After 50 Years, Muscle-Car Craze Could Be Ending

August 24th, 2016

chevrolet-camaro-ford-shelby-GT500-dodge-challenger-

Nobody buys a Mustang because he or she needs a Mustang.

People buy Mustangs because they want a modern version of an automotive icon. Mustangs make drivers feel good, there’s not much else to it. They certainly don’t offer much in the way of transportation for large families.

Industry analysts happen to know that the automotive market is doing quite well when people buy Mustangs, along with other cars they don’t need. When sales of performance cars and other discretionary models start to dip, a slow-down in the rest of the market probably isn’t far away. It’s like the Farmer’s Almanac of the auto world.

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VW Makes Amends with Diesel Owners, But Isn’t It Forgetting Someone?

August 23rd, 2016

Porsche Cayenne Diesel

Raise your hand if you’ve ever responded to a friend’s complaint by saying, “Doesn’t this seem like a first-world problem?” Are you reading this in your cubicle, hand raised, feeling slightly foolish? All right—put your hand down. Here’s the thing with so-called “first-world problems”: despite their overall insignificance, they’re still real problems. Sure, we wouldn’t rank problems like “the only grocery store in my neighborhood is Whole Foods” alongside “educational inequality is a national epidemic” or “the extreme partisanship infecting the American political process is stunting the possibility of effective change,” but if the only grocery store in your neighborhood is Whole Foods, then the inevitability of spending half your paycheck on (amazing) bananas and homemade hummus could, in fact, very well be a serious personal inconvenience.

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Will Tesla’s New Lease Attract More Customers?

August 22nd, 2016

2016-tesla-model-x

Believe it or not, you can still buy a new car in the United States for under $14,000. The least expensive option on the market is the $11,990 Nissan Versa, a car that Car and Driver says, “has insultingly flimsy materials” along with a 109-hp 1.6-liter engine that makes for slow acceleration but gives reasonably good fuel efficiency.

Most of us opt to buy more car than what the Versa has to offer, but that ultra-low price is appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. If the Versa is too “flimsy,” buyers can step up to something like the $14,000 Ford Fiesta.

Once the car is purchased, it can be driven for many years with no further finance costs, which is one of the benefits of buying a car outright.

A 24-month finance term on a $14,000 car, at 3.11 percent interest, is about $600. For the same price you could drive one of the most desirable luxury cars on the market: An all-electric Tesla.

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Electric Motors Without the Equations

August 19th, 2016

Nissan Leaf Cutaway

Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.

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New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor

August 19th, 2016

2017_Nissan_Titan

The Nissan Titan has been all but forgotten in the minds of full-size truck shoppers. Last month, the Titan placed dead last in truck sales, if we don’t include the extinct Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.

Almost 234,000 trucks were sold in the U.S. in July. The Titan accounted for just 1,143 of those sales, which amounts to a fairly average month when looking at the last six years of Titan sales data.

The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market. Nissan overhauled the truck for 2016 and included a Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine in its Titan XD model, making it the only “light-duty” truck capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds.

So far sales numbers haven’t improved much.

For 2017, though, Nissan will make the standard half-ton Titan available. It won’t knock the Ford F-150 off its perch, but Nissan hopes it will at least move the Titan out of last place.

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Coming Soon: A Ford Without a Steering Wheel

August 18th, 2016

ford-self-driving-car

Fully autonomous cars were once the pipe dream of a utopian future.

Ten years ago, self-driving cars seemed so far-fetched that it wasn’t even worth bringing them up in conversation. We might as well have discussed the feasibility of bubble-powered fighter jets.

Today the reality of an autonomous future is closer than most of us realize.

Many major automakers, led by Tesla, have recently boasted about their autonomous plans and showed off early versions of their technology. Ford has quietly sat on the sidelines. So quietly, in fact, that it’s been criticized for not announcing plans for a self-driving future.

Ford shook things up recently, though, when it finally broke its silence and said it hopes for fully autonomous cars in just five years. The company’s vision brings up some new possibilities that could change transportation as we know it.

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Volkswagen’s Worldwide Sales Up, But Criminal Charges Could Loom

August 17th, 2016

Volkswagen-TDI

It’s been almost one year since news broke of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. At the time, we wondered how deep this scandal would go and if VW’s TDI plans were irreparable.

So far, Volkswagen has shown no interest in bringing its TDI line back to the U.S., but seems to have been doing just fine without it. Last month CNN said,

Global sales of Volkswagen cars and trucks have eked out about a 1% gain in the first five months of the year, despite the scandal. May sales gains were even stronger, a sign that the automaker is starting to put the diesel scandal behind it. Its U.S. sales have been down 7% in the first half of the year, although the United States accounts for only about 5% of its global sales.

Volkswagen’s outlook isn’t all rosy, though. This week investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the case.

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5 Easy Improvements for a Safer Car

August 16th, 2016

Volvo Crash Proof Cars

Tasteless as it may sound, safety has become the hottest new trend in cars. Automakers are spending ever more dollars each year to research and design cutting-edge, best-in-class safety features. It makes sense, too. Parents shopping for cars rank safety as their top priority, and from Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight system (a $1,250 option) to Tesla’s controversial Autopilot ($2,500), we are enjoying enormously improved driver-safety technology. Of course, manufacturers are enjoying new marketing avenues for their cars, too. Even the most modestly priced examples of advanced driver-assistance options cost several hundred dollars. So what do you do if you’re not shopping for a new car but still want to make sure your current vehicle is as safe as possible? Luckily, there are a few quick and inexpensive options to consider.

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Should New GM Pay for Old GM’s Mistakes?

August 15th, 2016

GM-ignition-recall

General Motors knew about a fault in some ignition switches as far back as 2001, but didn’t issue a recall until early 2014.

The fault, which can cause a vehicle to turn off while being driven, has been linked to at least 124 deaths and has already cost the company $2 billion in settlements.

That’s just the beginning, though, as another $10 billion in lawsuits looms on the horizon. GM doesn’t want to pay up and is using its 2009 bankruptcy as a shield against taking responsibility for the fatalities.

An appeals court ruling last month said the U.S. automaker can’t do that, but GM disagrees.

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Canine-Friendly Cars for the Dog Days of Summer

August 12th, 2016
Nigel, Erik Ross's Dog

Nigel the terrier loves feeling the wind in his face

We may be CarGurus, first and foremost, but that doesn’t prevent us from being proud pet owners, too. From French Bulldogs and Miniature Pinschers to Labradors and Great Danes, the dogs of CarGurus are a widely varied bunch. My own dog, Taylor, looks enough like a Labrador to keep landlords and kennels at ease, but her mix of breeds puts her solidly in the “mutt” camp. Regardless of size or breed, however, dogs are always a hit at CarGurus. Maybe that’s because dogs have such a social history with the automobile. They chase them, they hang their heads out the windows, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a dog who didn’t get a case of the wiggles every time it hears, “Want to go for a ride in the car?”

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