Which Brands Fared Best in 2017's Consumer Reports' Reliability Survey?

Consumer advice is one way informed shoppers like to make a decision, and few buying choices are bigger than your next car. Every year, Consumer Reports surveys its subscribers to see how they’re getting on with their personal vehicles. While the metrics may have changed over the years, its annual reliability report is one people and automakers pay particularly close attention to.

However, this year, some automakers were paying closer attention than others. Tesla, irritated that CR was so hard on the Model X — while predicting the Model 3 would possess “average reliability” — fired back at the publication with a press release calling shenanigans. “Time and time again, our own data shows that Consumer Reports‘ automotive reporting is consistently inaccurate and misleading to consumers,” the automaker wrote in a release.

While Consumer Reports exists as a nonprofit organization providing consumer advice, Tesla has accused it of making the electric automotive brand a target to bolster attention. Whether or not that’s true is debatable, but it did use predictive reasoning to assess the Model 3’s probable reliability — rather than data collected from testing and customer surveys.

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Doing the Math: Over a Quarter of New Cars Do Not Come With a Spare Tire

It always happens when you aren’t expecting it. You’re cruising along in your automobile, listening to the radio and making wonderful time. Then, all of a sudden, the steering feels odd — there is an overabundance of vibration and the car keeps pulling to one side. You’ve got a flat tire.

Annoying, to be sure. Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo and you pull off to swap the punctured rubber with a spare. However, if you own a brand new car, you might be disappointed to learn there’s decent chance it doesn’t even have one. According to a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association, 28 percent of 2017 model-year vehicles aren’t equipped with spare tires — leaving you breaking out the compressed air and sealant or calling for a tow truck.

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AAA Study Finds Infotainment Systems Dangerously Distracting

Automobiles are more tech-laden than ever and, according to a recent study, those interactive bells and whistles contribute heavily to distracted driving.

With connected cars ready to shoot off assembly lines and into driveways at an accelerated pace, the danger of someone flicking through their dashboard menus when they should be looking at the road is only going to grow. Many states prohibit phone usage while driving, yet there is no law against setting your radio pre-tunes or customizing your digital dashboard while hurtling down the expressway — not that there necessarily should be.

However, the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the physical and mental demand required to complete various tasks using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. The conclusion was that the growing cavalcade of buttons, screens, and technology does an incredibly good job at keeping you from minding the road ahead.

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Autonomous Cars Make People Uncomfortable - What Can Manufacturers Do About It?

There’s nothing that will convince me that the first wave of autonomous taxis will be anything other than mobile biohazards, providing a slightly less convenient solution to paying a man to let you ride in the back of his Toyota Camry for a few miles. However, I will give them a shot once they arrive — mainly out of curiosity, which puts me in the minority.

Gartner Inc., an American research and advisory firm that works specifically within the realm of advanced technologies, recently completed a survey where over half of its respondents said there was no way in hell they’d get into the back of a fully autonomous vehicle. Its findings echo an American-based MIT study from earlier this year, as well as a global survey from Deloitte. The consensus: most of the population doesn’t feel particularly good about self-driving cars.

Not to be a defender of unproven technology, but there’s also nothing stopping a human cab driver from driving you to the wrong destination before trying to murder you with an axe. It doesn’t happen often, but it is a possibility. Likewise, autonomous cabs pose some element of risk no matter how good a job manufacturers do with those early models. But you’re not likely to be the occupant of the one that does goes haywire. It’s a problem of perception more than anything else.

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Nobody Cares About or Uses the Premium Technology in High-end Luxury Cars

Fifty years ago the equipment disparity between luxury vehicles and economy cars was vast, but things are different today. With the exception of nicer materials and cutting-edge technology, you can get essentially everything you would want in a basic hatchback. We’re not talking about power windows and air conditioning either; the technological trickle-down now includes things like active safety systems, heated seats, in-car navigation, multiple driving modes, and more.

As it turns out, the great unwashed masses of today enjoy their pleb-mobiles at about the same level as affluent individuals like their own diamond-encrusted executive mobility suites. The reason? Because nobody cares about premium features they can’t figure out how to use, nor do they miss technology that isn’t part of their daily routine.

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American Car Buyers Less Satisfied With Domestics, Toyota Perpetually Fine: Study

Overall contentment among domestic vehicle owners dropped slightly in this year’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. Meanwhile, enjoyment from European and Asian automakers stayed roughly the same. However, that information might not be quite so useful until you begin comparing individual brands (and even other industries).

