2017 Honda Ridgeline AWD Black Edition

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Pirate Radio DJ George Gray joined me in analyzing the Honda Ridgeline Black Edition during the “Morning Show”:

The original Honda Ridgeline came out in 2005, and immediately caught the attention of the public, with competitors putting similar vehicles on their drawing boards.  None produced anything like the Ridgeline, however, and after 2014 Honda even dropped production.  Now the Ridgeline has returned with several improvements and I tested a black one during a recent week.

The Ridgeline can tow 5,000 lbs. and carry 1,584 in its 4′ wide pickup bed with a trunk underneath.  The tailgate is dual action, the interior is mammoth, and the ride is definitely car-like.  A nice car.

The V-6 puts out 280 horsepower and the transmission is a six-speed in this all-wheel drive Black Edition Ridgeline.  The Honda weighs 4,500 lbs. and gets 25 miles per gallon on the highway.  It gets my stamp of approval.

SPECS

Crystal black metallic paint – Heated black leather five passenger interior – Navigation system with 8” touchscreen – Radar, or adaptive cruise control – LED headlights – 8 speaker stereo – Pushbutton/remote start – LED headlamps – 280 horsepower V-6 – Six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive – Backup camera, blind spot detection and lane watch – Lane departure warning and collision-mitigation – $43,770.00 – 21 MPG combined rating

2016 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X Crew Cab

20160817_193554_HDRListen to a review of the Nissan that took place at Pirate Radio, 104.7FM:

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This past week I received for review a new Nissan pickup, the Frontier 4×4 (PRO-4X) four-door crew cab.  Nissan, formerly Datsun, has been in business for 102 years (since 1914), and is now the sixth largest vehicle manufacturer in the world.  The original company name was derived from the three founders’ initials, DAT.  “Sun” was added 17 years later when the company introduced a small car (son of DAT).  “Son” means loss in Japanese; hence the name Datsun.    

At one time, I actually owned a brand new 1971 Datsun pickup when I lived near Cape Canaveral, Florida.  It was the model 1600 and I don’t think it cost over $1,600, even though it was brand new.  I bought it for going to the beach with surfboards loaded up in back, but I subsequently gave up surfing for marriage, and  traded off the Datsun for an automobile.

This Nissan pickup I recently tested was the PRO-4X upgraded model with Bilstein performance shocks, triple skid plates (oil pan/fuel tank/transfer case), 16” two tone finished, six-spoke alloy wheels, locking rear differential, P265/75R16 white-letter tires, hill descent/start controls, Rockford Fosgate CD/XM satellite stereo, spray-on bed liner, Bluetooth phone, and special white-faced gauges.  The Frontier pickup comes in a rear-wheel drive configuration, but the PRO-4X that I tested is four-wheel drive.

The M.S.R.P. for the 2016 PRO-4X is $36,525.00, including freight ($900.00), floor mats ($135.00), and the Pro-4X luxury package ($2,100.00).  The luxury package included navigation (5.8” screen), moon roof, hands-free text messaging assistant, and heated outside mirrors.  Power is supplied by a 4.0 liter, 261 horsepower V-6, backed up by a smooth, five-speed automatic transmission.  Torque rating in this truck is 281 lb. ft.  The four-wheel drive is “shift on the fly”, up to 62 mph – 2 speed transfer case included.  Weight of the vehicle is 4,548 lbs., and the wheelbase/length numbers are 125.9” and 205.5”, or just over 17 ft. long.  The fuel economy figures are 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, with a 21.1 gallon tank.  My observance for the week turned out to be 17.3 mpg.

I didn’t anticipate that the Frontier would offer such a comfortable ride and quiet cabin. I enjoyed the smooth five-speed automatic, and the vaunted V-6 performed a lot like a V-8.  Nissan builds this Frontier with a fully-boxed frame and they provide 10” of ground clearance, factors helping the pickup when encountering the bumps and boulders.  For my type of driving the 5’ bed keeps the vehicle manageable for maneuvering in traffic and parking.

The leather seating was coupled with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and console-mounted emergency brake.  The buckets (driver side – eight adjustments) kept me comfortable all week and the floor shift and storage compartments were sensible.  Styling of the truck is fine, and a feature that I liked was the Forged Copper metallic paint as well as the husky luggage rack on top of the cab.

