EV battery technology has progressed to the point that range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past – at least on paper. A new study from Consumer Reports found that real-world driving ranges often fall way short of automakers’ advertised range estimates, but some exceed their on-paper numbers.
Consumer Reports has concluded its annual car reliability survey and the resulting data for 2023 has not been kind to all-electric vehicles. For 2023, CR reported that EVs had 79 percent more problems than automobiles that use internal combustion. Plug-in hybrids were even worse with 146 percent more issues. However, standard hybrids actually outperformed every other group with 26 percent fewer problems than vehicles wholly reliant on gasoline.
After last week's story on how Consumer Reports slapped the "avoid" label on the popular Ford F-150, I was going to ask you how much CR shapes your purchase decisions. The magazine is popular, and I know a lot of people, both car enthusiasts and not, who trust it.
Yet sometimes CR says not to buy a car and it sells well. Or vice versa.
After some reflection, I figured opening this QOTD to the larger automotive press would generate a more robust discussion.
Like ‘em or not, the musings of Consumer Reports can carry quite a bit of weight with John Q. Public when shopping for big-ticket items like a car or pickup truck. This month’s issue featured machines in numerous categories slapped with an ‘avoid’ label – including America’s best-selling vehicle.
Driver assistance features have started to lose their luster now that they’re starting to become mainstream. Studies have shown that they’re often less reliable than one would expect and are being implemented in a manner that may not be appealing to motorists. In an effort to tackle this problem, Consumer Reports has released detailed guidelines to car manufacturers it believes will make people more willing to engage with advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).
Compilations and lists purporting to tout the ‘best and worst’ of any consumer product – from cars to computers to toasters – are always given side glances in this office, if for no other reason than our own skeptical nature. Still, the crew at Consumer Reports have been releasing exactly this type of list for longer than some of us have been alive, so there’s reason to mention their findings.
In this year’s brand ranking on reliability, there were the usual suspects at the fore – and only one ‘domestic’ brand in the top ten.
Consumer Reports just released the findings of a year-long stud y looking into the latest trends in automotive loans and car payments. The resulting information highlights just how explosive the debt growth has been over the last 10 years and the arbitrary way in which borrowers are now being treated.
Long story short, we’re all being swindled.
With vehicle prices ballooning and the associated loans becoming longer than ever, dealers and lenders seem to be operating whatever way yields the steepest profit margins with only a modicum of consideration being given to the established frameworks designed to act as a guard rail. This has led to U.S. citizens carrying around a record $1.37 trillion in automotive load debt and customers with good credit being treated no different than those that fall into the subprime category. Sadly, the issue appears only appears to be worsening as new economic perils are only making things more expensive. Meanwhile, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is projecting national auto debt to swell to $1.42 trillion by year’s end.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is downgrading the Tesla Model 3 and Y following the company’s decision to remove radar from its advanced driver-assistance suite. We wrote about it, noting that the change actually removed several features from the affected cars and introduced the activation of another creepy, driving-monitoring camera.
While the latter aspect warranted the most cursing from your author’s side of the laptop, it’s the former that’s seeing the lion’s share of debate among groups advocating for vehicular safety. Everyone wants to blame Tesla’s overreliance on cameras as the thing contributing to high-profile crashes when there’s nary a vehicle on this planet that’s truly capable of driving itself. But that hasn’t stopped the NHTSA from slapping affected Tesla models into their own category, noting that they lack several functions it deemed important for safety. It’s all relative, considering there are millions of vehicles on the road that don’t have any advanced driving aids to speak of and heaps of evidence that electronic nannies don’t always function as intended. But it’s earning Tesla bad publicity as it gets dinged by increasingly more safety groups.
Consumer Reports has taken umbrage with Tesla’s new cabin camera designed to monitor the driver by suggesting there might be some privacy concerns. While that sounds like the understatement of the year, we’ve seen other companies (e.g. Cadillac) deploy similar devices with little pushback. Uncoverable lenses on our laptops and phones are creepy enough. When the auto industry starts affixing driver-monitoring cameras to the dashboards of automobiles, you have to sit back and ask yourself how much longer you’re willing to be a party to the prologue for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Trapped like a dog inside the hot car of progress, we’ve been attempting to honk the horn until someone pays attention. Mercifully, Consumer Reports doesn’t seem to have forgotten its roots in consumer advocacy and is walking up to our window with a rock. It’s demanding more privacy protection for vehicle operators, and not just from a single automaker.
