Q. I thought that minivans don’t have much of a future. Is that correct? — J.E., Denver

A. Fiat Chrysler apparently doesn’t think they’re going out of style. It reportedly is developing a brand new minivan.

Q. I hear that Fiat Chrysler will make a new, small, inexpensive Jeep model in Italy for sale in America and throughout the world. — E.H., Los Angeles

A. You heard correctly. Called the Renegade, the new, small Jeep from Fiat Chrysler will be aimed at younger buyers, made in Italy and sold globally, with sales beginning in Europe. It will be an early 2015 model in America and look much like the Jeep Wrangler, with such items as circle headlights and Jeep’s familiar 7-slot grille. The Renegade will expand the popular Jeep line and grow the Jeep brand internationally. It will have underpinnings from the small Fiat 500X SUV not sold here and offer a wide variety of engines and transmissions—depending on what country in which it will be sold. Being a Jeep, the Renegade will have optional four-wheel drive and be suited for off-road driving.. The starting price is expected to be below $15,000. The Renegade will be built in Italy so Fiat can use one of its seriously underutilized plants there. A record 731,565 Jeeps were sold worldwide in 2013. 

Q. This winter has left potholes on roads I drive. How can I prevent potholes from causing tire, tire rim and suspension damage? — J.E. (via Internet)

A. Try to avoid driving with packs of vehicles because they can prevent you from looking ahead to see potholes and swerving to avoid them. Swerve and you might hit another car or pedestrian. Drive at slower speeds to cut down on the chances of damage if you drive over a pothole. Also, don’t brake when driving over one.

Q. We’ve had lots of snow and freezing temperatures in Chicago. I consequently have hated driving, but must use my car to reach work. I’m sure I’m not alone feeling this way, as the entire northern part of the country is suffering from this winter. — E.R., Chicago

A. The Hankook Tire America Corp.’s Winter Gauge Index found that while 63 prcent of American drivers cite icy roads as their No. 1 concern during winter driving, some 76 percent said they are comfortable driving in the snow.

Q. I’ve read about the amazing, prestigious Cadillac, Duesenberg and Packard models of the 1930s, but came across a 1930s car called the “Pierce-Arrow Eight and Twelve.” They were supposed to be one of the greatest American cars. — K.N., New York City

A. The Pierce-Arrow Eight and Twelve models came with potent eight- or twelve-cylinder engines. Built from 1930-38, they had a solid blue-chip nameplate. They were finely engineered to work like a Swiss watch and were sold in a variety of models. One basically standard V-12 model with 33,000 miles on it averaged nearly 113 m.p.h. over 24 hours at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1932. A highlight Pierce-
Arrow model was the spectacular Silver Arrow show car of 1933, but only five were built. Pierce-Arrow sales had a few good periods after 1931, but they were sold during the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was a terrible decade for upscale, costly cars. The automaker thus eventually declared bankruptcy. Pierce-Arrows are scarce, but occasionally come up for sale. Sportier models cost a lot, but parts and club support are available.

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