How to Have a Great Car Dealer Experience

April 28th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz dealer

Car dealers don’t want to rip you off.

All dealerships are in business to make money, provide jobs that pay a decent wage, and build long-term relationships with customers. To succeed they know they have to treat their customers well from the first moment of contact.

There’s a common belief that dealers just want to take as much money as they can from a buyer, which has created a lot of fear in people when it’s time to visit a dealership.

Those fears are amplified when articles are posted that proclaim to show the buyer how to avoid getting ripped off. It’s true, dealers will try to sell you products or services that you don’t need or are not a good value, but all you have to do is prepare a little to make sure you know what to decline.

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Audi Creates Synthetic Fuel Using Air and Water

April 27th, 2015

audi_e-diesel

Synthetic oil has been around for as long as I’ve been doing oil changes. In all that time it never occurred to me that maybe someone could invent synthetic fuel, too.

Fuel made from renewable resources rather than harvested from oil buried deep in the earth can provide clean power to our cars without damaging the atmosphere. That’s a dream scenario, but plenty of technological and logistical problems exist with the concept.

Audi, though, has succeeded in creating a process that results in clean e-diesel, a fully synthetic fuel capable of powering modern diesel engines.

It turns out synthetic fuel has been around since the early 1900s, when it was discovered in Germany. Many processes to make it have been created in the years since, but all of them require some kind of earth-based raw material, such as coal. Audi’s is a little different.

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What We’d Buy with 100K+ Miles

April 24th, 2015

1987 Toyota Pickup

Of course every shopper wants to purchase a reliable car. When pouring this much money into a single item, you probably expect that purchase to last a good long while, especially one as important as a car. That’s why reliability in a vehicle becomes such an important metric when considering where to throw your money. But how do you measure reliability? It certainly is a measurement that has to be taken with quite a few grains of salt. But, by the way we look at it, the issue of reliability can be addressed with one question: Would I feel comfortable buying this vehicle if it had over 100,000 miles on it?

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We Want a Malibu That Looks Like the FNR Concept

April 24th, 2015

Chevrolet FNR concept

What you see above could be an early glimpse into what the 2065 Chevy Malibu might look like. True, it’s rare for an automaker to tease us with product that’s 50 years away, but I think Chevrolet has done just that.

For now, this is just a design concept that Chevy has dubbed the FNR and unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. I could try to describe its looks, but I think it’s best to let the pictures do the talking, because there’s just no good way to describe what is going on here visually.

How is it powered? I’ll let Gizmag explain:

The electric car is powered by magnetic hubless wheel motors and charged wirelessly. The driver starts the motor with an iris recognition system and can opt between manual and autonomous modes. A combination of sensors and a roof-mounted radar system analyzes the surroundings during autonomous driving, and a set of crystal laser head and tail lamps light the way.

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Time to Trade the Hybrid for an SUV?

April 23rd, 2015

2015 Jeep Renegade

Don’t jump back into an SUV just yet!

If you drive an electric car or a hybrid, you might be tempted by low gas prices to make the leap back into an SUV or crossover. It happens every time there’s a fluctuation in fuel prices; they rise, and people flock to hybrids. They sink, and people migrate back to the big rigs.

Americans are a fickle breed, and we have a hard time looking at the long-term picture. With gas prices currently well under $3 per gallon in most of the country, the great transition back to SUVs is already in place.

According to CNN, so far this year only 45 percent of people who traded in an environmentally friendly hybrid car purchased another. That means 55 percent of folks went back to gas, and many of those were SUV purchases.

The logic makes sense, but whatever happened to the days when someone made a decision and stuck with it for a while?

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Should Modifying Your Car Be Illegal?

April 22nd, 2015

working on own car

Driveway tinkerers and shop-bound weekend racers could be a dying breed.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. People who work on their own cars are stymied by the sheer amount of technology and custom tools needed to do the job.
  2. A new law could make it illegal to work on your own car.

The first reason is a natural consequence of technology. Open the hood of a modern car, and instead of seeing headers and valve covers, we’re greeted with a plastic cover emblematized with the vehicle’s logo and engine size.

Aside from having easy access to refill the windshield-wiper fluid, modern cars are basically untouchable for the average weekend do-it-yourselfer.

That in itself isn’t so bad, but a law that would outlaw us from even trying is very scary. And very real.

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2016 Volvo XC90 Twin Engine: Double the Induction

April 21st, 2015

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 twin engine

So the term “twin engine” has officially become a thing, and now the world is just a little more bonkers.

Cars have been using two engines, or perhaps motors would be a better word, since the advent of the hybrid vehicle. One motor runs on gas, and the other runs on electricity, both working together to provide fuel efficiency and power.

Volvo will sell its new XC90 with a similar setup, except it’ll market its flagship SUV as the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.

It sounds impressive, and it is. The two engines, though, are just the beginning.

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Aluminum: Best for Beer Cans or Trucks?

April 20th, 2015
Did it collapse like a beer can?

Did it collapse like a beer can?

News of Ford’s use of aluminum in the body of the new F-150 shook the auto world in 2014. Some saw it as a revolutionary step in the evolution of the pickup truck, while others mocked the decision as an expensive experiment that would end poorly.

Competing brands touted the strength of steel and took issue with the high cost and questionable durability of aluminum. In an interview with Car and Driver, Michael Cairns, vehicle line executive for Ram, said,

It’s the best material to use for beer cans.

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Honda Heats Up the Civic

April 17th, 2015

Civic Coupe concept, shot 1

Honda has sold more than 18 million Civics since the car’s 1973 debut, making it the sixth best selling car of all time, according to the Cheat Sheet. One of the many reasons for the car’s popularity is its versatility—over the years, the Civic has been available as a sedan, coupe, hatchback, and wagon with power output ranging from a measly 50 hp in its first generation to 276 hp in the most recent version of the Type R (which hasn’t been available in the U.S., but stay tuned!), and won over passionate fans ranging from mileage-focused greenies to tire-shredding tuners. So perhaps it’s fitting that one of the most watched debuts at this year’s New York International Auto Show was of Honda’s new Civic Coupe concept.

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The New Optima and the Future of Kia

April 17th, 2015

2016 Kia Optima

Kia Motors introduced the 2016 Kia Optima at the New York International Auto show a couple of weeks ago as part of an effort to revitalize the brand. As the lesser arm of the mighty Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors has struggled to distinguish itself from the South Korean automotive giant’s larger arm (by which we mean Hyundai itself, of course). Kia owes a lot to Hyundai, having been rescued from bankruptcy and absorbed into the conglomerate back in 1998. Kia first introduced its rebranded Hyundai Sonata in 2000 as the Kia Optima in North America, and Kia has since been doing what it can to set the Optima apart from the Sonata and other midsize sedans, in much the same way it’s trying to distinguish itself from Hyundai.

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