Auto News

AutoGuide News Blog


The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  May 22 2012, 8:01 AM

Fuel economy is now the number one purchase consideration for new car shoppers, sparking a massive swing in interest for alternative fuel vehicles.

Continue Reading…

 |  May 10 2012, 1:31 PM


There are a lot of car stereotypes out there, like that Toyota builds dull appliances. While true on many fronts, the Japanese automaker does also make exciting sporty cars like the Scion FR-S, and Lexus LFA, both praised for their exhilarating rides, edgy styling and pulse-raising performance. But there’s another stereotype that needs to be dealt with.

Likely you’ve heard the phrase “German engineering” more than a few times in your life and there’s a popular misconception that it equals good reliability. German cars are well engineered, sometimes to be amazing performance machines and sometimes to be incredibly high-tech (and often both) but, Porsche aside, German cars don’t have the best track record for reliability.

Continue Reading…

 |  Apr 12 2012, 1:35 PM

Price, looks and size… these are the few factors that used to decide what vehicle you’d park in your driveway. Looking for a cheap and small car? A Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic will do. Need something bigger, perhaps a mid-size Hyundai Sonata or an SUV. Things used to be pretty easy.

With increasingly high gas prices and an overall movement towards green, fuel efficient vehicles, fuel economy has become more important. In fact, for many price, looks and size are now completely trumped by fuel economy.

“Buyers just look at the MPG on the sticker,” says IHS Automotive Analyst Devin Lindsay commenting that car buyers are now completely mesmerized by the EPA sticker label.

Take a look at the Toyota Prius, for example. It’s not terribly big, is fairly expensive, and looks… well… weird. But that didn’t stop three million of them from being sold, all thanks to a hybrid gas-electric engine that provides excellent fuel economy.

The Prius isn’t the only option for someone looking for a fuel efficient car, however; especially those in search of a more engaging driving experience. If you want to cut down on trips to the pump, and still drive a fun, powerful, good looking car, your best bet might just be in a diesel powered vehicle. That does mean you’ll almost certainly have to drive German, although a flood of new diesel-powered vehicles are about to hit our shore.

Continue Reading…

 |  Mar 22 2012, 6:01 AM

The Kia Rio EX got top honors in Consumer Reports’ latest tests in the sub-compact sedan category, besting the Hyundai Accent and the Chevrolet Sonic.

Consumer Reports found the Kia Rio a solid and well-equipped car with nimble handling, simple controls and plenty of features for the price. Their test vehicle was a Kia Rio EX sedan ($17,275 as tested) with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 138-hp with 30-mpg overall. They noted that the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly while both ride and noise were tolerable for a subcompact. They were also pleased with the braking performance of the Rio and found the trunk to be roomy.

The hatchback, on the other hand, came in third place behind the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa in the subcompact hatchbacks category. Despite the Versa having a strong showing among the hatchbacks, the sedan plunged from being at the top of Consumer Reports’ ratings to the bottom. Complaints from Consumer Reports include the engine’s whirring, jittery ride on the highway and unimpressive interior.

Even with its redesign, the Toyota Yaris continued to garner very low scores from Consumer Reports, which calling it “bare-bones transportation.” They reported that the Yaris is noisy, has a choppy ride, poor handling and slow acceleration.

The biggest surprise is probably the new Chevrolet Sonic getting high marks for its quiet cabin, agile handling, and excellent braking. What hurt the Sonic was its fuel economy, which Consumer Reports said is mediocre for the class. Even though Consumer Reports tested a fully-loaded Sonic LTZ turbocharged hatchback, they found that it was too expensive and “didn’t live up to its sporty aspirations.”

 |  Mar 15 2012, 3:32 PM

33.jpg

The infamous Fisker Karma that shut down during Consumer Reports‘ testing performed exactly as it was meant to, according to Tom LaSorda, the company’s new CEO.

Apparently the luxury EV is meant to shut down in the event of a failure to prevent collateral damage that might otherwise result. LaSorda sent a letter to customers apologizing for the fault and any resulting inconvenience.

