Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers “The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling in the U.S.? Terrible. We will stop this.” It was a typical tweet-friendly Donald Trump soundbite, made—according to Germany’s Der Spiegel and later confirmed as correct by White House economic adviser Gary Cohn—during a meeting with senior European Union officials.Trump’s remarks were initially interpreted as an attack on the German people. But that was collateral damage: His real target, apparently, was Germany’s massive trade surplus with the U.S. “He didn’t say the Germans are behaving badly,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in Sicily before the G7 Summit, reported The Washington Post. “He said we have a problem, as others do, with the German surplus.”German auto industry execs could be forgiven for rolling their eyes at the protectionist rhetoric … [Read more...] about German Cars and Americans’ Freedom of Choice
Assembling the ‘best’ cars on sale, then. This, on a website where opinion is not in short supply, is obviously as far from a breeze as you’d think it would be. It works like this: an Autocar writer distributes a list of what he is absolutely sure are the best 50 cars on sale; the 50 cars that must be on the list. It is approximately 68 cars long. He asks for feedback, and it is widely given, and so the ‘best 50 cars on sale’ list gains another 10 cars and then loses a few through immediate howled derision. And so begins a short series of exchanges and revisions until we have something we mostly agree on, based on our extensive testing experience, objective measurement and analysis, and, naturally, blind prejudice – because sometimes only the latter will do. But then a curious thing happens, from around 15th position up to the top. From that point, there is less argument, more consensus. And when placings for the top 10 are being decided, and when … [Read more...] about The 50 best new cars of 2017: 50-6
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Like the crack of the whip, I Snap attackFront to back, in this thing called rapI’ve got the powerI’ve got the power— “The Power” by Snap!, 1990<!-- -->You’ve got the power. You just don’t realize it.One of the things that bugs me about most of the car buying advice found in books, magazine articles, and YouTube videos is the notion that there is a power deficit when it comes to the consumer. In other words, there’s a widely held belief that the consumer is less powerful than the car salesman, and the only way to get a good deal is to overturn the power deficit or level the playing field by doing tons of research, using all kinds of tricky tactics, playing games with your trade-in, etc., etc. “Turn the Tables on the Salesman!” the books and videos proclaim. Go in there and “Beat ‘em at Their own Game!”Sorry, but you are not going to … [Read more...] about You’ve Had Power, You Just Didn’t Know It
Yesterday, Recode reported that Tesla is in talks with several record labels about creating a new music streaming service. Presumably, the new service would be integrated into Tesla's current infotainment system and, in theory, function exactly like Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play Music. This is a strange and frankly unnecessary move for the automaker. We cannot see how this will benefit anyone, Tesla included. Creating a music streaming service from the ground up is no small task. As great as some of Tesla's products may be, there is no way a proprietary music streaming service will compete feature for feature with other services that have been doing this for years. Look at how long it's taken for Apple Music to really catch up to Spotify. Some would argue that it's still not quite there. At launch, there will be hiccups and bugs and surely will be missing some features that customers expect. There's also the problem of adding another streaming service to the mix. In addition … [Read more...] about Tesla music streaming service? What’s Elon Musk thinking?
