The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:19:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:36:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046474 As Mercedes-Benz USA levels off with slightly less than 2000 GLA SUV/crossover/hatchback/whatever-it-is sales per month, U.S. sales of the GLA’s sedan donor vehicle, the CLA, haven’t slowed at all. In other words, the GLA’s presence in Mercedes-Benz showrooms is not a deterrent to the CLA. Yes, America, buyers continue to flock to the sedan even though […]

The post The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Mercedes-Benz CLA250As Mercedes-Benz USA levels off with slightly less than 2000 GLA SUV/crossover/hatchback/whatever-it-is sales per month, U.S. sales of the GLA’s sedan donor vehicle, the CLA, haven’t slowed at all.

In other words, the GLA’s presence in Mercedes-Benz showrooms is not a deterrent to the CLA.

Yes, America, buyers continue to flock to the sedan even though there’s a crossover version of that sedan available. Believe it.

Granted, the CLA isn’t selling like it did during its launch period. Anticipated and hyped, the CLA generated 8518 U.S. sales in its first full two months, October and November 2013.

But over the last five months, a period in which the GLA became readily available, CLA sales increased 13%, year-over-year.

March volume jumped 81% after a 16% gain through the first two months of 2015. In the eight months immediately preceding the GLA’s launch, Mercedes-Benz USA was selling fewer than 2000 CLAs per month, although the belief was that dealers could have sold more if they had greater inventory of the Hungary-built sedan.

Mercedes-Benz USA salesMercedes-Benz needed to supply more CLAs to North America, and they have, but one might have expected that the increase in CLA inventory would be timed with decreased CLA demand as the GLA launch period began. Instead, Mercedes-Benz has proved capable of selling more than 2800 CLAs per month alongside the GLA, 45% more monthly sales than they were doing in pre-GLA 2014.

The impact on the brand? Excluding Sprinter, 18% of the Mercedes-Benzes sold in the U.S. in the first-quarter of 2015 were entry-level CLAs and GLAs – 11% for the CLA alone – up from 8% in the first-quarter of 2014, before the GLA. Non-CLA/GLA Benz sales are down 3% in the early stages of 2015.

With the entry-level pairing intact, Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. volume was up 9% in March; 8% in the first-quarter.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013Even so, only twice in the last six months has Mercedes-Benz topped the premium leaderboard. BMW, the brand which outperformed Mercedes-Benz USA in December, February, and March, adopted a markedly different entry-level strategy compared with Mercedes-Benz and Audi, with their front and all-wheel-drive sedans. The 2-Series is a performance coupe with nothing more than low-volume potential: March was the best 1-Series/2-Series sales month since August 2010, but with only 1249 units, it wasn’t a common car.

No, BMW’s true entry-level car is the 320i, simply a lesser version of the nation’s top-selling premium brand car. BMW doesn’t release specific monthly figures for engine variants, but if we use Cars.com’s inventory results as a guide, BMW likely sold around 4600 copies of the 320i in 2015’s first-quarter.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

The post The Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Arrival Isn’t Slowing Down The Mercedes-Benz CLA: U.S. 2015 Q1 Sales appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-benz-glas-arrival-isnt-slowing-mercedes-benz-cla-u-s-2015-q1-sales/feed/ 11
Shanghai 2015: Volvo S60L T6 Twin Engine Ready For The Spotlight http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shanghai-2015-volvo-s60l-t6-twin-engine-ready-spotlight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shanghai-2015-volvo-s60l-t6-twin-engine-ready-spotlight/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1045066 Debuting alongside the XC90 Excellence at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, the Volvo S60L T6 Twin Engine PHEV brings hybrid power to the Sino-Swede party. The S60L Twin Engine will arrive in Chinese showrooms from Volvo’s plant in Chengdu April 22, and is powered by a Drive-E 2-liter four up front with a 50-kW electric […]

The post Shanghai 2015: Volvo S60L T6 Twin Engine Ready For The Spotlight appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
161399-s60l-t6-twin-engine-1

Debuting alongside the XC90 Excellence at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, the Volvo S60L T6 Twin Engine PHEV brings hybrid power to the Sino-Swede party.

The S60L Twin Engine will arrive in Chinese showrooms from Volvo’s plant in Chengdu April 22, and is powered by a Drive-E 2-liter four up front with a 50-kW electric motor on the rear axle; the latter is fed by “an energy-optimized” 11.2 kWH lithium-ion pack. Total output comes to 306 horses and 406 lb-ft of torque, and range tops out at 33 miles in electric-only travel.

Volvo says that the PHEV’s green credentials allows would-be owners to bypass the standard license-plate process — lotteries and auctions — in cities such as Shanghai, where the car “fulfills the relevant environmental regulations.”

161399-s60l-t6-twin-engine-1 161400-s60l-t6-twin-engine-1 161401-s60l-t6-twin-engine-rear-badge-1

The post Shanghai 2015: Volvo S60L T6 Twin Engine Ready For The Spotlight appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shanghai-2015-volvo-s60l-t6-twin-engine-ready-spotlight/feed/ 5
2016 Cadillac ELR Drops In Price, Gains In Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-cadillac-elr-drops-price-gains-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-cadillac-elr-drops-price-gains-power/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:19:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044866 The Cadillac ELR may be heading off into the sunset soon, but the premium PHEV still has a few tricks left up its sleeve. After federal tax credits, the 2016 ELR will start with a price of $58,495, just nearly $18,000 less than the original price tag of $75,000 when it first hit showrooms in […]

The post 2016 Cadillac ELR Drops In Price, Gains In Power appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016-Cadillac-ELR-001

The Cadillac ELR may be heading off into the sunset soon, but the premium PHEV still has a few tricks left up its sleeve.

After federal tax credits, the 2016 ELR will start with a price of $58,495, just nearly $18,000 less than the original price tag of $75,000 when it first hit showrooms in late 2013.

For that starting price, new ELR owners will also benefit from a few upgrades over the MY 2014 and 2015 editions, one of which is an improved Sport driving mode. The improved mode — part of the optional Performance Package — helps push the PHEV from 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, 1.5 seconds faster than the recent model; top speed comes to 106 mph, 130 mph with the aforementioned package.

The ELR’s hybrid system gets a makeover, as well, with a new lithium-ion pack capable of 17.1 kWh of capacity that’s good for 39 miles of electric-only travel; the Performance Package option knocks that range down to 35 miles. Overall power from the system, which pairs the pack with a 1.4-liter gasoline engine — comes to 233 horses and 373 lb-ft of torque, while total range falls 10 miles to 330 miles. Recharge time takes around five hours when plugged into a 240-volt charger.

Other features include the aforementioned Performance Package, which adds 20-inch wheels and summer-only tires mounted over Brembo brakes and vented rotors as well as the new Sport mode, and improvements to the ELR’s electric power steering and continuous damping control; OnStar with 4G LTE; three USB ports; 8-inch configurable driver instrument and information displays; magnetic inductive charging for passengers’ smartphones; standard Wi-Fi; and on-demand regenerative braking.

Per Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen via AutoGuide, the ELR won’t see a second generation, likely due to low sales; 1,310 left the lot in 2014, and 311 had been purchased or leased through the first three months of 2015.

The post 2016 Cadillac ELR Drops In Price, Gains In Power appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-cadillac-elr-drops-price-gains-power/feed/ 70
Led By New A3, Entry-Level Autos Are Carrying The Load For Audi USA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/led-new-a3-entry-level-autos-carrying-load-audi-usa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/led-new-a3-entry-level-autos-carrying-load-audi-usa/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:17:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044794 March was the highest-volume U.S. sales month in the Audi A3’s decade-long history. Never before had the A3 topped the 3000-unit mark, but March volume climbed to 3081 sales, equal to 18% of Audi USA’s volume last month. Year-over-year comparisons for the A3 are all but completely invalid, as a hiatus between the departure of […]

The post Led By New A3, Entry-Level Autos Are Carrying The Load For Audi USA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Audi A3/A4 sales chart USAMarch was the highest-volume U.S. sales month in the Audi A3’s decade-long history. Never before had the A3 topped the 3000-unit mark, but March volume climbed to 3081 sales, equal to 18% of Audi USA’s volume last month.

Year-over-year comparisons for the A3 are all but completely invalid, as a hiatus between the departure of the A3 hatchback and the current A3 sedan resulted in a three-month-long sales-free period between November 2013 and January 2014. That period was followed by only 863 sales during the new A3’s first two months of February and March 2014.

2015’s first-quarter was, however, the best quarter yet for the new A3 despite the fact that January-March is the slowest period of the year for auto sales in the United States.

Audi sold 7743 A3 sedans and cabriolets (S3-inclusive) over the last three months, a 2% gain compared with the final three months of 2014, a 12% improvement over 2014 Q3, and a 13% jump compared to the April-June launch period of last year.