He also assured customers that he is “personally involved” in all the company’s initiatives, saying that hiccups in new technology sometimes require updates and refinements.

Fisker returned the Consumer Reports owned Karma fully repaired under warranty after finding a problem in the car’s inverter cable and battery.

Furthermore, it seems LaSorda dispatched what he calls a “SWAT” team of 50 engineers and other consultants to find problems with the car and fix them. New software has been developed to help prevent future problems in Karmas, and will be sent out as soon as the current testing procedure is complete, according to LaSorda.

Regardless of what he says, its hard to imagine buying a car for $107,850, as Consumer Reports did, only to have it die. A letter from the company’s CEO would probably offer little comfort after realizing your recent six-figure investment wasn’t ready to be sold.

GALLERY: Fisker Karma

33.jpg41.jpgE7Z9764.jpgE7Z9778.jpgE7Z9822.jpgE7Z9852.jpg

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 13 2012, 9:48 AM

The Consumer Reports Fisker Karma test vehicle which broke down on them last week has now been returned to the fleet after spending 48 hours at a Fisker dealerhsip.

During a routine speedometer test the Karma began to flash a warning light and a chime to alert the driver that something was amiss. Once the car came to a stop the Consumer Reports testers could not get the vehicle to shift into any gear other than park and neutral.

The nearest Fisker dealership was alerted of the issue, and sent a flatbed to pick up the car. Consumer Reports says that the dealership found a fault with the battery and the inverter and both of them were replaced.

With a new battery and new inverter cable the car has been returned to the test fleet problem free… for now.

Watch the video below of the Karma breaking down on Consumer Reports.

Continue Reading…

 |  Mar 09 2012, 7:32 AM

Well this is just embarrassing. American electric automaker Fisker has had some pretty bad months recently, starting with a recall back in December, to reports of the company running out of funds, that has lead to the delay of Project Nina and then possible reports that the Karma could brick.

The automaker was probably hoping some good press would come with Consumer Reports putting the Karma to the test, looking to prove to the world that it is indeed a formidable plug-in hybrid especially at its hefty $107,850 price tag. That can just go out the window now, as Consumer Reports has reported that with less than 200 miles on the odometer their Karma has broken down.

The breakdown occurred while Consumer Reports was doing a speedometer calibration run on their test track, something they do for every test car. The calibration simply has the vehicle driving at a constant speed of 65-mph between two measured points. During one of its runs, “the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a ‘bing’ showing a major fault,” according to Consumer Reports.

They promptly took the vehicle off the track and parked it, rummaging through the owner’s manual to determine what may have occurred. Unfortunately after that, the Karma refused to let them shift the vehicle into any gear. The electronic shifter would only allow Park or Neutral.

The vehicle sat for about an hour before they restarted it hoping for better luck. This time around, it allowed them to put it into gear but it only moved a few feet before the error message appeared again and the Karma disabled itself. The dealer promptly sent out a flatbed tow truck to pick up the disabled Karma, which was almost 100 miles away from the dealership.

It’s disheartening to see all this funding going towards the Fisker brand and very little positive news has surfaced from the vehicle. It will be interesting to see what Consumer Reports publishes if they ever get the vehicle drivable for more than a couple of days.

Watch their video below

 

Continue Reading…

 |  Feb 28 2012, 7:31 PM

2012_Toyota_Yaris_016.jpg

Consumer Reports released its Top Picks for 2012, with Toyota claiming five of the 10 spots — the first time since 2003 that a company held so many.

Consumer Reports chooses the “best all-around models” in each category by conducting road tests, reading thousands of customer surveys about reliability and examining crash test ratings on each model.

Toyota is the only company on the list with a repeat appearance, its winners ranging from best family sedan to best family hauler.

See the complete list of winners below: (note: all cars listed are the 2012 model)

Continue Reading…

 |  Feb 01 2012, 1:15 PM

Have you ever thought about cleaning your headlights? If not, you should. There are plenty of headlight cleaning kits out there, and according to Consumer Reports, even the most inexpensive or poorest quality ones can make a difference.

Since drivers are keeping their cars longer, it becomes more important to maintain this older fleet. And one of these maintenance issues is the oxidation that occurs on plastic headlight lenses. Oxidation causes an unsightly haze that reduces headlight illumination, and over time, can build up to become a dangerous problem.

Consumer Reports tried out a series of headlight cleaning kits, all under $25, and found that even the poorest quality kit dramatically improves light output. The kits that Consumer Reports tested included the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System 29008 ($15), the Fast Brite Auto Headlight Restorer Kit ($17), the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit ($21) and the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer ($9).

After cleaning out the headlight lenses of various cars and testing them again a few weeks later, Consumer Reports found that even the poorest quality kit still made a difference in light output on badly weathered lenses. Sure, there’s some elbow grease involved, but if you’ve got an older car, these kits can really increase headlight brightness, which means you can see clearer in the dark.

After the jump, watch a Consumer Reports video on some helpful headlight cleaning tips.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 26 2012, 12:30 PM

Besides revealing what consumers think about specific vehicle brands based on seven different categories, Consumer Reports‘ latest Brand survey also shows what nameplates they will consider for their next new vehicle.

Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet were recognized as the leaders when it came to purchase intentions for consumers, however, Honda, in fourth place was ranked considerably higher than the rest of the brands on the list. Honda’s strong customer loyalty helped then to achieve their high ranking and like the top three, the customer loyalty factor was registered at more than 50 percent.

Other findings in terms of brand loyalty revealed that Dodge, which had showed gains in recent years, dropped slightly for 2012 to 28 percent from 35, placing it a distant fifth behind Honda.

As for the reason why, the lack of a quality small car at a time when buyers are looking to save their pennies and placing more emphasis on fuel economy and value may be a significant factor. It’ll be interesting to see how the brand fares next time out, once the Dodge Dart has been introduced.

Volkswagen, which is making a huge push to become a dominant player in the volume segment in the US, has seen its purchase intent double in the last few years. Even with the growth VW has achieved, the purchase intent numbers are still low, rated at just under two percent, meaning that for many consumers VW simply isn’t on the radar when it comes to considering a new vehicle.

Another interesting finding from the survey was of those leading Domestic brands that contained trucks in their portfolio. Men were more likely to consider theses brands than women and for example, Ford showed a 19 versus 11 percent bias towards males, with Chevrolet at 15/11. However, Toyota, which also offers trucks, was actually skewered the other way with 16 percent of women (versus 12 percent of men) most likely to consider a new vehicle.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

 |  Jan 25 2012, 7:30 AM

That’s according to Consumer Reports’ fifth Car Brand Perception Survey, which gauges the perception of different vehicle makes across seven different categories: design, environmental friendliness, performance, quality, safety, technology/innovation and value.

The survey, which was conducted among 2000 adults with at least one vehicle in their household last December, illustrated that the most well-known brands kept their lead, with Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet rounding out the top four in terms of overall scores, yet other brands edged closer. For example Acura, which ranked twelfth, had a score of 46.8, while BMW, in sixth, scored 69.3 points.

Regarding the survey, CR‘s deputy editor, Jeff Bartlett, said that, “we’ve made [brand] awareness a non-factor, so we’ve equalized it across the brands. So everyone knows Toyota, [but] a few people know Fiat. The question is, of those brands that you’re aware of, which stand as exemplary in each of the seven categories that we’re looking at?”

He also noted that whereas in the past it was easy to differentiate the leaders from the rest in certain aspects, such as Volvo when it came to safety or BMW in terms of performance, in the future, it will be much more difficult for one single brand to stand out, especially as more vehicles are able to do more things better.

 |  Jan 03 2012, 3:15 PM

While the 2012 Honda Civic has clearly not impressed the staff at Consumer Reports, the same can’t be said for its smaller sibling the Fit.

For the second year in a row, the Honda subcompact has been named as the best value choice when it comes to small cars; it was also judged best value overall from a field of some 200 competitors, high praise indeed.

