Road Test: 2015 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio

Road Test: 2015 Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio

Top Down Fast Fun

Fiat returned to the United States auto market in 2009 after a 26-year hiatus, introducing American drivers to the new 500, or, as they call it in Italy, the Cinquecento. In subsequent years Fiat released derivatives of the 500 called the Pop, Sport, Lounge 1957 Edition, Cabrio “e” and Abarth. Two other models, the 500L and 500X, are built on a different platform and round out the Fiat 500 line-up. While all the 500 versions are fun to drive, Fiat’s high performance Abarth version – it even wears a Scorpion badge – is no normal small car. With more than 60 years of international racing competition, let’s take a look at this track-ready and track-proven car.


The 2015 Fiat 500c Abarth comes with a twin-intercooler, turbocharged 1.4-liter, inline, MulitiAir, 16-valve four-cylinder engine with sequential multiport electronic fuel injection, producing 157

2015,Fiat, 500c,Abarth,Cabrio,performance

Itching to get out on the road

hp and 183 lb-ft of torque. The front wheels are driven through an Aisin, heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission with Auto Stick, delivering an EPA rating of 24 city/32 highway/27 combined (the stick delivers 28/34/30 if you follow the shift light). In 346 miles of 70-percent highway /30-percent city driving Clean Fleet Report averaged 26.2 mpg, which means the 10.5 gallon fuel tank would take you about 275 miles before needing a fill-up. Note: The EPA’s gas mileage formula is 45-percent highway /55-percent city. Here in Southern California our 70-percent highway /30-percent city driving pattern is far more real world and is why we report it to you.

Running on unleaded regular (with mid-grade recommended), the 84-cubic-inch high-revving engine was smooth, responsive and quick, taking about seven seconds for 0-to–60, a full three seconds less than the base, non-turbo engine in the 500. But, an automatic in a hot hatch? Why would anyone opt against the five-speed manual and its added control and fuel economy? Let’s see.

Driving Experience: On the Road

2015,fiat ,500c,Abarth,Cabrio,performance

An interior to match the performance under the hood

Conventional thinking is that to go fast and be sporty, a manual transmission is the way to go. This would be news to Ferrari and Lamborghini as they no longer offer a manual transmission. And if you want performance in a Porsche 911, then go for the PDK automatic rather than the manual. So maybe Fiat is onto something.

Clean Fleet Report’s 500c Abarth (c stands for Cabrio or convertible) with the six-speed automatic transmission weighed in at a comfortable 2,545 lbs. The oft-compared Mini Cooper S, with a turbocharged I-4 and an automatic, weighs in at 2,760 lbs.

In my review of the Fiat 500 Lounge 1957 Edition I felt the handling was very good and only wondered what the suspension upgrades for the Sport and Abarth models would be like. After spending a couple weeks in the Abarth, I found the handling is tighter, but not radically more nimble. In certain cornering situations the Abarth suspension was too stiff, which under heavy cornering acceleration caused the wheels to chatter. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Fiat 500 Abarth went exactly where you wanted it to go with the electric power steering being very subtle in its assist. The Abarth’s front MacPherson suspension was track-bred with coil springs and KONI frequency-selective damping twin-tube struts, with a stabilizer bar and performance-tuned shocks, and springs and a solid stabilizer bar in the rear. Add in the Pirelli Cinturato P7 all-season performance 195/45R16 tires, mounted on 16-inch painted aluminum wheels, and you have one fun, tight little car.

The turbocharged engine mated with the Auto Stick automatic provided all the power necessary to have spirited fun. If Fiat added-in paddle shifters this package, along with the tuned suspension, could mimic a manual transmission and make this car even more enjoyable to drive. Fiat was wise to not over-power the Abarth, as a concern with front wheel drive cars is torque steer. I never felt anywhere close to losing control when putting down the power. This is a comforting thing because not being able to steer a car due to too much power at the drive wheels is someplace I have been and don’t want to go again.

