$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: Mileage Results

CSMileagewinner

Any car owner will tell you the cost of driving does not begin or end with the sticker price or the monthly payment notice arriving in the mailbox. There's insurance, maintenance and yes, the cost of gasoline.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Results

The competitors in our Cheap Speed Challenge may be relatively affordable considering their performance chops, but six of the eight require premium gasoline. Going into the contest, mileage didn't seem like it would be much of a story.

After a 220-plus-mile route through Wisconsin and Illinois that mixed in winding country roads, city streets and plenty of construction-laden highways, we discovered mileage was indeed worth talking about in this class.

By David Thomas | July 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

What's the Best Cheap Speed Car for $30,000?

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Plenty of drivers want a level of performance without breaking the bank. We found eight cars that prove fun at the track is not limited to the well-to-do.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Test

We focused our Challenge on compact coupes, sedans and hatchbacks that cost less than $30,000, including destination charge. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for cars of this type that came with the features we know are popular with younger drivers looking for a performance kick. After five days of testing (including a day at a drag strip and a day on a road course) by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (16)

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: What the Judges Said

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To test our sub-$30,000 speedsters, we put them through an even more rigorous set of tests than we usually use in our Challenges:

  • We spent one day at the Byron, Ill., Dragway to get zero-to-60-mph times and quarter-mile times and speeds; we also captured 60-mph-to-zero braking distances there.
  • We spent one day at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., where the experts put the cars through a long day on the road course there.
  • We took all eight on a mileage drive of more than 200 miles to judge real-world fuel economy.
  • The experts drove all eight over the same course, back-to-back, to judge real-world ride and handling, acceleration and braking.
  • And then we brought in a real-life car shopper, Joe Weiss, a 38-year-old quality assurance manager from Chicago who's in the market for just such a car for himself and his fiancee.

CSJudges

Weiss joined our cast of judges (left to right):

  • Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek"
  • Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor
  • David Thomas, Cars.com managing editor
  • Joe Bruzek, Cars.com road test editor
  • James R. Healey, auto writer for USA Today

We set a maximum price of $30,000, including a destination charge. We had 10 cars on our list when we started, but we ended with eight (more on that in a bit):

  • 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth
  • 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2014 Honda Civic Si
  • 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
  • 2014 Kia Forte5 SX
  • 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop
  • 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS
  • 2014 Scion FR-S
  • 2015 Subaru WRX
  • 2015 Volkswagen GTI

Mini said it did not have a Cooper in its press fleets that could meet our price cap; the Civic lost a tire after hitting a Chicago pothole, and repairs could not be made in time for track days. The judges did drive it in our round-robin day, and a report on those tests can be found here.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | Results | Mileage Test

Here's how the scoring broke down: The experts' scores accounted for 50 percent of the total score; 10 percent came from the shopper's scores; 30 percent was based on track performance; and the remaining 10 percent was based on fuel economy.

Here is what the judges had to say about each car, in order of how the cars finished:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (5)

2014 Ford Fiesta ST Photo Gallery

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The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST finished third in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge. "Everything about the ST is feisty and full of energy," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below of the Fiesta ST up close and on the track.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By David Thomas | July 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Lincoln MKC Review

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"The 2015 Lincoln MKC approaches a German-luxury-like balance of driving dynamism and comfort, and enters the segment as a truly competitive player," said Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek. Check out Bruzek's review for more.

2015 Lincoln MKC Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

By Matt Schmitz | July 23, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ford Releases Info on 2015 F-150 Engines

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Champing at the bit for new revelations among the stingily kept secrets of the 2015 Ford F-150's powertrains? Well, the automaker has mercifully thrown you a couple of new morsels, releasing some specs on two (though not all) of the pickup truck's engines — the standard 3.5-liter V-6 and the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost motor — and PickupTrucks.com is serving them both up on a silver platter. Get the full story by following the link below.

PickupTrucks.com: Ford Reveals Two Powertrains

Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

By Matt Schmitz | July 23, 2014 | Comments (5)

2015 Ford Mustang Power Ratings Released

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Ford has now released horsepower figures for the 2015 Mustang, which will start at $24,425 including destination when it hits dealerships this fall. Ford's redesigned pony car will come standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 that makes 300 horsepower at that price — similar to the outgoing Mustang — while an optional turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 310 hp.

Related: 2015 Ford Mustang Starts at $24,425

Why would the Mustang get the EcoBoost? In a word, torque. Though it makes just 10 hp more than the V-6, Ford says torque is rated 320 pounds-feet. Ford says the V-6 makes 280 pounds-feet — which means the EcoBoost four-cylinder and its twin-scroll turbo pack a healthy 40 extra pounds-feet of get-up-and-go versus the V-6. The V-6 actually loses 5 hp this year. We guess Ford thinks a 5-hp gap between the base engine and the more expensive EcoBoost will keep shoppers from moving up. Ten hp doesn't really seem like it would sway many who focus on that spec, however.

By Kelsey Mays | July 18, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2014 Ford Fiesta

2014FordFiestaRecall

Vehicles Affected: About 175 model-year 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompact cars manufactured between Oct. 25, 2013, and Feb. 27, 2014, at the Cuautitlan Assembly Plant in Mexico

The Problem: Fuel tanks may be missing an adhesive layer, without which a tank could leak fuel from a seam; a fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source could cause a fire. Ford said no accidents, injuries or fires have resulted from this problem.

The Fix: Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel tank for free.

What Owners Should Do: The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule. Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | July 9, 2014 | Comments (4)

Recall Alert: 2014 Ford Escape

2014FordEscapeRecall

Vehicles Affected: About 1,870 model-year 2014 Ford Escape crossovers manufactured between Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, 2013, at the Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky

The Problem: The panoramic roof glass may have an improperly cured urethane bond between the glass and the attaching bracket. This could result in noise, water leakage or separation of the glass panel from the vehicle, increasing the risk of an accident. Ford said no accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the problem.

The Fix: Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the front roof glass panel. The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | July 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 92,000 2012-2014 Ford and Lincoln Vehicles

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 92,000 model-year 2013-14 Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans (3.5-liter all-wheel-drive models built between Aug. 25, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2013), model-year 2013-14 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers (3.5-liter all-wheel-drive models built between Sept. 12, 2011, and Nov. 29, 2013), model-year 2012-14 Ford Edge crossovers (2.0-liter front-wheel-drive models built between Sept. 2, 2010, and Nov. 29, 2013) and model-year 2014 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers (3.5- and 3.7-liter all-wheel-drive models built between Sept. 2, 2010, and Nov. 29, 2013) 

The Problem: Ford is reporting that a faulty halfshaft could become disengaged from the linkshaft, causing the affected vehicles to experience loss of drive function. The automaker also said that this problem could also result in unexpected vehicle movement even if the vehicle is in Park; no related accidents or injuries have been reported.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect to verify the right-hand halfshaft and replace the affected parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: Ford has not yet released an owner notification schedule. Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 for more information.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer. 

More Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | July 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

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