OPINION: RAM WHEEL EDIT

When the new Ram (minus the “Dodge” name) was introduced for a 2010 model, I absolutely loved it. I’ve been quick to shudder every time I saw/felt/smelled an older Chrysler product and was so extatic to once again feel satisfied when sitting in the cockpit of a handsome, lush, exquisitely-detailed truck interior. I was happy.

Really I have very few quips with this vehicle, but one that bothers me more than the others is the controls mounted to the steering wheel. I know, right, I might as well nit-pick at the unevenness of the threading in the shirt I wear on my back at this very moment, but this is actually a curious situation to me: nearly every Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge vehicle now have identical controls placed on the steering wheel, allowing the driver to pilot through telephone functions, voice commands (using the company’s fairly decent uConnect multimedia system) and general vehicle information.

Unfortunately, the Ram models feature a wheel with GIGANTIC up, down, left and right (or select) buttons, requiring you to look down through the wheel at an info screen to navigate to the appropriate function. Albeit, properly equipped Ram models do have a voice command feature, but one must take his or her hands off the wheel and punch the appropriate button on the center console. That may be all and good, but let’s face it: Chrysler’s corporate steering wheel controls would be a way better option for owners who want to do a lot more without taking their hands off the wheel.

Check out the steering wheel rendering to the left and notice that the large directional buttons on either side have been replaced by the banks of buttons found on most of the other Chrysler vehicles. Problem solved, I’d say.

WHAT IF: CADDY COUPE & WAGON

The late Cadillac CTS V-series cars have proven to be an incredible bunch, especially since a new V-series coupe and wagon (!) are joining in on the fun. But we have to ask, what if these varied models were introduced during the CTS’s first generation run?

To answer this question, we drew up two models that would represent a likely design approach for a previous generation CTS-V Coupe and … STS-V Sport Wagon?

We understand that the STS is getting way long in the tooth, but admittedly we’ve always really liked the look of the car. A visual cross between old-money DTS and a late-model CTS-V, our eyes were ready to diverge from the comparatively lukewarm stance of the first-generation CTS and move over to creating a cargo-hauling variant of the meaty STS-V.

We like what we see, and we actually kind of want it. Anybody know a good mod garage that could cook this thing up for us?

RENDERED: MINI COUPE-R

Based on recent spy-shots of the new set of tires roaming around BMW’s headquarters, we figured we should take a stab at a few renderings of the up and coming 2012 Mini Coupe to expose what might be under all of the swirly camo vinyl. We particularly liked the new Mini’s profile in concept form, although it will be decidedly less functional for anyone with more than a spouse or single friend to ride shotgun, save for a few grocery bags to throw under the hatch.

Here you’ll see three color variations: red on black, white on red and (our new favorite) white on metallic brown. Although we’ll never really know the true color combinations available for the new Coupe, we’re slowly but surely warming up to the new barrette-look the car offers. It’ll surely prove to be a fun purchase for those who need a small car to throw around town yet refuse to buy into a vehicle of the Smart namesake.

Even cooler, the recent spy photos reveal a retracting spoiler built into the the top of the trunk lid. We’re excited to see this once it goes on sale here in the US this Fall.