Category Archives: Pickup Truck

What’s New @ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the event

FCA holds an annual event at their Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan for journalists to give them a taste of what the brand has coming to dealer showrooms as well as a taste of future products with upcoming launch dates.


What’s New

Most of the FCA line is well established, and new often means tweaks to horsepower, Jeep Gladiator Rubiconwhich often translates into dollars, as horsepower sells well.  Ram Trucks have been refreshed over the last two model years, and their products are doing well, challenging their competitors in the market. Jeep continues to power sales and profits for FCA. And with the recent Gladiator launch, Jeep’s mid-sized pickup truck benefits from having Ram in the family.

FCA Vehicles line upFiat, Alfa, Chrysler have been lagging in new products, with Voyager, a lower cost 2020 Charger Scat Packnameplate variant of Pacifica, a being the most recent. Maserati was not on the field for this event, but the muscle power leader, Dodge, and SRT put out for display a meaty wide-bodied Charger with some muscle-bound Hellcat power and ScatPac V-8 Hemi.

The Dodge Boys from the NYIAS Demon Launch 2016

Leave it to the Dodge Boys to show that the love for American Motor Muscle is still alive at FCA with both Challenger and Charger, vehicles that you can raise a family in and be the fastest down the drag strip at the same time. Even if the sheet metal is basically the same for most of the recent decade, both of these machines continue to pump iron.Charger SRT HellCat





20190627_093346We gladly reconnected to the Jeep Brand, one that has a long history with this writer. Taking to the off-road trails with Brandon Girmus in a stock Gladiator.  Having the pickup’s marketing manager show off his baby from the navigator’s seat was a lot of fun, as he knows which buttons and switches to apply, and when to use them. Plus, we got to talk about the completion of his recent history project an early Military Jeep, and his desire for a Forward Control. No doubt we will see him working on one of those soon.


Work and Play, It Is What You Haul

Ram Truck Towing Case EquipmentOne of the benefits of having muscle power and the might of the FCA brand is that Dodge Durango towing a Challenger ScatPacktowing thing becomes easy. Be it with a Ram Heavy Duty Truck pulling a massive piece of construction equipment, a Dodge Durango pulling a swift race-ready Challenger, or a Jeep Gladiator pulling a really nice boat. Was also a highlight.  One might think the experience is pretty much the same no matter the tow vehicle, Not so at all, each provided very different experience to the driver. And yes, pulling with a Cummins Diesel, Rocks.


Flashing Lights and Sirens, It’s the Cops

Dodge Durango PursuitTaking to the test track, we got the behind the wheel of two of Dodge’s police pursuit vehicles. The Charger and the Durango. And we see why so many departments put these into their fleets. Fast and furious and dedicated to the job, FCA Dodge Charger Pursuitmakes sure they offer what Officers of the Law need when it comes to their rolling office and detention facility. Police vehicles are very focused on the job at hand, without any fluff.


Road Course

Abarth Steering WheelAbarth, taking to the track in a six-speed 124 Spider with the top down made you want to spend more time, topless in Pure Michigan style.  Throaty and growly, agile and comfortable, this little 2-seater was more fun around the test track that should be allowed by law. Fiat 124 Spider with Jeep


While our opinion is that FCA has an aging fleet of vehicles, they still produce ones that have a lot of value and merit in the marketplace. FCA’s has some very dedicated employees who love what they do, and it shows when they talk about the products. Kudos to FCA that they instill that kind of pride in their employees, as it is not easy to earn, especially in today’s world.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

William West Hopper shown with a Jeep

Mr. Hopper currently serves as the President of the Washington Automotive Press Association and has been reporting and working in the automotive industry throughout his career, starting in heavy trucking, then managing a Telco Fleet, and now reporting on the latest news from the automotive industry.

FCA invited Mr. Hopper to attend 2019 What’s New event providing transportation, food, and lodging.  This is not compensation for reporting about the brand or the event. His opinions expressed here are his own.



Officer Matt, Pulls Over To Test New Autos

5/16/2019 – 2019 Spring Brake  –  Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, New York.

Automotive Rally Tents

Upon arrival, approximately 50 different vehicles were grouped by manufacturer. Prior to arrival, I surveyed the list of cars and formulated a plan that would maximize my time to test drive as many vehicles as I could by 1530.



