Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

The diesel-powered Dodge Ram 1500

I bought a new test truck, and there was much rejoicing. Celebration for the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the first half-ton diesel truck in more than 25 years, goes far beyond the yard work needs of the Consumer Reports auto test staff.

Evidence of this came from very strong initial orders from dealers, with customers practically lining up to buy. We saw this firsthand as we tried to buy our diesel Ram. Getting our hands on a truck took several weeks, and it was a challenge to find one that wasn’t super-loaded with options.

Even taking that into account, our Ram wasn’t cheap. Not even close. We opted for a midevel Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 with the shorter of the two bed length choices. Adding the diesel ramps upped the price by a cool $4,000.

After that, our truck is packed with many nice options—$6,000 of them. A $410 integrated trailer brake controller and towing mirrors seem to be a natural match for the diesel’s talents. We’re also big fans of the $505 Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen infotainment system. Once you have experienced heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, it’s hard living without them here in New England. There goes another $395. We regretted not getting a $595 backup camera with park assist on our last Ram, so this one has it.

Added all up, our truck was sticker priced at $49,155. That seems like a lot for a truck with cloth seats. Most trucks seem to be priced to reflect the inevitable thousands of dollars in incentives as manufacturers fight for dominance in truck sales wars. Even though we still got some money off, buying the first one on the block that wasn’t presold didn’t help bargaining.

We’ve called the Ram 1500 “the luxury truck” among its peers, and the diesel makes it even more civilized. Compared to the Hemi’s roar and burble, the diesel goes about its business unobtrusively. The torquey powerplant sounds quieter here than in our tested 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Power flows out smoothly, thanks to the eight-speed automatic transmission, but the 240-horsepower EcoDiesel lacks the acceleration of the Hemi. It will be curious to see how the diesel does when towing; we were impressed by how the Jeep pulls a load.

The biggest question: how good is the fuel economy? According to the trip computer, I got 25 mpg overall on my commute. I’ve never broken 20 mpg on the same route with a Hemi-powered truck or SUV. Instrumented testing will come after the truck gets break-in miles; it had less than 100 miles on it when I drove it. It also had a bed full of brush—like I said, all of us at the track have a lot of yard work to do—but it’s unlikely those picked up sticks mattered here.

I also found some surprises. Despite all of those options, including various “comfort” and “luxury” packages, our truck lacks automatic climate control. Also, since it’s quite a stretch to jump up into the bed to unload yard debris, I was surprised there’s no step or ladder. Our truck was certainly shiny at delivery, but the dealer didn’t fill up either the diesel tank or the diesel emissions fluid tank. (We do like the analog gauge that shows the fluid level.)

Maybe the biggest surprise: Our truck’s 1,233 pound payload rating is pretty modest. With its 3.55 rear axle ratio, the truck can tow 7,750 pounds. Say you tow a 6,500-pound camper; it will probably have 650 pounds of tongue weight, leaving you with less than 600 pounds of capacity for your kids and stuff in the truck.

Still, this is a rather impressive and quite refined machine. Of course, many of the Ram 1500’s attributes remain intact here, such as best-in-class ride from the rear coil spring suspension, comfortable front seats, and a roomy cab. In the weeks ahead, we’ll see if this diesel-burning Ram can outscore the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra at the top of our truck ratings.

Read more at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/05/dodge-ram-1500-ecodiesel-first-drive-review/index.htm

Advertisements

Toledo’s tribute to vets, Jeeps

On Memorial Day, Jeep’s Toledo Assembly Complex (TAC) unveiled its own tribute to veterans. Vice President of Assembly Operations Zach Leroux, Toledo Plant Manager Chuck Padden, UAW Local 12 Chairman Mark Epley, employees, and five veterans with ties to the plants, including three retirees who served in World War II, dedicated a permanent veteran’s memorial in the shadow of the giant Jeep® sign at the intersection of I-75 and I-280.

toledo-jeep

Incorporating a restored 1942 Willys Military Jeep, the memorial recognizes  the service of those in uniform and the city’s nearly 75-year history of building Jeep vehicles. Mr. Padden said, “Like all Americans, we owe our freedom to the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the military, but at Jeep, we owe our very existence to our WWII veterans. When they returned home from the war, they purchased civilian versions of the Jeep vehicles they learned to depend upon in the war.  These heroes became our first Jeep enthusiasts.  Without them, we would not be here today. … Some of the people who currently work in this plant and some who helped refurbish this 1942 Jeep are descendants of those who possibly built this very vehicle.”