During its evaluation of finding the year’s best value vehicles, Consumer Reports, tested cars, SUVs and trucks  from a total of 11 different categories. Scores were determined based on a five-year ownership cost of each vehicle, including depreciation, insurance premiums, fuel costs, interest on financing, repairs and maintenance and sales taxes. Consumer Reports also added it’s own road test scores and projected reliability to each tally.

When all was said and done, the Fit emerged as the overall winner in the small car category, followed by the Toyota Prius Hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TDI (manual gearbox), Toyota Corolla and Scion xD. Most of these cars scored twice as high as the average vehicle rating in the value survey, while the Chevy Cruze, which finished last in the small car category, still earned a total  score close to the average overall value of all vehicles tested.

Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports, said in regards to the survey, that “a cheap vehicle can wind up costing you more money over time or can be disappointing down the road.  We think real value is what you get for your money.” Indeed.

 |  Dec 29 2011, 10:45 AM

Despite having faced criticism by hard hitting publications in recent years, Toyota appears to have redeemed itself somewhat with Consumer Reports, at least as far as the 2012 Camry is concerned.

The latest version of Toyota’s best selling mid-size car, which went on sale back in October, was evaluated by CR for it’s February 2012 issue where it drew favorable comments.

Among them was,”the [2012] Camry has a nicer interior, more responsive handling, and better fuel economy than before,” while in another paragraph the magazine remarked that in terms of fuel mileage, “the [Camry] four-cylinder model’s 27 mpg overall ties with the Hyundai Sonata for the best fuel economy among conventional gasoline-powered family sedans.”

The news is no doubt welcomed by Toyota, for since 2007, Consumer Reports has been keeping a scrutinous eye on the automaker’s products following issues it discovered on the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup, the previous generation V6 powered Camry and Lexus GS luxury sedan.

Given that other media reviews of the 2012 Camry so far have tended to be favorable, along with modern America’s attraction to boring cars, there’s every indication that the latest model will help the nameplate retain its position as the best-selling car in the US.

Given that Toyota’s highly publicized recalls and more recent supplier problems caused by natural disasters in Asia  seem to have been largely rectified, it looks like 2012 could shape up to be a much better year for the Japanese automaker than the last three have been.

Read Autoguide’s 2012 Camry Review here.

 |  Dec 22 2011, 9:45 AM

Just as Honda announced it’ll be refreshing the Civic for next year, hoping everyone will quickly forget about the 2012 model, Consumer Reports goes and gives the 2012 Honda Civic Si a “Recommended” rating in its latest report.

Now let’s keep in mind that Consumer Reports were one of the first outlets to give the 2012 Civic such low ratings. In fact, they reiterated their thoughts on the base model Civic by saying “while other models like the Hyundai Elantra have gotten better after being redesigned, the Honda Civic has dropped so much that now it ranks near the bottom of its category.”

But the base model Civic isn’t the one that sports the 2.4L, 201-hp powerplant. In fact, our review of the Si was favorable – read the review here – and Consumer Reports agrees that the Si offers “terrific acceleration” more low-end torque and a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. As a result, the Si model scored much better than the base model awarding it the Recommended title from Consumer Reports.

Funny enough, the publication still believes that while “the Civic Si has a great powertrain, it needs a better car wrapped around it.”

GALLERY: 2012 Honda Civic Si

038_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_06.jpg043_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_11.jpg044_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_12.jpg045_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_13.jpg062_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_31.jpg006_2012_Civic_Si_Coupe_23.jpg

Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Civic Si vs. MazdaSpeed3 Shootout

 |  Dec 21 2011, 10:15 AM

This probably doesn’t come to as a surprise to many – since we’re all guilty of it – but Consumer Reports has taken a poll that reveals 40-percent of American car owners will delay the maintenance of their vehicle due to finances.

More eye-opening is the fact that younger drivers, 18-34 years of age, tend to ignore tires and brake pads. In fact, 21-percent of them admitted to not even paying attention to those items. Of those polled, 22-percent admitted to delaying the manufacturer-recommended minor services, 17-percent postponed replacing wear items while 15-percent could live with dents and other body damage.

