Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

WIN A 2015 VICTORY GUNNER PLUS A TRIP TO MEET THE NESS FAMILY TO HAVE IT PERSONALLY CUSTOMIZED

Victory Announces the Custom Ness Sweepstakes
Picture this: you and Arlen Ness, hanging out at the shop, having a beer and customizing your brand new 2015 Victory Gunner. Sound like a dream? With the Victory Custom Ness Sweepstakes, it’s a dream that will become a reality for one lucky winner. Victory is going over the top to celebrate their riders, by offering up the chance to not only win a new Gunner, but to also meet Arlen, Cory, and Zach Ness in California, and have the bike personally customized. No catch, no strings – just a dream opportunity Victory is excited to make available to one very lucky motorcycle enthusiast.

Enter to win the Custom Ness Sweepstakes February 8 – March 26 at Victorymotorcycles.com. One lucky winner gets a new 2015 Victory Gunner, and up to $5000 in parts to have it personally customized by the Ness Family. In addition, the winner will receive a 3 day/2 night trip to Dublin, California, where they’ll meet Arlen, Cory, and Zach Ness. Together, they’ll craft a new custom Gunner with one of the best-known, hottest bike-building teams in the world of custom motorcycles.

The new 2015 Victory Gunner is Victory’s hottest new bike. It’s the bobber without comprise, boasting a powerful 106ci V-twin on a full-size chassis, a lowered seat height, and lean-angle engineering that makes it ride like no other bobber currently on the market. “I don’t know a biker alive who doesn’t love to trick out their bike. And the Ness Family? Come on! These guys are legends in customization,” says Steve Menneto, VP-Motorcycles at Victory Motorcycles. “Offering up a new Gunner and the chance to get to spend time with the Ness’s, and then have the bike personally customized – this is as cool as it gets.”
Arlen Ness also commented, “The new Gunner is already a beautiful bike; this is gonna really be a fun one to work on. Victory makes amazing bikes, and the Gunner absolutely holds up to the brand’s standards. Let’s get this thing started; we’re ready to meet the winner of the Custom Ness Sweepstakes!” The Victory Custom Ness Sweepstakes is open to consumers February 8th at Victorymotorcycles.com. Must be 18 to enter, no purchase necessary. For complete details, visit victorymotorcycles.com.

As read on: http://www.hotbikeweb.com/events/win-2015-victory-gunner

2014 Polaris Sportsman Ace 4×4 – First Drive

A perfect entry-level vehicle

The all-new Polaris Sportsman ACE is the perfect combination of an ATV and UTV. It’s similar in size to a 4×4 quad and rides almost exactly like the new Polaris Sportsman 570 4×4, but it’s equipped with a single bucket seat, steering wheel, and a roll cage that provides a safe platform for newbies to the sport. This easy-to-use, nimble machine has the easiest learning curve of any ATV or UTV we’ve ever tested. If you can drive a car, you’ll feel right at home in the ACE.

INNOVATIVE & COMFORTABLE

The Sportsman ACE is covered by a ROPS (Roll Over Protection System) cab frame that’s similar to the roll cages found on the RZR lineup, and offers an ergonomically friendly cockpit that’s both easy to ingress and egress for small or large riders. The secure, high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is paired with an adjustable steering wheel. It’s also equipped with a three-point seat belt and has side bolsters to keep the operator properly positioned in the center of the machine. The steering wheel offers 3.5 inches of tilt adjustment, and the driver’s seat slides back and forth by 4 inches to customize the fit for the rider. There is an integrated dead pedal for your left foot to rest on and an integrated heel pocket for your right foot with an easy reach for both the gas and brake pedals. You’re also kept in via dual side nets that feature a metal rod to easily secure for clipping and positioning the nets to the back of the vehicle while exiting. This net system is sure to be replaced by more stylish aftermarket door designs.

TRAIL-READY WIDTH

A huge selling point for the ACE is its trail-capable and easily-transportable 48-inch width, which means it can take on nearly every OHV trail in the country, since many ATV trails are limited to a width of 50 inches. It will also fit in the back of a full-size pickup truck. A nice feature, since most side-by-sides require the added costs of a trailer. To ensure a low center of gravity, Polaris positioned all the major components, including the driver, centralized between the four wheels for an incredibly responsive ride. Along with this low center of gravity, the Sportsman ACE boasts 10.25 inches of ground clearance and 9.5 inches of rear travel due to its fully independent rear suspension (IRS) outfitted with performance, twin tube shocks featuring adjustable preload. The front of the ACE features a MacPherson strut setup with just over 8 inches of wheel travel.

Veteran ATV riders will feel funny in the ACE, at first, but after only a few miles, you’re hit with an added sense of confidence and security; the same feeling that has helped to make side-by-sides the fastest-growing powersports industry. Beginner to expert riders will appreciate the ACE’s comfortable ride and nimble handling characteristics. The suspension feels stiff, compared to standard Sportsman ATVs, but it soaked up the rough, rocky test loop and was difficult to bottom out. The machine felt stable, even around quick, 90-degree corners and even at top speeds your always feel in control.

