Episode 868 – NADA Fights CAFE Rules, RIP Chevy Avalanche, Mustang May Go Global

April 13th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:23

The National Auto Dealers Association just released a study that says millions of new-car buyers could be priced out of the market because of the new fuel-economy mandates. General Motors announced it will discontinue the Chevy Avalanche after the 2013 model year. Word on the street is the next-generation Ford Mustang will meet EU pedestrian crash standards, which could open the door to global markets. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about the Chevrolet Volt and how it’s become a political punching bag.

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I don’t know about you but so far this Friday the 13th is going pretty good for me. I’m Craig Cole, this is Autoline Daily, and now the news.

NADA FIGHTS FUEL ECONOMY RULES
The National Auto Dealers Association just released a study that says millions of new-car buyers could be priced out of the market because of new fuel-economy mandates from the Obama Administration. Automakers must achieve a fleet average of 54.5 MPG by 2025. The EPA and NHTSA say that will add about $3,000 to the cost of new vehicles. As a result, the NADA says by 2025 nearly 7 million consumers will not be able to qualify for loans to purchase a new car.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Speaking of sticker prices . . . automakers like to present themselves as open and transparent to the consumer. But some of them sure play around with some funny numbers, like prices. A lot of automakers don’t include the destination charge in the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. It’s a trick to try and make the price look better than it is. And some make horsepower claims that are not SAE certified. That’s a trick to make the horsepower number look better than it is. And when it comes to their claim for the coefficient of drag? Well, there’s no way any consumer can ever verify what they’re claiming, so take that with a grain of salt. And all this makes me wish the car companies would clean up their act when presenting their numbers to consumers.

GM DISCONTINUES THE AVALANCHE
General Motors announced it will discontinue the Chevy Avalanche after the 2013 model year. It was introduced in 2001 and has gone on to sell more than 580,000 units. The Avalanche went through a couple of designs but it wasn’t enough to keep sales up. The truck reached the height of its popularity in 2003, selling more than 93,000 units but last year only about 20,000 were sold.


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BATTERY CORRECTION
Speaking of GM, yesterday we reported that a lithium-ion battery exploded at GM’s test lab. That prompted GM to demand a correction. It wants us to tell you that gasses, which vented from a battery undergoing testing ignited in a closed chamber. GM says incorrect information, as we reported yesterday, is giving these batteries a bad rap.

MASERATI TO BOOST PRODUCTION
One of Sergio Marchionne’s crown jewels has some big goals to meet in the next few years. Maserati wants to boost annual production to 50,000 units by 2015. To hit that target it’s introducing three new models in three different market segments. But it’s experiencing some growing pains. Maserati’s factory in Modena, located in Northern Italy, cannot handle that much volume – and it can’t be expanded, either – so the company is moving into a former Bertone plant Fiat acquired more than two years ago. The plant will also build an un-named model from Alfa Romeo.

FORD MUSTANG MAY GO GLOBAL
What’s more American than baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet? Arguably the Ford Mustang! This iconic ponycar is fast approaching its 50th birthday, and if the internet buzz is true, Dearborn could be taking it global. Word on the street is the next-generation ‘Stang will meet EU pedestrian crash standards, which could open the door to global markets. All I can say is it’s about time! I think this is a vehicle that will DEFINITELY find buyers wherever it’s sold, and rumors are swirling it could be offered in far-flung markets like the UK, Australia and even Japan. Around the world there’s already a massive gray-market for the car. Why not make it official? If they do take it global, they’d better offer a four-cylinder engine for better fuel economy. Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost unit would be pretty fun in a smaller, lighter Mustang – with independent rear suspension.

Besides “erroneous” reports about batteries exploding, the Chevy Volt sure has come under a lot of criticism in some circles. More on that right after this.

AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week the topic is the Chevrolet Volt and how it’s become a political punching bag. Joining John for this show is Joe White from the Wall Street Journal, Gary Witzenburg, a freelance journalist, and Manny Lopez, the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. And here’s a clip from that show.

We also have a lot to say about the electric car market in general and you can watch that show right now on our website at Autoline.tv.

And don’t forget to join us tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time for another installment of RoundAbout. As always, the crew will be covering some of the weirdest auto news from the past week . . . and beyond.