The vast majority involved in the poll agreed that a repair bill of $2,000 is considered a serious financial burden and that 25-percent of Americans couldn’t even afford the repair bill. Considering a car is probably the second largest investment an individual makes, it’s surprising to see how low-ranked it is in terms of priority when it comes to maintenance. 44-percent even admitted that delaying the service of their vehicle has degraded the value, safety and reliability of their car.

And the most absurd part of the entire poll? 83-percent said they were confident that their repair shop would do the work properly and for the right price. Oh boy.

 |  Nov 24 2011, 9:45 AM

03-2012-audi-a6.jpg

Consumer Reports recently compared four luxury sedans in the January issue of the magazine, pitting the Audi A6 against the Infiniti M35h, Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec and Saab 9-5, with the refreshed A6 receiving an overall test score of 93, tying Infiniti’s M37 at the top of the charts. The previous generation A6 had scored a disappointing 79.

For the A6, Consumer Reports raved about how agile, comfortable, quiet and quick the vehicle was. The model tested was a 3.0T Quattro Premium Plus with a supercharged 3.0L powerplant with 310-hp. Consumer Reports was able to get 22-mpg out of the sedan, enjoyed the eight-speed transmission and found braking performance to be very good.

Mercedes-Benz’s E350 BlueTec received top honors for fuel efficiency with 26-mpg, while the M35h received an excellent road test score despite reporting that its power delivery tend to be jerky and abrupt. Consumer Reports also reported that the M35h’s handling and braking wasn’t as brilliant as the M37′s.

Lastly, and probably to no one’s surprise, Saab’s 9-5 was deemed disappointing and seen as a poor value.

 |  Nov 23 2011, 1:55 PM

Consumer Reports has made allegations against Volkswagen that the company provided press vehicles that were built to a higher standard than versions sold to consumers.

Stories of “ringer” press vehicles are legend in the automotive world – most recently, Ferrari was accused of providing press cars that performed far better than customer cars. Now, the venerable consumer mag, which has made a name for itself by purchasing its own vehicles for road tests, has published photos and descriptions of a few key differences between the 2012 Passat they purchased, and the versions provided by Volkswagen by their press fleet.

The accusations hinge (no pun intended) on two plastic covers for the trunk hinge mechanism (pictured above). A VW press car had the covers installed to hide the bare metal hinges and wiring loom used on the Passat, but the customer cars purchased by CR didn’t have those. As CR’s Jon Linkov notes, if VW was willing to go the extra mile for a set of hinges, other crucial areas, like sound deadening, suspension tuning or engine performance could have been altered as well. Consumer Reports said that they’ve experienced these things before, and that it raises larger issues of impropriety.

 |  Nov 10 2011, 1:15 PM

In response to falling quality and criticisms over its MyFord Touch and SYNC info entertainment systems, Ford Motor Company is taking steps to improve the situation.

CEO Alan Mulally has gone on the record stating that the company plans to introduce revised versions of both systems that will be simpler to use and more reliable.

He also says that part of the problem with the existing MyFord Touch and SYNC was quality control during the development process. As a result Ford has taken steps to greatly improve the matter, plus it says that from 2012 onwards, owners of Ford and Lincoln vehicles will also receive a flash drive which they can use to upgrade their existing MyFord Touch and SYNC software to the new, improved version without having to go to their nearest dealer.

And despite teething troubles, Mulally remains convinced that the technology is the way forward;  currently, Ford is working on plans to make it standard on all Lincoln vehicles and incorporated in some 80 percent of Ford branded products by 2014.

He also says that despite the widely publicized criticism leveled at MyFord Touch and SYNC, including comments made by Consumer Reports, which saw the 2011 Ford Edge being dropped from the magazine’s “recommended” list; the systems do have their fans. “For 50 percent of the people [the systems] are part of the decision to buy a car,”  he stated. Mulally also said that some “70 percent of the people that use SYNC and MyFord Touch also recommend it to their friends.”

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Nov 09 2011, 6:30 PM

Perhaps in response to comments labeled at Ford’s dual-clutch gearbox, particularly by Consumer Reports, which caused the Blue Oval to take a hit in CR‘s annual reliability survey, Chrysler has announced that it won’t be releasing its own twin disc unit until concerns over refinement have been addressed.

