And the Least Satisfying Car in America Is…

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One of the strongest pieces of advice my dad ever gave me is to never, ever, buy a Chrysler. I was just a child when he told me, but the advice has stuck. His dissatisfaction with Chrysler began with the new Le Baron he bought in the 1980s, which was bad enough to skew his opinion of the automaker to this day. That’s roughly 30 years of disdain from a bad experience with one car.

I say this to illustrate the importance of vehicle satisfaction to automakers. A happy customer can mean a lifetime of car purchases while an unhappy one can negatively impact generations of car buyers.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at some results from Consumer Reports‘ annual vehicle satisfaction survey.

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2018 Honda Odyssey Teased… and It’s Remarkable

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Honda just gave us one of the coolest automotive teasers we’ve ever seen for the upcoming 2018 Odyssey. The Odyssey, of course, is one of the most popular minivans in the world and is much loved by the under-35 crowd, making it about as cool as minivans can get. Since the essential purpose of a minivan is the transport of kids and kid-related gear, Honda felt it appropriate to delineate teaser duties to children.

And the results are remarkable.

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They Forgot the V8s: Wards Announces 10 Best Engines for 2017

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For the past 23 years, WardsAuto has published a list of the 10 best engines available for the upcoming model year. In an industry where reviews are more and more dominated by instrument tests, where cars are differentiated by tenths (if not hundredths) of a second on a drag strip and by tenths (if not hundredths) of a g-force on a skid pad, Ward’s list is based on objective, but also delightfully subjective, data.

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When Used Cars Come With Extra Surprises

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This is a true story: A friend had purchased a new-to-her Honda CR-V. She was instantly in love with the car, a spotless low-mileage white 2006 model. After a few days of driving, however, she started to notice a peculiar smell. The odor worsened over the coming days until it became so offensive in the summer heat that she had to drive with the windows down.

She scoured the car for the source of the smell with no luck until, one day, she discovered a rotting tuna sandwich under the driver’s seat.

It’s not uncommon to find forgotten possessions in used cars, but they normally amount to some loose change or stray crayons.

A man in Kentucky, though, may have won the award for the most interesting find yet. Continue reading >>>

Will Car Brands Survive the Age of Autonomy?

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When flying on an airplane, travelers generally don’t care if the maker of the plane is Boeing or Airbus, but they do care if the carrier is United or Southwest. Apply that thinking to the world of cars as autonomy sets in over the next decade or so, and perhaps it won’t matter if the maker of the car is Ford or Chevrolet, but if the operator of the car is Uber, Lyft, or even IBM.

Automotive News published an in-depth article about the future of car brands, and it doesn’t look good for automakers as we know them today.

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Mazda: The Car to Drive or the Car to Own?

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Think back to 2002, when the all-new 2003 Mazda6 came onto the market and redefined what a sport sedan could be for families. I still remember the first one in my neighborhood. It was bright red, sleek, and looked nothing like the Accord sedans and Dodge minivans that littered the suburban area. The driver would come in to the neighborhood way too fast while us young parents vocally chastised his reckless driving but secretly wanted to be just like him.

The Mazda6 brought some zoom-zoom to the previously bland sedan segment and changed things forever. Now we’re coming up fast on 2017 and the Mazda6 still has that sporty spirit and has spawned a smaller, equally-as-fun Mazda3.

But there’s a problem in zoom-zoom land.

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When It Makes Sense to Drive Instead of Fly

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The holidays bring many things: festive decorations, various holiday foods, crackling fireplaces, and general merriment and cheer. Oh, and travel. Lots and lots of travel. Looking at expensive plane tickets during this time of year, it’s pretty clear the air-travel industry is aware of this, and who are they to pass up the chance to leverage a little supply and demand? Airlines may love it, but at times, the juxtaposition of Thanksgiving and Christmas–just 30 days this year–can put plenty of strain on even the fattest wallets. In some cases, it can make you wonder whether it’s more affordable to drive instead of fly. Continue reading >>>

What’s Your Most Trusted Car?

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There were a few brief moments yesterday afternoon when I wondered if today’s blog post would get written or if I’d spend the night huddled in a dark, frozen, and snowy forest. Three hours earlier, we loaded our Subaru with snowshoeing equipment and drove up to the base of our local mountain. My wife and I embarked on a trail that we thought was a quick 2-mile loop.

Three miles later we realized we didn’t recognize our surroundings when the trail disappeared into a blanket of freshly fallen snow. We panicked a little because we knew we had about 45 minutes of sunlight left and at least three miles of deep snow to trudge through in unfamiliar forest if we turned back.

Luckily we found a posted trail map and learned that we were on the verge of starting an 8-mile loop and turning around gave us our best shot of getting out of the forest before nightfall.

Obviously we made it home to the comfort of my laptop and a warm fire, but not before the thoughts of, “We could actually get lost out here,” started echoing through my head.

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Subaru Oil Consumption: There’s a Lawsuit for That

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Two weeks ago, we wondered if Subaru is flying too close to the sun. Of course, that was in reference to the company’s reliability problems that are stemming from its growth in the United States. One of those problems is excessive oil consumption in the 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy, 2013 Outback, 2012-2013 Impreza, and 2013 XV Crosstrek. The offending motors are the 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter 4-cylinder mills.

This is a serious problem that can lead to engine failure, but has quietly escaped the wrath of the mainstream media. The good news is that Subaru has taken steps to make sure its customers are well taken care of.

I know, because I’m one of them.

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What Are We Thankful For? Automotive Evolution

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Remember when Tesla was just a small startup company with a big dream? Very few people saw the potential for electric cars. GM had killed its original electric project, the EV1, and batteries were seen as an inefficient alternative to plentiful gasoline.

The Tesla Roadster was built for a very small niche of people who wanted the novelty of an electric sports car.

Compare the Tesla of 2009 with the Tesla of 2016, and it’s astonishing to see the growth of the company and the widespread acceptance of its automobiles.

Not only has Tesla represented the evolution toward electricity, it has spurred a revolution in automotive engineering.

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