Healthy A3 volume has been tremendously important for Audi USA, which last month reported the brand’s second-best-ever monthly sales total, the best March ever, and the 51st consecutive monthly sales record.

2015 Audi A3Audi wouldn’t have come close to doing so without such strong entry-level volume, as the aging A4 and A5 fell 32% and 15%, respectively. The A7 was down 30%. A8, R8, TT, and Q7 sales slipped, as well. Excluding the A3 and Q3 crossover, Audi sales were actually down 9%.

But with the A3’s 3081 sales, the Q3’s 1268-unit tally, and the best-selling Q5’s 17% jump, Audi brand sales shot up 20% as the overall U.S. auto industry barely moved the needle forward. New vehicle volume was up just 0.5% in March. Audi’s 14% improvement through the first-quarter is far in excess of the industry’s 6% increase.

The A3 trails Mercedes-Benz’s CLA by 483 units heading into April. Lexus’s hybrid-only CT200h is down 15% to 3399 units in 2015, less than half the A3’s total. Acura is just now launching the 2016 ILX with a more powerful standard engine: ILX sales are down 15% to a CT-besting 3505 year-to-date. The Buick Verano, which straddles the mainstream and entry-level premium categories, is down 17% to 9079 sales so far this year, just 853 sales ahead of the Mercedes-Benz CLA. The CLA’s base price is 35% higher than the Verano’s.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Audi A3 is the eighth-best-selling vehicle in the United Kingdom so far this year. A3 sales totalled 14,358 in the UK in 2015’s first-quarter, nearly double Audi USA’s total in a market that’s less than one-fifth the size.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

The post Led By New A3, Entry-Level Autos Are Carrying The Load For Audi USA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/led-new-a3-entry-level-autos-carrying-load-audi-usa/feed/ 22
Chevrolet Spark EV Sees Price Drop, Bonus Cash For Base Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-spark-ev-sees-price-drop-bonus-cash-base-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-spark-ev-sees-price-drop-bonus-cash-base-model/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044706 In the market for a 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV? Your wallet will still feel heavy after signing off on the paperwork for the base model. Chevrolet announced the price for the base Spark EV 1LT will be cut down $1,500 to $25,995, while leasing the EV gets an $80 drop to $139/month for 39 months […]

The post Chevrolet Spark EV Sees Price Drop, Bonus Cash For Base Model appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-003

In the market for a 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV? Your wallet will still feel heavy after signing off on the paperwork for the base model.

Chevrolet announced the price for the base Spark EV 1LT will be cut down $1,500 to $25,995, while leasing the EV gets an $80 drop to $139/month for 39 months with no money down upon signing; the down payment was $999.

In addition to the new lease and purchase figures, the brand is also throwing bonus cash on the hood, the amount varying depending on which of the three states — California, Maryland (as of this summer), Oregon — one happens to reside. The California bonus comes to $1,000 in addition to the state’s $2,500 rebate, while Oregonians receive $3,500 outright, and those in Maryland gain $1,200 on top of the state’s $2,300 excise tax exemption.

With the price cuts, bonus cash, state incentives, and the $7,500 federal tax credit, one could drive away from the lot having paid just $14,995 for the pleasure of bouncing around from the office park to the coffee shop and bakery in a vehicle meant to help General Motors come into compliance with fleet economy standards.

The post Chevrolet Spark EV Sees Price Drop, Bonus Cash For Base Model appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-spark-ev-sees-price-drop-bonus-cash-base-model/feed/ 11
Dispatches do Brasil: Renault Sandero Stepway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-sandero-stepway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-sandero-stepway/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 19:19:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1044162 Oh, Brazil. Not having the cars, the will or possibly the means to offer proper SUVs to customers back in the 90s, local makes did as the always do and improvised. Raise up the suspension, modify it (or not) as needed, insert bigger wheels, add lots of plastic cladding and graphics, and your pseudo-SUV common […]

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Renault Sandero Stepway appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
renault-sandero-stepway-2015-011-620x380

Oh, Brazil. Not having the cars, the will or possibly the means to offer proper SUVs to customers back in the 90s, local makes did as the always do and improvised. Raise up the suspension, modify it (or not) as needed, insert bigger wheels, add lots of plastic cladding and graphics, and your pseudo-SUV common hatch or station wagon is magically transformed into an “aventureiro”.

Originating from Fiat, which added the “Adventure” treatment initially to their Palio station wagon (and hence the “aventureiro” name that has stuck in this country for this kind of car), the treatment spread to pickups and finally hatches. It was very successful in terms of sales and all other local makes adapted the formula to their own offerings. It is even available in other continents and the Sandero, sold as a Dacia in Europe, offers the Stepway version to Europeans, too.

Looking from the outside, the improvements made to the Logan family line are quite evident. It no longer looks like a relic from the 90s. The chrome bits in the front and back do lend it a more upscale look and the oversized logo screams it is a Renault for miles. There is the addition of roof racks and plastic skid plates fore and aft. The extra height is evident and the plastic cladding surrounding the wheels and the graphics are a bit more restrained. The extra height is quite apparent and this car uses 16′ wheels. Lesser versions start with 14′.

Stepping inside, it is possible to see that Renault spent an extra two cents to make it luxurious and excellent. Who am I kidding… What Renault did for their Stepway was use the same interior and the regular line and add a thing or two. Small orange touches are spread throughout sometimes to good effect, like on the seats, sometimes to a controversial result like on the instrument cluster. The leather used to upholster seats and steering wheel is quite challenging, too. It challenges you to believe it is leather then fails. What would have made the difference like more internal lighting or one touch systems for the windows are left out.

Proponents of aventureiro-type vehicles defend them for a variety of reasons. A big one is the “quality” of pavement in Brazil. Being almost non-existent, that quality would make one suppose a higher, softer vehicle would be more comfortable and also more adapted to prevailing conditions.

To find out we headed out for a spin. The first impression is the weight of the steering wheel. The Sandero Stepway uses 205 mm wide tyres instead of 185 like the normal versions. Renault’s hydraulic steering system, at least in the Logan line, has often been criticized for being heavy. The extra mass of tyre the system commands makes this even more evident. Though I have never been unduly bothered by the heft, in this version the effort needed is surprising being that it is 2015.

Once on the way it becomes clear this version is now the equivalent of the traditional height versions in terms of handling. To counter balance the extra height and even the bigger grip afforded by the wider tyres, Renault seems to have used stiffer shocks. The car doesn’t roll as much as the previous versions. Renault has even gone so far as to equip this version with a stabilizing bar in the back axle. So now we can comfortably say that physics has been defeated and the Stepway handles as well as common Sanderos, taking curves of the most varied angles in a nonplussed fashion and, given its limits of being a family hatchback, it handles well.

There is a downside to all of this though. If in the handling department the Stepway is the equivalent of other Sanderos now, ride quality has suffered. It is a stiffer car than before, therefore it defeats the purpose of one of the tenants of the aventureiro ideal: It is not more comfortable than the regular line.

Renault could have used the launch of the new 1.6 16v said to be in the works. Unfortunately, that was not to be and this car is saddled with an old 1.6 8v. It offers just 98 hp on Brazilian gasoline (E-27ish) and 106 hp on E100 (Renault claims this engine can also handle pure gasoline found in some of Brazil’s South American neighbors). It is very torque rich in the lower rev range, but runs out of breath quickly. Although it has been updated to keep up with the more stringent emission regulations in place, it does not offer the same economy more modern rivals can. Ironically, Renault was the maker to launch 16v engines on a wide scale in this country. Others reluctantly followed suit, and Renault is now almost the single hold-out without 16 valves in bigger engines (bigger being 1.5L+ in this country).

Some other gripes can be still be felt. Renault said the gearbox had been improved, but sincerely I didn’t feel it. It still is glitchy and somewhat imprecise. Throws are longish, but it does the job, it’s just not best in class. The seats are also on the short side, so even though seats, pedals (with very good spacing) and wheel are almost perfectly aligned, the car can get tiring after long drives due to insufficient thigh support.

Optionally the Stepway can be equipped with an automated, mono-clutch transmission similar to Fiat’s Dualogic or Volkswagen’s E-Motion. This can also be considered another step back for Renault. Previously, both Logan and Sandero offered a 1.6 16v engine mated to an old-school 4-speed true auto. This will no longer be. I couldn’t find out if that will be the case for the Duster, but for now it still offers the real automatic and is the only Logan family member to do so.

For the Stepway line, Renault offers a rather competent multimedia center. Even this writer, an admitted technophobe, found it easy to pair his phone. Navigation is included and the little I used it, I found it responsive and accurate. I also found it satisfyingly large. On the clear, sunny day I drove the car, the system did suffer from the clarity making it difficult to use sometimes.

