Mazda Leads, Fiat Chrysler Trails in Latest EPA Fuel Economy Report

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Mazda's 28.1 mpg led all major automakers in average fuel economy for the 2013 model year, according to a new EPA report on industrywide fuel economy. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' 20.9 mpg, meanwhile, trailed the 11 automakers surveyed. The 148-page report notes that all major automakers except sixth-place Toyota and ninth-place Ford saw their averages increase between 2012 and 2013, and the industry's overall 24.1 mpg is the highest average since the EPA began tracking the data in 1975.

Related: Gas Prices Are Up, But So Is Average MPG

Preliminary 2014 model-year data shows Mazda still in the lead, with 28.8 mpg. That beats Honda (27.6 mpg), Subaru (27.5 mpg), Nissan (26.8 mpg), Volkswagen (26.7 mpg), Toyota (25.8 mpg), BMW (26.0 mpg), Daimler (22.8 mpg), Ford (23.4 mpg), GM (22.0 mpg) and FCA (21.1). The overall 24.1 mpg incorporates corrected mileage from Hyundai-Kia, but the EPA didn't include the Korean automaker in its rankings because Hyundai-Kia is under a continuing investigation for the mileage corrections it issued in late 2012.

By Kelsey Mays | October 9, 2014 | Comments (3)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Hits the Stock Market on Monday

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Having cleared all regulatory hurdles, the merger between Fiat and Chrysler will become fully effective on Sunday, The Detroit News reports. The recently formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will issue common shares Monday on the New York Stock Exchange and Italian stock market.

It's the final step in a process that began more than five years ago. Fiat took a stake in then-teetering Chrysler in June 2009 as part of the U.S. government's $85 billion bailout of Chrysler, GM and their financing arms. The Italian automaker completed its acquisition of Chrysler in January 2014, and the FCA name was born. Trading of existing Fiat stock ends this Friday. Current owners will receive one share of FCA for every Fiat share they owned, Fiat said in January.

Read the full story from our friends at The Detroit News here.

By Kelsey Mays | October 7, 2014 | Comments (0)

Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

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Shopping for a used car in Mississippi? Beware of title washing. The Magnolia State has the highest density of title-washed cars in the country, with 1 in every 44.6 used cars bearing a washed title, a Cars.com analysis has found. That's well above the national average of 1 in 324.9 used cars. New Jersey, meanwhile, has the second-highest rate: 1 in 87 cars.

Related: How to Know if You're Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

Why? In a word, hurricanes. Nearly a decade ago, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left 600,000 flood-damaged cars across the Gulf States. And in 2012, Hurricane Sandy reportedly left more than 200,000 storm-damaged cars in New Jersey and New York. Salvage titles, or titles for cars that were retitled after they were written off as total losses by insurance companies, proliferated after all three storms. Title washing also surged, where sellers alter vehicle titles to hide their salvage status and sell the cars as regular used vehicles. To do this, sellers often send those cars through states with looser title laws.

By contrast, used-car shoppers in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania have less to worry about. Just 1 in 2,127 used cars in Ohio has a washed title. Florida (1 in 1,444.9 cars) and Pennsylvania (1 in 1,200.3 cars) round out the podium for low-risk states.

By Kelsey Mays | September 23, 2014 | Comments (5)

Cadillac to Build New Flagship Sedan

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Cadillac announced today it plans to build a new "top-end, high-technology car" starting in late 2015. Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac's new president, said the rear-drive car would slot above the CTS and XTS to play against the "elite class of top-level luxury cars" with "new, custom-designed materials on a unique vehicle architecture."

Related: Cadillac to Debut ATS-V at November's L.A. Auto Show

It's possible the all-new model will debut Cadillac's first vehicle-to-vehicle communication and "Super Cruise" semi-autonomous driving tech, which GM announced earlier this month. Cadillac's de facto flagship, the Escalade SUV, tops out in the mid-$80,000s. But this would be the first time in recent history that the brand had a flagship sedan that vied for attention from shoppers of the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and other such top-shelf cars. Given the competition, Cadillac may price its contender even atop the Escalade.

The car will come from GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, a 29-year-old facility just north of the automaker's corporate headquarters - whose first car, incidentally, was a Cadillac Eldorado. Detroit-Hamtramck now produces the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Malibu, plus the Volt-based Cadillac ELR. (GM's U.S. brands are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.)

Expect more details on the uber-Caddy in the first half of 2015.

Editor's note: This post was corrected on Sept. 22 to reflect the correct age of GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays | September 19, 2014 | Comments (6)

New York Times: NHTSA Has 'Record of Missteps'

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A New York Times investigation into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleges that the nation's top auto safety regulator spent the past decade stumbling over recalls and withholding its legal powers to regulate an auto industry with record-breaking recalls in 2014.

Perhaps the most damning part: Since 2000, automakers are required to report any claims of serious injury or death as a result of vehicle defects. NHTSA is allowed to make what's called a "death inquiry," which asks automakers to provide the cause of a given accident. But the answer is optional, and the vast majority of automakers decline to provide it. Prior to the publication of the article, NHTSA reversed its policy and now requires those answers.

