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Audi, Subaru Top Annual Consumer Reports Auto Issue

Mazda keeps pace with luxury car brands; Kia and Lexus top SUV list.

by on Feb.23, 2016

The cover of the annual CR auto issue.

Who says you need to spend big money to get a luxury ride? Subaru and Mazda are delivering new luxury features at a mainstream price, notes the latest update of the annual Consumer Reports automotive report card.

Audi and Subaru topped the 2016 list of automotive brands, with all of their vehicles on the CR Recommended Buy list. But while Mazda ranked only sixth overall, the influential consumer magazine nonetheless is giving a Recommended Buy endorsement to all of its products, as well.

Best of the Best!

Separately, Consumer Reports calls the Kia Sorento and Lexus RX the best SUVs its tested this year. The Toyota Camry took top honors among midsize sedans, with other winning models including the Mazda Miata sports car, full-size Chevrolet Impala sedan, and Honda Fit subcompact. Ford took top honors in the pickup truck category, with the redesigned F-150, for the first time in 17 years.

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Automakers Enhance Their APEAL, with Koreans Setting the Pace

Safety tech wins thumbs up, but balky infotainment systems generate grumbles.

by on Jul.22, 2015

Mini showed the biggest improvement overall, thanks to the new Cooper hardtop.

When it comes to adding new high-tech hardware to their vehicles, automakers are generating a mix of both praise and complaints, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

On the whole, new vehicle buyers have rated their 2015 models higher than ever, and Power’s 20th annual APEAL study gives a chunk of the credit to the latest safety technologies, such as blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning systems. At the same time, motorists registered a number of complaints about faulty infotainment hardware and balky voice recognition systems.

At the Cutting Edge!

With rare exception, automakers saw their APEAL scores improve this year, the overall average rising to 798 points out of a possible 1,000. But the Korean makers collectively posted the biggest improvements, while the Japanese lagged behind the industry on the whole.

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Japanese Automakers Slide, Koreans Surge in New J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Japanese brands, as a group, post worst performance in 29 years.

by on Jun.17, 2015

Hyundai has scored major gains in quality with products like the 2015 Tucson, according to Power.

This story contains updated information.

If the latest J.D. Power survey is any indication, you might need to re-think just about everything you thought you knew about automotive quality.

The latest Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, finds that Japanese automakers, on the whole, have suffered a significant slide in the quality charts, with only three brands in the Top 10 this year. But the real shocker might be the surge in Korean quality. Kia, a brand long known for cheap, mediocre products, was second, behind top-ranked Porsche, with Hyundai ranked fourth. Jaguar, also struggling to reverse a reputation for poor quality, was third.

Your Quality News Site!

For the Korean brands, which are caught up in a ferocious battle for market, the survey results represent a measure of vindication.  “We are extremely proud of the results,” said Mike Ofiara, a spokesman for Kia, which finished second in the overall ranking. “We’ve come a very long way. It’s representative of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

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Consumer Reports Name Top Brands and Models

Japanese makers dominate again.

by on Feb.24, 2015

The Toyota Highlander was one of the top-ranked models according to Consumer Reports readers.

Consumer Reports’ latest list of top-ranked automotive brands and models contained some big surprises and reinforced some long-standing reputations. Notably, little battery-car start-up Tesla Motors had the top-ranked product overall in the form of its Model S sedan.

Toyota, a manufacturer long associated with high-quality products, managed to place two of its brands in the Top Ten, meanwhile. But Kia, a marque may traditionally associated with lowball pricing, also managed to place among the industry’s best, nudging aside BMW to take the ninth place spot in Consumer Reports’ annual automotive brands report card.

Top-Ranked!

Who led the list and who lagged behind? Here’s a quick look at some of the key findings from the study, which looked at how individual models scored in both road and crash tests, while also looking at what the magazine’s readers reported in terms of real world reliability.

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Honda Tops List of Best Cars for the Money

But Lexus RX350 logs longest winning streak.

by on Feb.11, 2015

The 2015 RDX was one of six Acura and Honda models to take segment wins in the 2015 awards.

With 100s of different models to choose from – and dozens more being added each year, it’s no surprise that a shopper can come up confused when it’s time to pick the right one for their own needs and desires.

It doesn’t help that there are so many different studies designed to rate vehicles on quality or on price. But what happens when you take both that factors into account, along with safety, long-term reliability – and expert reviews? That’s what U.S. News & World Report attempts to accomplish with its annual Best Car for the Money awards.

A Winner!

