To most people, spring means longer days, sunny skies, and flowers in bloom. For us, however, spring also means great deals on outgoing model-year vehicles. While some cars, like the Honda Civic and Mitsubishi Outlander, received enormous changes between the 2015 and 2016 model years, others enjoyed more modest enhancements or were complete holdovers from the year before. It’s these cars — the unchanged models — that we want to find.
This weekend will cap the 2015 NFL football season with one of television’s most watched events: the Super Bowl. The 50th edition of this great American sporting event pits Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Manning’s a veteran, having won and taken the MVP title for Super Bowl XLI as well as five Associated Press NFL MVP titles since entering the league in 1998. Cam Newton’s younger, having entered the league in 2011, but he’s got some impressive stats, too, and he’s our bet to win the MVP award this year. Fittingly, each quarterback was the first pick in the NFL draft the year they entered the league.
Because we’re huge fans of cars in addition to football, we’ve decided to turn this year’s Super Bowl into a car contest in addition to a football game. We’ve selected five critical players from each team and picked a car to represent each of those players. We’d be happy to see what you think of our picks as well as which one of each pair of cars you would select – please let us know in a comment. We hope you’ve already voted in our poll on the game itself, of course, and seen the best and worst car ads that will be shown during this year’s game. Since our local Patriots didn’t make it to the big game this year, we’ll likely be much quieter while watching it than we were last year, but we’ll certainly have a good time, and we hope you will, too.
Have you ever heard of the Wuling Sunshine?
Neither had I. The Sunshine is a minivan built and sold in China by Wuling Motors, which is actually a partner with General Motors. According to the automaker’s website, the Sunshine boasts a “user-friendly handling mechanism,” a “reliable braking system” and “comfortable interior decorations.” I’m sure the rest of the car is top-notch as well. I don’t know about you, but I’m left wondering where to sign! That bit about the reliable braking system sold me, because that’s just not something we see enough of these days.
Sarcasm aside, you might find yourself wondering why I’ve spent the first hundred words or so of this blog talking about such an obscure vehicle. Certainly it’s not the best selling car in the world, right?
The short answer:
No. No, it won’t.
The longer answer:
Unless you have up to 40 years to wait for your investment to pay off.
The full answer:
Keep reading for all the juicy details.
Go to Ford’s campus in Dearborn, Mich., and try to find someone who isn’t smiling.
The company recently reported its best annual earnings since 1998, making 2011 the second most profitable year in the company’s 109-year history. After all the money was tallied, Ford’s net income for 2011 came in at $20.2 billion.
All the details you care to know about Ford’s financial situation can be found in a detailed CNN Money story.
In addition to the huge amounts of money rolling in, the company’s F-Series trucks still remain in the number one spot after 35 years. The new Fusion continues to generate positive reviews, and overall vehicle quality and company reputation is up. There just doesn’t seem to be anything stopping Ford right now.
Except there could be one tiny little problem.
A Focus by any other name is still a Focus. Right?
We see them every day in shopping-mall parking lots across America. We rent them during trips to Dallas. We see them advertised by dealers for low, low monthly payments. We have friends who drive a Focus. We’ve considered buying a Focus.
But a Focus for almost $100,000? That’s just crazy talk. Or is it the bargain of the century?
The Focus ST-R isn’t just a Focus. This is an honest-to-goodness race car launched by Ford Racing back in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder and has a full FIA-certified roll cage, racing brakes and a track-tuned suspension.
Ever think you’d see that headline? That’s one I’d place right up there with, “U.S. Nearly Defaults” and “Obama Wins Re-Election.”
But these are crazy times we live in, and you just never know what’s going to dominate the headlines.
The Honda Civic has been one of Consumer Reports’ darlings since, oh, I don’t know, the Jefferson administration. It’s a car that has gotten progressively better since its inception in 1972.
For its latest test, CR drove the $19,405 2012 Honda Civic LX. For comparison, the 2011 version of the car scored a 78 on the magazine’s scale, which meant a rating of “Very Good.” The 2012 version dropped a shocking 17 points to a mediocre 61. That’s lower than the Kia Forte and Ford Focus. In fact, it’s lower than everything except the redesigned Volkswagen Jetta.
So what happened?
There’s a Ford Focus in my neighborhood.
I realize that’s not particularly interesting, especially considering there are roughly 383,895 other neighborhoods, in my city alone, that can say the same thing.
The Focus in my area, though, doesn’t run. I’m guessing it’s a 2000 model. The car is perpetually sitting in its owner’s garage on jack stands with the hood open.
All I’ve ever done is drive by this car, but I’ve seen some clues as to what the problem might be.
First clue: There is a trailer hitch on the car.
Second clue: There is a cargo trailer in the driveway.
In case you thought it was impossible to make the Honda Fit look any weirder, check out the non-Photoshopped image above of the Honda Fit Shuttle.
The front three-quarters looks like a regular Fit, but the rear looks like the regular Fit has filled its diaper.
And what’s with the tri-color pointy C-pillar? The Fit Shuttle is certainly an odd duck, but as of now it is meant only for the Japanese market. Which is mostly OK with me, except I think it would make a perfect teen car here in the States. It’s ugly, not too fast, but reliable, and able to haul sports equipment and musical instruments. Because that’s what teens do with their cars, right?
I freely admit, I get kinda twitchy when I’m away from the Internet.
Between my at-home service, the wireless hotspots at Starbucks and my beloved WiFi iPod Touch, it’s not often that the World Wide Web eludes me.
The one place WiFi has yet to infiltrate my life is in the car, which only recently became glaringly apparent when my online addiction kicked in and I happened to be at the one point on Earth farthest from all things WiFi: the middle of Wyoming.
Wyoming should be known for the two things it has in abundance: antelope and dirt. Unfortunately for me, neither of those is useful when the ultimate Facebook status comes to mind while barreling across a desolate freeway at 80 miles an hour.
If only a car company catered to online addicts by building vehicles that are also wireless hotspots…