With all these spirited driving attributes I found one glaring irritation—the exhaust note. At low speeds, as in pulling out of my driveway at six in the morning, it made a terrible racket that


A note too far (or loud)

announced loud and clear to my sleeping neighbors that I was departing. At freeway speeds there is an annoying drone that even cranking up the stereo could not overcome. However, the tuned exhaust sounded great when going down through the gears. Then a true sports car feel takes over, especially in Sport mode, while manually shifting using the Auto Stick; you can produce nice rumble, popping and burbling sounds. Now we’re talking FUN!

Stopping was by semi-metallic, vented, single-piston front disc brakes with single-piston solid rear rotor disc brakes (with red calipers) that delivered steady pressure with four-wheel Brake Assist and the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS). Handling was enhanced with All-speed Traction Control (TCS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Driving Experience: Exterior


Color-coordinated stopping power

If the Fiat 500 line-up is all about Italian Retro design, then the 500 Abarth takes it a step further, what Fiat calls “aggressive styling giving it an athletic profile.” Clean Fleet Report was driving the Abarth painted white (Bianco) with red bodyside stripes, horizontal on the driver and passenger doors, and aluminum spoked wheels with black painted inserts. For fun, the calipers are painted in red (Rosso) lacquer making them pop against the black wheels and match the bodyside stripe and red capped outside mirrors.

Up front, to differentiate the Abarth from its siblings, there is a large air intake slot just above the lower, slotted twin-intercooler intakes on the fascia. The large, round,

Bi-Halogen projector headlights sit above the round Halogen fog lamps. The 500 Abarth has an upright design, with a raked front windshield and sides that slope


Style-of course-it’s Italian

inward towards the roof. The roof features a power, folding gray cloth sliding panel that has three stop positions. This leads to a fixed rear glass on the hatch, which has a sharp angle sloping forward. Chrome pieces are at a minimum and used properly as accents.

This all adds up to a unique looking sporty car that also comes in exterior colors of gray (Grigio), red (Rosso) and black (Nero.) A different design from anything else you will see on the road, it is pure Italian all the way.

Driving Experience: Interior

The first thing you notice when getting into a Fiat 500 is how small it seems, and it is, make no mistake. But the smallness does not translate into being cramped because at 5’ 9” I fit just fine, as did my friend at 6’, including ample headspace. The Abarth gets a sportier interior than the other models, starting

2015 Fiat,500c,Abarth,Cabrio,interior

Style, but not much room

with high-back performance, heated cloth seats with large thigh bolsters. Our seats were black with red contrasting stitching, a color scheme carried through to the leather wrapped steering wheel and dashboard. It all worked nicely and was just subtle enough to not scream high-performance. Adding to the sporty look was the leather-wrapped shift knob and aluminum foot pedals. The tilt steering wheel column along with the manually adjustable seats made finding a comfortable seating position easy. But, and I hate it when there is a but, the tight fit between the doors and seat edges mean you should not even attempt to find anything you dropped until getting out of the car. Also, the contortionist moves needed to reach the shoulder belts once seated upfront are the result of the smallness of the interior. Fiat says the 500 Abarth seats four, and technically it does. The best bet, though, is to lay the 50/50 split rear seats flat and enjoy zipping around with enough luggage space for two to have a great weekend trip driving twisties in your local mountains or forests.

Since we were driving the 500c Abarth, it means we had a power-operated cloth top that can be opened to any of three positions at speeds of up-to 60 mph. Not a


Top almost-down fun

true convertible, the Abarth Cabrio’s folding top retracts at its fullest position to just before the rear fixed window. You get all the open air driving enjoyment without losing the rigidity of a sports coupe.

2015 Fiat 500c Abarth TomTom nav system

Shows the way but is in the way

The 500c Abarth dash is clean and basic with everything well within reach and eyesight of the driver, including a turbo boost gauge.  But, and there is that dastardly but again, the TomTom navigation screen appears to be an afterthought, as it is inserted right at eye level mid-dash and is a distraction when driving. This device also acts to sync Bluetooth through the BLUE&ME system for mobile phone hands-free, voice-activated communication, so it is necessary to install it into the dash when starting the car. But then—thankfully—once synced, you can remove the TomTom device, put it in the glovebox, and the Bluetooth continues to work. Of course this means you no longer have navigation, but heck, how can you get upset when getting lost in a fun driving car?