Nissan has little competition in this mid-size pickup segment, so they get to enjoy brisk sales of the Frontier; 52,255 for the first seven months of 2016. They’ve gotten it just about right with this model, and to me it would be a safe pick if I were in the market for a new pickup.

2016 Toyota Tundra 4X4 “TRD Pro” Pickup

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George Gray and myself looked over the Tundra outside the Pirate Radio studios and went inside to discuss the unit:

 The Toyota Tundra full-size pickup, available since model year 2000, is a capable replacement to the old Toyota T100, and is available with three engine choices.  They are the 4 liter V-6 and two V-8s, with the largest one putting out 381 horsepower and 401 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s what’s called the iForce 5.7 liter DOHC aluminum V-8 with (i)ntelligent variable valve timing and flex fuel capability.  It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with console-mounted shifter, and such were the drive train specifications of my test vehicle this past week.20160531_124019_HDR

The Tundra that I drove was the TRD Pro CrewMax with an M.S.R.P. of $47,118.00, including options and freight.  Base price of this model is $45,060.00, and options on it were the paint protection film, chrome tailgate inserts, bed mat, spare tire lock, performance air filter, and allow wheel locks.  It was part-time four wheel drive with electric control and trailering equipment.  The interior was black leather and seated five, a premium stereo with satellite radio was on hand, and Bluetooth connectivity was present.  20160531_194851

      The “standard” bed that comes with this CrewMax is 78.7” long, wheelbase is 145.7”, length is 228.9”, width is 79.9”, height is 75.8”, and the truck weighs 5,375 lbs.

Styling of the TRD Pro was upgraded to include black door handles,  TRD badging, ten-spoke black finish alloy wheels, and BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A 275/65R18 black letter tires.  All the full-size pickups from GM, Dodge, Nissan, and Ford are good-looking, as is the Tundra.

Ride, cab noise, guidance, and visibility were all great in this vehicle.  The gas tank holds 26.4 gallons, and the EPA ratings on the previously described engine was 13 city, 17 highway, and 15 overall.  I observed 15 miles per gallons during my time with the Toyota.

Toyota sold well over 100,000 Tundras last year, so it is a popular choice for shoppers.

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4WD Off-Road Pickup

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On May 25th, I took the Toyota Tacoma by Pirate Radio, 104.7 FM, to look it over with George Gray and Matt “The Big Kahuna” Arguello.  They seemed to fall in love with the brawny styling and attractive color of the TRD Off-Road pickup, and were smitten with the interior, as well.

2016 Toyota TRD Off-Road 4WD Pickup – Inferno metallic paint – Heated cloth buckets/5 passenger – Navigation system with 7” touchscreen –  Cruise control – LED running lights – Moonroof – XM radio and  premium stereo – Pushbutton start – Power windows and locks – 3.5 liter V-6 with 278 horsepower and Four Wheel Drive – 23 MPG – 6 Speed Automatic transmission – Backup camera – Blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert – 3 passenger back seat     $37,610.00

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I particularly liked the grill styling and the interior of the Tacoma.  The orange (Inferno) accents inside are dynamite.  So is the stitching.  The domed hood gives the owner/driver a commanding feeling with regards to motoring in the TRD, and the package of exterior appointments got a lot of looks in Greeley.

2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4WD Pickup

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    The Toyota Tundra full-size pickup, available since model year 2000, is a capable replacement to the old Toyota T100, and is available with three engine choices.  They are the 4 liter V-6 and two V-8s, with the largest one putting out 381 horsepower and 401 lb. ft. of torque.  It’s what’s called the iForce 5.7 liter DOHC aluminum V-8 with (i)ntelligent variable valve timing and flex fuel capability.  It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with console-mounted shifter, and such were the drive train specifications of my test vehicle this past week.