Officer Matt and the 2019 Acura NSXThe first vehicle driven was Acura’s NSX. Luckily, my teammate had secured a reservation to be the first test driver of this $190K Supercar. By far the most anticipated drive of the day and the NSX did not disappoint.  The sheer power of the car and its ability to stick to the road like glue was absolutely amazing, producing goosebumps on my arms and chills down my spine. The fit and finish were very luxurious. The seats and steering wheel felt as if they were designed specifically for me. The exterior was a statement of beauty with artfully designed curves and creases precisely where they needed to be placed as if Michelangelo himself designed the shell. Everywhere you drove, heads turned to look and listen.


2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck climing a gravel hill
2019 GMC Sierra Denali Pickup Truck is almost too pretty to take offroad.

The rest of the day was spent testing vehicles ranging from compact sedans to full-size trucks. A notable appearance was the GMC Sierra Denali 1500. As luxurious and useful as a truck could be, it fell short when compared to similar trucks in its class due to the lack of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The “revolutionary” new tailgate was cumbersome to use after spending ten minutes trying to figure it out.


Red 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec
2019 Acura TLX A-Spec made on the same production line as the NSX.

Another vehicle that got my attention was the Acura TLX A-Spec with SH-AWD. This upscale sport sedan had never even registered on my radar as a vehicle that would impress me. Boy, was I ever wrong, as soon as I stepped into the vehicle, the interior design was subtle yet sporty and luxurious all at the same time. Every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be. The operating system was incredibly easy to figure out. The sound system was incredible when compared to other

2019 Acura TLX A-Spec Dash
Acura TLX Interior every button and switch was placed exactly where it needed to be.

higher-end luxury vehicles. The mix of leather and suede on the heated and cooled seats, perfectly proportioned. Outside, the pearl coat of burgundy paint complemented the aggressive exterior styling cues perfectly. To finish off, the exterior was a gorgeous set of black rims. I kept finding myself wandering back to the TLX throughout the day, admiring it. At a price of just around $44K for a fully optioned top of the line, model forced me to see how affordable and attainable the Acura really is. I found myself smiling not only while behind the wheel, and even now, each time I think of it.


Genesis G90 Parked in front of a rock face
Genesis G90 a worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series.


Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.
Genesis G90 rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.

The final vehicle that commanded my attention was the Genesis G90. A worthy competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series. Sliding into the rear seat is like entering a private jet. The G90 is a vehicle to be driven around in, not just drive.  Rear seat controls provide access to the entire entertainment system, climate control, navigation, and audio system.  With heated and cooled rear seats, the only thing missing was a massage function. The rear passenger seat had a single button that would turn the seat into a fully functioning lounger, sliding the front seat all the way forward and down towards the dash to allow the rear occupant to stretch out. Feeling as if you were enveloped in an incredibly soft sofa and could easily take a nap.



Genesis G90 Dash view from rear seat.
Genesis G90 provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal.

The G90 driver experience was just as luxurious, minus the rear passenger lounge seat. With a quick and responsive engine propelling the car forward from a dead stop to 60mph with barely an effort, and with minimal noise. Genesis provides a multitude of driving assistance options, and they are phenomenal. The lane keep assist and nearly autonomous driving assistant made driving even on twisty mountain roads a breeze.



Rear of the Genesis G90
Classic Design makes the Genesis G90 a worthy competitor.

At the cost of almost $20,000 to $30,000 below what one would pay for a comparable S Class or 7 Series. The only reason I can think of why wouldn’t you want a G90 before one of its competitors would be the brand badge bragging rights. Perhaps it was wise of Genesis to distance their flagship vehicle from the Hyundai line, creating a new image to compete with Mercedes and BMW.


Reflecting on a day driving more than 25 vehicles, this was my first automotive journalist rally,  and for me, it was a resounding success.

Words by Corporal Matthew Rihl,
Photos by William West Hopper
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department in Virginia.
Corporal Matthew Rihl is a Field Training Officer and member of the Honor Guard with a local Virginia police department.
Corporal Matthew Rihl has served the public for 15-years with a local county police department in Virginia. In addition, he is also a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard. Officer Matt is a vital member of the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, which its sole purpose is to honor surviving partners and family members of LGBT police, fire, EMS and the military who have been killed in the line of duty during a special ceremony during National Police Memorial Week every year in Washington, DC.


Spring Brake is put on by the International Motor Press Association for professional automotive journalist members, offering them the chance to experience many different vehicles in one day. Membership and an entry fee are required to participate. Neither Matthew nor William were compensated for their time or reviews of any automobiles.

