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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Reports

Who'd Ferrari Pay Off? 458 Italia Wins 'Performance Car of the Year'

On: Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Chris Weiss

Who'd Ferrari Pay Off? 458 Italia Wins 'Performance Car of the Year' test 1-1

You know when the Ferrari 458 was named Automobile's 'Performance Car of the Year' I thought: "The editor of Automobile must have a classic Ferrari sitting in a hidden garage somewhere." Paying off a single magazine, while unethical, really wouldn't be that hard. But paying off a panel of journalists from around the world? Now that seems a little more complicated. How'd Maranello get that done?

It's not that the Ferrari 458 Italia is a bad car—it's a beautiful, hard-charging car. It's just that with months' worth of headlines on the car's tendency to—you know, catch fire—you'd have thunk that the auto journalists that wrote those headlines might have chosen a worthy competitor that didn't have a history of bursting into a ball of fiery destruction.

Sub-$10,000 Car Is A Thing Of The Past

On: Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 9:13AM | By: Chris Weiss

Sub-$10,000 Car Is a Thing of the Past test 2

Last week, Hyundai introduced the U.S.-spec 2012 Accent at the 2011 New York Auto Show. The new car brings a lot of extras to the table: extra miles-per-gallon (40 mpg), extra doors, and, of course, extra price. What's interesting about that is that the rather dramatic leap in base price—$12,445 up from $10,705—eliminates the car's designation as the cheapest in the U.S. The country's second cheapest car—the Nissan Versa—has done the same. With the rising prices, the era of the sub-$10,000 car is officially gone.

Honda Confirms NSX Successor

On: Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 4:28PM | By: Chris Weiss

Honda Confirms NSX Successor  test 2

A Honda NSX successor has been the subject of rumors for years. These rumors have started to heat up again lately, with reports indicating that Honda is refocusing on a top-end sports car now that the economy is starting to turn around.

Well, those rumors are correct. Honda president Takanobu Ito said so himself from the Shanghai Auto Show. Ito didn't get into too many details, but did indicate that the NSX successor will reflect the efficient needs of modern times rather than the pure power ambitions of years past.

Small Car Sales To Grow By 30 Percent

On: Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 3:11PM | By: Chris Weiss

Small Car Sales To Grow By 30 Percent  test 2

For years, the major trend in the industry was "go big." Even tiny, petite drivers with no passengers were adopting massive, boxy SUVs at an alarming rate. It was quite fashionable to be able to fit surfboards, bikes, boats, and other equipment inside your cabin, even if you didn't have the slightest intention of doing so.

Then something happened: reality. Gas prices went on a never-ending, uphill journey and people slowly realized that they really didn't need to drive massive refrigerators-on-wheels. Truth be told, they could get by with much smaller cars, particularly when it meant saving significant money on the horrifying cost of gas.

With gas costs moving toward record levels, a surge is expected to hit the small car segment during the rest of the year and perhaps beyond. Mini USA chief Jim McDowell made a prediction from the floor of the New York Auto Show that I'm sure he hopes is self-fulfilling: Small car sales will increase by some 30 percent in the United States.


Nissan Leaf Takes Home World Car of the Year

On: Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 12:21PM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Leaf Takes Home World Car of the Year  test 2

Electric vehicles and hybrids have really been one of the biggest stories in the automotive industry for the past year or two. And they've been dominating award shows to prove it.

While the Chevy Volt captured the "World Green Car of the Year," the Nissan Leaf one-upped it with the more general "2011 World Car of the Year" award. Of course, that victory wasn't quite as sweet as it could have been for Nissan because the Chevy Volt wasn't eligible (it will be in the running next year though, after launching overseas later this year).

Chevy Volt Is World Green Car of the Year

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 4:36PM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy Volt Is World Green Car of the Year  test 2

Boy, I'm getting a little sick of the Chevy Volt. It reminds me of that annoying jock-geek in elementary school/junior high/high school/life—the one that captained the football and baseball teams, was in the top 5 in grade-average percentile, and was basically just a few steps away from being a multi-millionaire with a swimsuit model wife. Puke.

The Volt's already swept major awards like the Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year and the 2011 North American Car of the Year, and now it's back in the spotlight as the World Green Car of the Year. The award was bestowed last week at the 2011 New York Auto Show.