And that wraps up another week of automotive reports. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

70 Comments to “Episode 868 – NADA Fights CAFE Rules, RIP Chevy Avalanche, Mustang May Go Global”

  1. EdK Says:

    The reason the Volt isn’t selling well is because it costs so much, even with the subsidy of $7500. People want to save gas because they want to save money and the cost of the Volt doesn’t square with that. And some people resent the fact that any electric or hybrid is cheating all of us due to getting away without having to pay their fair share of gas tax to keep up the roads that they are still using.

  2. NannieState Says:

    Market forces should dictate the success or failure of EV’s, not the government. The forced “rush to EV’s” is creating the Volt’s media nightmare.

  3. Jim Thykeson Says:

    We’re closing in on $5 per.! That Volt thing is looking better as the price goes up. These ‘big-oi’ criminals aren’t going to give you any alternatives, as long as, theres one last, drop of that gasoline stuff left. GM knew this when they designed this car. Why, and how, you say. Wheres the CNG?, the ‘hydrogen fuel-cell? They knew these ‘goons’ would stay with gas till the gov’t. forces them to change. This could be as easy as 8-track to cassette to CD to MP-3, but ‘big-oil’ won’t allow that progression, so therefore the ‘Volt’.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #3: And where are the diesels that are conspicuously missing from the USA? Why? Why does the rest of the world get diesel options on vehicles that are designed and built here? I would love to know the truth.

  5. MW Says:

    RIP Avalance? Well, what about the Chevy lineup of full sized trucks? When is the new Silverado coming out?

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #4,
    Not many car companies seem to want to make diesels that comply with U.S. pollution standards. VW is the only company that sells high mpg diesels in the U.S. MB sells a diesel E-Class, but it is pricey, and the engine is too big to get that great of fuel economy.

    Should the U.S. adopt more “diesel friendly” standards, such as those in Europe? Maybe, for a lot of areas, but I suspect the Euro diesels are not clean enough for certain areas, like L.A., if they make up 40% of the fleet as in Europe.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #5,
    The next gen Silverado/Sierra will arrive next year, probably as 2014 model year.

  8. Glien Says:

    Though the NADA knocks the Obama Administration for the future CAFE, they need to remember that Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo all signed on. Only VW objected.

  9. nontrans Parent Says:

    I sell cars for a living, and I too wish manufacturers would make prices more easily understandable. For an industry that states things are a lot better than they used to be…that’s still not much of a benchmark. Another thing they should address are fuel economy ratings – they make things look better than they are too. It seems as though the industry takes everyone to be a fool, but the public is getting wise, and good for them.

  10. C-Tech Says:

    The Avalanche was a full-sized truck answer to a question no one asked. Its convertable bed basically was too complex to be useful and you are better off with a 4 door truck or an extended cab for less money. If you need a long bed truck, you bought one. The novelty has worn off. Cadillac killed off its version a few years ago.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    @ #8
    True, I believe behind the scenes a compromise will be made after the election.

  12. Jon M. Says:

    Hmmm, you’re suggesting a Mustang with a 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine and an independent rear suspension. I’m thinking that would be more of a Probe. Oh, but wait, Mazda and Ford are no longer in cahoots with each other. Besides, Ford thought better of that idea back then too.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I know one person who has an Avalanche, and loves it, but the market is limited. Avalanche is already one generation behind Silverado/Sierra, so no wonder it is going away.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #11,
    Probe was front drive. A four cylinder turbo Mustang would be more like the SVO of the 80′s. That one didn’t sell too well, but it was pricey, but the four cylinder “ecoboost” turbo should be a good fit in today’s Mustang, especially if the next generation loses a few pounds.

  15. john787 Says:

    If I were GM, I would also demand that the truth be told. What has made it hard for GM is the media being a circus run by the clowns who are more interested in entertaining, than imparting factual news to the audience.

    The totally perverse attitude of the American media to denigrate anything developed, designed and built in the USA shows stupidity and ignorance, all of which gets heaps of praise, publicity and cheerleaders.

    Many anti-GM media would love to see GM go out of business, and that’s why there is so much crap out there. When is the media going to pick on some of these foreign companies…..for example, the Leaf who’s sales have almost come to a halt. If you want more, send me an email.

