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Archive for the ‘Foreign Cars’ Category

Don’t Give Up On Diesels Yet

June 29th, 2016

2014-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee-Diesel

The last few months have given us plenty of reasons to not buy a diesel vehicle.

Aside from the massive Volkswagen emissions scandal that basically exposed the oil-based fuel as a dirty alternative to gasoline, there are new allegations that Chevrolet did the same with its Cruze diesel.

Those problems began just as American car buyers were getting used to the idea of so-called “clean diesel.”

There aren’t many new diesel options are on the market today and Americans may have lost their taste for the once-promising propulsion method.

There are a few scenarios, though, where buying a diesel still makes sense.

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Are There Any Bad Cars Left? Kia tops J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

June 28th, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage EX EX

If there’s one piece of advice I find myself sanctimoniously preaching to prospective car shoppers, it’s this: There’s no such thing as a bad car anymore.

Long, long ago, in the early 1990s, Kia Motors expanded to the United States, bringing with it little economical runabouts like the Sephia sedan and the Sportage crossover. There was just one problem: These cars weren’t exactly what we’d describe as “good.” Sub-100-hp engines, crude transmissions, and interiors featuring more plastics than Mean Girls. The little Sephia couldn’t even deliver great fuel economy, barely eking out 27 mpg highway with its automatic transmission. A ‘94 Ford Escort could manage 5 mpg better with nearly identical power specs.

But oh, how times have changed. Despite a poor first impression, Kia has emerged as a shining example of the fact that there really are no more “bad” cars. Every year, J.D. Power conducts its Initial Quality Study, wherein car owners are surveyed to determine which vehicles deliver the best experience within the first 90 days. By placing first on J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study, Kia earned the honor of being the first non-premium brand in 27 years to take home Gold.

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Here Are 2016’s “Most American” Vehicles

June 23rd, 2016

2016-Honda-Accord

The new Buick Envision is made in China and some Hondas are made in America.

The landscape of today’s automotive manufacturing world is far different than it was two decades ago. In fact, there’s not a single mass-produced vehicle that was designed and built in America with all American-made parts.

Automakers based in the U.S. routinely build vehicles in Mexico and acquire parts from Latin America and China. The global sourcing of parts and assembly helps cut costs and keeps prices of new cars affordable.

Consumers who want to know just how “American” a car is can check out the fourth annual Kogod Made in America Auto Index, which was released earlier this week. In this new global automotive economy, though, does it really matter?

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Volkswagen Looks Toward an Electric Future

June 20th, 2016

VW-Electric-Bus

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have killed diesel-fueled cars in the U.S. forever.

Prior to September of 2015, cars with diesel engines were on the rise in the United States. Long popular in Europe, the fuel was on the verge of overcoming the stigma of its dirty past and even rivaled hybrid technology as a clean, efficient alternative to gasoline.

Volkswagen led that charge with its Clean Diesel marketing campaign and its promise of efficient, environmentally friendly sedans and SUVs.

Then it all came crashing down when the story broke that VW had cheated on emissions tests and the engines were, in fact, heavy polluters.

The fallout of the scandal is still ongoing and VW hasn’t sold a new diesel automobile in the States in over nine months. The company may not sell one here ever again.

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Mercedes-Benz Addressing All Threats, Both Foreign and Electric

June 16th, 2016
The new look of electric Mercedes-Benz? This the Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile concept.

The new look of electric Mercedes-Benz?

By the end of 2015, Mercedes-Benz had fallen behind its competition in U.S. sales. While in catch-up mode, the company steered into the passing lane, floored the gas pedal, and is accelerating fast.

Sales of BMW and Lexus vehicles both surpassed Mercedes at the end of last year. To make matters worse, there are some who would say the company also lags behind Audi and Tesla when it comes to innovation and technology.

So far this year, though, Mercedes-Benz is on pace to outsell both BMW and Lexus. Through May, Mercedes holds a roughly 20,000-vehicle lead over each. Mercedes also has plans to further distance itself from Audi and Tesla by introducing new vehicles to snag some of their sales.

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Everyone’s Dropping Stones: Who Makes the Toughest Truck Bed?

June 15th, 2016

chevy_ford_truck_bed

Some are calling it a cheap shot, while others are surely convinced that aluminum is best for soda cans and not trucks.

A new ad for Chevrolet, which has probably been seen by every truck enthusiast in the United States by now, compares the steel bed of a new Silverado against the aluminum bed of a new Ford F-150.

After a front-loader full of landscaping stones dropped its load into the bed of each truck, the Chevy held up noticeably better than the Ford. Even a simple drop of a toolbox punctured the Ford’s bed.

On the surface it seems like a fair test, if not representative of the type of real-world abuse a truck might receive. We do wonder why Chevy would go to the trouble, though, when it plans on using lightweight aluminum in its next generation of trucks.

An even newer video from Honda, which shows a similar test on a 2017 Ridgeline, should make us wonder if Ford and Chevy both have it all wrong.

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Fiat 124 Spider: Better Than a Miata?

June 13th, 2016

2017-Fiat-124-Spider

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is finally getting its First Drive reviews, and the results are consistent: the much-anticipated new roadster from Fiat is as mediocre as you might expect.

Well, maybe that’s not fair. The 124 Spider is getting some good reviews, but there’s nothing out there saying this is the car that’ll turn Fiat into a best-selling automaker. So far, most agree that the new Fiat roadster is a good car, if not a great one.

The base model could be an exception. Skipping the fancy luxury and performance trims could give owners one of the most respected driver’s cars on the road today. That’s assuming, of course, they are among the few people looking for what the 124 Spider has to offer.

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Volkswagen Off Your List? Think Skoda!

June 10th, 2016
The Skoda Vision S concept: Perfect for North America?

The Skoda Vision S concept: Perfect for North America?

Volkswagen has taken a serious hit in the United States after its diesel scandal.

Sales dropped by 17.2 percent in May and the German automaker holds less than two percent market share here.

To say that Volkswagen is struggling in the U.S. market is a huge understatement, but the company still has hopes of recovering and expanding here. Part of that recovery and expansion could mean the introduction of a brand that Americans don’t associate with scandal and lies. In fact, it’s a brand that’s mostly unknown to American car buyers.

Could Czech automaker Skoda be the answer to Volkswagen’s problems?

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BMW Aims for Perfection With Possible New 6 Series

June 2nd, 2016

2016_bmw_6_series

The thing about perfection is that it can’t be beat.

That’s why the word ‘perfect’ exists. There is nothing better and nothing can achieve a higher level of desirability. Perfect is as good as something can be and, by all measures, the Porsche 911 is perfect.

The 911 has all the qualities and characteristics one could ever desire from a sports car. Everything from the shape to the handling to the sound of the engine as it roars past 6,000 RPM is… in a word… perfect.

Yet other automakers continue in their attempts to achieve something beyond perfection. None have succeeded.

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New England Motor Press Announces 2016 Winter Cars of the Year

May 31st, 2016

2016_honda_pilot-pic-8447236220464335468-640x480

With this past year being a rare exception, winters in New England are a serious business. So, when the New England Motor Press Association gets together to award the best winter vehicles of the year, the industry takes notice.

Although the typical winter’s day this year was more hospitable than during the past few years, the official winter testing day for NEMPA’s auto experts was still a bitterly cold, windy affair – complete with weather service advisories instructing people to stay inside (just check out our Infiniti QX50 impression for proof). Undeterred, we gathered at Bugsy Lawlor’s Automotion garage to test the best winter rigs of the year.

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