Should You Wait for the 2016 Acura RDX or Buy the 2015?

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The Acura RDX, the Japanese luxury brand's entry-level SUV, has just come off of its best sales year ever. But Acura isn't content with coasting on that recent success, introducing a mildly refreshed version of the RDX at the recent Chicago Auto Show to keep that sales momentum going.

Related: 2016 Acura RDX First Look 

We've had an up-close look at the new '16 RDX and wondered if the changes that Acura has made to the new luxury SUV go far enough. If you're in the market for a new RDX, or will be soon, the question then becomes: Should you wait for the new 2016 to arrive in showrooms this spring, or should you go out and buy one of the slightly more than 10,000 that are sitting on dealer lots right now?

Normally we ask this question before we've actually seen the new model, so we have an advantage here in that we can compare what we know about the 2016 model with the vehicle currently for sale. Sadly we have to wait a bit before driving it, but based on what we do know, here's what we can recommend.

By Aaron Bragman | February 26, 2015 | Comments (0)

Toyota, GM Top J.D. Power Dependability Study; Fiat Chrysler Rounds Out Bottom

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If you're shopping a late-model used car, a new study might nudge you toward Toyota or GM. Both automakers dominated J.D. Power and Associates' influential 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released today. Toyota's Lexus luxury division topped the VDS' 31-brand dependability rankings, while the Toyota brand itself ranked third. GM was close behind, with its Buick and Cadillac divisions ranking second and fourth, respectively. The automakers' remaining brands — Scion, GMC and Chevrolet — were well above average.

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

Shoppers should pay attention to the VDS, which this year surveyed more than 34,000 owners of 2012 model-year cars in late 2014 to gauge how many problems they experienced in the first three years of ownership. Don't confuse it with the firm's Initial Quality Study, which measures problems in the first 90 days.

Jeep and Fiat were recent losers in both studies, but most Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands fared poorly in the VDS. Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler accounted for four of the bottom nine brands; FCA's Ram truck division was the sole bright spot, landing above average.

Lexus remains the highest-ranked VDS brand for its fourth consecutive year. The brand's 89 problems per 100 cars were the lowest of all brands by a significant margin. By contrast, Land Rover and Fiat both had more than 250 problems per 100 cars — the industry average was 147 problems per 100 cars.

The 2015 VDS analyzed 177 specific problems across eight categories. Here are the full rankings:

By Kelsey Mays | February 25, 2015 | Comments (3)

First Time Buyers: Why Millennials Will Need a Car

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How badly do you need that car? It's a question some millennials are asking, and reports in recent years of waning interest from young people — and city dwellers in general — propel that narrative even as other studies attempt to debunk it. Do millennials even want cars?

Related: More #FirstTimeBuyers Stories

The short answer is yes. Estimates on the population of millennials vary, but U.S. Census figures peg the group at as much as a third of the country's population. A few major trends thin such a large herd as they head to the dealer, however. Here's why.

By Kelsey Mays | February 25, 2015 | Comments (0)

Where You Live Affects Insurance Rate Hikes for Traffic Violations

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Car insurance can be an expensive part of the family budget, especially when you start talking about adding a teen driver to your plan, as my family and I will be doing every two years for the next six years (wish me luck). Moving violations can cause those rates to skyrocket, but to exactly what degree may vary based upon where you live.

Related: Detroit Tops U.S. In Car Insurance Costs

InsuranceQuotes.com found that some of the most drastic rate increases are in North Carolina, where a DUI conviction might result in an average insurance rate increase of a whopping 337 percent. Compare that to an average rate increase of only 15 percent in Maryland.

Driving recklessly in Hawaii may make your insurance rates spike around 287 percent, compared to only 24 percent in Alaska. And my coworkers at our Cars.com headquarters in Illinois better watch out when "testing out" the latest and greatest. Getting a ticket for going more than 31 mph above the speed limit can increase their insurance rates by 103 percent, whereas in Missouri you might only see a rate increase of 9 percent for the same violation.

So what do you do if you're stuck with a massive rate increase? Well, drive safely and avoid additional violations to begin with. InsuranceQuotes.com offers some more detailed advice:

By Kristin Varela | February 20, 2015 | Comments (1)

#FirstTimeBuyers: How Much Should I Spend on My Car?

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As a first-time buyer, how much car can you afford, and what's a responsible price target?

Related: More #FirstTimeBuyers Advice

Budgets are important, especially when you're buying a car. As with all things financial, of course, there's a debate over how much of money you should spend on your next car. Roughly 40 percent of consumers try to stick within 15 percent of their budget, according to CNW Research, while about half want to stay within just 5 percent of their budget. You should check with a financial planner to determine what's right for you; you don't want to become "car poor" because you don't have anything left for the month after making your car payment.

By Kelsey Mays | February 18, 2015 | Comments (6)

More Powerful Mercedes Means More Badges

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When Mercedes-Benz dropped the news of an all-new naming convention for its lineup, we were somewhat annoyed but not entirely surprised. But when it announced it'd also be altering the actual brand name depending on the Maybach or AMG model attached to it, we were floored. As a bonus, the automaker announced an entirely new trim level with a name somewhere in between last month.

Related: We Bought a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The C-Class, which won our Best of 2015 award, is a perfect example of how these changes have been implemented. There's the Mercedes-Benz C300 at the low end of the spectrum, the Mercedes-AMG C63 at the high end and the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport right in the middle.

One thing that remains the same is just how many badges each one gets. With Mercedes, the higher up the ladder you go, the more you're reminded of just how special your car is.

By David Thomas | February 16, 2015 | Comments (1)

Mini Set to Bury Coupe, Roadster

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Two-seater Mini fans, prepare your black veils of mourning. Sadly, both the Coupe and the Roadster are exiting Mini's quickly expanding product lineup. Minimal seating is being buried in favor of maximum doors, with the new Mini 3 Door and 5 Door taking over.

Related: The $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge

The two niche models never sold in large quantities and were never guaranteed to live past a single generation.

For those of you already in possession of a Coupe or Roadster, keep it clean and pristine and, who knows, maybe you'll luck out with some collector's appreciation in coming years.

If you're anxious to snatch one up before it's too late, Cars.com's new-car inventory shows just 105 Mini Coupe models and 215 Mini Roadsters listed for sale.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kristin Varela | February 12, 2015 | Comments (0)

Used Luxury Cars Cheaper in January, Full-Size Vans More Expensive

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Used luxury cars became more affordable in January, with seven of the 10 models with the biggest price drops hailing from luxury brands.

Average asking prices for Mercedes-Benz's flagship S-Class sedan fell the most last month, down 4.2 percent ($2,757) to $63,563. Close behind were two models from rival BMW: the 535i midsize car and Z4 sports car. Their prices declined 4.1 percent ($1,869) and 4 percent ($1,685), respectively.

Related: Used Cars Could Depreciate More in 2015

Meanwhile, four of the top five models with the greatest price gains were versions of two full-size vans: the Chevrolet Express and Ford E-Series. The Express 1500 had the biggest price increase, up 4.8 percent ($1,014), and the E-250 Super Duty was a close second with a 4.5 percent ($1,015) jump.

The charts detail used cars from the 2012 to 2014 model years with the biggest price drops and increases. To be eligible for the lists, a model had to have at least 250 cars in Cars.com's national search listings.

By Mike Hanley | February 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

Used Cars Could Depreciate More in 2015

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Looking for a used car? This might be the year to start shopping. Ratings agency Fitch and Cars.com partner Black Book, a used-car valuation service, said in a new report that increasing new-car production will turn up the heat on vehicle depreciation in 2015.

Related: Used-Car Prices Fall for Eighth Month in a Row

The jump is significant. In 2014, used cars averaged a 12.1 percent rate of depreciation — which is to say, the average used car was worth 12.1 percent less in 2014 than it was in 2013. Black Book expects the rate of depreciation to climb to 14.5 percent in 2015. But before you run out and sell your car ahead of the decline, Black Book said those depreciation rates are simply reverting toward their pre-recession norms.

If you bought a used car in the immediate years after the recession, you know how pricey they were. That's because the annual depreciation rate on a 2- to 6-year-old car was just 7.7 percent in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, it hovered between 12 and 13 percent per year. Contrast that to pre-recession depreciation rates, which ranged from 14 to 18 percent per year — a rate we may see again in 2015. As depreciation increases, Fitch notes that residual values for auto leasing will fall. That, in turn, could make the monthly cost of a lease rise.

By Kelsey Mays | February 5, 2015 | Comments (2)

January's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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A blizzard hitting the Northeast didn't slow down car sales in January. In fact, the time it took to sell a new car was identical to January 2014's rate of 42 days. As we've noticed during winter months — with or without blizzards — SUVs and trucks are hot.

Research New SUVs on Cars.com

Fifteen of the top 20 fastest-sellers were SUVs or trucks, and there was an equal mix of luxury and mainstream models. Subaru continues to be popular, with four spots in the top 20, and Land Rover ruled too as luxury buyers bought four of its models at a quick rate. Of course the entire country wasn't impacted by snow, and those places must be where folks were snapping up the redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang convertible.

By David Thomas | February 2, 2015 | Comments (1)

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