Plant management and the local UAW leadership agreed that the best way to honor veterans and the plant’s Jeep history was to find a military Jeep to restore and put on permanent display. With the help of former Toledo plant manager Jerry Huber and a Craig’s List ad, the 1942 Willys was found in Wimberley, Texas. When the owner heard that the Jeep plant in Toledo wanted the vehicle to put on display, he immediately pulled the ad, sold it to the plant for $950, and volunteered to transport the non-running vehicle to Toledo in exchange for a tour.

The Willys returned home on May 9, and restoration work began on May 12. A team of about 15 Toledo employees worked for a week and a half, replacing parts, refurbishing body panels, and painting. Because all of the vehicle identification plates and hood graphics had been removed, its exact history can’t be determined, but it was probably built in mid-1942.

The memorial also includes silhouettes of soldiers, created by volunteers from the plant. An assembly employee drew up the soldier outlines and body shop employees cut out the figures, ground the edges, and finished them.

Mr. Epley said, “With nearly 10 percent of our workforce with military experience, plus all of our team members with family members having served or still serving, this memorial is very personal for all of us.”

The number of Toledo employees with a military background has grown by 25% with the launch of the Jeep Cherokee and the recent hiring.

Toledo veterans

Twins Lewis and Leroy Woggon, 87, were hired by the Jeep plant in 1943. Three months later, they were drafted into the Army, and eventually served as combat engineers for three years, returning to work at the Jeep plant after they were discharged. Leroy retired in 1989 after 45 years with Jeep, but brother Lewis stayed on five more years, retiring in 1994. Leroy’s son Gary has been working at Jeep since 1983; Lewis’s son and grandson both retired from the Jeep plant.

John Smith served in the Army Infantry from 1945-1946. He was hired by Jeep in 1947 and spent the next 40 years building Jeep vehicles before retiring in 1985.
toledo

Ron Szymanski retired from the Jeep plant in 1998 following 35 years working in body, paint, and assembly, and acting as the Jeep museum curator. Szymanski served in the Army National Guard from 1950-1955, then went to Officer Candidate School, and was honorably discharged in 1960 as a first Lieutenant Army Reserve Officer.

Lupe Flores, the 90-year-old cousin of Jeep retiree Hector Flores who serves on the Jeep Veterans Committee, served with the Army 101st Airborne from 1943-1946. He was involved in the D-Day Invasion in Normandy, and took part in two combat jumps during his time with the Army.

Jeep in Toledo

In 1940, officers in the United States Army, realizing the need for a new type of fast, lightweight, all-terrain reconnaissance vehicle, put out bids for a design. They selected Toledo-based Willys-Overland’s design (based heavily on American Bantam’s original prototypes), and production began in late 1941; 363,000 were built in Toledo through the end of the war in 1945. Officially known as the Willys MA (followed by a revision called the MB), the name “Jeep” is a source of some debate; the term was apparently Army slang as far back as World War I.

The Jeep was an all-purpose vehicle and served in every theater of the war. It was used as a staff car, pickup truck, ambulance, reconnaissance vehicle, machine gun mount, ammunition bearer and a troop carrier.

After the war, Willys-Overland introduced a version for the general public, adding refined features such as windshield wipers, a tailgate and an outside gas cap. It was called the CJ-2A, with the “CJ” standing for “Civilian Jeep.”  Other Jeep models followed, such as the Wagoneer, a pioneering sport-utility vehicle introduced in 1963. They were also built in Toledo. Jeep’s ownership changed hands several times, with  Chrysler acquiring the brand as part of AMC in 1987.

The Toledo Assembly Complex builds the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, and the Jeep Cherokee, with nearly 4,200 employees.

Read more at:http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/05/toledos-tribute-to-vets-jeeps

Chrysler Commercial Vehicle Heritage | Dodge Brothers Inc. Joins the Chrysler Group Family

May 28 marks an important milestone in our history here at Chrysler Commercial Vehicles.  It was on this day in 1928 that Dodge Brothers Inc. — a pioneer in utility and work vehicles — became a part of the Chrysler family.

