The IIHS has released its “Top Safety Picks 2010,” and thanks in part to the addition of roof crush tests that exceed federal standards (4x vehicle weight for an “acceptable” score) , a spot of drama has ensued. Not a single Toyota, Lexus or Scion made the list, for example, causing Toyota’s Irv Miller to lay into the IIHS [via Jalopnik].
In 2009, Toyota won more IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) awards than any other manufacturer. Toyota continues to improve vehicle passive and active safety, including improvement of past winners of IIHS TSP. IIHS’ statement that Toyota was shut out for 2010 is extreme and misleading, considering there are 38 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models, and only three were tested for roof strength by IIHS: Camry, RAV4 and Yaris. This is the first year IIHS has included its own roof strength tests, which exceed federal standards, for TSP consideration. All Toyota vehicles meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards for frontal and side impact, roof crush resistance and rollover protection.
The Ford Fusion is a perfectly competent yet utterly bland vehicle. It’s proof that American firms can compete in the mass-market vanilla sedan segment, but not because it does anything particularly well. Its strength is nothing more than an absence of the glaring issues that kept Detroit out of the Accord/Camry sweepstakes. Which is whyMotor Trend doesn’t get overly carried away with the credibility-straining praise of the vehicle itself (with the requisite glaring exceptions, to wit: “the Fusion SE goes from mild-mannered commuter to worthy canyon charger”). So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told. What this boils down to: you can get a hybrid powertrain in addition to four-pot and six-pot engines. In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but, crucially, it’s from Detroit. Well, Hermosillo, Mexico, actually. Still, its advertising budget still comes from Detroit, and that makes all the difference.
Though we don’t have a [sub] for Consumer Reports‘ members-only data, their latest reliability survey summary has enough interesting tidbits to warrant a mention. Based on their subscriber base’s 1.4m autos, and using only data available for at least 100 examples of a given model, the survey is one of the better indicators of reliability out there (although when it comes to this topic there is no gospel). If nothing else, it’s hard to argue that CR’s reliability results aren’t influential, so sales are definitely at stake. The results? All Toyota/Lexus/Scion received ratings of “average” or better, an improvement over last year when CR found Camry V6, Tundra V8 4WD, and the Lexus GS AWD to be lacking. Honda/Acura and Subaru also showed extremely well where complete data was available, and Hyundai/Kia models were average or better except for Sedona and Entourage. Hybrids also scored surprisingly well, with nine gas-electrics scoring above average. But CR is making the biggest fuss over Ford, which they say is “on par” with the Japanese firms on all but a few truck-based models. The rest of the Detroit firms? Not quite so much.
We’ve been quite vocal in our opinion of “Car of the Year” awards such as those sold handed out every year by Motor Trend. Even worse are those awards bestowed by non-automotive rags where a COTY announcement ranks right up there with their pronouncements of the years trendiest sunglasses or the best place for killer mojitos. Yet, for whatever reason, Esquire has decided the world needs yet another of these useless (to everyone but their advertising department) awards.
What Car? magazine’s award for the year’s greenest car goes to the Volvo S40 DRIVe. The British magazine picked the diesel because its CO2 emissions are basically the same as a second generation Prius, but it’s considerably more fun to drive. The car is not available in the States, and the Honda Insight and 3-gen Prius were not available across the pond in time for eligibility. Still, it makes one wonder: Is the hybrid really the way to save the planet. I’ve driven both the S40 (regular gas) and the Insight, and, well, it’s like comparing apples and ice cream. If I could get all my vitamins in a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s, I’d never hear a crunch again, know what I mean?
The Volvo puts out 104 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Toyota is claiming the 2010 Prius puts out 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For comparison sake, that’s half of what an Audi A8 emits.
Consumer Reports has released its annual auto issue and scorecard, and the results are hardly shocking. CR loves them some Toyota, Honda and Subaru, singling out the big H as building the most reliable lineup of vehicles (Element excepted). Toyota came in second, with the Prius winning top spot in CR’s new “value” ranking. Only Toyota’s Yaris and FJ Cruiser were unable to earn a “recommend” grade from the report. Mercedes has improved its reliability, reckons CR, but European brands are still lagging. On the American front, Ford is singled out as the high point among the American automakers, as “some Ford models now rival their competitors” from Japan. Too bad they’re the F150 and Flex, which compete for a shrinking market segments. Unfortunately, that’s as good as the news gets for Detroit.