Domestic automakers averaged 80 out of a possible 100 points in the ACSI scale, with General Motors as the only American manufacturer seeing an improvement from 2016. For the sake of comparison, let’s see how other industries are doing on either end of the spectrum: Cable companies, which everyone hates, averaged 64 points and television sets, which everyone loves, scored 87 points.

By and large, that doesn’t place automakers in the doghouse. But it does highlight a modest shift in the perception of specific domestic brands while longtime satisfaction leaders, like Toyota and Lexus, hold pole position.

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When It Comes to Paint Preferences, Men and Women Aren't Equal: Study

While local climate plays a role, prefered automotive paint schemes largely come down to personal feelings and dealer inventory. There is also the matter of what colors are trending within the industry and, according to a recent consumer survey tabulation from iSeeCars.com, gender.

The automotive data research company compiled survey results from over 700,000 consumers and close to 30 million used car sales between 2015 and 2016 to find gender biases for specific colors. For the most part, color preferences are irrelevant. But there are a few standout shades that one group seems to prefer over the other.

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The Hunt for Parking Apparently Costs Americans $73 Billion Annually

INRIX Research, which compiles automotive data for automakers and state agencies, is claiming Americans waste 73 billion dollars every year trying to find and hold a parking space. Following a survey of nearly 6,000 drivers in 10 U.S. cities, INRIX concluded the average driver suffers an average of 17 hours and $345 worth of wasted time, fuel, and emissions.

While that sounds ridiculous, a 2017 national survey from the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport claimed average British drivers waste four days of their lives every year doing the same thing. The number was twice as high for city-based residents. Perhaps 17 annual hours is a little more reasonable than it initially seemed.

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Study Shows Nearly Nine in 10 Americans Want Better Fuel Economy, But There's a Problem

A recent study from Consumers Union — the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — shows continued interest among U.S. residents in seeing automakers improve fuel economy figures, even as gas prices remain fairly low.

While this should come as a shock to no one, nearly nine in 10 surveyed consumers agreed automakers should continue improving fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. As well, only 30 percent believed manufacturers actually cared about lowering fuel costs for their customers.

This might be true but, then again, why would automakers do such a thing when the general populace has essentially turned its back on economical passenger cars? With little incentive to sell them, especially if the Trump administration alters 2025 emission targets, any top-tier automaker focusing exclusively on building MPG-focused automobiles would be placing itself at major financial risk.

The survey indicated fuel economy as the area perceived to possess the most room for improvement in modern vehicles. However, consumers have not used their wallets to bolster economy car sales. There appears to be a disparity between what the public claims to value and how it actually behaves. At a minimum, consumers may have misunderstood everything it would take to see fleet-wide fuel consumption decline. If they want to see higher MPGs, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices and the survey doesn’t allude to that fact.

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Shaping a Bleaker Future: Generational Trends in New Car Ownership

There has been plenty of doomsday prophecies surrounding the automotive industry in the last year, based largely upon the assumption that younger drivers are less willing to support it or simply cannot afford to. Stupid, right? Not really. While the direness of the situation is often exaggerated, plenty of evidence exists to underscore the impending troubles of the new car market. Whether it’s because those in their salad days don’t care as much about cars as their elders or simply have less disposable income (hint: it’s the second one), real change is coming for OEMs.

Younger shoppers are noticeably more likely to purchase used vehicles than their more venerable contemporaries are, but “young” is a relative term — especially in this instance. According to a recent study, 53.7 percent of prospective buyers under forty plan on getting a used car the next time they need wheels. For those over forty, that number is 49.7 percent. As you’d expect older people to buy more new cars, this much of a disparity at mid-life is significant.

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J.D. Power Showers Buick and Lexus With Praise Over Service Satisfaction

J.D. Power and Associates continued its courtship of Buick and Lexus in its latest scorecard for consumer satisfaction with dealer service departments. While J.D. passes out awards around like a teacher giving PARTICIPANT ribbons at an elementary school science fair, its consumer index is a decent way to track automotive trends. In this instance, that trend is continued improvement of American manufacturers. Well, most of them.

Fiat Chrysler should sincerely consider making a large contribution to J.D. Power so it can get out of last place in literally every single category.