Beats in the trunk

Our 500c Abarth had the six-speaker, high-definition Beats by Dr. Dre audio system that delivered high-quality sound through an eight-inch dual-voice subwoofer (mounted in the trunk) and an eight-channel 368-watt amplifier. It all sounded great playing the AM/FM/CD/MP3 systems and SiriusXM, which comes with a one-year subscription. All of this can be managed by the controls on the Abarth performance-designed steering wheel, or the Media Hub with USB, AUX and audio input jacks.

Convenience features include power windows with one-touch down, power door locks, automatic temperature control with cabin filtration, floor mats with acoustic foam, remote keyless entry, 12V and USB power outlets, multiple cup holders, rear cargo shelf panel, security alarm and a tire service kit in lieu of a spare tire.

Safety Features

The 2015 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for Side and Frontal Crash, Rollover and Overall ratings. Safety features include


It’s Italian for super street performance

seven airbags, traction control, ParkSense rear park assist, engine immobilizer, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), brake assist, Hill Start Assist (HSA) and cruise control. The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) rated the standard 500 as good in all categories (head restraints & seats, roof strength, side and moderate overlap front) but poo in the small overlap front crash test.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth has a base price of $23,345, with the 500c Abarth Cabrio Clean Fleet Report was driving had a MSRP of $31,795. All prices include the $850 destination charge. Option Packages will add to these prices.

All 2015 Fiat 500 models come with these warranties:

  • Basic Limited/Powertrain – Four-year/50,000-mile
  • Brakes, Wiper Blades, Clutch, Windshield & Rear Window, Wheel Alignment & Balancing – One-year/12,000-mile
  • Corrosion – Three-year/Unlimited miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Four-year/Unlimited-miles

Observations: 2015 Fiat 500c Abarth Cabrio

A cool-looking Italian car with a turbocharged engine that looks like nothing else on the road makes for fun times behind the wheel. So what’s not to like about this slick small car?

2015, Fiat, 500, 500c, Abarth

Like gelato, lots of Cinqucento flavors

Interior size is a consideration if you are inviting more than one other person to go on a trip longer than a few miles. The exhaust decibel level could be an issue for you as it was for me. This, of course, is a personal preference.

If you like driving corners aggressively and it is important that no one else is driving the same car as you when showing up at a party, then the Fiat 500C Abarth Cabrio could be right for you.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving! Ciao!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at

The Legacy of Volkswagen Clean Diesel

The Legacy of Volkswagen Clean Diesel

What Clean Diesel Is & What It Is Not

As I write this, the public Volkswagen TDI debacle is just beginning. The federal Environmental Protection Agency and California’s Air Resources Board have presented their cases that Volkswagen AG (the parent of Volkswagen and Audi, among others) installed software that defeated the purpose of its emissions control equipment except when it was being tested for emissions. The ramifications remain to be seen, but certainly involve some kind of emissions updates to almost 500,000 2009-15 TDIs now on the road. It can be expected that a hefty fine will be levied against VW, which is the world’s largest automaker.

2015 VW,Jetta TDI, badge

A badge of honor?

It also can be expected that the term “clean diesel” will be tarnished, since that is one that VW and other automakers have taken great pains to reinforce for the past several years. That is where Clean Fleet Report has its biggest concern. Volkswagen clean diesel may have become an oxymoron, but we do not believe that is a broad brush that should paint all diesels. Maybe even VW diesels. After all, with the software’s permission, the vehicles did meet the stringent emissions standards of the U.S., which were set so diesels would be available to drivers in all 50 states (California regulations had kept them out for several years). The problem, of course, is that they did not meet those standards in normal driving modes, instead emitting 10-40 times the regulated limit.

