Friday, August 30, 2013

Quick Glance: 2014 Toyota Corolla

Toyota brought its newly redesigned Corolla compact car to Atlanta for a sneak peek recently, touting the all-new styling and roominess among other features on the 2014 model.
Corolla was the nation's 10th-best-selling vehicle in July (and that's the outgoing 2013 model), according to news reports.
It has remained exceptionally popular over the course of more than 40 years on the market.
However, it's never been known as the most exciting or dramatic vehicle.
You want good, basic transportation?
Get a Corolla, the thinking goes.
But Toyota hopes to change that with this model, adding what it calls more of an "emotional" connection with the vehicle and car buyers.
Almost four of 10 Toyotas sold in the U.S. since 1968 have been Corollas, nearly 10 million total. So brand recognition is not a problem.
And reliability hasn't been much of a problem either. About 4.5 million Corollas are still being driven.
The new Corolla is half an inch lower and was lengthened by 3 inches on a wheelbase that's 4 inches longer, Toyota says. At the front, there's a large lower grille and more of an aggressive appearance for the headlights, which are standard energy-efficient LEDs.
The Corolla offers more interior room - the longer wheelbase and extra length of the car went mostly into the back seat, where there now are 3 inches more legroom, Toyota says.
 Toyota also said driving dynamics have improved on the Corolla.
We didn't get a chance to take one out for a spin, but hope to do so soon.
But suffice it to say that sporty driving has never been the Corolla's strongsuit, and it's possible that most Corolla buyers haven't cared about that and won't care about it.
As long as it remains good transportation, with a more modern styling, it should continue to sell well.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013 Honda Fit: A Most Intelligent Choice

You know that hotel chain with the TV commercials that say you become smart just by staying in their rooms?
You could call the 2013 Honda Fit the automotive equivalent of that.
When you drive the Fit, you just feel like you're a little smarter, because you're spending only pennies on gasoline, getting a very reliable vehicle and enjoying a big dose of practicality, despite its small size.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

3 Great Choices for Back to School Vehicles

Looking for great choices for back-to-school vehicles for a college student?
Check out these selections, which can be had relatively inexpensively as used models.


The Mazda3 comes as a sporty sedan or a five-door hatch, with the latter version offering 43.8 cubic feet of cargo space for stuff that students haul. Along with its sporty driving characteristics, it offers terrific fuel economy from the late 2000s models, garnering about 28 mpg highway from the four-cylinder engine.


The Toyota Corolla is one of the standard bearers among small cars, and with good reason. It has an outstanding reliability record (with only a few exceptions) and gets great gas mileage.


Continuing the theme of reliable vehicles with good gas mileage, the Focus makes sense on many levels, and can be had for a reasonable price for late 2000s model year versions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 Toyota Prius v: A Victory for Green, Family Transportation

You've always wanted to go green when it comes to your ride. But you've got a family, featuring a spouse or partner, a kid or two and maybe even a pet.
A compact hybrid won't work, nor will a big hybrid SUV - it's too large and costly.
So how about a Toyota Prius v?
The Prius v is the larger, more practical sibling to the Prius, the most famous hybrid.
A couple of years ago, Toyota realized that as much as people loved the Prius, it was a little too cramped for some folks.
Enter the Prius v, with more room for people and cargo, but still with great fuel economy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nissan Touts Success of All-Electric Leaf

Representatives from Nissan recently visited Atlanta to share updates on the automaker’s Leaf all-electric vehicle, including the fact that the company has sold its 100,000th Leaf to a metro Atlanta woman.
The Leaf has been on the market since late 2010, and has posted steadily rising sales since, Nissan officials said.
"We expect demand to keep growing as the charging infrastructure develops – and we remain 100 percent committed to zero-emission technology for the long term," Renault-Nissan Alliance Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a news release. Renault-Nissan has sold more zero-emission vehicles than all other major automakers combined.
The buyer of the 100,000th Leaf was identified by Nissan as Allison Howard, a graduate student at Kennesaw State University. "It just drives perfectly," Howard said in a news release. "It's so cool. I love it. The fact that it's all electric and I don't have to spend money on gas as a college student, that's great."
Nissan officials said that Atlanta is one of the Leaf’s top U.S. markets, along with cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. Buyers in Georgia receive tax credits that substantially lower the cost of the vehicle, as well as the ability to use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in the metro area’s crowded roads, even when the driver is alone.
The Leaf is a plug-in car that gets its charge from charging stations or wall outlets. It stores energy in a lithium-ion battery, and can be "topped off" at any charge point. They can also be fully recharged overnight at the Leaf owner’s home, garage or in a parking deck.
Nissan officials said the automaker is working with government authorities, utility companies and others to expand charging stations that would let drivers recharge their cars from zero to 80 percent capacity in less than 30 minutes.
Nissan offers a smart phone app that allows users to see where the nearest charging stations are.
The company says Leaf has 75-80 miles of range from a four-hour charge at 240 volts.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2014 BMW M6 Makes a Powerful Statement

When you first get a glance at the BMW M6, it's natural for your mind to start, well, racing with anticipation.
And even though the actual behind the wheel experience might not be an exact match with what you first envisioned, this car is still quite a handful.
The M6 comes as a coupe, which the tester was, a four-door Gran Coupe or a soft-top convertible.
Under the hood is a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine that makes an astounding 560 horsepower and 500 pounds-feet of torque. It is linked to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, but a six-speed manual is offered as an option.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Ford Sued over MyFordTouch Problems

The Center for Defensive Driving has filed a lawsuit against Ford alleging that the automaker's MyFordTouch infotainment system is faulty and that the company willfully hid flaws and touted the system as being fully operational. The nonprofit organization is asking for more than $5 million in damages.

The class-action suit says that Ford persisted in selling vehicles equipped with MyFordTouch, despite Ford CEO Alan Mulally publicly saying that the system was flawed.

The group said it leased a Ford F-150 Lariat pickup featuring MyFord Touch in February. By July 1, the suit says, the system had failed 27 times. The group then said it sought for Ford to take back the vehicle, and Ford allegedly declined and referred the group to a Sync website for troubleshooting.

"The system has been an unmitigated disaster for Ford," news reports say the lawsuit alleges. "The Internet is replete with complaints from Ford owners who have experienced significant problems with the system."

Ford has seen its quality ratings plunge as a result of problems with MyFordTouch, with Consumer Reports rating it No. 26 among 27 brands in reliability late last year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ford to Offer F-150 with Natural Gas Capability

Ford announced that it will offer a version of its 2014 model year F-150 pickup truck with the ability to run on compressed natural gas, which the manufacturer says will be the only half-ton pickup on the market with that capability.

The 2014 Ford F-150 with a 3.7-liter V6 engine will be available this fall with separate fuel systems that allow it to operate on either natural gas or gasoline.

Ford says F-150s equipped with the natural gas package can achieve more than 750 miles on one tank of gas, depending on the tank size selected. The Ford F-150 averages 23 mpg on the highway.

“Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions,” Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager, said in a news release. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months.”

Ford says natural gas engine preparation from the factory costs approximately $315. Customers then must choose a Ford "qualified vehicle modifier" to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors, which costs an additional $7,500 - $9,500, depending on fuel tank capacity.

Ford says converting a truck to natural gas capability can provide stability against fluctuating fuel prices and cut vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in some parts of the country, representing a significant savings over unleaded regular fuel, Ford said. The national average for unleaded regular fuel is $3.66 per gallon.

The company said that in the next year, it will offer eight commercial vehicles with the natural gas option.

Ford says it is on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG-prepped vehicles this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2012.