Hyundai Goes Groupon

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 4:26PM | By: Chris Weiss

Hyundai Goes Groupon  test 2

Groupon has been one of the more interesting turns in the great Internet road of the past couple of years. If you don't know, the site offers big discounts through deal-of-the-day coupons. The service gets terrestrial by delivering localized coupons that can be redeemed not for Internet goods and services but for brick and mortar services in your local town or city. Each Groupon requires a certain number of people to sign up in order for the deal to go active, thereby guaranteeing a volume of customers to the retailer. If enough people don't sign up, no one cashes in.

While the service has been a blessing for businesses of all kinds, automakers have been one industry that hasn't made much use of it. Being that automakers can't really leverage the power of the Internet in making sales (you don't see automakers selling cars via Google Checkout and you can't send your car to a virtual garage for a tune-up), Groupon seems like a logical way to utilize the Internet in drumming up business at local dealerships.

Well, Hyundai became the first automaker to give it a whirl earlier this month, offering a Groupon for the Chicago area.

Forbes lists "The Worst Cars on the Road." Sort of.

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 11:49AM | By: Andrew W Davis

Photo illustration by author test 2

Want to know what the Smart ForTwo coupes and Mercedes’ flagship S550 have in common? [Yes, they’re from the same company. And both have engines and wheels. But this is NOT what I meant.] Forbes.com—in cahoots with Consumer Reports—has named both to its “The Worst Cars on the Road” list.

Nope. Not kidding.

Those are two of the three foreign vehicles on the list—the U.S.-built Nissan Titan truck is the other—of twelve listed, broken down (ha!) into five SUVs, three trucks, three cars, and one minivan.

Chrysler took the biggest hit, with five vehicles named: Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan; Dodge’s Dakota pickup, and Nitro SLT SUV; and Jeep’s Liberty/Liberty Sport and Wrangler Unlimited off-roaders.

The GM contingent is led by Cadillac’s Escalade SUV, though in its “Base” trim level. Chevrolet swept the rest, with its Aveo/Aveo5 economy car, Colorado pickup, and Tahoe Hybrid SUV.

But things aren't as they seem...

Google and US Government Partner To Offer Electric-Charging Maps

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 10:13AM | By: Chris Weiss

Google and US Government Partner To Offer Electric-Charging Maps test 1-1

You may not have an electric vehicle on this fine Earth Day 2011—only 500 people have purchased the only mass-produced EV on the market, after all—but you will soon know where to find electric charging stations in the event you need one. Google, the U.S. Department of Energy, and 80 other partners will collaborate toward creating an intuitive mapping system of electric charging stations around the country. Eventually, this function will undoubtedly be built into EV navigation systems, allowing you access to on-the-fly charging information.

Toyota Recalls RAV4s And Highlanders For Bad 'Bag Sensors

On: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 9:24AM | By: Andrew W Davis

Photo illustration by author test 2

And the hits just keep on coming for Toyota, this time to the tune of approximately 308,000 North American RAV4 and Highlander vehicles from the 2007 and 2008 model years which have potentially faulty Curtain Shield Airbag Sensor Assemblies.

According to the company, this "voluntary Safety Recall" involves "certain 2007 through 2008 model year RAV4 and certain 2008 Highlander and Highlander HV vehicles sold in the United States." Approximately 214,000 RAV4s and 94,000 Highlanders and Highlander HVs are covered by this recall.

It's Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. that's taking the hit this go-round as only models sold in the North American market are affected as the "roll sensing curtain shield airbag system" in question does not appear in vehicles sold in any other market.

Lucky us then, yeah?

Nissan To Ramp Up Leaf Distribution

On: Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 9:47AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan To Ramp Up Leaf Distribution test 1-1

The Nissan Leaf has gotten off to quite a sluggish start since hitting the market late last year. Nissan has sold only about 500 Leafs through March in the United States, and despite easily meeting its goal of 20,000 reservations last year, Nissan has found actual sales more difficult to fulfill, with roughly 40 percent of reservees moving forward with purchase.

Nissan indicated this week that it doesn't plan to sit idly by and let the story change from "world's first mass-produced electric vehicle" to "limited-range electric that no one wants to buy." The company plans to ramp up distribution and sales throughout the rest of 2011.