The Tundra that I drove was the Limited CrewMax with an M.S.R.P. of $46,518, including options and freight.  Base price of this model is $43,895, and options on it were the TRD off-road package, running boards, bedliner, full width power sliding rear glass, and remote start.  It was part-time four wheel drive with electric control and trailering equipment.  The interior was leather and seated five, a JBL stereo with satellite radio was on hand, and Bluetooth connectivity was present.  No touchscreen for the radio was in the pickup and a navigation system was not installed. Tundra Interior

      The “standard” bed that comes with this CrewMax is 78.7” long, wheelbase is 145.7”, length is 228.9”, width is 79.9”, height is 75.8”, and the truck weighs 5,375 lbs.  Towing capacity is 10,200 lbs., but apparently that is a lowball figure because Toyota towed the space shuttle Endeavour across the #405 freeway in California last year with the Tundra – weight of the space orbiter, 292,000 lbs.  My wife Ruth and I flew to Florida to watch that Endeavour launch from Cape Kennedy in February of 2010.  The mission was STS-130 to the International Space Station and of course it was quite a thrill.

Styling of the Limited was upgraded to include chrome door handles, chrome outside mirrors, TRD and Limited badging, five-spoke brushed finish alloy wheels, BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A 275/65R18 white letter tires, and the running boards.  All the full-size pickups from GM, Dodge, Nissan, and Ford are good-looking, as is the Tundra.

Ride, cab noise, guidance, and visibility were all acceptable in this vehicle.  The gas tank holds 26.4 gallons, and the EPA ratings on the previously described engine was 13 city, 18 highway, and 15 overall.  I observed 15 miles per gallons during my time with the Toyota.

Toyota sold over 100,000 Tundras last year, a 22% increase for them over 2011 sales.  The big American manufacturers sold substantially more than that, with total pickup sales in the U.S. (all sizes) at 2 million.  Nonetheless, when shopping for a full-sized pickup, I see no reason to rule out a Toyota Tundra.

 

2014 GMC Sierra SLT 4WD CrewCab

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    Late last year General Motors introduced the new GMC Sierra at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.  The GMC production models are just now showing up at dealer showrooms and Ryan Green, the internet manager at Weld County Garage in Greeley, made a Fire Red 2014 GMC Sierra SLT available for me to test this past week.

General Motors has been producing pickup trucks since 1930 with the dual brands of GMC and Chevrolet accounting for 575,000 units sold in 2012.  For the 2014 model year, the products have been re-designed with sheet metal and drive train improvements.  The V-6’s and V-8’s available in the GMC Sierra now feature direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, aluminum blocks, and cylinder de-activation for economy.

The unit I tested was equipped with the 5.3 liter, 355 horsepower EcoTec3 V-8 with 383 lb. ft. of torque.  Best-in-class EPA fuel economy ratings for the vehicle were 16 city, 22 highway, and 18 overall (26 gallon fuel tank).  Mated to the V-8 was a six speed automatic transmission with a rear axle ratio of 3.42.  The four-wheel drive test truck had active electronic Autotrac with a four position rotary dial for traction selection to the left of the steering wheel.

GMC V-8My wife Ruth and I headed for the Eaton area to take some photographs and she almost immediately exclaimed “Wow, this rides like a car!”.  Indeed, GMC has managed to greatly improve the cabin noise and isolation situation with items such as new cab mounts on the 2014 Sierra – hydraulic at the rearmost position.  As attested to by my wife, ride was fine in the Sierra, and plenty of technology is on hand, including five USB ports, 12v outlets, a 110v outlet, and an SD card reader.  The transmission selector has been located on the steering column because GMC feels busy farmers and businessmen like room in the console for clipboards, markers, PDA’s, etc.

I photographed the Sierra near Fagerberg Farms on Weld County Road 31, and the red pickup looked terrific in the field with its chrome plating on the 20” six-spoke alloy wheels, side steps, and door handles.  This new model’s bold styling has been updated without taking too much risk with what has been a nice-looking truck all along.  And this 2014 design spent more development time in a wind tunnel than any GMC in history.  My test Sierra was a crew cab, and sales of this configuration account for about 60% of overall production.

GMC Interior    The $50,035 (M.S.R.P.) GMC was loaded with equipment including moon roof, navigation with 8” touch screen, IntelliLink system, Bose stereo, satellite radio, and many other items that would typically be expected in a luxury pickup.  Some features were unexpected, such as foot wells in the rear bumper for climbing aboard, a power sliding rear glass, hill descent control, and 2” of additional legroom for rear seat passengers.  GMC has definitely stepped it up with the introduction of the new Sierra.