Category Archives: full size SUV

2018 New England International Auto Show: Key takeaways

JOTD visited the New England International Auto show about a week ago and we wanted to share some of our impressions, takeaways, and general thoughts on the show itself and some of it’s more notable attendees.

The good:

Photo credit: MotorTrend

The Audi RS3 looks even better in person than it does in publications (certain wheels aside).  It has a presence beyond it’s size and it’s up there in the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” category with the older M5.  Bonus points to Audi for making in tall-person friendly!

 

The Genesis lineup had a strong presence there and the cars did not fail to deliver.  Interior fit and finish is very tight and overall material quality is excellent.  I’m not saying they are on-par with the S-Class (yet), but at a fraction of the price, they are most definitely worth a serious look.  We loved the look of the G80 Sport with the copper accents and aggressive wheels (pictured here), well done Hyun…errr…Genesis!

The new favorite of many automotive publications everywhere, the Kia Stinger, was there as well.  Once again, pictures simply don’t do it justice.  It looked great up on stage and not overly bedazzled as it might appear in pictures.  The lines are aggressive but not overly so and we think it will age well, but the verdict on that will, obviously, have to wait.

The Lexus LC500’s taillights are an incredible detail on an already drop-dead gorgeous car, see for yourself.

The bad:

While the new Ford Expedition does look the part of the big family-hauling, highway consuming behemoth with a handsome, masculine exterior, the interior was far from impressive.  For a $70k truck, we’d expect more than a sea of hard black plastic for a dashboard (with a comparatively miniscule infotainment screen) and a few more luxuries to accompany it.

Where were Mercedes Benz and BMW in all this?  Did they both decide to call in sick?

Thanks for reading!

 

Best Bug-Out vehicles

While I think most of us can agree that the zombie apocalypse isn’t going to happen next week, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to dream about building up or buying a vehicle as the ultimate bug-out, go-anywhere-and-survive type of transportation.  So, without further ado, here is a list of the top vehicles that will keep you out of harm’s way in the most extreme (if not altogether unlikely) of scenarios.

 

1)      Avtoros Shaman:  You probably haven’t heard about this low-volume, Russian-made beast but that doesn’t mean it won’t put most anything to shame off the pavement. 8 wheel drive, 8 wheel steering, amphibious capabilities, and seating for 7 of your closest friends/family, what’s not to like?  Throw a mattress and a few packets of Quaker oatmeal in the back and you’re good to go. 

 

2)      Hagglund BV206:  Ever wanted to own a mini-tank but just didn’t pull the trigger because, well, it didn’t have a trailer?  Your search has ended.  The Hagglund was built for the sole purpose of going absolutely anywhere on the planet with all of the necessities to survive the harshest environs, including Antarctica.

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3)      M35 2.5 ton cargo truck: Affectionately called the “deuce and a half” this military grade truck is a go-anywhere 6X6 that is fairly readily available.  Though its top speed is nothing spectacular, it will run on pretty much anything and laugh in the face of small road obstacles.  Throw a camper on the back and you’ve got yourself a pretty bulletproof truck.    

 

4)      Earth Roamer XV-LT:  If the zombie apocalypse forces you into the great outdoors, the Earth Romer is the vehicle to have.  Based on the Ford F550 platform, these cab-over expedition duty campers are designed to keep you comfortable wherever the path may lead you. 

 

5)      The “Kira” Expedition RV:  Brian Ferren of Applied Minds has built the ultimate go anywhere vehicle.  Designed to tackle terrain with the most powerful technology this planet has to offer, (not to mention a turbo-diesel motorcycle for light reconnaissance) you’d be able to head to the most remote reaches of the planet with ease (and a hot shower).

 

6)      The “Burlak”: Once again, the Russians deliver a monster of a truck capable of toppling mountains with a punch of the skinny pedal.  From the guys who brought you the Sherp (a smaller version of this, essentially) this vehicle has the space to take you and your family of 4 anywhere in relative comfort. 

 

7)      Russian “Vityaz” or DT-30PM: This is a just a fancy way of saying a tank with another tank as a trailer.  This “articulating tracked vehicle” or ATV is basically two tanks strapped together with a payload of 10 tons.  Popular in the then USSR, these vehicles saw military and civilian action all over the world gaining access to remote areas where nothing else could dream of going.

 

8)      Arctic Trucks Toyota Hilux AT44 6X6: One of the slightly more civilized and attainable vehicles of this bunch, the transformed Hilux has already performed admirably on Top Gear’s Arctic special (albeit in a slightly different form).  Toyota build quality with Icelandic arctic ingenuity and know-how, doubtful there’s a better cold weather combo out there. 

