truck on the market. Though the new Ridgeline has a much more traditional appearance this time around, everything else is pretty much the same.

Our truck is a 2018 Ridgeline RTL-E in Deep Scarlet. The RTL-E trim is second only to the Black Edition trim, meaning our truck’s price tag is pretty steep, almost $12 grand higher than base at $42,695. There is only one powertrain available on the Ridgeline, a 280 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 paired with a 6 speed automatic. On the RTL-E, all wheel drive is standard. Our fully loaded truck features every creature comfort imaginable, including leather, heated and powered front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless ignition with remote start, navigation, a moonroof, LED headlights, parking sensors, the truck bed audio system, a class III trailer hitch and the Honda Sensing safety suite. This seems like a good time to remind everyone that the F-150 I drove last week that cost $10 grand more didn’t include keyless entry. Moving on.

With a smaller truck comes better gas mileage. Or at least that was the idea. The Ridgeline is rated at 18 city, 25 highway mpg, which isn’t great, and over the last 2000 or so miles we’ve averaged just above 22 mpg. For the size I’d hoped for more.

The comfort of the Ridgeline is where this truck truly shines. I’ve put quite a few miles on this truck and the seats are supportive and comfortable, as is the ride quality. Dirt roads are no match for the Ridgeline, which keeps the ride quiet and comfortable, pavement or no. The six-speed transmission is miles better than the transmission in the Tacoma TRD Pro, which seems to like hunting more than most pickup owners themselves.

The bed is 5.3 feet long, which isn’t terrible, but it’s the hidden features that really stand out. Aside from the truck bed speaker, which in the six months we’ve had the truck hasn’t been used outside of seeing if it actually works, there is an additional truck space under the bed, which not only houses a spare tire, but is large enough to fit a human body in. The tailgate also has some voodoo trickery, with the ability to open traditionally as well as swing open like a door. These two features are by far my favorite of this truck.

Let’s talk looks. This truck isn’t the best looking out there, but it seems like all of the mid-size pickups out there today seem to be suffering from some growing pains, short of the top tier trims like the ZR2, TRD Pro and Ranger Raptor. That being said of the four trucks I just mentioned, the Ridgeline looks the worst.

What bugs me the most though, other than the fuel economy are the rear doors. They are tiny! I was barely able to fit small end tables in the back of the truck when I was moving in the rain. Once I got them in the truck, there was plenty of space, but getting in was a pain.

The amount of people who think they need to harken back to some kind of rancher cowboy roots by spending $60 grand on a truck that they’ll only use to drive around the city is rising. Last year the average transaction price of a pickup was pushing $50 grand. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your hard earned money like 2008 never happened. You can pickup a Ridgeline for less than $30 grand, and we promise it’ll be just as capable on the streets of Chicago, New York, or LA, as that Chevy Silverado.

[Source: Autoblog]

Dodge’s final Viper and Demon join stage in a million-dollar auction

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This past weekend, one of the ultimate auction double headers went under the hammer in Uncasville, Conn. The last Dodge Viper was paired with the last Dodge Demon, together with related memorabilia, resulting in a million-dollar hammer price.

The winning $1 million bid will benefit the United Way charity in its entirety; the 10 percent buyer’s fee will go directly to the American Heart Association, stated Barrett-Jackson, the auctioning company. The 1,485-horsepower auction was dubbed “The Ultimate Last Chance,” and both of the cars on the stage were painted in the same Viper Red shade.

“We know the power of the Dodge Viper and Dodge Challenger SRT Demon to put a smile on people’s faces; we’re smiling today because we know the power of this donation to the United Way,” said FCA’s Steve Beahm. “These particular vehicles mark the end of their eras as the last vehicles of their kind to be built; it’s rare to have just one such vehicle cross the auction block, much less a pair at the same time.”

Junkyard Gem: 1979 Ford Ranchero 500

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For the 1957 model year, Ford made a pickup truck based in its Custom Sedan full-size car, called it the Ranchero, and sales success followed. For 1960, the Ranchero went to the much smaller Falcon platform, with each successive generation of Ranchero growing a bit as the years passed. For 1977, Ford put the Ranchero on the same platform as the massive Thunderbird, with the front bodywork from the LTD II. The result was a comfy-riding personal luxury coupe with a truck bed, and sales were brisk. Here’s a used-up ’79 in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard.

[Source: Autoblog]

Famous 1966 Le Mans Ford GT40 to be auctioned in August

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One of the most important Ford GT40s built is coming up for auction. The car carrying the chassis number P/1016 was one of the GT40s raced at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Ford secured its first Le Mans victory with a 1-2-3 finish. After 348 laps, the car wearing the number 5 finished third, driven by Americans Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson; the two cars ahead were driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon and Ken Miles/Denny Hulme.

You might have seen this very car in an episode of The Grand Tour, which dedicated a segment on the GT40’s troubled birth and eventual Le Mans success. After Le Mans ’66, P/1016 was also raced in Daytona in 1967 and used for Le Mans testing that year, before being retired from competition usage. It was thoroughly restored back to its 1966 guise in 2003, and ever since it’s appeared at events such as Le Mans Classic, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won the People’s Choice award in 2003.

