American Classic: The 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax
The 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4.
It was just a shade more than four years ago that I wrote the first of several TireKicker reviews (including a few from the Phoenix Bureau) wondering why it was that the then-new Toyota Tundra wasn't posing a major threat to the full-size American trucks from Ford, Chevy, GMC and RAM.

In it, I said "it's as though Toyota City had moved to Texas."  And in the intervening years, it pretty much has.  Toyota's new North American headquarters opened in the Dallas suburb of Plano this month, and the the 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4 that we tested was built in San Antonio.

A lot has changed in four years---things that should help give Toyota the cred it needs to shake up the full-size pickup truck market the way it did passenger cars almost 40 years ago.


SuperTruck: The 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab
2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4X4 Crew Cab.
Used to be there was a stark difference between a half-ton and a 3/4-ton pickup. The bigger ones were clearly meant for work, or hauling very large horse or travel trailers.  You could tell just by looking.

Standard half-ton pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 have become so big and so rugged that you might wonder what an F-250 Super Duty is for.  Or, if you're a long-time Super Duty buyer, you might be underestimating an F-150's capabilities.

It's even tougher to sort out just by eyeballing, since both models can be loaded up with luxury extras that were once reserved for machines with a three-pointed star on the hood.

No, this is going to require a hard look at the facts.


Loud and Proud: The 2017 Ram 1500 Night Edition Crew Cab 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Ram 1500 Night Edition Crew Cab
The 2017 Ram 1500 Night Edition Crew Cab.
There is very little to prepare you for the sound that comes when you push the "START" button in the 2017 Ram 1500 Night Edition.  The best written approximation is:


And after you've eased it out of your driveway and you give it....oh, let's say 1/16th throttle to start down your street:


Yes, that thing's got a Hemi.


Soul With Speed: The 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim)
The 2017 Kia Soul ! (Exclaim).
The Kia Soul has proven itself to be the best of the funky little urban "is it a car or a crossover?" boxes that came along at the beginning of the decade.  In fact, save the Nissan Juke, which moves a fraction of the number of copies the strong-selling Soul does, the others (Scion xB, Nissan Cube) are dead and gone.

The Soul simply offered a stronger blend of utility, price and features.  And now, performance enters the mix.


Don't Call It A Bus: The 1937 White Yellowstone National Park Motor Coach

Somewhere, as a kid....National Geographic back issue?  Old stuff at my grandmother's?....I had seen and fallen in love with the old yellow buses that roamed Yellowstone National Park.   I remember wanting to ride in one if I ever got to Yellowstone.  And I was certain as time went on that they'd be long gone.

So when this summer rolled around, Mrs. TireKicker and I took a two-week, 3300-mile roadtrip that included Yellowstone and they were still on the road, I could barely contain my excitement.


Something So Right: The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring

Side view of 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring
The 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring .
The right car for a trip is like the right tool for a job.  It can make or break the whole enterprise.  So when Mrs. TireKicker and I cooked up our first-ever two-week summer vacation roadtrip, we knew we had to get the right car.

Regular readers will remember three years ago, when, for a shorter eight-day camping trip to Utah, the 2015 Kia Sorento SXL proved to be a terrific traveling companion.   This time, Mazda and their prep and delivery partners at Drive Shop partnered to provide a 2017 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring for three weeks, allowing time for packing and cleanup.