Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: March 2014


The final month of winter continued to be a challenging one for many automakers. Poor weather through large swaths of the country dampened sales in many regions buried under snow and ice. March capped off a weak sales quarter, which saw inventories swell and incentive spending boosted to lure customers into showrooms. The past month proved that signs of spring are finally upon us, and for some automakers the thaw came early to dealers across the U.S., especially those selling trucks and luxury cars.

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2014

In fact, trucks led much of the sales gains for March, with especially strong performances from Ram, Ford and Toyota. The Ram brand had its best month for pickup sales in a decade, and the brand as a whole posted a 29 percent gain year-over-year in March versus March 2013. Ford's F-Series was up as well, jumping 5.1 percent for the month, while Toyota's Tundra posted its best sales month since August 2008. The Chevrolet Silverado saw a 6.8 percent gain, while the GMC Sierra sales were up by 22 percent.

By Aaron Bragman | April 1, 2014 | Comments (23)

GM Will Insure Loaner Cars for Ignition-Switch Recall


It didn't take long after GM said it would furnish loaner cars for owners of the 1.6 million recalled small cars — 1.37 million of them in the U.S. — with faulty ignition switches that we wondered whether the automaker would insure all those drivers. It's a significant need: GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters Tuesday that the automaker may not have enough replacement parts for all 1.6 million cars until October. That means some owners may have to wait more than six months before repairs are made.

More on GM's Ignition-Switch Recall

If you opt for the loaner, that's a lot of time behind the wheel to be underinsured. Remember, a typical collision policy on your personal car insurance policy only covers up to the value of your own car, which puts you at a higher risk in a loaner vehicle. "Even if the owners of recalled GM cars have collision insurance, coverage is typically limited to the value of their own cars," Des Toups, managing editor at, told us. "That is, if you drive a Cobalt worth $7,000 and the dealer lends you a new Cruze worth $18,000, your collision coverage would only pay the value of the Cobalt."

GM's solution? It will cover the extra insurance.

By Kelsey Mays | March 24, 2014 | Comments (7)

Toyota to Pay $1.2 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe


Toyota has reached a $1.2 billion settlement — yes, with a "b" — with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010. In the conclusion of a lengthy investigation, the automaker will admit that "it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements" about safety issues related to unintended acceleration, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday.

More News on Toyota Recalls

Toyota will also have to submit to third-party monitoring of its safety policies. If the automaker pays the full fine and complies with the terms of the settlement, the government will defer prosecution and dismiss a criminal fraud charge against the automaker.

By Kelsey Mays | March 19, 2014 | Comments (11)

When Can You Buy Stock in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles?


You can buy Fiat stock right now, but the exact date of when the recently merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offer its own shares remains up in the air. CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters on March 14 that the automaker, which concluded its merger in late January, still wants to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 1. But that listing could be delayed as late as the beginning of 2015.

New Global Parent Company Dubbed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

"Look, everybody has an internal date of Oct.1, but we're running against the clock," Marchionne said at a Michigan unveiling of the production line for the redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan, according to the Detroit News. It could be "30, 60 or 90 days later."

By Kelsey Mays | March 17, 2014 | Comments (0)

GM Ignition-Switch Recall: What Owners Need To Know


GM's ignition-switch recall may have reached new heights Thursday, with one auto-safety group declaring that 303 people have died as a result of airbags failing to deploy in two of the six cars recalled for faulty ignition switches. GM disputed the results on grounds that the safety group's crash data correlates fatalities to failed airbag deployments but doesn't necessarily connect those failed deployments to faulty ignition switches.

More on the GM's Ignition-Switch Recall

The recall includes the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion and 2007 Sky, the 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2005-2007 G5, and the 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR and 2005-2007 Cobalt. Questions abound. When will repairs be made? Could the issue affect non-GM cars, too? Where do Pontiac and Saturn owners take their cars? We researched the answers to these questions and reached out to GM spokesman Alan Adler for more information.

Here are some facts, which we'll update if new information becomes available:

By Kelsey Mays | March 14, 2014 | Comments (77)

GM May Have Known About Ignition Problem in 2003


Amid at least three investigations, including a federal criminal probe, new records show GM may have known in 2003 about the ignition-switch problem that led to the recent recall of 1.37 million U.S. small cars from the mid-2000s. That's a year earlier than originally thought. The problem, in which the airbags are disarmed when the ignition gets jarred to the Off or Accessory position leading up to a crash, has been linked to 12 deaths and 31 incidents where airbags failed to deploy.

