European Car of the Year finalists announced

European Car of the Year finalists announced

December 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Europe , Ford , Hyundai , Mercedes-Benz , Subaru , Toyota , Volkswagen , Volvo , Renault , Peugeot Electric cars may have won the European Car of the Year award two years in a row now ( Opel Ampera in 2012, and Nissan Leaf in 2011), we can say without reservation that the 2013 ECotY will be a petrol-burning, internal combustionizer. That’s because not a single electric vehicle made it to the contest’s final round. But eight other cars did. At the top of the alphabetical list is Ford’s Fiesta -based, B-Max MPV. Five doors, good ride and fuel-efficient, award-winning engine choices are some of the reasons it makes the list. Next is the Hyundai i30 , known as the Elantra GT Stateside , with either five or three doors, a roomy cabin and a 1.6-liter CRDi engine. The nominating committee commends the handsome hatch for improved exterior aesthetics and a multilink suspension that “shows in ride and handling.” Mercedes gets the next spot with its hot hatch: the turbocharged A-Class , followed by another hatch, the Peugeot 208 . The next finalist is from another marque we haven’t seen in the States for quite some time – the fourth-generation Renault Clio , followed by the Subaru / Toyota dynamic duo of BRZ and the GT86 . The last two contenders are the all-new Volkswagen Golf and the svelte Volvo V40 . The European Car of the Year will be announced in early March after the jury has tallied its votes.

White House clears way for NHTSA to mandate vehicle black boxes

White House clears way for NHTSA to mandate vehicle black boxes

December 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Ford , GM , Mazda , Toyota At present, over 90 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States today are equipped with event data recorders, more commonly known as black boxes. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gets its way, that already high figure will swell to a full 100 percent in short order. Such automotive black boxes have been in existence since the 1990s, and all current Ford , General Motors , Mazda and Toyota vehicles are so equipped. NHTSA has been attempting to make these data recorders mandatory for automakers, and according to The Detroit News, the White House Office of Management Budget has just finished reviewing the proposal, clearing the way. Now NHTSA is expected to draft new legislation to make the boxes a requirement. One problem with current black boxes is that there’s no set of standards for automakers to follow when creating what bits of data are recorded, and for how long or in what format it is stored. In other words, one automaker’s box is probably not compatible with its competitors. Expect all these issues to be worked out “in the coming months,” according to NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran. White House clears way for NHTSA to mandate vehicle black boxes originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 07 Dec 2012 10:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .

Toyota tops Kelley Blue Book’s Resale Value Awards

Toyota tops Kelley Blue Book’s Resale Value Awards

November 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Chevrolet , Ford , Honda , Infiniti , Jeep , Lexus , Porsche , Scion , Toyota Kelley Blue Book announced its annual Best Resale Value Award winners, and we weren’t too surprised to see the list dominated by Japanese automakers – mainly Toyota and Honda . KBB hands out the awards based on the projected residual value of mostly all 2013 model year vehicles, and Toyota skated home with a number of awards including 10 of the 22 overall categories and having five of its products in the top 10 for models with best resale value. KBB’s Best Resale Value Awards were announced in the same week as the ALG Residual Value Awards , and there were many similarities between both lists, especially when it came to Toyota. To come up with its winners, KBB measures depreciation over the first five years of ownership, and looks for the cars it expects to hold its value the best after this time; on average, the report says the 2013 model year vehicles will lose 61.8 percent of its value in five years. Of the 22 categories, 15 slots were filled by Toyota, Honda and Nissan products, while the Camaro and Porsche ( Cayenne and Panamera ) each took home a pair of awards. If Toyota has anything to be upset about in this list of cars, it’s that categories for Hybrid/Alternative Energy Car and Electric Vehicle went to the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Volt , respectively. The overall top 10 models for the best resale value in 2013 are, in alphabetical order: Honda Civic Honda CR-V Jeep Wrangler Lexus LX Porsche Cayenne Scion tC Toyota FJ Cruiser Toyota Land Cruiser Toyota Tacoma Toyota 4Runner Scroll down to see KBB’s press release that includes a breakdown of all individual category winners. Continue reading Toyota tops Kelley Blue Book’s Resale Value Awards Toyota tops Kelley Blue Book’s Resale Value Awards originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Nov 2012 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Popular Science magazine’s Best Of What’s New 2012 all ate up with cars

