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Friday
Apr242015

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercrew: Treading Lightly

By Christopher A. Sawyer

There are many nice things to say about the 2015 F-150, and one exasperating thing. Let’s get the exasperating thing out of the way first.

This is not a vehicle for bank robbers, getaway drivers, the easily exasperated, those prone to road rage or folks suffering from ADHD. Every time you enter or exit, the adjustable pedals, adjustable seat, and damn near anything else that could move does just that, it moves. Get back in the truck, and you have to wait for the pedals — which have moved to their highest position from where you put them — to find their place. Ditto the seat, and so on. This is not something that happens in the blink of an eye. You could read the warning pamphlet on most medications in the time it takes for these items to go back to where they belong, and — damn it! — that takes too long. This insanity sent me scrolling through the onscreen menu in the gauge cluster so that I could turn off the easy entry/exit nonsense. Which made it possible for me to stop the seat from readjusting, but not the pedals or anything else. This sent me to the owner’s manual, a draft copy on this particular truck and not the final item, but to no avail. I could find nothing about stopping them. Then again, I also didn know their Ford marketing name (if they had one), which would have made it easier to find. This forced me to readjust everything to my liking, and use the door-mounted memory switch to capture my preferences. Then I could press the button as soon as I had started with the vehicle (a pushbutton start, which required a foot on the now too close brake pedal), and have everything move into place. It still wasn’t quick, but it was a lot faster than waiting for the various bits and bobs to cycle their way through their infuriating dance. All of which got me to wondering: “When is a truck no longer a truck, when it has too many frilly options and functions?”

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Friday
Apr102015

First Run: 2015 VW Golf SportWagen

By Jim Meachen, Motorway America 

Manufacturers apparently put credence in the old refrain that, since the advent of the SUV and especially the crossover, American drivers don't want station wagons. The segment is almost non-existent in the U.S., and is growing less relevant in Europe as crossovers and “sport activity vehicles” multiply while the number of wagons shrink. Personally, I think this "wagon is a dirty word" perception would be relegated to the dustbin of forgotten automotive lore if car buyers would get behind the wheel of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. 

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Thursday
Apr092015

Rolls Royce Builds a Beast of Burden

This is the first engineering mule for Roll Royce’s Project Cullinan. Based on a shortened Phantom Series II body, and fitted with all-wheel drive, the prototype is being used to develop the final iteration of the all-wheel drive system in conjunction with the first iteration of a new suspension design.

The mule is approximately the same weight and size as the production SUV it aims to replicate, and has the same weight distribution and a similar frontal area. Though there will be changes between now and production, this prototype has the same engine, transmission and differentials, and steering gear planned for the SUV.

Rolls Royce says this vehicle will be used for both on- and off-road testing, and the test surfaces will include Belgian Pavé, cobblestones, corrugated concrete, noise development and measurement surfaces, resonance road, and acceleration bumps. Equal time will be spent on-rad and off-road to ensure, Rolls Royce says, that the production vehicle delivers a ride that will be “Effortless … Everywhere.” We especially like the rear wing. — CAS


Thursday
Apr092015

2015 Lexus GS F Sport AWD: Processed Sport Sedan

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

It’s no secret to anyone who reads these pages that I like the Lexus IS F Sport and, with reservations, the NX 200t F Sport. However, if you look back a little farther, you will see that this affection does not extend to the GS F Sport. My September 2013 encounter with the mid-size Lexus sport sedan was, in a word, underwhelming, and bordered on disappointing. The car lacked purity and, as a result, felt like its responses were manufactured, not natural. The electronic revolution has made it possible for engineers to try and make a sport sedan appeal to a larger audience. Flip a switch or turn a knob, and the steering and throttle are more responsive, the ride firmer and the whole car takes on a “new” personality. Go in the other direction, and everything is dulled as fuel economy becomes the greatest concern. Or leave the switch in the middle, and the vehicle reverts to its natural state. 

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