Tesla Launches Model S Lease Program

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Luxury electric-car manufacturer Tesla this past weekend announced the launch of its new U.S. Bank-backed lease program that practically dons a polyester suit and says, "What's it gonna take for me to put you in a new Model S, today." Not only does the lease price work out to a more than $150-a-month net savings compared with purchasing a Model S outright, but it allows lessees to return the car without penalty if they're not satisfied.

Related: Tesla Unveils All-Wheel-Drive Model S, New Driverless Tech

"Leasing now comes with the Tesla happiness guarantee," Elon Musk said in a Tesla Motors blog post on Saturday. "If you don't like our car for any reason in the first three months, you can just return it and your remaining lease obligation is waived." But there's a catch.

By Matt Schmitz | October 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

Toyota Leads, Fiat-Chrysler Disappoints in Consumer Reports' Latest Reliability Study

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Toyota and its Lexus subsidiary earned the top two spots in Consumer Reports' 2014 Auto Survey (subscription required), which rates reliability from consumer surveys of some 1.1 million vehicles over the past 12 months. Of the 28 brands ranked in terms of predicted reliability, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Fiat, Jeep, Ram and Dodge brands landed in the bottom four slots. At the top and bottom of the survey, those results played out similarly to Consumer Reports' study a year ago.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Buggy multimedia systems, including navigation systems, Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, garnered the most complaints. It's a recurring trend, Consumer Reports notes, and respondents to J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study have expressed similar frustrations.

But rankings between the two have otherwise limited correlation. Consumer Reports says its reliability study surveys subscribers for malfunctions on existing cars, whether recently purchased or older. J.D. Power says its IQS surveys those who recently bought a new car for objective malfunctions and subjective dislikes in the first 90 days of ownership. J.D. Power ranked 32 brands in its IQS this year; Consumer Reports ranked 28. Five brands made the top 10 in both studies: Honda, Kia, Lexus, Porsche and Toyota. Just three brands made the bottom 10 in both: Fiat, Infiniti and Jeep. To some degree, that cements the reliability — or lack thereof — for those eight.

By Kelsey Mays | October 27, 2014 | Comments (8)

Dodge Prices 2015 Charger Lineup

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Hot on the 2015 Dodge Challenger's trail of burnt rubber comes its four-door muscle-car mate, the Charger. Chrysler has announced pricing on the newly updated Charger lineup — including the 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat — with the starting price of all but one model increasing by no more than $1,000. The base SE trim starts at $28,990, including a $995 destination charge. That's $1,000 more than the 2014 version, but Chrysler says it's the "most-equipped entry Charger model ever." The 2015 Charger is available in SE, SXT, R/T and SRT trims.

Related: 2015 Dodge Charger: First Look

Last year's SRT8 models are replaced by the SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat, the latter of which starts at a range-topping $64,990. Up from three in 2014, the lineup now offers four engines: the base 3.6-liter V-6, 5.7-liter V-8, 6.4-liter V-8 and the Hellcat's supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. For comparison, the 2015 Challenger starts at $27,990 with destination and tops out at $60,990 for the Hellcat, the 2014 Chrysler 300 starts between $32,390 and $50,926 for the SRT8 version, and fellow full-size sedan the 2014 Chevrolet Impala starts between $27,670 and $36,715 for the top LTZ style.

By Matt Schmitz | October 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Lexus NX Starts at $35,405

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Lexus released pricing for the all-new 2015 NX 200t and NX 300h compact SUVs, which go on sale in December. The NX 200t starts at $35,405, including a destination charge, or $6,490 below Lexus' larger RX 350 SUV. The NX 300h hybrid, meanwhile, starts at $40,645; that's $7,900 below the RX 450h. All prices are for models with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive adds a modest $1,400 to the NX 200t and $1,590 to the NX 300h.

Related: 2015 Lexus NX First Drive

That puts the NX atop the starting prices for entry-luxury SUVs like the 2015 Audi Q3 ($33,425), Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class ($32,225) and BMW X1 ($31,850), but Lexus insisted at a press drive in July that the NX competes with their larger siblings — respectively, the Q5 ($39,825), GLK-Class ($38,825) and X3 ($39,450) — a group that's dimensionally closer to the NX; all prices include destination.

By Kelsey Mays | October 16, 2014 | Comments (11)

Is There a Future for the Tachometer?

