In this week’s Ask Nathan:
This first question comes from a fan who wants to know about the Jeep Yuntu concept on display at the 2017 Shanghai International Auto Show. He thinks it’s the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Q: Hi Nathan and crew. What the HELL IS GOING ON IN CHINA!?
So I’m browsing the internet looking for spy shots of a few cars when I see something that blew my mind. I just saw a three row Jeep on display at the Chinese auto show and it looks production ready! Is this going to become the Jeep Grand Wagoneer? If this is so, why the HELL IS IT IN CHINA FIRST!!!??? I don’t get it. Why would Jeep do this to its American base of fans?
Will the Jeep Wrangler JL debut at the Moscow auto show!? I am totally stupefied by this move from Jeep and Fiat. Maybe we’ll see the debut of the next Ram 1500 in Tokyo!? Please tell me there’s some logic behind this! There’s not much being said about this from anyone.
Nathan, Roman, Andra and Tom! Help!
A: Hi Armon,
I moved your email to the top of the list because there have been several confused Jeep fans out there. I will do my best to give you (and everyone else who has reached out to me recently) everything I have on it.
First: it’s not known as a Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It’s called the Jeep Yuntu Concept and it appear to be strictly a one-off concept vehicle built for the Chinese market.
Truck Trend caught this quote from Jeep: “This new concept includes futuristic exterior design, flexible interior and a plug-in hybrid powertrain. SUVs are the fastest-growing segment in China and the Jeep Yuntu Concept showcases the potential for the Jeep brand to keep expanding in the country.”
I have a friend who was at the show and got a good look at the Jeep Yuntu Concept. He says it looks like they gutted and stretched a Jeep Grand Cherokee to build this rolling concept. We both think that, if this concept (which is a plug-in hybrid) was anything more than a mockup, it might share its plug-in hybrid system with the Chrysler Pacifica and have a mix of parts to make it extremely clean and efficient for China.
Keep in mind: what many outlets are not reporting is that China is aggressively going after cleaner vehicles, especially electric vehicles, for public consumption. This would prompt FCA/Jeep to play with a Jeep built for their market that is capable of electric efficiency while still looking like a Jeep. I would gio as far as to say the rear wheels could be like Toyota’s hybrid setup on the Highlander and have an electric motor powering the rear wheels only when needed.
The question remains: is the Jeep Yuntu a future Jeep Grand Wagoneer? I doubt it. I think the design cues are Jeep-ish, but it looks too much like a Grand Cherokee and, I’m pretty sure the brand wants to go in a different design direction.
Still, Jeep is becoming enormously popular in oversea’s markets. People like the image of Jeep, even if they don’t need the capability. Maybe this is a side-step into uncharted territory.
I honestly believe Jeep is so busy readying their hype for the upcoming Jeep Wrangler JL, adding something like a Jeep Grand Wagoneer to the immediate mix makes little sense. In a year or so, that could change.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this – promise!
This next question comes from a fan who has some questions about our Ford F-150 vs the F-250.
Q: Hey guys, I’ve been following you for a while and thanks to all your great testing I ended up buying myself a 2016 F150 3.5EB super crew. I love the truck!
We are a camper family and current tow a 25FT 6000LB GVWR travel trailer which my F150 handles happily. We expect to upsize to a slightly larger toy hauler in a few years time which always has me wondering if my 150 is too small. Anyway, that’s another discussion!
The reason I’m reaching out is for a question I’m pondering and might make for an interesting episode for you. I just finished watching your Ike test on the new F250 towing 12500lb. This motor pumps out twice the power my 150 does, yet at times Mr. Truck is floored and seems is struggling to power up the hill. While I understand 12,500lbs is a heavy load, when I watch the Ike 2.0 on the 150 towing 10,000lbs the 150 doesn’t seem to “struggle.”
Obviously it’s an apples to oranges comparison, but I’d love to hear your thoughts between the two. If you compare spec sheets the 250 is a monster compared to the 150. But watching your tests it appears the jump up to the 250 might not be as big as the spec sheets indicate.