The dual-clutch gearbox, made by Fiat, was originally intended to be introduced on the 2012 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger models but instead those mid-size cars will retain the 62TE six-speed automatic they sported last year.

Chrysler spokesman, Vince Muniga, said that despite the gearbox currently being offered in Europe, the company was “concerned about the refinement and how the American customers might perceive the transmission.”

Although it might be delayed there’s still every sign that the dual-clutch unit will make it to future,Chrysler, Dodge, possibly even Jeep products as the automaker looks to bolster fuel efficiency in order to meet tougher fuel economy standards.

In addition to the dual-clutch, Chrysler is also working on a 9-speed transaxle application with ZF, for use in front-drive vehicles. Could 10-speeds be on the way?

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Nov 01 2011, 8:45 AM

It hasn’t been a particularly good year for Honda, especially where it concerns its bread and butter Civic. Introduced just prior to the March 11 Tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan, supply shortages crippled production, leaving dealers starved of their best selling model in many cases.

To make matters worse, the 2012 model, in the process of redesign when the global economy tanked in 2008, received a number of cost cutting measures, such as reducing feature content and using cheaper materials, particularly inside the car, including the dash and console.

Although Honda is now ramping Civic production back up again, including adding a second shift at it’s Greensburg, Indiana plant, it’s also taken to heart some of the criticism leveled at the new car. As a result, originally planned mid-cycle updates are scheduled to take place sooner, rather than later.

According to John Mendel, executive vice president at American Honda Motor Co. said updates will happen next year instead of 2013.

“We take feedback seriously, regardless of who it’s from, and we will act accordingly quickly,” he said in a recent interview, though he also stated that he doesn’t know how much Honda can do to improve the car’s image, nor how quickly.

Civic was still the most shopped nameplate in the US in June, though demand since has fallen faster than many analysts predicted, with much of that believed to have come from a downgrading by Consumer Reports, which dropped the Civic from it’s “Recommended” list for the first time in memory.

[Source: Automotive News]

Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Honda Civic Review

 |  Aug 03 2011, 8:45 AM

Being the savvy multinational corporation Honda is, it has to take its knocks with some tact. And with its reputation marred by Consumer Reports’ dragging of the 2012 Honda Civic through the muck, it’s no surprise that Honda has issued a statement claiming that they “fundamentally disagree” with the magazine’s review.

Both Honda and Consumer Reports, of course, have valuable reputations in the minds of consumers. And so, “they are definitely finding fault with someone they have shown a lot of love in the past,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for Honda North America.

Mendel picks apart the CR review and finds that “Consumer Reports’ own testing found that Civic’s smooth and efficient powertrain returned “…an impressive 30 mpg overall on regular fuel and 47 mpg on the highway. Only one other compact car the magazine tested did better.” In addition, “as noted in Consumer Reports findings, the Civic excels with a long list of important safety features that are standard on all trim levels.”

Rival publication Motor Trend, “which knows a thing or two about ride and handling,” picked Civic 2nd among eight compact cars in a recent comparison test. This, Mendel says, is proof that the Civic is still a player in the already-competitive small car market. “However, we disagree with Motor Trend as well—we think there is no better compact car than Civic.” Hey now, don’t get greedy!

Lastly, Mendel notes that CR only reviewed one model of the Civic, the LX sedan, while there are six different models across three trim levels. While this could be construed as a fair point, we doubt that some of the Civic’s greater shortcomings could be drastically improved with the ticking of an options box.

Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Honda Civic review or hit the jump to watch the video:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jun 21 2011, 11:13 AM

Hard-hitting Consumer Reports, recently tested a plethora of updated Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, revealing that while Detroit’s number three automaker has made significant gains in terms of vehicle improvement, levels of quality between vehicles remain varied and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Speaking at CR’s Auto Test Center, located in East Haddam, Connecticut, David Champion, senior director at the center, said, “we see major improvements for models that have had a significant redesign. When Chrysler invests the time and money in a true redesign, the result has been a much more competitive model.”