 

So when you’re preparing for the end of days, be sure to save up for some suitable transportation because these aren’t going to be cheap (or easy to find).  Drool away preppers, your vehicle has arrived! 

The legend lives on: The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser name has always been synonymous with go-anywhere capability but only in the 1990’s did it begin to garner some respect as a luxury vehicle as well.  Well this trend continues with this mid-model refresh for 2016, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more capable luxury vehicle than this uber-posh off-roader.

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For 2016, the front fascia of the Land Cruiser gets a refresh, the most prominent new feature being the quad-projector LED headlights that light up the night like the 4th of July.  The revised grill has been accused of being too Highlander-esque but there’s no mistaking this for the Toyota cross-over with much less machismo.  From the A-pillars forward, we have all new sheet metal and the taillights get a slightly refreshed look, but overall, there aren’t very many significant changes to the exterior of the Land Cruiser for 2016, unless of course you count the multiple little “Land Cruiser” embellishments on the headlights and bottom of the rear doors.

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Inside is where you’ll notice the biggest changes.  2016 brings in a new era of gadgetry with a 9” touch screen shoe-horned into the center console.  In keeping with the Land Cruiser tradition, every feature is standard equipment, meaning you get Bluetooth, navigation, heated/cooled seats, 2 rear entertainment screens and a plethora of other luxury bits to keep you and your riders happy.  Quality materials are still used everywhere, and the new steering wheel not only looks and feels great, but also heats up for those cold winter days.  Legroom and headroom are still ample in both front and rear seats, but you do feel like you are in a bit of a cockpit with this latest generation having all manner of knobs and buttons very close to the driver.  Worth noting is that any surface, button or knob that gets used frequently exudes true quality.  The aforementioned knobs feel like solid metal, the switches most commonly used are like a well-oiled bolt-action rifle, simply perfection.  Additionally, the seats are very comfortable and would serve anyone well on long family expeditions.  Overall, a very nice place to be, especially with this author’s favorite, the optional Terra (brown) leather.

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Safety is still a Toyota priority and the Land Cruiser is no exception.  As standard equipment, you’ll find blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warnings, and radar guided cruise control that can brake the vehicle in case the driver isn’t paying attention.  Not only is this vehicle a great cross-country hauler, but these features add a new level of safety that comes standard. 

On the road, the Land Cruiser still feels as solid as ever.  Speed bumps simply flatten out in fear, potholes and road imperfections are coerced into submission, there is really no better riding full-size SUV on the planet.  Road noise is minimal with the huge amount of sound deadening used, and the only drawback to this latest Land Cruiser is the visibility.  With the newly designed hood that is about the same size as a soccer field, forward visibility is reduced a bit.  The same 5.7L V8 comes back unchanged for 2016 as it still puts out a hefty yet buttery smooth 381hp and 401 lb/ft of torque, but don’t expect this monster to win any drag races as it tips the scales at 5765 lbs, not exactly light.  The new 8 speed transmission does its best to help in these cases, but you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference from the last gearbox other than that it seems to shift a bit more frequently and perhaps it does so q bit more quickly and smoothly.  Overall it still has great manners on or off the road, but long distance drivers especially will appreciate just how stress-free piloting one of these behemoths has become.

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At roughly $85k, there’s no denying that this is not an inexpensive vehicle, but when you crunch the numbers on just how long these legends last with so few repairs required, things start to add up.  If you want the ultimate vehicle in luxury, capability, and reliability, look no further than the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Another 10 for under $10K

A used, one owner, under 100k miles, clean CarFax Toyota Corolla? For under $10k?  Yes please.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=0&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=440654416&Log=0

Don’t let the mileage fool you, this Lexus is ready for another 100k miles with a reliable buttery smooth V8.  An easy way to get some luxury in your life for a bargain.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=0&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=438701309&Log=0

Looking to haul the family on a budget?  Check out this 2007 Honda Pilot.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=25&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=440934024&Log=0

Not looking forward to winter driving?  Gain some confidence with this sure-footed Subaru Outback.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=50&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=438112128&Log=0

Here’s a great little low mileage Mazda 3 that is sure to last for years to come.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=100&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=438533127&Log=0

If you want to go green on a budget, then there is your chance!  A used Toyota Prius with plenty of service records.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=125&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=439804941&Log=0

Here is an exceptionally low mileage Toyota Rav4, the perfect small SUV to get you around town and wherever else you need to go.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=125&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=440732025&Log=0

Looking for off-road capability in a reliable package?  Then look no further, at only 122k miles this Toyota 4Runner is just barely broken in.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=150&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=439933264&Log=0