Meanwhile, General Motors is on its best behavior with a score of 807 out of 1,000, an improvement over last year by a full 10 points thanks to Buick taking top honors (860 points) and its other brands scoring substantially above the industry average. Buick was followed by Mini, GMC, Chevrolet and Nissan in the mass-market brand rankings.

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The Average American is Seriously Afraid of Autonomous Cars: Study

There is something uncanny about a car that can drive itself. If you transplanted the world’s first motorists into a modern autonomous vehicle and let it lose on a track, they’d probably surmise witchcraft as the only plausible explanation and jump out in terror. Humans are innately distrustful of anything unfamiliar — it’s an important part of our survival strategy as a species. With that in mind, it isn’t surprising to hear that many Americans are a little wary of self-driving cars.

However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests it might be more serious than that. The vast majority of surveyed Americans admitted to being “afraid” of riding in an autonomous vehicle while over half said they felt less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with driverless technology. This isn’t likely to be welcome news for automakers, considering that every major manufacturer is currently investing heavily into the computer and industrial sciences required to make autonomous tech possible.

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Gen Xers, Millennials Struggle to Find Trusted Mechanics

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations.

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Shocker: Study Shows Americans Aren't Interested in Owning EVs, Prefer Better Gas Mileage Instead

The electric vehicle revolution, if you want to call it that, won’t happen in the “I woke up and everything was different” manner envisioned by hard-core EV enthusiasts.

EVs are no longer new to the automotive scene, but there’s still a vast gulf between the opinions of politicians and automakers and that of the buying public. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Americans polled in a recent study say they aren’t ready or willing to add an electric vehicle to their household.

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Study: Nine Out Of 10 Millennials Consider Car Ownership Important

Allegedly, Millennials care only about the latest iPhone, and not the i8. Nine out of 10 Millennials would disagree, and consider car ownership important.

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  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.
  • Inside Looking Out To me it looks like French version of Hummer. The difference is that while American Hummer projects power French little Oli projects weakness.That vehicle reflects the bleak future for EU. For now they have to survive coming winter but in general population collapse it coming soon, Europeans will be gone in the long run. Only artifacts like this concept and legends will remind us about advanced and proud civilization that populated that small continent the civilization that in the end lacked will to exist.
  • Conundrum "the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union." Nah, wrong. But it's Posky, so should I be surprised? That body material, Duroplast, was invented by Germans, used on the East German Trabant car and dulled many a saw blade when trying to cut it.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuroplastThe Soviets made regular sheet tin cars. Nothing fancy, they just worked, like Soviet farm tractors you could repair with a pipe wrench and a 14 lb maul. They exported quite a few to Canada in the '60s and '70s and people used to swear by them.I suppose this new Citroen Ollie has LED lights. If they fail, does one go to the Dollarama for a $1 flashlight, then rip out and use those LED "bulbs" for a repair?I think this Ollie thing is off the rails. The Citroen 2CV was ingenious, both in chassis and especially suspension design and execution, but where's the innovation in this thing? Processed cardboard panels, when corrugated tin, a Citroen and Junkers favorite fascination would be just fine. Updated with zinc coating from circa 1912 and as used in garbage cans and outdoor wash tubs ever since, the material lasts for decades. Citroen chose not to zinc plate their 2CVs, just as the car industry only discovered the process in the mid 1980s, lagging garbage can manufacturers by three-quarters of acentury, with Japan holding out until the mid '90s. Not many 1995 Accords still around.This Ollie thing is a swing and a complete miss, IMO. Silly for silly's sake, but that's the modern day automotive designer for you. Obsessed with their own brilliance, like BMW and Toyota's crews creating mugs/maws only a catfish could love, then claiming it's for "brand identity" when people take offense at ugly and say so. They right, you wrong. And another thing -- hell, Ford in the 1950s, if not well before, and innumberable Australians found that a visor stuck out from the roof over the windshield keeps the sun out when necessary, but Citroen delivers first class BS that an upright windshield is the solution. And as GM found out in their newly-introduced late 1930s transit buses, flat windshields are bad for reflections, so they actually changed to a rearward slanting windshield.This design reeks of not applying already learned lessons, instead coming up with useless new "ideas" of almost zero merit. But I'm sure they're proud of themselves, and who gives a damn about history, anyway? "We new young whiz kids know better".