Category Archive:

Ten Worst Cars for 2006 – Truth About Cars

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OK, on this one VehicleVoice is just the messenger. The Truth About Cars website has taken it on itself to identify the ten worst cars and trucks sold in the USA in 2006. Not really sure what their credentials are, but here is their press release… When we feel like commenting, see our notes following the press release writeup.
The Truth About Cars Website Names Its Ten Worst Automobiles for 2006
November 8, 2006 – PROVIDENCE, R.I.: The Truth About Cars website (TTAC) has revealed the ten winners of its first annual “Ten Worst Automobiles Today” awards. According to the site’s readers, the very worst vehicles sold in America today are… GM’s minivans.
For voting purposes, TTAC lumped all four of GM’s virtually identical people movers together: the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6.
In his description of the “winner,” reviewer William C. Montgomery slated GM’s minivans for their “antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition.” In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these ridiculously-named ‘Crossover Sport Vans.'”
The automotive website’s readers voted the new Jeep Compass America’s second worst vehicle: a lackluster vehicle that betrays its storied brand’s heritage. According to TTAC’s description, it’s an “ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed” that “staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or heaven forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons.” The Compass “stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles.”
The rest of TTAC’s Ten Worst are the Jeep Compass (2), Buick Rendezvous (3), Chrysler Aspen (4), Hummer H2 (5), Chevrolet Monte Carlo (6), Subaru B9 Tribeca (7), Saab 9-7x (8), Lincoln Mark LT (9) and Chevrolet Aveo (10). Capsule reviews are below.
To create the list, The Truth About Cars asked its 40k daily readers to nominate the worst vehicles for sale in the United States during the 2006 calendar year. A selection committee comprised of ten TTAC writers selected 20 finalists from the readers’ nominations. Finalists were chosen for their crimes against aesthetics, engineering, ergonomics, driving dynamics and/or brand authenticity. The final ten “winners” were chosen by readers via an electronic poll.
Site publisher Robert Farago said his team created The Ten Worst awards as an antidote to the annual “love ins” provided by the mainstream automotive media. “The profusion of ‘best of’ automotive awards reflects the fact that the manufacturer-sponsored magazines and websites can’t tell it like it is,” Farago said. “TTAC is the home of take-no-prisoners automotive journalism. Our Ten Worst list says we’re not afraid to tell the truth about cars.”


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Practicality Meets Performance – 2007 Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B

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Walking over to a Subaru Legacy doesn’t usually get my blood pumping or adrenaline going. The Subaru marqué typically conjures up visions of moving to Oregon, growing a beard or taking hikes through the redwood forest in my Birkenstocks. So, when asked to test-drive the Legacy sedan over the weekend I didn’t exactly burst into the parking lot skipping with glee. However, my experience with this sedan over the weekend would prove to be unbelievable. It has changed the way I look at Subarus… and Subaru owners…
In fact, as VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staff members drove the Legacy, opinions shifted.

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The Subaru Legacy GT Spec.B lives at the top of the Subaru food chain and does for the Legacy what the WRX STI did for the Impreza. It gives consumers a performance option and turns this four-door sedan into the ultimate Legacy. Relatively the same size as a Mazda6 the Legacy Spec.B is a fairly refined sport sedan with an edge.


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Subaru Legacy Wagon – Wins Motorist's Choice Midsize/Large Wagon

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AutoPacific Take on Subaru Legacy Win –
Subaru Legacy owners’ satisfaction ratings with their new vehicle contribute to its win of the Motorist’s Choice Award® for the Mid-Size/Large Wagon category. With standard all wheel drive, the Legacy Wagon gets high marks for a feeling of safety while driving and good traction in all weather conditions. Also contributing to the safety perception are strong owner ratings for braking and handling. However, driving dynamics are not the only contributors to the Legacy Wagon’s win. Product and brand reputation and durability, quality and reliability were important factors in its class-leading performance.
IntelliChoice Analysis – The Legacy is a true flagship for the Subaru line-up. And the Subaru line-up is purchased and driven by some of the most loyal and passionate enthusiasts in the mid-size market. There must be a reason? Well, one look at the Legacy’s place in the Inaugural Motorist’s Choice award roster provides the explanation. It provides the rare combination of reliability, spirited and responsive driving, and excellent value. With a 5 year Cost of Ownership of just $31,000, the Legacy is assured of a great legacy.


