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    Quick Drive: 2013 Toyota RAV-4 Limited AWD



    September 30, 2013

    Drew Dowdell

    Managing Editor - CheerandGears.com

    Some Crossovers are too this; some Crossovers are too that; and some Crossovers are just right. This is the Goldilocks’ impression I walked away with after my quick drive of the 2013 Toyota RAV-4 AWD.

    Toyota rarely releases radical designs, but the first visual impression of the RAV-4 is that Toyota is trying to break that habit, though cautiously. The RAV-4 seems to drop the family face shared by the rest of the Toyota line, yet retains enough familiarity to fit in. I admit to not being a fan of the new look at first, but it has grown on me.

    Step inside and you are greeted with a roomy interior for the class. The dashboard continues the unconventional look from the outside with an unusual two tier dash. Upscale materials are found on most places you would normally touch, however some of the lower panels have clearly been through some cost-cutting. The overall look of the dash layout is what one might expect if a car manufacturer produced a luxury compact pickup, with a very upright and blocky appearance. Most of the switchgear is standard Toyota and the everyday buttons are easy to reach and have a simple layout. Lesser used switches are low on the center stack and a bit harder to operate by touch.

    Though dimensionally similar to vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape, the Toyota RAV-4 makes the most of those dimensions and feels larger and roomier inside thanks to its light and airy cabin.

    2013 Toyota RAV 4 interior

    Click picture to enlarge

    Like the interior? How does the RAV-4 drive? On to page 2!


    One area that Toyota has nailed it is in overall refinement. From the perky 2.5 liter 4-cylinder with Lexus like manners, to the buttery smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, to the supple yet spritely independent suspension, the RAV-4 would keep Goldilocks happy for a long while.

    2013 Toyota RAV 4 side

    The 2.5 liter produces 176 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4100rpm. Though lacking the absolute highest of 4-cylinder engine power, the engine never feels overworked. Around town, the RAV-4's engine feels very energetic. It pushes that power through a buttery smooth 6-speed automatic to all 4 wheels netting an EPA 22 mpg City/ 29mpg Highway/ 25mpg combined. The suspension is soft without being spongy, soaking up road imperfections but maintaining a firm and confident feel in corners.

    The Toyota RAV-4 has been one of the best selling vehicles in its segment for years, often taking the best seller crown. While Toyota has gotten a little out of their comfort zone on styling, they have put together a total package in the 2013 model that only strengthens their solid market position. I'll bet a whole lot of Goldilockses out there will end up finding the 2013 RAV-4 to be just right.

    As Tested Price: $31,869

    Related Reviews:

    Review: 2013 Nissan Rogue

    Review: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

    Review: 2013 Kia Sportage AWD

    Disclaimer: Toyota provided the 2013 Toyota RAV-4 during a drive event held for members of the International Motor Press Association.

    Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on Twitter as @Cheersngears

    2013 Toyota RAV 4 front

    Click picture to enlarge

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    Toyota has nailed this segment, though I find the looks to be a step backwards. The nose unfortunately has adopted the snout of the Corolla instead of being a softer version of the 4Runner. Removing the rear tire and placing it under the cargo hold is a huge improvement. The prior Sport model traded the rear-mounted tire with expensive run-flats. It's a wonder why GM hasn't had a model compete directly with it (other than the Captiva), though it sounds like the next Equinox will.

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    WOW, Talk about a ugly station wagon like external and the internal dash is just pathetic. That interior is enough to have me never even consider buying it. What are the engineers watching to build a terrible dash like that? To much Anime?

    Loved the review and glad it has a decent powertrain, I feel Toyota will do fine with sales, but really needs to step up their game. The design language is just blah, and forgetfull but the interior is a horendous nightmare that I will not forget. Why is Toyota and Honda on these multi-split personality dash designs. I find nothing of benefite and only pure uglyness.

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    Now come on. I don't think the interior is that bad as in "horrendous nightmare" bad. I do however think it could certainly have used better design and refinement. Still, not too shabby.

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    I like these new horizontally oriented Toyota dashes. They're old skool. Everybody else is going with a giant, prominent center stack. The Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon are all doing it, too.