The models rated as the most significantly improved, were the re-designed seven-passenger Dodge Durango SUV and the 2011 Charger full-size sedan, both of which received ‘very good’ ratings during CR road tests.

The 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan also received a ‘Very Good’ rating, however other vehicles tested at the same time, including the Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, as well as Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, while still improved over their predecessors, were still rated as ‘mediocre’ by the publication.

Consumer Reports also said that in terms of overall reliability, based on its Annual Auto Survey, Chrysler vehicles still rank below average, in fact scoring the lowest overall road test scores for any major automaker. In the last three years, CR has only only given a single Chrysler vehicle a ‘recommended’ rating, the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup.

The results from the eight 2011 Chrysler models tested will appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports, the publication had planned to also include the Fiat 500, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, but those vehicles weren’t available for testing at the time.

It’ll be interesting to see what the magazine makes of those when it gets around to evaluating them.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

 

 |  Jun 13 2011, 11:30 AM

When it comes to family sedans and smaller cars and SUVs, for the last two decades, Honda and Toyota ranked as top choices for many Americans. Not any more. It seems that more and more U.S. motorists that once drove Corollas, Civics, Accords and Camrys exclusively are now looking at alternatives.

Although supply of certain Toyotas and Hondas is still proving problematic following the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, the decline in both automaker’s fortunes is being blamed on a lot more than just natural disasters.

According to Eric Nobel, of the Orange, California based consulting firm The Car Lab, both Honda and Toyota are losing ground, because their products haven’t been competitive in crucial market segments since the first half of the last decade. He particularly cites Toyota’s slipping quality control and the widespread recalls that have tarnished its reputation among American consumers, as well as Honda’s lack of innovation.

Although the Camry is still currently the best-selling car in America, it’s market share of the mid-size sedan segment has been dropping since 2008. Currently it’s around 9.6 percent, that contrasts sharply with 14.2 percent a couple of years ago.

Toyota’s Corolla and Honda’s Civic and Accord haven’t fared much better. Even Consumer Reports, which once championed these cars as the top of the list when it came to recommended buys, didn’t rate a single one of them as a top pick in it’s most recent findings, instead choosing cars such as the Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima over the former ‘favorites.’

Even domestic brands such as Ford and Chevrolet, once dismissed by many, are making a comeback. According to Edmunds.com, some 14.3 percent of people normally shopping for a Civic are looking at the new 2012 Focus as an alternative, while more than 10 percent are considering the Chevy Cruze.

Neverthless, Toyota says that it is “not going to stand still,” according to U.S. spokesman Joe Tetherow and will be “coming back with something significant.” That something will likely comprise a range of new or significantly updated models, including a next generation Camry.

Whether it will be enough to win back customers and turn the tide of flagging sales remains to be seen.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  May 25 2011, 12:50 PM

With the recent recession and high fuel prices, car buyers are placing a higher priority on fuel efficiency. To save at the pump, buyers are willing to sacrifice purchase, price, amenities and size but not safety, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

1,764 random adult car owners were interviewed between April 28-May 2, 2011 regarding car buying and fuel economy issues. The surveyed said that nearly twice as many consumers expected to choose a model with much better or somewhat better fuel economy(62 percent) relative to those who are targeting about the same fuel economy (32 percent).

Survey respondents expect their next car should deliver an average of 29 mpg. More than 10 percent said they expect 40 mpg or better in their next car.

It was also interesting to note that only 17 percent of those interviewed will buy a car next year. As well, the state of the economy played a factor causing a significant shift in the age of the average car driven by respondents has increased by eight years.

With America’s passenger cars continuing to age, less than a fifth or car owners will look to replace their car any time soon. When buying a new car, fuel economy will be the deciding factor. To reach increased fuel economy, shoppers will compromise on size and even consider paying more for a diesel or hybrid.

New car Used car
Pay more for fuel-efficient car 58% 49%
Compromise amenities or comfort 44 54
Compromise size or capacity 47 48
Compromise performance 27 35
Compromise safety 11 14

[Source: Consumer Reports]