We’re only a month into Spring, but most of us have already started looking forward to the summer months. Not long from now we’ll be having barbeques outside in peak humidity, baseball will be the only televised sport we’ll care to watch, and kids will try to find summer jobs to eat up some of their free time now that they’re out of school. It’s also almost graduation season, and if you’re a parent whose child is about to graduate high school or college, you may be considering purchasing a car for them so they can get around themselves, be it for college or a new job. And for your kid’s first car, you’ll probably want to consider something safe, cheap, reliable, and easy to get. And nothing exemplifies those attributes more than your everyday compact sedan. Continue reading >>>
For all the controversy President-elect Trump has created, his impending presidency seems to be having at least one immediate effect: Car production is staying in the United States.
In the last few weeks, Ford has cancelled plans for a Mexican production plant, and GM has committed to invest a billion dollars in U.S. manufacturing while adding 7,000 jobs. That news comes after Trump has publicly derided the companies for moving production out of the country.
German automakers, however, have stood firm on their existing plans for production in Mexico, even in the face of Trump’s proposed 35 percent tax on foreign cars being brought into the U.S.
Is this truly a Trump effect, or just coincidence?
We love cars, but find the fact that it took almost 1.6 million U.S. motor-vehicle fatalities to make wearing a seat belt mandatory in America troubling. Happily, annual fatalities have declined fairly steadily since their early-‘70s peak, despite the fact that Americans now drive well over one and a half times the number of miles they did then, often while using a smartphone. And with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing and rating vehicles for safety and crashworthiness, we have to admit it’s getting better.
Smartphones can, of course, pose huge risks to drivers, so much so that NHTSA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create the distraction.gov website, and “distracted driving” now has its own Wikipedia entry. But the connectivity and processing power of smartphones can also be used to help drivers avoid accidents and to make sure authorities get alerted quickly and with all the information they’ll need to respond to an accident. And those capabilities will definitely be required for any future “self-driving,” “autonomous,” or Autopilot-equipped cars. As we learned at NEMPA/MIT’s recent panel on the intersection of technology and design, a whole new world of car safety and driver-assistance technologies is available–and evolving–so we’re going to take a look at some of the more important and effective new tech.
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?