The Toyota Prius was ranked at the top of Consumer Reports’ Best New Car Value scoring for the second year in a row. CR’s analysis ranked over 200 vehicles on performance, reliability and costs and determined that over five years the Prius will cost 47 cents per mile to own and operate. Lower depreciation and operating costs for the Prius offset paying a premium for the hybrid.
“The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested,” Rik Paul, the magazine’s automotive editor, said in a statement. “Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’ depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP. We call that a bargain.”
Elio Motors is one of those automotive startups that raises all sorts of flags that makes some people think that it’s a scam, or at least on shaky financial ground. Almost every bit of news from Elio has been greeted with some skepticism, understandably ( here, here, and here). They’re planning on selling a three wheel vehicle with a composite body that gets amazing gas mileage. Those facts alone remind people of the Dale scam, and the failed Aptera venture. Also, they’re taking deposits on a vehicle whose design has not been finalized, a year away from production, and that evokes memories of Preston Tucker, who had his own problems. Then there’s the financing plan that Elio says will allow people currently driving beaters, the working poor if you will, to get a new car with a warranty just for what they’re currently paying for gasoline. When you buy the $6,800 tandem two seater reverse trike, whatever balance there is after your trade-in and/or deposit is applied will go on a credit card. Monthly payments will be required to pay down the balance but the way Elio is pitching it, when you use that credit card to buy gasoline (and some other purchases) instead of being billed for the actual cost of the gas, you’ll be billed 3 times that amount and the difference between the actual price and the billed price will be used to pay off the car.
Why 3X the price of gas?
If you know how to listen and who to listen to, you have heard for weeks that Hyundai is not the only one with overenthusiastic EPA ratings, and that other car companies might soon have to restate their MPG numbers. The carmaker mentioned most often in those whispers was Ford. Today, Consumer Reports magazine said that Ford’s C-Max and Fusion hybrids fall about 20 percent short of their fuel economy claims.
Consumer Reports tested the latest offerings of Detroit automakers, did not like the Dodge Dart, was frustrated by the Cadillac XTS, was underwhelmed by the Lincoln MKS, and put off by the Chevrolet Spark. CR ended up recommending a Japanese Lexus ES instead.
“Just because a car generates a lot of buzz or is a best seller doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for you. The five models here may be on a lot of buyers’ shopping lists, but we suggest you steer clear…”
So says Consumer Reports with respect to their list of “Five popular cars to avoid”. CR says that the vehicles “…didn’t perform well in our testing or they suffer from subpar reliability,” and that’s reason enough to stay away. I’m not entirely convinced.
Fuel economy now is the leading factor that drives new car decisions, a study by Consumer Reports says. “Fuel economy” ranks top by a wide margin, followed far behind by quality, safety, and value.
The factors that trigger premature ejaculations in basement-dwelling, Gran Turismo playing phantasy car buyers, namely performance, design, and technology, are also-rans.
Consumer Reports recently bought a Fisker Karma, which ended up breaking down in the driveway of their vehicle testing facility.
Tesla is one of the ten highest rated car brands in America, says the Consumer Reports 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey. Is that a good thing? Marketers are troubled by this development. The trouble is not that a newcomer like Tesla is rated so highly.
Overall, the halos of the top brands are fading fast.
Some things have been repeated so often that many people have come to accept them as facts. I tripped across one of these in Bob Lutz’s new book, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters (review on the way). Lutz offers “a curiosity I have observed several times at various stages of my career”: when the domestics rebadge an import, the resulting model has scored “way lower” in Consumer Reports reliability survey. This has been Exhibit A in the argument, also repeated by Lutz, that import owners under-report problems on surveys in order to “retroactively justify the wisdom of their purchase.” I’ve come across this claim about CR so many times in the past that it just had to be true. Then I checked.