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By Ali Oswald

With more and more new-car buyers choosing automatic transmissions over manuals, why do tachometers still have such a large presence on dashboards? The tachometer displays engine speed in revolutions per minute, and it can be useful in cars where there's a provision to control automatic-transmission gear changes. "Being aware of engine rpm can help you maximize not only power, but also get good gas mileage," Volkswagen spokeswoman Leigh Anne Sessions said. But if people always chose what was good for them there would be no such thing as Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Related: Do Families Shun Manual Transmissions?

Some cars, mostly fuel-efficient models like the Toyota Prius family, Nissan Leaf and Ford Fusion Hybrid (pictured below), have done away with a tachometer altogether, but automakers are also incorporating new technology into the gauge. Through an Auto Stop position, GM is using the tachometer to communicate whether the engine is on or off in cars with fuel-saving stop-start technology, said Kurt Tesnow, technical lead engineer for instrument clusters.

By David Thomas | October 13, 2014 | Comments (9)

2015 Subaru Impreza Starts $300 Higher, Adds More Standard Features

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The 2015 Subaru Impreza may not have the lowest starting price among compact sedans — that title still belongs to the stripped-down, hard-to-find base Volkswagen Jetta — but it still packs appealing value. Set to hit dealerships next month, the restyled Impreza's base 2.0i trim starts at $18,990 with destination and a five-speed manual transmission. With the continuously variable automatic transmission, it starts at $19,990.

Related: 2015 Subaru Impreza Gets Some Major Updates

Both cars represent a $300 increase over the 2014 Impreza 2.0i manual/automatic, but the list of standard features adds cruise control, a backup camera and a 6.2-inch touch-screen stereo with HD radio and various smartphone-streamed apps. Like before, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, steering-wheel audio controls, power windows/locks, air conditioning and remote keyless entry are standard.

By Kelsey Mays | October 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Honda CR-V: Explaining the Trim Levels

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We try to "explain" trim levels so consumers will be less confused — hopefully — by the alphabet soup of trim names and seemingly endless list of option packages. The Honda CR-V is one of the most popular compact SUVs on the market and just received a significant overhaul for 2015, so we thought it deserved a closer look at the trim... level.

Related: 2015 Honda CR-V First Drive

The biggest change for 2015 is the addition of a Touring trim level. Also of note is Honda's against-the-grain practice of not offering option packages. Instead, you can only add features by moving up a trim level. We detail them all below.

By David Thomas | October 7, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014, 2015 Dodge Journey Crossroad Pros and Cons

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Let's just say it right away: There are many, many compact and midsize SUVs on the market that are likely better all-around choices than the Dodge Journey. Sometimes that's a hard truth to swallow, especially for Dodge. However, the SUV is an example of a vehicle that may be appealing enough to buyers that they send off their hard-earned money into an envelope each month to own one.

Related: 2015 Dodge Journey Crossroad Photo Gallery (24 Photos)

I talk to a lot of car shoppers, and they often come up with pro-and-con lists about the cars they're considering. The Journey is perhaps the perfect illustration of how even if a car isn't the best-in-class, the pros may still outweigh the cons.

By David Thomas | October 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

September's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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Sales were up in September for most automakers as the 2015 model year starts to become more prevalent throughout the country's car dealerships. This is the time of year that many popular nameplates from BMW, Toyota and Honda, for example, switch to the new model year. This move definitely had an impact our list of the fastest-selling cars.

Related Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: September 2014

As usual, the fastest-selling cars were made up of a lot of performance cars and luxury models. There also were a considerable number of new mainstream cars on the list, but almost all were Japanese models such as the Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. Only seven of the top 25 fastest-selling cars were from domestic automakers and two of those seven were both Cadillac Escalades.

By David Thomas | October 2, 2014 | Comments (0)

Used BMW Prices Fall Most in September

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Used-car prices continue to sink, extending a trend that began in the spring. Compared to August, average September listing prices for 2011 to 2013 model-year cars were down 1.1 percent ($250) to $22,354. Average prices have now fallen nearly $900 from the beginning of the year.

Related Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

Practically all the models with the biggest price drops this month were luxury cars, and most of these were BMWs. The brand's 7 Series full-size sedan took the top two spots, with the six-cylinder 740i down 4.7 percent ($2,266) and the V-8 750i down 4.1 percent ($2,113). The lone nonluxury model in the top 10 was the Nissan Leaf electric car, which experienced a 2.9 percent ($531) price drop.

By Mike Hanley | September 26, 2014 | Comments (1)

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