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Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey Shows Japanese Rising, Ford Falling

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports has released their annual reliability rankings (subscription required to view full rankings), with Japanese automakers, led by the Toyota brands, taking the top seven spots on the list. Ford meanwhile, sank towards the bottom of the list, finishing next-to-last, with their premium brand, Lincoln, only one slot higher.

Toyota, which had suffered some highly-publicized setbacks in recent years, including issues with unintended acceleration, is surely buoyed by these results, with Scion, Toyota and Lexus landing the top three spots in the ratings. Another feather in the Toyota cap: the top vehicle overall was the Toyota Prius C.

Most and Least Expensive SUVs and Trucks to Insure

Car Insurance

As auto buyers, we tend to focus most of our energy on the purchase cost of our vehicles, and other than fuel cost, we spend less time thinking of the ongoing costs. Of course, figuring our fuel cost is relatively simple; the MPG is listed right on the window sticker and with a little quick math in our head, we can easily guesstimate our gas bill.

Small is Big

Small is Big

In a land where lumbering SUVs once roamed like so many dinosaurs, small car sales have grown to levels not seen is nearly 20 years, so says a report on Bloomberg.com.

One reason is obvious; soaring gas prices. It is a knee-jerk consumer reaction proven time and again; when gas prices rise, so too do sales of gas-efficient cars. And save for an early summer respite, we’ve seen gas prices rise all year.

Nissan Previews 2013 Sentra

2013 Nissan Sentra

The competition in the compact car segment has become fierce, with many automakers making strong attempts to unseat the perennial class leaders, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. So strong, in fact, that Honda is hastening a mid-cycle refresh of its roundly-panned latest generation Civic, and Toyota has promised a much less boring Corolla. Look to the boldly styled Hyundai Elentra, Euro-inspired Ford Focus, and Alfa Romeo-based Dodge Dart as evidence of the importance of the segment.

AutoBuying101.com names the Top 10 Hardest Working Autos for 2012

AutoBuying101.com Top 10

AutoBuying101.com, has announced its 2012 selections for the Top 10 Hardest Working Autos, including pickup truck, crew truck, cargo van, family, city, and luxury options. This list includes a variety of vehicles that offer the utility, capability and versatility to accomplish the tasks at hand. The full list can be viewed in our Reports Section here. See the press release on PR Web.

Pet-Friendly Picks for 2012

Pet-Friendly Picks for 2012

Everyone wants to be safe in their car, right? Occupant safety has become a major selling point when shopping for autos, with vast expanses of airbags enveloping us from all angles. But are we protecting our pooches as well as our people?

Bark Buckle Up is a pet travel safety advocate, and they have named their 2012 Bark Buckle Up Top Dog Vehicle awards. Some of the features they look for in a pet-safe vehicle are air conditioning vents for the rear seats to keep canines cool, side airbags, an adequate number of D-hooks for securing extra dog-related gear, and a good quality rear-view camera.

Here are their top picks for 2012, in alphabetical order:

2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards

2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards

Autobytel, in conjunction with automotive research firm AutoPacific have released their 2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards. The IVAs are based on a survey of over 75,000 vehicle owners from the full spectrum of major manufacturers. The survey touched upon 15 different categories spanning all aspects of their vehicles inside and out, from styling to performance to comfort.

"The significance of the Ideal Vehicle Awards is that they identify the automotive manufacturers that are listening to their buyers when updating and developing their latest cars," said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific.

2013 Models Already On The Way

2013 Models

Are you looking for the newest of the new? It’s the heart of the summer, but 2013 models are on the way soon, and some are already in the showrooms. Kelley Blue Book published a rundown of the early arrivals; let’s look at some of the highlights.

Shrinking SUVs

Yes, car buyers can be as fickle as gas prices, and their buying habits closely mirror the price on the pump. But manufacturers know they need to improve MPG while still satisfying our demand for SUVs and crossovers. Hence the trend towards smaller SUVs and CUVs. Several are already on the slate for 2013.

Languishing on the Lot? Dynamic Deals!

Everything Must Go!

Here's a tidbit about the inner workings of car dealerships that can help save you money. Car dealers don’t buy their new cars outright from the manufacturers, they finance them. For the duration that each car sits on their lot, they pay interest on the financing. When the car is sold, they pay off the loan.

So, putting on our MBA hats and crunching the numbers, it makes sense for a dealer to sell a particular car as quickly as they can; the longer a car sits on the lot, the more interest they pay. The more interest they pay, the lower their profit. Pretty straightforward, right?

Get ‘Em While You Can!

Discontinued
It’s a fact of automotive life that every year there are models that die off, never to be seen again. There are many reasons: The car may be subpar in its category. Or it may be a bit long in the tooth. Sometimes a vehicle gets squeezed out by overlapping selections in a manufacturer’s lineup. Or it may be that it just plain did not sell.
 
Whatever the reason, sometimes we wind up losing an interesting vehicle that suits a select few customers’ needs perfectly. Remember the Honda Element? A bonafide Swiss army knife of a ute that could swallow a dorm room, but sales kept dwindling until it disappeared.

Ward’s Names 10 Best Interiors for 2012

Audi A7 Interior

The fact is that when we shop for cars, the first thing we look at is is the exterior design. It’s the sheetmetal that catches our eye and elicits the emotional reaction. By comparison, interiors get little attention. When’s the last time you saw a car’s interior on the cover of a magazine?Think about it, though. After the initial blush of exterior infatuation, where do you spend all your time? On the inside of the car, not the outside. Shouldn’t it be a place you enjoy? It’s time to share some love with car interiors for a change. The editors at WardsAuto agree, and have named their 10 Best Interiors for 2012. Climb in and have a look.

J.D. Power & Associates 2011 Initial Quality Study Results

According to JD Power and Associates, despite modest improvement in initial quality on both newly developed models and new version of existing models over the last 5 years, the trend has not continued and initial quality for newly developed models for 2011 is down, as is reported in the organization’s newest study.

The Initial Quality Study, conducted by JD Power for the last 25 years, is a survey of recent buyers and lessees of 2011 models.  Owners are contacted after 90 days with the cars and are given a 228-question survey designed to provide the manufacturers with information to “facilitate identifying problems and drive product improvement.”

2011 Top Safety Picks By The IIHS

Insurance Institute For Highway Safety

Their name is a little hard to remember, but if you are in the market for a new or used auto, you definitely do not want to forget who the IIHS is.  Formed over 50 years ago, the mission of the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS) is to help reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage.