2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC Coupe – Instrumented Test

2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 4MATIC coupe twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine

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FCA Codifies Buyback, Incentive Programs for Recalled Dodge, Jeep, and Ram Trucks and SUVs

1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Fiat-Chrysler has now codified its incentive offerings to owners of some 200,000 Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler trucks and SUVs in order to either get the affected vehicles in for fixes or have them traded in toward new purchases.

Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty

Owners of 1993–1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002–2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs, which were recalled for exhibiting a fire risk in rear-end collisions (one incident that resulted in the death of a 4-year-old went to trial and resulted in a $150-million jury award, which Fiat-Chrysler has appealed), are eligible for a $100 restriction-free Visa prepaid card in exchange for having the recall work performed, which entails having a tow-hitch installed to reinforce the structure around the fuel tank. This offer is being extended to those who have had their Jeeps repaired since July 24, 2015, as well as those who have yet to go in for the service. Alternately, owners of affected Grand Cherokees can trade in their vehicle and get their choice of an additional $1000 toward the purchase of a new FCA vehicle or a $1000 Visa card toward parts or service at the dealership accepting the trade-in.

2012 Ram 1500 Mossy Oak edition

Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler

Some 200,000 Dodge Ram, Ram, Dodge Dakota, Dodge Durango, and Chrysler Aspen trucks and SUVs are also eligible for a similar program stemming from three separate recalls for steering issues. The affected vehicles are as follows:

  • 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen (production dates between 1/3/08 and 12/18/08)
  • 2009–2012 Dodge/Ram 1500 (2/27/08 and 6/30/09, and 12/1/09 and 10/20/11)
  • 2009–2001 Dodge Dakota (2/27/07 and 6/30/09, and 12/1/09 and 9/30/11)
  • 2008–2012 Dodge/Ram 2500 and 3500 4×4
  • 2008–2012 Dodge/Ram 2500 4×2 chassis cabs
  • 2008 Dodge/Ram Mega Cab 4×4
  • 2008–2012 Dodge/Ram 4500 and 5500 (2/20/07 and 12/31/12)

Owners who’ve yet to have recall work performed as of July 24, 2015, can take their vehicle in for service and receive a $100 unlimited Visa card; as with the Jeeps, those who had the repair performed after that date also are eligible. Trade-ins also are an option here, provided the owner takes advantage by January 4, 2016, with incentives on top of trade-in value being $2000 toward a new Ram or $1000 toward a new Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, or Fiat.

The buyback program for the Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler vehicles does not expire and offers fair-market value, plus 10 percent. To get an estimate for value, consumers can visit fcarecall.com starting September 1; physical inspections will begin on October 1, but any value of modifications—unless performed by the dealer or factory as part of the original purchase—will not be factored into the buyback offer.





Fiat-Chrysler suggests using NHTSA’s VIN-lookup tool or recalls.mopar.com to determine a particular vehicle’s recall-repair status. The automaker says it has already started contacting owners.

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S660 Roadster a No-Go for U.S., But There’s More to Honda’s Sports-Car Story

Honda S660

While a new Automotive News report indicates that the fantastic, super-mega-tiny S660 roadster isn’t coming to the U.S. as was expected—we understood that a 1.0-liter S1000 was on the table—we thanked our lucky VTECs that we will at least be sold the Civic Type R. According to American Honda executive vice president John Mendel, the S660 is likely too small to cut it stateside, but he did add that we shouldn’t give up hope for a Honda-brand sports car here, which hooray!

Honda S660

As much as we’d love to see the fun-to-drive S660 here, it is truly very, very small: A Fiat 500 is 10.7 inches longer and six inches wider than the S660. Given how poorly micro machines like the Smart Fortwo and others do in the American marketplace, keeping the mid-engined S660 in Japan is likely the smart move. Yet Mendel says U.S. dealers are clamoring for both a low-priced sports car like the S2000 and something akin to the rumored baby Acura NSX designed to take on the likes of the Porsche Cayman.





Now we wait for the follow through from Honda. An affordable sports car would help rekindle enthusiast interest in the brand, and we’ll never turn down any sort of mid-engined anything.

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5 Ways to Make Sure Your Car is Ready for Back-to-School Carpooling

Trust your back-to-school car care to Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJIf you’re a parent of school-aged children, back-to-school driving and carpooling will be the center of attention for the remainder of the year. I’m fairly certain the last thing you would want is to have your vehicle break down or to be without one because it’s in the shop undergoing a major repair. Preventive maintenance is the best way to keep your vehicle on the road. Here are a few ways you can make sure your car is ready for the back-to-school carpooling.