Offered starting from R$51,000, the Sandero Stepway is quite aggressively priced in our market. It also comes with what most Brazilians expect in terms of equipment. Comparing to other aventureiro style vehicles it costs a bit less, but doesn’t offer, even as extras, some razzle-dazzle equipment that can (or not) make a difference to buyers. The Stepway remains what the Logan family has always been in Brazil and other countries: an honest vehicle with gobs of space; a simple vehicle and project that does not ask the buyer to make too many sacrifices in terms of overall quality while delivering a modern ride and space. Did I mention space? The trunk is very big for a vehicle this size and holds as much luggage as hatches a size-segment up. It can also sit 4 comfortably and due to it width, a fifth passenger can tag along, even for highway trips.

Of course, aventureiro vehicles sell on image. No matter what their enthusiasts say, the top of the line Sandero trim, the Dynamique, offers the same equipment as the Stepway and costs R$4,000 less. It will also offer a better ride and more economy (fuel and tyres). Unless one is enamored of the aventureiro ideal, the regular Sandero goes to the same places the Stepway does and does not suffer from the same compromises. But then again, that roof rack, cladding and graphics are so eye-catching…

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Renault Sandero Stepway appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/dispatches-brasil-renault-sandero-stepway/feed/ 11
Orders For Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition Now Being Taken In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/orders-mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-now-taken-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/orders-mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-now-taken-japan/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043746 If you live in Japan, you can now place your order for one of the 1,000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition models before the Evo fades into history. Autoevolution reports Mitsubishi isn’t saying how much power the Final Edition has under the hood, but the publication notes that the GSR-based Evo won’t have the 2-liter […]

The post Orders For Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition Now Being Taken In Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-open-in-japan-photo-gallery-94369_1

If you live in Japan, you can now place your order for one of the 1,000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition models before the Evo fades into history.

Autoevolution reports Mitsubishi isn’t saying how much power the Final Edition has under the hood, but the publication notes that the GSR-based Evo won’t have the 2-liter 4B11T turbo-four and its 473 horses from the Final Concept shown at this January’s Tokyo Auto Salon; the Final Edition uses a 2-liter MIVEC turbo, instead.

Aside from the turbo-four and Mitsubishi’s S-AWC AWD system, Final Edition owners can expect sodium-filled exhaust valves, 18-inch BBS wheels, Recaro seats, Bilstein and Eibach suspension pieces, and Brembo brakes for their ¥4,298,400 (approximately $36,000 USD). Owners can also choose from red, white, blue, black or gray and a white- or black-painted roof panel.

Orders for the 1,000 Evos began last Friday, with deliveries set for August. After that, the Evo will be no more the world over.

mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_1 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_2 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_3 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_4 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_5 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_6 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_7 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-open-in-japan-photo-gallery-94369_1 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_9 mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-ordering-books-opened-in-japan-photo-gallery_10

The post Orders For Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition Now Being Taken In Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/orders-mitsubishi-lancer-evolution-final-edition-now-taken-japan/feed/ 16
IHS: PHEVs To Overtake EVs In Europe Within Two Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ihs-phevs-overtake-evs-europe-within-two-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ihs-phevs-overtake-evs-europe-within-two-years/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043242 Electric vehicles are doing well in Europe, but their dominance over PHEVs may soon draw to a close. Automotive News Europe reports sales of EVs in Europe jumped 73 percent to 58,244 units in 2014, while sales of PHEVs climbed 29 percent in the same period to 39,547, according to industry group ACEA. The best-selling […]

The post IHS: PHEVs To Overtake EVs In Europe Within Two Years appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
nissan-leaf-marathon-de-paris-2

Electric vehicles are doing well in Europe, but their dominance over PHEVs may soon draw to a close.

Automotive News Europe reports sales of EVs in Europe jumped 73 percent to 58,244 units in 2014, while sales of PHEVs climbed 29 percent in the same period to 39,547, according to industry group ACEA. The best-selling EV and PHEV in 2014 were the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (15,134 units vs. 19,855), while the largest markets were Norway for EVs (18,090 units), Netherlands for PHEVs (9,938).

According to IHS Automotive senior analyst Ben Scott, PHEVs will overtake EVs this year or in 2016 as far as production goes, forecasting 1.35 million units by 2020, and 2.7 million by 2025. Meanwhile, EV sales will be under 1 million by 2020, as consumers are likely to choose PHEVs for their flexibility in range and use over electric-only vehicles.

The post IHS: PHEVs To Overtake EVs In Europe Within Two Years appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ihs-phevs-overtake-evs-europe-within-two-years/feed/ 16
Shell Partnering With Gordon Murray On New City Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shell-partnering-gordon-murray-new-city-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shell-partnering-gordon-murray-new-city-car/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:05:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041481 Royal Dutch Shell and Gordon Murray will partner on a new city car project, based heavily on Murray’s T25 city car project. The vehicle, dubbed Project M, is described as a “simple, practical global city car”. While Shell will provide expertise in engine lubricants for the project, the oil major is now the T25 project’s most […]

The post Shell Partnering With Gordon Murray On New City Car appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
MurrayT25_big

Royal Dutch Shell and Gordon Murray will partner on a new city car project, based heavily on Murray’s T25 city car project. The vehicle, dubbed Project M, is described as a “simple, practical global city car”.

While Shell will provide expertise in engine lubricants for the project, the oil major is now the T25 project’s most high profile backer. Under the parameters of Project M, the vehicle will retain the T25’s three-seater layout, the iStream production process and an internal combustion engine. The powertrain will be designed by ex-Honda F1 engineer Osamu Goto. Murray himself was a former McLaren engineer and the father of the McLaren F1, widely considered to be the greatest road car of all-time.

AutoExpress reports that the ultimate aim will be to sell a similar concept in emerging markets, where rampant traffic congestion and an increased demand for cars could present a major infrastructure issue for developing economies. Just months ago, the T25 concepts was rumored to be licensed to Yamaha for an all-new city car that would be built with iStream’s manufacturing principles.

The post Shell Partnering With Gordon Murray On New City Car appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/shell-partnering-gordon-murray-new-city-car/feed/ 24
AM/FM Radio Still High Among Consumers’ List Of Car Features http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/amfm-radio-still-high-among-consumers-list-car-features/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/amfm-radio-still-high-among-consumers-list-car-features/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041273 Though one can now connect their smartphones and iPods to their vehicle’s infotainment systems, consumers still go gaga for AM/FM radio. Forbes reports the demand for radio is as strong as ever, serving as one of the main drivers for a consumer looking for a new vehicle. A poll by market research firm IPSOS found […]

The post AM/FM Radio Still High Among Consumers’ List Of Car Features appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Though one can now connect their smartphones and iPods to their vehicle’s infotainment systems, consumers still go gaga for AM/FM radio.

Forbes reports the demand for radio is as strong as ever, serving as one of the main drivers for a consumer looking for a new vehicle. A poll by market research firm IPSOS found that while features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreens and apps are desirable, a majority of the 1,000 polled want radio at the center of it all, ranging from 91 percent when asked about radio versus apps, to 80 percent preferring radio over CDs.

As for why radio still holds a strong following in the United States, reasons range from wanting to listen to music and sporting events, to keeping up with the world via local news and traffic/weather reports. Advertisers, too, love radio listeners, mainly due to the size of the audience: 60 percent of Americans listen to the radio daily, while 85 percent listen at least once a week.

The post AM/FM Radio Still High Among Consumers’ List Of Car Features appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/amfm-radio-still-high-among-consumers-list-car-features/feed/ 145
Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-2-0-quebec-special/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-2-0-quebec-special/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041193 Reader iMatt shares his experiences with the Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special” Is the old 2.0L engine really as bad as the internet believes? I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d need to buy a second vehicle to compliment the Honda Fit shared by my girlfriend and I. That time finally […]

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_20150302_113211

Reader iMatt shares his experiences with the Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special”

Is the old 2.0L engine really as bad as the internet believes?

I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d need to buy a second vehicle to compliment the Honda Fit shared by my girlfriend and I. That time finally came with a forced relocation at work and after taking many months to decide what I wanted in my next vehicle, I decided my top two priorities were value and comfort, neither of which being the focal points of the Fit.

I opted for a base model 2015 Jetta with the 2.0 L engine and 5 speed manual transmission with nary an option, not even A/C (ironically). Price after fees and taxes came to just over $17 000 CAD. Standard equipment did include amenities that were once optional such as cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a trip computer, a back-up camera and a touch-screen head unit.

The plain exterior is a familiar sight nowadays, even with some minor tweaks for 2015. I appreciate the understated styling compared to the more stylized competitors such as the Mazda 3 or the Corolla. The Jetta just seems to have a more mature and refined air to it. My biggest complaint is that the base steel wheels look cheap and a tad undersized, luckily that’s easily remedied should I choose to do so.

The interior design reflects that of the exterior. I have to say though, I was surprised at how nice it feels. Hard plastics abound (don’t care) but materials are nice where they count. The instrument cluster and center stack are a joy to use on a daily basis, although I do lament the lack of an engine coolant temperature gauge. The gear shifter and steering wheel have nice shapes and so-so plastics but don’t offend. The 6-way adjustable driver’s seat is comfortable for my smallish frame but provides less thigh support than I would like. On the other hand, there is a fair bit of side bolstering. Larger people may find the narrow seats uncomfortable. The trunk is large as is the backseat.

