Tesla Model 3

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Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 is now for sale and on the road! (In California and a few other states as of this writing.)

The first iterations were “delivered” to a captive audience at the world headquarters in Mountain View, California, at the end of July 2017.

Not only is the car finally in production but we finally have finalized specs for the Baby T: Starting with size, the Model 3 is 184.8 inches in overall length compared with 196 inches for the Model S, and a 113.2-inch wheelbase compared with 116.5 inches for the Model S.

 

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Photo: Motor Trend

 

Power in the Baby T is down as well but definitely no slouch. Tesla says the Model 3 will get to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 or 5.6 seconds (depending on battery size). Speaking of which, battery size is now in range, rather than kilowatt hours, of either 220 or 320 miles (standard and long range, respectively).

Speaking of changes…totally free, unlimited Supercharging is out of the question for all Teslas that were purchased after January 1, 2017 (unless you purchased the vehicle using another owner’s referral, or paid a large, one-time fee). What those owners do get is annual “credits” that equate to around 1000 miles of free supercharging. For the new Model 3 owner, though, it seems as though those credits are not in play as, according to the Tesla website, Model 3 Supercharging is “pay per use”.

So the Model 3 definitely looks like a Tesla but it has a different look with almost a smile on its face but it’s definitely not a hatchback, which is a bummer since the trunk opening isn’t as big as the hatch on the Model S.

 

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Photo: Motor Trend

 

Another notable difference between the Model S and Model 3 is the center touchscreen in the Model 3. It’s the instrument panel/HVAC/radio/everything screen that will take some people a while to get used to.

 

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Photo: CNET

 

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Photo: The Verge

 

Here’s all the specs currently from the Tesla website:

 

Safety

  • Automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance
  • Eight airbags
  • Electronic stability and traction control

Convenience

  • 15″ touchscreen with onboard maps & navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control with app
  • Voice activated controls
  • 60/40 split folding rear seats

Standard Interior

  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Center console with open storage and two USB ports

Premium Upgrades

  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones

Warranty

  • 4 year, 50,000 mile limited vehicle warranty
  • 8 year, 100,000 mile battery warranty (Standard)
  • 8 year, 120,000 mile battery warranty (Long Range)

Here is one of the more comprehensive looks at the Model 3

Me? I’m still waiting for the Tesla Minibus!

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Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

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2017 RAM Rebel

If you’ve been waiting for the day to get a new Ram 1500 Rebel in Delmonico Red then your wait is over. Unveiled at the Houston Auto Show, the Rebel in Delmonico Red is now a fashion leader with its fancy new paint job to go with all its other features at no extra cost.

Now the seventh color option for the Off Road capable Rebel, Delmonico Red joins other colors such as Bright White, Granite Crystal Metallic, and Mojave Sand.

For those who do not know, the Rebel is a Ram model that shares off road aspirations of other factory models like the Ford F-150 Raptor. It comes only in the short wheelbase crew cab configuration. What makes a Rebel is a factory lift with Bilstein shocks, skid plates, tow hooks, and 33-inch all-terrain tires.

Power for the Rebel comes in three forms: a 4×4 with the venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 along with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission with 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque; a 4×2 with the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 that features variable valve timing, fuel-saver technology that makes 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to the TorqueFlite; or a 4×4 with the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that features cylinder shut-off and VVT and produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Ram Rebel starts at a reasonable $45,095, with a destination charge of $1,395. Expect to see these bad boys at a dealer near you in May 2017.

Another announcement at the Houston Auto Show was the availability of a slick tailgate option on Limited trim package equipped Ram Truck models; monochromatic lettering for an alternative appearance. Coupled with the also announced cab-length body-colored running boards and you’ve got one sharp truck.

There’s definitely a lot going on at Ram these days!

Thanks for reading!

 

…See You Down The Road!

2016 Volkswagen Jetta

 

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Sometimes you just got to take the high road and make the decision to rent a car for that long weekend road trip to keep the miles of your reliable, but aging, cars. We’ve had to do this a few times…I say “had to” but it’s a decision, not a necessity.

The scary part is not knowing exactly what you’re gonna get (insert famous movie line). This is a big reason to always be nice to the people you deal with and the businesses you patronize. For our most recent trip, the counter girl offered a Nissan Versa. Nothing wrong with that except I have a real issue with CVTs (continuously variable transmission). So I kindly begged for something other than the small Nissan and she graciously offered a Volkswagen Jetta.

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We drove a previous generation Jetta quite a few years ago and remember loving the way it drove and how comfortable it was.

This generation is even better.

The Jetta I drove was comfortable, with good power and better handling than previous gens, let alone a lot of cars out there in the Jetta’s class. It was rock-solid on the highway and took corners well.

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Engine-wise, our car had the new 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four cylinder that replaces the 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I4 from the 2015 model. For a base engine it was peppy and our mileage numbers were phenomenal! Peak horsepower and torque for the 1.4T is 150 and 184 respectively and we got a high of 40 miles per gallon on one leg of our journey and mid to high 30s the rest of the time. The six-speed automatic was spot on and we never felt like it was hunting for gears like some other high gear count transmissions seem to do.

Since it was last redesigned for the 2015 model year, the 2016 Jetta we drove was still fresh and sleek, with angled and angry-looking headlights split by a large VW crest in the grill. Out back is the familiar multifaceted VW brake lights separated, again, by a large VW crest. With character lines running down the sides from front to back bookended by fully integrated front and rear bumpers, Jetta eschews class and elegance in the form of a solid family sedan.

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The interior is Euro-comfy with well-bolstered seats, a clean and usable center stack and a busy yet very readable instrument cluster. Those seats, though! Cloth seats with heating! It’s a small thing but more car makers should make this happen!

The center stack features some new awesomeness: a 6.3-inch touchscreen with VW’s Car-Net App-Connect that supports all three available connected car systems: Apple CarPlay®, Google Android Auto™ and MirrorLink® as well as supporting a rear-view camera. That camera got really wet and almost unusable during a heavy rain. Maybe some Rain-X would have helped.

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Android Auto was difficult to get going. Everything seemed ready to go but there was just no connection between the phone and the car. After a couple of Google searches, we changed the USB cable it worked very nicely. The integration is awesome and this solution makes so much sense as your phone technology advances much faster than can car technology. The big drawback we found with Android Auto, or Apple Car I assume as well, is that the USB port on our car did not have enough power to charge the phone we were using (Samsung Galaxy S6) while using Android Auto. We kept getting a low charge current error on the phone when connecting. The battery showed charging but the phone was losing charge slowly rather than adding charge. Not a good thing if you like the service but you’ve let your battery run down. The solution we found was to start with a fully charged phone. That seemed to negate the issue for some reason.

One other odd thing was the steering wheel shape. It was mostly like a triangle, with the point running around the wheel so that it faces the driver. It hit my carpal tunnel area, making it a little uncomfortable to hold for longer than a few minutes, let alone an eight-hour drive.

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One last thing to praise is the large trunk. There was ample room for the three bags we took on the trip, leaving plenty of space for all the goodies one collects when traveling.

Expect low- to mid-twenties for a decently optioned model. Or, just look for the VW lease sales events and pick one up on the cheap!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

…See You Down The Road!

 

Ugh…Update

So my last post had a blurb about other car companies who use the tagline “the first ever” and I said that I thought Infiniti used it in a recent ad. Well, as I was watching a ubiquitous car show on Velocity I saw probably the ad I was thinking of….

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Which can be watched here.

I guess I have to reiterate…Stop The Madness!!!

All new cars are the first ever!

We get it!!!

Thanks for listening….

…See You Down The Road!

Ugh…

Someone please stop the madness!

The first time I noticed it was when the Pontiac G6 came out. The ad tagline was “The First Ever Pontiac G6”, or something very similar. Then it seemed like more new GM vehicles used it in their ads, including the 2016 Cadillac XT5 crossover SUV. Now, other car companies like Infiniti have jumped on the bandwagon.

Please stop saying “First ever”!