  1. Change the Oil & Filter – Keeping up with regular oil and filter changes not only protects your engine components, it will help extend the life of your engine.
  2. Other Vital Fluids – The other systems in your vehicle – braking, cooling, steering and transmission – also have fluids to keep them lubricated and from undergoing corrosion. Often times, though, car owners overlook the maintenance of these vital fluids. At a minimum, check the fluid level and condition of each of these once a month. Also, check with us to see when these fluids should be replaced with new.
  3. Tires – Over 50% of the vehicles on the road today have low tire pressure. Many tires on the road also have very little tread depth or have worn unevenly or prematurely. A simple tire gauge is a great investment and will help you save money at the pump and in purchasing new tires. You should check your tire air pressure once a month (use the tire pressure identified on the label inside the driver side door) and have your tires rotated each time you have the oil changed. Also inspect your tires for tread depth and uneven wear patterns. If you need new tires, give us a call. We always have a special running on Michelin tires. Read more on tire maintenance by clicking here.
  4. Headlamps and Directional Lights – The day light hours are getting shorter. To maximize visibility, your headlamps should be clear and aimed properly. You should also replace any bulbs that aren’t working.
  5. The Battery – The harshness of summer heat and winter cold can put a strain on an older battery. If your car’s battery is getting to be about 4 years old, you should have it replaced. We can check it for you when you bring your vehicle in for service.

You can make back-to-school car care simple by scheduling an appointment with Shade Tree Garage. We’re great at giving car owners peace of mind about the safety and reliability of their cars. After you’re done scheduling your appointment, head on over to our Facebook page (facebook.com/ShadeTreeGarage) and print off our latest car care coupons. You’ll find them on the “Save!” tab. Click here to schedule your back-to-school car care appointment now.


photo credit: Soccer via photopin (license)

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Cell Mate: 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel-Cell Sedan Tested

2016 Toyota Mirai

Mirai is Japanese for “the future.” This is Toyota’s way of saying that its sedan most resembling SpongeBob SquarePants on a skateboard runs on hydrogen and produces no emissions. The Mirai is the first fuel-cell car offered for sale, not just lease. (The conceptually similar Honda FCX Clarity and Hyundai Tucson FCEV remain corporate property through and after the duration of their leases.) The stand­ard rap on fuel-cell vehicles—that the technology is always five years away—expires when eight California dealers deliver 200 Mirais before the end of the year, followed by another 2800 cars over the next two years. The $58,325 base price isn’t much of a return on the 23 years of development and 5680 patents that Toyota invested in this future, but milestones never come cheap. READ MORE ››

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Jeep May Actually Build Wrangler-Based Pickup

Jeep J-12 Concept

The oft-teased idea of a pickup version of the Jeep Wrangler has gotten a new lease on life, according to a recent report in Automotive News. Springing from Fiat-Chrysler’s recent dealer meeting, the report says that a Jeep-branded mid-size pickup “could begin production in 2018,” depending on what happens with the Toledo, Ohio, factory that has long been the home of the Wrangler. The report also says the truck would have a short bed and make use of Wrangler suspension bits and powertrains.

Jeep fans have long memories, and they have not forgotten the 1981–85 Scrambler, which was based on the CJ. The Scrambler featured a stretched wheelbase, a removable roof, and (naturally) four-wheel drive. Jeep itself has certainly been guilty of stoking the fires with a series of Wrangler-based pickup concepts. The most recent was the J-12 (which we drove) that additionally featured the retro goodness of the early ’60s Jeep J-series/Wagoneer front end.

2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept

Back in 2005, we saw the more straight-up Wrangler pickup notion in the form of the Gladiator concept shown above. Its production-ready appearance and sweet-looking side-mounted spare had the faithful salivating, but the project never went anywhere. Then there was the Wrangler JT concept, which wowed crowds at the annual Jeep Easter Safari in Moab in 2009. Yet another two-door Wrangler pickup, this one was built on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited chassis. To fill the void, conversion and aftermarket companies have stepped in, such as AEV and its awesome Brute.





Enough already. With a new Wrangler on the way in 2017, Marchionne and friends need to figure out a way to add a pickup variant. There’s a reason this idea just refuses to die.