32-HP PROSTAR POWERPLANT

The Sportsman ACE 4×4 is equipped with a new Polaris ProStar Electronic Fuel-Injected powerplant. It’s a dual-overhead-cam, single-cylinder, four-stroke design that is similar to the 570 RZR and Sportsman, which Polaris released last year. Its displacement is in the sub-400cc category, and it packs a solid 32 hp with a top speed of 45 mph, perfect for the entry-level to intermediate rider. It didn’t hit hard out of the hole, but its power range is wide and very easy to adjust to. This is the perfect powerplant for the rookie trail enthusiast. The motor provided plenty of excitement, the power doesn’t overwhelm or scare, and it’ll provide an excellent platform for learning.

The transmission is identical to the 570 RZR’s and provides the driver with the option of both high and low range, neutral, reverse, and a park mode that acts as the emergency brake. In high, the 32-hp ProStar pulled the 850-pound ACE up and over every obstacle on our technical, 50-inch-wide test loop. We used Low range for ascending and descending the steeper trails, and we powered through deep ruts, mud holes, and rock gardens without so much as a scent from the CVT.

The Sportsman ACE is equipped with the same On-Demand True All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system found on all Polaris ATVs and UTVs. The system eliminates the guesswork by automatically engaging AWD when you need it and then reverts back to two-wheel drive automatically when the AWD is no longer needed. It would be great to have a locking front differential, but this On-Demand system is used and loved by an outstanding number of enthusiasts.

Braking is solid, thanks to four-wheel hydraulic discs with dual-bore front calipers, and the little ACE rides on Carlisle 489 tires, mounted on stamped steel wheels, that provide great traction on most terrains. We put a good pounding on these meats and didn’t come to close to a flat.

Storage on the Sportsman ACE is exceptional with its integrated 2.8-gallon semi-dry, front storage compartment and a high-capacity Lock & Ride cargo box with rack extenders and rear tie-down rails that also accepts the accessory Lock & Ride cargo box for additional dry storage. The vehicle can carry up to 575 pounds of gear and can tow up to 1,500 pounds. The ACE is also pre-wired for the installation of a winch with up to 3,500 pounds of capacity, and Polaris offers more than 25 accessories for the Sportsman, including doors, winches, cabs, and storage to suit their driver’s needs. The Sportsman ACE is available in White Lightning and will be in dealerships in February.

ATV or UTV?

Like it or not, these UTVs are transitioning from a hit fad to the future of ATVing. Since the release of the original RZR 800 seven years ago, Polaris has been the leading UTV manufacturer of such machines, and for $7,499, the Polaris Sportsman ACE is sure to be a hit for both beginners and experts alike. What’s next for Polaris? You can expect the company to follow up with more single-seat and steering-wheel-equipped models from the entry-level ACE all the way up to a mind-blowing 1,000cc rocket ship. Stay tuned.

1401 polaris sportsman ace 4×4
Spec Chart

2014 Polaris Sportsman ACE 4×4

Price: $7499

Engine type: 32-hp ProStar, 4-stroke, DOHC single cylinder

Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection

Starting system: Electric

Drivetrain

Drive system: On-Demand True AWD/2WD

Transmission: Automatic PVT with P/R/N/L/H; shaft

Suspension (Type/Travel)

Front: MacPherson strut/8.2”

Rear: IRS/9.5”

Tires/Wheels

Front: 25×8-12/489

Rear: 25×10-12/489

Brakes

Front: Dual hydraulic disc with dual-bore front calipers

Rear: Dual hydraulic disc with dual-bore front calipers

Dimensions

Wheelbase: 61.5”

Claimed dry weight: 835 lb.

Ground clearance: 10.25”

Length/width/height: 90/48/68″

Fuel capacity: 5.25 gal.

Load Capacity

Front/rear rack/box capacity: 120/240 lb.

Payload capacity: 575 lb.

Electrical

Lighting: Halogen, 55-watt low/ 60-watt high

Instrumentation: Digital gauge, analog speedometer, odometer, tachometer, tripmeter; gear indicator, fuel gauge, AWD indicator, high-temp/low-batt lights, DC outlet

Read more: http://www.atvrideronline.com/features/1401_2014_polaris_sportsman_ace_4x4_first_drive/index.html#ixzz2uXh07KOT

2015 Challenger rundown

As we get closer to the 2015 Dodge Challenger’s midyear launch, it’s worth looking at what’s coming down the pike.

The Challenger is moving from its current “LC” body to the “LA” body, as noted years ago by Allpar when plans first started. Most observers expect relatively few exterior changes to the car, though the dimensions will change along with key parts (including the floorpan); the classic Challenger lines will remain, but the front fascia will change, still maintaining links to the classic 1970s Dodge Challengers. The tail is likely to be modernized with smooth “light pipe” LEDs, and BMW-style “halo headlamps” seem to be in the works (at least for some models, possibly not for the base cars).