Pet lovers rejoice! GM Media is saving you months of potential shopping for the best possible vehicle for the significant canine in your life by announcing that the GMC Acadia has won the Pet Safe Choice Award 2009! What led to the choice? “Emergency services and hands-free navigation; standard third-row bench seating for restraining pets and ample room behind the seats for pet crates; tinted windows, tri-zone climate controls and a large, power-operated sunshade for comfort; and top federal and insurance industry scores for crashworthiness.” You might not need these features as much as, say, good mileage or a high-quality interior, but dammit Fido does!
The nominations for TTAC’s Ten Worst Awards 2008 are now closed. I’ll keep the comments section underneath our two prior posts on this most TTAC of new car awards open, but that’s it: our list is complete. Frank Williams will, in due course, give you some insight into the vehicles selected and the comments used to justify the nominations. Meanwhile, I apologize for our site problems. I know that TTAC’s been as slow as Ford’s panther platform updates, and buggier than a Michigan windscreen on a hot August night. The speed issue is ongoing; we’re still trying to learn how to cope with traffic spikes [pictured]. The second seems ad-related. Any hints or geeky kvetches you can provide below will help our crack team of programmers and dev types, and probably, hopefully, make you feel better. Rest assured, I understand the need to provide our Best and Brightest with the best possible technical interface, and will stay on top of these issues until they’re resolved or the Moller Skycar takes wing. If you’d like to drop me an email about this or any other issue, please use email@example.com. I will reply personally, ASAP. Thanks for your patience, understanding and patronage.
Just a quick reminder that we’re still accepting nominations for TTAC’s Ten Worst Awards. As a pro and anti-Toyota Prius debate hijacked the original thread– unquashed due the passion and quality of the kerfuffle– I’ve decided to open a new post to allow more nominations in a cleaner, fresher, kindler and gentler commentarium. So if you haven’t chimed-in with your favorite worst vehicle sold in American (as new during calendar year 2008), please do so below. Again, please make your comments as pithy as poss, as we will be quoting the best in our list of final nominees. To refresh your memory, I suggest a cup of Clover-brewed Ethiopian Sulawesi. Woo-hoo! Sorry, what I meant to say: here’s the complete timetable via our dearly-departed though-not-dead-by-any-means Frank Williams. Note: we reserve the right to screw it up.
Thursday Dec 4: Nominations start
Sunday Dec 7 Nominations close at 12 PM
Monday Dec 8: List to writers to select semifinalists
Wed Dec 10: Writers have their selections back by midnight
Thurs Dec 11 : Voting on finalists starts as soon as I can get the poll built
Sunday Dec 14: Voting closes at midnight;
Monday Dec 15; Winners sent to writers for comments
Thursday Dec 19: Writers have comments back
Friday Dec 20: Winners announced
NADA Guides is one of the most objective and impartial consumer advocates within the automotive industry– providing you redfine the words “objective” and “impartial” to mean “your ass is mine.” National Automobile Dealers Association? ‘Nuff said. (As if.) Working for the dark side, NADA has primo access to primo product; their blog is, as of late, extremely Aston friendly. Yes, of course we’re bitter and twisted; it’s our m.o. But we gotta give NADA G [some] credit. Even though they provide no insight into their selection process whatsoever, their choice for Top Luxury Car of 2009 is both prescient (2009?) and, I reckon, accurate. The Audi A8 L is one Hell of a rig.
The Automotive Lease Guide has released its projections for the vehicles most likely to retain their value three years from now, and they’ve awarded the top honors to three compact(ish) cars, the Scion xB, the Honda Fit and BMW’s MINI. The MINI took the overall prize, with ALG predicting that a new Cooper will retain 64.5 percent of its retail value after the average 36-month lease. The xB won the mid-compact category with a projected retention of 63 percent of its new value, while the Fit topped the compact class with a residual value estimated at 59.8 percent. ALG president John Blair tells Automotive News [sub] that price, design, new-vehicle incentives and fleet sales all went into the projections, with special consideration paid this year to Detroit’s woes. “The public needs to have confidence that the companies are solid and they’re going to be around to service the vehicles and provide a pathway for warranty work,” Blair said, by way of explaining why US firms ranked so low in the rankings. Read More >