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.

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By Jennifer Geiger | June 5, 2013 | Comments (0)

Best Hybrids for the Money 2013

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Gas prices remain volatile, but even so, no one expects prices below $3 per gallon ever again, and many parts of the country consistently see prices near or above $4. As much as ever, shoppers need to know how effectively hybrids deliver efficiency for your dollar — if they do at all.

To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating to reflect efficiency bang for your overall buck.

It's simply the combined city/highway mpg divided by the base price (MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that number 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 16, 2013 | Comments (22)

Toyota to Build 20 New Hybrids Globally by End of 2015

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In less than three years, Toyota will have 20 new or redesigned hybrids worldwide — plus a hydrogen fuel-cell car. That's what Bob Carter, who heads automotive operations at Toyota's U.S. arm, told reporters this morning. Carter spoke at the National Automobile Dealers Association/J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 Automotive Forum on the eve of this week's 2013 New York International Auto Show.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Despite the proliferation — if not the sales — of electric cars, Toyota believes "hybrids will remain a core technology" because they can be adapted to other environmental areas, Carter said. Given the number of cars from Toyota and its Lexus and Scion divisions, 20 hybrids seems like a more attainable goal than the automaker's gas-electric gauntlet thrown in 2006, which declared that every forthcoming redesign would include a hybrid version. Toyota backed off that pledge two years later.

By Kelsey Mays | March 26, 2013 | Comments (0)

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid Video

In the 2013 C-Max Hybrid, Ford has given us a worthy, if middle-of-the-road, opponent for the Toyota Prius. Though substantially shorter than the Prius, this wider, taller hybrid hatchback still manages a hefty appearance with fuel-efficiency ratings and cargo space ranking between those of leading competitors, says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays. The C-Max Hybrid succeeds in driving dynamics, but struggles with some interior issues. Does it have what it takes to pose a serious threat to the Prius? Watch the video and decide for yourself.

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By Matt Schmitz | January 22, 2013 | Comments (2)

Steering, Coolant Issues Trigger Massive Toyota Prius Recall

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Steering and water pump problems in Toyota's popular Prius have caused the automaker to issue two recalls affecting 670,000 of the hybrids in the U.S. and 2.8 million worldwide.

Faulty steering components in certain Prius vehicles from the 2004 to 2009 model years could lead to a loss of steering control in 670,000 hybrids. According to Toyota, if the steering wheel is frequently and forcefully turned to the full left or full right while driving at slow speeds, the splines that connect the extension shaft to the steering gearbox are prone to deform.  

About 350,000 of those same vehicles could be affected by a separate recall to replace the hybrid system's electric water pump. The pump could stop circulating coolant, possibly causing the hybrid system to shut down while the vehicle is being driven.

By Jennifer Geiger | November 14, 2012 | Comments (2)

Cars.com Reviews the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

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Leery about putting all your chips down on either the efficiency of a pure-electric or the acceleration of an extended-range car? Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder explains how the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In lets you hedge your hybrid bets. But while the plug-in version boasts a three-hour recharge time on household power and trumps the standard Prius on fuel savings, it costs $8,000 more — making the odds on whether it's worth it a wager you'll have to make for yourself.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Review
By Matt Schmitz | November 8, 2012 | Comments (4)

2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Video

Toyota's all-new Prius Plug-in is the latest version of the popular hybrid family to hit the streets. Unlike the regular Prius, you plug this one in, so the higher-capacity battery can provide up to 15 miles of pure-electric driving. Yet with a rougher ride and minimal EV range, Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder questions whether the nearly $8,000 price premium over a standard Prius is worth it. The masses of loyal Prius buyers seem to think so, however.

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Prius Plug-In Quietly Ranks No. 2

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By Robby DeGraff | October 31, 2012 | Comments (0)

Prius Plug-In Quietly Ranks No. 2

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The much-ballyhooed sales figures for the Chevrolet Volt hide another green-car success: the Toyota Prius Plug-In. Toyota's rechargeable hybrid hummed along with 1,652 sales in September, and it's only available in 15 coastal states. You won’t be able to buy it in the rest of the U.S. until next year.

That hasn't stopped the Prius Plug-In with 7,734 sales so far this year from earning a comfortable second place between the Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Prius Plug-In has been on sale since last fall and spent much of the following spring among the fastest-selling cars in America. In some months, it even outpaced the first-place Volt, which spent much of this year facing more politicization than Joe the Plumber.

GM fought back, discounting Volt leases to as little as $269 a month for three years with roughly $2,800 down — leading some experts to argue it's better to lease a Volt than buy it. Is it bad business for GM? Perhaps, as the 2013 Volt now leases for $299 a month. Toyota undercuts that today with leases as low as $269 in some areas on the 2012 Prius Plug-In if you pony up as much as $3,599 at signing. Pay up to $459 a month and you can walk away with a Prius Plug-In in some areas with no money down.

By Kelsey Mays | October 9, 2012 | Comments (3)

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