The eight speed automatic is likely to become standard across the board, but enthusiasts can still get the manual six-speed — if they opt for a V8. So far numbers appear to be too low to justify a six-speed V6 combination. With the eight speed, it seems likely that the standard Hemi and 392 SRT engines will both post faster acceleration numbers with the automatic. That leaves the HellCat V8, rumored to generate a stunning 665 or more horsepower — which would make it the most powerful production V8 in the world.

There has been talk of using aluminum to lighten the body, and while this might be done with some panels, it seems unlikely that the car will be much, if at all, lighter than the current Challenger. Some critics have complained about Challenger’s weight disadvantage versus some Camaros and Mustangs, without mentioning that Challenger is also a considerably larger car inside; most critics have mentioned that Challenger is also more comfortable. Given the need to handle an extra 200 or so horsepower, it seems unlikely there will be any weight loss at all, but engineers are probably working hard to minimize the weight gain by using more high-strength steel and, yes, aluminum. But it seems unlikely, given costs, technology, the length of time this Challenger will be in the field, and the need to use the existing plant without completely changing the body shop, that the car will use aluminum as part of its key structure. Perhaps in 2018-2020, or whenever the next large cars are developed, but not now.

Update: It seems likely that rumors of a lighter-weight Challenger date back to plans to replace or augment Challenger with a “Barracuda,” a shorter-wheelbase car that would compete more directly with best-seller Camaro. However, these plans were publicly acknowledged by Chrysler executives, who said that they did not work — the Barracuda name was rejected by enthusiasts (since there were no Plymouth or Barracuda cues on the proposed car) and the vehicle just did not work. Instead, a new car will be added — a midsized, rear wheel drive car whose development and engineering is being shared by Dodge and Alfa Romeo. We believe engineering is led by Dodge, with Alfa Romeo having a small team that is participating in the “base car” and having total control of their own version. There are many open questions about this new car, including whether the Dodge will have room for V8s (including 392), since the Alfa is unlikely to go beyond its Maserati-Ferrari twin-turbo V6; but these are all separate issues.

The new Challenger will have the most extensive choice of engines of any Chrysler or Dodge car, with a V6 and three V8s. The current 392 Hemi will remain, supplemented by the supercharged 6.2 motor — now believed to retain the HellCat name when it appears before the public.

A comprehensive interior upgrade is expected, bringing Charger-like amenities, a configurable cluster, along with an electronics update to UConnect 2 with all the gadgets ’n’ gizmos that brings; the option list should grow to match 300C’s, including forward sensors, rear camera, adaptive cruise, and predictive crash protection.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/02/2015-challenger-rundown

Closer Look: 2014 Jeep Cherokee at NAIAS

You may remember when the 2014 Jeep® Cherokee made its debut last year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. This year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we wanted to bring you an up close and personal look at our newest vehicle.

While we were there, we talked with Ron Frank, Jeep brand product specialist. He took us through some of the highlights of the vehicle, which you can see in the video below.

Two Jeep brand advocates, Chase Carver and Daniel Luenzmann, also came to check out the vehicle for themselves.

“The Cherokee instantly grabbed my attention,” said Luenzmann. “The first thing I walked up to was the new Trailhawk. It stuck out to me with its aggressive stance, small lift, and oversized tires.”

“Once you get used to all the interior luxuries you start to notice smaller things. For example, on the exterior there are some nice front and rear red tow hooks and a trailer hitch coming through the rear bumper. There are also two options to attach your trailer lights, a four-pin hookup and a sever pin if you have a trailer with electric breaks. Overall it’s a well-made vehicle with a ton of personality and style.”

Carver agreed that the 2014 Cherokee stood out to him as well.

“The highlight of my trip was definitely getting to learn about the 2014 Jeep Cherokee,” said Carver. “The interior of the Jeep Cherokee is loaded with an 8.4-inch touch screen system with navigation, flat folding front and rear seats, a back-up camera, 10 air bags, and over 70 safety features including LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus and Blind-Spot Monitoring. All these great features coupled with its trail-readiness make the Jeep Cherokee a great daily driver and weekend warrior.”

The New 2015 Nissan Versa Note

Competes with: Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit
Looks like: The Versa Note you know, now with a sport-themed SR trim level
Drivetrain: 109-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Spring 2014

Nissan’s value-oriented four-door hatchback gains two new trim levels for the 2015 model year: the performance-themed SR, which makes its debut at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, and a top-of-the-line SL version. In addition to the new SR and SL trims, all Versa Notes gain standard Bluetooth connectivity for 2015.

More 2014 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect the new trims to be priced higher than the 2014 Versa Note SV, which starts at $16,800 including destination. The 2015 Versa Note hits dealerships in spring 2014.
Exterior

The new Versa Note SR gets a number of unique styling cues including a different grille, smoked headlights and fog lights with black and chrome trim. There’s also a new rear spoiler, 16-inch aluminum wheels with all-season tires and SR badges.
Interior

The SR’s cabin gains a number of cosmetic changes, too, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel that Nissan says is inspired by the automaker’s 370Z sports car, suedelike seats with orange accents, and piano-black and silver-colored trim. Standard SR features include six-way adjustable front seats and a CD stereo with an MP3 jack.