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2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel-Cell Sedan – Instrumented Test

2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai2016 Toyota Mirai electric motor

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Traffic Tickets Have Become a Tax-Hack Pile-On

Michigan state flag

People with absolutely no friends in your state’s capital include terrorists, communists, smokers, and those cited for a driving offense. No politician with reelection on his or her mind would lift a finger to help out speeders and stoplight runners. Hey, they broke the law, they deserve whatever we give them, right? This political truth proved itself over and over again in the last decade as states rushed to patch holes in annual budgets by dumping more and more extraneous fees onto traffic tickets. As with a cigarette tax, a traffic-ticket surcharge generates little opposition from the assembled representatives, none of whom wants to be seen as representing the interests of lawbreakers. In Pennsylvania, fees have been tacked onto tickets for state police training, emergency medical services, the state’s judicial computer system, a fund to compensate people injured by medical negligence, and a program to provide legal services for the indigent. A $57 fine thus lands on your wallet as a $158.50 pile of random taxation. It’s worse in California, where a typical $100 fine pencils out to $490. Over the past 50 years, the State Assembly in Sacramento has run riot with traffic levies, the Los Angeles Times reporting that 80 percent of a traffic ticket’s bottom line has nothing to do with the actual offense. Among the add-ons: a fee to aid people with traumatic brain injuries, a fund to help victims of violent crimes, and a toll for the protection of state wildlife. Texas and Michigan have enacted “driver responsibility” programs that impose recurring fees above and beyond the initial fines for repeat offenders. In the Great Lakes State, drivers who amass seven points in two years are assessed a $100 fee each year and an extra $50 for any points accumulated above that. If you can’t provide proof of insurance by your court date, it’s another $400 in fees over two years. READ MORE ››

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2016 Toyota Prius Caught Totally Naked Just Days Before Official Launch

2016 Toyota Prius

If you, like us, were hoping Toyota might find some way to make its new, fourth-generation Prius hybrid less like an amorphous vehicular tadpole, prepare to be disappointed. New photos leaked by Prius Club Malaysia show a pair of 2016 Toyota Priuses seemingly in transit via air on their way to the official launch event. They are totally free of camouflage, but also alarmingly free of improved styling. Officially, we are to wait until next week’s formal debut for our first look at the new Prius, but the photos published by Prius Club Malaysia and publicized by DPC Cars, Green Car Reports, and others mean that the car’s time is now.

It appears that when Toyota’s designers went searching for inspiration for the new Prius, they looked across the studio at the homely Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell sedan and . . . couldn’t look away. Lines, angles, and bulbous elements intersect all over the Prius’s body, and while these images are far from flattering, we’ll wait until we see the car from all angles to render our final judgment. Hopefully the hybrid’s promising-sounding technical details make up for the seemingly uninspiring visuals.

2016 Toyota Prius





One thing’s for certain, though, and that’s that the new hybrid will slip through the air with a minimum of effort; Toyota is shooting for 60 mpg with this one. One upside? The front-bumper license-plate holders pictured on these Priuses look like tiny Fu Manchu mustaches. Hey, everyone should try the Fu Manchu at least once.

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The Unboring Minivan? 2017 Chrysler Town & Country Comes Into Clearer Focus

Chrysler 700C concept A fresh report from Automotive News has gathered many previous details on the 2017 Chrysler Town & Country and added some new tidbits to provide the clearest, most concise picture yet of the next-generation family hauler.

The industry paper expects the van to take styling cues from the 200-esque 700C concept, pictured above, which quietly debuted at the 2012 Detroit auto show with absolutely none of the typical PR offensive. If the new T&C does indeed look anything like the 700C, it would bring a radical look to a segment in which the Honda Odyssey’s “lightning-bolt” window line counts as outrageous.

Among the new bits: The T&C will receive hands-free, foot-operated side doors in addition to its liftgate (all falling under Open ’n’ Go branding); all three rows will offer USB ports for recharging; and Chrysler plans to add an onboard vacuum cleaner like that of the Odyssey. Offering lots of goodies will ensure the Town & Country is well-equipped to battle the Odyssey and Toyota Sienna when it becomes the only minivan in Fiat-Chrysler’s stable once the Dodge Grand Caravan—the van itself, not the nameplate—is discontinued after 2017.





Automotive News also re-asserts details we’ve heard before, such as the electric-motor-based all-wheel-drive system, the plug-in-hybrid variant that’s due by the end of 2016, and the new direct-injected V-6/nine-speed automatic combo that’s expected to dramatically increase fuel economy. The new minivan, AN says, will enter production next February in Windsor, Ontario, and we already know it will start at around $26,000. Expect to first see it at this fall’s L.A. auto show or in January at the Detroit show.

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