Best In Class 2012 Compact Crossover SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan
2012 VW Tiguan Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Compact Crossover SUV give the vehicle top ratings in sixteen of forty-eight categories in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Owners give the Tiguan top ratings for: Seating Capacity, Flexible Seating, Vehicle’s Reputation, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Quality Feeling of Controls, Brand of Audio System, Visibility, Cupholders, Tire Size/Brand/Appearance, Environmental Friendliness, Infotainment Technology, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Overall Quality and Durability. With a maximum score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points, a score of 4.5 or higher is considered very good. Tiguan owners rated their vehicle at 4.5 or higher in: Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Handling, Fun to Drive, Reliability, Visibility, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings and Overall Quality. There are five ratings under 4.0 satisfaction rating points: Cargo Space, Fuel Economy, Cruising Range, Recyclability and Collision Avoidance Technology. This is a very strong performance by Tiguan showing VW’s strengths in interior and exterior styling and materials selection are clearly appreciated by its owner group.
Best in Class 2012 Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Honda CR-V
2012 Honda CR-V Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the all-new 2012 Honda CR-V Mid-Size XSUV give the vehicle an overwhelming win in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicles Satisfaction Award research with top ratings in forty, that is FORTY, of forty-eight attributes. We won’t list all the wins. It would take too much space, but let’s talk about the ratings of 4.5 or higher out of a possible 5.0 satisfaction rating points. CR-V owners give the XSUV ratings 4.5 or higher in: Overall Satisfaction, Exterior Size, Ease of Getting In and Out, Seating Capacity, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Braking, Handling, Reliability, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Overall Quality and Durability. There are only three ratings under 4.0 satisfaction rating points: Recyclability, Collision Avoidance Technology and Price. The CR-V 2012 VSA win is an example of overwhelming superiority in a very competitive product class.
Best in Class 2012 Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Honda Pilot
2012 Honda Pilot Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Honda Pilot give the Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV top ratings in twelve of forty-eight rating categories in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Pilot owners give the vehicle top ratings in Seating Capacity, Driver’s Seat Comfort, Flexible Seating, Ease of Loading Cargo, Interior Storage, Cupholders, Wheel Size and Style, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Price, and Durability. With a possible high score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points, a score of 4.5 or higher can be considered to be very good. Pilot owners rated the Pilot at 4.5 or higher in: Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Driver’s Seat Comfort, Ease of Loadingn Cargo, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Handling, Reliable/Dependable, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Quality, and Durability. Pilot owners give the Pilot ratings under 4.0 satisfaction points in five attributes: Fuel Economy, Cruising Range, Easy to Understand Controls, Recyclability, Collision Avoidance Technology.
Best in Class 2012 Large Crossover SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
2012 Chevrolet Traverse Winner of AutoPacific's 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award
Owners of the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse give the Large SUV a photo-finish win over the Ford Flex while giving the Traverse top ratings in eighteen of forty-eight categories in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. The Traverse gets top marks for Cargo Space, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Interior Storage, Braking, Fuel Economy, Easy to Use Controls, Cupholders, Tire Brand/Size/Appearance, Wheel Size and Style, Environmental Friendliness, Infotainment Technology, Dealership Experience, Recyclability, Advanced Powertrain Technology, Collision Avoidance Technology, Range and Warranty. With a possible high score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points, 4.5 or higher can be considered very good. Traverse owners rated the Large SUV above 4.5 rating points in: Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Exterior Color, Reliable/Dependable, and Feeling Safe While Driving. Traverse owners, while the highest rated Large SUV for Fuel Economy, are least satisfied with their Traverse’s gas mileage. Traverse owners rate five characteristics below 4.0 satisfaction rating points: Fuel Economy, Range, Environmental Friendliness, Recyclability and Price.
General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self. It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009. It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company. That transformation appears to be going very well.
Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development. Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product. Here are some examples…
Going on sale in July 2012, the new Nissan Altima joins the most competitive car class in the market. Representing the second largest car segment (after small cars), the mid-size car class is critically important to each manufacturer in the class; volume, profits and image are on the line.
It is hard to believe that the AutoPacific 2010 President’s Award Winner, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, is about to be the oldest major competitor in the class. The 2013 Nissan Altima joins the new Toyota Camry (new for the 2012MY) and Chevrolet Malibu (2013 Eco model is on the market now) and awaits the launches of the upcoming 2013 heavyweights – Honda Accord and Ford Fusion in Fall 2012.
First seen at the 2012 New York International Auto Show in April, the Altima drew “WOWs” from the media at its unveiling. The management of some competitors gulped and looked a bit nervous. Most were very complimentary; the new Altima has gone upscale in a big way without adding much to its price tag.
