Consumer, Environmental Groups Call for MPG Regulation in Car Ads

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Ever get annoyed when car ads hype pie-in-the-sky mpg figures? Well, you aren't alone. Advertisements are notorious for shilling highway-only mpg, sometimes for specific trims that aren't widely available. Witness a Mazda commercial from 2012 that blared 35 mpg highway for the 2013 CX-5 SUV — an EPA figure only achieved by a front-wheel-drive, manual-transmission model. Or one of Ford's 2011 Fiesta ads that rolled "40 mpg" across the backdrop, which only the automatic SE with the Super Fuel Economy package received in EPA highway ratings.

Related: Gas Prices Continue Upward Climb

Both ads clarified the details in the small print, but you'd have to pause the DVR and get out a magnifying glass to read it. If a group of consumer, environmental and safety advocates get their way, such practices could change.

By Kelsey Mays | July 14, 2014 | Comments (7)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: June 2014

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The broken record continues. Another sales month, and all eyes are on GM. When the automaker's 2014 recall total long-jumped past the 20 million mark, we thought there was no way new-car sales could remain unaffected. Yes, we heard from industry experts that shoppers don't pay attention to recalls like they used to, and anyone who owns a Chevy Cobalt isn't in the market for a new car anyway. But given congressional testimonies and lawsuits galore, we expected shoppers to deal the General a sales defeat in June.

Related: 2014 American-Made Index

It didn't happen. GM sales increased 1 percent, beating out Ford and Honda, each down 5.8 percent. A sales stoppage in late June on the Chevrolet Cruze, which GM recalled shortly thereafter, contributed toward a 20.9 percent decline for the popular compact, as did lower inventory for the car. Still, GM's Buick and GMC divisions lifted overall sales for the automaker. And with half of 2014 now in the books, U.S. sales operations head Kurt McNeil said in a sales statement that GM saw its best half-year of retail sales (that's sales to individuals, as opposed to commercial fleets) since 2008.

By Kelsey Mays | July 1, 2014 | Comments (2)

More Details on GM's Latest -- and Largest -- Ignition-Related Recall

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Today's GM recall encompassed 7.55 million cars in the U.S. and another 893,547 cars outside the country. About 97 percent stem from inadvertent rotation of the ignition key across a slew of 1997-2014 models, which sounds similar to the ignition-switch defects that spurred the recall of 2.19 million small cars between February and April.
 
Recall Alert: 6.8 Million Additional GM Vehicles for Ignition Key Fix

It's not, GM claims. The problem — and GM's solution — is closer to the automaker's more recent ignition-related recalls: 464,712 Chevrolet Camaros in the U.S. on June 13 and 3.16 million larger cars in the U.S. on June 16. Confused? That's because GM's ignition-related recalls, which are now responsible for more than half the automaker's 2014 U.S. recall total, are three separate, albeit related, categories:

GM says this latest recall stems from the second and third problems.

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (3)

GM Recalls 7.6 Million More Vehicles

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In the largest single day of announcements since its 2014 recall crisis began, GM announced a recall of approximately 7.6 million vehicles in the U.S. today, the majority for inadvertent rotation of the ignition key. The recalled models span the 1997 to 2014 model years; most of the cars that exhibit the unintended key rotation are late-'90s and early-2000s midsize and large sedans from Chevrolet and GM's now-discontinued Oldsmobile and Pontiac brands; also in the ignition group are newer Cadillac CTS and SRX models. In total, about 97 percent of today's recalls are ignition-related.

See the list below. We'll update you as we learn more.

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 American-Made Index: Fewest Cars Ever

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A steady decline in cars with high domestic-parts content had us wondering when the American-Made Index would have fewer than 10 cars. This year, that nearly happened. For the 2014 model year, there are no "honorable mentions"; all 10 that were eligible made the list. In fact, just 13 models built in the U.S. reported domestic-parts content of 75 percent or higher, but three of those are going to be discontinued, meaning they're disqualified from our list. Three model years ago, 30 cars met the 75 percent threshold.

Cars.com Releases the 2014 American-Made Index

It's a clear trend, and it comes despite increased domestic car production. In 2013, automakers built 11.14 million vehicles in the U.S., including passenger cars and medium/heavy-duty trucks, according to Automotive News. That's up 7 percent over 2012, and it came as production stayed roughly flat in Mexico and fell 3.7 percent in Canada. Through the first five months of 2014, production increased 4.4 percent in the U.S.

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (4)

Cars.com Releases the 2014 American-Made Index

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Cars.com released its 2014 American-Made Index, which rates cars built and bought in the U.S. This year's group includes models from five automakers. They're built in seven states, from Texas to Ohio.

Cars.com 2014 American-Made Index

The AMI uses two data points that consumers can find on all new cars: final assembly point and the vehicle's domestic-parts content; these can be found either together on one label, or on separate labels, on all new light-duty cars and trucks. The labels show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. (By congressional mandate, the American Automobile Labeling Act lumps Canada into the same "domestic" pool.) In addition to showing where the car was built, the label will tell you where its engine and transmission came from.

This marks the ninth year for the AMI. The top two finishers had a clear lead, but the last four finishers are newcomers, and this year saw the list hit a record low for eligible models. Read our related story to see why the pickings this year were so slim.

Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

By Kelsey Mays | June 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

Less Than Halfway Through the Year, U.S. Breaks Auto-Recall Record

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Yep, it's June 24 — 48 percent of the way through 2014 — and there have been more automotive recalls in the U.S. than in any full year. Ever. The Detroit News reports that with this week's latest airbag recall, the auto industry has logged "at least 30.7 million" recalls; motorcycle and smaller vehicle manufacturers push that total past 31 million.

BMW, Chrysler, Ford Join Ever-Expanding Airbag Recall

GM is responsible for more than half the total, with 17.7 million recalls in the U.S. so far. Some 5.8 million of those involve the key or ignition — whether a faulty ignition switch, a key that can be knocked out of position by a bump or a key that your knee can bump out of position — in more than a dozen 2000-2014 models.

The recall total tops the previous record of 30.8 million set in 2004. Incidentally, GM contributed to that total with its infamous pickup-tailgate recall, which affected 3.66 million vehicles.

It's important to note that 2014 figure means there have been more than 31 million recalls issued, not more than 31 million vehicles recalled. Many cars (including, for example, the Chevrolet Cobalt) were recalled more than once in separate campaigns.

See the Detroit News' full story here.

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By Kelsey Mays | June 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

More Details on GM's Latest Ignition-Related Recall

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On June 16, GM issued its second major ignition-switch recall, which affects 3.16 million larger cars in the U.S. — the 2005-2009 Buick LaCrosse, 2006-2011 Lucerne and 2005 Regal; the 2000-2005 Cadillac DeVille and 2004-2011 DTS; and the 2006-2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2006-2013 Chevrolet Impala and 2014 Impala Limited (a carryover of the old Impala, not the redesigned sedan). An additional 200,000 of the same cars will be recalled outside the U.S. too.

GM Recalls Another 3 Million Vehicles

The recall sounds a lot like this year's earlier GM recall of 2.2 million small cars in the U.S. for faulty ignition switches, which centered mostly on the Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5 compacts. In both situations, a pothole or other disruption could bump the key out of the "run" position while the vehicle is moving, which could deactivate airbags and various electrical systems.

This recall is unique, however. For starters, it doesn't include a replacement of the ignition cylinder and switch, as the Cobalt and its peers require — just a new key. We chatted with GM recall spokesman Alan Adler to clarify some details. For answers to the original ignition-switch recall, read our earlier Q&A here.

By Kelsey Mays | June 20, 2014 | Comments (3)

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

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Porsche, Jaguar and Lexus topped J.D. Power's 2014 Initial Quality Study. Porsche and Lexus were among the top three brands in 2013, while Jaguar jumped seven spots to land at No. 2. And at the other end, Fiat, Jeep and Mitsubishi had the worst results. Two of those three — Mitsubishi and Fiat — were among 2013's bottom-feeders.

2011 Models Less Reliable Than 2010 Vehicles, J.D. Power Study Finds

IQS, one of several influential J.D. Power studies, is now in its 28th year. It expresses quality as problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. A lower score is better. Among 32 brands surveyed this year, Porsche led with just 74 problems — and Fiat was last, at 206.

"Porsche has three vehicles that are best-in-segment," Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. auto quality at the company, told us. Those include the 911, Panamera and Boxster. Two others — the Cayenne and Cayman — were top nominated in their segments.

By Kelsey Mays | June 18, 2014 | Comments (8)

Google to Unveil Apple CarPlay Rival

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Well, that didn't take long. Less than four months after Apple unveiled its CarPlay operating system that brings apps and maps galore to a car's multimedia system, Google is reportedly launching an in-car operating system of its own.

Apple Unveils CarPlay for Volvo, Mercedes, Ferrari at 2014 Geneva Motor Show

Automotive News reports (subscription required) that Google's internal designation for the system is Google Auto Link. It's the product of Google's Open Automotive Alliance, a group that includes Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and tech company Nvidia. The consortium, formed in January 2014, promised to bring Google's Android platform to the car by year's end.

The schedule appears on track.

By Kelsey Mays | June 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

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