Is Driving a Certain Car Your Ticket to Traffic Court?

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Look, just because you drive a Subaru WRX doesn't mean you're more likely to be the type of person who exceeds the speed limit or breaks other traffic laws. OK, it actually does mean that, but we're not the ones saying it, Insurance.com is. The auto-insurance rate-comparison website analyzed online quote info from more than half a million drivers and more than 500 car models between January 2013 and July 2014, and identified the cars most likely to be used in the commission of a traffic offense. Coincidentally, a fifth of the list is composed of competitors in Cars.com's $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge in which the WRX scored the fastest times.

Related: The $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge

According to the study, one in three drivers of the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX compact performance sedan has had a traffic violation for an offense such as speeding, failure to yield or drunken driving in the past three years, making it the No. 1 most-ticketed car.

By Matt Schmitz | September 30, 2014 | Comments (3)

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: Mileage Results

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Any car owner will tell you the cost of driving does not begin or end with the sticker price or the monthly payment notice arriving in the mailbox. There's insurance, maintenance and yes, the cost of gasoline.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Results

The competitors in our Cheap Speed Challenge may be relatively affordable considering their performance chops, but six of the eight require premium gasoline. Going into the contest, mileage didn't seem like it would be much of a story.

After a 220-plus-mile route through Wisconsin and Illinois that mixed in winding country roads, city streets and plenty of construction-laden highways, we discovered mileage was indeed worth talking about in this class.

By David Thomas | July 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

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

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Plenty of drivers want a level of performance without breaking the bank. We found eight cars that prove fun at the track is not limited to the well-to-do.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Test

We focused our Challenge on compact coupes, sedans and hatchbacks that cost less than $30,000, including destination charge. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for cars of this type that came with the features we know are popular with younger drivers looking for a performance kick. After five days of testing (including a day at a drag strip and a day on a road course) by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (21)

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: What the Judges Said

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To test our sub-$30,000 speedsters, we put them through an even more rigorous set of tests than we usually use in our Challenges:

  • We spent one day at the Byron, Ill., Dragway to get zero-to-60-mph times and quarter-mile times and speeds; we also captured 60-mph-to-zero braking distances there.
  • We spent one day at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., where the experts put the cars through a long day on the road course there.
  • We took all eight on a mileage drive of more than 200 miles to judge real-world fuel economy.
  • The experts drove all eight over the same course, back-to-back, to judge real-world ride and handling, acceleration and braking.
  • And then we brought in a real-life car shopper, Joe Weiss, a 38-year-old quality assurance manager from Chicago who's in the market for just such a car for himself and his fiancee.

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Weiss joined our cast of judges (left to right):

  • Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek"
  • Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor
  • David Thomas, Cars.com managing editor
  • Joe Bruzek, Cars.com road test editor
  • James R. Healey, auto writer for USA Today

We set a maximum price of $30,000, including a destination charge. We had 10 cars on our list when we started, but we ended with eight (more on that in a bit):

  • 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth
  • 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2014 Honda Civic Si
  • 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
  • 2014 Kia Forte5 SX
  • 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop
  • 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS
  • 2014 Scion FR-S
  • 2015 Subaru WRX
  • 2015 Volkswagen GTI

Mini said it did not have a Cooper in its press fleets that could meet our price cap; the Civic lost a tire after hitting a Chicago pothole, and repairs could not be made in time for track days. The judges did drive it in our round-robin day, and a report on those tests can be found here.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | Results | Mileage Test

Here's how the scoring broke down: The experts' scores accounted for 50 percent of the total score; 10 percent came from the shopper's scores; 30 percent was based on track performance; and the remaining 10 percent was based on fuel economy.

Here is what the judges had to say about each car, in order of how the cars finished:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (8)

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: 2015 Volkswagen Golf, GTI

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Vehicles Affected: More than 2,000 model-year 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI hatchbacks manufactured between Jan. 27, 2014, and May 12, 2014

The Problem: The stabilizer link fasteners may come loose and possibly interfere with steering, requiring additional effort to control the vehicle and increasing the risk of a crash. Volkswagen earlier this month issued a stop sale order to dealers on the 2015 Golf and GTI due to the stabilizer link fastener issue, covering about 700 vehicles in dealer inventory; the automaker said no accidents or injuries related to this problem have been reported.

The Fix: Volkswagen will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will replace the front stabilizer links for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987, 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 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

Volkswagen Issues Stop Sale Order for 2015 Golf, GTI

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Volkswagen's redesigned compact hatchback just went on sale, but dealers are being told to hold inventory until a safety defect is addressed. VW issued a stop sale order for the 2015 GTI and Golf in the U.S. because of an issue with the front stabilizer link fasteners. In the affected vehicles they were installed with too little torque and could come loose, increasing the risk of a crash. 

More Safety News

VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said about 700 vehicles in dealer inventory are affected, and the automaker is in contact with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding a recall to cover the vehicles already sold. Ginivan also said that no accidents or injuries have been reported related to this problem. Most of the affected vehicles are GTIs; the new Golf officially goes on sale in the U.S. next month.

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By Jennifer Geiger | July 10, 2014 | Comments (8)

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)

2015 Volkswagen Golf, GTI Named IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus

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Volkswagen redesigned its Golf and related GTI hatchbacks for 2015, and aside from lower prices and more standard equipment, drivers can also expect a safer car according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

2015 Volkswagen Golf, Golf TDI: First Drive

The agency awarded both compact hatchbacks its top honor, the Top Safety Pick Plus award, for earning good scores in all areas of testing, including the small front overlap test. This test, which is proving difficult for automakers to master, simulates a crash in which 25 percent of a vehicle's driver's side front end strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

"The driver's space was maintained well and injury measures recorded on the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity. While the dummy's head nearly slid off the left side of the airbag, the side curtain airbag deployed to protect the head from contacting side structure and outside objects," IIHS said in a statement.

By Jennifer Geiger | June 3, 2014 | Comments (5)

Volkswagen Prices 2015 GTI

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The seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback's performance variant — the Golf GTI — will go on sale in June for the 2015 model year starting at $25,215, including an $820 destination charge. That's only around $200 more than the previous generation's starting price for what the German automaker promises will be a bigger, roomier, faster, lighter and more fuel-efficient car with upgraded standard features. We first got a glimpse of both the 2015 Golf and GTI last year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.

2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI at the 2013 New York Auto Show

That starting price is for the entry-level S trim two-door with a six-speed manual transmission mated to a turbocharged, direct-injected engine good for 210 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque, up 10 hp and 51 pounds-feet, respectively. New standard features include driving-mode select, VW Car-Net connected services, touch-screen radio, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, ambient and footwell lighting with LED reading lights and LED fog lights.

By Matt Schmitz | April 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

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