Archive for the ‘Car Shopping’ Category

Scion Comes Roaring Back

October 6th, 2015

2015 Scion iA

Toyota handed Scion a pre-wrapped, easy-to-hit home run when it decided the hotly hyped new GT-86 sports car would wear a Scion badge.

That car became the Scion FR-S and was supposed to light the brand on fire. The lightweight, rear-wheel-drive sports car was the answer to Scion’s woes and a kickstart to Toyota’s return to excitement.

Except it didn’t really turn out that way. The FR-S has sold well, but it remains a niche car that has never reached overwhelming popularity with the masses.

Last month, Scion finally caught fire and roared back on the scene of relevancy. Did FR-S sales finally hit redline?

Nope. The credit goes to a subcompact sedan and a new 4-door hatch.

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Now’s the Best Time to Buy… a Volkswagen?

October 5th, 2015

VW logo diesel emissions

All automakers in September saw their average transaction price increase.

Well, all but one.

Volkswagen is the only major automaker to see its average transaction price drop in the month of September. This could be just the beginning of the fallout of its diesel scandal, but it could also mean good deals for savvy shoppers.

There’s no question that Volkswagen is now in a full-blown crisis situation. In fact, one prominent VW exec illustrated just how bad things are by saying he thinks his company could pay the ultimate price:

Volkswagen AG’s designated Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch warned managers that the diesel-emissions scandal could pose “an existence-threatening crisis for the company.”

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Getting the Most Towing Capacity for Your New-Vehicle Dollar

October 2nd, 2015

2012 Ford F-250

Frequent readers of our blog might remember a post we wrote a while back about which vehicles offer the most horsepower per dollar. The possibility of getting the absolute most of a certain spec or feature per dollar intrigues us, perhaps because we’re a consumer-focused site, or maybe just because it’s fun to have a purely data-driven glimpse into car shopping. It’s easy to buy a car based on looks, or branding, or a particular set of features that you’re simply dying to have. It’s harder to figure out exactly where the best value lies.

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Tesla Model X Breaks Open the Electric SUV Market

October 1st, 2015

Tesla Model X EV SUV photoThis week, while the world was finally given an in-depth look at the Tesla Model X, I spent time driving the Kia Soul EV. It got me thinking the electric SUV might be the segment that saves the electric vehicle market in the United States.

Why’s that? Because electric SUVs allow Americans to be practical, drive a big vehicle, and feel themselves green enough to deserve praise (at least their own).

Sure, you may have seen the gull-wing doors of the Model X, which Tesla calls “falcon doors,” and thought, “Wow!” But this vehicle is going to be known for so much more than its looks. Consider the fact that it’s going to have enough room in the rear to hold a sheet of plywood. It also has front cargo space where a traditional gas engine would go.

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Shopping, Electric Vehicles, New Cars, Trucks & SUVs

Who Will Drive the Alfa Romeo 4C?

October 1st, 2015


All I wanted to do was take my family out to dinner and dance lessons.

Last night, though, the universe tried to tempt me with other plans. Every Tuesday night, my wife and two of my daughters head downtown for salsa lessons. We thought we’d make last night special and go to dinner first. It just so happens that the restaurant we chose is next door to a FIAT dealership.

I had no problem walking by the rows of 500s in all their different forms, but then something new caught my eye. Through the dealer’s window I saw my first-ever in-person Alfa Romeo 4C.

First impression? Take my money.

Second impression? Not so much.

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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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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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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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