  16. john787 Says:

    BTW, I don’t work for GM. I’m just an auto enthusiast who is well informed and looking out for American jobs!

    Have a good day!

  17. Duke Says:

    @2: You remind me very much of my cousin who visiting us a couple weeks ago. He seemed close to obsessive in bringing up his thoughts on “the state” of this country. He even used the “nanny state” moniker several times adding that he was tired as hell of how so many people in this country feel that they are “entitled” (ranging from unemployment insurance, unions, and all of the conservative echoed talking points) and continued on and on by railing on how the free market is the only method of turning everything around. He even touched on EV’s. “Absolute hogwash,” he said, ” . . . those EV’s and the gov’t trying to push them down our throats.”

    After several days of his rants, I asked him how much farm subsidy he receives annually, and has received over the years – where our government has paid him large sums of money to NOT work/plant any crops (makes unemployment ins look like mere pocket change).

    I then asked him how was his “subsidized income” is any different than any of those “entitlements” that he had been ranting about for three days. Was it that his entitlements are justifiable (good) – but entitlements of everyone else – are bad, bad, bad?

    How can he espouse the “free market”, how it should determine what we need in the market, and yet defend the handsome monetary subsidy that he receives? (farm subsidies cost the US taxpayer roughly $20 billion in direct payments to farmers each year and another $12 billion in increased prices for food).

    The definition of a free market is after all – a market without ANY subsidies (including all corporate subsidies (“corporate nannies”)!

    For instance: the subsidy to the oil companies (which was increased during the last administration for times when oil was below $55/barrel) . . . why are conservatives against enforcing its guideline, or even repealing it now that the barrel price is twice that amount?

    The Chevy Volt is the ONLY one that makes sense to me – mainly because it solves the range problem. The Leaf, or any other plug-in, is actually only good for those who compute short distances – making it a single purpose vehicle – and infinitely MORE expensive and harder to justify its cost. Unless one never ventures farther away from home than its range . . . you have got to have another vehicle for THAT purpose.

    It would seem that when one adds the cost of having a minimum of two vehicles (one short range and one long range) . . . the Volt looks pretty darn good.

    With population growth projections (ie, demand – when you consider emerging nations), and even with synthetic fuels possibly looming on the horizon that might help offset the continued increased cost of obtaining the more expensive fossil fuels (ie., supply), does anyone actually think that the profit motives (not based on supply/demand) for energy are not going to continue to drive up the costs in the future? As Forbes recently pointed out, Wall Street speculators drive up the cost of a barrel by about $23/barrel currently (and pocket it).

    NADA’s projections on affordability of mandated fuel efficient cars in 13 years . . . you have got to be pretty darn naive to even accept that as a legitimate concern. What a crock! Unless we can get our energy sources under control, the excessive profit-taking will gobble up their projection annually – long before 2025.

    EV’s – too early? No doubt the conservatives of the late 1800’s, who thought the same thing about the horseless carriage, said the same thing. It’s about fear. Fear of change – something conservatives have a great deal of. But the world is going to change, no one can stop it or even slow it down, and guess what? The rate of change is actually going to speed up.

    The question really is: are we going to get smart about dealing with it?

    That may entail ending subsidies for those that don’t need them and subsidizing only those technologies which may prove to be critical in the future. And if they are making huge profits – do they need subsidizing? Dealing with the demand of energy . . . does anyone really think that is not going to be a problem for a long time to come?

  18. Brett Says:

    The NADA argument is fallacious, IMO. The question is actually where is the extra money from the consumer’s pocket going to go? Into the coffers of the dealerships and manufacturers or into the coffers of the petrochemical companies? Cheap petrochemical energy’s days are OVER. Who would you rather see get that money is the question not being asked here.

    With regard to the Volt and EVs in general, THE ECONOMY STILL SUCKS. People without economic security are not going to indulge themselves in the new technology at a higher price point unless there are compelling economic paybacks for it.

    It isn’t “government meddling”. It is the way things work. Would we even have seatbelts right now if the evil government had not mandated these and other safety appliances? “Safety Doesn’t Sell!” was the mantra in the ’50s and early ’60s.

