Toyota May Have Just Made the Prius Obsolete

Trying to sell someone a hybrid car while gas prices are low is a little like selling summer clothes in Barrow, Alaska.

It might be a great concept, but if there’s not a lot of need, there won’t be a lot of sales.

Such is the case with the newest version of the Toyota Prius. Yes, it’s one of the best hybrids that the market has ever seen. Yes, it’s at least somewhat fun, engaging, and, some might say, even good-looking.

The new Prius Prime is so good, in fact, it might render the regular Prius obsolete.

If, that is, anyone can be convinced to buy one. Continue reading >>>

Chevy Bolt vs. Hyundai Ioniq: Which Has a Brighter Future?

Flexibility is a benefit enjoyed often by small companies, but rarely by large ones. Like a small boat, businesses still in early stages can maneuver quickly; they can alter business plans, tweak messaging, and otherwise pivot without having to worry about re-orienting a large workforce or undermining the public’s understanding of the brand. By contrast, large businesses operate more similarly to a container ship. Every move requires extensive planning, communication, and extreme foresight. Fine-tuning a product can take months, and changing direction entirely can take years. Continue reading >>>

Dependable Drives: Ten 2014s Worth a Look

2014 Ford F-150

As anyone who’s shopped for a used car knows, cars retain value inconsistently. In this era of Big Data, armies of statisticians are gathering and analyzing all sorts of car numbers by maker, body style, price, location, model, and so on to see what we can learn. J.D. Power recently published its 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study, which rates both makers and models, and it shows that Lexus and Porsche had the fewest reported problems per 2014-model-year vehicle, followed by Toyota, Buick, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and BMW.

Each year J.D. Power polls owners of 3-year-old cars to determine the number of problems they experienced during the previous 12 months, then ranks each maker and model by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles. Last year we built a list of Reliable Rides featuring 10 cars that performed well in studies based on model years 2010 through 2013, and this year we’re going to take a look at some new winners and returning champs as well as some cars that have made important changes since 2014. Continue reading >>>

Ioniq Versus Prius: The Battle for MPG Superiority

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Maybe Toyota didn’t realize it at the time, but when it first debuted the Prius it also launched an entirely new segment of vehicles. While the Prius inspired competing automakers to get into the world of hybrids, the Toyota easily outsold them all and remained king for nearly two decades.

The Prius, which debuted in the U.S. in 2001, has evolved from a basic transportation appliance into an entirely different beast. It’s filled with new technology, improved performance, and increased efficiency. The latest iteration also has something it’s never had to deal with before:

Real competition. Continue reading >>>

A Brief History of Batteries and Battery Tech

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?

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Has the Toyota Prius Fallen from Grace?

2017-toyota-prius-prime

The Toyota Prius first came off the production line in 1997 and immediately sparked an automotive revolution. Since the day it was introduced, Toyota has sold 3.7 million versions of the Prius worldwide.

Part of that success came from the fact that the Prius was the only hybrid in production when it hit the market. Today virtually every large auto manufacturer offers at least one hybrid model. Even Toyota has expanded its hybrid offerings to include models that compete with the Prius.

Not only is there a glut of hybrids on the market, but automakers are evolving toward fully electric cars, which may eventually push the Prius and its fellow hybrids into obsolescence.

Toyota’s June sales numbers seem to confirm the fall of the Prius. Is there hope for a resurgence?

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Taking a Look at the Most and Least Expensive Cars to Own

2016 BMW 340i

There are some things we replace, and other things we repair. I have no qualms replacing a toothbrush every couple months, or buying a new pair of running shoes after a few hundred miles. When it comes to more expensive items, however, my point of view shifts dramatically. Companies like Patagonia have made a strong push against disposable merchandise, offering repair services for their products and encouraging shoppers to fix their gear rather than just throwing it away and buying replacements. It’s a commendable, environmentally friendly decision—and considering the price tags on Patagonia products, one that’s appreciated by shoppers, too.

Of course, when it comes to repairing vs. replacing, nothing trumps the auto industry. Drivers spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars per year keeping their cars on the road and, try as a I might, I just can’t visualize disposable cars showing up anytime soon. YourMechanic.com connects car owners with mechanics and in doing so has amassed an impressive data set breaking down the average cost of ownership by brand and specific model, including the maladies that most commonly afflict each brand.

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10 Economical Options for the Sensible Graduate

personal_car_rental

As Boston-area folks know all too well, another year’s worth of college students will soon graduate and move on to their next stage in life. Whether that next stage will be an entry-level job, more school, volunteer or charity work, or getting right to work on their first (next?) startup, we wish this year’s graduates nothing but the best with whatever comes next.

We ran a recent survey that determined more than half of graduating college students plan to buy a car, and we were happily surprised to learn that over half of them expect to buy it themselves. Two-thirds of those getting a new car plan to buy a used one, and almost half expect to spend $15,000 or less, though we also learned that graduating college students don’t understand a car’s true costs. Over half plan to work in the city, and 71% plan to commute by car.

So here’s a graduation present from CarGurus: a list of 10 cars available used at an average cost of $15,000 or less that are all fine commuting cars and should hold their value relatively well. We deliberately avoided sports cars, which might tempt even a valedictorian to drive unsafely and would cost substantially more to insure. We hope all recent graduates plan to continue learning in their next stage of life, and we look forward to celebrating some of their successes in the no doubt impressively near future.

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10 Cars We’d Happily Let Do the Driving

Google Self-Driving Prototype

Self-driving cars are coming. Thanks to visions of Skynet and Terminators, this is a frightening proposition to many people. Rather than being seen as an unparalleled convenience, autonomous cars have often been viewed as a soul-sucking leech on the driving experience. But that’s a shame, because if you begin to see cars as appliances, the appeal of an autonomous automobile is enormous.

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CarMD Names 10 Best Cars for Repair Costs

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has the lowest cost to repair among any 1996-2015 models.

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has the lowest cost to repair among any 1996-2015 models.

Preventive maintenance is the secret to automotive happiness. Failing that, it helps to own a car with low maintenance costs. A new list provided by CarMD provides some excellent guidance into the 10 best cars for repair costs.

It’s part of CarMD’s annual manufacturer and vehicle reliability rankings. It measures the top 10 manufacturers, top 100 vehicles, top 3 vehicles by vehicle category, and common repairs by vehicle make. This year’s Vehicle Health Index™ is based on more than 251,000 repairs recommended for model year 1996 to 2015 vehicles in the United States from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015.

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