In Greek mythology, Icarus attempted to flee the Island of Crete using wings made of feathers and wax. Despite Daedalus’s warnings, Icarus flew higher and higher until the heat of the sun melted the wax binding his wings, and he fell from the sky. The story warns against hubris, arrogance, and how care and precaution remain paramount when moving onward and upward. Thousands of years after the story of Icarus was first told, is Subaru now threatening to fly too high?
Since they began flooding the U.S. market in the mid-1970s, Japanese cars have always enjoyed a reputation for reliability American companies could seem to only covet. So, naturally, it comes as no surprise that Lexus and Toyota continue their best Jimmie Johnson and Sebastian Vettel impressions, respectively landing the top two spots of Consumer Reports’ Annual Brand Reliability Survey for the 4th straight year. Instead, this year shoppers will need to scroll down to the 3rd place finisher if they’re looking for a shock. Buick, of all brands, has brought an American nameplate to Consumer Reports’ podium for the first time in over three decades.
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Yes, we’ve wished for better fuel economy and better interior quality over the years, but the Wrangler is one of the vehicles you just don’t mess with. It has its shortcomings, like all cars, but they are all overlooked and accepted as quirks by the most fervent of fans.
One influential website, though, has committed an act of blasphemy and included the Wrangler on a list that no buyer wants to see a potential car on: The Worst Values on the Market.
I’ve always called it the brown paper bag of vehicles.
A family friend had one when I was younger, and I rented one when I was a young adult on a business trip. Those two experiences were enough to turn me off from the Chevrolet Impala ever since. This was a car that could go unnoticed in traffic and blend in like a brown paper bag in a bag full of other brown paper bags.
The Impala was uninspired, lacked any sort of intriguing design elements whatsoever and drove like a giant sheet of plywood.
So you can imagine my surprise, walking to the mailboxes at my apartment complex, when a car’s rear haunches caught my eye before revealing a word I would never have expected to see emblemized on the rear: Impala.
There’s a war among automakers, and the casualties are beginning to pile up.
It’s a war to claim the best miles-per-gallon figures in a market where consumers are heavily influenced by the numbers on the window sticker or touted in TV commercials.
To get the attention of more buyers, and to get them to hand over their hard-earned money, would automakers be willing to inflate those numbers? We certainly won’t accuse anyone of misleading the public on purpose, but two automakers in the last month have been hit with claims that their stated MPG numbers are higher than actual results.
The Chevrolet Volt: Electric without the anxiety.
If I sat on the marketing team for the Volt, that’s a slogan I might throw out there for consideration. While it’s possible to drive the Volt for months on end on electric power only, thus never needing to stop at a gas station, the car provides the option of driving from Boston to Seattle if the owner so chooses. That’s because the Volt’s genius powertrain allows for all-electric trips of roughly 40 miles or can use its small gas engine to extend range all the way to… well… Seattle.
While the car costs way too much (in my humble opinion), has suffered from a terrible marketing campaign and has been at the center of a heated political debate, owners seem to love the experience of the Volt and would buy one all over again. Which is more than Nissan can claim about its fuel-efficient Versa.
If the word “seductive” could be applied to just one car brand, it would be Jaguar. The sultry curves of a Jag are like no other car on Earth. Add in the ferocious power harbored behind the headlights, and it’s hard not to bend to the Jag’s sweet call.
Like any seductress, though, there are potential drawbacks, the biggest being the question of long-term reliability.
As great as the XFR-S might be, can it seduce buyers way from the competition?
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.
Mention the most dangerous vehicles on the road today, and the Ram 1500 pickup truck isn’t likely to make many people’s list. Dangerous to others, perhaps, but certainly not the most dangerous vehicle to ride in.
The smart fortwo? That would make sense.
But, once again, we have proof that we live in a world that doesn’t make much sense. Because, according to the website 24/7 Wall St, which compiled information from Consumer Reports ratings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash safety results, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vehicle scores and J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, the most dangerous vehicle on the road today is indeed the Ram pickup truck. And the smart’s not even on the list.
Fuel economy, at least temporarily, has become the single most important factor to new-car buyers.
I say “temporarily” because we all know it won’t last.
Americans have a tendency to overreact to things. Remember in 2008, when gas prices jumped and folks traded in their SUVs en masse for more fuel efficient rides? Remember, later that year, when prices dipped below $2/gallon and many of those same buyers flocked back to their big rigs?
Now it’s 2012, and prices are hovering near $4 again. No surprise that fuel economy is an important factor for buyers, but *the* most important? This world has gone crazy.