    We wouldn’t have the mileage and emissions performance we have today without evil, government-mandated engine management standard or CAFE, or emissions regulations. I can only imagine what a toxic Hell most metro areas would be like.

    We need to get off petroleum-based energy. The evil, meddling government is trying to help nudge our semi-informed, short-attention-span, fairly wrong-headed society in that general direction.

    Takeup of EVs like the Volt and the Leaf would be higher if people had more discretionary funds rattling around in their pocket. There’s a shit-load of unemployed people still and semi-employed people working two or three crappy jobs just to keep a roof over their head and their kids fed. If the economy ever recovers, there’ll be more EVs sold.

  19. Brett Says:

    #15
    john787,

    I’ve always been a “Ford guy”, but I’ve never held ill-will towards GM. I’ve been frustrated for several decades watching their decline. They made some outstanding vehicles in the ’50s and ’60s, but very few since.

    I’m delighted to see their recovery and will continue to cheerlead our original “Big Three” going forward.

  20. Dan Says:

    The GM truck plants will be re tooled later this year for the new Silverado.

  21. motorman Says:

    #4 Diesel does not meet the NO CARBON based fuels edict of this administration.

  22. Jon M. Says:

    @ #14 Kit

    Yep, I was just being facetious to make the point of what kind of idea I thought that would be akin to. I get the point Autoline is making by saying that; but in my opinion, a four cylinder (again) in a Mustang would just be too out of character for the car. That’s one of the reasons the Pinto-based Mustang of the 70s was so bad. The four cylinder option lasted too long, and even in SVO guise just wasn’t the same. Let’s hope Ford doesn’t go down that road again with an otherwise all American muscle car classic.

  23. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    I think there is a good possibility there will be an ecoboost 4cyl in the next Mustang. I do not think it will ruin the car though. If Ford follows a similar strategy to the rest of the ecoboosts they have recently announced it will be an MPG option at a premium not the base engine. Expect it to be around the same HP as the base V6 with a 1500-2000 dollar premium and about 3-5 MPG better on the average.(best guess)

  24. HtG Says:

    Wasn’t the original idea of the Mustang to sell a lightweight car? Make the 50th anniversary edition weigh 2500lbs with a turbo four please, Mr. McNamara. err sorry, Mr. Mulally.

  25. C-Tech Says:

    The original Mustang that started the category wasn’t even designed to be the high horsepower muscle car it turned into, so it is ironic (to me) to hear all the concern over the Mustang returning to its roots – a fun, economical, four seat, stylish, American coupe. As I recall, perhaps someone with the inside story at Ford can confirm, the Ford Probe almost became the Mustang III.

  26. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > NADA FIGHTS FUEL ECONOMY RULES

    Somebody has to push back, instead of us being a nation of sheep and accepting whatever the government tells us to do. Go Go NADA!

  27. C-Tech Says:

    @ #21
    I believe the current administration’s policy is a multi-fuel strategy that reduces our dependence on oil.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #25,
    Were it not for the government, we wouldn’t have seat belts, and you wouldn’t be able to breath the air and survive in LA and some other cities. The car companies, and now NADA, say “it can’t be done,” but then they do it.

    As far as the fuel economy requirements, yeah, it will probably result in fewer people using 5500 pound SUV’s and pickups to drive one person around town.

    BTW, the 54.5 mpg CAFE number correlates to about 39 mpg combined EPA under the current system.

  29. dcars Says:

    Just a thought, can the “perennial also ran” Malibu be the next canceled model by GM? The New Impala is targeted at the same demographic and the New RWD Caprice taking over the premium larger car segment, it seams like there isn’t much room for the Malibu any more.

  30. Lex Says:

    I believe the only way the Domestic OEM’s will be able to meet the 54.5 MPG CAFE rule by 2025 is to bring back a very Aero Chyrsler Type “K” Car. A no frill ultra light weight vehicle with a less that 2.0 Litre turbo 3 or 4 cyclinder power plant.

    We in the US will be forced into European or Asian “A” and “B” segment vehicles by our own Federal Government. I agree with many of my fellow Autoline Addicts that EV’s are just too expensive for the majority of American Households.