Nissan previously offered an SL Package for the 2014 Versa Note, but the new SL trim makes a number of otherwise-optional features standard. They include a 5-inch color screen, a backup camera, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB connectivity for portable devices, satellite radio, a height-adjustable cargo floor and NissanConnect Apps. NissanConnect Apps integrates smartphone-based apps like Facebook, Twitter and Pandora. Also standard are heated front seats, push-button start and Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert system.
Under the Hood

Despite the new SR trim level’s sport-themed appearance it uses the same engine as all the other Versa Note models: a 109-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Most versions of the hatchback team with a continuously variable automatic transmission, and with the CVT the Versa Note gets an EPA-estimated 31/40/35 mpg city/highway/combined.
Safety Features

Standard features include antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, traction control, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags.

As read on: http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2014/02/2015-nissan-versa-note-at-the-2014-chicago-auto-show.html

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Exceeds Expectations

Earlier this month, MotorTrend released its annual Truck of the Year Award and, to its own shock, gave the award to the 2014 Ram 1500, which also won Truck of the Year in 2013. Why did this announcement come as a surprise to the people at MotorTrend? Well, perhaps because the publication has not given the Truck of the Year Award to the same vehicle in back to back years since the award started in 1979.

Knowing this information, one should not be surprised that the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel received 8,000 orders between February 7 and February 10. That is, unless you are the manufacturers of said vehicle.

The 8,000 orders placed for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel has already fulfilled the allotment Chrysler established for the truck in the first quarter of 2014. The 8,000 orders for the EcoDiesel also represent more than 50 percent of the total orders for the 2014 Ram 1500, more than doubling the estimates by Chrysler. Ram Truck Brand President and CEO Reid Bigland had previously estimated that the EcoDiesel would account for approximately 30 percent of the total sales of the 2014 Ram 1500.

The surge in sales is most likely a direct result of the most recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel mileage test results for the truck which showed that the 2014 Ram 1500 gets 28 mpg on the highway, better than any other full-sized, half-ton pickup on the road – and even better than the top-rated small pickup.

“The Ram 1500 is the only half-ton truck available with a diesel, so we see this as incremental business by having the only truck that can offer best-in-class fuel economy of 28 MPG combined with 9,200 lbs. of towing capacity. It’s every truck manufacturer’s dream to have this kind of initial order demand for a product. Fuel economy is the No. 1 request of half-ton buyers and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel delivers without compromising capability,” stated Bigland.

Fortunately, consumer orders will receive priority over dealership orders. While Chrysler pegged the initial allotment at 8,000 orders, signs indicate that this number could increase if customer, not dealer, demand increases.

If interested, one can place an order for a 2014 Ram 1500 at any local Chrysler or Dodge dealer for the price of $24,200. However, if one wants the EcoDiesel engine, it will add another $2,850 to the total price.

As read on: http://www.webpronews.com/2014-ram-1500-ecodiesel-exceeds-expectations-2014-02

2014 SRT Viper TA

SRT CEO Ralph Gilles could have been detailing his brand’s top-secret plans for the next five years, or taking potshots at the Corvette for all I knew. I was only about 10 feet away from Gilles as he was telling a small group of assembled media something or other about the history of the Viper – just now enriched with this “Time Attack” TA model – though I was barely aware of the fact that he was addressing me at all. Despite my laptop being dutifully erected for the purpose of taking notes, my concentration had been splintered by the sensationally orange coupe that was hurtling into my peripheral vision, trailing a wake of baritone exhaust that seemed only mildly filtered by the brick and glass building in which I was sitting. The test drivers were getting some last runs in the TA and it was… distracting.

The 8.4-liter V10 that sits like a loaded gun under the 2014 SRT Viper TA’s six-vent hood makes all of its 640 horsepower at 6,200 revolutions per minute. On the last third of the long straight at Willow Springs, just before shifting up from fourth into fifth gear and with the speedometer tickling 140 miles per hour, it also makes a noise like The Devil Himself has cracked open Hell in southern California. The wail is unmistakable, even at a distance, to the initiated, and might be the highest-decibel production-car exhaust note I’ve ever encountered. It certainly doesn’t make a presentation easy to sit through, either.

The magic of the Viper TA isn’t in the massive V10 engine.

But the magic of the Viper TA, which uses the very same powerplant as the standard SRT and the deeply contented GTS, isn’t in the massive V10 engine. Rather, it lies in a host of synergistic components that allowed the best drivers at our test day to come out of Willow’s treacherous Turn 9 with enough speed to require the shift up into fifth. Because, while it’s perfectly natural to drop your jaw and gawk at the heroic power and torque figures this car offers, being able to use them to their fullest on a fast track requires some rather tricky work on the part of the SRT team. Thankfully these guys seem to live for shaving off seconds and adding exit speed; the daubs of extra handling performance that make the TA such a monster on a super-fast track like Big Willow.

