Hyundai Owners Are Most Loyal, J.D. Power Study Says

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Hyundai is on a roll. After reporting strong sales in 2011 and winning the North American Car of the Year Award for its Elantra sedan, the Korean automaker got more good news from J.D. Power and Associates. In the results of J.D. Power's Customer Retention Study, Hyundai came out on top in terms of brand loyalty.

The study, which J.D. Power skipped in 2011, charts customer-loyalty rates by vehicle brand, looking at who remains loyal and to which automaker. For 2012, the industry brand loyalty average is 49%, with Hyundai riding the top of the list at 64%, according to the study.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 16, 2012 | Comments (9)

2012 BMW 5 Series Hybrid Pricing

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BMW announced pricing for its 2012 5 Series hybrid sedan. Called ActiveHybrid 5, it will retail for $60,950 when it goes on sale in late spring. Power comes from the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine found in the 535i, but it's joined by a 55-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack in the ActiveHybrid 5. It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and has a total of 335 hp.

BMW expects the ActiveHybrid 5 to deliver an appealing blend of performance and fuel economy, with a 5.7-second zero-to-60 time and rumors of high mpg figures. BMW says the 5 Series hybrid should get see a big increase in fuel economy compared with the 535i's 21/31 mpg city/highway rating, though official figures haven't been released. The hybrid can operate in all-electric mode, but only for 2.5 miles at speeds below 37 mph.

Unlike BMW's short-lived sales dud, the X6 Hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 5 won't be the priciest 5 Series in the lineup. Rather, it will sit midpack between the base 528i's $46,900 sticker price and the higher-level $64,300 550i xDrive sedan. The range-topping M5 model returns to the 5 Series lineup for model-year 2013.

All prices exclude BMW's $895 destination fee.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 13, 2012 | Comments (0)

2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition: First Look

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  • Competes with: Audi R8, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Porsche 911 Turbo
  • Looks like: A gussied-up Z06 convertible 
  • Drivetrain: 505-horsepower, 7.0-liter V-8 and six-speed manual transmission 
  • Hits dealerships: Early summer 2012

Chevrolet enjoys marking Corvette milestones with new packages commemorating its iconic sports car. Model-year 2013 is no different. The bow-tie brand is celebrating 60 years of Corvette heritage with the 427 Convertible Collector Edition. The model-year 2013 Corvette will also be the last one to use the C6 platform. An all-new C7 Corvette is due for 2014.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 12, 2012 | Comments (11)

40 MPG Cars Surged in 2011

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If given a choice, the vast majority of car buyers will excitedly opt for terrific fuel economy rather than simply tolerating decent fuel economy. In the past year, a handful of new non-hybrid cars hit dealer lots capable of getting 40 mpg. Sometimes only a certain trim level can actually achieve that mileage number — usually only in highway mileage — but the models overall stand head and shoulders above cars that narrowly miss that important 40 mpg barrier.

The slightest difference in highway efficiency earns one nameplate a huge advantage over its rivals when it comes to sales volume. 2011s numbers seem to prove it.

By Timothy Cain | January 11, 2012 | Comments (4)

Nissan Announces 2012 Cube Pricing

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Like us, maybe you’ve heard rumors about the Nissan Cube’s demise. Fear not, the automaker’s funky box on wheels returns for its fourth model year. A new limited-edition package is the biggest news for Cube’s lineup, which also sees a modest price increase and a couple new features for 2012.

The 1.8 S Indigo Limited Edition package includes special Indigo seat trim, 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a navigation system with 5-inch touch-screen, RearView Monitor, upgraded speakers with Rockford Fosgate subwoofer and a USB port. The package retails for $1,900.

Other new-for-2012 features include Nissan’s Intelligent Key as standard equipment on SL models and an attached armrest that’s now standard on S and SL models. Expanded exterior color choices include Pearl White, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Cayenne Red and Bali Blue.

