Filed under: Car Buying
Generally speaking, holiday weekends are always good for auto sales, but the Detroit Free Press says that dealers are expecting to do exceptionally well during this year's three-day Memorial Day weekend. Even better, forecasts have 2013 new-car sales being the best the industry has seen since 2002 - predictions are hovering between 15 million and 16 million units for the year.
Leading this rebound is the fact that construction and home-building industries are picking back up, which is an especially good sign for truck sales. The article points out that truck buyers tend to fare particularly well during Memorial Day weekend, as prices are usually discounted around 20 percent. The final bit of good news in the story - for the industry - is that this year's average price of newly purchased vehicles is $28,921, which is not only up from last year, but also the highest total ever for the month of May.
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We've already driven the decidedly weird-looking 500L in its European-spec form, and now the folks at Fiat have just released US-specific pricing, which means that our US media drive is coming up soon. If you want to get your hands on the biggest of the little Fiats, you'll need at least $19,100 (*plus $800 for destination).
That base price gets you the 500L Pop spec, powered by a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine (the only powerplant on offer), mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This base model comes equipped with 16-inch chrome-plated wheel covers (sexy!) and the usual list of standard features that pretty much every new car comes with. (You know, air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, etc.) Next up in the range is the 500L Easy, which adds aluminum wheels, tinted rear glass, body-colored mirror caps, uplevel seat fabric and a premium audio system. The price of entry for this better-equipped model is $20,195.
Things start to get more interesting from there, with the rugged-ish 500L Trekking coming in at $21,195. Visually, the Trekking is set apart by its two-piece front and rear fascias with graphite inserts, fog lamps and 17-inch wheels. Finally, the range-topping 500L Lounge adds a dual-clutch six-speed transmission, unique 16-inch wheels, chrome exterior accents, heated leather seats, and more. That top-trim 500L starts at $24,195, and the Lounge, Trekking and Easy models are available with a no-cost Premier Package that includes goodies like rear park assist and a 6.5-inch touchscreen Uconnect infotainment interface. Be warned, though, this no-cost option will only be available during the first year of production.
The 500L's closest competitor, the Mini Countryman, is pricier, starting at $22,000 for the base Cooper model with front-wheel drive, but keep in mind that Mini offers two higher-output turbocharged engines, as well as All4 all-wheel drive on the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models. Scroll down for the full press blast with even more details.Permalink | Email this | Comments
While more and more buyers seem to be opting for the functionality of car-based crossover vehicles every day, it's rare that your read much in the way of passionate praise for one. And, while Consumer Reports doesn't exactly lavish written paeans on the Subaru Forester in its latest review - that's just not its style - it did give the CUV a remarkably high overall score.
Praising its excellent fuel economy, visibility, roomy interior and a whole lot more, the testing publication bestowed an overall score of 88 out of 100 on the Forester. That's a really excellent number for just about any vehicle, but it's also a top-of-the-class mark for the Forester's small CUV division. Just about the only major gripe was that of ride quality.
Most of the direct competitors to the Forester have earned CR marks in the mid-70s. The Honda CR-V is some 11 points behind, for instance, while the Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5 earn scores of 75 and 74, respectively.Permalink | Email this | Comments
What, you didn't think that Kia was going to let Hyundai have all the big-dollar fun, did you? Hyundai may have blazed a trail upmarket with its Genesis Sedan and more recently, the Equus, but its corporate sibling, Kia, has arguably been autodom's hottest brand the last few years, with increases in style, tech, consumer consideration and sales that are the envy of the industry. So it's no surprise that it isn't stopping its North American product onslaught with its just-introduced 2014 Cadenza sedan, it's reportedly readying its premium-minded rear-drive Quoris cruiser for a launch here next year.
That's according to a new report from Automotive.com, which spoke with Kia officials at the media launch of the Cadenza. The oddly named Quoris ("derived from the English words 'core' and 'quality,'" says Kia), will likely nuzzle up against its Equus stablemate when it debuts, carrying an estimated $50,000 to $70,000 price tag. To our eyes, the Kia looks markedly more contemporary than the Equus inside-and-out (no surprise, it's a much newer design). And there's even more reason for optimism on Kia's behalf: the Hyundai Equus has been doing just fine on the sales front - even before its recently introduced facelift. So it's not unreasonable to interpret the luxury sedan market as open to the idea of owning a full-size luxury sedan from a non-traditional country.
In other news, Kia recently exhumed its elderly Sedona minivan, dusting it off, putting a little more frosting on its flanks and trotting it out to customers anew for 2014. The people mover's odd, Lazarus-like reanimation moment apparently isn't lost on Kia executives, who still very much want a modern minivan. According to the same report, an all-new Sedona, likely informed by 2011's funky KV7 Concept, is still a ways off - but we could hear more about it as early as later this year.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Automotive News reports the European automotive market has posted first gain in 19 months. Germany and Spain helped push the swell thanks to higher-than-average consumer confidence, though the EU saw registrations jump two percent overall compared to the prior year. In April, buyers took home 1.08 million new vehicles, up from 1.06 million during the same month in 2012. Analysts are hoping the news is the first sign of a legitimate recovery for a region that has suffered some of the slowest auto sales in 20 years. Even so, the market continues to suffer - four-month sales are down 7 percent to 4.18 million units.
Peugeot-Citroen saw its sales fall off by 10 percent last month. Ford and General Motors both posted declines of 0.6 percent and four percent respectively, with Chevrolet suffering through a 28-percent decline last month. There were winners in the region, however. Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 13 percent while Volkswagen registrations jumped by around 9 percent. Sales were particularly strong in the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Taking a detailed look at the Honda lineup in the US, it isn't hard to see the strength of some models and the weaknesses of others. A recent report on Autoline Daily points out that its five core models - the Accord, Civic, CR-V, Odyssey and Pilot - make up a full 93 percent of Honda's sales in the US. Through April, Honda has sold 419,798 vehicles, and 389,474 of them were from these core models; not to mention the fact that the Accord was the top-selling car in the US last month.
This means that Honda could technically cut six of its 11 models and only lose about 5,000 sales per month. Of course, this is just some data crunching and there is no reason to believe that Honda is planning to kill off any of its models in the near future. In fact, it seems to be committed to the Ridgeline, while Japanese-made models that may actually lose money for Honda still fill unique voids. Scroll down for the video report - fast-forward to the 1:43 mark for the Honda info.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Bloomberg reports shifting tariff regulations have upended the traditional automotive pecking order in Korea. Thanks to cheaper import taxes, foreign brands have seen market share jump from 28 percent to 41 percent over the last two years. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have all capitalized on the shift, with domestics like Hyundai and Kia suffering at the hands of their German rivals.
Taxes on European imports have fallen from 8 percent in 2011 to just 3.2 percent today. Over the next few years, tariffs will all but be eliminated for most imports, and taxes on US-made vehicles are expected to fall to just 4 percent in 2014. By 2016, that number will be zero. Needless to say, Hyundai and Kia are concerned about the shift.
Hyundai has seen profit fall by 15 percent last quarter, and the company says it is on pace to see the slowest sales growth since 2007. The company's shares have fallen by 12 percent. In order to stem the losses, Hyundai has discounted its midsize sedans and started working on diesel engine options.Permalink | Email this | Comments
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