My favourite attribute to the interior is the driving position combined with the low cowl. It reminds me a little of older Honda Accords providing excellent forward visibility with easy access to controls.

When I was researching this car, I could hardly find any actual reviews of the entry level engine. Even still, in most summaries, auto writers have no issue labeling it as an outdated boat anchor and as the engine to avoid at all costs. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one to try it out.

Starting with the facts: Displacement is a tad less than 2000 CCs. Output is rated at 115 HP @ 5000 RPM and 125 lb-ft @ 4000 RPM.

Initial impressions on the test drive were that the old engine is entirely adequate for normal use in town – I would even dare to say more than adequate. There’s enough torque to keep you ahead of traffic from stoplight to stoplight if that’s your thing. I found you still have to be mindful of being in the optimal gear. This engine won’t pull you out of wrong gear situations like other more powerful cars will.

The bulk of the 3000 kms I’ve put on the car thus far have come from mountainous highway driving on single lane roads. The grades are steep, corners sharp and in this region of Alberta, the pavement beat to a pulp from the plentiful heavy industrial traffic.

On rare stretches of straight and level road, the Jetta has no issues maintaining speeds of 80 – 90 MPH in 5th gear running around 3000 RPM – something that I was entirely not expecting. Passing on two lane highways is also drama free and can easily be done in 4th gear. Obviously you won’t get the effortless blast of acceleration afforded by more powerful cars, but it’s not the real world slug “enthusiasts” would lead you to believe it is.

Climbing steep grades of 7% or more will require a downshift to 4th gear, if not 3rd in some cases. Under no circumstances was I unable to maintain the posted speed limits.

Under all driving conditions, the engine has proven to be quiet and relaxed, able to do it’s job at relatively low RPMs; quite the opposite from the rev happy and noisy 1.5 L in the Fit. It even has a pleasant and unique sounding growl to it that I don’t normally associate with a 4 cylinder engine. At idle and at low engine loads, you can feel slight vibrations coming through the steering wheel. Personally, I like to be reminded I’m piloting a machine with moving parts compared say to any modern V6 sedan with an engine so isolated, you can’t even tll if it’s running. The mechanical feel is part of the driving experience, perhaps explaining why I’ve been partial to older Hondas for so long. I honestly and surprisingly have not been disappointed by this “boat anchor” of an engine.

The gear shifter is easy to use with somewhat notchy shifts at times but is still substantial feeling unlike a Honda Civic’s for example. I was a little let own and liken the feel to that of an old and tired Mazda 626 I used to own (note: 5000 km later, it seems to have loosened up a bit with a smoother action). Clutch take-up is lighter than what I was expecting but still heavier than the aforementioned Civic’s. It is easy to use and provides for no surprises.

Back on the winding roads, the ride and handling of the Jetta don’t egg you on in a playful way the Fit or a Mazda 3 do. It turns out the Jetta drives a lot like it’s styling suggests it would. The ride is on the stiff side of smooth and composed. Only twice on a 200 km stretch of bruised and battered highway did I bottom out the suspension travelling at higher rates of speed. The car feels very stable in most conditions. The same trip in the Fit was always a white knuckled affair – in a more fun but sore back kind of way. To get the same thrills in the Jetta, you’d have to travel at a pace that could land you in a lot of trouble.

Approaching the Jetta’s handling limits is smooth and predictable. Body roll, while present, is minimal and mid corner frost heaves don’t upset the balance of the car. Steering inputs are met with crisp responses but like I said earlier, the car just doesn’t change direction as eagerly as some other sporty feeling cars. Pushing the relatively high cornering limits, you can feel the moment the front tire begins to rollover onto its sidewall, not exactly fun but there it is. The steering has a lighter feel than I was expecting as well, lighter than what I would like.

The upside to the more sedate handling is a very competent highway ride. On one occasion, on these same torn up and bumpy roads, I asked my partner how fast she thought we were going without looking at the speedo, she knew why I was asking ;). Her guess was a good 30 MPH less than what our actual speed was. Somehwat faint praise, but it gives you an idea this car doesn’t feel like a cheap econobox out on the highway. Adding to the experience is a low wind and road noise level.

The brakes work. I can tell you that moderate braking from highway speeds or down steep grades is smooth and drama free. I haven’t attempted any emergency stops in reverse yet so I can’t comment on whether the rear disc brakes feel like a noticeable improvement over the old drums.

Fuel economy has been reported by the trip computer at around 8.0 L/100 KMS (29.4 MPG). This was in a driving style as explained above at temperatures ranging from -10 C to -25 C (14 F to -13 F). In my opinion, that is fantastic.

As I wrap up this review, I’ve noticed a few patterns emerge from my thoughts and reflections. The words drama free and comfortable continue to pop up throughout. I would like to reiterate that although this car and powertrain are fairly comfortable, especially for the price, it may not be ideal for lazy drivers or people who simply don’t like to drive. The powertrain does require attention to ensure you’re always making the best of the limited power available. For example, if you don’t like to plan your passing maneuvers, have trouble maintaining a constant speed even on small grades or just all around don’t pay attention to your driving, I would suggest you step up to a more powerful car.

If you’re like me however and take pleasure in anticipating the road or traffic ahead, enjoy interacting with your vehicle (and no, I don’t mean having it read your emails to you) and will sometimes go for a drive just for the sake of driving, then this car can provide a great driver’s oriented compromise.

In this neck of the woods, people (men) are quick to tell me all the time I NEED a pickup truck out here – that I’m crazy to travel on any highway in a 2wd drive vehicle. Some go as far as to say that cars shouldn’t even be allowed on the highway. I gladly point out my girlfriend got by just fine this past winter commuting within the city limits in our winter tire equipped Fit without so much as ever getting stuck.

Point being that cars are far more useful and capable than people give them credit for. The Jetta’s measly 115 HP isn’t so measly on it’s own merits and suits my needs just fine. Could I have afforded the payments on a more powerful version or even a shiny new pickup truck? -Certainly, but aside from bragging rights and rollercoaster acceleration, I’ve got other priorities at this point in my life. (Spoken like a true Canadian -DK)

IMG_20150302_113155 IMG_20150302_113211 IMG_20150303_183146 IMG_20150303_183300 IMG_20150303_183611 IMG_20150303_183957

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 “Quebec Special” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-jetta-2-0-quebec-special/feed/ 209
Japan’s Misfit Crossover Era Is Over http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japans-misfit-crossover-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japans-misfit-crossover-era/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041265 First it was the Toyota Venza. Now the Honda Crosstour is being sent to the farm where it can be with other, odd-looking pseudo-CUV type vehicles. According to Ward’s Auto, sales of the Crosstour plummeted by nearly 40 percent since the start of the year. The Crosstour has always had a dedicated core of loyal […]

The post Japan’s Misfit Crossover Era Is Over appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
crosstour

First it was the Toyota Venza. Now the Honda Crosstour is being sent to the farm where it can be with other, odd-looking pseudo-CUV type vehicles.

According to Ward’s Auto, sales of the Crosstour plummeted by nearly 40 percent since the start of the year. The Crosstour has always had a dedicated core of loyal followers, but evidently that wasn’t enough to sustain its sales.

Like the Toyota Venza, the Crosstour was a black sheep. While the CR-V is America’s favorite crossover, the Crosstour never found anywhere close to the same reception that the CR-V, Pilot or Odyssey did. The homely looks and more appealing stablemates didn’t do it any favors. But buyers similarly rejected the Venza, which looked more traditional and offered a more practical package.

The post Japan’s Misfit Crossover Era Is Over appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/japans-misfit-crossover-era/feed/ 68
Toyota Delivers Increased Incentives For Prius Models In April http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/toyota-delivers-increased-incentives-prius-models-april/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/toyota-delivers-increased-incentives-prius-models-april/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1041001 Live in California and shopping for a Toyota Prius? Your bank account will love this news. CarsDirect reports Toyota has dropped a number of rebate incentives on the hood of the hybrid and its siblings for the month of April, going as high as 9.8 percent off MSRP. Thus, one could come away with not […]

The post Toyota Delivers Increased Incentives For Prius Models In April appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
01-2015-toyota-prius-c-la-1

Live in California and shopping for a Toyota Prius? Your bank account will love this news.

CarsDirect reports Toyota has dropped a number of rebate incentives on the hood of the hybrid and its siblings for the month of April, going as high as 9.8 percent off MSRP. Thus, one could come away with not only a Prius c, but also a $2,000 discount off of the price, beginning at $20,365 before the dealer discounts come into play.

Alas, that incentive is for the 2014 model; the 2015 version comes with a $750 rebate. Meanwhile, the original Prius, as well as the Prius v and Prius Plug-in, come with a $500 boost in incentives. The incentive campaign will come to a close May 4.

The post Toyota Delivers Increased Incentives For Prius Models In April appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/toyota-delivers-increased-incentives-prius-models-april/feed/ 16
Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:22:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039921 Nissan’s new Navara pickup will spawn variants for both Renault and Mercedes-Benz, with the three trucks likely to be built at a new plant in Argentina. The new trucks are said to be based on the all-new D23 trucks, which will form the basis for the new global Navara pickup. While the D23 will also […]

The post Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
navara_rear

Nissan’s new Navara pickup will spawn variants for both Renault and Mercedes-Benz, with the three trucks likely to be built at a new plant in Argentina.

The new trucks are said to be based on the all-new D23 trucks, which will form the basis for the new global Navara pickup. While the D23 will also play a part in the development of our next-generation Frontier, the architecture will require substantial re-working to be compliant with our FMVSS regulations. As it stands now, the D23 would not come close to passing U.S. crash tests, making it unlikely that we’ll see the M-B pickups on our shores.

The post Nissan NP300 Will Span Renault, Mercedes Variants, Argentinian Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-np300-will-span-renault-mercedes-variants-argentinian-plant/feed/ 18
4-Door Is Providing A Big Sales Boost To Mini USA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/4-door-providing-big-sales-boost-mini-usa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/4-door-providing-big-sales-boost-mini-usa/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 13:19:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039849 With one of the most detailed monthly sales reports of any auto brand competing in the United States, Mini revealed their March 2015 sales in a breakdown that included door counts. Not since Volvo’s monthly report divvied up the V60’s sales by regular and Cross Country variants has a numbers addict been so pleased. Excluding […]

The post 4-Door Is Providing A Big Sales Boost To Mini USA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Mini Cooper 4-DoorWith one of the most detailed monthly sales reports of any auto brand competing in the United States, Mini revealed their March 2015 sales in a breakdown that included door counts.

Not since Volvo’s monthly report divvied up the V60’s sales by regular and Cross Country variants has a numbers addict been so pleased.

Excluding the 540 leftover niche versions of the second-gen BMW Mini – Convertible, Roadster, Clubman, and Coupe – and 1654 sales of the high-riding Countryman and Paceman, Mini’s core Hardtop model was up 429% to 3635 units in March 2015; up 319% to 8224 units in the first-quarter of 2015.

42%, or 1509, of the March sales were produced by the 4-door. Precisely four out of every ten Mini Cooper Hardtops sold so far this year were 4-doors.

Mini USA sales chart 2015 Q1The year-over-year results of the 2-door model are skewed by the fact that there was little overlap between the outgoing and incoming models. At this time last year, the 2-door’s demand had mostly dried up, as had much of the inventory. Thus, sales of that model alone are up 151% this year; up 209% in March.

But with its somewhat awkward stance and $1000 premium, the 4-door has quickly become an integral part of the Mini lineup. First-quarter sales of the 4-door were greater, albeit marginally so, than first-quarter sales of the brand’s other 4-door, the Countryman, sales of which tumbled 25% over the first three months of 2015.

2015 Mini 4-door and 2-doorAs for the defunct Clubman, its monthly sales average between 2011 and 2014 of 425 units pales in comparison to this new 4-door’s early 1100-unit monthly average.

To what extent some of these 4-door buyers would be choosing the new 2-door if the 4-door wasn’t available, we can’t fully know. But assuming they wouldn’t, assuming they’re considering the 4-door because they wanted a Mini with extra cargo capacity and a usable rear seat that isn’t a Countryman, we can say the brand’s 2015 Q1 results wouldn’t look quite so impressive without the latest variant.

Mini brand sales are up 48% to 12,777 in early 2015. Excluding the 4-door, Mini sales are up 9.5% to 9483.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

The post 4-Door Is Providing A Big Sales Boost To Mini USA appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/4-door-providing-big-sales-boost-mini-usa/feed/ 45
Nissan Making Automatic Braking Standard On JDM Models By Fall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-making-automatic-braking-standard-jdm-models-fall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-making-automatic-braking-standard-jdm-models-fall/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039569 Nissan announced Tuesday that it will make automatic braking standard on all of its mass-market models in its home market of Japan. Reuters reports the first model to receive the now-standard feature will be the X-Trail Hybrid, which will hit showrooms May 13 with a starting price of ¥2.8 million ($23,423 USD); Nissan expects to […]

The post Nissan Making Automatic Braking Standard On JDM Models By Fall appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014_nissan_x_trail_australia_01-1015-mc-819x819

Nissan announced Tuesday that it will make automatic braking standard on all of its mass-market models in its home market of Japan.

Reuters reports the first model to receive the now-standard feature will be the X-Trail Hybrid, which will hit showrooms May 13 with a starting price of ¥2.8 million ($23,423 USD); Nissan expects to sell 3,500 per month.

The move to make the feature standard is a step towards the automaker’s goal of autonomous vehicles, the first phase of which is set to be carried out in Japan next year.

While automatic braking is available in Nissan’s home market offerings, it hasn’t yet decided if it plans to offer the feature elsewhere.

The post Nissan Making Automatic Braking Standard On JDM Models By Fall appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/nissan-making-automatic-braking-standard-jdm-models-fall/feed/ 14
BMW i3 Models Now Available Through Amazon Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/bmw-i3-models-now-available-amazon-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/bmw-i3-models-now-available-amazon-japan/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039553 You can order a lot things from Amazon, including books, CDs and giant drums of lubricant. If you’re in Japan, though, you can also order a BMW i3. Yahoo Maktoob News reports sales of the i3 began on Wednesday, a move BMW Japan hopes “will cover the entire market more thoroughly” alongside the 46 dealers […]

The post BMW i3 Models Now Available Through Amazon Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 BMW i3 Range Extender Exterior-002

You can order a lot things from Amazon, including books, CDs and giant drums of lubricant. If you’re in Japan, though, you can also order a BMW i3.

Yahoo Maktoob News reports sales of the i3 began on Wednesday, a move BMW Japan hopes “will cover the entire market more thoroughly” alongside the 46 dealers already selling the model in Japan, widening the sales channel while providing more convenience to potential owners in so doing.

Those who do order their i3 will have their choice of either the electric-only model or the range-extender version. However, the purchase will only be completed once BMW calls up the would-be owner to request documentation regarding parking and charging space for the vehicle.

The post BMW i3 Models Now Available Through Amazon Japan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/bmw-i3-models-now-available-amazon-japan/feed/ 11
Here’s Why an Electric Car Could Be the Best First Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/heres-electric-car-best-first-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/heres-electric-car-best-first-car/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:37:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039377 Across the country, thousands of high school students will be completing their sophomore year of high school. Many of them are about to turn 16. Many of them want a car. Many of them have activities like after-school sports, community service, SAT test prep, chess club, and possibly even a job. Many of them have […]

The post Here’s Why an Electric Car Could Be the Best First Car appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

Across the country, thousands of high school students will be completing their sophomore year of high school. Many of them are about to turn 16. Many of them want a car. Many of them have activities like after-school sports, community service, SAT test prep, chess club, and possibly even a job. Many of them have parents who have become tired of driving their kids everywhere and want to spend some time towards their own pursuits. Many of those parents are worried about the costs and responsibility of their kids having a car. Many of those parents are afraid at the places their children could go without their knowledge with a car.

Well, parents of America, I have a solution: Lease an electric vehicle for your teenage son or daughter. Most parents will either hand their kids down a car or buy them something brand-new. Usually, the new car is a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, anything from Scion, and so on. Something safe, fuel-efficient, reasonably priced and something to take to college. A hand-me-down vehicle could be an old truck, old minivan, a 10+ year old car which gets very good fuel mileage, or maybe an old Volvo. But you have to pay for gas, insurance, maintenance (which gets seriously expensive on Volvos), as well as car payments if you buy a new car.

By the way, I stress the leasing part since some teenagers tend to move far away from their parents for college. Some of these campuses might not be car-friendly either, especially for undergraduate students. In cases like those, buying an electric vehicle probably won’t be the best option, since you might not want an extra car in the driveway that nobody is using.

Now, many of you might think it’s a bad idea to for a teenager to have a new electric car. It might be easy for them to sneak out of the house, for instance. Or it could be easy for them to sneak back into the house when it’s past curfew. It might be too expensive because you’re getting them a new car. You might believe on principle that a teenager shouldn’t have access to a new car. You might receive some criticism from your friends, neighbors, and coworkers for getting a teenager a new car. You also believe that range anxiety might not be the best thing for a teenager to handle.

However I, a 24-year-old car enthusiast whose first car was a MkV Volkswagen Jetta 2.0T (in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been), think an electric vehicle is an excellent starter car for a teenager. In that vein, I’ve come up with three reasons about why getting a teenager an electric car is a viable option.