Click here to read the story, which winds through airbag failures at Honda and fires at Jeep, plus NHTSA's subpoena powers and budget.

By Kelsey Mays | September 15, 2014 | Comments (1)

Detroit Tops U.S. In Car Insurance Costs

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Detroit isn't just the car capital of the U.S. — it's also the king of car-insurance costs. According to insuranceQuotes.com, a subsidiary of finance-info provider Bankrate Insurance, the Motor City and its metropolitan area lay claim to the dubious distinction of having the most expensive auto insurance in the nation.

Related: Know Your Limits: Minimum Auto Coverage Varies by State

Detroit-area drivers on average pay 165 percent more than the national average for car insurance, followed by New York, where motorists pay 36 percent more, and Miami, 34 percent more. The least expensive premiums, the website stated, are enjoyed by Charlotte, N.C., where area residents pay 43 percent less than the national average; Cleveland, 31 percent less; and Pittsburgh, 24 percent less.

By Matt Schmitz | September 12, 2014 | Comments (2)

Toyota: Precollision Systems 'Widely Available' by 2018 Model Year

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Toyota says it plans to introduce new collision mitigation technology in 2015 and hopes the technology will become widely available — but not necessarily standard — across the automaker's lineup by the 2018 model year. Company executives recently told The Detroit News that the automaker would install collision-prevention systems across its lineup by 2017, but spokesman Moe Durand later clarified to Cars.com that the date reflected the 2017 calendar year, which translates to the 2017 or 2018 model year depending on the rollout.

Related: 2015 Toyota Sienna Price Jumps $1,680 Over 2014 Model

In what the automaker calls "all-new, multifeature active safety systems" that incorporate "precollision" technology, Toyota will introduce such systems ahead of any government mandate, Seigo Kuzumaki, deputy chief safety technology officer, told reporters last week.

Collision-prevention systems encompass a number of emerging technologies. Chief among them is forward-collision warning, which alerts you if you're closing fast on a slower car or stationary object. If you ignore the warning many such systems can hit the brakes just before impact. A number of Toyota models — the Prius hybrid and Highlander SUV plus every Lexus — already offer collision warning as an option. But it's missing on a number of affordable cars, including the Toyota Corolla and every Scion. Toyota will offer precollision technology even in its "most affordable compacts," Kuzumaki said, but it's unclear whether that includes Scion. A Toyota spokesman didn't respond to our query.

By Kelsey Mays | September 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Cadillac Preps Self-Driving Tech for 2017

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In the not-too-distant future, your Cadillac could know that another car is approaching from a blind corner and warn you before you or the other car could see or detect the danger.

Related: Feds: Car-to-Car Tech Can Save Lives

That's because so-called "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology will make its debut in an all-new 2017 car from GM's luxury division, CEO Mary Barra told reporters at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit on Sunday. The 2017 Cadillac CTS will also boast such tech.

GM plans to debut the technology under the term "Super Cruise," which will also enable semi-autonomous driving. Super Cruise can brake, accelerate and maintain your lane through steering assist without any driver input. Many automakers already offer such technology — Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, for example — but require you to periodically keep your hands on the wheel. In certain highway conditions, Super Cruise will not.

By Kelsey Mays | September 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Seven-Year Car Loans More Popular, but Beware

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Those loans, they're getting awfully long. Experian Automotive says that in the first quarter of 2014, 24.9 percent of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long. Four years ago, less than 10 percent of loans were that long. In fact, such lengthy terms have pulled the average new-car loan to 66 months. That's an all-time record.

Related: Deferred Car Payments: Read the Fine Print

As credit continues to open up — and, some argue, automakers try to maintain the past year's sales growth — car loans continue to lengthen. But make sure you consider the terms carefully, because even if you can get a longer loan it doesn't mean you should.

By Kelsey Mays | September 5, 2014 | Comments (5)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: August 2014

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The Honda Accord topped the Toyota Camry to become the nation's best-selling car in August. The Accord's sales surged 32.5 percent and signaled a return by shoppers to the tried-and-true family schleppers — midsize sedans — as kids headed back to school. Shoppers flocked toward popular models like the Accord, Ford Fusion (up 19.5 percent) and Hyundai Sonata (up 24.7 percent) as family-sedan nameplates gained 9.5 percent in overall sales. The Accord, in particular, had a few more incentives than a year ago, which is rare for Honda, and shoppers responded. It put the Accord above the Camry in monthly sales for the first time since December 2013.

Related: August's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

With sales from the largest seven automakers up 5.1 percent, industry projections suggest a sales pace not seen since mid-2006. Shoppers chose Chrysler (up 19.8 percent) and Nissan (up 11.5 percent) more than other automakers. GM, whose sales fell 1.2 percent on slow Buick and Cadillac sales, was the only automaker to see a drop. Whether this can be blamed on the automaker's recall crisis is hard to say, given GM has seen a sales uptick through much of the year.

By Kelsey Mays | September 3, 2014 | Comments (6)

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