    The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf need to be priced around $25K max to have any chance of meeting projected production / sales goals and consumer acceptance. The payback period on EV’s has been estimated at 10 years. Consumers can not wait up to ten years to get paid back on buying an EV.

    I would love to see both Mark Reuss, Alan Mulally or Carlos Ghoen go on “Under Cover Boss” either at an automotive production plant or a Mom & Pop dealership to see what people are really saying about what they produce. I believe this would be an eye openning experience.

  31. RonE Says:

    #26, Re: …54.5 mpg CAFE number correlates to about 39 mpg combined EPA under the current system.

    I took a road trip four days ago (400+miles) and averaged 39.8 mpg in my 2012 Ford Focus.

    That’s with the car’s computer figures and mine using a calculator.

    I did the same trip in February of this year and only averaged 36.5 mpg. I don’t know why the difference except it was cold weather w/some rain.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #29,
    Were your trips on the interstate at 70+ mph, or at lower speed? That is good mileage, if it was high speed driving on the interstate.

    FWIW, the only current cars that have 39 mpg or better “combined” EPA numbers are hybrids. Fusion hybrid gets 39, and Camry hybrid 41. Prius and Prius C are 50, and Insight 42.

    The best non-hybrid is the smart fortwo at 36 mpg, and that barely qualifies as a car.

    Golf and Jetta TDI get 34 mpg combined, but I don’t know how diesel will be calculated for CAFE. It takes more crude to make diesel fuel than gas, so I’d think a diesel’s numbers might be adjusted downward.

    I’ve said this before here, but why doesn’t anyone take aerodynamics more seriously on cars with conventional power trains? Yeah, some people don’t like the looks of a Prius, Volt, or Insight, but they have considerably less drag than other similar size cars, which helps highway gas mileage significantly, regardless of the power train used.

  33. RonE Says:

    #30, For the record, just about the whole trip was interstate type driving. Practically no more than 5 miles city driving. When we arrived at our destination, our hosts hauled us around to different events in the city using their car.

    The speeds were 70 mph on a KY Parkway, 70 on I-64 in IN and in IL, 60 or 65.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just saw MotorWeek, and they did a comparison of “subcompact” cars. Guess which won? The oldest one of the bunch, the Fit. It seems that Honda has a consistent winner with that car, and I cringe at the thought of its future replacement, given the way Honda has screwed things up things lately.

    The other car tested on the show was the new, 4 cylinder turbo 3 Series. They commented a little about the engine sounding diesel-like at low speed, or some such thing, but it performed very well, and got almost 30 mpg in their test. I suspect a 4 cylinder turbo Mustang will suit the people who now buy V6 Mustangs quite well, if the Ford turbo 4 is anyway near as good as the BMW turbo 4. I suspect that, unlike the BMW, the Ford will use regular gas.

  35. cwolf Says:

    Kit,
    I don’t pace a lot of faith in MW,but agree with their call on the Fit;that is for the avg. driver. However the tranny misses a gear for long distant driving and the seats get a bit uncomfortable after about 45 min. Still a top-notch car. For distances,I still think the Sonic can’t be beat. It isn’t a hwy gas sipper,either,but it is the most comfortable of the bunch and quiet. Some note the Sonic costs more,but again, if you think it is only 1/16 or less more,then it has a better perspective.

    During the week,I also learned more about the Mazda CX-5. Seems its Skyactiv engine was evaluated at 55 mph when est mpg’s. The higher the rpm’s go,beyond 55, the fuel economy drops off quite a bit. For me,that’s a downer!

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    cwolf,
    I don’t put a lot of faith in MW either, but in this case, the way they ranked the cars seemed to make sense. I’ve driven a Fit, and sort of considered it when I bought my MINI. Yeah, the Fit does need a taller top gear. The engine just seems too “busy” at highway speed, and highway mpg would suffer with the short gearing. It handles pretty well, though, and has a lot of usable space for its size.

    I haven’t driven a Sonic, but will probably see what it’s like this summer. Almost everyone says it’s the quietest car in its class, which makes it a good road car. CR got very good highway mileage with the Sonic, 38 mpg for the 1.8 automatic, and 39 for the 1.4 turbo manual. They got only 37 for a Fit manual. The Fit did better than both Sonics in their city test, though.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s a manual Fit. I haven’t driven an automatic, and didn’t look up CR’s mpg for the automatic.

