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What's In a Brand Name?


Would Lindsay Lohan be more popular if she changed her name to Oprah? Or would things be even worse if she opted to go by Osama, instead?

Just how important is a name in obtaining acceptance and avoiding failure?

According to a new study by CNW Marketing Research, a name is vital, and to prove the point, CNW did some moniker-switching to learn whether consumers held a vehicle in high or low regard based on its brand name.

It held a variety of consumer clinics using the Chevy Cobalt and Scion xB as examples. In addition to showing the cars with their true names, it switched badges to see what, if any effect, brands had on consumer perceptions about quality and reliability and if the name had any impact on whether they held the car in high or low esteem.

The conclusion: name matters.

By Jim Mateja | July 31, 2007 | Comments (26)

Ch-Ch-Changes: 2008 Toyota Prius


Toyota is battling with Saturn over the title of the most affordable hybrid on the market. The 2008 Prius reclaims that title with a stripped “Standard” version that will start at $20,950. There will also be the better equipped “Touring” model, which starts at $23,220. Neither price includes a $660 destination charge.

Saturn’s Aura Hybrid isn’t a full hybrid like the Prius, but the Aura enjoyed the honor of being the lowest priced hybrid when it debuted at $22,045 earlier this year.

The 2008 Prius will arrive at dealers in August and, besides the new trim designations, remains basically unchanged from the 2007 model.

More Forecast News (KickingTires)
Saturn Prices Aura Green Line Hybrid Sedan (KickingTires)

By David Thomas | July 31, 2007 | Comments (5)

Cars.com Reviews the 2008 Subaru Outback


One of us may have just bought a new Subaru Outback himself, but that doesn’t mean the car doesn’t get the full expert review treatment, just like everything else. Kelsey Mays takes on the 2008 Subaru Outback L.L.Bean Edition with the panoramic roof and comes away unimpressed by the company’s many quirks. Strangely enough, Kelsey questions if the Outback will win over many shoppers. Hello … he sits next to the Urban DINK, for Pete’s sake. 

2008 Subaru Outback Expert Review

By David Thomas | July 31, 2007 | Comments (0)

DeLorean Making a Small Comeback


The car made famous by the “Back to the Future” movies — and Cars.com’s top movie car for two years running — is back. Well, not really back, but a small custom shop in Texas has bought the DeLorean Motor Company name and parts after the original went bankrupt. The new DeLorean company is delivering completely rebuilt gull-wing cars at a starting price of $42,500.

For that price, the DeLorean is completely stripped and rebuilt from the frame up using original and refurbished parts. That means the inside looks exactly like it did in 1981. For us, this screams of the perfect opportunity to revise the interior to modern-day levels and leave the exterior alone. That’s basically what Ford did with the Mustang a few years ago. The small rear-mounted engine is also fitted to original specifications. The new DeLorean Motor Co. looks to produce just 20 of these a year and sell parts for existing models. Is there anyone out there who would pony up $42,500 for one of these new retro rides?

For the DeLorean, it's Back to the Present (LATimes.com)

By David Thomas | July 31, 2007 | Comments (8)

2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: Mitsubishi Concept-cX


It’s never too early to start talking about auto show season. First up on the 2007-08 calendar is the Frankfurt Motor Show in mid-September. Mitsubishi will be there with a new compact SUV concept called the Concept-cX, shown in the sketch above. It’s supposed to be a fuel-efficient small SUV with a split tailgate, twin clutch, diesel engine and low emissions.

Environmental/green technologies may be a huge trend at auto shows this year. The Concept-cX features what Mitsubishi calls “Green Plastic,” made from bamboo and other plant resins. The Concept-cX is just 164 inches long, 18 inches shorter than the new Mitsubishi Outlander.

We’d guess this concept would be for global use, or the company may increase the size of the Outlander to position the Concept-cX below it in the lineup. Or it could just be a wild concept that never sees the light of day. We’ll look for more information in September. A sketch of the rear of the Concept-cX is below.

