Saturday, November 04, 2006

Compact pickups? No, old school mini trucks.

(Photo: Mike Dominguez in his Nissan 720, Freestylin' Magazine, ??/1986)

Holy crap I love old-school mini trucks. The very attributes that made mini pickups of the '70's and '80's so popular: simplicity, low cost, and economy; made them excellent canvases for customization too. Unfortunately, the mini truck scene has lost sight of the aesthetic. Modern custom mini trucks are a garish mess of graphics, huge rims, hydraulic pumps, and DVD screens. Classic mini trucks, although flashy, exhibit quite a bit of constraint in comparison. For example:

Cool: Monochrome magenta
Not Cool: Lime green with graphics

Cool: Static drops
Not Cool: Airbags, hydraulics

Cool: Cranked torsion bars
Not cool: Body drops

Cool: 15" wheels
Not cool: 20" wheels

Cool: Subwoofer walls
Not cool: LCD screens

Cool: Tweed
Not cool: Tweed

When I calculated 16.26 MPG for the last tank in our Xterra today, I thought again about finding a unique, frugal alternative f0r c0mmuting and Home Depot runs. And I d0 need a place to apply my NOS Freestylin' and Rockville BMX decals...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whatever happened to compact trucks?

Jalopnik posted pics of this sublimely un-pimped 1967 Toyota Stout from SEMA today. This vehicle is almost completely perfect; I'd probably add a set of chrome steel fake slot mags to the "low-profile" 70 series Drag Rite bias plies. (What width are those babies? E? F?)

What happened to compact pickups? Today's "compacts" have grown in size, weight, price, and thirst until they carry few advantages over full-size pickups. If Toyota would release a truck in the spirit of the original Stout today, they'd have a runaway sales hit. The same could be said of Nissan's 620 "Bulletside" and Mitsubishi's original Mighty Max.

Until then, I'll have to reminisce about my uncle's new 1979 Plymouth Arrow Truck with rainbow tape stripe, chrome Fenton wagon wheels, and Wide Trac radials.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Durocco

Anson added an additional 16v drivetrain to the rear of his 16v Scirocco. Sure it's freaking awesome, but what exactly is "green" about it?

As a hobby car, it racks up far fewer miles than a commuter. A car that spends most of its time parked or in pieces really uses very little fuel at all. Also (and this is probably stretching), it represents reusing materials that otherwise would go to scrap. (Yeah, that's the ticket!)

Anson does also drive a WVO-converted Mercedes.

In any case, it's unbelievable. Check out the videos to see him walk a Porsche 911 and drive sideways for minutes at a time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chevy Tahoe EPA MPG numbers optimistic?

I noted in a previous post that although the 2007 Tahoe's EPA mileage numbers aren't exactly stellar, they're far better than they were only a few years ago. The 2007 Tahoe 2wd 5.3 is EPA rated at 16 MPG city / 22 MPG highway.

But I may have spoken too soon about the apparent frugality of the new 'Hoe. Reports on the Web are reflecting real-world mileage figures that are significantly poorer than the advertised 16/22.

MPH Online's Blog notes

I just managed a paltry 16.3 mpg in a 2007 Tahoe on my 50-mile (each way) daily commute, 90 percent of which is highway driving. The problem? The 4-wheel drive Tahoe claims a fuel economy of 15 city, 22 highway. The last Tahoe I drove, which I took to Chicago, only gave back 14 miles per gallon. That truck had barely any miles on it and was a preproduction unit, so I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. But that's not the case here since the more recent 'Hoe was well above its break-in miles

A thread on Chevrolet Forum asks users of their MPG, assuming 50-75% highway driving:

Viperjuice posts: well i've been driving back and forth to work some city some highway and i average about 15.. i had it on the Masspike, which is alot of up and down highway and i reset it and was getting only 16.8.. honestly i'd go with the trailerblazer with the dod v8.. lighter truck, therefore better mileage.. and they defenitly are much better than those l6 engines.

Swatson1 posts: I'm getting 13.7 mpg overall average in my LTZ. I drive about the same percentage of hwy and city miles. I'm severely dissapointed in the gas mileage. It seems to make a difference whether you run the a/c or not. I'm in texas where it is hot, so I run it a lot.


ZX1100F1 posts: I have a 4X4 model with 4.10 gears, I get about 16.5 MPG avg with about 50/50 Hwy/City driving, I just turned 3K miles last week.
I took a trip the first week I owned it and avg'd a little over 18 Hwy, got 455 miles one tank before the light came on and I filled it up

You get the picture. So what's the problem? Active Fuel Management. My own theory is that the software algorithm behind this feature on the 5.3 Tahoe is optimized for the EPA test cycle but not necessarily for real-world driving conditions. Or perhaps the software has been revised between the test and the release of the vehicle. Or heck, maybe GM slipped the EPA a ringer.

In any case, I had considered the Tahoe despite its borderline-lousy MPG, for its utility and comfort. A herniated disc requires me to drive a vehicle with big seats, a high seating position, and plenty of legroom. But if the mileage is as bad as user reviews have indicated, the deal is off.