  38. HtG Says:

    since what happens at Fukushima’s reactor affects cars in Japan, I’m posting this…

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/04/fukushima-dai-ichi-no-4-an-earthquake-before-spent-fuel-rods-are-moved-to-safe-storage-would-be-the-end.html

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #36,
    That’s kind of scary, if it’s accurate, and there is probably no reason to think it is not accurate.

  40. HtG Says:

    Here’s a video of one type of electric steering. Notice how the electric motor separates the steering column. A local service manager tipped me off about this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=fvwp&v=Af93LDq_pjw

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just finished watching the MW piece on subcompacts and my question is: WTF happened to the Fiesta, just a year ago when it came out, it was touted as America’s answer to both Asian and European subcompacts, well, I don’t know what ranking this MW gave it but I’ll be it was 5th just ahead of the Yaris and the Versa. Cwolf don’t get too excited about the Daewoo Sonic, it just came out and it has to prove itself, just look at what has happened to the Fiesta. BTW they did not include a Mazda 2 or a 500, I guess MW figures they’re really not relevant in the market.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I missed the very first of the MW show, where they talked about the “bottom three,” but I’d guess that the Fiesta lost lots of points for its cramped rear seat. Also, did they say anything about the transmission? Like some other people, they may not have liked the way it behaves at low speed.

    As far as the Sonic, time will tell how reliable it turns out, but the car seems to work pretty well, when new.

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit in these MW comparisons they don’t even mention the “bottom” of the group, I’m assuming the Versa came in last but who knows, I looked at their website and no mention of the bottom 3 either. They did test the Fiesta sedan which was not as well received as the hatch, but since they had to meet the $16k cutoff, the Fiesta hatch is more expensive than that, if I were running Honda I’d only make minor changes to the Fit and not mess it up like they did with the Civic.

  44. cwolf Says:

    pedro,not many reviewers like the automatics in the Fiesta ar Focus,but the stick could have been included. I’ve driven all of the small Fords and GMs,but I can’t even find a 500 at any dealer! Have any of you seen the Fiat at dealers? All reports have good things to say about the Mazda 2 for the money. It lacks insulation of the Ford,so noise is more comparable to a Hyundai.

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf if you watch the MW report. someone actually mentions that the H/K duo have a pleasant highway ride, I tell you Honda and Toyota better wake up quickly because H/K is actually making better stuff than they are. Toyota did nothing to bring up the Yaris from where it was, except now it is more expensive but lags behind the competition in everything except mpg’s. Even diehard Toyota nuts are openly admitting their best stuff came in the 90′s.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #42,
    I saw, and drove a 500 a few months ago in Melbourne, Florida. The dealer had only been open a few days.

    Also, I drove an automatic Focus a while back. To me, the only thing I didn’t like about the transmission, was that it was difficult to drive smoothly at parking lot speeds. It seemed like just desensitizing the throttle at low speed would help, but also, the transmission seemed to “hunt” between the bottom two gears. I liked the transmission at higher speeds. It made quick, rev-matched shifts, both up and down.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you ever see the youtube videos of scottykilmer, mechanic, you will never buy a new car, plasticky, over complicated computers on wheels, that is all they are. Buy a Toyota from the 90′s and just keep it running.

  48. cwolf Says:

    IMO,since GM and Ford came late to the small car party,their trannys have quirks than need to be addressed.For me,slow speeds are never an issue so any small Ford or GM cars could be suitable. I find it hard to reason why anyone would want a b-segment when the next size up gets similar mpgs,more comfortable and roomier for only a few K more.

  49. cwolf Says:

    pedro,how many of the cars you comment on have you test driven? I have discovered the more cars I drive for myself,the more I differ with reviewers and mags. and consider them as just another opinion.