The official history of the Dodge automobile begins in 1914, but the story of the Dodge brothers in the automobile business reaches back even further. Brothers John and Horace Dodge, talented machinists and ambitious businessmen, rose from humble beginnings to become giants in the early American automobile industry.

In 1901, after several years of building bicycles and piecework components for the budding auto industry, the brothers founded a machine shop in Detroit and began producing transmissions.

In 1914, the brothers formed a new company, Dodge Brothers, Inc., capitalized with $5 million in common stock, and began building their own vehicles — the world’s first mass-produced all-steel touring cars. In 1915, more than 45,000 Dodge cars were built and sold, the best first-year sales record for a new car in the industry at the time.

With their early passenger cars earning recognition for durability and value, the Dodge brothers soon began considering ways to convert their successful car platform to truck applications. During 1917, their firm began producing “commercial cars,” including military ambulances and screen-sided business trucks. Panel delivery trucks, fire trucks, pickups, chassis-cabs and other models were soon offered.

1924 Dodge Brothers Screenside truck

During 1920, the company lost its founding fathers. John Dodge died in January, and his younger brother Horace succumbed the following December.

A New York investment banking firm paid the brothers’ widows, in a single cash payment, $146 million for the Dodge Brothers firm. Within three years, the bankers initiated negotiations, and on May 28, 1928, Walter P. Chrysler purchased Dodge Brothers, Inc. for $170 million, making it, at the time, the largest business transaction in history.

When the transaction was complete, the Chrysler Corporation had grown fivefold overnight to become the third of Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers.

Read more at: http://blog.chryslercommercialvehicles.com/2014/05/22/dodge-brothers-inc/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=THMay2814Facebook6&ism=THMay2814Facebook6

Secondary Drowning: What Every Parent Needs to Know

With warmer weather here and swimming a favorite past time of most kids, here is an article every parent should read and be aware of when taking children around water…

The weekend of May 17, writer Lindsay Kujawa and her toddler son Ronin were at a family pool party. Kujawa sat at the edge of the pool while Ronin played on the top step of the spa, and for five seconds she shifted her position to say something to a relative. Suddenly, she noticed Ronin wasn’t on the step and was instead being whirled around by the jets in the whirlpool, frantically trying to get his head above water. She pulled him out immediately and other than him coughing and being very upset, he seemed totally fine after a few minutes and they went on with the rest of the party.

When they got home later on that day, Kujawa noticed that Ronin was acting a little odd—he seemed extremely tired and had a weird cough. To be on the safe side, she put a call into his pediatrician, and was surprised to get an immediate call back. The usually calm pediatrician was emphatic that they go to the ER immediately, because she thought Ronin may have been experiencing secondary drowning.

At this point, Ronin was almost unresponsive.

Many parents have never heard of secondary drowning, but it can happen in a pool, in the ocean, and even in a bathtub. “It occurs when a small amount of inhaled fluid acts as an irritant, causing inflammation and leakage of liquid into the lung,” says Michael Roizen, MD, chief welness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of YouBeauty. “In some cases, the body may respond by pushing even more liquid into the lungs (this is called pulmonary edema) over the following hours, reducing the ability to breathe and leading a person to drown in their own body fluids.” The reaction can take place up to 72 hours after a near drowning incident.

Luckily for Kujawa and Ronin, the ER doctor saw them right away and quickly ordered a round of blood tests and x-rays. His chest x-rays were not good: The doctor said his lungs were aspirated, which could be very serious, and he immediately ordered an ambulance to transport them to Children’s Hospital in San Diego to see a pediatric specialist.

Ronin turned out to be OK—the water in his lungs began to clear out after treatment and close monitoring. One doctor told Kujawa that this freak accident happens more often than you’d think—there were two other cases on the same floor with secondary drowning symptoms that very day! She also said it was right to bring Ronin in and that many times it goes terribly wrong for children in similar situations (as in, their parents put their kids down to sleep and they never wake up again.)

We’d never heard of secondary drowning until reading Lindsay’s story—and we just had to pass it on to our readers. It turns out that the World Health Organization has tried to limit use of the term “secondary drowning” since it issued a 2005 report aimed at improving reporting and prevention around the world. The paper called for secondary drowing (along with five other types) to all be considered the same thing—drowning—whether or not the incidents are fatal or the effects immediate.