There is an astonishing amount of technology in cars now. We have voice and gesture controls (for better or worse), touch screens, and the ability to stream information and entertainment almost anywhere on the planet. We're even getting close to having those self-driving cars predicted decades ago (again, for better or worse). And, yet, despite this, most cars still have very traditional interiors. Even Teslas, despite having enormous touch screens, vast windshields, and pedestal-mounted seats, still have very conservative-looking dashboards. That just seems inappropriate and boring for the kinds of vehicles we have today. Thankfully, that isn't the case with every car, as our short-term BMW i3 reminded me. The full-electric and range-extended hybrid i3, even at roughly three years old, still feels like it's from 10 to 20 years into the future from the moment you step inside. You first notice the low, deep dashboard with so many strange objects. A black monolith on loan from the 2001: … [Read more...] about BMW i3 still has the coolest interior on the market
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about some of the lies you might encounter while shopping for a new car. I knew it would be controversial because, after all, controversy is part of what I do. But I wasn’t prepared for the hornet’s nest I stirred up. I expected to read a bunch of comments such as “Yeah, car salesmen are crooks.” Instead, I got a bunch of angry car salespeople complaining they were honest people, and the image I had painted of them was unfair and untrue.I never meant to imply that everyone in car sales is dishonest. They aren’t. But I didn’t make myself clear, and for that I apologize. What I should have said is: “In this week’s blog, I’ll talk about some of the lies SOME salespeople tell.” But I neglected to put in the qualifier. So if I ever forget to put in the “some” part in the future, I hope readers will fill it in for me … [Read more...] about Five things customers lie about
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Driver’s education is usually taught in high school health class. In those very same underfunded schools that can barely afford math and science textbooks, we are trying to teach adolescents how to pilot two-ton death machines.In California, all that’s required to obtain a learner’s permit is 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours behind the wheel; a provisional license requires an additional 50 hours of supervised driving. Some states with districts too poor to offer driver’s ed allow kids to learn how to drive online. Home-schooling allows parents to vouch that their kids have the requisite knowledge to apply for a license, and little prevents parents from fudging the numbers for the required hours of driving practice, either.An eight-year study by the University of Nebraska showed that young drivers who dodged proper driver’s education are 75 percent more likely to get a … [Read more...] about How we teach adolescents to pilot two-ton death machines in the U.S.
Wall Street is fighting a winless war. It thinks it can pressure GM and Ford into making major changes that will boost their stock prices. But the hardest thing in the world to change is public perception. And the public perception of car companies right now is that they're a terrible place to invest. That's not going to change anytime soon. In the past five years, GM and Ford have enjoyed soaring sales and record profits. But as their bottom lines grew, their stock prices fell. That tells you all you need to know. If the stock market didn't reward these companies for a huge run-up in sales and profits then, it never will. Of course, Tesla is the exception to the rule. Despite never posting a profit for any of the 16 years it's been in business, despite a soaring debt load, and despite a breathtaking cash burn, the public is enamored with Tesla's stock. Tesla has a higher market valuation than GM, Ford, and even BMW. It's the classic example of irrational exuberance. As one Wall … [Read more...] about Activist investors are wasting their time with automakers
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Dear Akio,Congratulations on your quest to reinvigorate the Lexus and Toyota brands with renewed passion and much needed injections of driving excitement. Since the launch of the Scion FR-S, we have greatly enjoyed the affordable, fun-to-drive approach to a sporty coupe America now known as the Toyota 86.We also look forward to the return of the iconic Supra. I know you can’t comment much about that, but the time is right for the return of this legend. When the Supra first made its debut, it found its niche between American muscle and expensive European sports cars. Since the Supra’s departure, both segments have made huge strides but none more significant than the Mustang and Camaro nameplates. It will be great to see how Supra challenges these icons because it has built a legend all its own. Read our comparison of a 1986 Toyota MR2 and 1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV right here.But something is missing. Back … [Read more...] about You know Morizo wants it badly…
