How Many Cars Does the Average American Family Need?

2017_Acura_MDX

How many cars should a family own?

According to Experian, the average family owns two cars, while 35 percent of American households own three cars or more.

Ownership rates vary greatly across the country and are influenced more by location than income levels. In fact, households with incomes over $250,000 are just as likely to own a single vehicle as households with incomes of $25,000. No matter what your income, is it better to own one car that is an all-purpose, all-season vehicle, or two or more cars that each serve a specific purpose and are used only in certain conditions?

For many families, owning a single car can mean splurging on a luxury brand or buying brand new, while a 4-car family might prefer older used cars that can be purchased with cash.

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios. Which one is closest to your family’s preference?

Continue reading >>>

Ford Surprises Itself with New 3.5-Liter EcoBoost

EcoBoost

Ford’s EcoBoost technology has been a wild success in everything from the Mustang to the F-150.

EcoBoost is, of course, Ford’s name for a direct-injected turbocharged gasoline engine. While the EcoBoost name is specific to Ford, nearly every automaker sells an EcoBoost engine. They just call it a direct-injected turbocharged engine.

Regardless, buyers of the Expedition, Explorer, Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta have also had the EcoBoost experience. Owners love them because they offer similar power to larger-displacement engines, but with better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Automakers love them because they get to charge a premium for the privilege of driving one.

Now there’s an additional benefit to driving an EcoBoost. Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine has even more power than the automaker originally thought it would.

Continue reading >>>

What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

White House Infographic, fuel economy standards

There has been a lot of news this week regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issuing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The reports seem to suggest the government has gone lax on the issue of fuel economy because most Americans don’t seem to care about it.

One analyst, however, suggests the opposite may be true. Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, read the entire 1217-page midterm report that discussed the standards (something probably 99 percent of journalists didn’t do, including me).

She wrote in Forbes, “The (CAFE) standard and NHTSA projected figures for the 2025 model year targets, however, have now been revealed as a projection rather than a legal requirement. The report is supportive of the progress and direction of the existing standards. The agencies believe automakers can meet the challenge, and that consumers want it.”

Continue reading >>>

GM’s Attack Ads Against Ford: Did They Work?

2016-Ford-F-150

Not long ago we wrote about GM’s attack ads against the Ford F-150 trucks. The ads compared the durability and strength of Chevrolet’s high-strength steel truck bed against Ford’s aluminum bed.

Of course, the test results skewed heavily in Chevrolet’s favor, showing multiple puncture holes in the Ford bed while the Chevy bed escaped mostly unscathed after a front-loader dropped a heavy load of landscaping blocks into each.

Chevy hoped the strategy would scare buyers away from Ford dealerships and cement the Silverado’s reputation as the toughest truck on the market.

Did the campaign work? Not if we base the results on recent sales numbers.

Continue reading >>>

The Most Popular Cars in Each Time Zone

2016 Ford F-150

Ford has long declared the F-150 the best-selling vehicle in the nation. Though the official sales numbers agree, we thought we’d put that claim to the test ourselves and measure the Ford F-150’s success by gauging consumer interest on CarGurus. Well, it turns out Ford’s right. The F-150 accounts for an extremely high percentage of the leads generated on CarGurus relative to every other vehicle. It’s the top dog in almost every region in the country and was not far behind in the couple of areas where it wasn’t. As such, we declare it the undisputed champ of consumer interest across the country. Its popularity transcends climate demands, geographic challenges, and cultural differences. Turns out contractors need to work across the country, and so Ford’s popularity cannot be touched.

Continue reading >>>

How Long Should Automakers Be on the Hook for Defective Parts?

Audi_Q7_leak

How long should an automaker remain responsible for poor workmanship?

Traditional car warranties range from about 36,000 to 100,000 miles, or between 3 and 10 years. Typically, if something major is going to go wrong with the vehicle, it’ll happen within the warranted time frame.

Sometimes, however, poor workmanship or defective materials surface after a warranty expires. Automakers can issue recalls to deal with these kinds of problems, and they sometimes do–but usually a car owner is left responsible for repairs.

In 2012, Volkswagen settled a $69 million class-action lawsuit to address the issue of leaking sunroofs in nearly 3 million cars between model years 1997 and 2009. The Audi A4, A6, and A8 were included in the settlement.

The 2007-2009 Audi Q7 was excluded, but owners across the country are now experiencing flooded interiors due to the same problem. Should Audi be on the hook?

Continue reading >>>

Audi, Toyota Ready Subcompact SUVs

Audi_Q2

The unofficial car of Seattle is the Audi Q5.

Driving through the Emerald City is like navigating an Audi showroom, as it seems every third car on Interstate 5 sports the 4-ringed logo up front.

It’s grown so common that my family now plays the “Q5 game,” where the first person to spot a Q5 gets to punch someone in the shoulder. It’s a lot like an updated version of the old “slug bug” game involving the Volkswagen Beetle.

This weekend my wife punched my arm, then quickly had to retract it when she noticed the passing car was a Q3, a smaller sibling to the Q5 that we had both forgotten existed.

The Q3 competes against the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, some of the smallest SUVs on the market, but Audi is now going even smaller with the upcoming Q2.

How small can SUVs get?

Continue reading >>>

New Ford F-150 Turbo Diesel Could Take Mileage Crown

2017-ford-f-150-ecoboost

Oil-burning engines have been dominating the auto headlines in recent weeks.

From the newly announced Volkswagen TDI settlement to diesel’s apparent fall from grace, the fuel has been cast in a mostly negative light since the Dieselgate story broke in September 2015.

Americans have lost a lot of faith in diesel-powered vehicles, but one truck could have the potential to turn around diesel’s fate in America.

Diesel’s savior in America just might be an all-new Ford F-150.

Continue reading >>>

Don’t Give Up On Diesels Yet

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.

Continue reading >>>

Mercedes-Benz Addressing All Threats, Both Foreign and Electric

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.

Continue reading >>>