Tough, Comfortable Roustabout – The 2018 Ford F150 Pickup Truck.

20171017_151349Why would anyone drive a Pickup Truck? Why NOT? Nothing says power like being behind the wheel of a pickup truck. Nothing says tough guy, like cruising in a four-wheel drive pickup truck! The absolute utility of being able to haul stuff and people at the same time is a game changer.

We took a week in the 2018 Ford F-150, America’s best-selling pickup.  Get scruffy or all dolled up this Pickup is ready to roll for all occasions.

Ford F150 Raptor PickupThe F-150 Lariat, a mid-line trim level pickup is not the basic work truck, nor is it the high-horsepower sport monster that is the Ford Raptor. The four-door Super Crew Cab provides plenty of room for five full-size adults, with bucket seats in the front and seating for three in the rear with 60/40 fold-up second-row seats provide seating and or cargo space in the rear of the cabin.

Inside the cab

20171017_163727Interior space is more than you might expect, from the storage bin in the center console between the front seats big enough to stow a lunch box or laptop. Door-mounted map pockets or fold up one side of the rear seat to use the area underneath to hide things away. The 10-way power heated and cooled leather-trimmed driver and passenger seats are wide enough for the burliest of guys and soft enough to cuddle the gals. Adjustable pedals with memory help the driver no matter how long their legs might be.

20170518_115637Nothing about the interior of the F150 says spartan work truck. With soft touch plastics surrounding the cabin, a plush carpet and leather trim give the truck a luxury feel. Easy to read gauges, both digital and analog with switches and controls at easy reach make piloting this rig a piece of pie. It is the little things like a heated leather steering wheel and heated and cooled seats, both welcome when the weather turns.


Onboard Tech – We really liked

Everyone wants tech what they drive today. The 8-inch center stack touch screen provides access to the Sync Connect system which integrates easily whatever mobile device you bring on board. Our test truck was equipped with the $1395 Technology Package, which included the 360-degree camera with a split-view display showing all around the truck. Video resolution is clear. This linked into Ford’s Active Park Assist, which self-parks this big truck an inch or two from the curb. As well as Ford’s Lane-Keeping System, letting you know if you were straying from the lane you are driving in.

20171023_140005An all-new Bang & Oleson PLAY™ Premium Audio System by HARMAN is available. SYNC® Connect. B&O long a leader in sound systems backed by Harman’s engineering for automotive premium audio systems provides a concert hall experience in a pickup truck. Thes voice-activated system lets you talk instead of fiddle with knobs.

Automotive security systems are nothing new, Ford’s perimeter security system an advanced security package impressed us. Not only if someone tried to open the doors but once armed the truck as a whole was secure, even with windows open, so if someone were to reach in and grab, the truck responded.

Remote Start from the key fob has always seemed to be just a gimmick, but it is helpful when you want the heat or air conditioning on when you get into the truck.

Today we bring with us more than just our cell phone. So having power outlets including a 110/400w outlet powered by an inverter are great to have inside the truck.

Lighting both inside and out


20171023_133615Fog lamps and Side mirror mounted spotlights illuminate what you may want to see on or beside the road. While ambient lighting inside the truck provides a warm glow when you want.  LED cargo lighting in the bed of the pickup is a big help when loading cargo in the dark.

In all this F-150 4X4 provides all the towing and hauling capacity you could want.  One of the options was trailer sway control along with ClassIV hitch and smart trailer tow connector dynamic hitch assist.

Think of how you will use a pickup, which helps you choose a bed length. Ford offers 5.5, 6.5, and 8 feet on the F-150. Ours was the shorter of the three with 52.8 cubic feet of cargo space. 8-foot bed – when you need to bring home those roses from the garden store. Having the spray in bed liner (as opposed to a drop in liner) is a nice and clean addition that protects the bed’s paint.

You know you want a Pickup Truck

20171017_171722There are a number of trim levels you can choose in an F150: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch,® Platinum, Limited, and the muscle truck, Raptor. Our Lariat test truck was equipped with enough luxury and eco-boost power for every day or long hall driving.

Show Me The Money

F150 Prices start at $27,705 and go on from there. Our truck stickered out at just around $50K.  With a variety of incentives from Ford and groups you may belong to, such as Costco or a buying service connected to an association, insuarnce company or financial institution, you can get a great deal on a heck of a pickup truck.


Words and images by William West Hopper