And for 2015, Honda Motor Co. comes out on top, grabbing honors in six of 21 vehicle categories – three for the mainstream Honda brand and another three for the upscale Acura marque.

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List of “Safest” Cars Nearly Doubles for 2015

Automakers make big gains despite recall woes, according to IIHS.

by on Dec.23, 2014

The number of vehicles earning one of the top two ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has nearly doubled for 2015.

The number of vehicles earning one of the top two ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has nearly doubled for 2015 despite the industry’s ongoing recall problems.

A total of 71 vehicles have earned either a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, the insurance industry research arm announced Tuesday, up from just 39 models during 2014. And that’s despite making it tougher to earn the top rating.

A Real Performer!

“This is the third year in a row that we are giving automakers a tougher challenge to meet,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund, who stressed that the industry is “greatly improving” its crash protection. (more…)

Mazda2 Wins Japan Car of the Year Honors

Second Mazda victory in three years.

by on Oct.13, 2014

The Mazda2 gets a nod from Japanese jurors.

The annual awards season is getting off to a big start for Mazda, its little Mazda2 model winning honors as the 2014-2015 Japan Car of the Year.

It was the Japanese maker’s second win in the JCoTY competition in three years – and follows the first-ever victory by a foreign maker, Volkswagen winning last year with the latest-generation Golf line.

A Real Winner!

“We are both honored and grateful that the Mazda Demio has received such a prestigious award,” said Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai, referring to the car by its name on the Japanese market. “We will continue our quest to build cars that add a certain sparkle to the lives of their owners, and aim to become the one-and-only brand chosen by customers again and again.”

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NACTOY Jurors Make First Cut for Car, Truck of the Year

U.S., Japanese makers land equal numbers on “short list.”

by on Sep.23, 2014

Ford hopes to smoke the competition with the 2015, 50th anniversary remake of the Mustang.

With most of the new 2015 models now in showrooms, and the stragglers soon set to follow, the nearly 60 journalists on the North American Car and Truck jury are beginning to weigh all the options in the hunt for the top products of the year.

Members of the group – which includes this author – were asked to weigh in on dozens of new offerings, from the little Honda Fit to the full-size Ford F-150 in the first of a three-part voting process that will wrap up in time for the annual Detroit Auto Show next January.

Be a Winner!

The jurors have culled the original list down to a much more manageable 10 cars and a dozen trucks and utility vehicles. That includes two U.S, three European, three Japanese and two Korean passenger car models. Domestics dominate the truck list, however, with five separate entries, including the Ford F-150 and GM’s new midsize pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The Japanese have four, with European makers landing three models on the truck/utility list.

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The Top-Ranked Vehicles in the JD Power 2014 Initial Quality Study

It doesn't always depend on how much you spend.

by on Jun.18, 2014

The Hyundai Accent scored second only to the Porsche Panamera among all 207 models included in the 2014 JD Power Initial Quality Study.

While the typical 2014 model posted a “somewhat unusual” dip in quality, at least according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, there were a number of stellar performers on the list – including some significant surprises.

Porsche led the list among 32 brands covered by the 2014 IQS, while the German maker’s 4-door sports car, the Panamera, had the “single-lowest” number of problems among any of the 207 models the annual survey of U.S. owners covered.

In Drive!

Even more surprising, perhaps, was the fact that Korean carmaker Hyundai came in fourth overall, and was the highest-ranked of all mainstream makers, beating out such familiar quality leaders as Toyota and Honda. And the little Hyundai Accent, at the other end of the price spectrum from the Porsche Panamera, was the second most problem-free vehicle, the new J.D. Power study found.

“You have some very expensive cars at the top,” noted Dave Sargent, Power’s lead automotive analyst, “and very inexpensive ones.”

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Ford Tops Other Makers on List of Best $10K Cars

Website offers up its choices for used car buyers.

by on Mar.18, 2014

Ford has three cars on Cars.com's list of best used vehicles for around $10,000, including the 2009 Focus.

Not everyone can afford a new car or truck, but fortunately there are some great deals in the used car market. Cars.com released, its list of top buys for around $10,000 and though it is dominated by Asian makers, Ford actually has the most cars on the list with three.

The 2009 Ford Focus, 2008 Ford Fusion and 2008 Ford Taurus all got approvals from the website. The Focus and Fusion were lauded for their handling while the Taurus received kudos for its large trunk and back seat as well as its ride and handling.

Designed to Inform!

Today’s cars and trucks are more expensive than ever, averaging just more than $32,000, which prices many buyers out of the new vehicle market. (more…)