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.
Later this year, ZipCar will address one of the steepest challenges it and other brands like it face.
Honda has just introduced the third generation 2015 Fit for the American market. Set to go on sale this spring, Honda promises this new Fit will continue to offer great interior space and fuel efficiency while retaining the fun-to-drive reputation this little hatchback has earned over the years.
Caterham’s scheme to sell cars outside its traditional sports car niche is moving forward, but the brand won’t abandon its sports car heritage.
Incoming generations of car buyers want smaller cars than any of their predecessors.
AutoGuide Five-Point Inspection
The thought of a performance version of the Scion xD may not set our souls on fire, or anyone’s really. Based on the Toyota Yaris platform, the xD starts out life lacking any performance DNA to speak of. And, with the current generation of the Scion xD having been on sale since 2008, the vehicle is getting a bit tired and old as only minor updates have occurred during its lifespan.
But all of this hasn’t deterred Toyota Racing Development (TRD) from having a go at the sub-compact to make it more exciting and keep it interesting. So can TRD take the $16,500 xD, add $4,600 worth of style and performance upgrades, and make it something you’d want to buy?
Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Non-Hybrid Cars
People buy hybrids because they think the “H” word is synonymous with fuel savings. While that’s true, hybrid appeal leaves a wide grey area between mildly improved mpgs and real returns at the pump, not to mention the higher cost of entry into the gasoline-electric segment.
Toyota’s success with the Prius often leads people to believe that anything called a hybrid offers immensely improved fuel economy. Not so. Take the Honda Insight. It even looks like a Prius, but the two are on different planes.
Then there’s the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, which gathered negative press and was even named the most “disliked car” of 2012 by Fortune magazine.
Why is everyone gaga for hybrids when many would be happy with reasonable mileage? The mystery remains, but in the spirit of spending less time at the pump, AutoGuide has compiled a list of the 10 most fuel-efficient non-hybrid cars of 2013.
The list excludes electric cars and uses EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimated average fuel economy figures.
Disclaimer: As many know, the EPA’s utopian estimates are to be taken with a grain of salt. This story uses them for consistency. Please don’t write angry letters if your car falls short.
Honorable mentions: both the Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Cruze Clean Diesel deserve to be mentioned. The diesel Cruze will be available in dealers soon and according to the EPA, offers 46 mpg on the highway, but falls just short of the list for combined fuel economy. In the same way, the Cruze Eco uses clever gearing and cuts weight to save gas.
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is besting the competition for safety ratings, for now. The little sub-compact Sonic scored a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to beat out the Ford Fiesta, which only scored four out of five.
Safety isn’t the only thing we’re pleased to say makes the Sonic great, it’s a peppy starter car that comes available with a six-speed manual and a turbocharged four-cylinder that had us scooting past the speed limit with surprising ease. It also comes with 10 standard airbags.
The Sonic still has to go up against its other competition: this year’s Kia Rio and Honda Fit, which both have yet to be rated. The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan also still has to be rated, but the verdict isn’t looking good for its hatchback brother with three of five in the frontal crash category and four of five in rollovers.
Poor ratings aside, the Sonic hasn’t won the race yet. It got four out of five stars in the rollover category, so there is still a chance the unrated cars can equal or best it.
Of course, that rating is coming hot off the heels of a recall over missing brake pads in the Sonic. We’re willing to assume the rating is based on completely assembled cars.
The Sonic is also a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Read Autoguide’s Chevy Sonic review here.
There hasn’t been a lot of buzz generated around the new 2012 Nissan Versa since its unveiling back in April at the New York Auto Show, so it’s completely understandable if one were led to believe that the Versa will manage limited success. On the other hand, Versa’s biggest competitor Hyundai Accent set off to an early lead as Hyundai managed to move a thousand more units than any subcompact, including the Versa, in its first full month of sales.
Surprisingly, this has become the perfect example of the tortoise and the hare as numbers now show that as of August, the 2012 Nissan Versa is the new best-selling subcompact in the United States– trumping the Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris.
This isn’t necessarily to say that the Nissan Versa is a superior product, but as it is currently the least expensive car sold in North America at $10,990, individuals who buy the Versa won’t be too concerned about performance specs anyway. As for the numbers, the 2012 Versa comes with a 1.6 liter I-4, producing 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. The CVT helps to optimize the Versa’s efficiency, achieving 30/38-mpg city/highway.
GALLERY: 2012 Nissan Versa/Sunny
The folks at Ford couldn’t be happier with the success of the Fiesta. After pumping plenty of dollars into a marketing blitz for the car ahead of its launch, in just 10 months on sale it’s now the most popular sub-compact in America, out-selling segment heavyweights, the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.
With both of those models having dipped slightly over the past 12 to 24 months the Fiesta has seen a meteoric sales rise. Charted on a graph, the figures look like a pre-bust Enron stock chart. The Fit and Versa continue to be strong, however, which is more than can be said for the rest of the segment with sales of cars like the Toyota Yaris tanking, while the Hyundai Accent, Chevy Aveo and Scion models all seeing significant decreases as well. In fact, the only models that have seen an increase in the past year are the Fiat 500 and Mazda2, both of which are new to the market.
Having dipped below a 5 percent share of the market, the sub-compact segment does appear to be once-again gaining traction with higher gas prices that look to be here to stay.
Crunching the numbers, the folks at Polk credit the Fiesta’s strong sales to unique options for the sub-compact segment, a strong Ford brand, and the fact that with the Aveo no longer on sale, Ford is the only domestic automaker with a sub-compact model for sale.
As part of the celebrations for the World Environment Day, Chevrolet showcased an electric version of their Beat sub-compact car in India.
The Beat BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) is powered by 300 lithium-ion battery cells, which will take eight-hours to charge from a standard 240V house outlet. On a full charge, the Beat BEV can travel 130 km (80 miles), under normal driving conditions. Impressive numbers, but not exactly ground breaking. Power is sent to the drive wheels via a single-speed transmission.
At the launch, Karl Slym, president and managing director of General Motors of India said, “General Motors is committed to providing customers around the world with electrification technologies that will reduce their fuel consumption, helping them save money. GM India will lead in this ‘tailored for India’ demo program for battery electric technology, with Chevrolet Beat chosen as the best way to evaluate the technology. We are delighted that Chevrolet selected India as an important market to test battery electric technology, while recognizing the capabilities of our engineering team to help identify ways to make this technology more affordable.”
Will this particular version of the Beat just be a concept or will it go into production is not known at the moment. GM India is already offering a range of alternate fuel vehicles including the Chevrolet Beat LPG, Chevrolet Spark LPG and Chevrolet Aveo CNG to its customers.
Chevy is expected to bring a gasoline version of the Beat to North America as early as next year.
Along with a long-rumored hybrid technology partnership between Toyota and Subaru, Japan’s largest automaker is also preparing to supply Subaru with a new sub-compact model. Japan’s Nikkei is reporting that the new model will be based on the Toyota Ractis, but will be built entirely by Toyota.
The deal seems to be part of a continued partnership between the two automakers, with long-standing rumors of a shared sports car, referred to as the FT-86 or FR-S. Of note, Toyota supplies the Scion xB to Subaru, where it is sold in Japan as the Dex. Toyota also owns a 16.5 percent stake in Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.
Initially Toyota will supply roughly 10,000 models to Subaru each year, using the current Toyota powerplants, including either a 1.3-liter or 1.5-liter 4-cylinder. The move by Subaru is seen as a reaction to increasing trends towards small vehicles. It’s also likely a way for Subaru to meet increasingly strict fuel economy standards.
There are no plans for Subaru to offer this model in North America, although we have to think that eventually Subaru, like all other automakers, will have to offer sub-compacts globally in the near future.
[Source: Nikkei via Green Car Congress]