Regardless if what you call it, as we can learn from Ronin, it’s still very much a threat to small children. “If your child breathes in water or comes out of the pool coughing or sputtering, monitor them closely, keeping an eye out for difficulties in breathing, extreme tiredness or behavioral changes, says Roizen. “All of these are signs that your little swimmer may have inhaled too much fluid.”

Secondary drowing is something every parent needs to know about, so please read this if you’re a parent or share it if you’re a friend of a parent!

Read more at: http://www.youbeauty.com/health/secondary-drowning

2014 Nissan Altima named “Most Affordable Midsize Sedan” by Cars.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Nissan celebrates record-breaking Altima sales in April, potential buyers have another great reason to consider Nissan’s top-selling vehicle. Citing its “great” gas mileage and “very good” crash test results, Cars.com has named the 2014 Nissan Altima the “Most Affordable Midsize Sedan.”

To be considered for the Cars.com’s most affordable midsize sedan challenge, contending vehicles were required to have an automatic transmission, cruise control, a USB connection, Bluetooth®, power windows, power driver’s seat and a backup camera. These features, coupled with a favorable five-year estimated fuel cost, resulted in the 2014 Altima’s top ranking in the popular online shopping website’s annual survey of midsize sedans.

“The 2014 Nissan Altima is equipped with an abundance of features that meet the growing expectations of our consumers, while still remaining a cost-effective vehicle to own,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Nissan Sales & Marketing and Operations. “Year-over-year sales growth and an expanding list of accolades like this recognition from Cars.com demonstrate why Altima continues to be a leader in the midsize segment.”

The 2014 Nissan Altima, a Nissan core model and one of the top selling cars in the U.S., offers a premium exterior and interior and driver-focused technology. Its many attributes include outstanding fuel economy of 38 mpg highway (2.5-liter engine only) and an excellent balance of ride comfort and stability with a fun-to-drive demeanor. Altima is offered in seven well-equipped models to meet a range of needs and budgets – and with a choice of a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine or a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Both engines are matched with a smooth, efficient Xtronic transmission.

Read more at: http://nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/2014-nissan-altima-named-most-affordable-midsize-sedan-by-cars-com?linkId=8338336

Is Your Car Road Ready?

If your vacation plans include a road trip, the last thing you want is to have unexpected car trouble to leave you stranded at the side of the road, ruining all the fun. A pre-trip vehicle check is the best way to be car care aware and ensure that your car is ready to get you to your destination, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council recommends the following pre-trip checklist before hitting the road this summer:

–         Check the brake system and make sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.

–         Check filters and fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. Dirty air filters can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power.

–         Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

–         Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Underinflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

–         Check that the gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2014/05/is-your-car-road-ready-for-summer/

The NEW 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Officially Unveiled

Dodge has officially unveiled the most powerful vehicle to ever wear the Challenger name – the SRT Hellcat – complete with over 600 horsepower courtesy of a supercharged, 6.2-liter Hemi V8. It will be offered alongside the 485-hp Challenger SRT.

The new, force-induced V8 isn’t just the most powerful ever fitted to the Challenger, it’s the most powerful eight-cylinder Chrysler Group has ever built. Power figures aren’t finalized, so expect to see “over 600 hp” bandied about quite a lot. That fury will be channeled through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Yes, over 600 ponies through an eight-speed auto. So far, the only vehicle we know of that delivers more output through that many gears is the as-yet untested Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Sadly, we don’t have performance metrics just yet, although if this thing can’t crack four seconds to 60 miles per hour, we’ll be pretty surprised.

As is the theme nowadays, the 2015 Challenger SRT features a number of driving modes, governing power output, shift speeds for the 8AT, steering effort, traction control settings and suspension settings. There are three pre-programmed options – Default, Sport and Track – and a Custom mode that allows drivers to mix and match to their heart’s content.

Like the Ford Mustang Boss 302, the SRT Hellcat will arrive with two keys, one red and one black. The red key is the one we want, as it unlocks the car’s full potential, while the black key is more or less a valet key, limiting output of that supercharged beast under the hood.

Both the SRT Hellcat and the lesser SRT model will ride on unique 20-inch alloys. An eight-spoke design, wrapped in either Goodyear Eagle RSA2 all-seasons or Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, will be offered on the naturally aspirated model. The Hellcat and Track Pack-equipped SRT will get wider 20s and Y-plus-rated Pirelli PZero Nero tires. Corralling the SRT Hellcat’s 600 ponies will be the task of a set of 15.4-inch, two-piece Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers.