Many of you might have first heard about the Viper TA by way of an article and video Motor Trend put together this past spring. The car the MT crew drove for that outing was a very early sample of the TA formula, accelerated by the SRT team as a way of demonstrating that the Viper could indeed out-gun the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 around Laguna Seca. That trial resulted in racing driver Randy Pobst setting a new production car lap record at Laguna, but the specifications of the record-breaking car are slightly different than they are for this 2014 model year production version.

SRT will build some 165 examples of the TA, with 99 of them slated to be painted in signature TA Orange.

SRT will build some 165 examples of the TA, with 99 of them slated to be painted in signature TA Orange, 33 painted black and 33 white. Continuing along the exterior, one can easily pick out the aero kit that sets the TA apart, with a deep front splitter and rear lip spoiler being crafted from carbon fiber. In addition to really setting off the flaming paintwork, the aero additions create 278 pounds of downforce at 150 miles per hour, or 460 pounds if you make it up to the car’s 196-mph top speed. The added aero also reduces said top speed by about 10 mph versus the standard Viper – a tradeoff we’ll take any day. Dark-finish, lightweight “Sidewinder” wheels are also part of the TA suite, and make the car look menacing even when sitting still.

TA underpinnings have been judiciously applied to add at-limit handling performance, while also trying to keep weight down. Front and rear spring rates have been increased (and the springs themselves painted TA Orange), while solid front and rear sway bars add significant stiffness. A prominent carbon-fiber X brace also takes the place of a similarly shaped aluminum unit in the engine bay, shaving nearly three pounds in the process.

The net-net of the new spec list is a Viper that is sharper and more durable in a track situation.

The Viper TA also gets a set of model-specific brakes front and rear. The 14-inch Brembo rotors are the same diameter as the standard issue items (and as the optional, lighter-weight StopTech units), but offer more swept area and greater thermal capacity. The TA braking system offers the same performance as the available StopTech gear, but should provide less fade in demanding race conditions. Speaking of durability, SRT has even dialed in more negative camber to the front and rear wheel alignment (1.1 degrees front, 0.35 degrees rear) as a means of reducing tire wear over the course of a race.

The net-net of the new spec list is a Viper that is sharper and more durable in a track situation while gaining just 12 pounds of curb weight versus the most basic version of the coupe.

Before I hit the full track at Willow Springs – a 2.5-mile monster of a thing whose layout has remained unchanged since it was first laid down over the mountainous desert in 1953 – the Viper guys put together an autocross course for all of the sweaty-palmed journalists to use as an icebreaker with the TA. You probably don’t tend to think of the Viper in terms like “nimble” or “tossable,” but the truth of the cone course proved those descriptors to be pretty accurate. Once I got a run under my belt, I found that it was almost easy to flick the snake through the tightly wound course, including being able to actually gain speed by the fourth gate of a slalom section.

I didn’t expect the Viper to be world-class in terms of road-feel and feedback, but that’s exactly what I found.

The genius here, at least for a non-racer like me, is that the Viper controls are all incredibly straightforward and tactile. The steering wheel presents with heavy turn-to-turn effort, to be sure, but the weight is more reassuring and stabilizing than it is cumbersome. The steering ratio isn’t overly quick at 16.7:1, but the very small steering wheel made it a simple thing to change direction rapidly. More impressive is the incredible touch on offer from the wheel; I felt as though every fissure in the asphalt surface was evident through the tiller. Honestly, I didn’t expect the Viper to be world-class in terms of road-feel and feedback, but that’s exactly what I found during both track drives and public road excursions.

Like its steering experience, the Viper TA also offered me incredible response via the pedals. The clutch and gear lever are really well matched, both mechanical and not overly heavy in terms of feel, making at-speed shifts quick and accurate to execute. Bite from the brake pedal was instant and progressive as I dug in deeper, while booting the accelerator offered an equally linear response for the opposite effect.

I felt right at home behind the wheel after about 30 seconds.

Newcomers to the model might very well expect the SRT supercar to be difficult to drive without practice, but the fact is that I felt right at home behind the wheel after about 30 seconds. There are, I’ve no doubt, uncountable and exotic ways in which to make this ludicrously fast car go wrong. But the ultra-communicative nature of the Viper with its well-sorted controls means that cockups should mostly be matters of bad driving, rather than the results of a truculent machine.

The talkative nature of the car also meant that I was more or less at ease when I set out to do my first lap of the big track at Willow. At a moderate pace around the nine-turn road course I was inundated with tactile information about road surface and grip levels, making it an easy sport to increase my pace, along with my confidence, lap after lap. Willow’s Turn 2, a double-apex, sweeping bowl of a thing called “The Rabbit’s Ear” is the place where I made best use of the rock-steady suspension, pushing the car hard and never feeling the slightest note of waver or lean from the underpinnings.

My stomach never let me get as deep into Turn 1 as my brain told me I’d be able to pull off.