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    I like these new horizontally oriented Toyota dashes. They're old skool. Everybody else is going with a giant, prominent center stack. The Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon are all doing it, too.

    No, No, No, Nothing Old skool here at all, just plain ugliness. :nono:

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    I think Toyota made good strides on the exterior design with this model. When I sat in it at the auto show though, I was repulsed by the cheapness of a lot of it.

    It's gotta be an improvement over the current CRv though. I drove the CRV at the ford ecoboost ride and drive and that is nothing but junk. It feels straight out of 1999 or something and is tinny and noisy and plasticky and uncomfortable.

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    I've been informed that the lower level RAV-4s do feel cheaper inside.... as I was only able to sample this fairly loaded model, I couldn't really comment.

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    I've been informed that the lower level RAV-4s do feel cheaper inside.... as I was only able to sample this fairly loaded model, I couldn't really comment.

    I might be able to give an answer to this since I'll have a RAV4 XLE in for review in late November.

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    anything is better than the the CRV crap recreational vehicle. Honda sells em like hotcakes and they are to me the epitome of days gone by milquetoast

    I give Toyota for trying to evolve the RAV4.

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      The Toyota Camry isn't what you would call exciting. Bland and boring, yes. But the Japanese automaker hopes to change that perception with the introduction of the 2018 Camry.
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      Source: Toyota
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      Ante Raised: All-New 2018 Toyota Camry Gains Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience
      Best-selling car in America... assembled in America, by Americans, for Americans Aggressive exterior character lines and low center of gravity Spacious interior with advanced driver focus New gas and hybrid powertrains generate more horsepower and greater estimated MPG Standard Toyota Safety Sense-P DETROIT, January 9, 2017 - It almost isn’t fair.  Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in America for the past 15 years, is about to ruffle some feathers. The eighth-generation sedan has gone through a total evolution, from a proven, dependable and safe car to one that also possesses a more exciting and emotional character, thanks to its newfound sporty performance and style.
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       “In order to create something that stirs people’s soul, we’ve laid out the concept of a new sedan that provides fun and excitement behind the wheel,” said Masato Katsumata, the Chief Engineer of the new Camry. “In developing the next-generation Toyota Camry, we were able to start with a clean slate, which allowed us to create a true driver’s car.”
       
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    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Camry isn't what you would call exciting. Bland and boring, yes. But the Japanese automaker hopes to change that perception with the introduction of the 2018 Camry.
      Toyota allowed their designers to go somewhat crazy with the Camry and it shows. There is a bit of Prius and C-HR in the design of the new Camry with a more aggressive nose, lower hood and beltline; and a very short rear deck. Moving inside, Toyota has revamped the design of the dashboard to make it more flowing. Seats have been resculpted to provide better comfort.
      The Camry is the latest model to use Toyota's TNGA platform which the company describes as “a structural reform movement for the entire company that will result in cars that are more dynamic, athletic, and fun to drive.” You may laugh, but as I can attest, this platform is the real deal when I drove the Prius - the first model to use TNGA. Toyota has also lowered the center of gravity and added a multilink rear suspension.
      For engines, the Camry boasts a new 2.5L four-cylinder and 3.5L V6 with D-4S Fuel Injection. Oddly no power figures were given for either engine. Both will come paired with an eight-speed automatic. A hybrid variant with the new 2.5L four will also be available.
      The 2018 Camry arrives at your local Toyota dealer this summer.
      Source: Toyota
      Press Release is on Page 2


