$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)

$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 (1)

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

CSGroup2

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 (6)

2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Photo Gallery

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The 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo finished sixth in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge. "The Veloster Turbo isn't as big of a misfit among the competition as you may expect," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below of the Veloster Turbo 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)

Porsche, Hyundai Top New J.D. Power Study, Volvo and Mitsubishi Sink

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Porsche and Hyundai topped their respective luxury and nonluxury peers in J.D. Power and Associates' 2014 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study. Volvo and Mitsubishi, respectively, placed last in each group.

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

APEAL tries to assess what people like in their cars. This differs from J.D. Power's other major automotive studies, the 90-day Initial Quality Study and three-year Vehicle Dependability Study, which both rate things that went wrong.

For the APEAL study, new-car owners rate their vehicles across 77 areas, and the results give a composite rating on a 1,000-point scale. Not surprisingly, premium brands beat their mass-market counterparts with an average score of 840 points among the study's 12 premium brands while the 20 nonpremium brands average 785 points.

Overall results slipped one point between the 2014 and 2013 APEAL studies, however; J.D. Power notes that in-car technology left some owners less than thrilled.

By Kelsey Mays | July 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

Top 10 Most Overlooked New Cars

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Every year hundreds of new-car models are introduced and enter the research process for millions of car shoppers. The dizzying number of choices sometimes shrouds from the masses what are good cars.

More Top 10s

Here are 10 cars that Cars.com's editors agree are overlooked due to no fault of each vehicle's own substantial merits.

 

1. 2015 Mazda6

The Mazda6 is one of the rare family sedans that is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient; it's rated as high as 28/40/32 mpg city/highway/combined with an automatic transmission and the optional GT Technology Package, which includes regenerative braking and active grille shutters. But even the base automatic gets 38 on the highway. Good cabin quality, intuitive controls, comfortable seating and a striking design also fall into the Mazda's favor.

By David Thomas | July 23, 2014 | Comments (9)

2015 Hyundai Sonata Earns IIHS' Top Safety Pick Plus Award

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Hyundai's midsize sedan is back for 2015, redesigned and safer than ever. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today announced that the new Sonata earned its most prestigious safety award, Top Safety Pick Plus. The Sonata earned the honor by overcoming the previous version's lackluster rating in the stringent small overlap frontal crash test, which replicates what happens when a vehicle's front quarter strikes a tree or utility pole.The 2015 Sonata — Hyundai's second model to earn the institute's top honor this year — earned an acceptable rating in the small overlap test, improving on its previous rating of marginal.

2015 Hyundai Genesis Earns IIHS' Top Safety Pick Plus Award

The Sonata's optional forward collision warning system also qualified it for the Safety Pick Plus rating; the Sonata's system earned a basic score. To qualify for Top Safety Pick Plus, a vehicle must earn good or acceptable in the small overlap test; basic, advanced or superior for front crash prevention; and the top score of good in four other crash tests assessing performance in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.

IIHS image

By Matt Schmitz | July 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Hyundai Tucson Review

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"The 2014 Hyundai Tucson is a stylish, comfortable, surprisingly agile little SUV, but its size deficiency, mediocre gas mileage and worrisome crash-test ratings keep it from being a top choice," said Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman. Check out Bragman's review for more.

2014 Hyundai Tucson Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Aaron D. Bragman

By Matt Schmitz | July 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2015 Hyundai Sonata

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 2,100 model-year 2015 Sonata sedans manufactured from May 2 through May 23, 2014

The Problem: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting that a wiring harness problem could interfere with the power-steering system, increasing effort needed to steer the car and the risk of a crash. Drivers may also have trouble moving the shifter from the Park position. Hyundai said there have been no crashes or injuries related to this issue.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: In June, Hyundai notified dealers to suspend sales of affected Sonata vehicles and began contacting owners. Owners may call Hyundai customer service at 800-633-5151 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 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 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2010-2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 35,000 model-year 2010-12 Hyundai Elantra Touring wagons manufactured between Dec. 15, 2009, and May 7, 2012.

The Problem: In the affected vehicles, a support bracket attached to the headliner could become displaced during side curtain airbag deployment, possibly injuring the vehicle's occupants. Hyundai is not aware of any injuries related to this issue.

The Fix: Dealers will apply adhesive strips to the headliner for free.

What Owners Should Do: Hyundai will notify owners starting in mid-August. Owners can call Hyundai at 800-633-5151 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 888-327-4236 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 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

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