How Would The Civic Si Have Fared Against Cheap Speed Challengers?

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The $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge was supposed to include the new 2014 Honda Civic Si, but its sad fate was sealed when a Chicago pothole claimed its front passenger-side tire on the evening before testing at a drag strip.

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

You might think a new tire would be easy enough to locate, but that wasn't the case. It took the recommended dealership two days to get it fixed. The car arrived at the Autobahn Country Club's racetrack in Joliet, Ill., just as we concluded our day of road-course tests there. If it had been an hour or two earlier, we likely would have included it in the road-course run and taken it back to the Byron, Ill., drag strip for another round of tests.

We still wanted to evaluate the Civic Si simply because it was available and put it through the same final tests in the expert round-robin, where judges drive the cars back-to-back over the same course. Here's what the judges said:

By David Thomas | July 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Scion FR-S Photo Gallery

Cheap Speed Challenge: 2014 Scion FR-S

The 2014 Scion FR-S finished fifth in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge. "The FR-S has responsive handling that most in this group can only dream about," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below of the FR-S up close and on the track.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By Matt Schmitz | July 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Subaru WRX Photo Gallery

Cheap Speed Challenge: 2015 Subaru WRX Premium

The 2015 Subaru WRX finished second in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge. "You really have to experience its neck-snapping off-the-line acceleration to appreciate it," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below of the WRX up close and on the track.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By Matt Schmitz | July 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Photo Gallery

 Cheap Speed Challenge: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI finished first in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge. "Not only is this the best performance bang for the buck, bar none, it's one of the most comfortable cars here," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below of the GTI up close and on the track.

Click on any image for a larger version.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

By Matt Schmitz | July 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2003-04 Mazda6, 2004 RX-8

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Vehicles Affected: More than 18,000 model-year 2003-04 Mazda6 cars and model-year 2004 RX-8 sports cars

The Problem: A defect in the passenger side frontal airbag may produce excessive internal pressure, causing the inflator to rupture upon deployment of the device; metal fragments could strike and seriously injure occupants. This latest action is an expansion of a 2013 recall related to the ongoing problem with airbag systems manufactured by Japan's Takata Corp., a major world supplier of the devices, involving numerous automakers.

The Fix: Mazda will begin notifying owners in August, and dealers will replace the defective airbag inflator for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Mazda at 800-222-5500, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | July 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Dodge Challenger First Drive

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The latest Ford Mustang is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The next Chevrolet Camaro is rumored to be smaller, lighter and likely powered by a four-cylinder engine. But when Dodge updated the Challenger coupe for 2015, its new addition wasn't a four-cylinder engine — it was the tire-smoking SRT Hellcat model, powered by a jaw-dropping 707-horsepower, supercharged V-8. That's what Dodge thinks of the smaller, lighter, more efficient trend, and kudos to the automaker. Who knows how much longer we'll have cars like these on the road, given increasingly stringent fuel-economy mandates?

Related: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Photo Gallery

Dodge updated the Challenger inside and out, with a mild nose job and butt lift and a thoroughly new interior with modern conveniences. Powertrains mostly remain the same, with a new eight-speed automatic transmission replacing the old five-speed auto in the 2014 model. But with an all-new Mustang just around the corner and the Camaro not far behind, has Dodge gone far enough in updating the Challenger to keep it relevant and competitive?

By Aaron Bragman | July 21, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Ford Mustang Power Ratings Released

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Ford has now released horsepower figures for the 2015 Mustang, which will start at $24,425 including destination when it hits dealerships this fall. Ford's redesigned pony car will come standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 that makes 300 horsepower at that price — similar to the outgoing Mustang — while an optional turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 310 hp.

Related: 2015 Ford Mustang Starts at $24,425

Why would the Mustang get the EcoBoost? In a word, torque. Though it makes just 10 hp more than the V-6, Ford says torque is rated 320 pounds-feet. Ford says the V-6 makes 280 pounds-feet — which means the EcoBoost four-cylinder and its twin-scroll turbo pack a healthy 40 extra pounds-feet of get-up-and-go versus the V-6. The V-6 actually loses 5 hp this year. We guess Ford thinks a 5-hp gap between the base engine and the more expensive EcoBoost will keep shoppers from moving up. Ten hp doesn't really seem like it would sway many who focus on that spec, however.

By Kelsey Mays | July 18, 2014 | Comments (2)

Dodge Prices 2015 Challenger Lineup

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Dodge's iconic muscle coupe will flex its way into dealerships later this summer, but it won't necessarily stretch your budget on the base-model end with a starting-price increase of only $500. The 2015 Challenger starts at $27,990 (all prices include a $995 destination charge).

2015 Dodge Challenger: First Look

The Challenger is available with four different powertrains, starting with the base SXT model, followed by R/T, R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392, and the much-hyped, 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat. SXT models again come with a 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 305 hp and 268 pounds-feet of torque. New for 2015 is an eight-speed automatic transmission that Dodge says boosts fuel economy by as much as 11 percent; last year's version was EPA rated at 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined.

Standard exterior features include a 1971-inspired split satin-chrome grille, dual exhaust with bright tips, 18-inch aluminum wheels, a "power bulge hood" with twin functional intakes and power body-colored folding heated side mirrors. Inside the SXT comes with cloth seating, a stamped aluminum instrument panel bezel, a six-way power driver's seat, a six-speaker audio system, dual-zone temperature control, keyless entry with push-button start and a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel and shift knob.

By Matt Schmitz | July 17, 2014 | Comments (2)

Recall Alert: 2003-2004 Subaru Baja, Impreza, Legacy, Outback

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Vehicles Affected: Nearly 8,600 model-year 2003-04 Subaru Legacy cars, Outback wagons and Baja crossovers, and 2004 Impreza cars, including its WRX and WRX STI variants, all equipped with Takata-manufactured front passenger airbag inflators

The Problem: Upon deployment of the passenger-side frontal airbag, excessive internal pressure could cause the inflator to rupture; this could cause metal fragments to strike and seriously injure occupants. Subaru joins seven other major automakers that have announced U.S. recalls pertaining to defective airbag systems made by Japan's Takata Corp.

The Fix: Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will replace the inflators in all affected vehicles for free. The automaker has not yet provided a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Subaru at 800-782-2783, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | July 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

What Does This Button Do?

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If the illustration on the 2015 Volkswagen GTI's key fob is any indication, the automaker wants us to prepare for an impending alien death-ray attack. VW's counterattack strategy? Honking the horn and flashing the turn signal lights really fast. Man, who would have thought defending Earth would be that easy?

More Curious Buttons

Really, this particular button isn't much of a surprise as much as an interesting way to illustrate the common panic button, which should be used in real emergencies and will honk the horn and flash the exterior lights to alert passersby. Or as we often encounter, scare the crap out of you when your smartphone accidentally hits the button in a pocket.

Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

By Joe Bruzek | July 8, 2014 | Comments (18)

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