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Five Cars That Make Us Thankful

November 27th, 2014

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Supercharged

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow CarGurus!

As you enjoy this day of watching football, eating sweet potatoes, and carving turkey (or tofurkey if you’re like me), I want you to keep something in mind when you take turns going around the table expressing your thanks.

Yes, it’s important to give thanks to family and to express gratitude for the food that fills your plate. But don’t forget to take a few moments and thank the auto gods for the abundance of speed, luxury, and performance that they’ve bestowed upon this Earth.

Here are some cars that I’ll mention today in my annual “giving of the thanks.” What will yours be?

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Meet the Pickup Trucks Getting Close to 30 MPG

November 25th, 2014

2015 Ford F-150, front-view

News of a truck that gets the same fuel economy as a family sedan, and is capable of pulling 12,000 pounds of trailer, would change the game for American pickups.

Of course, we’ll never get the two of those things together. With trucks, fuel economy and towing capacity are an either/or proposition.

Trucks capable of close to 30 miles per gallon on the highway are now here, and we have trucks that can pull 12,000 pounds, but we will never have a truck that pulls 12,000 pounds while getting anything more than about 9 miles per gallon.

Ford’s new 2015 F-150 solves half the puzzle by getting an impressive 26 mpg on the highway.

With a catch, of course.

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The $50,000 Red Delorean

November 24th, 2014

red-delorean-dmc-12

Rich guys will pay anything to relive their childhoods.

The Delorean DMC-12 has a rich history, not because of its performance or a long production life, but because of its place in pop culture courtesy of Doc Brown and Marty McFly.

The DMC-12 is a sports car that was manufactured by the Delorean Motor Company for the American market in 1981 and 1982 in Northern Ireland. I think virtually everyone who’s even remotely into cars knows its story, but the DMC-12 is the only model Delorean ever produced. The DMC-12 featured gull-wing doors with a fiberglass underbody to which those famous brushed stainless steel panels were affixed.

Despite having just 130 hp in U.S. models, the Delorean today remains one of the most collectible models from the 1980s. One “barn find” model just sold for nearly $50,000. From the picture above, I’m sure you can guess what makes it even more rare than a typical Delorean.

That’s right: It’s red.

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These Three Unsafe Minivans Will Surprise You

November 21st, 2014

2014 Nissan Quest crash test

You assume you’re safe. You’re surrounded by acres of sheet metal and protected by a sturdy steel frame. You’re riding higher than most other vehicles and under the impression that you’re nearly invincible.

Your most valuable possessions, including your new 60-inch television, your sporting equipment, yesterday’s leftovers and probably even your children, are along for the ride. You might smile to yourself, because you think you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the road.

But if you’re driving one of three popular minivans, you’re not.

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America Arrives With the Cadillac ATS-V and Mustang Shelby GT350

November 20th, 2014

Cadillac ATS-V

To the list of things that make me happy, I’d like to add:

  1. The sound of the new Mustang Shelby 350GT
  2. The Cadillac ATS-V

Yes, this is the first time a Cadillac has ever made it onto this exclusive list. Usually the mere mention of the word “Cadillac” causes me to shrug and think of all the ways I’d like to customize my Audi.

The ATS-V, though, has managed to awaken something in my soul and has become a car I simply must experience.

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Say Goodbye to the Chevy SS

November 19th, 2014

2014 Chevrolet SS

Get it while you can, because the Chevy SS is going and going fast.

Like the beautiful and amazing GM V8 super sedans before it, the Chevy SS appears to be on the one-way track to discontinued-ville. The previous cars, the Pontiac GTO and Pontiac G8 GXP were ferocious and well-built cars, but didn’t last more than a couple of model years.

Personally, I kick myself, because I had the chance to buy a new GXP just after news of Pontiac’s coming extinction broke. A nearby dealer had one left and contacted me with a heckuva good deal, but I passed. Now, those used GXPs can go for close to 40 grand because there are so few on the market.

There are only 6 in CarGurus’ used listings as of this writing, and 3 them are flagged as overpriced. And they’ll probably sell.

The same thing could happen to the Chevy SS.

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GMC: The New Jeep?

November 13th, 2014
GMC Granite concept

Could the new face of GMC look like the Granite concept?

Aside from some leather and chrome, there’s not much that makes a GMC different from a Chevrolet. The Silverado and Sierra trucks are nearly identical, as are the Suburban and Yukon SUVs.

Both brands have small trucks, too, with the Colorado/Canyon twins. The Acadia and Traverse are different only because of the bodywork and the badge adhered to the front grille. So what would make a buyer spend the extra money required to get a GMC when a Chevy is basically the same car for less money?

The answer is perception, of course. GMC has built a brand out of being luxurious, professional and capable. What it hasn’t done is put out vehicles that differentiate themselves enough to uphold that image. Could change be in the air?

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The Perfect Car for a Picky Driver

November 10th, 2014

2015_audi_a3

The requirements weren’t easy to meet:

  1. Fuel efficient
  2. Fun to drive
  3. Easy to zip through traffic
  4. Not a 2-door, but not a lot of extra room for too many passengers
  5. Not a sports car
  6. Not a Honda, Toyota, Hyundai or Kia
  7. Must be new and available for lease
  8. Relatively inexpensive
  9. Not an electric car
  10. Reliable

A dear friend is moving from Washington to Los Angeles and needs a car better suited for SoCal than her current Hyundai Santa Fe. Things can get pretty snowy and cold up here in Washington, so all-wheel drive was a requirement, but front-wheel or rear-wheel drive will be preferred down south.

I set my mind loose to think up suggestions, but had a tougher time than I expected.

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Who Recommends the Cars You Buy?

November 4th, 2014

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Who would buy a car that doesn’t come recommended?

Most car buyers get their recommendation from family or friends. Advertising inspires some, and others need no recommendation beyond their own research and experience.

Plenty of car shoppers use a combination of all the recommendations they can get, but few are more influential than the “recommended” status as given by Consumer Reports.

The stalwart of consumer protection and advice has a coveted list of cars it recommends to subscribers. Automakers love being on the list, because it gives their vehicles more credibility. Falling off that list, though, can mean trouble.

Just ask the 2012 Honda Civic, which failed to receive the publication’s recommendation for being underpowered and having too much road noise and a cheap-feeling interior. That led to a redesign for 2013 and a much better car for consumers.

This year, some surprising vehicles have lost their recommended status.

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Exploding Airbags: Who Has the Right Fix?

November 3rd, 2014

airbag-explosion

Ten automakers have recalled a total of 8 million cars because the airbags in them can explode.

While it’s true that airbags are, by design, supposed to explode out of the car in case of an accident, these airbags explode with so much force that they actually send shrapnel into the air. An airbag with shrapnel is worse than no airbag at all. Right?

All the defective airbags were manufactured by a company called Takata, which doesn’t have enough product on hand to repair all 8 million vehicles. Automakers are taking very different routes to address this issue, with at least one recommending that the affected airbag be turned off completely.

Toyota has recalled almost 900,000 cars, but doesn’t have enough airbags to fix all of them. While it waits for Takata to deliver more, the company said that it plans to disable defective airbags once it runs out of replacements.

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