My favorite moment of the day came while making the fast right-hander at Turn 4 that lies at the top of a hill; a dab of brakes and flick of the wrist was all it took to rotate the car smartly, and a tiny mid-turn correction all that was needed to reel in a slightly upset rear end before plowing down the hill towards Turn 5 and 6. Here, the lovely balance and prodigious grip of the Viper were the stars of the moment, and the fluidity into brutal acceleration a microcosm of what makes the TA so killer. (No joke, pinning the throttle while pointed straight out of Turn 6 is close-to-sex good).

I never came close to rounding the track in anything like the pace of the SRT hot-shoes and professional racers that were on-hand, of course. I took a right-seat ride with one of the pros after dozens of laps of my own just to see how much speed I was leaving on the table. No surprise: I was leaving a lot. The Viper TA’s brakes are impeccable, but my stomach never let me get as deep into Turn 1 off the main straight as my brain told me I’d be able to pull off. And the massive tires – Pirelli PZeros in a 295-section out front and 355-section in the back, making the largest contact patch of any production car in the world, says SRT – offered so much grip that even corners I thought I’d attacked with maximum effort were slow when compared with the pros’ pace.

I came away with notions of balance and poise rather than tales of lurid spins and high-speed turbulence.

But the impressive part wasn’t the speed with which I drove, but the confidence with which I learned. In the track-ready version of what is, even in this mildly gentrified new generation, a car with one of the meanest reputations on the planet, I came away with notions of balance and poise rather than tales of lurid spins and high-speed turbulence.

Which isn’t to say that the Viper TA, or any Viper, is subtle. It most certainly is not. The same world-class levels of driver feedback that make the snake such a superb driving tool also create an on-road experience that is never placid, despite the lovely new interior treatment and straightforward controls. The Motörhead exhaust note is thrilling when pouring on revs at Willow Springs, but might become more draining when used in the heat of close-quarter city driving. The Viper isn’t a car that every 911 owner or Corvette enthusiast will want, or should consider. It is intense and evocative, an acquired taste for discerning drivers. Not, emphatically not, a car that everyone should be expected to love.

The Viper TA is a beacon for heart-over-head passion in today’s dispassionate car business.

And, to say it plainly, the Viper TA is absolutely the most idiosyncratic of the now three-deep Viper range. The extra performance it offers can really only be found in race conditions, and it’s simply not as easy to live with as the already compromised, yet luxurious, Viper GTS. The Time Attack represents a micro-niche so small that I wonder if a target of 165 examples is slightly aggressive, despite my being personally head-over-heels in love with the thing. The likely $120,000-price tag deepens my concern for the business plan, while leaving my ardor for the model untouched.

In the end, I think my introduction to the car – interrupting a serious meeting by way of flaring orange paint and blasting V10 voice through side-pipe throat – was perfect. The Viper TA is a beacon for heart-over-head passion in today’s dispassionate car business. Flawed, original and completely charming, its capabilities as a civilian racer should not be in doubt, nor its claim to the title of the best sports car in the world dismissed. Cool car, Ralph.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/11/18/2014-srt-viper-ta-review-first-drive/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016&ts=1392652809

Choosing the right vehicle to tow your RV

There may be plenty of snow still on the ground but now is the perfect time to think “Summer Road Trip!” But before you go buy that new RV you have been dreaming of you need to make sure that you have the right vehicle to tow it with. Maybe you already know your towing capacity, or maybe your lease is almost up and it’s time to start shopping for a new vehicle. If you know you are looking for a specific type of RV this article will help you match your vehicle with the right RV or the right RV with your vehicle!

 

Usually the first question from a good RV Salesperson will be “what vehicle will you be towing with?” But what if you decide to buy used? If you are a seasoned RV pro you probably will already know many of these tips. But if you are just starting out below are some very helpful tips to make sure you have a perfect pair for you RV enjoyment!

 

CLICK ON THE BRAND NAME to Check out the TOWING CAPACITY
on a CHRYSLER, DODGE, JEEP or RAM Vehicle!

 

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Selecting the right tow vehicle to tow your RV, especially one that is that is agreeable as a daily driver, can be a very difficult decision. And even if you begged, most dealers would not allow you to actually hook up your RV and test the combination out. Much of what you have to go by has to depend on the vehicle’s specifications, its towing capacity, and your driving impressions. Whether you have your heart set on a particular vehicle or not, there are still many choices to be made about the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, comfort and luxury features, and whether you want two or four-wheel drive.

 

Here are some important steps you should take when considering buying a vehicle to tow your RV:

 

1) Trailer weight: Know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and the actual weight of your RV. You can find the GCWR of the RV on the weight placard. Never use the “dry” weight rating typically found in a brochure, as this is the weight of the RV with no options or any of your stuff loaded in to it. To find the weight of your RV, visit a public scale and have it weighed. See the Related Article section below for instructions on how to do this.

 

2) Vehicle loading: Consider the weight to be carried in your vehicle. Every vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is the maximum permissible weight of everything on board your vehicle, including the vehicle itself plus passengers, cargo, and fuel. Estimate the weight of all your camping gear, passengers, and luggage that is going to be in the vehicle, then add up the weights. You must also include the tongue or pin weight of your RV. This can add substantially to the vehicle’s total weight and put many vehicles over the permissible GVWR. If you’ll be carrying close to the maximum GVWR while towing near the maximum towing weight, you should forget about that particular vehicle and go to something with more load and towing capacity.

