Category Archive:

Do Fuel Prices Really Affect Vehicle Purchase Intentions?

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Drivers today are shelling out nearly $4/gallon, on average, to fill up their vehicles, about 25 cents more than this time last year. But this added expense is not persuading consumers to ditch their SUVs for more fuel efficient small cars. Results from AutoPacific’s latest Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) actually show SUVs being the top vehicle replacement choice, with small cars coming in third. In addition, 76% surveyed would replace their current vehicle with a similarly sized one, whereas only 18% say they would go smaller.

Only Minor Vehicle Segment Shifts: In general, US drivers would not shift to a different vehicle segment when time to replace their current vehicle. Differences from replacement vehicle segment choice and what respondents currently own range between 0-2 percentage points, according to survey results. For example, 28% of respondents own an SUV, and that same percent would choose one for their replacement as well. About 19% would choose a small car, which is two percentage-points higher than current respondent ownership. This is a stark contrast to the July 2008 fuel price spike when the top replacement choice was small cars at 32% of the sample, 12 percentage points higher than current ownership at that time.


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2013 Toyota RAV4 EV Prototype: A Quick Spin

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I’m at Toyota’s third Sustainable Mobility Seminar at the moment, a deep dive into the issues surrounding sustainable motoring featuring excellent speakers from industry and academia.  I’ll admit, my head is still spinning from all the education I’ve received over the last twenty-four hours, but there’s one part of the event I feel compelled to write about – right now.  All of us in attendance got the media’s very first chance to drive fully working prototypes of Toyota’s upcoming fully electric RAV4 EV.  As AutoPacific’s resident treehugger, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of Toyota’s upcoming electric SUV.


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2011 Audi A8L : The Flagship of Flagships

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Flagship – (ˈflæɡˌʃɪp) – The best or most important one of a group or system. Source: Dictionary.com

Often we hear of automakers make claims about their flagship vehicles.  When you start to break apart these claims you might find that the word flagship is one thrown around rather loosely.  An opportunity to drive the flagship of the Audi brand presented itself and I discovered what truly sets the Audi A8 and A8L apart from the rest of the flagships.


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2011 Nissan Juke: Here’s to the Real SE-R Successor

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Long ago, back in 1991, Nissan launched what many thought of as the spiritual successor to the BMW 2002: the Nissan Sentra SE-R.  It was a lightweight and tossable compact car that was inexpensive and an absolute blast to drive.  Since then, Nissan has kept the SE-R name alive in subsequent generations of Sentra, but each one has gotten less and less thrilling.

Fast forward to 2011.  Around the world, automakers are bringing small and sporty crossovers to the marketplace, addressing younger and more style-conscious consumers’ need for entry level vehicles with space and standout style.  Nissan has jumped into the fray with the Juke, a product designed first and foremost for the European market.  The U.S., which seems to prefer its crossover products big and bulky, is a secondary market.  However, given that today’s younger Americans are expressive, enjoy technology, often accept miniaturized products, and value standout design, Juke has found its way across the pond nonetheless.


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2011 Hyundai Elantra: Breaking the Paradigm of Econoboxes

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First we had the Sonata and now we have the Elantra.  The Sonata was the direct hit to the gut but the Elantra is the uppercut that no one saw coming.  Gunning for the respect of Hyundai naysayers, the Elantra delivers the quality, fuel economy, and price tag that will change minds and make believers.

While other automakers have raised the price of their new c-segment vehicles to make them in America with a profit, Hyundai has changed the game again.  Hyundai seems to be bucking the trend these days of lofty price tags.  The Elantra is a stylish value package assembled in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that needs to be at the top of your test drive list.


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2011 Infiniti QX56: No Longer Just For Oil Sheiks

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Crossovers are all the rage these days.  What’s not to like?  Car-like handling, decent fuel economy, room for the kids?  One trend I’ve noticed in crossovers is the move towards limited visibility.  Beltlines have gotten so high that kids have trouble seeing out of the windows and backing up requires an extensive use of all three mirrors and a NASA satellite to see what lurks behind you.  And if you don’t have a back-up camera you can pretty much count on hitting something at some point in time.  Well, how refreshing the 2011 QX56 was to drive.  The QX56 isn’t a car-based crossover.  It is Infiniti’s truck-based answer to the Escalade.  Based on the Nissan Patrol, which has been a huge sales hit in the Middle East because of its rugged construction and reliability, the QX56 can shuttle you around in the same comforts as a cash-stuffed Saudi oil mogul.  With 20 MPG on the highway, you won’t need to personally know a sheik either.


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2011 Cadillac SRX: A Star in an Increasingly Crowded Class

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Ever since the Lexus RX300 first hit the streets thirteen (!) years ago, the sensibly-sized luxury crossover has been hugely desirable among the upwardly mobile.  Over time, the segment has grown by leaps and bounds, not just in terms of sales but more recently in terms of the sheer number of players.  Over the past couple years, the Europeans joined the fray with the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and Volvo XC60.  And last year, Cadillac ditched the slow-selling and somewhat cumbersome three-row SRX with the smaller and more pert SRX seen here.  Wait a minute, don’t we Americans always want bigger?  What’s the deal here?


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Jeep Brand Lineup – Conquering a Winter Wonderland

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Earlier this week Jeep invited us to join them at the base of the snow covered Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Our mission was to test drive the entire 2011 Jeep lineup in their element – on and off-road in the snow. Something you wouldn’t want to attempt in just any vehicle.
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For 2011 there is big news! Sergio Marchionne has rattled the Jeep cage and it is definitely beginning to show in their products. All vehicles received attention; the Patriot, Compass, Liberty, Wrangler and of course the all-new Grand Cherokee.
It’s been said that Sergio loathes incentives and believes that they erode profitability and brand equity. So, instead of building vehicles to a particular price-point with the understanding that they would eventually be the least expensive, highest incentivized option for consumers – it was time to draw a line in the sand and build vehicles that people see real value in. Jeep has decided to build vehicles that consumers want to buy based on product attributes not lowest common denominator. Game on!


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A Pickup Truck With A Diet For Raptors

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The General invited AutoPacific to get a sneak peek at a new pickup truck concept that will be shown at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. We’re going to spoil the surprise and fill you in with all of the details so keep reading…
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2011 Nissan Quest: Does It Pass the Mom Test?

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Yes…and no. Of course it would be nearly impossible for a minivan to score 100% on the mom test, but the Quest comes pretty close. I’m just happy that Nissan has decided to embrace the family side of the minivan rather than attempting to market it on sex appeal or driving fun. Try as you will to make it turn heads in a positive way, once someone has given in to having a minivan parked in their driveway their decision to purchase will be less on exterior appearance and more on comfort, convenience and features.


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