  1. There’s actually a radius to where they can travel.

Most electric cars on the market have a range of 80 to 100 miles on a full charge. That isn’t very far, especially when traveling round-trip to the city from the suburbs. Now, as a parent, there might be range anxiety and you would hate your child to run out of battery in the middle of a busy road. But considering most electric vehicles have a range of at least 70 miles on a full charge, that’s more than enough range for a teenager’s typical day. Other than the usual drive to school and back, there’s still range for going to the mall, traveling to a friend’s house for a project, going to where they do community service, or drive to an after-school job.

For most parents, it minimizes the chances that their children will take unexpected “detours,” unless that particular destination has a quick charging station present. Some parents will complain that the “silence” of an electric vehicle will permit the kids to sneak out of the house, but unless their destination is within 15 miles round-trip, they may have some trouble getting to that full charge for the following morning. That range will also teach them responsibility when it comes to planning trips, since how they travel depends on whether they’ve charged it or not. At most, school will be 25 miles away (I actually know people who travel that far to get to high school), so the car has to be charged every night. (And in some states, electric vehicles get to travel in the HOV lane, so no more driving the school carpool!) It’ll be a bad day if he or she forgot to plug in the car. In addition, when going to activities that fall outside the daily routine, they’ll have to plan their trips and check whether there are places to charge nearby.

  1. The costs of ownership are reasonable.

Thankfully, there won’t be an extra car to add to the gasoline costs for the month. If the electric car is replacing a vehicle that could barely achieve 20 miles per gallon, leasing an electric vehicle could be more cost effective than handing down an old pickup. For example, the FIAT 500e, though available in California and Oregon only, has an advertised lease rate of $139 a month for 36 months with $1,999 down including the first lease payment and a 36,000 mile limit. Even a base model Nissan Leaf, which is more widely available, has a lease rate of $199 a month for 36 months with $2,399 due at signing including the first lease payment with a 36,000 mile limit. Without including taxes, insurance, maintenance and charging cost, that’s around $10,000 for three years of ownership of a car with a warranty and one that you can give back (with a $395 disposition fee).

Also, money is saved from all that gas you or your high school student doesn’t have to buy. Going on fueleconomy.gov, for most electric vehicles it costs under $1 to travel 25 miles. While the average 2015 vehicles gets 24 miles per gallon, on average, gas varies between $2 and $3.50, the $3+ mark being achieved thanks to California and Hawaii. The website estimates that most EV operators will spend between $500 and $600 on “fuel cost” for 15,000 miles per year.

Additionally, insurance costs tend to be less for an electric vehicle compared to a similarly priced gas vehicle. One study showed that on average driver’s saved $200 per year on insurance when they switched to electric. Considering how much a family’s car insurance shoots up when a teenage driver is added, the reduction in annual insurance premiums will be welcomed. Overall, if it comes to less than $5,000 a year to have your teenager driving, getting an electric vehicle might be a good car.

  1. Electric vehicles are safe.

No, I’m not thinking of the Tesla Model S and its exceptional crash test rating when I wrote the above. Electric vehicles like the Spark EV and Focus Electric are Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The Leaf and 500e, which will undoubtedly be considered, don’t achieve that distinction due to their “Poor” rating in the small overlap front crash test. (But from 2013-2014 the Leaf was a Top Safety Pick before inclusion of the front overlap crash test.) However, electric vehicles are just as safe as normal new vehicles that are popular with teenagers such as the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Sonic, Audi A4, and the Scion xD or xB.

Compare that to a 10+ year-old hand-me-down Accord, Maxima, or Jeep, which probably don’t come close to 2015 safety standards. Moreover, when the speed question comes up, most electric vehicles have a difficult time staying above 80 miles per hour, and even then, staying at those speeds quickly depletes the battery. As a result, there’s an incentive to stay at reasonable speeds. Leasing an electric vehicle means you won’t take a big hit if the car is totaled, too. Most lease agreements should have gap insurance (and seriously, ensure you have the gap coverage when leasing the car) for making up the difference in value that the insurance company will pay out.

So there you have it. The answers to most of your concerns of giving a car to your teenager. They’ll probably stay within 50 miles of the house or face being stranded. After all, most teenagers don’t have to drive over 100 miles a day over 90% of the time. They’ll learn responsibility in planning their trips. It could be the most cost effective solution at a cost of under $5,000 a year. And most importantly for parents, they’ll be safe if they get into an accident. And while the only detriment is that they could sneak out of the house, you know they won’t get far. Sometimes range anxiety helps.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. If his first car had been electric, he’s fairly certain he would’ve created an autocross course from the streets in his neighborhood.  

The post Here’s Why an Electric Car Could Be the Best First Car appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/heres-electric-car-best-first-car/feed/ 137
Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-nissan-pathfinder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-nissan-pathfinder/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037369 Before you read this road test of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I must write that it isn’t as comprehensive as I want it to be, even though I put well over 1,000 miles on it. There was supposed to be a road trip from San Jose to Lake Arrowhead with at least three other people […]

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DSC_0019

Before you read this road test of the 2015 Nissan Pathfinder, I must write that it isn’t as comprehensive as I want it to be, even though I put well over 1,000 miles on it. There was supposed to be a road trip from San Jose to Lake Arrowhead with at least three other people on board. They were supposed to critique the car’s features, evaluate the interior comfort during the trip, and simulate the amount of stress that most families would put on a seven-passenger crossover. It wasn’t meant to be, though, with all three bailing out with various reasons, from studying to the CPA exam (a very valid excuse) to needing to visit family (again, a valid excuse) to saying they would come if the destination was changed to Santa Barbara (not a valid excuse and grounds for a passive-aggressive e-mail).

Such an experience was supposed to make up for the fact that actual, live families would potentially read this review of the Pathfinder and seriously regard what I, a childless, flip-flops-wearing, Gran Turismo-playing millennial, wrote about their possible next family car. “Oh, he actually carted around 4 full-size adults for over 1,000 miles rather than using it alone on his daily commute,” they would think, “This test really simulated family use. He probably even yelled at the back seat passengers to turn their music down.” Unfortunately, I never got my chance. Instead, the long trip consisted of tuning into Christian rock stations throughout the Central Valley while trying to find an alternative rock station, until I got to Pasadena, where I began loudly complaining to myself about traffic in Southern California.

DSC_0028

But enough about Southern California traffic (and I could really go on), I must discuss the history Pathfinder nameplate. In 1985, Nissan debuted the Pathfinder, which was intended to compete with the Jeep Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner, though it was only available with two doors at launch. It was a very capable vehicle off-road and was built on a truck platform. It eventually gained two extra doors as well as a third seat in later generations while retaining the off-road capability of the original. The last-generation Pathfinder was even available with a V-8. But it became difficult to market as a family vehicle due to its body-on-frame construction, which didn’t help its fuel economy and limited interior space.

Other car platform-based seven-passenger family crossovers like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Mazda CX-9 were taking away sales from truck-based SUVs like the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder needed to be significantly updated for better fuel economy and better internal packaging for the needs of most families, many of whom didn’t need the extensive off-road and towing capabilities of the old Pathfinder.

As a result, my 2015 Pathfinder 4×4 test car is completely different from the old Pathfinder. It’s based on the same platform as the Murano and Altima. It handles better than the old truck-based Pathfinder and gets significantly better fuel economy largely due to its much lower weight. Its door handles aren’t on the C-pillar. The exterior design is a lot cleaner and a lot more rounded. The interior is a much nicer place to be and has more space to move around in. The transmission is continuously variable rather than having actual gears. The competition is now vehicles like the Pilot and Highlander rather than the 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

DSC_0011

Since I spent well over 1,000 miles in the driver’s seat, I’m going to first focus on comfort. As potential Pathfinder buyers will be spending a good deal of time behind the wheel, driving the kids to numerous activities like fencing and jai alai (kids really need to stand out for those college apps) and taking long road trips (jai alai tournaments are perhaps very few and far between), I can definitively write that the front driver’s seat of the Pathfinder is a satisfying place. There’s no other way I could have lasted six hours straight driving back from San Bernardino to San Jose without a long pause. Some sections of highways I drove on were very bumpy, yet the Pathfinder’s ride soaked up the bumps and didn’t provide a jarring experience. During the trip, I didn’t find out myself shifting around in the seat after 300 miles like I would in other cars. When I arrived home, I didn’t feel stiff and felt I had the energy to do things.

DSC_0009

The back seat isn’t such a bad place either. There’s an easily accessible 120V power outlet for plugging in a laptop or other equipment and the second row can also control its temperature. It’s possible to recline the seats and relax. I wouldn’t recommend the second row for people well above six feet since there wouldn’t be enough legroom for them. Meanwhile, the third seat is strictly for two people who haven’t hit their growth spurt. Anyone above 5 feet and 5 inches would have a rough time sitting in the third seat after 90 minutes. Extra legroom can be derived by moving up the middle row, but then adults in the middle row would lose plenty of legroom and become uncomfortable too. All passengers in the back have their own air vents, so there’ll little question of keeping cool during the summer.