    These guys drive cars, hard in straight line time trials and blast around cones and curves, that are not intended to be driven like a racer. Sure,some of the data gained is helpful,but to then rate a grouping of same segment cars in these conditions is misleadind.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t, I simply read and watch online as much as I can, I used to ‘test” cars when they first cam out at dealers, but really that says nothing about how a car will be in the long haul, ALL new cars drive nice and smooth and quiet, specially doing 35 mph on some side streets around the neighborhoods where the dealer’s at. I fiond it ridiculous that they will test out a “city” car and then take it out to the highway and complain that it is not good for a long trip, Jeez, no kidding, it is a “city” car after all.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like drive cars that are new to market, just to see what they are loke. I drove a smart, thinking I might buy one, but the awful transmission quickly changed my mind. I ended up buying the MINI which I use mainly as a “city car,” but I’d be ok driving it anywhere, as long as I only had one passenger. I suspect I’d be ok with driving about any of today’s “B” cars on a road trip, as long as they had AC and cruise control. The MINI is more “fun” than most of them, the interior is nicer, and I like the connection with the past, weak though it may be in the case of the current MINI. That is part of why I bought the MINI.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That said, if I were buying a small car with the idea of keeping it for 300K miles, I’d probably get a Fit, or maybe a Yaris, even though everyone says the Yaris sucks. I still think Toyota and Honda have the best small cars sold in the U.S. for those who want to keep the same car a long time.

  53. cwolf Says:

    I’m not sure just how many b-seg owners expect their car to reach the 300k mark;150k seems more doable. Only time will tell if these lil’scooters were designed to go the distance. The MINI may be the exception,yet for its price tag,it better last. I’m not sure the MINI buyer will use it for the same purposes as the less expensive and basic transportation models,like a Yaris ,Fit or Fiesta.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A friend has a much maligned C segment car, a Pontiac Sunfire, and it is doing well at 180K miles. A lot of that is highway driving, but still, the car is doing well, and, with luck, could make to 300K. I think my friend intends to find out how long it will last, within reason. Yeah, the B seg cars that make it to 300K will be those that have an easy life.

    The MINI is better in ways that make it a more desirable car than other similar size cars, but I don’t know if it will last longer than the Asians. I don’t put enough miles on mine to learn very much, but there should be data at some point.

    I suspect a lot of MINI’s are second and third cars, and most are used mainly as “city cars.” I am surprised, though, to see so few on the highway. Except for being kind of noisy, my MINI is very good on the highway, as long as you don’t need more space. The seats are comfortable, and the steering has a very good feel, without being “twitchy.”

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read a MW article comparing subcompacts just like MW and guess what? Fit # 4 on the list Accent #1 Yaris #3 As for the Fit, “Noisy, uncomfortable and not that thrifty, yet MW put it in first place, you just can’t trust any of these “reviewers” anymore

  56. HtG Says:

    52 here’s a theory for you, Kit. Maybe there aren’t so many Minis on the highway because their owners are well to do, and they fly. On my trips between NY and DC I also notice a dearth of the little guys.

  57. cwolf Says:

    I met a guy at the dentist this A.M. who owns a Focus Titanium that I ogled every appointment. He stated his car had that tranny clunk,but not as bothersome as the poor mpg’s of 26,30hwy. On the third visit back to the service dept. a tech asked him to leave the car an extra day to try an idea. All I know is that the el. calibrations were toyed with,idle rpm’s were increased a bit. The owner now claims 27 city and 35 hwy mpg,and no trans quirk! Goes to show that corrections are possible when the tech has the proper training.

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mini’s are all over the place here in So Fla even though this is mostly a Japanese import zone, I guess the fact that there is nothing in the market quite like it, you see so many driving around. This MW comparison puts the Kia Rio last due to cheap interior and unresponsive driving, yet every review I’ve read on that car points to the opposite, I wonder if these testers go in already with their minds made up.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #54,
    That sounds reasonable, or maybe they take a train or bus. I just met a college friend in New York for a few days, and he took a train from DC, near his home in northern VA, and a bus back.