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Motorist's Choice Awards – a New Benchmark Rating Automotive Excellence

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INTELLICHOICE.COM AND AUTOPACIFIC TEAM UP TO ANNOUNCE FIRST ANNUAL MOTORIST’S CHOICE AWARDS
– Awards Recognize Vehicles with Highest Driver Satisfaction and Lowest Cost of Ownership –
– Infiniti QX56 Wins Highest Rating Among All Classes/Vehicle Models –
AutoPacific, the industry source for automotive owner satisfaction ratings and IntelliChoice.com, the online source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis, today announced the results of the newly established Motorist’s Choice Awards for the 2006 vehicle model year.
IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific created the Motorist’s Choice Awards to determine the vehicles that delivered both the highest satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership. The collaboration between the two respected firms, who have each been authorities on the U.S. car market for the last 20 years, takes selected owner satisfaction data from AutoPacific’s surveys of new car and light truck buyers and combines it with IntelliChoice.com’s rating methodology to create a new measurement that speaks to both the hearts and minds of car buyers.
“While the economic analysis of car ownership remains very important—it can save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle—it is also important to recognize owner satisfaction as another significant influencer in vehicle purchases,” said James Bell, publisher of IntelliChoice.com. “These are the two key benchmarks we think car buyers should be most attuned to.”
“Ratings of owners’ satisfaction with their new car and truck illustrates how well the vehicle is satisfying the emotional and practical needs of the driver. Satisfaction is more than simply how well a product is screwed together and there are many more dimensions to the equation. Combining AutoPacific’s satisfaction results with the value analysis from IntelliChoice provides the car buyer with an outstanding benchmark to use when selecting a new vehicle,” said George Peterson, President of AutoPacific.
WINNERS
For the inaugural awards, IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific identified 29 winning models by segment and class. The top-ranked vehicles in their respective categories are:
o Cars: Lexus LS430
o Trucks: Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 (2WD)
o SUV/Crossover: Infiniti QX56
o Minivans/Wagons: Audi A6 4.2 Quattro
In terms of overall rankings, the Infiniti QX56 SUV scored highest in both driver satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership, followed closely by the Lexus LS430 sedan.


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Subaru Forester Wins AutoPacific 2006 Ideal Vehicle Award for Compact Sport Utility Vehicles

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Owners of the Subaru Forester were least likely to want to change the power and acceleration found in their Compact Sport Utility. Forester owners were also the least likely to change the visibility and acceleration in their vehicle; which were both contributing factors as to why, out of ten vehicles, it won the most ideal vehicle award in the Compact Sport Utility segment.


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AutoPacific's 2006 Ideal Vehicle Awards Announced

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An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the first Ideal Vehicle Awards, announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2006 model year cars and trucks by how closely they come to their ideal. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.
Those carmakers that best understand their customers and create the vehicle their core buyer group desires has come closest to the ideal.
The top-rated vehicle and top-rated car is the Mercury Montego in the Large Car/Luxury Car category. In fact, Ford Motor Company sweeps the first three positions overall with the Ford Crown Victoria and Ford Five Hundred in second and third place. The top-rated truck is the Honda Odyssey Minivan.
The top-rated brand overall is Hyundai out-pointing Mercury and Lincoln for the most ideal vehicle honors.
Ford Motor Company and American Honda have three segment winners apiece. BMW and Hyundai have two each.
Of the sixteen Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) categories, Japanese brands have seven segment winners, American brands have four, European brands have three and Korean brands have two winners.
The top-rated product segment is Large Car/Luxury Car confirming that Americans continue to value large, comfortable cars suitable for suburban and highway cruising.
Top-rated 2006 Ideal Vehicle brand: Hyundai
Top-rated 2006 Ideal Product Segment: Large Car/Luxury Car
Top rated 2006 Ideal Vehicles by segment:
PASSENGER CARS:
Premium Luxury Car: Lexus LS
Entry Luxury Car: BMW 3-Series
Large Car/Luxury Car: Mercury Montego
Premium Mid-Size Car: Hyundai Sonata
Mid-Size Car: Mercury Milan
Image Compact Car: Toyota Prius
Compact Car: Ford Focus
Sports Car: Porsche 911
Sporty Car: Acura RSX
SUT, SUV, and MINIVAN:
Sport Utility Truck: Honda Ridgeline
Luxury Sport Utility: BMW X5
Large Sport Utility: GMC Yukon
Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility: Nissan Murano
Mid-Size Sport Utility: Hyundai Santa Fe
Compact Sport Utility: Subaru Forester
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
In addition to identifying segment winners, IVA also establishes numerical ideal vehicle ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck (except pickups) in the United States market. This results from calculating owner input across 11 specific areas related to a vehicle’s exterior size, passenger roominess, cargo space, driver’s seat comfort, drivers seat visibility, interior technology, power, ease of getting in and out, interior storage compartments and tires and wheels. The 2006 ratings reflect input from buyers and lessees of new vehicles acquired September 2005 through January 2006. Pickup trucks are not incorporated because of numerous body styles included within each pickup line.


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Consumer Reports Top Ten Picks of the Year

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Every April, Consumer Reports publishes its Annual Auto Issue. This is the most widely read issue of Consumer Reports by far. There is information not only on new cars and trucks, but also on cars that have been in operation for years. VehicleVoice survey research and AutoPacific survey and focus group research concludes that Consumer Reports can have a significant impact on what cars and trucks an American driver may select. When asked what information sources a person uses when deciding what car to look at, Consumer Reports is often the first source mentioned.

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Consumer Reports has gone beyond simply reporting the results of the surveys of its subscribers. Now they weigh in editorially and even select a Top Ten. But those vehicles are those discussed in Consumer Reports’ press releases. When you delve deeper into the April 2006 issue itself, there are many more vehicles worthy of attention. But, first for the Top Ten, as determined by Consumer Reports:

Best Sedan Less Than $20,000: Honda Civic

Best Sedan $20,000 to $30,000: Honda Accord

Best Sedan $30,000 to $40,000: Acura TL

Best Luxury Sedan: Infiniti M35

Best SUV Less Than $30,000: Subaru Forester

Best SUV More Than $30,000: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Best Pickup Truck: Honda Ridgeline

Best Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Best Green Car: Toyota Prius

Most Fun to Drive: Subaru Impreza WRX-STi

Yes, you are right. There are no American cars or trucks in the list. There are no European cars in the list. There are no Korean cars in the list. Japanese brands swept the 2006 Consumer Reports Top Ten. And of those Japanese brands, Honda (including Acura) got five of the Top Ten positions. This is the first time that Japanese brand vehicles have swept these awards.

There is consolation, of course, that the Hondas are at least assembled in the USA.

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Subaru Expands B9 Tribeca Options

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New Grille and Special Edition Package Unveiled in Chicago
Though this Subaru flagship is not quite a full year old, there are some improvements for 2007 that Subaru introduced at the 2006 Chicago auto show. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand to take a look.
The 2007MY changes include more safety options, new convenience features, a revised standard grille, and an optional Special Edition package. These changes are relatively minor, as one might expect for a vehicle this fresh. The new features make the B9 Tribeca safer as well as more convenient to have in your fleet.

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Subaru Concepts Retain Environmental Spirit. Make North American Debut in Detroit.

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Subaru presented two concepts illustrating their continued commitment to preserving the future of the environment while creating fun-to-drive vehicles. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents review the Subaru concepts seen at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Subaru B5-TPH – for the Environmentally Conscious with Active Lifestyles
The first was the Subaru B5-TPH. The B5-TPH is a two door, multipurpose coupe that features a clamshell hatch. The B5-TPH reflects Subaru’s Think, Feel, Drive campaign, yet retains the DNA of an authentic Subaru. Its design is rooted around environmentally conscious individuals who have active lifestyles.
The exterior of the B5-TPH is sporty and sleek yet reflects a rugged image. It could very well provide hints toward the design characteristics of the next generation Outback. The B5-TPH set out to achieve two design themes. One was joy, for versatility, and the second was sustainability, for performance.
The B5-TPH fuses Subaru’s four-cylinder turbo engine with hybrid technology. TPH stands for Turbo Parallel Hybrid and is a strategically important technology for the power source of clean-energy vehicles. The TPH powertrain will be incorporated with Subaru’s Boxer Engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive systems. The TPH powertrain will be test-launched in Subaru vehicles within the Japanese market beginning in 2007.
An electric motor provides smooth power at low speeds, and the four-cylinder turbo engine provides powerful performance in the mid- and high-revolution ranges. The powertrain in the B5-TPH places a thin, 10-kw motor generator between the vehicle’s engine and its automatic transmission. The combination of the motor-generator and the turbocharged Boxer Engine creates a system which will deliver excellent acceleration and fuel economy. For even greater efficiency, the TPH gasoline engine adopts the Miller cycle concept.
The Miller-cycle engine is an improved version of Subaru’s Horizontally-Opposed four-cylinder turbo engine. To achieve Subaru’s level of sporty performance, the engine and automatic transmission torque converter have been linked by means of the motor generator creating a simple powertrain. The Miller cycle engine leaves the intake valve open during part of the compression stroke, effectively shortening the compression stroke to avoid detonation. With assistance from the turbocharger, the cylinder is able to pack a larger “charge” than a conventional-cycle engine. The Miller cycle turbo boxer engine in the B5-TPH operates up to 30 percent more efficiently that a conventional gasoline engine, and reduces CO2 emissions. To further enhance driving performance Subaru plans to equip the system with high-performance manganese lithium-ion batteries. The technology for the manganese lithium-ion batteries was showcased in Subaru’s second concept, the R1e.


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Let's Talk Cars: GM, Fuji and Toyota

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars.”

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The premier episode of Let’s Talk Cars covers the purchase of General_Motors‘ stake in Fuji Heavy Industries by Toyota Motor Corporation. Is GM finding ways to streamline it’s operations? How does Saab fit into the picture?
Noted industry analyst Jim Hall speaks with AutoPacific founder and VehicleVoice editor George Peterson to give you the inside scoop on this hot automotive topic.


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