P/1016 will be auctioned at RM Sotheby’s California auction in Monterey at the end of August, but before that it will be displayed for two weeks at Sotheby’s New York headquarters, starting on June 21. The car is estimated to bring in $9 million to $12 million, reflecting its legendary status among GT40s.

[Source: Autoblog]

2018 Hyundai Kona SEL 2.0-liter Quick Spin Review | Slow down and save money

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The 2018 Hyundai Kona has certainly impressed us, at least in its turbocharged, all-wheel-drive form. It makes healthy power — 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque — to hustle around town and up on-ramps. It also has a playful chassis and suspension that provide responsive handling with minimal body roll. But Hyundaialso offers the Kona with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder making just 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. And no matter what engine you choose, if you pick a front-wheel-drive Kona it’ll be saddled with a primitive torsion-beam rear axle instead of the AWD’s independent multi-link setup. All of this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but as it turns out, the 2.0-liter Kona is mostly as good as its force-fed iteration, just slower and cheaper.

Just like the turbo Kona, the naturally aspirated models feature the same distinct styling. It’s not for everyone (though this editor quite likes it), but you’ll never mistake it for anything else. No other compact crossover fits so many creases, angles, gills and materials onto one vehicle. The naturally aspirated models, SE and SEL, do have smaller alloy wheels than the turbo versions, but the alloy wheels are a standard feature regardless. Inside, the interior is nearly identical as well, using the same plastics and most of the same colors. You will have to make do with cloth seats, but that’s OK in our book because the houndstooth upholstery is way cooler than the plain black leather seats of the Limited and Ultimate turbo models.

Ride and handling are also nearly identical to the turbo all-wheel-drive Kona. The ride is on the stiff end of compliant, the steering is quick, and turn-in is eager, even though feel is lacking. There isn’t much body roll, and you can carry a decent amount of speed in corners. Admittedly, the Turbo feels more planted and confident in corners thanks to its rear multi-link suspension, but the non-turbo doesn’t feel unsettled on a bumpy, curvy road.

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There’s just no getting around the fact that it’s noticeably slower than the turbo Kona. Whereas the turbo engine will whisk you away fairly effortlessly on a wave of low-down torque, the naturally aspirated engine will be buzzing away at high RPM to get you moving. While we’re thankful that the engine itself has a reasonably deep note and is fairly smooth, when you ask for some oomph it gets pretty loud. Passing vehicles and running up on-ramps can be a bit grating. Additionally, there isn’t any benefit to choosing the 2.0-liter engine over the turbo 1.6-liter unit for reasons of fuel economy. Both engines produce the same 30 mpg combined EPA rating for front-wheel-drive, and 27 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive. Since turbocharged engines tend to be less fuel efficient in real-world driving, we expect the non-turbo to have more of an edge than the numbers indicate. Even so, we wish the 2.0 offered more of a benefit.

If you compare the non-turbo Kona to more than just its Turbo sibling, the picture doesn’t look so bleak. The subcompact crossover SUV segment is awash with fairly slow options, so it’s not like the non-turbo is slower than most — it’s just that the Turbo is fairly quick. Same with fuel economy. For example, the Honda HR-V’s and Mazda CX-3’s most fuel-efficient models return 31 mpg combined, just one above the front-drive Kona. The Toyota C-HR only manages 29 mpg combined, as does the Crosstrek, though the Crosstrek does it with all-wheel-drive. Among American small crossovers, the Trax manages 28 with front-drive, the Renegade can hit 26, and the EcoSport’s best is a disappointing 24. And of these vehicles, the 2.0-liter Kona has more power than HR-V, CX-3, Trax and C-HR, but slightly less than the Renegade, Crosstrek and the 2.0-liter EcoSport. The bottom line is the Kona is mid-pack in both punch and frugality.

There is one area in which the naturally aspirated Kona has an advantage over the Turbo iteration, and that’s in price. Provided that you can do without many of the premium features found on the turbo models, you can get a Kona SE for as little as $20,480, which is $5,200 less than the base-model Turbo, the front-drive Kona Limited at $25,680. And if you do decide you want many of those features, you can get the Kona SEL for $22,130, which adds niceties such as heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection, keyless entry and start, heated side mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Moving up to the SEL with the Tech Package adds the Limited’s fog lights, eight-way power seats, sunroof, lane-keep assist and forward collision assist. It ups the price to $23,630, but that’s still about $2,000 less than the Limited, which just adds leather, chrome and the turbo powertrain. So if you’re fine without the extra power, you can save thousands of dollars on the Kona and still get nearly all the features that make it great.

Overall, even with less power than its turbo twin, the 2.0-liter, front-drive Hyundai Kona is right on par with the competition in fuel economy and power. But it provides a good value proposition compared to the Kona Turbo thanks to a comfortable ride, perky handling, loads of style, and most of its feature content, all at a lower price point. That’s a winner in our book.