At Clean Fleet Report we believe diesels can be clean, both in the certifications submitted to the regulatory agencies and in their daily operation. We also believe that any compromises in performance or fuel economy due to meeting emissions regulations are something consumers will deal with. For those of us old enough to remember diesel’s (which was not clean diesel) first foray into the U.S. market in the 1980s, compromises were part of the bargain. Maybe too big of a part of the bargain. Of course, gasoline cars of the time were far from no-compromise vehicles as well. We’ve come a long way since then and have every right to expect cars and trucks that deliver on all fronts–fuel economy, performance and emissions. Not all technologies are going to be equal and all have a place. Electric vehicles, as wonderful as they are, are far from zero emission vehicles when their electricity comes from coal, to give one example. Fuel cell electric cars offer a great replacement for our expectations of a gasoline/diesel vehicle replacement, until it comes time to find a refueling station, to offer another. That doesn’t make them bad technologies.

We’ll have more to say once we have more information on both the research into what happened, what will be done to correct the vehicles’ software and what impact this might have on our earlier

chevy,cruze,diesel,clean diesel, turbodiesel

Chevy Cruze Diesel

impressions. We will probably reserve judgement on any public pronouncements until our staff has a chance to drive the updated cars and calibrate our response. Suffice it to say, from my personal perspective, slightly less responsive performance and a slightly less fuel efficient vehicle will not change my overall impression of the value of a compression ignition engine. But my feelings of trust of Volkswagen may take longer to heal.

More to come.

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Clean Fleet Report staff have worked for in the past and retain close relations with Volkswagen and other companies and organizations in the diesel industry. The views expressed here are the personal ones of the author related to this issue.

Road Test: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box

Road Test: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box

Big On the Inside, Bigger On the Outside

To set some expectations, let’s start with the fact that the 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box, aka Ram 3500, is a true purpose-built vehicle for hauling heavy loads or, as Ram calls it: The Best Tool Box. The Best Tool. Sure you could buy the ever-popular Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan or one of Chevrolet Silverado or Colorado (or the GMC versions, Sierra and Canyon), but these are mere play things compared to the Ram 3500. Even the Ram 1500 equipped with its own diesel engine seems puny next to its big brother.


Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 was powered by a 6.7-liter inline-six cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled Cummins diesel engine, mated to an Aisin, six-speed automatic transmission,

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

The badges say it all & why you’d buy

putting out 385 hp and 865 lb-ft of torque. (Also available are 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V-8s.) The Ram 3500, as with all heavy-duty (GVWR [gross vehicle weight rating] over 8,500 pounds) vehicles, is not ranked by the EPA for fuel economy. However, in 407 miles of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving we averaged 15.1 mpg, which, if the 32-gallon tank of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel was run dry, would have taken us about 480 miles down the road. The beauty of diesel engines is their efficiency, whether in a car or truck. In our case, we were running unladen with a curb weight of 8,319 lbs., so our fuel economy numbers were better than if we had been pulling a trailer or the bed was loaded.

Another factor for diesels is their ability to accommodate the use of biofuels. The Ram is certified for the use of up to B20 (20 percent biodiesel/80 percent petrodiesel) in commercial fleet applications. Renewable diesel doesn’t face as many restrictions since it meets the same specifications as petroleum diesel, though it is derived from plant or animal waste or residue.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Back to the Ram 3500 being a purpose built vehicle. The purpose, especially with the Cummins diesel and all that torque, is to pull stuff. And boy can it pull stuff, such as towing up to 29,010 lbs. or loading 5,680 lbs. in the bed. For our nicely optioned test truck, its purpose probably is focused on towing a horse or travel trailer, either with a hitch or in a fifth wheel configuration. It is easy to envision cruising the highway to an equestrian event in the comfort and ease of a Ram 3500.

