Ram’s Maverick rival, buy JFK and LBJ’s limo, Subaru’s ascent to Wilderness?
Is this Ram’s Maverick-fighting, new Dakota?
Intake: With small trucks returning to the market after a lull, Stellantis is getting back into the act with the truck seen here, wearing far less camouflage than we’ve seen in the past. We’re expecting it to be named something like Ram 1200, since it’s smaller than the existing 1500 half-ton. That said, Ram could also bring back the Dakota name. We’re looking for a four-cylinder engine, possibly from the European stable of Stellantis, who owns Ram, though our spy shots show dual exhaust pipes along with a coil-spring rear suspension. We’re also expecting the transmission to be a nine-speed automatic, possibly with four-wheel-drive standard. The overwhelming and unexpected success of the Ford Maverick has definitely spurred production by Ram, and we expect to see the product as early as by the end of this year.
Exhaust: Most everyone gave up on small trucks, when Ford killed, then upsized the Ranger, and GM went larger with the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon, and Mazda and Mitsubishi stopped building their own pickups. Dodge was well-positioned with the Dakota, but the price became so close to the 1500’s during the glut of pickups that there wasn’t enough price separation between the two products. Nissan forged ahead with the Frontier, which is set to take over for the Titan, and Toyota roughly stayed the course with its pricey Tacoma, as our last tester listed for $50,000. There’s definitely a market for a smaller, cheaper pickup, as the mad dash for a Maverick illustrates. Let’s see if Ram prices its new truck comparably, meaning in the mid-to-high $20,000 range. If it’s in the mid-$30,000 range or higher, Ram may be missing this newly discovered sweet spot of the market. — Steven Cole Smith
Watch Gordon Murray sign off on the T.50 hypercar
Intake: The Gordon Murray T.50 is ready for the road after its designer took it for a final drive on his favorite route. In the last video of a series on the car’s development test driver Dario Franchitti takes the finished T.50 to Murray’s home where he takes it out on the very roads that he drove when working on the McLaren F1. During hundreds of thousands of miles of testing the naturally aspirated V-12 machine has been put through its paces in the heat of the desert and the cold of the arctic. It’s been hurled around race tracks and tested on roads all over the world, but it’s this one drive through narrow English lanes that is the most crucial of them all. Enjoy the video.
Exhaust: “This really is the next F1 and that was my intention four years ago,” concludes Murray. “I didn’t really want to deliver a car that was in another world from the F1, it just had to deliver what that car did, but just better.” — Nik Berg
Presidential Imperial limousine hits eBay
Intake: A rare piece of mid-century American history has surfaced on eBay, with around 15,000 miles on the odometer and a lifetime of stories. This 1964 Crown Imperial Ghia Presidential Limousine was used by the JFK and Johnson administrations. The seller has accumulated various media items showing this Imperial in action as a presidential limousine and offered a host of photos to prove its stellar, museum-quality condition. The limousine currently has a “Buy It Now” price of $300,000, with the chance to make an offer to the seller instead.
Exhaust: Presidential connection aside, all Ghia-bodied Imperial limousines are far more exclusive than their Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75 counterparts. While starting life as a “mere” Imperial, these were shipped to Ghia’s coach building factory in Turin, Italy, for a unique wheelbase, body, roofline and doors. According to ch300imp.com, only 10 Crown Imperial Ghia limousines were made in 1964. Rarer than any Cadillac, then … but only one such Imperial has become automotive royalty. — Sajeev Mehta
Alfa Romeo’s Tonale is ready for America
Intake: We’ve seen, and driven, the similar Dodge Hornet, but now Alfa Romeo has started production of the North American–specification Tonale. In Sprint trim the compact SUV will be priced at $42,995, the Ti will be $44,995, and the range-topping Veloce will be $47,495 (plus $1595 destination charge). The Tonale’s MSRP thus fits neatly under that of its bigger SUV brother, the $46,200 Stelvio, and Alfa says that drivers who opt to lease the Tonale will be able to take advantage of the $7500 federal EV tax credit, since the Tonale is only available as a plug-in hybrid. A 1.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine is supplemented by a 90-kW electric motor for a total of 285 horsepower, which Alfa claims is the best in its class. The Tonale can travel 30 miles or more on electric power alone thanks to its 15.5 kWh battery and comes with all-wheel drive. Among other innovations is a rapid-response Frequency Damping Suspension system that dynamically adjusts to the road and driving style. Pre-orders are open now with the first deliveries in June.
Exhaust: The Tonale breaks new ground for Alfa. Not only is it the first compact SUV from the Italian firm, it’s the first step on its road to electrification. Will this stylish but small SUV capture the heart of America? — NB
Another outdoorsier Subaru en route
Intake: Subaru vehicles are already known for their outdoorsy, go-anywhere schtick. Though all the brand’s vehicles, with the sole exception of the BRZ sports car, have full-time all-wheel-drive, Subaru isn’t above dialing up the aesthetic to attract more buyers. The Wilderness nameplate does exactly that, and we’re about to meet the third Wilderness-ified Subaru. First introduced in March of 2021 on the Outback, then on the Forester the following September, the Wilderness variant adds more (yes, more) texturized plastic body cladding, badass five-spoke matte-black wheels, copper-colored accents, and the beefiest roof rack Subaru’s yet offered—700 pounds max on the Outback, 800 on the Forester. It’s slightly more than looks, too: Each of those Wilderness models gets white-lettered Yokohama Geolander tires, a slight (less than 1 inch) suspension lift, a re-tuned (continuously variable) transmission, and the most powerful of Subaru’s generally adequate four-bangers. In just a few days, at the New York auto show, we’ll meet the third vehicle to be Wildernized.
Exhaust: These upgrades don’t make sense for the lower-slung vehicles in the Subaru portfolio (Legacy sedan and Impreza hatch), and the Crosstrek just got a shiny new generation for the 2024 model year, so it doesn’t need more hype. The Ascent could use some excitement: In five years, the three-row SUV has gotten … a bigger grille and a black-out trim package. — Grace Houghton
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We need more small trucks. Actually we could use some actual small trucks, these new “small” trucks are still bigger that what used to be a small truck. Now if dealers wouldn’t mark them up so much they might be affordable.
Good old Alfa. The Toe-nail as many Americans are going to mispronounce it might be too late for the Alfa brand. I don’t see any activity at Alfa dealerships anymore.
It’ll be interesting to see what Ram does with a smaller truck built in house.
The possibilities are endless on how it’ll be built, like what chassis and the powertrain… especially if it’s coming to the US or not.
After that dealer meeting, it sure sounds like what was shown in terms of a smaller truck was more Tacoma than Maverick.
Great market research, Alfa. Winning buyers with an expensive CUV named Toenail? Maybe not. And, credit Subaru with making an almost clone to the Pontiac Aztek, with all of that cladding. Proof that Subie fans will buy anything.