If you need to go full-size, it’s hard to find something better than a Chevrolet Suburban.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=02118&endYear=2017&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&listingType=used&firstRecord=150&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=25&maxPrice=10000&listingId=419905431&Log=0

The ultimate in reliability, ruggedness and go-anywhere capability, the Toyota Land Cruiser.  Don’t let the mileage fool you, this one is ready for many more adventures.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2017&zip=02118&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&engineCode=8CLDR&maxPrice=10000&showcaseListingId=0&mmt=%5BTOYOTA%5B%5D%5B%5D%5D&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&showcaseOwnerId=0&engineCodes=8CLDR&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=25&listingId=438996623&Log=0

 

10 good cars for under $10K you can buy NOW

The title says it all really…

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/2T1KU40E49C007553-used-2009-toyota-matrix–malden

Toyota Matrix:  A great little economy car with a lot of miles left to go at only 73K miles!  Great on gas too, a good bargain at this price.

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JM1BL1SG4A1227266-used-2010-mazda-mazda3-i-sport–malden

Mazda 3:  Another great affordable car, but this one has a nice interior that feels much more expensive than it actually is, hats off to Mazda for making a great little all-around car.

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JTMBK32V365002513-used-2006-toyota-rav4-sport–brockton

Toyota Rav4:  If you need a bit more space but don’t need a full-size SUV, a Rav4 is a excellent choice that will last for years to come.  Don’t spend up on a new one when this one has plenty of life left!

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JTHBA30G045005498-used-2004-lexus-es-330–shrewsbury

Lexus ES330:  For those who want luxury on a budget, it is hard to beat a used Lexus ES.  With great service records and low mileage for the year, this is a great find that will run smoothly for years to come

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/1FTYR10D18PA84754-used-2008-ford-ranger–north-hampton

Ford Ranger:  If you don’t want to pay the premium for a Tacoma, a Ranger is a great option for a small utility pickup.

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/1GKEK13Z12R328904-used-2002-gmc-yukon–storrs-mansfield

GMC Yukon:  This is a full-size family hauler that could be negotiated down a bit.  Solid SUV with a traditional body-on-frame construction that’ll run for years to come, a family truckster on a budget!

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JTJHA31U040049429-used-2004-lexus-rx-330–manchester

Lexus RX: the quintessential crossover SUV with all the luxury you could ever need.  A bargain for under 10k and a car that will keep you floating over the pavement for many more miles.

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JN1AZ0CP1CT021707-used-2012-nissan-leaf–dedham

Nissan Leaf:  If you want to go green on a budget, this ultra-low mileage Leaf will get you there with cash to spare.  All electric means a limited range before you need a charge, but this would be a great second car or dedicated commuter vehicle.

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/JTEBT14RX58027385-used-2005-toyota-4runner-sr5–haverhill

Toyota 4Runner V8:  The V8 will run forever, tow anything, and never break on you,  need we say more?

http://www.carfax.com/vehicles/5TBBT44144S455584-used-2004-toyota-tundra-sr5–auburn

Toyota Tundra:  A full-size work truck on a budget, V8 that will last forever, what more could one ask for?

 

Go big or go home: Quick tips on buying used full-size SUV’s

For those of us that need to haul around kids, dogs, gear (or just about anything from Costco) a bigger vehicle is always a necessity.  But with the prices of new full size SUV’s reaching new highs, there are reasons to look at used vehicles, and definitely specific things to look for when shopping for these land yachts.
First question you should attempt to answer is whether the vehicle in question has spent any time off the beaten path.  If the answer is a yes, then there will most certainly be more wear and tear on the suspension, engine, and transmission, among other things.  However, if you find a vehicle (or special edition of that vehicle) that was meant to go off-road, i.e. Z71 or TRD packages, you are probably ok as those were meant to take some abuse and keep on ticking.
The second question is whether there was any towing done in the vehicle’s past.  Often these family fortresses on wheels are used to pull the weekend camper, a boat, or even another car.  Towing greatly increases the stress on the drivetrain and can shorten the life of a vehicle pretty quickly if it wasn’t designed to tow any serious distances in the first place.  If the answer is yes, then check that the transmission fluid was changed regularly, closely inspect the rear suspension for sagging, and ask whether there is a transmission cooler installed.
Check the tires for even wear.  In connection with the potential towing and off-road shenanigans, tires do wear significantly faster when subjected to the more aggressive activities listed above.
Other than the above, the usual rules still apply when searching for a used SUV.  Don’t be afraid to ask about the history, talk to previous owners if possible, and take it for a long test drive.  Other than that, just be sure you are ready to take on the ownership of a full size SUV because bigger can often mean pricier.