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

The long and curvy side

Ram is upfront by saying “Heavy duty trucks generally have suspensions equipped for constant, heavy payloads. This can result in a harsher ride when unloaded.” It was true our Ram 3500 could have had a smoother ride, especially at 70 mph in the fast lane, but it wasn’t harsh or punishing, and we did not experience any surprises such as the rear end bouncing uncontrollably. The Ram 3500 utilizes a rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system and a supplemental air suspension system on both the single and dual rear-wheel applications. By adding supplemental air bags to the rear suspension, Ram engineers were able to soften the leaf springs, allowing for more unladed suspension movement. When a high-load capacity condition exists, the air suspension automatically fills the rear air bags to level the truck to improve stability and ride quality – even when pulling a best-in-class 29,000-pound load.

Body on ladder frames can squeak and rattle, but none of those were evident with the Ram 3500, which was impressive considering the weight, length, horsepower and torque we were hauling around. No one would confuse a truck of this size with being sporty, and Ram does not present it that way. We found the hydraulic assist power steering was programmed to allow for proper road feel. Entering corners was not a series of over or under steering to find the proper turn-in point, which on right hand turns is the key to not running the outside dually tire onto the curb and sidewalk. Having a feel for the road, whether in a sports car or heavy-duty truck, results in maintaining control of the vehicle, especially in emergency situations, which is crucial when driving a truck of this weight, width and length.

One more thing about driving a dually is that there are only inches to spare on either side before hitting the lane markers. The learning curve to keep the Ram 3500 centered mid-lane was not too steep, but paying attention at all times was important.

The 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel has a low, but satisfying, rumble upon start-up, but was quiet on the highway. The six-speed automatic has a low first gear that quickly shifts into second and, going

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

Capable of hauling, loaded or unloaded

through the gears, the torque kicks-in rapidly with smooth and quick 35 – 65 mph acceleration with near-seamless gear shifts. We experienced about an 8.9-seconds 0-to-60, which, for a substantial heavy-duty truck, was impressive. I did not get the chance to test the 4X4 or towing capabilities, but did experience the Hill-descent Control feature. This system uses the antilock braking system (ABS) to control the truck’s downhill motion, providing a smooth and controlled downhill ride, in any terrain, without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. If the vehicle accelerates without the driver input; the system will automatically apply the brakes to slow down to the desired vehicle speed. It was an eye-opener when at 10 mph on a steep downhill grade the Ram 3500 progressively slowed to about 6 mph without stepping on the brake pedal. I could only imagine how reassuring this safety feature would be when towing a horse trailer down an incline.

Control is paramount on a truck of this weight, width and length, making the brakes as important as any other system on the vehicle. Stopping was straight, from the Hydro-boost power-assisted, twin piston front and rear disc brakes. Aiding also was the Diesel Exhaust Brake, brake assist, rainy day and ready alert braking, Hill Start Assist, trailer brake control, anti-spin rear differential, with a four-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) and stability and traction control. Even with all this braking technology, it is best not to tailgate, as stopping this beast is nothing at all like your daily driver.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

The business begins under the hood with Cummins diesel torque

One quick look is all it takes to see the 2015 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box was all business, or as Ram says, the design “upholds a bold presence.” The front end, dominated by the Ram signature grill and the very recognizable Ram’s Head badge logo, is all done in bright work, including very stylish chrome mesh work. The rounded sculpting of the hood blends into the slightly swept-back quad, Halogen projector headlamps, giving the Ram 3500 an aggressive, but non-threatening look. The cab, topped by five clearance lamps, leads to the eight-foot box that comes with a spray-in liner.

The box also comes with the fifth wheel/Gooseneck towing package that includes a seven-pin wiring harness and a four-pin wiring connector. The side view

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4 rear step

A handy step up

reveals chrome, cab-length running boards and outside power and heated folding mirrors that rotate horizontally and vertically to accommodate trailer towing and the large rear fenders enclosing the dual 17-inch chrome wheels and the 235/80/R17 All-season tires. At the rear once again is the Ram’s head badge logo on the locking liftgate, a Class V receiver hitch and a very handy footstep that retracts under the left corner of the chrome bumper.