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers There might be no two words in the English language more emotionally freighted. Reciprocating this vow entails an intimate contract of honesty, liability, and concession. When given, received, and honored, trust leads to unbounded loyalty. When the bond is broken, it often leads to the incineration of the relationship.But what does it mean to trust those with whom you do business?Buying and owning a car is often seen as a straightforward transaction. You give money, you get sheetmetal, and you hope it doesn’t break down. You trust that the automaker’s factory had a good day and that your car will provide you years of trouble-free reliability.Trust goes much deeper than that. Buying a car is an extremely emotional event—often the second most expensive purchase in our lifetimes, after a house.A recent survey of car owners by marketing firms AMCI and C Space not only measured how much consumers trust … [Read more...] about “Trust me”
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Ponder this: One out of every six cars driven on American roads has an unrepaired safety recall. That’s about 63 million vehicles. So as you commute every morning, look around and try to figure out which nearby car has the wonky brakes or malfunctioning steer-by-wire system. It might even be yours, and you don’t even know it.Sure, not all recalls are safety related. Some might simply entail a misstated emissions label or an infotainment screen that might freeze up—nothing that’s going to lead to a crash. But tens of millions of vehicles still have unrepaired recalls for truly dangerous situations, such as weakened CV joints, lethally explosive airbags, malfunctioning suspension pieces, or cracked fuel lines.Everyone has seen the headlines regarding the record number of recalls. Some might interpret this as a sign of diminished attention to quality on the assembly line. But that’s not … [Read more...] about Selling and servicing cars with outstanding recalls
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers “The F-Pace is the emphatic resolution of an existential crisis that has been gnawing at the soul of the storied British brand for more than two decades now,” I wrote a year ago after driving it in ruggedly beautiful Montenegro. “The Jaguar SUV is finally here. And it’s not the end of automotive civilization as we know it.”Customers agree. In fact, the sexy, glamorous F-Pace accounted for almost 40 percent of all new Jaguars sold worldwide last year, helping the brand to a new global sales record. The F-Pace is on track to do for Jaguar what the Cayenne did for Porsche, becoming a juicy cash cow that can be milked to fatten profits and fund the development of future Jaguars. And the relief in Coventry is palpable, for without the F-Pace, Jaguar’s future would be pretty uncertain. <!-- -->Jaguar has … [Read more...] about Convergence Theory on Wheels
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Tell me liesTell me sweet little lies(Tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)–Fleetwood Mac, “Little Lies”No car deal ever goes down without a few little lies being told.<!-- -->And it’s not the car salesperson who does all the lying. Both sides lie—the salesperson and the customer. In this week’s blog, I’ll talk about some of the lies salespeople tell. In a future installment, I’ll talk about the lies customers commonly tell.When I say lies, I don’t mean great big whoppers or statements that are totally false and misleading. I’m talking about the garden-variety type of lie, the kind people tell every day. You know, little white lies.It would be impossible to catalog all the lies you might encounter in a car dealership, so I’ll just touch on a few basic types:1. Lies Regarding Warranties. You might be told that the seven-year-old Altima with … [Read more...] about Warranties, Promises, and Other Fibs to Watch Out For
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers Every fortune-teller in the car biz knows that the engine downsizing, down-speeding, and boosting efforts expended to date are but the tip of a metaphorical iceberg that’s expanding even as the literal ones melt. Simple turbocharging, with trick exhaust plumbing, twin-scroll snails, or variable-geometry turbine inlets sufficed for the initial round of modern engine downsizing, but today’s engineers are resorting to smaller, faster-spooling sequential turbos, electric turbos, supercharger/turbo combos, and mild hybridization. Two fresh ideas recently caught my attention.The Torotrak V-Charge variable-drive blower can work with a standard turbocharger as a lag filler or stand alone. Its centrifugal blower looks like a turbo’s compressor snail and is belt-driven via an interesting toroidal CVT like the car transmission I covered in my March 2008 column. Picture two halves of a donut mold—one … [Read more...] about Small Wonders
Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer View Special Offers A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers of negative equity—or owing more for your car than it’s worth—and how most people end up being “buried” in their automobile because they put very little or no money down and finance for the longest term possible when they buy it. So how can we avoid this awful fate?There are four ways. The first is to buy a car that actually goes up in value. In other words, a classic car. So, just go out and find yourself a nice, low mileage, numbers matching 1970 Plymouth Barracuda with a 426 Hemi. I guarantee you, you won’t be upside down when you decide to trade it in.OK, we all know that’s not practical or advisable. You’d ruin a car like that driving it on a daily basis. That leaves only three ways to minimize the effect of negative equity. The first is simply to pay cash. If you don’t owe anything on it, you don’t have to … [Read more...] about Have you considered leasing a new car?