DSC_0007

When it comes to cargo capacity, with the third row up, there’s enough room for two large suitcases and one airplane carry-on bag. There is some extra space for miscellaneous objects below the trunk which can accommodate two small backpacks. With the third row folded down, the cargo capacity substantially increases, making the Pathfinder a good match for four to five person road trips. The middle row folds down too, so the car can fit long surfboards and bikes inside rather than affixing them to the roof or an attachment to the tow hitch. Furthermore, the spare tire is mounted underneath the car behind the tow hitch, not impeding the interior cargo space.

DSC_0015

To move all 4,500 pounds of the car, Nissan equipped the Pathfinder with the 3.5-liter V-6 which makes 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, which is right in line with the V-6 options of the Pilot, Highlander, Kia Sorento, and Santa Fe. Unlike the competition, the Pathfinder’s V-6 is pared to a CVT, which helps considerably with the fuel economy numbers. The powertrain had no problem keeping up the very fast traffic on Interstate 5, with the car traveling between 75 and 80 miles an hour for two hours straight. Even from a stoplight, fully loaded the car doesn’t have trouble getting places.

A common complaint about the Pathfinder is its continuously variable transmission. For 2015, the CVT in the Pathfinder received “D-Step Shift Logic” which makes the CVT feel like a traditional transmission. During my time, I had no problems with it. The only thing I noticed involving the CVT occurred when driving on a particularly hilly section of highway (the Grapevine section of Interstate 5). The CVT was constantly trying to find the right planetary gear to climb up the hill, acting like a seven or eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite that, the transmission was still maintaining a constant speed of 65 mph, and didn’t have a problem with how much throttle I gave the car. However, the CVT didn’t have that issue when driving up the mountains to go to Lake Arrowhead, perhaps because of the lower speeds with the winding roads.

However, the fuel economy of the Pathfinder was exceptional, considering mine had four-wheel-drive and can seat seven people. Granted, the Pathfinder carried two people at most, and a majority of the miles I drove were on the highway in two-wheel-drive mode, with air conditioning off some of the time, but the Pathfinder managed a little bit over 25 miles per gallon, which is on the upper end of the EPA estimate of 19 city and 26 highway. The CVT definitely helped in achieving than figure.

As for utilizing the four-wheel-drive system on the car, I didn’t have a chance to do so. Unfortunately, no snow fell around Lake Arrowhead, and though taking the Pathfinder to my local off-road vehicle park was thought about, I didn’t think Nissan intended the current Pathfinder to face obstacle that even some current Jeeps have some difficulty completing. Nonetheless, Nissan’s intuitive 4WD system has 2WD, automatic, and 4WD lock modes as well as hill start assist and hill descent control. All of those features may come in handy when driving in snow or climbing and descending steep dirt or gravel roads.

My test car was the SL 4×4 model which had leather seats, a power passenger seat, power lumbar support, power liftgate, rear SONAR, a blind sport warning system, and a remote engine start system, useful for warming up the car in cold weather. Mine also had the SL Tech Package, which included navigation, a Bose sound system, the Around View monitor, and a tow hitch receiver with the trailer harness. With the $860 destination charge, the MSRP came to $40,850. Considering the amount of equipment on the Pathfinder, I think it’s very well-priced and the MSRP is very similar to other seven-passenger crossovers with a similar level of equipment as my Pathfinder test vehicle such as the Pilot Touring trim and the Highlander Limited model.

In the end, the Pathfinder should be on most families’ shopping lists. Those families who don’t want a minivan and are only willing to consider either a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander are missing out on a very nice interior, much cleaner and classier outside styling, and many, many features for the price. After over 1,200 miles with it, I can write the Pathfinder is an excellent vehicle for driving long distances. What I can’t write is whether four millennials can tough out 1,200 miles as passengers in a Pathfinder, which in hindsight, is for the best. Otherwise I’d be writing this review with a hoarse voice.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s still proud and amazed of the fuel economy numbers he achieved with the Pathfinder.

DSC_0007 DSC_0009 DSC_0011 DSC_0013 DSC_0015 DSC_0018 DSC_0019 DSC_0021 DSC_0028 DSC_0030 DSC_0032 DSC_0039 DSC_0042 DSC_0043

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Nissan Pathfinder appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-2015-nissan-pathfinder/feed/ 60
New York 2015: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-toyota-rav4-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-toyota-rav4-hybrid/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 19:38:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037761   And here we have the final debut of the New York Auto Show…a hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 uses the same  2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine mated to an electric motor. In the NX, the setup makes 200 hp while returning 33/30 mpg city/highway. Not bad for an AWD crossover.  

The post New York 2015: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-3

 

And here we have the final debut of the New York Auto Show…a hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4.

The RAV4 uses the same  2.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine mated to an electric motor. In the NX, the setup makes 200 hp while returning 33/30 mpg city/highway. Not bad for an AWD crossover.

 

2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid- (1) 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid- 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-1 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-2 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-3 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-4 2016-Toyota-Rav4-Hybrid-5

The post New York 2015: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-toyota-rav4-hybrid/feed/ 39
New York 2015: If A Mitsubishi Outlander Debuts In The Big Apple, Does Anyone Care? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-debuts-big-apple-anyone-care/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-debuts-big-apple-anyone-care/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:12:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037625 The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander gets an all new look – and nothing else. While Mitsubishi touts a quieter ride and an all-new look, the powertrains are carried over. I don’t think that will be enough to keep the Outlander competitive.  

The post New York 2015: If A Mitsubishi Outlander Debuts In The Big Apple, Does Anyone Care? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander gets an all new look – and nothing else.

While Mitsubishi touts a quieter ride and an all-new look, the powertrains are carried over. I don’t think that will be enough to keep the Outlander competitive.

 

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

The post New York 2015: If A Mitsubishi Outlander Debuts In The Big Apple, Does Anyone Care? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-debuts-big-apple-anyone-care/feed/ 43
New York 2015: Nissan Maxima Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-nissan-maxima-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-nissan-maxima-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 17:36:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037537 Months after making its debut during a Super Bowl ad, Nissan is showing us the rest of the 2016 Maxima. While the full-size sedan is an endangered species in America (half the segment winds up in fleet sales), Nissan is making a good effort at keeping the Maxima fresh. The Maxima loses 82 lbs, but […]

The post New York 2015: Nissan Maxima Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Nissan Maxima

Months after making its debut during a Super Bowl ad, Nissan is showing us the rest of the 2016 Maxima.

While the full-size sedan is an endangered species in America (half the segment winds up in fleet sales), Nissan is making a good effort at keeping the Maxima fresh. The Maxima loses 82 lbs, but the only drivetrain is a 300-horsepower V6 mated to a CVT. So much for the 4DSC.

 

2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima 2016 Nissan Maxima

The post New York 2015: Nissan Maxima Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-nissan-maxima-revealed/feed/ 77
Capsule Review: Chevrolet Spark EV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-chevrolet-spark-ev/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-chevrolet-spark-ev/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1034073 There comes a moment when it’s time to try something new. Like switching to an iPhone after using a Nexus and promptly learning that the iPhone can bend. Or wearing a mechanical watch rather than a quartz watch, only for it to stop ticking after it was on a nightstand for the weekend. Moving to […]

The post Capsule Review: Chevrolet Spark EV appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
IMG_20150309_160118

There comes a moment when it’s time to try something new. Like switching to an iPhone after using a Nexus and promptly learning that the iPhone can bend. Or wearing a mechanical watch rather than a quartz watch, only for it to stop ticking after it was on a nightstand for the weekend. Moving to a house from an apartment and dealing with the perils of home ownership, such as property taxes, having to clean gutters, and the inability to have the building manager fix the broken kitchen faucet. My trying something new involved testing an electric vehicle for a week.

IMG_20150309_155918

After all, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Tesla Motors and ZAP (the hard-core TTAC B&B should know them; there’s even a road test on here of their cars from way back when), and home to dinner parties with prolonged debates about whether electric car ownership is worthwhile. “What if you’re coming home from work and you forgot your phone? You’ll run out of charge retrieving the phone and then there’s no way of getting home.” an attendee might say, while his counterpart might reply, “Well, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on gas and I haven’t had to visit a gas station. And are these chips and dip vegan?” Since I get asked the electric car question a lot as the “car guy” among my friends, I decided once and for all to test an electric car.

IMG_20150309_155739

To live out my electric car experience, Chevrolet had a Spark EV available in the Northern California press fleet, which was delivered to me with 301 miles on the odometer. 55 of those miles involved delivering the car to my driveway from the press car place. So I was effectively testing a brand-new car. Additionally, it should be noted at this point of the review that most of the country cannot buy the Spark EV. It’s only sold in California and Oregon, where the metropolitan areas tend to have a more developed electric vehicle infrastructure. As a result, this review applies to less than fifteen percent of the population, so those of you not within a 10-hour drive of San Francisco don’t have to care as much.