Driving Experience: Interior

How many strapping cowboys did you want to haul around? The crew cab on our Ram 3500 easily could accommodate three in the rear and a front passenger, all of whom would be riding in fine comfort. The Laramie Longhorn Package rear heated seat is leather all-the-way, with First Class airline legroom, and storage space under the flip-up seat bottom. Continuing the cowboy theme, the front seatbacks have saddlebag-type flaps and buckles so you will never be far away from the ranching lifestyle.

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4 interior

All the leather a cowboy could want

Up front the leather continues on the heated and ventilated seats that are wide and cushy. The driver seat is 10-way power adjustable (with memory) and the passenger is a six-way power adjustable seat. Finding a comfortable driving position was important to control this large truck. Along with the power adjustable seat, the pedals and outside mirrors are also power adjustable and have memory, the steering column tilts and the thick-rimmed steering wheel is heated.

The Ram 3500 is built for the mobile executive and includes ample storage space for computers, laptops, smartphones and writing surfaces to get all their work

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

Storage and buttons and everything down on the range

done while on the road.

The gauges, including one showing the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) level, are within quick-glance viewing, and the knobs and switches are easy for the driver to reach and operate. The 8.4-inch color touchscreen display, includes GPS navigation and the Uconnect system. The infotainment system, with steering wheel-mounted controls, is among the most convenient and easy to use of all I have tested with an Apple iPad-like simplicity. The premium sound system’s nine amplified speakers, with surround sound, powered the AM/FM/CD/MP3 and HD Radio, with SiriusXM (one-year subscription included), voice command with Bluetooth, audio input jacks with iPod control, SD card slot and USB port. Also, the infotainment system is controlled by volume and channel selection knobs – a must to get Clean Fleet Report’s top rating for convenience and driver safety.

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4 interior

Because a cowboy’s got things to store

The Ram 3500 had convenience features such as a power sliding rear window, power front windows with one-touch down, power rear windows, power door locks, power and heated (with memory) foldaway exterior mirrors, A/C with automatic climate control and rear vents, floor mats, remote start, keyless entry, 12V and USB power outlets, tilt steering column, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera and cruise control.

Overall, the Ram had a very well laid-out interior with nice touches of real wood trim, top stitching, fine leather, the best outside mirrors I have tested and a high-quality sound system. All this delivers a pleasant environment where spending hours behind the wheel is a welcome experience.

Safety and Convenience

The 2015 Ram 3500 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for Side and Frontal Crash, Rollover and Overall ratings. Safety features include six airbags, traction control, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView rear back-up camera, Puddle Lights under the exterior rear view mirrors, Cargo View camera, remote start, engine immobilizer, security alarm and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS.)

Pricing and Warranties

Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box had a base MSRP of $54,980. As tested, ours came in at $69,915, including the $1,195 Destination Charge.

The 2015 Ram 3500 comes with these warranties:

  • Basic: Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Powertrain: Five-year/100,000-mile
  • Roadside assistance: Five-year/100,000-mile
  • Rust-through perforation: Three-year/Unlimited-mile

Observations: 2015 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box

If you have read this far, then you must have a need for, or at least an interest in, a heavy-duty truck for towing or carrying heavy loads. If so, then the Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel Laramie

2015 Ram 3500 Cummins diesel 4x4

An easy rolling big rig

Longhorn Crew Cab 4X4 Long Box should exceed all your needs, including getting your passengers and you where you are going in style.

The fact that this truck might be driven much of the time empty of cargo or a trailer should not be a factor in not owning one. For its size, weight and length, the Ram 3500 reviewed here is very manageable around town and on the highway. For the business owner or company executive, the mobile office attributes will make it a good return on your capital equipment budget for years to come.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Pickups Pick Up MPG


Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at

Update: 2016 Nissan Leaf

Update: 2016 Nissan Leaf

Top Selling EV Gets Updates on Battery Life and Range

The Nissan Leaf, which has sold more pure electric cars in the U.S. than any other manufacturer, is boosting the range on its 2016 model in the U.S. by bumping up the battery size and efficiency.