Prices increase slightly for 2012 and are as follows:

Cube 1.8 with manual transmission: $14,980
Cube 1.8 S with manual transmission: $16,420
Cube 1.8 S with CVT: $17,420
Cube 1.8 SL with CVT: $18,520

Model-year 2011 Cube prices started at $14,740 for the base model. All prices listed exclude destination fees. The 2012 Nissan Cube is on sale now.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 5, 2012 | Comments (0)

PickupTrucks.com Tests the 2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric

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Ford plans on selling an electric version of its Focus compact car, but the automaker’s first gas-free offering is the Transit Connect Electric. Based on the van that was launched in the U.S. for 2010, the Transit Connect Electric trades the traditional version’s 136-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine for a 74-hp electric motor and a 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. But are more robust acceleration and a smaller carbon footprint enough to justify the 2012 Transit Connect Electric’s $35,000 price premium over the base version? According to Cars.com Editor Mike Hanley, Transit Connect Electric’s high cost will be a significant hurdle to its success.

2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric Review

By Jennifer Geiger | January 3, 2012 | Comments (1)

2012 Cadillac Escalade Gets Security Enhancements

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One of the most stolen vehicles in the U.S. just got tougher to boost. For 2012, Cadillac is adding new security features that make the Escalade harder to steal, especially for thieves trying to push or tow the automaker’s large luxury SUV.

Car thieves are apparently drawn to big, blingy vehicles; Cadillac’s high-profile Escalade consistently tops the Highway Loss Data Institute’s list of most popular vehicles to steal. The Escalade EXT, with its pickup-truck bed, appeals most to burglars, according to the institute.

The new standard safety features include PASS Key 3+, which encrypts the key and the ignition system and reduces the risk of drive-away thefts. To deter push-away and tow-away thefts, Escalades will have a tougher steering-column-lock system and a sensor that detects an unexpected change in incline and sounds an alarm. Also available are new shock sensors that sound an alarm if a window is broken and a wheel lock system designed to prevent thieves from making off with Escalade’s wheels and tires.

These added security measures are in addition to the theft-monitoring functions already provided by GM’s OnStar security system. OnStar offers remote-engine lock and stolen-vehicle slowdown functionality after a vehicle has already been compromised.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 2, 2012 | Comments (8)

Cadillac Adds New Touring Package to 2012 CTS Lineup

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Components typically reserved for Cadillac’s exclusive and expensive V club are now a bit more accessible to 2012 CTS buyers. Features usually found in V-trim Cadillacs are newly available on 2012 CTS models through a Touring Package.

Available on coupes, sedans and wagons, the CTS Touring Package includes equipment like Recaro seats, suede seat and steering-wheel inserts, high-intensity-discharge headlamps and specific V-themed spoiler and wheels.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 29, 2011 | Comments (1)

Dodge Caliber, Dodge Nitro, Ford Ranger Officially Dead

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The oft-forgotten Dodge Caliber and Dodge Nitro are officially dead; both vehicles ceased production this month. The old, but still popular, Ford Ranger compact pickup has also ended production, according to PickupTrucks.com.

The 2012 Caliber officially kicked the bucket this past Friday. The Caliber, which was produced at Chrysler Belvidere Assembly in Illinois, will be replaced by the 2013 Dodge Dart. The new compact sedan will go into production at the plant in August or September. In preparation for the Dart, the plant got a $600 million upgrade.

By Colin Bird | December 28, 2011 | Comments (1)

New Luxurious Trim Joins Chrysler 300 Lineup

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The refreshed-for-2011 Chrysler 300 sedan earned major points for its much-improved interior. For 2012, Chrysler is adding even more premium materials and upping the fancy factor of its flagship sedan.

Chrysler is adding a new top-line trim level to the 300, called the Luxury Series. It joins the Limited, 300C, S series and high-performance SRT8. It features a leather-wrapped steering wheel and instrument panel, Nappa leather seats and armrests, 12-way power-adjustable driver and passenger seats, die-cast paddle shifters and a cabin accented with hand-sanded matte wood trim. Exterior upgrades include platinum chrome mirror caps and door handles and a platinum chrome mesh grille. Rear-wheel-drive versions ride on 20-inch painted aluminum wheels; all-wheel-drive models use 19s.

By Jennifer Geiger | December 28, 2011 | Comments (1)

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