    I have driven 6 times between Florida and Indiana since I’ve had my MINI, and have seen a total of maybe 2 or 3 MINIs on the interstate during all those trips. I haven’t driven my MINI on any of them, Prius 4 trips, and Malibu 2 trips. One of these years, I may drive the MINI north for the summer, for a change. I need to find out what I need to do if I park a Prius for 3 months, though. I’ve read that I’d be ok if I put a tender on the 12 volt battery, and I wouldn’t need to worry about the “big” battery. If I confirm that, I may take the MINI north in the spring.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: around these parts, you can’t swing a dead parrot without hitting a Corolla or a Civic all years and generations, yet on the way to Orlando or Tampa, you’ll be hard pressed to find one single one on the highway, simply because they’re not really good for long trips, you do see a ton of minivans and suv’s more suitable for long distance and family driving.

  61. HtG Says:

    Good points, Kit. In fact the last time I took the Megabus from DC to NY I shared the ride with Delta pilot who was going from Baltimore to Kennedy, for a night flight to Sao Paolo. He had recently sold his ’59 Corvette.

  62. cwolf Says:

    Toyota of Australia rid themselves of 200 of the 350 to be let go simply by touching the worker on the shoulder at the beginning of the shift. WOW! Toyota needed a 10% reduction in the work force,but this method couldn’t have been executed in more distasteful manner. This was a union plant,so just think what is possible in US plants in right to work states! UGH!!!

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s hard to know what to make of “comparison tests,” as much as they vary. CR still ranks the Fit top in their “Subcompact” category, ahead of Versa, Rio, Accent, Sonic, Fiesta, Mazda2, and Scion xD, and Yaris. They liked the space efficiency, handling, and reliability of the Fit. They don’t like the road noise.

    I guess different testers have different priorities or, as you say in #56, pedro, sometimes pre-conceived opinions.

  64. cwolf Says:

    TTAC reports that Suzuki is having a tough time. Perhaps their future exit will create a little more elbow room in a overcrowded market segment.

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It will be interesting to see what CR has to say about the Prius C when they test it. The “C” is heavily based on the Yaris, which they don’t like at all. The interior of the C is a little nicer, and it is probably quieter than the Yaris, but the two cars are so closely related, I’d expect them to have a lot of the same shortcomings in things like ride, and driving position.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Suzuki plans to stay in the U.S. market any longer, they should sell the current version of the Swift/Metro/Sprint, with a 1 liter, 3 cylinder engine, if they can undercut the price of the basic versions of the current crop of B segment cars. The 3 cylinder, manual transmission versions of the old ones got genuinely good city mpg, and didn’t drive that badly, for the time. The “cheap, basic city car” segment is there for the taking.

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    This car testing thing is becoming like restaurant or wine reviews everybody go their own opinion, but with cars you’d think it’d be a little clearer and not so varied as it seems to be. MW likes everything, the enthusiasts mags don’t like it unless it handles like a go-cart.

  68. Brett Says:

    Coincidentally, I just so happened to be entertaining myself by examining this very segment on edmunds.com the other evening.

    My takeaways from it?

    1. The Sonic better be exceptional for what they’re asking.

    2. As appealing as I find the Mazda2, I’d better be able to find it for an aweful lot less than what edmunds says the TMV is for it. You’d have to be a damned fool to pay that much to get so much less than you can find elsewhere in the segment.

    3. The Kia Rio/Hyundai Accent project value like crazy. I think the Rio has some minor styling issues that don’t grab me, but the new Accent is most appealing. I’d give the Accent a good, hard look if I was shopping.

    4. The Fiesta, Yaris, Fit? Meh…

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #68,
    If you compare all these cars, comparably equipped, they are pretty close to the same price. The “bargain” Accent with the MSRP of ~13K doesn’t have AC. The other cars that start at ~15K have AC standard.

    A base Sonic LS is actually kind of a bargain in that group. It’s about $15K MSRP, with AC, keyless entry, and aluminum wheels. An Accent is as expensive, MSRP, to get the same equipment. Which is a better car? I guess it depends on who you ask. Either car can get a lot more expensive if you “load it up.”

  70. buzzerd Says:

    I own an Avalanche and love it, sad to see it go but I get it now that most people will buy a 4 door truck instead, for most they can’t justify the added expense.I needed a vehicle to hall a motorcycle and dirt bike occasionaly and to hall the odd load of lumber and or garbage to the dump. The avalanche works perfect plus I get 4 real doors and a great ride compared to a half ton. the locking bed cover is perfect for me also. I bought my truck because it suits my lifestyle, plain and simple.