Best Hybrids for the Money 2014

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Gas prices remain historically high and volatile, and one of the most successful ways automakers and American motorists have adapted is by embracing hybrid technology. Though a few full-size hybrid trucks from GM have been discontinued, 2014 sees as many models as ever. No matter why you may want a hybrid, you might want to know how well it meets its mission.

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To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating. It's simply the EPA's combined mpg rating divided by the base price (meaning MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that result by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | April 14, 2014 | Comments (10)

Top 10 Used Cars for $10K

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Although new cars offer the latest design, tech and safety features, shoppers buy more of their used counterparts: about 2.7 used cars for every new car sold in 2013, according to CNW Marketing Research. It's hard to blame shoppers. The average new car sells for around $30,000. By contrast, the average used car sold in early January 2014 for $10,843 at franchised dealerships (e.g., Bob's Honda) and $9,513 at independent dealerships (e.g., Bob's Used Cars), according to CNW.

Top 10 Cheapest New Cars You Can Buy

The age of paying $10,000 for a brand-new car is in the rearview mirror. So what are the best used cars for $10,000? We crunched a lot of data, and from a pool of more than 60 candidates, here are our top 10 cars, listed alphabetically.

By Kelsey Mays | March 17, 2014 | Comments (8)

Winter Weather Impacts Auto Production Worldwide

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The severe weather that has made drivers' commutes miserable for much of this winter across much of the U.S. is also affecting global and domestic auto production. Production was expected to resume Tuesday at most Toyota and Honda factories shut down after a major snowstorm in Japan disrupted shipments from parts suppliers.

How to Safely Remove Snow and Ice From Your Car

According to the Detroit News, Toyota stopped production Monday at its Takaoka plant, which builds cars including the Corolla and iQ (sold in the U.S. under the Scion brand); the Tsutsumi factory that makes the Prius and Camry; and plants in Motomachi and Tahara. All facilities but Tsutsumi were expected to resume production Tuesday. Honda, meanwhile, suspended work at its Yorii factory near Tokyo after snow affected output Feb. 14 and 15, the Detroit News reported.

By Matt Schmitz | February 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2010-2014 Toyota Prius

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Vehicles Affected: Approximately 700,000 2010-2014 Toyota Prius hatchbacks in the U.S. manufactured between March 2009 and February 2014. You can check your car’s build date on a sticker affixed to the driver-side doorjamb.

The Problem: A software malfunction could lead to transistors being damaged. If that occurs the car’s warning lights could go off and the car could enter a failsafe mode. This could lead to driving power being reduced to such an extent the car comes to a stop. There are no reports of accidents or injuries due to the malfunction.

The Fix: The cars will receive a software update at the dealer.

What Should Owners Do: A time frame for the recall has not been released yet, but Toyota will contact all owners by mail. Concerned owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Additional reporting by Kelsey Mays.

By David Thomas | February 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Most-Improved Cars from the Past 15 Years

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If you read our series on the business of redesigns, you know that reimagining a car from the ground up can be a billion-dollar feat to implement the industry's latest technology, keep up with ever-improving competition and ultimately (hopefully) increase sales. They usually do just that: In Cars.com's analysis of 61 redesigns from 2009 to 2012, sales for the average remake saw an increase of 32.6% in the months following.

Why? Just look at their predecessors. Some undertakings replace a onetime star that lingered well past its freshness date (see the Volkswagen New Beetle), while others are the successor to a product doomed from the get-go (see the Dodge Caliber). Whatever you call it, the most improved overhauls can sometimes create butterflies out of automotive caterpillars. An important note: Sometimes the changes go beyond just interiors and drivetrains, and sometimes the car being replaced was so poor that the automaker gave the new version an all-new name.

The last time we named the most-improved cars, we considered models that showed progress through successive generations in the 2000s. This time, our editors nominated the most improved single redesigns from the past 15 years.

By Kelsey Mays | October 14, 2013 | Comments (12)

Toyota Reduces 2014 Prius Plug-In Price

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When it arrives in dealerships in November, 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-ins will have less of a charge — not in their electric motors, of course, but in their starting prices. The Plug-in Hybrid will start at $30,800 and the Plug-in Advanced trim at $35,715, a $2,010 and $4,620 reduction, respectively. Both prices include an $810 destination charge.

Toyota said the hybrid hatchback's price cut will not mean less content for buyers. To the contrary, the 2014 version adds standard features including heated cloth front seats, remote climate-control activation, 10-spoke alloy wheels and an additional year of roadside assistance through ToyotaCare for a total of three years. Toyota also says the 2014 model will be able to drive farther in EV mode, but didn't elaborate; the 2013 version can travel around 15 miles in EV-only mode.

By Matt Schmitz | October 10, 2013 | Comments (4)

Top 10 Most Polarizing Cars

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Maybe you love it, maybe you hate it, but almost certainly you're talking about it. Polarizing cars have that effect on people — but sometimes you just love what you love, even if seems like everyone thinks you're nuts for loving it. Sometimes that public pressure makes you love it more. There have been cars like this since the beginning of the auto industry, with the first automobiles themselves being polarizing machines. Some people thought the horseless carriage was amazing, and some thought it was blasphemy, but it certainly got attention.

We polled the editors of Cars.com to decide the most polarizing cars of recent memory and tabulated the results. What's the most polarizing car?

By Aaron Bragman | September 17, 2013 | Comments (23)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: August 2013

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In a recurrent chorus, GM said it had its best month since September 2008. Chrysler said it had its best August since 2007 while Honda says it had its best August ever.

Chrysler's gains were thanks to August records for Jeep's Wrangler, Compass and Patriot, plus a 30.9% sales increase for the automaker's popular Ram pickup. (Chrysler's U.S. umbrella includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Fiat.) It marks the automaker's 41st month in a row of year-over-year sales increases.

Honda sold nearly 40,000 Civics in the last full month of summer. Purchase incentives remained steady with year-ago levels — when the maligned 2012 Civic was still in showrooms — but sales were anything but steady. The popular compact surged 58.5% in August, edging out the Accord to become Honda's best-seller. It would have been America's best-selling car in August, but the Toyota Camry piled on 21.8% in sales to keep the spot.

By Kelsey Mays | September 4, 2013 | Comments (18)

Toyota World Hybrid Tour Shows What We're Missing

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Toyota is flexing its hybrid chops with a special traveling road show of the company's hybrid cars. The automaker recently brought the automotive media to a private test track in southeast Michigan to try out not only the cars it sells in the U.S., such as the venerable Prius and Camry Hybrid, but also a selection of international offerings that aren't available here. We were treated to a closed loop handling course followed by a highway-speed 3-mile oval and all day to drive the hybrid vehicles as many times as we liked.

Perhaps the biggest take-away from this event is how differently Toyota tunes its vehicles depending on the market in which they're sold.

By Aaron Bragman | September 4, 2013 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2010 Toyota Prius and Lexus HS 250h

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Toyota is recalling around 87,000 model-year 2010 Prius hatchbacks and Lexus HS 250h sedans to fix a braking issue. According to the automaker, the brake pressure accumulator could develop a crack due to fatigue or internal vibration, interfering with the car's braking ability. "Toyota has had no reports of any accidents or injuries associated with this condition," the automaker said in a statement.

Toyota will notify owners through the mail, and dealers will inspect and replace affected brake booster pump assemblies for free. Owners can call the Toyota Customer Experience at 800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Satisfaction line at 800-255-3987 for more information.

Related
Research the Toyota Prius
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By Jennifer Geiger | June 5, 2013 | Comments (0)

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