      Ante Raised: All-New 2018 Toyota Camry Gains Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience
      Best-selling car in America... assembled in America, by Americans, for Americans Aggressive exterior character lines and low center of gravity Spacious interior with advanced driver focus New gas and hybrid powertrains generate more horsepower and greater estimated MPG Standard Toyota Safety Sense-P DETROIT, January 9, 2017 - It almost isn’t fair.  Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in America for the past 15 years, is about to ruffle some feathers. The eighth-generation sedan has gone through a total evolution, from a proven, dependable and safe car to one that also possesses a more exciting and emotional character, thanks to its newfound sporty performance and style.
      The new Camry utilizes TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) which represents a completely new strategy to the way the company designs, engineers, and packages its vehicles. TNGA retains all of Toyota’s traditional values of superlative build quality and safety while injecting a fun driving experience that plays on all the senses. The physical manifestation is the usage of a new engine, transmission and GA-K platform.
       “The all-new 2018 Camry is, without a doubt, the most captivating mid-size sedan we’ve ever produced,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations.  “It delivers on everything Camry owners have come to expect from America’s best-selling car, and adds to it, jaw-dropping design, more advanced technology, cutting-edge safety systems, and stirring performance that raises it to an unparalleled level of excitement.”  
       “In order to create something that stirs people’s soul, we’ve laid out the concept of a new sedan that provides fun and excitement behind the wheel,” said Masato Katsumata, the Chief Engineer of the new Camry. “In developing the next-generation Toyota Camry, we were able to start with a clean slate, which allowed us to create a true driver’s car.”
       
      Design Backstory 
      The Camry development team aimed for a styling design concept that achieves strong harmony between refinement and a sensual athletic image, creating a new approach to the market. The result is a new signature design language that takes the car into a beautiful and futuristic new direction.
        
      There were three primary design goals when penning the all-new Camry: a distinctive, low center of gravity that results in a firm wide stance; a practical-yet-emotionally styled cabin profile, and a sporty and upscale image both inside and out. These design goals have resulted in a new type of sedan that’s both exciting to look at and, more importantly drive, reestablishing itself as the new standard in the midsize-sedan category.
       
      An Exterior with Unexpected Attitude
      The new Camry’s face is accentuated by a two-piece grille comprised of flowing thin and thick treatments – key elements of the Camry’s “Keen Look” design philosophy. The curvaceous 1.6-inch-lower hood sits neatly above the grille’s uppermost section which accommodates a commanding Toyota emblem. For the hybrid model, the emblem is tinged a distinct blue hue. This fashionable trifecta of grille, hood, and emblem blends flawlessly into the A-pillar, and produces a stance that is undoubtedly more aggressive than that of any predecessor.
      The 2018 Camry has a sleeker profile than the current model. By lowering the hip points of the occupants (nearly 1.0-inch in the front and 1.2-inches at the rear), and therefore their seating positions, the design team was able to reduce the car’s overall vehicle height by approximately one inch  from the current model and incorporate a lower roofline, without sacrificing interior space. This invited the designers to pursue a wind-cutting shape and improve aerodynamics. Striking character lines around and along the body augment the aggressive front and rear fenders, giving the reimagined Camry a sportiness that’s never before been perceived on this model.
      The lower hip point, shoulder line, roof line and hood height gives the new Camry the appearance that it has a low center of gravity, which it does.  The design team knew the TNGA platform provided them with a great opportunity to pen a very expressive sedan, and they took advantage of this by getting the lines close to the ground and forming an energetic silhouette. They incorporated a strong stance that can be seen as you walk around the car.
      Like the front of the vehicle, the rear features an athletic motif that melds flowing lines and complex shapes to form a sculpted landscape. Looking closely at the C-pillar’s detail reveals a multitude of surfaces that reflect light from all angles. A distinct crease extends from the slim multicolor taillights down to the bumper, effectively “pushing” the wheels outward in appearance to create a wide posture akin to that of a premium sports sedan. The exclamation point here is provided by a newly designed Camry logo that gives the car an upscale identity.
      Camry will again be available in four grades: LE, XLE, SE and XSE.  The new Camry’s “Sport” SE and XSE grades wear a noticeably different body style than the entry level LE and premium XLE grades, highlighted by a sculpted rocker panel, new 19-inch black machined-finish alloy wheels (XSE only)  a subtle rear spoiler lip, aggressive front bumper, and rear bumper with an integrated lower diffuser. The face is much more distinctive with large side intakes flanking the lower bumper’s unique “Catamaran” accents, a high and slim upper intake encompassing the
       
      central Toyota badge, and a powerfully expressive mesh grille. A revised rear bumper with distinctive corner lines and smoke-tinted rear combination lamps highlight the changes at the rear.
      The Camry design team sought to make the new Camry sport models instantly recognizable and appear different from the other models from as far as 200 yards away.
       