By David Thomas | July 30, 2007 | Comments (5)

Porsche's Sneak Peek of Cayenne, Panamera Hybrids


Who would want a hybrid Porsche SUV? We’re not sure, but Porsche is building one just the same. The automaker says the Cayenne Hybrid will get 25% better fuel economy than the traditional Cayenne, especially in city driving. The leap will be from 14/20 mpg city/highway to 17/25 mpg on the base Cayenne, if the figures are correct.

The company also said a hybrid version of its upcoming — and still under wraps — Panamera four-door is also in the production pipeline. The timeline and price of these Porsche hybrids is still a bit ambiguous, with “the end of the decade” being the most specific info available now.

By David Thomas | July 30, 2007 | Comments (3)

More Mini Clubman Details, Photo Gallery


We’ve been covering the release of the new Mini Clubman, which BMW is calling “the other” Mini, for the past few days, and now we learn all the details and get to see much more of the elongated Cooper.

First we’ll deal with the new configuration: The Clubman has split rear doors that swing outward, versus the standard Mini’s upward-opening hatch. The passenger side has a clamshell door setup that makes it easier for rear passengers to get in and out. Once in the backseat, those passengers will also enjoy 3.5 more inches of legroom.

What everyone really wants to know about, though, is cargo room. The Clubman has 9.1 cubic feet with the rear seats in place, versus 5.7 cubic feet for the standard Cooper. With the seats down, the Clubman has 32.6 cubic feet versus 24 in the coupe. Even the Clubman’s expanded size is nowhere close to other small hatchbacks like the Honda Fit, four-door VW Rabbit or Nissan Versa, which sport 17.8/50.4, 15/46 and 21.3/41.9 cubic feet, respectively.

But Mini fans look for Mini style and Mini performance, and the Clubman has both. Engine choices are the base four-cylinder with 120 hp, and a turbocharged Clubman Cooper S with 175 hp. Prices haven’t been announced, but the Mini Clubman should go on sale in early 2008. Check out the photo gallery below and let us know what you think.

Mini Clubman Photo Gallery

By David Thomas | July 30, 2007 | Comments (6)

Cars.com Reviews the 2008 Buick Enclave


GM’s family of large crossovers gets its newest member with the Buick Enclave. The stodgy nameplate gets the sexiest of the bunch and the most upscale interior treatment, but does the rest of the driving experience live up to the looks? Mike Hanley delivers his take on the family hauler from Buick and of course the test vehicle was in the newest trendy paint color, light brown.

2008 Buick Enclave Expert Review

By David Thomas | July 30, 2007 | Comments (0)

Max-Mini: Mini Clubman Perplexes


Obviously, the only thing wrong with the Mini Cooper is that it doesn't offer a Max version. But it will, starting this fall in Europe and coming to the U.S. in the first quarter of next year.

That’s sad, because the initial attraction of the machine was its size — a David out to do battle with all the Goliaths. Its petite size won many fans for the Mini camp, including people who found it easy to park along congested streets or in cramped downtown garages. In the garage at home, you could slip the bike, mower, and car into the same one-vehicle garage stall.

Of course, if you have six kids and two dogs, it's not the car for you. It’s also a mite out of place for soccer moms, considering how many Minis you could fit in a soccer goal. But the Mini is cute and cuddly, and that's what won over fans.

By Jim Mateja | July 29, 2007 | Comments (11)

2008 Subaru Impreza, WRX Update & Gallery


One of the more controversial new cars from last year’s auto show season was the redesigned Subaru Impreza and WRX. Even after months of digesting the new design, it’s hard to tell how people will react to it. The prices announced recently seem to be right on target with what the car delivers. The new models will start showing up at dealers in August, and in anticipation Subaru has released some new photos for the press. We’ve put them together with the photos that were released when the new model debuted in April. Check out the gallery here and tell us what you think of the new look.

By David Thomas | July 27, 2007 | Comments (17)

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