More on GM's Ignition-Switch Recall

The Detroit News reports that documents sent by GM to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chronicle that in 2003, a service technician found a customer's Saturn Ion — one of six recalled nameplates — stalled while driving. The technician concluded that the customer's key-laden keychain "had worn out the ignition switch," according to the Detroit News.

By Kelsey Mays | March 13, 2014 | Comments (2)

GM Offers $500 Off Next Purchase for Owners of Ignition Recall Cars


Following the recall of 1.37 million Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn compact cars and roadsters over a faulty ignition switch, GM announced it will offer $500 off the purchase or lease of any new car to affected owners. But it's not advertising the rebate or telling dealers to promote it. The program runs through April 30.

More on the GM Ignition Recall

The February 2014 recall affects all model years of the Saturn Ion, plus the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compacts. The 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR hatchback and 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters have also been affected by the recall. The recall involves a faulty ignition switch that may slip into the Accessory or Off position and disarm the airbags.

By Kelsey Mays | March 12, 2014 | Comments (12)

GM Faces Criminal Probe Over Ignition-Switch Recall


GM's ignition-switch recall has landed the largest U.S. automaker in the sight of federal investigators. USA Today reports the U.S. attorney's office in New York has launched a criminal probe into the recall, which is now responsible for 31 crashes and 12 deaths because of airbags that fail to deploy when the ignition switch is jarred into the Off or Accessory positions leading up to a crash. GM has recalled 1.37 million cars in the U.S. — a slew of mid-2000s compact cars, which you can click below to see — but court documents from 2013 showed the automaker knew about the issue as early as 2004.

More on the GM Ignition-Switch Recall

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a congressional committee have already opened separate probes. Our friends at USA Today have the whole story, which you can read here.

Manufacturer image

Editor’s note: This story has been updated on March 13 to reflect GM lowering the number of deaths tied to the recall to 12
By Kelsey Mays | March 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Why Cargo Specs Can Stretch the Truth


When Acura redesigned its popular MDX crossover for 2014, press materials specified 90.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo room, a significant increase over the prior MDX's 83.5 cubic feet. Still, something didn't quite add up. The new MDX was 2 inches longer from bumper to bumper, but height and width had decreased 1.5 and 1.3 inches, respectively. How had cargo room increased 8.9 percent?

Related: Which Seven-Passenger SUV Has the Most Cargo Room?

Acura explained: Maximum cargo room was actually 68.4 cubic feet, not 90.9 cubic feet. It explained both numbers in the fine print on its consumer website as "based on [the] SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus floor space between first and second seats and front seats moved forward. This figure compares more accurately with most competitive measurements."

That should certainly clear things up for shoppers trying to find a car with enough room to get the kids to soccer practice or cross-country for a summer vacation.

By Kelsey Mays | March 10, 2014 | Comments (3)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2014


Winter dragged on in February and car sales for many automakers remained in hibernation, at least for the first half of the month. Shoppers shunned popular sedans like the Honda Accord (down 12.1 percent), Ford Fusion (down 14.3 percent), Toyota Camry (down 7.3 percent) and Hyundai Sonata (down 30.1 percent). They did buy more Chevrolet Malibus and Nissan Altimas, however, placing the Altima atop the car-only pile for February, a roost it last held in March 2013.

February's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

That wasn't the only changing of the guard. Shoppers gravitated toward the Chevrolet Cruze last month (up 21.7 percent versus a weak February 2013) but drifted from the Honda Civic (down 5 percent versus an also-weak February 2013); the Civic hasn't been absent from the top 10 best-sellers list since September 2012.

As we expected, snow-ready cars had their day. We reported Feb. 20 that sales for all-wheel-drive vehicles were up some 20 percent in the first part of the year. Indeed, shoppers preferred off-road brands: Land Rover gained 3 percent and Subaru climbed 24 percent. Jeep saw the highest gains, with sales up 47.4 percent. Shoppers bought more Jeep Cherokees, Grand Cherokees and Wranglers than 16 other nameplates across Fiat Chrysler's five U.S. brands. Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales, said February's harsh weather across most of the country "has been ideally suited" for the brand, which had the best February in its 73-year existence.

By Kelsey Mays | March 3, 2014 | Comments (10)

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