I’m sure similar spec sheet comparisons vs real world pull would be relevant with the other manufacturers but for solidarity sake I mention the F150 because that’s what relates to me!
Thanks, and keep up the great work.
Lou DiRosso from New York
A: Hi Lou!
Thank you for the awesome email!
You are rather astute to see the difference in how the F-250 performed under our boot. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- It never struggled: Although I spent some of the time in wide-open throttle, it was usually tugging at the leash. It’s more subtle; but, by the end, Andre and I surmised that it was completely unphased with its load.
- The F-150 is hard to beat: You’re right about the F-150. It’s a little beast and the EcoBoost engine is one of the most powerful we’ve unleashed when towing. Still, even if the engine is performing well, the platform can only handle so much. If you push it, you could kill the transmission or damage the frame.
- We were maxed in numbers, not capability: The Ford F-250 was maxed out because we were basically at our maximum GVWR is 10,000 lbs and we were up to 9,900 lbs. We could have easily hauled so much more.
- The Ford F-250 is up to towing daily: While the Ford F-150 is good for recreational towing, the F-250 feel like it’s happier when towing. It’s a rig that feels like you could tow with it daily and have no issues. It felt more industrial and heavy-duty over the F-150.
At the end of the day, the Ford F-250 achieved very high scores – and rightfully so.
The last question comes from a fan who wants a list of each automaker’s worst car I’ve driven.
Q:Nathan, love the show and love how unique you guys are. Can you come up with a list of the worst cars you have driven recently?
I have heard your video with Roman about a few. But what about one bad car from each automaker? Like the Toyota Scion iQ and stuff like that?
Thanks for the email! I will simply give you a list of five vehicles that, since 1999, I’ve tested and are pretty horrible. Why 1999? That about the time I became an automotive journalist. These are cars I’ve actually driven and commented about on line, on video or in a periodical.
This list is in no specific order.
- Dodge Caliber – This car was terrible. It shared its platform and some components with other brands, but that never helped. As a replacement for the Dodge Neon, it was a poor choice. Bad materials, bad engineering, poor performance (except for the SRT4 – but that car had serious issue too) and it was poorly executed. About the only credit I can give the Caliber is that it was somewhat utilitarian.
- Toyota Echo – The Toyota Echo did three things well: it got great mileage, it was very reliable and it was (for a small car) fairly accommodating. My issue was: it was slow, boring, looked silly and had a terrible interior. Still, once Toyota turned it into, or used many of its mechanicals in other vehicles like the Yaris and some Scion products – everything improved… except it was still slow, very slow.
- Nisan Versa Sedan (first generation) – I can’t fault Nissan for building the most affordable car in the United States, but I do have an issue with the overall execution of the idea. The Nissan Versa is slow, unattractive and cheaply put-together, but it could have had so much more charm. I like the current Nissan Versa Note, as it’s everything the original Versa should have been.
- Chevrolet Aveo – Just like the first generation Nissan Versa, Chevrolet could have made the Aveo a better car from the beginning. If you look the not-too-shabby Chevrolet Spark and mighty-good Sonic, you’ll see tons of personality mixed in with novel cost-cutting ideas. When you look at the Chevrolet Aveo – you just see cheap cost cutting ideas. It’s part of the car’s DNA and it made for a sad car indeed.
- Fiat 500L – The funny thing about the Fiat 500L is, I am related to two people who have them. One likes hers while the other one loves hers. My issue is two-fold: it is anything but easy on the eyes and it’s reliability has been poor. I feel bad for the other Fiat 500 vehicles because they are fairly good by comparison. Being that we don’t measure long-term reliability on most cars, I will simply say that the poor exterior design is inexcusable for a car company that’s capable of so much more. At least it’s comfortable and fairly utilitarian.
There you go. I doubt there are many surprises here. The common issue many of these cars suffered from was a lack of character or they were not very fun to drive.
Speaking of character and fun:
Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.
From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.
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