Auto blogMon, 27 Oct 2014 16:02:00 EST
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
Have you been patiently awaiting an STI version of the Subaru Forester? Your wait may be over soon, good friend, as teaser images of just such a vehicle have surfaced online.
Set to debut on November 25, the 2015 Subaru Forester STI will reportedly feature more aggressive aero and cooling, upgraded rolling stock and brakes, and Subaru Tecnica International's signature bright-blue paint and red accents.
What we don't know is what will provide the motivation. There's a pretty big gap at present between the 250 horsepower offered in the top-of-the-line Forester 2.0XT and the 305-hp WRX STI, and we don't know where along the spectrum the Forester STI might fall. Nor do we know, for that matter, if it'll be offered Stateside. But we're looking forward to finding out.
A couple of months ago, Subaru rolled out a series of minor enhancements for the Impreza, and now it's performed a similar upgrade to its more rugged counterpart, the XV Crosstrek. For 2015, the XV benefits from available EyeSight driver assistance suite, steering-responsive fog lights and a new 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with a seven-inch version on higher-spec models).
Otherwise the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek and XV Crosstrek Hybrid are essentially the same as the 2014 models they replace. The requisite 2.0-liter boxer four drives to all four wheels as always, with or without hybrid assist, through either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. Look for the updated model to reach dealers this December, and in the meantime, feel free to peruse the press release below.
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:57:00 EST
Unfortunately, the government's list still contains errors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an updated list of vehicle models that it's urging owners to repair under the mushrooming Takata airbag inflator recall. The latest version adds vehicles from new automakers like Subaru and Ford that are missing from the original announcement, and it also removes erroneous entries from General Motors, leaving only the 2005 Saab 9-2X (a reskinned Subaru WRX), and the 2003-2005 Pontiac Vibe, a joint project with Toyota.
Realistically, many enthusiasts give horrible, horrible car buying advice. They will recommend something bizarre, inappropriately high performance, compromised or utterly impractical for a given consumer's needs, and they'll almost never recommend something that makes sense. And then they'll come up with 3.7 million reasons why the leading vehicle someone is thinking about is a bad choice.
Or maybe that's just what I do.
Regardless, if you poke, prod, bother or just get us drunk enough, eventually you'll begin getting honest feedback. And more than likely, we'll tell you, in hushed tones, about the many virtues of very, very boring cars. We'll talk about why the Toyota Camry is actually a pretty decent purchase or we'll explain how spacious and feature laden the Nissan Versa is.
Acura's struggles have been well publicized. The Honda-owned luxury brand doesn't seem sure of where it's going or what it's trying to accomplish, with its cars and marketing lacking a coherent theme. Now, a new report from Automotive News claims that the brand could follow the success of Subaru and (to a lesser extent) Audi, and adopt all-wheel-drive as standard across its model range.
"I think that's the way we should go," Acura boss Koichi Fukuo told Automotive News.
Acura already offers some form of all-wheel drive on every vehicle in its line aside from the lamentable ILX sedan. That could change as Acura begins rolling out next-generation versions of its still relatively new stable of sedans and crossovers.
It was just a few weeks ago that Subaru unveiled its refreshed 2015 Impreza with refinements like a tweaked front fascia, upgraded infotainment system, standard rearview camera, slightly better fuel economy and other goodies. The Japanese automaker has finally decided to tell us what all of this new kit costs, and it actually hasn't increased too much over last year.
A base model 2015 Impreza 2.0i sets back buyers $18,195 for the four-door sedan or $18,695 for the five-door hatch (*not including $795 destination and delivery on all models). All of those prices are $300 more than the 2014 model year.
Moving up to the Premium trim requires $20,995 for the sedan or $21,495 for the five-door and adds 16-inch wheels, heated seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. The Sport Premium pack, offered exclusively on the hatch, goes further with features like body-color side sills, 17-inch wheels, foglights, and more for $20,995 with the five-speed manual or $21,995 with the CVT.
We love Motor Trend's annual World's Greatest Drag Race video. Now back for its fourth appearance, the idea of lining some of the world's fastest cars up for a ten-wide, straight-line, full-throttle run is, well... it's pretty freaking badass.
The lineup this year boasts some impressively fast cars to be sure. The group of ten includes the following darlings: Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW i8, BMW M4, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Ford Fiesta ST, Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, Nissan GT-R Nismo, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Subaru WRX STI and, last but not least, the Volkswagen GTI. Give us any one of those for the weekend, and we're happy to take the keys.
It must be said though, that for a publication that draws as much water as Motor Trend does, there are some big cars that we might expect to be here instead. The Lamborghini Huracán or Ferrari 458 Speciale would have added some exotic flare to the list, and the omissions of the Chevy Corvette Stingray (for the second year in a row) and the Dodge Challenger Hellcat are real head-scratchers.
People tend to get very set in their ways when it comes to the pronunciation of words. Just look at the endless debates over whether or not to say the final 'e' in Porsche (which you should in terms of correct German enunciation). Or the argument about whether to follow the British convention and give the 'u' in Jaguar a special delivery or to say the 'ua' diphthong as more of a 'w' sound, as usually happens in the US.
This short video doesn't answer either of those automotive questions, but it does allow a native Japanese speaker to demonstrate the accepted pronunciations for several, major automakers from the country. One benefit is that it clears up the occasional debate over whether Nissan should be said with a long or short 'i' sound. Also, listen closely to how the female host says Mazda as Matsuda, the way it's actually said in the language. Even if this doesn't change the way you enunciate these brands, at least now you know the accurate way in Japanese.
While our love for the Subaru Impreza is mostly reserved for its turbocharged WRX and STI models, there's still a fully competent, well-rounded package in the base model, now in its fourth generation. In order to keep it competitive, Subaru has given the Impreza a light refresh for the 2015 model year, and while the car hasn't changed much mechanically, there are a number of thoughtful updates in store for the revised model.
Most noticeably, the front end has been touched up, with a revised lower fascia that's a bit more aggressive than before, nicely incorporating foglamps on higher-end models. Around back, not much has changed, though there's a new lip spoiler on sedan models to improve aerodynamics. Inside, a new infotainment system is available, with a seven-inch color touchscreen, and Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance package can now be had on the Limited models. There's also an updated instrument cluster with an LCD color display, new door and shifter trim, a standard rearview camera, and a few tuning enhancements that allow for a quieter ride, according to Subaru's release.
Under the hood is the same 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine as before, with 148 horsepower on tap, mated to either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. Subaru notes that there's a quicker ratio for the electronic power-assisted steering (that's a good thing), and reminds us that the Impreza is still pretty fuel-efficient considering its standard all-wheel drive, able to achieve 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined.