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Insurers Overcharging Low-Mileage Drivers, Consumer Group Claims

Link between mileage and claims largely ignored.

by on May.22, 2015

Despite being at a lower risk of crashing, study finds low-mileage drivers are over-charged.

Even though they tend to file significantly fewer claims, a new study says auto insurers typically fail to give discounts to motorists who clock low mileage.

Only State Farm, among all the major auto insurance companies, routinely provided a discount for those who put on about 5,000 miles a year – roughly a third of the national norm – according to the study by the Consumer Federation of America.

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“The failure of most large insurers to adequately reward low mileage especially harms lower income and older drivers because they drive the least,” said Stephen Brobeck, CFA’s executive director.

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GM and Disney Take a Trip to Tomorrowland

Film showcases five classic concept vehicles – and a few modern ones.

by on May.22, 2015

The winged Firebird III concept car was one of several GM developed to showcase turbine power.

Is it back to the future…or forward into the past?

The new Disney movie, Tomorrowland, sets actor George Clooney out on a search for a secret location caught between time and space. And among the discoveries they make when they get there are a collection of classic General Motors concept vehicles, including the jet-powered Firebird III and the Space Age Astro II.

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“Tomorrowland is a place where nothing is impossible, which is something that Chevrolet believes can exist in the here and now,” Tim Mahoney, vice president, Global Chevrolet, said when announcing GM’s participation in the Disney flick – which also showcases several modern vehicles including the next-generation Chevy Volt.

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How Do You Get to Work?

Commuting patterns vary widely among America’s 30 largest cities.

by on May.20, 2015

Are you stuck in traffic ever morning? That might depend upon where you live, finds new study.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely fire up your car when you head to work each morning. Then again, maybe not. A new study shows there are some substantial differences in how Americans commute, much of that depending upon where they live.

In New York, more than half of commuters hop on mass transit compared to less than 1% in Oklahoma City. Walking is gaining popularity in big cities, as is riding a bike. Telecommuting also is gaining ground, especially in tech-savvy communities like Portland and Austin.

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When commuters head to work also can vary widely. Detroiters can be found flooding the freeways long before the crack of dawn, according to a study of commuting habits in the 30 largest American cities, conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

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Lack of Fuel Limits Hyundai Hydrogen Car Sales

Sales could grow as refueling network expands across California.

by on May.20, 2015

The Hyundai fuel cell stack shown in front of the Tucson. The entire package fits under the hood where a gas engine would normally go.

A lack of a hydrogen fueling network is taking its toll on Hyundai’s fuel cell-powered Tucson model, according to the maker’s top U.S. executive.

That has forced the maker to turn away potential buyers who simply don’t live close enough to the handful of hydrogen pumps currently open to the public in Southern California. But Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America said the situation should improve over the next few years as a state-funded effort opens more hydrogen fueling stations.

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Hyundai has sold “under 100” of the Tucson FCV models since the fuel-cell vehicle was introduced last summer, said Zuchowski, during a chat with reporters following a drive of two of the maker’s other alternative-power vehicles, the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models.

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First Drive: 2016 Honda Pilot

A minivan by any other name…

by on May.20, 2015

The 2016 Honda Pilot can push up above $40,000 in high-trim models.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare famously asked. He was, of course, referring to a rose. But we might ask the same about the word, minivan. Once one of the most popular body styles on U.S. roads, sales have slumped sharply in recent years as style-conscious buyers have migrated to SUVs and crossovers.

Honda, however, has come up with an interesting solution. Give buyers a minivan and just call it something else. Officially, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a utility vehicle. But for all intents and purposes, it’s a minivan minus the sliding doors.

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First introduced in 2003 and redesigned six years later, the third-generation Honda Pilot is more than just an update. It adopts a much more stylish exterior, an even more lavish interior, and plenty of new safety and creature comfort technologies. What stays the same is Pilot’s focus on providing the sort of comfort, functionality and flexibility that, in years past, would have drawn buyers to conventional minivans, including Honda’s own Odyssey model.

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GM Puts Its Products on a Diet

Efficiency is part of performance, says product czar Reuss.

by on May.19, 2015

The 2016 Chevy Camaro lost 200 pounds.