2016-Nissan-Leaf-battery pack

Bigger & better

This new Leaf will get an EPA-estimated 107 miles on a full charge, a 27-percent increase compared to the 2015 model.

The Nissan Leaf, first introduced in December 2010, is the sales leader for electric vehicles (EV) with more than 185,000 on the road worldwide. Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2013 Leaf two years ago and were impressed with its handling, quiet ride, interior space, passenger comfort, torque and smooth acceleration. We also felt that, at the time, the approximate 75 mile driving range was attractive enough to get many drivers out of their gasoline-powered cars and into a plug-in, all-electric LEAF.

This driving range increase on the Leaf SV and SL models is impressive, coming not only from additional batteries being added and the battery growing in size from 24 kWh to 30 kWh, but also from that battery being more efficient in how the stored electricity is managed and used. Nissan will continue to offer the 24 kWh battery in the entry-level Leaf S model, with a nominal 84-mile driving range.

While the exterior, electric motor and suspension remain the same, the 2016 Nissan Leaf has upgrades to the infotainment system and communication connectivity with new mobile apps and a

2016 Nissan,Leaf,infotainment,display

An upgrade visible in the dash

friendlier user interface.

Pricing for the 2016 Leaf, before any federal or state tax incentive programs or Nissan’s destination charge, begin at:

Model S       $29,010

Model SV     $34,200

Model SL      $36,790

The base model price remains the same as 2015 while the upper trim levels (SV and SL) with the bigger battery (and some other added equipment) get $2,100 and $1,670 bumps respectively.

Clean Fleet Report will provide a full review on the 2016 Nissan Leaf in the coming months. Until then, you can go to your local Nissan dealer to drive the 2015 model and request being added to the 2016 Leaf inquiry list.

Unveiled: The 2016 Toyota Prius

Unveiled: The 2016 Toyota Prius

Hybrid Sales Leader Promises Better Fuel Economy & Better Handling

A new Prius is a big deal, so Toyota can be excused for trying to make a big Las Vegas show out of the reveal of the fourth generation of the iconic hybrid. The new model descended from the “sky” as if some avatar for good fuel economy, but also demonstrated what can only be described as aggressive styling—and here’s the unfortunate caveat—for a Toyota.

Therein lies the conundrum. Here is a company known for producing massive quantities of high-quality, mildly styled vehicles introducing a brand-new model of the poster child for

2016,toyota Prius,interior,mpg

Bigger outside, more inside

environmental performance. The new emphasis—“no compromise,” “fun-to-drive dynamics,” “emotional styling.”

Not that the environmental bona fides have been left by the wayside. The 2016 Toyota Prius, when it arrives late this year or early next, is promised to deliver 10 percent better fuel economy than the current model. An Eco model promises even more than that. The improvements come, in typical Toyota fashion, from a multitude of sources:

  • Smaller, lighter hybrid components,
  • Higher energy density in the batteries,
  • Improved thermal efficiency in the gasoline engine, and
  • Unspecified improvements as one of the first examples of Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA).

Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division, noted that each generation of the Prius got a little bit better, a great example of Toyota’s incremental system and something this Prius seems to epitomize one of the main reasons behind eight million hybrid sales worldwide. People know what they’re getting with a Toyota and know what they’re getting with a Toyota hybrid.


More tech and better handling promised

However, Toyota also wanted to present the new Prius with the theme – “It’s not just about MPG anymore” – pushing its new styling and upgraded suspension package. Of course, no media present in Las Vegas got to drive the new 2016 Toyota Prius. That will come later, closer to its on-sale date. At that point the validity of the performance claims—both handling and fuel economy—will be put to the test.

We believe the Prius is “just about MPG,” but that new styling and better handling could be just what’s needed to halt a several year sales slide for the five-door hybrid’s basic model. You could argue the sales drop is a result of Toyota’s proliferation of hybrid models, but the overall hybrid market is down about 20 percent during the first two-thirds of the year compared to 2014. It will be interesting to see if a new “no compromise” version of the best-selling model in the segment can lift it back up.

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