Five Tips for Test-Driving a New-to-You Car

January 28th, 2016

Starting a test drive

In the course of a year, it’s possible to review more than 75 new cars, trucks, and crossovers when you’re an automotive journalist. That’s not put forth as some kind of bragging. It’s just to demonstrate that driving more than 6 new vehicles a month gives one an insider’s view on test-driving new cars.

Let’s look beyond all the things you need to do before going to a dealership. That’s been handled well here in other articles at CarGurus. Instead, here are five insider tips to keep in mind for test-driving a new or new-to-you car.

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Bad at Backing Up? Trailer Assist to the Rescue!

January 28th, 2016

2016-Ford-F-150-Pro-Trailer-Backup-Assist

I didn’t learn to back up a trailer until I was 37 years old.

Until then, panic set in whenever it came time to go backwards with anything attached to the hitch of my car. Especially at the dump. That’s where a burly man would point to the empty slice of space between two massive F-250 Super Duty trucks and expect me to back my trailer perfectly between them. I’d try, only to wind up with the trailer nearly parallel to my car while hanging my head in shame.

My dad, on the other hand, can expertly perform a 3-point turn in the space of a small driveway while towing a 35-foot boat.

I’ve gotten way better, and trips to the dump are now handled with confidence, but I definitely didn’t get the right gene passed down into my DNA. That’s why new functions such as Volkswagen’s Trailer Assist are not just cool options, they are vital to the ego for people like me.

Volkswagen recently released this fun new ad promoting its Trailer Assist feature:

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Toyota FJ Cruiser: The Unlikely Collectible

January 27th, 2016

2014_toyota_fj_cruiser

I may have accidentally cost myself a lot of money.

Since my son was about 10, he’s been in love with the Toyota FJ Cruiser and obsessed with having one as his first car. Being a loving and supportive dad, I told him that I’d pay half and match his contribution to buying one when the time came.

My son is 14 now, and his driving years are getting frighteningly close. He’s still set on having an FJ Cruiser, but prices haven’t exactly fallen like I expected.

Insead, some used FJ Cruisers are selling for more than when they were new. What’s going on?

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The Early Death of the 3-Wheeled Car?

January 26th, 2016

Elio_Motors

Starting a car company is probably one of the most difficult of all business ventures. Even the best ideas can fail due to a lack of funds or stifling government regulatory requirements.

And yet, people still try.

The people who start car companies do so because they believe they can change, or improve upon, the current state of automobile design, functionality, and performance. Starting a car company can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, though, and most who try eventually fall short of their goals because they simply run out of money.

One company, Elio Motors, wants to introduce an 84-mpg 2-seater that costs just $6,800 and is powered by a 3-cylinder gas engine. Sounds great, right?

Consider this: The Elio has only three wheels, meaning the company is trying to classify the car as a motorcycle to avoid the stricter safety and efficiency regulations that govern cars.

The government, though, has other plans, which could send Elio into the history books.

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Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt? No Contest!

January 25th, 2016

Tesla Model 3

Soon a $37,000, 200-mile electric vehicle will arrive on the market. The car could be the one that finally ushers in the era of the affordable, high-range, mass-produced electric car.

This car is well along in its development and will be available to purchase in the coming year.

The car’s designers made aerodynamics a top priority, so it slips effortlessly through the air. When in motion, wind flows around the vehicle from the headlamps to the rear wheels. The aluminum body and smooth proportions cut down on weight and drag to increase both range and acceleration. Plus, the bottom of the car is completely flat, since there aren’t any exhaust bits that need to be kept cool.

Yes, this car could be a game changer.

Oh, and Tesla is building one, too.

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10 Cars We’d Happily Let Do the Driving

January 22nd, 2016

Google Self-Driving Prototype

Self-driving cars are coming. Thanks to visions of Skynet and Terminators, this is a frightening proposition to many people. Rather than being seen as an unparalleled convenience, autonomous cars have often been viewed as a soul-sucking leech on the driving experience. But that’s a shame, because if you begin to see cars as appliances, the appeal of an autonomous automobile is enormous.

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Jerry Seinfeld Sends $10 Million Worth of Porsches to the Auction Block

January 22nd, 2016

seinfeld-collection-porsche

Remember when we said that Barack Obama might be the coolest car guy ever? Well, he’s not.

In that same article we mentioned that Jerry Seinfeld could be making a case for himself with his web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Little did we know that Mr. Seinfeld is one of the world’s most exclusive Porsche collectors and owns one of the rarest stables of Porsches known to exist, including the very first 911.

That automatically ranks Seinfeld in the upper echelon of car guys, no questions asked. Three of his rarest vehicles will go on sale at auction in March, and are expected to fetch a staggering sum.

Here are the cars going up for sale:

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5 Questions to Help You Decide Whether to Buy or Lease Your Next Car

January 21st, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu 005When I was young and poor, I always fantasized about leasing a new car, because the monthly payments were so attractive. Of course, with a credit score in double digits, no responsible car company in the world would have leased me a new one.

Now that I’m older and married to a woman with a good credit history, I’m no longer attracted to leasing. We hold our cars for a long time, as witnessed by the 2008 Mazda5 and 2002 Dodge Neon parked in our driveway.

With my perspective out of the way, let’s ponder 5 questions to figure out whether you should lease or buy your next new car. They can help you determine what will work best for you.

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Local Motors Could 3D-Print Itself Into the Future

January 21st, 2016

local-motors-lm3d_swim

A few weeks ago I made a statement on these pages that said something to the effect of how vehicle production hasn’t changed much over the last century or so.

Cars are still built on assembly lines using metal parts, a process that isn’t likely to change on a mass scale anytime soon.

There are companies, however, that are looking toward the future and coming up with innovative ways to build, and recycle, cars in the decades ahead.

Local Motors wants to be the one that disrupts the auto industry, and it wants to do so with 3D-printed cars.

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The Concept Kia Needs to Build

January 20th, 2016

Kia Telluride

Kia wants to get into the luxury game.

Its sister company, Hyundai, dabbled in luxury for a few years with the Genesis and Equus sedans before finally announcing that it would launch a separate luxury brand to compete with the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. That new brand, called Genesis, will launch in Hyundai dealerships this year and offer up to six models by 2020.

This post, though, isn’t about Hyundai.

Kia also produces a luxury liner, the well-appointed K900, but it’s struggling to find a place in the world.

A recently completed long-term review of the car said,

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