Pressure to improve fuel economy in the face of tough new federal rules is forcing General Motors to put its future products on a diet – something that will also require a major change in its internal culture, said the maker’s global product development chief.

The new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is an example of this shift in direction, said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. In years past, each new product was heavier than the model it replaced. But the sixth-generation muscle car is 200 pounds lighter. Cutting mass, Reuss said, not only translates into a more fuel-efficient vehicle but one that is quicker and more nimble.

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“It still needs to be a wicked fast track car,” he said. But Reuss added that, “I include efficiency in performance.”

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First Drive: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Initial impressions suggest Chevy has pulled together a winner.

by on May.18, 2015

Still wearing camouflage, a handful of new 2016 Camaros launch down the Grand Prix track.

The early morning calm is shattered by the sound of the big V-8 firing up. Shifting into gear, I head out onto the winding road course that will, in two weeks’ time, play host to the annual Detroit Grand Prix. But on this particular Sunday morning it is serving as a test track for a first ride in the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

To provide some perspective on the new car, Chevy starts me out on a lap of the 2.35 mile circuit in the outgoing, fifth-generation pony car. If anything, they’ve set the bar high, however, using as comparison the high-end 2015 Camaro Z28. As I blast out of the pits and onto the straight, its raw torque sinks me deep into the car’s sports seats. I slam through the gears, accompanied by the sound of squealing tires and squeaking brakes, hammering through a series of tight corners before finally pulling back into the pits.

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Sweating more than you’d imagine on this cool Detroit morning, I jump out of the old car and into a new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro – all the while, wondering what they could have had in mind putting that Z28, with its 6.2-liter V-8, up against a “base” car with a far more modest, 3.6-liter V-6. But my questions are quickly answered as I head out for a second run on the Grand Prix course on.

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First Official Look: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

New pony car aims to remain king-of-the-hill.

by on May.16, 2015

Smaller yet roomier, lighter and more fuel-efficient but also more powerful, the 2016 Camaro.

After a steady build-up of leaks and teases, Chevrolet has finally pulled the wraps off the sixth-generation Camaro, a model that it claims is lighter, faster, more nimble and more fuel-efficient than the “pony car” it replaces.

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is also more technologically sophisticated, introducing a number of new features – such as a first-ever turbocharged engine — and expanding the availability of others, including a magnetic ride control suspension. And even more high-tech features and variants are set to follow, senior General Motors officials confided.

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The short-term goal is to keep the Camaro at the top of the muscle car heap. Despite the launch of an all-new version of the Ford Mustang last year, the Chevy coupe has been the segment’s number one seller for five consecutive years, though it has lost its lead during the first four months of 2015.

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Volkswagen Doubles Up for Worthersee

VW unveils Golf GTE Sport and GTI Clubsport during annual fest.

by on May.14, 2015

VW envisions a track-ready version of its GTE battery car making nearly 400 hp in plug-in form.

Hot hatch fans gather each year in the Austrian town of Worthersee for the latest news from Volkswagen AG. And the automaker isn’t about to disappoint them this year. In fact, it’s rolling out a pair of offerings at the event.

That includes both the 287-horsepower GTI Clubsport concept and the Golf GTE Sport, a carbon fiber-bodied, 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid. Think of the latter model as a zero-emissions race car, VW suggests.

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The two concept vehicles hint at the direction Volkswagen is taking as it continues to expand the award-winning “family” of Golf variants which already covers a broad range from basic econocar to high-performance hot hatch, with diesel and battery-car versions thrown into the mix.

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Four of Seven Midsize Utes Fare Poorly in Crash Tests

Only Nissan Murano takes IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating.

by on May.12, 2015

The Nissan Murano slams into a barrier as part of the IIHS small overlap crash test.

Only three of the seven midsize SUVs scored well in a series of front-end crash tests designed to simulate real-world accidents.

And only one of the 2015 models, the Nissan Murano, earned the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though the Ford Flex and Jeep Wrangler also passed the small overlap crash test designed to simulate what happens when a vehicle’s corner clips another car or a utility pole.

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The test has posed some serious challenges for manufacturers and has led to a number of vehicle redesigns since it was first used in 2012. In the small overlap test, 25% of a vehicle’s front end strikes a barrier at 40 mph.

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