HIGHLIGHTS: The 2017 Altima continues with its refined interior plus some additional connectivity after a big facelift in 2016. It's offered in seven trims powered by either a 179-hp 2.5-liter four or a 270-hp V6. A continuously varible transmission is the only option for sending power to the front wheels, though it's tuned to feel quicker off the line. The CVT progresses in steps, meaning it feels more like a standard automatic. All 2017 models have four-wheel independent suspension with Active Understeer Control, which senses a loss of front-wheel traction and applies the brakes to keep you in line. BASE PRICE: $26,325 OUR OPINION: The updated Altima look -- new grille and bumper, new front fenders -- is attractive in an undestated way and Nissan's 2.5-liter I4 will be plenty powerful for most drivers; 179 hp is perfectly respectible in this class. Where Nissan has put most of its effort is the interior, which is comfortable and roomy in front, plus well-equipped even in base trims. … [Read more...] about 2017 Nissan Altima quick take: Quiet, comfy and unremarkable
HIGHLIGHTS: The 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 comes with a 4.0-liter flat-six derived from the company's race car making a nice, round 500 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. That power is channeled to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission or a six-speed manual. Top speed is 198 mph with the manual, though 0-60 times suffer: The PDK with launch control does the sprint in 3.2 seconds, the manualmusters a time of only 3.8 seconds. Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires are standard, lightweight carbon shell seats and carbon-ceramic brakes are optional. European versions can also be equipped with a roll cage included in the Clubsport option. American buyers will have to install one themselves. The new GT3 comes standard with rear-wheel steering, allowing it to conquer a racetrack with the grace of Baryshnikov. The big flat-six ignites with a few pops from the twin central exhaust pipes before settling into a low, metallic gurgle at idle. It doesn't hit peak power until 8,250 rpm; the … [Read more...] about 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 quick take: Yes, you can get a manual
HIGHLIGHTS: The 2017 Malibu Premier uses GM's nine-speed automatic transmission and a powerful turbocharged four to move up to five passengers in comfort. And there is plenty of space in this thing. Both the steering and suspension are tuned on the softer side of things -- there isn't much feel from the road, so there will be no clipping apexes on a racetrack, but you won't feel all of the road imperfections on your daily commute either, and that's what Malibus are designed for. The new body style still looks great; it was revamped in 2016 and remains fresh and contemporary. BASE PRICE: $31,850 (Premier trim) OUR OPINION: The Malibu's dimensions are about the same as those of the Ford Fusion. You may prefer the styling of one over the other, but the Chevrolet feels more upscale inside. Prices are close all the way up the options ladder between the two, and neither is "thrilling," but they'll both do everything you need on a day-to-day basis, and give you little to complain about. … [Read more...] about 2017 Chevrolet Malibu Premier quick take: A flawless transmission helps this family car stand out
HIGHLIGHTS: From its introduction, Mercedes' GLA compact crossover (and its CLA sedan brother) has had a single, basic mission: Get younger folks with money (or at least credit) into the Mercedes-Benz brand. In the same vein, the GLA45 is the jumping-off point for AMG –- Mercedes’ in-house high-performance tuner division. In GLA45 guise, Mercedes' little ute gets performance-tuned suspension, brake and appearance options, along with a positively rabid 375-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder –- that’s 188 hp per liter of displacement, a number reserved for F1 cars not so long ago, earning the engine the claim of “highest specific output series-production four-cylinder in the world." Try working that into your next dinner party conversation. BASE PRICE: $50,875 OUR OPINION: We've been lukewarm about Mercedes compacts in the past, but a few years of refinement and technological development have resulted in real improvements in the GLA-Class. The GLA45 has always had … [Read more...] about 2017 Mercedes GLA45 AMG quick take: Hot Benz hatch grows up…slightly
HIGHLIGHTS: The 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged I4 makes plenty of pep at 302 hp. Heated seats, a heated steering wheel and all-wheel drive make the Volvo XC60 perfect for a cold, wintry commute. BASE PRICE: $47,345 OUR OPINION: A new Volvo XC60 may be on the way, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the outgoing model. The engine is plenty peppy, and the exterior is sleek and stylish. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and around town, the our well-optioned XC60 Inscription soaked up the rough roads just fine. The ride is comfortable though does lean toward the firmer side. That’s not a complaint. Inside, the seats are simply outstanding in both comfort and support, and Volvo gets high marks for a roomy and clutter free interior. As an alternative to the default small-to-midsize crossovers (X3, Discovery Sport, RDX and the like) the Volvo is worth a look. OPTIONS: Preferred Option Package including Active Dual Xenon Headlights w/Headlight Washers, … [Read more...] about 2017 Volvo XC60 T6 quick take