Popular Science magazine’s Best Of What’s New 2012 all ate up with cars

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Etc. , BMW , Ford , GM , Infiniti , Mercedes-Benz , Toyota , Specialty , Tesla , Racing Popular Science has named the winners in its Best of What’s New awards, the victors coming in the categories of aerospace, automotive, engineering, entertainment, gadgets, green, hardware, health, home, recreation, security and software. The automotive category did not go wanting for lauded advancements: Tesla Model S : the Grand Award winner for being “the standard by which all future electric vehicles will be measured.” BMW 328i : it’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gets called out for being more powerful and frugal than the six-cylinder it replaces. Ferrari F12 Berlinetta : towering power, towering top speed, 30 percent more fuel efficient than the 599 Fiorano it replaces. Toyota RAV4 EV : the all-electric SUV accelerates better than many conventional SUVs, goes 100 mph and actually beats EPA mileage estimates. Porsche Cayenne Diesel : 406 pound-feet of torque, 33 highway mpg, up to 800 miles from a single tank and Cayenne style, give ‘em a trophy. 2013 Ford Fusion : its three flavors – standard, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid – “are the most efficient models in their classes,” that latter one expected to outdo the Chevrolet Volt’s EPA mileage rating. The DeltaWing : gets kudos for being “the most efficient racecar in history.” Mercedes-Benz Magic Vision Control : a holistic solution to keeping your windshield clean and clear year-round. General Motors ‘ MyLink : takes the in-car computer out of the car, puts it in the driver’s smartphone. Infiniti Back-Up Collision Intervention: rear-mounted radar and sonar keep track of what’s behind you and brake automatically if an obstacle is detected so you don’t hit things when you back that Infiniti up.

Redesigns that worked and flopped determined by new Cars.com index

Redesigns that worked and flopped determined by new Cars.com index

November 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Audi , Ford , Honda , Hyundai , Toyota , Design/Style The 2013 Ford Fusion is probably the latest, greatest example of a completely redesigned car that has evoked widespread calls of “Look at that!” Above its buzzworthy looks, though, Ford will be concerned about how the 2013 Fusion sells and by how much – if at all – it beats sales of the previous version. Cars.com has run the sales numbers on 61 models that have been redesigned in the past four years, ranking them as Winners, Underperformers and Losers depending on how a new-generation model is selling compared to the one it replaces. The rankings are sorted by sales class – small, medium and large sellers – so that the success of a niche sports car is weighted differently than the success of a popular midsize car. Compared to a four-year sales average for redesigned cars in each class, Winners were those who outsold the average, Underperformers didn’t make the average but did outperform the previous year’s (hence, the previous car’s) sales, while Losers couldn’t do any better anywhere. Among the most recently introduced winners were the Toyota Camry and the Honda CR-V . The Camry beat the Four-Year Category Average Redesign Increase for large sellers by 2.2 percent, the CR-V managed 0.2 percent. Underperformers included the Audi A6 / S6 which, even though it has outsold the previous generation by 58 percent, still isn’t getting near the small seller category average of 79.2 percent. The new Hyundai Accent is also considered an underperformer, the new model boosting sales by 5.5 percent – nowhere near the 61.5 percent of the medium seller category average. The only Loser listed in the chart is the Honda Civic , taking one last thrashing before the “honed” 2013 redesign gets a chance to right the ship. As for that Fusion, the 2013 model has strong numbers to follow: the 2010 Fusion was a huge winner, putting up a 55.1-percent increase in the large seller category, beating the average by 33 percent.

Four Wheeler crowns Ultimate Factory 4×4… who wins?

Four Wheeler crowns Ultimate Factory 4×4… who wins?

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: SUV , Truck , Ford , Jeep , Nissan , Toyota , Off-Road , Ram Nearly every automaker doing business in the SUV or pickup truck segments offers a package designed to improve the off-road capabilities of its wares. But, of course, not all such factory kits are created equal. How, then, to separate the wheat from the chaff? Gather each of them up and put them through their paces, naturally. The folks from Four Wheeler and PickupTrucks.com joined forces to run just such a comparison test, with the winner named the Ultimate Factory 4×4. A total of seven vehicles showed up to the fight: the 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor , 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon , 2012 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X and Xterra PRO-4X , 2012 Ram Power Wagon , and 2012 Toyota 4Runner Trail and Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Series . With the contestants in place, the whole crew put each vehicle through a battery of tests that included skidpad and acceleration measurements, a hillclimb, a rocky stairstep course and a rock garden. Considering the nature of the beasts, on-road ride and comfort were not part of the routine. So, which four-wheeler ended up on top? Click here to read the results, and don’t act like you’re surprised by the victor.

Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all?

Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all?