IMG_20150309_160424

The first thing I did when I got the Spark was test the performance of the car using the 22 miles of range it arrived with. Its performance was surprisingly good thanks to the torque from the electric motor. It could go from 0-60 miles per hour in around seven seconds, which is on par with most six-cylinder midsize sedans. Chevrolet also got the suspension tuning very right, making the Spark quite fun to drive at low speeds. There’s even a “Sport” button which sharpens up throttle response. With this car, it’s actually possible to create an autocross course around your housing development, and have actual fun doing it, without waking up the neighbors. Just make sure there isn’t too much tire squeal.

Secondly, since spirited driving tends to use up much of the battery, I needed to ensure I could charge it at home. Now, to make electric car ownership worthwhile, it helps to have a 240V outlet in your home to ensure your electric vehicle charges faster. Usually, an electric car can go from empty to fully-charged in one night (usually within 8 hours) with the 240V setup. Thankfully I had the means to “improvise” a home charging facility for the Spark with the 120V outlet that came with the Spark. However, most homes have 120V outlets, which is what my house had. With a 120V setup, it usually takes about 12 to 18 hours to go from empty to a full charge.

Regarding styling, the Spark EV more or less looks like any other Chevy Spark on the road. For me, that’s not necessarily a good thing, as many people will believe your car is a lot cheaper than it actually is. Most people will also believe that you’ll be driving a rental car. I had the fortune to have a Jaguar XF Sport in the driveway before I got the Spark EV, and most of my neighbors did a double take when passing by and noticing the red Spark in place of the XF. Personally, I don’t think homeowners’ associations will tolerate a Spark EV in the driveway.

IMG_20150310_164205

Inside, the Spark is airy and has plenty of visibility. It is a narrow car though, with the potential to rub shoulders with your front passenger and the rear seat only accommodating two people, but there is plenty of headroom. The trunk only has enough space for two airplane carry-ons. My test car had the “leatherette” (I consider it vinyl) seats that I didn’t like, largely because of how the material felt and I didn’t like sitting in them after the car had been out in the sun. Personally, I’d try to get cloth seats, but that involves “downgrading” to the 1LT trim level for around $400 less, though the steering wheel won’t be leather-wrapped.

On the highway, the Spark had no trouble keeping up with other cars or getting up to speed quickly. However, you will definitely hear the road noise at speeds above 45 mph. If you’re driving on the highway in periods of low traffic with speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour, you will hate being in the car. I tried to turn up the stereo to compensate for all that road noise, but it didn’t help things and added to the noise pollution. As a result, the Spark EV is a car you’ll prefer in traffic jams and off-highway environments.

IMG_20150309_160545

I have to admit I didn’t use OnStar with the car (the OnStar Turn-by-Turn navigation is free for 3 years), so I don’t know if it’s a viable alternative to an actual navigation system. To get navigation maps projected onto the dashboard screen, Chevrolet MyLink can connect to your smartphone and garner the necessary information using the BringGo app. Downloading and installing the app on my smartphone would have been $50 so I didn’t try it out.

As for the money saved on fuel costs by buying the Spark, the car’s Monroney sticker states that it’s possible to save $8,500 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle which gets 24 mpg and costs $11,000 to fuel over five years. The $8,500 figure comes from driving 15,000 miles per year at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. On the other hand, when researching potential cost savings on FuelEconomy.gov, the website gives me an estimate of $5,250 saved over five years, but that’s based on “45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and current fuel prices.” I’m assuming the Monroney value estimates the price of gas becoming higher with time while the FuelEconomy.gov number tends to fluctuate. But only you can estimate how much money you can save based on your driving habits and knowledge of local charging stations.

IMG_20150309_160816

When I had to ensure the Spark had a full battery, I fully charged the Spark EV at my house twice during the week I had it, and the electric bill only went up $10 compared to the same period last year. I’m not quite sure if the Spark contributed the extra money to the electric bill, but I did charge it during peak usage hours once, which may have contributed to the total. Also, many of my local hangouts had charging stations where I could park and charge the car for free for a limit of 2 or 3 hours. As a result, I largely didn’t have to pay for the car’s electricity when running errands. (On a side note, the Plugshare app came in handy when finding charging stations.)

Also, my test car had the “fast provisions” charging capability option, it enables the Spark EV to recharge 80 percent of the battery within 20 minutes utilizing the SAE Combo DC fast charging stations. Unfortunately, there were no SAE Combo DC fast chargers near me to sample. Nevertheless, having one of these nearby will help tremendously with range anxiety, especially if your daily commute is more than 60 miles round-trip.

The MSRP of my test car was $28,785 (before the $7,500 tax credit), with the sole option being the $750 “fast provisions” charging capability and an $825 destination charge. It also includes two years of maintenance. At that price point, Nissan has the Leaf which starts at $29,860 including destination, Ford has the Focus EV at $29,995 with destination, and FIAT’s 500e at $31,800. With the $7,500 federal tax credit and a California tax credit of $2,500, the Spark EV can easily come in below $20,000. (Unfortunately, Oregon doesn’t offer an electric vehicle tax credit.) Furthermore, the Spark EV’s lease rates are reasonable and close to the lease rates of the aforementioned electric vehicles, though their advertised leases are for 36,000 miles. On Chevrolet’s website, the current offer is $176 a month (plus taxes and fees) with $0 due at signing for a 3 year, 30,000 mile lease.

All in all, if you’re among the fifteen percent of the American population considering the Spark EV, I would advise buying it as strictly a commuting and errands car. It would make the perfect second or third vehicle if fuel costs are getting out of hand, you drive around 50 miles every day, and you would like to minimize trips to the gas station. With its $176 per month lease deal with $0 due at signing, the Spark EV is worth thinking about if considering a Leaf, the lease rate of which doesn’t come close. Even if you plan to buy an electric car, the Spark is a good candidate as the net price can go below $20,000 with the federal and California tax rebates.

And if you don’t live in California and Oregon and you’re still considering the Spark, come to nice and sunny California and make a vacation out of test driving the Spark EV. Though be wary of any dinner party invites you come across if you tell people your reason for visiting California. The menu has a good chance of being completely vegan.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He also learned that it’s surprisingly easy to sneak up behind people in an electric car, especially cyclists. 

 

IMG_20150309_155739 IMG_20150309_155855 IMG_20150309_155918 IMG_20150309_160118 IMG_20150309_160241 IMG_20150309_160424 IMG_20150309_160532 IMG_20150309_160545 IMG_20150309_160614 IMG_20150309_160751 IMG_20150309_160816 IMG_20150310_164205

The post Capsule Review: Chevrolet Spark EV appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-chevrolet-spark-ev/feed/ 57
Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 13:54:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037513 In the never ending quest for volume uber alles, Mercedes-Benz has announced that “four new vehicles without a predecessor model will be launched”. The need for scale in the auto industry has never been more acute, and increasing volume is one way to help take advantage of this strategy – especially in a higher margin segment like […]

The post Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

In the never ending quest for volume uber alles, Mercedes-Benz has announced that “four new vehicles without a predecessor model will be launched”.

The need for scale in the auto industry has never been more acute, and increasing volume is one way to help take advantage of this strategy – especially in a higher margin segment like luxury vehicles. But at some point, Mercedes is going to run into what I call “the Coach effect”, named after the handbag company which ended up degrading its brand via a mass downward expansion into outlet stores and lower prices. The current lineup of Mercedes (and BMW and Audi) is jam packed with endless derivatives of the same four platforms. On paper, this is a sound strategy for maximizing economies of scale. But in practice, it creates an alphabet soup of indistinguishable variants while also decreasing the barrier to entry for new buyers – arguably the selling point for luxury vehicles.

Or maybe I’m wrong. You tell me.

The post Quote Of The Day: Mercedes-Benz NEEDS MOAR MODELS!!!111 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/quote-day-mercedes-benz-needs-moar-models111/feed/ 67
New York 2015: Chevrolet Spark Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-chevrolet-spark-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-chevrolet-spark-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 12:22:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1037289 What does a 16 percent boost in power bring for the Chevrolet Spark? Erm…not too much. The newest Spark, based on the Opel Karl, now packs a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder making 98 horsepower. A 5-speed manual or CVT are available. The spark is expected to return 40 mpg while also offering advanced features like a 7-inch touch screen, Forward […]

The post New York 2015: Chevrolet Spark Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2016 Chevrolet Spark

What does a 16 percent boost in power bring for the Chevrolet Spark? Erm…not too much.

The newest Spark, based on the Opel Karl, now packs a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder making 98 horsepower. A 5-speed manual or CVT are available. The spark is expected to return 40 mpg while also offering advanced features like a 7-inch touch screen, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Side Blind Spot Alert.

The post New York 2015: Chevrolet Spark Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-chevrolet-spark-revealed/feed/ 23