Daily News Briefs: June 19, 2012

Traffic

AAA predicts holiday travel will increase 4.9% over the Fourth of July weekend, with 42.3 million Americans hitting the road — or airport, train station and the like — between Tuesday, July 3, and Sunday, July 8. That's up 42% over Independence Day travel in recession-strapped 2009. Lower gas prices play into the increase. A gallon of regular averages $3.50 nationally, down 19 cents from a month ago, leading 35.5 million of those travelers to plan on piling into their car for the long weekend. Even those who fly may drive more: Rental-car rates for the holiday weekend are down 9% from a year ago, AAA says. If you're planning to pile the family in for that trip to Walley World, Volvo's tips for safe road trips is a good primer.

In other news:

By Kelsey Mays | June 19, 2012 | Comments (0)

Daily News Briefs: June 13, 2012

Saabrange2011

Bankrupt Swedish automaker Saab has found a new suitor; a Chinese-Japanese investment group wants to buy the brand and turn it into a builder of electric vehicles, according to sources who spoke with Reuters and Bloomberg News. The group formed a new company in Sweden, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, and has agreed to buy Saab's assets, according to reports. The companies that have invested to buy Saab's assets include Japanese-based Sun Investment and Hong Kong-based renewable-energy power plant builder National Modern Energy Holdings Ltd., according to Automotive News. The first vehicle the new company plans to build will be an electric version of the Saab 9-3, which it expects to start selling in early 2014.

In other news:

By Colin Bird | June 13, 2012 | Comments (0)

2013 Smart ForTwo: Up Close

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You need to look closely to see the changes Smart made to the 2013 ForTwo. Optional LED running lights run flat along the bumper rather than curving up, and sculpted side skirts replace the old flat skirts. Smart moved its wheel-moving-forward logo from the hood to the grille, and the rear bumper gets a diffuser panel.

More 2012 New York Auto Show Coverage

The biggest news is the SharpRed limited edition, of which Smart will sell 120. It gets Nappa leather and a leatherette-wrapped dashboard, but the latter is optional on other editions.

By Kelsey Mays | April 5, 2012 | Comments (3)

2013 Smart ForTwo at the 2012 New York Auto Show

Smart1

  • Competes with: Scion iQ, Chevy Spark, Mini Cooper
  • Looks like: New wrappings around the same small box
  • Drivetrain: 70 hp, three-cylinder engine with automated-manual transmission
  • Hits dealerships: May 2012

Smart debuted the ForTwo in the U.S. to great fanfare. That was before anyone drove the tiny city runabout, though. We infamously called it the worst car of the 2000s.

More 2012 New York Auto Show Coverage

Smart has announced a redesigned model for 2013 that will go on sale this summer. It gets some exterior updates — you tell us the difference — and the interior materials are improved, but the car remains virtually the same underneath. That means we likely won't be recommending this one, either.

By David Thomas | April 5, 2012 | Comments (28)

Cars.com Podcast: 2011 Toyota Prius, 2011 Subaru Tribeca, 2011 Smart ForTwo

Join editors Joe Wiesenfelder, Bill Jackson and Joe Bruzek as they discuss three very different vehicles. The most popular hybrid ever, the Toyota Prius, remains alluring, while the editors discuss the merits of the largest Subaru, the Tribeca, and the smallest car on the market, the Smart ForTwo.

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By David Thomas | June 15, 2011 | Comments (3)

What Does This Button Do?

Smart_button
At first glance, the button under the Smart ForTwo’s stereo controls looks like it could be similar to the Toyota 4Runner’s Party Mode. On the button, there’s an outline of the car and some sort of sound waves blasting inside. In the Toyota, Party Mode dials up the stereo’s bass and sends audio to the rear for tailgating. Closer inspection of the Smart’s button reveals an upside-down question mark and “Off” functionality, hinting that it has nothing to do with the stereo system.

By Joe Bruzek | June 8, 2011 | Comments (4)

2011 Smart ForTwo Video

The Smart Fortwo has been on the market for a few years now and remains one of the cheapest and most fuel-efficient options available. Despite those winning qualities, this small city-car is hard to recommend for anyone, according to Cars.com editor Bill Jackson. Are there any redeeming qualities?
By Colin Bird | June 2, 2011 | Comments (0)

What's the Most Affordable New Car?

Used-car prices are going up, and gas prices remain high.

That makes new small cars with good mileage even more attractive to car shoppers. However, low starting prices under $15,000 don’t really translate to the transaction price most buyers face when you include equipment that’s almost a prerequisite today, such as an automatic transmission and power windows.

Over the 2011 and 2012 model years, more than a dozen new small cars will, or have been, released. They range from the traditional — like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent — to the quirky Fiat 500.

We decided to add another factor into this comparison that we haven’t included in the others: the cost of gas. For each model, we also included a year’s worth of gas to the total cost of the car — 15,000 miles’ worth of traveling in a mix of city and highway at $3.96 per gallon.

By Colin Bird | May 31, 2011 | Comments (25)

Cars.com Reviews the 2011 Smart ForTwo

2011 Smart ForTwo

The Smart ForTwo debuted in 2008 to a U.S. population beset by record-high gas prices. At 33/41 mpg city/highway, the ForTwo had the best gas mileage of any gasoline-only vehicle. Today, those high gas prices have returned. Is the ForTwo still a “smart” choice, especially with the new crop of 40-mpg compacts? Read Cars.com editor Bill Jackson’s review to find out.

2011 Smart ForTwo review

By Colin Bird | May 13, 2011 | Comments (2)

Smart ForTwo Electric Available for $599 Lease Now, Purchase in 2012

Smart4TwoElectric
While Nissan, Chevrolet and Tesla get most of the attention in the electric-vehicle arena, there’s another, often forgotten, entry available nationally right now: the Smart ForTwo Electric. You probably haven’t heard about the model due to its limited availability, its lease-only policy and mostly because of its recent business problems with the brand in the U.S.

Still, if the pint-sized electric car tickles your fancy, you can lease one for $599 a month with $2,500 due at signing for the EV coupe, according to Smart spokesman Rick Bourgoise. The lease is good for four years or 40,000 miles. That's a long time to be tied to a new technology. A cabriolet model is available for $649 a month.

By Colin Bird | March 4, 2011 | Comments (2)

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