I’m not sure why this has me so rankled but know that it has. Maybe it’s because it seems like PR/Advertising laziness or maybe it’s just kind of annoying, like the phrase “it is what it is”. Whatever the case, it needs to stop now! All new cars are the first ever! You don’t need to spell it out in your advertising!

This “Auto Critic” even said it!!! Someone take away his press cars…stat!

But seriously, the more you call a new car a first ever the more annoying, watered down and un-special that phrase becomes. It’s the automotive equivalent of YOLO and it needs to die a quick painless death form the automotive advertising lexicon.

Thanks for letting me rant.

… See You Down The Road!

Cadillac Escala Concept

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior_1Perusing through the news after a long weekend, trying to find the gumption to dive into beast-mode at work, I came across a story about a new concept from Cadillac that was shown out west for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s a sharp looking car with less of the sharp lines of previous Caddys and is definitely more streamlined.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-005What really caught my attention was the first thought that came to me as I was ogling…I mean viewing…the wonderful pics from the press launch.

…This thing screams Lincoln to me.

The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac des
The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.

There’s something about how the roofline meets the rear in the side view…or how the tail lights come together. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-002I first saw the Escala on TheVerge.com and the headline read “Cadillac’s fantastic Escala concept is more New York than Detroit”. I think the author maybe meant to say “more Lincoln than Cadillac” but you be the judge.

Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical
Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical ideas in development for future models.

Watch the unveiling here:

 

Here’s the official press release in all it’s glory:

  • Concept showcases future design and technical systems in development
  • Flagship Sedan is a concept for a more expressive, expansive companion to the recently launched CT6
  • Dual-Theme interior includes Curved OLED displays, next-gen connectivity designs, ingenious details

The Escala Concept debuts in California tonight, introducing the next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models. Following a series of private previews, Escala will be displayed this weekend at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Escala Concept previews the design and technical ideas driving the next phase of Cadillac’s ongoing expansion.

“Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Global Cadillac. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models. Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”

Cadillac has released a new slate of models bristling with expressive design and exhilarating performance, driver’s cars taking Cadillac into a new chapter of its storied 114-year history.

“Escala is a concept car, but one based upon the unrelenting rise of our product substance,” de Nysschen said. “Depending on the development of market segment for large luxury sedans, Escala is a potential addition to our existing product plan.”

Escala — Spanish for “scale”— is a concept for a larger, more elite and expressive companion to the recently launched 2016 Cadillac CT6, the brand’s remarkable new range-topping prestige sedan. Escala is also the third in a series of concepts Cadillac has debuted at Pebble Beach in recent years, following the Ciel convertible (2011) and Elmiraj coupe (2013).

Escala is designed to be both a driver’s car and an indulgent flagship sedan. The large 4-door sedan features an expansive liftback design emphasizing the car’s considerable scale and versatility. At 210.5 inches in overall length, Escala is roughly 6 inches longer than today’s CT6.

Escala features a new and evolved face of Cadillac design that will begin appearing on production models soon. This includes a new expression of Cadillac’s vertical lighting, a brand signature since 1948. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting elements are thinner and set deep within the fascia, creating a sinister look, day and night.

The concept’s details invite closer inspection, including a three-dimensional precision pattern in the grille design and 22-inch wheels with two layers of spokes.

“This concept shares how Cadillac will bring forward a new experience that is uniquely American, and unmistakably Cadillac,” says Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac Global Design. “Escala is an expressive symbol of reward and an exhilarating driving experience. On the interior, we pushed further. It’s about precision and ingenuity in craftsmanship, and the artistic integration of technology.”

Escala features a “dual personality” interior crafted with distinctly different zones: The front is about intensely focused modern technology, while the rear delivers relaxation.

“My brief to the designers was to create a car you desperately want to drive, and also one in which you want to be driven,” Smith said. “So rather than a single design, this interior consists of two themes. It was an opportunity for our designers to break the rules a little bit, exactly what Cadillac should do from time to time.”