The thought of a parent spending any significant amount of money on a vehicle for their teen offspring leaves a bad taste in this writer’s mouth, but some families march to the beat of a different, more affluent drum. Yours truly believes a free hand-me-down wreck should be the absolute limit of parental generosity, and that’s only on the condition that they pay for all upkeep.
But loans from the Bank of Mom and Dad are definitely a thing, which gives them considerable say over what vehicle actually enters their kid’s life. With this in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports joined forces to craft a list of decently reliable, safe rides for parents on a budget.
Would your spawn be happy with any of these top choices?
With electric-vehicle owners eligible for sizable tax breaks, and ineligible for federal fuel taxes, it often feels like they’re not pulling their weight when it comes to maintaining this great nation’s transportation infrastructure. However, feelings are sometimes wrong — when it feels like an Arby’s night, for example.
There are actually 26 states that presently impose fees upon EV owners and, according to Consumer Reports, 11 charge more than the amount drivers of similar, gas-powered cars pay in gas taxes, with 3 charging more than twice the average amount. Another dozen states are considering adding fees, with CR’s own research stipulating that 10 would require electrics to pay more than they would if they were powered by gasoline.
The fuel economy rollback posited by the Trump administration remains a hotly debated issue within the automotive community. Unfortunately, it has become mired in political nonsense, making decrypting the real-world impact of embracing or shunning it rather difficult. Consumer Reports recently took a stab at making sense of the matter, coming out in favor of balking at the notion of a rollback on the grounds that it would ultimately raise fueling costs.
Last year, the administration proposed capping fuel economy and emission standards at 2020 levels, instead of allowing them to rise annually as under existing regulations. The opposition, fronted by California, is vying to maintain the existing standards — with the possible compromise of delaying them by one year.
A survey released by Consumer Reports this week indicated that a majority of motorists (57 percent) believed that the advanced driving aids their vehicles had actively helped them avoid a crash. The survey, which incorporated data on roughly 72,000 vehicles from the 2015-19 model years, asked drivers to weigh in on a multitude of safety systems — including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot alerts, and more. While not all of these features had majority support, tabulating them as a whole showed at least half of the people using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) saw some value in them.
Our opinions on these systems have been thoroughly mixed. While we’ve found most advanced driving aids to be inconsistent in their operation, sometimes befuddled by fog or a vehicle encrusted with roadway grime, we’ll happily admit that adaptive cruise control offers more utility than the standard on/off inclusions of yesteryear. But we’ve also seen disheartening reports that semi-autonomous features dull a good driver’s senses to a point that effectively makes them a worse motorist and would be lying if we said we trusted any of these systems implicitly.
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- Oberkanone BMW, Ford, Honda, and Volkswagen have different fleet emissions rules than Stellantis and other manufacturers. This is unfair trade practice and California is the leader of this criminal conspiracy. Unified emissions regulations are needed. Disjointed patchwork of CARB and Federal emissions states results in harm to our economy inefficient manufacturing. CARB emissions regulations violate the Commerce Clause by engaging in extraterritorial regulation.
- 28-Cars-Later Ha, about 60% of the original price... I think these were going out for around $14s in stripper edition with row your own (I believe this was still the first gen made in Japan as well). If I'm right about JDM assembly, this will sell itself soon.
- MaintenanceCosts 2035 is TWELVE YEARS from now. They could buy new diesel buses today and get a full service life out of them before the mandate comes into effect. And if the technology still isn't good enough in 2035, the most rural districts will get a waiver. Nobody is trying to ban rural high schools from their volleyball games.
- Kwik_Shift One day I'll bring myself around to trying one of these out, with manual transmission. They look fun.
- Zipper69 It worked in London, because the center of that city is a medieval layout ON TOP of a Roman layout, both designed for horse drawn traffic.Manhattan's grid and the available public transport options are a different matter.