 

3) Vehicle type: For comfortable, no-nonsense hauling, heavy duty trucks with towing packages and big diesel engines cannot be beat for towing the big 5th wheel. But for towing a smaller travel trailer or a pop-up camping trailer on the weekends, you don’t necessarily need a truck. You might be able to get by with a passenger vehicle, like an SUV or large sedan. Check the vehicle’s manual for tow ratings. Be aware though, that seemingly similar vehicles (in power, size, and weight) can have quite different towing capacities, and some vehicles don’t allow towing at all.

 

4) Frame type: There are two type of frames in today’s vehicles: full-frame and unit-body. Full-frame vehicles and traditional trucks are the better choice for hauling very heavy loads because the tow hitch can be attached directly to the frame with trucks and full-frame SUVs, minimizing the strain placed on the body of the vehicle. With a unit-body vehicle, there is not a traditional rail frame. The body and the chassis share the load together. The tow hitch is attached to the body or bumper in a unit-body vehicle. If you tow heavy loads regularly in a unit-body vehicle, you’re likely to find more creaks, rattles, and body integrity issues. If you just tow occasionally on weekends, it’s nothing to worry about.

 

5) Drive train: The undisputed choice for serious towing is rear-wheel drive. It offers better traction and stability compared to front-wheel drive. Truck-style four-wheel drive is not advised, as it should never be used while towing, unless you are in an emergency situation. All-wheel-drive systems are a mixed bag: some aid in towing, while others have a reduced towing capacity and are vulnerable to added wear or damage from towing. If you’re thinking about the all-wheel-drive model, check that the towing capacity for the all-wheel-drive model is similar to the two-wheel-drive version. Some of the more sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems will change the proportion of torque going to the front and rear to compensate for any change in stability due to the RV. These systems are typically available on the car-like SUVs that are otherwise front-wheel drive.

 

6) Transmission: An automatic transmission is usually the best choice for towing. A manual is OK only for experienced, careful shifters. With an automatic, just remember a few precautions: make sure your vehicle has a transmission cooler, and remember to always disable overdrive to prevent excessive wear.

 

7) Engine type: Think torque rather than horsepower for towing. If the terrain permits, see how confident the vehicle can accelerate from a stop up a steep hill. Torque is what gets the load moving so in general, the more you have the better. Modern turbo-diesels really excel in towing, and they’re a great choice when available due to their better mileage and long-term durability. They also maintain their power at higher altitudes where gas engines tend to lose power, as much as 3% power per 1000 feet of altitude. This assumes the gas engine is not turbo or supercharged. Be aware that if you choose a smaller engine for economy, it might be so strained that it actually uses more fuel than the larger engine, not to mention all the extra engine wear.

 

8) Brakes: Most modern vehicles have assisted braking, known as ABS. Ensure that the vehicle you choose has ABS. It can really help in a panic situation, especially towing a large RV. Some vehicles have an electronic trailer brake option which is incorporated into the vehicles braking system. This feature controls the brakes on the RV in relation to how much you are braking the vehicle. If the vehicle you are looking at has this option, get it!

 

9) Towing packages: Make sure you get a vehicle with the special towing package if it’s available. If it’s not, look at another vehicle. The towing package should include an oil cooler, transmission fluid cooler, heavy-duty alternator and battery, higher-capacity rear springs, and possibly a stabilizer bar (or larger one than standard). Trucks might also get a lower final drive ratio (a higher number means lower gearing which is desirable for towing), and heavy-duty differential. Don’t get a stripped-down version of the vehicle you want thinking to add all of these things as needed. It will be cost-prohibitive and likely void your warranty.

 

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Tips & Warnings

 

Along with the vehicles GVWR is another important specification: the GCWR, or Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the maximum combined weight the tow vehicle and the RV can weigh legally. Exceeding this can not only damage the tow vehicle, but may have insurance implications in the event of an accident.

 

When selecting your tow vehicle, make absolutely certain that you consider the tongue or pin weight of your RV when determining the payload you need. For example, if you have a vehicle that can carry 1500 lbs., 750 lbs. may be tongue weight from the RV, leaving 750 lbs. for cargo, including people, fuel, bikes, coolers, chairs, wood, generator, etc. This might not be enough reserve payload capacity for your needs.

 

CLICK ON THE BRAND NAME to Check out the TOWING CAPACITY on a CHRYSLER, DODGE, JEEP or RAM Vehicle!

 

As read on: http://www.ehow.com/how_2094697_choose-right-vehicle-towing-rv.html#ixzz1yobcFwCi

Talking on a cellphone while driving is risky. But simpler distractions can also cause harm.

Perhaps you’ve heard the claim that talking on the phone while driving is as risky as driving drunk. Indeed, a driving simulator study found “profound” impairments in both cellphone chatters and in people with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.