      Striking and Comfortable Cabin
      The completely redesigned interior is a fusion of functionality, futuristic styling, and a high degree of personal space and craftsmanship.  While the driver is situated in a sporty cockpit-type environment having gauges angled toward his or her direction, the front passenger is treated to a sense of openness and freedom that results from the innovative dashboard design. A key visual element of this driver-focused design concept is a sweeping yet elegant new character line that flows down from the instrument cluster and bisects the center console waterfall. The design of the entire front console strikes a smooth connection between the ease of use of all controls/systems and a handsome and modern sculptural look that is pleasing to the eye. All surfaces throughout the cabin—dashboard, instrument panel, center console, door trim, etc.—employ the highest grade of soft touch and premium materials. Using an approach typically used in home furnishings, the design utilizes a mix of tones and hues throughout a space rather than a strict color profile. The result is a cabin space having diverse colors and materials, and that enhances passenger comfort and visual satisfaction.
      The front seats have been completely reengineered with improved ergonomics, providing maximum comfort with a newfound level of ease and engagement to match the new Camry’s elevated performance and athleticism. Rear-seat accommodations are more refined than ever with improved roominess and ergonomics. Exquisite stitching on the front- and rear-seat surfaces is but one example of the high level of craftsmanship found throughout the vehicle.
       
      High Interaction, Minimal Distraction 
      The new Camry features Toyota’s latest Human Machine Interface (HMI) whose next-generation display technology offers a unique level of integrated information with minimal distraction. It relays information through three interlinked displays: available interlinked displays: a 10-inch color Head-Up Display (HUD); a seven-inch multi-information display within the instrument cluster, and an eight-inch audio/navigation display and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) control panel that’s seamlessly integrated into the center console in a modern, flush-surface design. Convenient and highly intuitive operation is assured through customizable features and smart phone-like touch screen icons that create a seamless connection and user workflow between the HMI system and other digital media.
        
      Full Utilization of Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA)
      The 2018 Toyota Camry fully incorporates the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). At its foundation, TNGA is a structural reform movement for the entire company that will result in cars that are more dynamic, athletic, and fun to drive.
      By extending the wheelbase by two inches, as well as bringing down the roof and hood height (by approximately 1.0 and 1.6-inches, respectively), the development team lowered the center of gravity and created a wider and more composed vehicle. The new platform also allows for an ideal seating position for the driver, now lower and near the center of the car for enhanced feedback, along with adjusting the overall seating position for all the vehicle’s occupants. A lower heel point provides more foot room and ease of movement. The range of steering column adjustment has been increased from the current vehicle, while the hood, cowl, and dashboard height have all been lowered for enhanced outward visibility.
      The driver and front passenger will experience an unprecedented sense of outward visibility, thanks to a more compact design for the instrument panel and a lowered beltline. The reimagined position of the A-pillar and side mirror sections results in enhanced lateral visibility and creates a noticeable sense of openness when the driver sits behind the wheel.
       
      All Gain With No MPG Pain 
      Three new powertrains will be available on the new 2018 Camry: They include a new 3.5-liter V6 with D-4S Fuel Injection and an all-new 2.5-liter inline-4 gasoline engine, which comes paired to a new 8-speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission (8AT), and a next-generation Toyota Hybrid System (THS II).
      To match the chassis’ increased handling and performance capability, Toyota engineers have developed the TNGA-inspired all-new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine to make the most of the platform’s enhanced designs, packaging and rigidity. This new generation engine focuses on higher torque, higher power and lower fuel consumption in total use range. This is accomplished by achieving rapid combustion due to higher tumble air flow. With its long-stroke and high compression ratio, multi-hole direct fuel injectors, variable cooling system and the latest version of Toyota’s Variable Valve-Timing-intelligent Electric (VVT-iE), this high-output powerplant takes the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine to a new level with world-leading thermal efficiency of 40 percent. Along with enhanced performance characteristics, the new engine is also expected to be extremely fuel efficient, and is anticipated to achieve best-in-class fuel economy. It comes mated to the newly developed Direct Shift-8AT transmission that provides direct-lock up from gears two through eight to eliminate power loss from the torque converter, executing shifts like a high-performance automated manual gearbox.
      The new hybrid system has also been engineered to provide the ideal balance of energy efficiency with superior power output to maximize driving performance and enjoyment. The next-generation Toyota Hybrid System has been engineered to work in concert with the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Dynamic Force Engine setup offering significantly more driving excitement than before. The hybrid’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) features a new Sport Mode setting that allows the driver to execute smooth yet quick “gear” shifts of the simulated 6-speed sequential shift transmission. The SE grade adds paddle shifters for increased fun and a more sporting driving experience. The Sport Mode setting also improves acceleration and feel thanks to an electric power boost from the hybrid system. Furthermore, to help enhance the vehicle’s handling capability, the hybrid system’s battery pack has moved from the trunk to beneath the rear seat for a noticeably enriched handling feel, thanks to the vehicle’s much improved lower center of gravity—yet another benefit of the TNGA platform.
      In addition to its enhanced handling and driving performance, the hybrid version of the new Camry is anticipated to achieve best-in-class fuel economy ratings, with Prius-like city/highway driving efficiency.
       