November 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Dodge , Ford , Hyundai , Toyota Do the opinions of automotive journalists matter? For us, that may be a bit of transcendental self-examination, but for the consuming public, it’s a very real question. Is a potential customer of a new family sedan going to rely completely on Consumer Reports , or are they willing to go with their own gut feelings and neighbors’ recommendations? Bloomberg has an interesting new report highlighting cars that are selling well in spite of not receiving high marks from Consumer Reports . One such vehicle is the 2012 Honda Civic , which has been largely derided by the automotive press. Yet sales of the Japanese compact are on pace to beat out vehicles like the acclaimed Chevrolet Cruze . One criticism offered for CR’s methods is their approach of putting all types of vehicles through the same type of testing. The Chrysler Town & Country as well as the Dodge Grand Caravan were given low marks for their performance in the slalom-the same slalom in which sports cars are tested. How important is that in buying a minivan? While cars from Korea and the United States are increasingly lauded by the automotive community, owners of brands like Honda and Toyota remain fiercely loyal.

Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all?

Is Consumer Reports losing its sway? Are we all?

November 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Dodge , Ford , Hyundai , Toyota Do the opinions of automotive journalists matter? For us, that may be a bit of transcendental self-examination, but for the consuming public, it’s a very real question. Is a potential customer of a new family sedan going to rely completely on Consumer Reports , or are they willing to go with their own gut feelings and neighbors’ recommendations? Bloomberg has an interesting new report highlighting cars that are selling well in spite of not receiving high marks from Consumer Reports . One such vehicle is the 2012 Honda Civic , which has been largely derided by the automotive press. Yet sales of the Japanese compact are on pace to beat out vehicles like the acclaimed Chevrolet Cruze . One criticism offered for CR’s methods is their approach of putting all types of vehicles through the same type of testing. The Chrysler Town & Country as well as the Dodge Grand Caravan were given low marks for their performance in the slalom-the same slalom in which sports cars are tested. How important is that in buying a minivan? While cars from Korea and the United States are increasingly lauded by the automotive community, owners of brands like Honda and Toyota remain fiercely loyal.

Toyota recovers from recalls, Mother Nature to regain customer loyalty crown

Toyota recovers from recalls, Mother Nature to regain customer loyalty crown

October 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Toyota After dealing with flailing global economies, numerous recalls and safety allegations and then the depleted inventory from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Experian Automotive says that Toyota is finally back on top when it comes to consumer loyalty in the US. Toyota edged out General Motors and Ford Motor Company to grab this loyalty crown for the first time since the third quarter of 2009. The metric for this title was determined by owners of a vehicle choosing from the same corporate automaker for their next vehicle purchase. For Toyota, this means that 47.3 percent of its current customers will purchase a Scion , Lexus or Toyota model as their next car compared to 46.2 percent for GM and 46 percent for Ford. Honda and Hyundai rounded out the top five in this list. In terms of individual brand loyalty – when buyers come back to the same brand – Ford took the spot in this category with 44.7 percent of buyers returning to the Ford showroom for their next purchase, including six cars in the top 10 for overall loyalty. Ford Fusion customers are the most loyal with 59.9 percent buying another Ford, but Flex , Edge , Five Hundred, Escape and Fiesta are all in the top 10. Oddly enough, the top vehicle among brand loyalty was the Chevrolet Sonic (which has only been on the market for less than a year – we’re not sure what to make of that…) with 60.3 percent of its buyers trading in for another Chevy product. Other interesting facts to note from Experian Automotive’s study include the median age of vehicles has increased from 9.8 years up to 10.8 years since 2008, indicating that people are keeping their cars for an extra year before trading them in. Besides Toyota, Chrysler was the only automaker listed as having increased its market share and vehicle purchases in the second quarter of this year.

New Ford Fusion not likely to oust top-selling Toyota Camry, yet

New Ford Fusion not likely to oust top-selling Toyota Camry, yet

September 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Sedan , Technology , Ford , Toyota , Design/Style As 2013 Ford Fusions begin rolling into dealerships, Ford can say that it has finally created the mythical Toyota Camry fighter. It’s something we’ve heard again and again from Detroit’s carmakers, always poised but never able to deliver a midsize sedan that will outsell the venerable Camry. This time, however, Ford may have a case. Offering five powertrains, including a 47 mpg gas-electric hybrid, a powerful 2-liter model, all wrapped in a sexy exterior, the Fusion makes a strong case that it deserves a spot at the top of America’s most cutthroat segment. But numbers don’t lie. Last year, Ford sold 248,000 Fusions. This year, sales are up 7.7 percent through August at 181,000 cars, making the Fusion Detroit’s top selling midsize car in America. But it’s not even close to the top selling midsize car in the U.S., it’s not even the third best selling midsize sedan. The Camry is on a big rebound. It has sold 280,000 cars this year alone, and sales are up 37 percent.

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