But here’s the surprising thing: It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether drivers are using hand-held phones or hands-free systems. What matters is simply that they are talking with someone outside the car.

Everyone understands the risk of taking your eyes off the road or your hands off the steering wheel, says David Teater, senior director of transportation strategic initiatives for the National Safety Council. But most people don’t appreciate the demands of driving on the parts of your brain involved in attention, planning and language, Teater says. Talking on the phone uses some of the same brain space that driving does. So if you’re trying to do both, at least one of them is going to suffer.

It’s a problem of dual tasks, says David Strayer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Utah. Some dual tasks are no problem, such as walking and chewing gum at the same time. Others are trickier, such as patting your head and rubbing your belly.

A recent study demonstrates that driving while conversing falls squarely in that tricky category. Researchers measured reaction times in young adult drivers exposed to a variety of traffic situations in a driving simulator. Talking on a hand-held cellphone slowed drivers’ reactions to seeing a pedestrian enter a crosswalk by 40 percent compared with no conversation. The effect was identical for drivers who talked on a hands-free phone.

How do other distractions compare? Here’s the research on some common car activities (besides driving):

Is talking on the phone more distracting than listening to an audiobook?

A small 2008 study showed that when people listened to an audiobook (in this case, “Dracula”), their performance was the same as when they drove without distraction. But when they carried on a phone conversation with one of the researchers (about hobbies and weekend activities), their performance worsened.

How distracting is radio?

Strayer partnered with the American Automobile Association to try to measure the relative strength of various cognitive distractions on driving. Study subjects were tested in a driving simulator or a real car while listening to the radio or a book on tape. On a scale of 1 (no distraction) to 5, radio measured 1.2 and the audiobook measured 1.75. The distraction that rated a 5 was to have drivers try to solve math problems and remember a series of words.

Is talking on the phone more distracting than talking to a passenger?

The cognitive workload for the driver is the same, according to Strayer. In his test, conversing with a passenger rated a 2.3 on the 1-to-5 scale; talking on a hand-held phone, a 2.4; and a hands-free phone, a 2.3. However, having another person in the car generally results in safer driving, because there’s often an extra set of eyes on the road. Also, passengers tend to stop talking when the demands of driving increase, Strayer says. “So passenger and cell conversations have different crash risks because the passenger helps out.”

Note: Teen passengers don’t have the same helpful effect with teen drivers.

Are there apps for that?

There are apps that when enabled — or when you’re traveling over, say, 10 mph — automatically answer calls (and texts) and apps that will read your text messages or e-mails aloud to you. One recent study found that listening to (but not answering) a ringing phone while driving was a distraction.

Despite the data, there’s no indication that people are giving up their phone conversations. There are probably plenty of reasons for that, but it’s hard to tackle a lack of self-awareness — or worse, hubris. “People notice others driving erratically and talking on their phones, but they don’t notice themselves making similar driver errors,” Strayer says.

In the past, people would brag about being good drivers even when drunk, Teater says. The same thing is happening now with cellphones. Teater’s work was spurred by the death of his 12-year-old son in a cellphone-related car accident. “You never think it will happen to you — until it does,” he says.

As read on: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/talking-on-a-cellphone-while-driving-is-risky-but-simpler-distractions-can-also-cause-harm/2014/02/07/49675ce8-8cf2-11e3-95dd-36ff657a4dae_story.html?sf22719260=1

Nissan shows diesel-Frontier truck

Chicago — Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday showed off a concept diesel-powered version of its Frontier mid-size pickup at the Chicago Auto Show and said it will wait for feedback from customers before deciding whether to build it.

“It’s a technical study. We’re going to use social media — Facebook, Twitter, so forth and the blogosphere to find out what people are saying about this truck, ‘Do they like it? Do they want it? Should we build it?” and we’re going to let them decide for us, basically,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Nissan’s U.S. unit.

Last month, Diaz said the company was considering building a hybrid version of the next generation Frontier.

The demonstration Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner gets an estimated fuel economy increase of 35 percent over the current Frontier V6.

In August, Nissan announced it would sell a 5.0-liter turbo diesel V8 in the next-generation Titan full-size pickup, which will arrive in 2015.

“Frontier continues to be a huge success story for us, with more than 60,000 units sold in 2013,” Diaz said. “Nissan has always valued the mid-size pickup segment, and with this technical study project, we are looking to explore what is possible for the next-generation Frontier.”

This week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said its new 2014 Ram 1500 diesel pickup will earn a 28 miles-per-gallon highway rating, the best of any full-size half-ton pickup.

The 2013 Ram with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine earned a 25 mpg highway rating.

The smaller pickup segment has been shrinking, although General Motors Co. announced last month it was re-entering the segment — a market that Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have both exited. GM also said it plans to sell a diesel version of its small Canyon and Colorado in the 2016 model year. The GM midsize trucks will go on sale this fall.

Sales in the segment fell 15 percent last year and are down by 75 percent over the last 15 years. Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. also both sell mid-size trucks.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140206/AUTO0104/302060118#ixzz2t7R55iUr