Archive for the ‘Car Minded’ Category

The Biggest Factor in Automotive Safety

September 30th, 2015

Safety First sign

Can you remember a time when there has been more bad press for car companies?

The unintended acceleration debacles with Audi in 1986 and Toyota in 2009 were precursors to the multitude of problems that have reared their ugly heads this year. The General Motors ignition switch recall, Chrysler’s defiance of the NHTSA, and now, Volkswagen’s diesel issue all call into question the safety (and honesty) of the world’s automakers.

Yes, bad things can happen when building cars. Parts can be defective, engineering can be faulty, and tests can be cheated.

But let’s not forget the biggest factor in automotive safety:


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When Should We Declare Fossil Fuels Dead?

September 29th, 2015

Tesla Supercharger

Kimbal Musk is the brother of Elon, the billionaire founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. He serves on the board of Tesla and is an advocate for finding new ways of powering, and feeding, our world.

My wife and I had the opportunity this weekend to meet with Kimbal in Las Vegas along with Bill Nye, the famous science guy.

Both were adamant that the time has come to change the world and move away from fossil fuels. I’ve been slow to get on board with that idea, but I finally think that they are correct. Automakers and consumers are starting to realize it, too.

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To Keep or Sell a Volkswagen TDI?

September 28th, 2015
The Jetta TDI: It sure looks green, doesn't it?

The Jetta TDI: It sure looks green, doesn’t it?

The implications of the Volkswagen diesel scandal are, without a doubt, enormous.

There’s a lot of talk about what it means for the company’s brand and the future of its diesel program, not to mention questions about the validity of diesel in general.

But what about the people who own Volkswagen diesel vehicles? What will this do to their brand loyalty and perhaps more importantly, how will it affect the resale value of their vehicles?

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Politics, Car Shopping, Foreign Cars, General Chat , , ,

The 10 Cleanest Gas-Powered Cars

September 25th, 2015

2008 Dodge Ram Pickup 3500

If you’ve turned on your TV, logged onto the Internet, or picked up a newspaper in the past week, chances are you’re at least generally aware of what’s currently happening with Volkswagen. But if you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a summary: Volkswagen made an amazingly efficient, clean diesel engine…that ended up not being so clean. By using a defeat device, VW’s 2.0-liter diesel engine was able to pass the EPA’s emissions tests while actually polluting at a rate of up to 40 times the tested numbers. The audacity of the transgression is shocking enough, but now that the investigation has begun to expand beyond VW’s 2.0-liter TDI 4-cylinder, the entire future of diesel-powered cars may be in question.

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How To Buy Your First Family Car

September 25th, 2015

family car tips

My first family car was a 2004 Honda Pilot.

It was the first car I ever purchased new, and I bought it for the specific purpose of transporting two small children (and the 2,673 pounds of gear that goes with them).

There was something special about getting that car, probably because I knew I’d use it from the time I had to install baby seats until my kids learned to drive. Buying that car wasn’t just a selfish act, it was like inviting a new family member in to take care of a couple of precious babies.

Well, my hopes of a long relationship with the Pilot ended just 6 months after the purchase, when a fire consumed the SUV (the family was fine) and left me with nothing but the charred remains of a dream.

I bought other family cars, of course, most recently a vehicle to accommodate two more kids. Needless to say, I have a lot of experience buying family cars and have put together some tips to help others. Whether you’re just starting your family journey or are a seasoned vet, there will be some advice here to help you. (If you’d rather take a look at a list of specific vehicles that have great seating/cargo capacity and safety ratings, feel free to check our recent list of Family-Friendly Kid-Haulers.)

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Alternatives to Volkswagen Diesels Worth Considering

September 24th, 2015

2015 Jetta TDI 4218So, as most people know, the automotive world has been shaken by the announcement that Volkswagen has massively cheated on emissions testing for 11 million of its diesel-engine vehicles across the globe—482,000 in the United States. That scandal will effectively kill the market for Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars for months, if not years, to come.

What should you do, though, if you had your heart set on a diesel-engine car? It’s time to consider alternatives to the affected 2.0-liter turbodiesel models. Let’s look at the models included in the emissions scandal and suggest another good option. One important thing to point out, though, is that you can find all of these VW models with gasoline engines that were not subject to the illegal tampering. However, their fuel economy will be much lower.

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BMW, Toyota Join Forces to Take on Audi

September 24th, 2015

Lexus LFA

Now might be a good time to go after Audi.

With the appalling news coming from the VW/Audi camp over the last week, competitors will probably line up to take shots at the automaker while it’s down. Assuming, of course, those competing automakers didn’t also create a way to fool the EPA and pawn dirty diesels off as clean.

To get our attention off the great diesel scandal, let’s turn for a moment to a story about good old-fashioned hybrid technology and a couple of Audi competitors.

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This Automaker Does Fuel Efficiency Right

September 23rd, 2015


According to the United States government, the average fuel economy for new cars and trucks needs to be at least 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year. That’s more than double the current average of 25.4 mpg.

That deadline is still 10 years away, but in vehicle-development terms it might as well be tomorrow. That’s why we’re seeing the explosion of hybrids, electric vehicles, turbochargers, and *ahem* diesels in this country.

One company has taken a more subtle approach and devoted itself to getting impressive efficiency from the humble 4-cylinder combustion engine.

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Could an Apple Car Change Everything?

September 22nd, 2015

Apple CarPlay Mercedes

If you have a spare few minutes, watch Steve Jobs introduce the original iPhone to the world. In that speech, Jobs said, “Every once in a while, a new product comes along that changes everything.”

There was a moment of clarity during that speech when, for the first time, it registered that one device could take the role of music player, phone, and Internet-capable search device. The iPhone truly did change everything.

That’s what Apple does, though. Or at least, that’s what Apple used to do. Since the death of Jobs, some have wondered if the company is still capable of innovation and can rock the world with technology that simplifies our lives.

Apple doesn’t invent new technology so much as it refines existing technology. That’s what the Macintosh did, that’s what the iPod did, and that’s what the iPhone did.

In just a few years, we’ll know if Apple can do for cars what it did for computers and phones.

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Volkswagen: TDI or TD Lie?

September 21st, 2015


What if it was revealed that your gas/electric hybrid wasn’t really a hybrid? Or what if Ford fans discovered their prized 5.0 V8 was actually only 4.3 liters? What if a Chevrolet claimed a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds but was only capable of 5.2?

Automakers sell their cars with the promise that they will achieve a certain performance benchmark. Sometimes that benchmark is speed, sometimes it’s fuel economy, and sometimes it’s something a little less noticeable: emissions numbers.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Volkswagen is being accused of deliberately deceiving its customers, and the U.S. government, with cars that emit much more pollution than claimed. This is bad for a number of reasons, but the worst might be the loss of trust in its vaunted TDI brand.

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