Traditionally, the mid-size car class has been noted for its relatively bland styling. That changed with the launch of the 2011 Sonata in early 2010 where over half of the buyers indicated that exterior styling was extremely important in their selection of the car. Sonata’s swoopy styling broke the mid-size car mold. The 2011 Kia Optima that followed the Sonata is strikingly handsome in its own Euro-Korean way. Toyota stayed very conservative with its new 2012 entry and Honda is rumored to have continued its very conservative streak with the next generation Accord coming this fall. The 2013 Ford Fusion is another game changer in the mold of Sonata and Optima, but even with Fusion’s advanced styling, Altima may have pushed the envelope the farthest. Nissan calls it “Altimaness”.
I probably was the last person to ride with Patrick Paternie on a new vehicle evaluation. Patrick passed away on March 10 following a race in his classic Porsche.
Patrick Paternie: Volvo Chili Cook-Off, Scottsdale, March 8, 2010
I spent two days riding in Volvos with Patrick. He had sought me out to be his co-driver and I looked forward to his commentary and stories. I knew he was a good driver and would never take risks that so many of the hot-shots on these press previews sometimes take.
Patrick regaled me with stories of how he and his wife Linda towed a big trailer behind a Suburban in Arizona and there just wasn’t enough oomph in the big SUV to keep up with traffic with the trailer following behind. He talked about how Linda had come to like riding in his Ford pickup because of all the room in the cab. He was especially complimentary about a drive with the Aston Martin Rapide in Alaska. He said the Rapide was much more capable than he would ever have thought. The folks at Aston Martin admit the car has been “placed at a considerable discount”. He travelled widely for his passion. I was jealous.
We talked about heart surgery I had undergone last November. “How did you know you had a problem,” he asked. “Sprained ankle,” I replied. That got me to the doctor’s office and to get a physical my medical insurance provides every year. Surgery followed a few weeks later.
Patrick never alluded to having a heart problem. He looked fit and healthy. He raced. He finished. He was 65. We miss him.
I’m really not a hypermiling type of guy – I usually drive a twin-turbocharged V6. When the opportunity to drive from Miami Beach to Key West came up, I admit the allure of Key West was more than the chance to get the maximum fuel economy out of a Kia Optima Hybrid and new Kia Rio. Having grown up in Florida, the northern part, I had never been to Key West – got as far as the Everglades a couple of times.
Kia Optima Hybrid and Kia Rio
The cars did not disappoint and Kia threw in the chance to attend GRAND-AM Continental Tire/Kia200 Sports Car Challenge race at the Homestead-Miami Raceway. So how could I refuse?
Optima – Elegant Mid-Size Style With Maximum Fuel Economy The Optima is one of my favorite mid-size cars. Its styling is great and interior is very easy to live with. From my perspective, the Optima style is very sophisticated and European. Coming from the “junior” Korean manufacturer, the Optima is much better looking than the swoopy Hyundai Sonata that has turned so many heads since its introduction in early 2010. My guess is that the Optima style has more staying power than the Sonata which may age pretty quickly.
Adding the Hybrid model to the Optima lineup gives Kia a price-efficient, fuel-efficient combatant in the growing fuel economy battleground among mid-size cars.
All New Rio – Bottom-Feeder No More This was the first chance I have had to drive the all new Rio. As the bottom entry in Kia’s lineup, the Rio has evolved from a cheap, cheap tin can to a very worthy small car. Of course, it is not cheap, cheap any more, but it is reasonably priced. The model we drove was priced a notch above $20,000 but had everything on it including a navigation system, sun roof and leather seats. In previous generations, it would have been unheard of to have this level of equipment available in the lowest priced car from a mainstream brand. With a front seat package rivaling a mid-size car in size, folks are no longer “sentenced” to drive a small car.
Volvo means safety, right? Absolutely. But Volvo is no longer alone atop the safety universe. Other vehicles have achieved similar safety ratings and prospective buyers need additional reasons to consider a Volvo than its safety reputation. To solve this conundrum, Volvo Cars of North America turned to Swedish tuner Polestar.
In 1996, Volvo began a long-term relationship with a Swedish performance tuner – Polestar. Polestar souped up Volvos for the European racing circuit. And, now, Polestar has come to the USA through the offer of a chip enhancement for Volvo sedans and XSUVs. Polestar can either be added at the Volvo port or as an accessory by your friendly Volvo dealer. At the dealer it will set you back $1,295 and Polestar says the chipping should take about ten minutes. You get a lot of bang for the buck.
If you get your Polestar upgrade when you take delivery of your new Volvo, it can be residualized in a lease or financed with the vehicle. Volvo’s warranty and maintenance plans remain in place. It’s pretty seamless.