Finally, the SRT Hellcat’s extra oomph certainly demands some aesthetic tweaks. On the exterior, a Viper-like hood scoop dominates the head-on appearance of the 600-hp Challenger. That functional scoop is flanked by an equally functional set of air extractors, while the new vertical-split grille is a styling item borrowed from the 1971 Challenger. And in case all this visual aggression isn’t enough, Dodge has added a very, very conspicuous “SUPERCHARGED” badge to the Challenger Hellcat’s fenders.

Production of the most powerful Challenger will kick off during the third quarter of 2014 at Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario factory. Expect pricing information to be released closer to launch. Take a look below for a video and the full press release on both the Challenger SRT and SRT Hellcat, and then hop up top for a gallery of images of the new tire-shredder.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2014/05/20/2015-dodge-challenger-srt-hellcat-official/

Be Safe, Ride Smart: May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Spring is in full swing and around the country, motorcyclists are returning to the road after a long winter. But with a sudden spike in the number of motorcycles on the road, it’s a good time to remind all motorists, whether on two wheels or four, to keep a special lookout for motorcyclists.

That’s why May is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time for drivers to be reminded to share the road with motorcycles, and riders to be reminded to make themselves more visible to others.

Most motorcyclists are fully aware of the risks they undertake when riding, but a look at the statistics will still open a lot of eyes and stress how serious an issue motorcycle safety is.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycles account for just 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2011, yet motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities. Looking at accident rates per vehicle mile travelled, NHTSA estimates motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than car passengers to die in a crash and five times more likely to be injured.

A separate report by the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates a total of 5,027 motorcycle fatalities from traffic accidents in 2012, a 9% increase from the year before. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if motorists were more mindful of safety.

Be motorcycle aware!

Read more at: http://www.motorcycle.com/rider-safety/may-is-motorcycle-safety-awareness-month-91599.html

Dodge and SRT belong together!

Among the moves unveiled during the recent Investor Day program for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, shifting the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group into the Dodge brand perked up the ears of driving enthusiasts.

The change means the Viper high-performance sports car returns to the brand where it was born in 1993. Also, throughout SRT’s history the majority of its products have come from the Dodge stable.

With Dodge now positioned as the Chrysler Group’s performance brand, bringing SRT into the fold is a natural move, says Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group CEO.

“Dodge is a performance brand, it needs to have SRT attached to it,” Marchionne said on May 13 while attending a transmission plant opening event in Indiana.

He added: “So in the next five years you will see the portfolio purified and strengthened by removing the minivan, the Avenger, the replacement of the Journey with something else that matches the DNA of Dodge. But that needs the completion at the top end with SRT. And SRT will complete Dodge. It will make it the specialist performance piece of the performance brand.”

SRT will maintain its current momentum under the leadership of Dodge Brand President and CEO Tim Kuniskis. The passionate and popular Ralph Gilles, who served as SRT brand chief, continues in his roles as Chrysler Group design chief and head of motorsports.

“He’s still going to be leading the design of the cars,” Marchionne said. “That’s a huge strength in that field.”

As read on: http://blog.chryslerllc.com/blog.do?id=2264&p=entry

Asked about the Viper, Marchionne said: “It’s going to be the top end of the extended Dodge family. It will be a Viper but managed by Dodge. The fangs will always be unique.”

Safe Riding Tips for Motorcycle Safety Month

Though we Indian Motorcycle riders like to stand out from the crowd, we do so with the utmost respect for others and for ourselves. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Indian Motorcycle reminds you to ride safe with the following tips.

Never operate a vehicle if you have been using alcohol or are otherwise impaired.

Wear proper safety gear. Indian Motorcycle recommends DOT approved helmet, closed-toe shoes, eye protection, long pants, jacket, and riding gloves.

Ride within your limits. Safely operate the vehicle with respect for the conditions and within your abilities.

Keep your machine well-maintained.

Follow all traffic laws and posted signs and markers.

Anticipate the unexpected.

Promote a safe riding culture with your friends, family and community.

As read on: http://www.indianmotorcycle.com/en-us/stories/ride-safe?wt.mc_id=C8974218-8EDB-E311-BA99-0050569A00BC&wt.mc_ev=email&WT.mc_id=