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Less Than Perfect: Consumer Reports Worst Four Vehicles

Magazine flogs cellar dwelling 2015 models.

by on Sep.02, 2015

The Chrysler 200 was rated one of the four worst vehicles in 2015 by Consumer Reports.

Lost in all the fanfare surrounding Consumer Reports awarding a perfect score to the Tesla Model S in its recent listing of best vehicles is the fact that there is a bottom of the list and the cellar dwellers may be surprising.

The four worst vehicles for 2015 are: Chrysler 200, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus 200t/300h and Kia Sedona. The magazine separated these four vehicles from the pack in its annual analysis of new vehicle releases.

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The 200 may be the most disappointing to see on the list as it’s substantially better than the 200 it replaces. However, once you get past the dramatically improved styling and quality improvements, buyers are saddled with a “raspy” four cylinder engine, a balky transmission and a “klutzy” handling package. Editors also noted the back seat is not large enough to be comfortable for adults. (more…)

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.

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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.


The 14 Worst Cars of the Decade

Vehicles that make us scratch our heads and ask: Why?

by on Jul.22, 2014

About to sink without a trace: the Coda battery sedan didn't last much longer than the media test drive.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to the latest cars, trucks and crossovers. Today’s vehicles are, to the large degree, better than ever.  Intense competition translates into more striking and creative designs, improved fuel economy, better performance and far more features.

That said, a few stinkers still slip through, models that have you wondering who was on vacation when they came up for approval. We have our own list of lemons. And by that we don’t necessarily mean they had reliability issues, but that they were plagued by bad designs, poor performance, minimal utility, unjustifiable price tags or, yes, quality problems.

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We raised the question with a number of our colleagues to see what products landed on their list and found that a few, like the Pontiac Aztek and Acura ZDX, came up time and time again. Others were surprising. Indeed, some of our favorite products were listed at losers by media colleagues – and vice versa. So, we expect some of our readers will also question our judgment, perhaps our sanity. But here’s our list of the 14 worst cars of the past decade. (more…)

Consumer Reports Names 10 Worst Values on the Road

Nissan Armada claims a dubious honor.

by on Dec.26, 2013

The Nissan Armada had the highest cost per mile in the Consumer Reports study.

Buying a new car has always had its emotional element, especially when it comes to factors like design – but there’s also the rational side to the purchase equation where one tries to make dollars and sense out of what is typically among the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make.

The folks at Consumer Reports did the numbers, working in such data as fuel economy, price and reliability to come up with projected operating costs. In turn, it has come up with what it has dubbed the 10 worst values on the road.  At the top of that list?  The massive Nissan Armada SUV, a full-size beast that delivers a minimal 13 miles per gallon and, according to the non-profit magazine, costs a whopping $1.20 a mile to operate when everything is factored in.

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A relatively low price is no assurance that a car is a good value, however.  CR also has harsh words for the Nissan Versa which may be $1,500 cheaper than the rival Honda Fit but, in the end delivers far less for the money, the magazine’s auto editor Rik Paul declaring that the Honda subcompact “provides almost twice the value.”


Mercedes ML is the “Ideal Vehicle,” Says New Study

Ford best maker at targeting customers – despite quality issues.

by on Aug.15, 2013

The Mercedes-Benz ML was the highest-scoring model in the new Ideal Vehicle study.

If any single vehicle nails what American motorists want most, it’s the Mercedes-Benz ML luxury crossover, or so says the latest in a series of annual studies by California-based AutoPacific, Inc., designed to identify the most ideal vehicles on the market.

The Ideal Vehicle study emphasizes what industry types like to call “things-gone-right,” rather than “things-gone-wrong.” Motorists, it suggests, are willing to suffer through the occasional defect if a vehicle delivers enough surprise-and-delight features such as great design, good interior space, unexpected performance or the latest in high-tech equipment.

According to that formula, the top premium brand is Porsche, with Chrysler’s Ram taking the lead among mainstream brands. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. vehicles led in four individual product segments, more than any other brand, noted AutoPacific founder and lead analyst George Peterson.

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“That means they are doing the best at targeting customers’ needs,” Peterson said, despite the hits Ford has taken in recent quality-based studies. The Detroit maker has had some well-publicized problems with its Sync and MyFordTouch infotainment technologies, while small back seats in models like the Focus and Fusion sedans have also generated criticism.


The Worst Cars on the Road?

Mercedes, Smart and Nissan cited, but Detroit offerings dominate Forbes’ list.

by on Apr.28, 2011

The worst car on the road? The Mercedes-Benz S550 takes its lumps in a new study.

By just about any metric you choose – from fuel economy to long-term reliability – today’s automotive offerings continue to get better and better.  But there are still a few clunkers.

And Forbes magazine has come up with a list of what it claims are the worst cars on the road, using data from six key studies – covering matters such as safety and cost-of-ownership.

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The list includes a few surprises, such as the vaunted Mercedes-Benz S-Class, as well as some poorly-reviewed offerings, notably the Smart fortwo.  But Forbes reserves the brunt of its wrath for Detroit, which overwhelmingly dominates the list with models like the Cadillac Escalade.

The significant exception is Ford, which didn’t place a single model on the list of dubious honor.