      A New Experience Focused on Vastly Superior Driving Dynamics
      At the foundation of the Camry’s sporty handling and enhanced ride quality is its high-strength body/platform structure. Through the increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel and the application of a new molding technology it delivers enhanced structural rigidity.
      Further aiding performance is an innovative new double wishbone rear suspension system that imbues the chassis with responsive handling and precise steering control while simultaneously delivering ride quality on par with premium luxury vehicles. A new four-point engine mounting system adds to the vehicle’s civil road manners as it greatly reduces unwanted noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) from permeating into the passenger compartment.
      The biggest challenge for the Camry engineering team was to figure out how to convey the driving dynamics of a soul-stirring sedan.  Driving dynamics were always at the forefront of the engineering philosophy for the new Camry.  They wanted a new Camry in which the driver will be highly impressed with the handling capability and composure of the new design.  So much so, that drivers will notice the dramatic improvements within the first few seconds of driving.
       
      Toyota Safety That Makes Sense
      Among the many safety features on the 2018 Camry is standard Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P). This multi-feature advanced active safety suite bundles cutting edge active safety technologies including Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA); and Automatic High Beams (AHB). Select models will also come with standard Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
       
      All 2018 Camry’s have 10 standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System™, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology®. All Camry’s also come equipped with a standard backup camera.
       
      Ever Better Entune™ 3.0 Multimedia For Everyone
      Camry drivers will be the first to enjoy enhanced connectivity and entertainment through the new Toyota Entune™ 3.0 multimedia system.  The new 2018 Camry will feature Entune 3.0 on all models, offering an enhanced set of connected vehicle technologies.  
      The Entune 3.0 system will feature navigation and App Suite Connect for everyone.  All Camry four-cylinder and hybrid models will come standard with the Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link with Moving Maps.  Camry V6 models will offer the new Dynamic Navigation system, providing improved map accuracy.  The wireless map updates provide over-the-air map downloads of recently added roads and point-of-interest not contained in the existing head unit map.  
      Entune 3.0 delivers several new technologies including available Remote Connect, which provides remote start and door unlock capability, vehicle status notifications, a guest driver monitor, and vehicle finder.  Keeping up with your vehicle’s health status has never been easier.  Available Service Connect will provide up-to-date vehicle information on fuel level, maintenance alerts, and more.  Entune 3.0 will also offer available WiFi Connect, allowing up to five mobile devices to connect using 4G LTE.
      The new 2018 Camry will also offer a JBL premium audio system that features new advancements in sound quality.  Sound enhancements include Sound Staging, which positions speakers directly in front of the listener to help emulate a live concert venue; Low Frequency Sounds, made possible by an added 10.1-inch subwoofer; Clari-Fi, a technology that “un-compresses” music to help restore an audio track’s dynamic range; and nine speakers that are specifically tuned to the Camry’s cabin dimensions and materials.  
    • By William Maley
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00
    • By William Maley
      Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
      The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed.  You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well.  Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp.  Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.   
      Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
      Year: 2016
      Make: Ram Trucks
      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00

      View full article
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