An array of three curved OLED screens is a prominent feature in the front of the cabin. The very thin, curved displays are layered in front of the driver, with the back sides wrapped in hand-stitched leather embossed with the Cadillac script. The array of screens consolidate the traditional “cluster” of driving gauges with the “center stack” into one integrated unit.

Escala includes new designs for connectivity and control, providing a prototype for the user experience in development for future production models. The system features a central control module that enables the driver to execute tactile commands across the spectrum of connectivity functions, in addition to voice and gesture control technology. Inside the controller sits a new edition of Cadillac’s “flying Goddess” icon, a nod to the brand’s illustrious heritage.

Like all Cadillac models today, the interior is assembled using hand cut-and-sewn techniques. However, Escala presents several new and unique touches, blending overt luxury with covert technology. Escala makes broad use of hand-tailored fabric on the door trim and seating areas. Inspired by suiting material used by Cadillac’s partners in the fashion industry, the fabric provides a new level of hand-applied craftsmanship and color, unique in today’s auto interior landscape.

The Escala Concept utilizes Cadillac’s new RWD-centric large luxury car architecture, featuring one of the world’s most advanced body structures, which debuted on the new CT6. The mixed-material construction enables unprecedented agility and efficiency.

Escala uses a new 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, a prototype of a new system in development for future Cadillac models. The advanced engine utilizes Active Fuel Management technology, enabling fuel-saving 4-cylinder operation.

###

Cadillac Escala Concept Basic Specifications

Model Escala Concept
Body Style 4-door expressive flagship sedan, with lift-back rear opening
Height 57.3 in / 1455 mm
Width 76.7 in / 1948 mm
Length 210.5 in / 5347 mm
Wheelbase 127.1 in / 3228
Engine 4.2-liter Twin Turbo V8

…See You Down The Road!

Pearl RearVision

Sometimes you see a commercial and you don’t even need to hear the full pitch. You see the product and get the gist of what it does and you want it because you know it fills a niche in your life. And then, you see the price and you know you will not have one…at least not THAT one.

That happened to me recently when I saw an ad on YouTube that really caught my attention. (As much as I despise those ads, every once in a while they work.) It was for a license plate surround with dual integrated backup cameras. The cool thing about the product was its solar charging built into the surround and lack of wires…along with a plug that goes into your car’s OBD socket and the requisite app to help get the most out of the product.

The company was founded by three former Apple employees who worked on the iPod and iPhone and are, as their web site explains, dedicated to making the same transformative change in the auto industry by delivering advanced, adaptive and continually improving driver assistance features to all 1.2 billion cars on the road.

 It’s a great concept for those of us who have an older vehicle that doesn’t have the backup camera or backup sensors. The app on your smartphone is what provides the view, a regular view and fishbowl view to better see around corners, and the OBD plug that links the cameras to your phone wirelessly.

 It all sounds so nice and simple. And you know what that means, it’s gonna cost you. Call it the Apple Tax but when you get something so complicated yet is supposed to work so simply, you know you’re going to have to pay extra for that.

Pearl RearVision, as it’s called, will set you back $500, which includes the camera frame, car adapter and a phone mount. The first catch is that your car has to be from 1996 or newer, since that is the year OBD II was mandated. The second catch is that you need either an iPhone 5 or newer along with iOS 9 or newer…or an Android phone that has Bluetooth 4.0 and Android 5.0 Lollipop or newer.

Granted, most who would want this tech on their car either have all of the above already or will be buying a new car with backup camera already installed. It seems that the market for this is quite small at the price they are seeking…but if they sell 10,000 units at $500 that’s $5 million. Not a bad payday as long as they didn’t have that much in research and development costs.

My opinion is that they will sell quite a few to tuners and people who think this will help make their cars safer for them to drive. But I think that the market will dry up fast if they don’t either drop the price or come out with a less expensive model.

I think it’s a great product. It seems very well designed and meets a need, at least for the next couple of years as the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated backup cameras on all vehicles that weigh less than 5 tons beginning in May of 2018.

We’ll keep an eye on Pearl’s RearVision to see just how well it does.

… See You Down The Road!