Long Term: 2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013

Filed under: Sedan, Mazda, Long-Term Garage

2014 Mazda6

Our newest long-termer – the Soul Red 2014 Mazda6 seen here – arrived in my driveway at the end of June. Without hesitation, I immediately put it to work as a daily driver, carpool bus and family vacation sled, and it accomplished all of those tasks with aplomb. Now, more than 4,000 miles down the road, I am left convinced that Mazda’s latest midsize sedan is one of the best in its segment.

During the past 60 days, I have subjected the Mazda6 to scorching travel across Southwestern deserts, wheezing climbs over 8,000-foot-high Sierra Nevada mountain passes and basking in the cool ocean breezes of Malibu. It traveled with four passengers and a full load of luggage from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe, and it braved the bumper-to-bumper freeway congestion on a weekday trip down to San Diego. It accomplished everything that was asked of while hardly skipping a beat – it has only required a regular sip of unleaded fuel to keep it moving forward.

Continue reading 2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013

2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013

Filed under: Sedan, Mazda, Long-Term Garage

2014 Mazda6

Our newest long-termer – the Soul Red 2014 Mazda6 seen here – arrived in my driveway at the end of June. Without hesitation, I immediately put it to work as a daily driver, carpool bus and family vacation sled, and it accomplished all of those tasks with aplomb. Now, more than 4,000 miles down the road, I am left convinced that Mazda’s latest midsize sedan is one of the best in its segment.

During the past 60 days, I have subjected the Mazda6 to scorching travel across Southwestern deserts, wheezing climbs over 8,000-foot-high Sierra Nevada mountain passes and basking in the cool ocean breezes of Malibu. It traveled with four passengers and a full load of luggage from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe, and it braved the bumper-to-bumper freeway congestion on a weekday trip down to San Diego. It accomplished everything that was asked of while hardly skipping a beat – it has only required a regular sip of unleaded fuel to keep it moving forward.

Continue reading 2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013

2014 Mazda6: July/August 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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August 2013: Sizzling Summer Edition

Filed under: Car Buying, By the Numbers

Honda, Toyota And Nissan Make Big Gains, Domestics Not Far Off

By the Numbers cutout art

The summer sales season came to a close last month with all of the major auto companies we follow posting double-digit sales increases in August. Smaller companies with multiple brands like Jaguar-Land Rover, which was up a relatively impressive 40 percent, are at the top of the list, but companies that sell in much larger volumes were right behind.

Japanese automakers led the way with Honda/Acura climbing 26.7 percent, Toyota/Lexus up 22.8 percent and Nissan/Infiniti increasing 22.3 percent. US domestic automakers, however, had an August to celebrate as well, with General Motors gaining 14.7 percent, Ford and Lincoln up 12.2 percent and all of Chrysler (including Fiat) up 11.5 percent.

August was a month of records, as well, with Subaru, a perennial hot-selling brand on our table, beating its old all-time sales record in the US with 41,061 units sold last month – an increase of 45.1 percent versus last year. Hyundai, up 8.2 percent, set an all-time sales record for August, as did Honda and Kia. Maserati had its best month ever in the US, and Mazda had its best August in 10 years. Even Toyota reported achieving its best month of sales in more than five years.

Check all of last month’s sales figures in the chart below.

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 28 selling days in August 2013 and 27 selling days in August 2012, so there is a difference between the change in monthly sales volume and the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.

August 2013: Sizzling Summer Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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August 2013: Sizzling Summer Edition

Filed under: Car Buying, By the Numbers

Honda, Toyota And Nissan Make Big Gains, Domestics Not Far Off

By the Numbers cutout art

The summer sales season came to a close last month with all of the major auto companies we follow posting double-digit sales increases in August. Smaller companies with multiple brands like Jaguar-Land Rover, which was up a relatively impressive 40 percent, are at the top of the list, but companies that sell in much larger volumes were right behind.

Japanese automakers led the way with Honda/Acura climbing 26.7 percent, Toyota/Lexus up 22.8 percent and Nissan/Infiniti increasing 22.3 percent. US domestic automakers, however, had an August to celebrate as well, with General Motors gaining 14.7 percent, Ford and Lincoln up 12.2 percent and all of Chrysler (including Fiat) up 11.5 percent.

August was a month of records, as well, with Subaru, a perennial hot-selling brand on our table, beating its old all-time sales record in the US with 41,061 units sold last month – an increase of 45.1 percent versus last year. Hyundai, up 8.2 percent, set an all-time sales record for August, as did Honda and Kia. Maserati had its best month ever in the US, and Mazda had its best August in 10 years. Even Toyota reported achieving its best month of sales in more than five years.

Check all of last month’s sales figures in the chart below.

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 28 selling days in August 2013 and 27 selling days in August 2012, so there is a difference between the change in monthly sales volume and the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.

August 2013: Sizzling Summer Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013

Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Hyundai, Long-Term Garage

Long-term 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

If you’ve been reading the past several updates on our long-term 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, you may have noticed a trend developing. This is a flawed vehicle. Not critically so, but for many of our editors, this vehicle’s annoying attributes are indeed outweighing the good. What may not be obvious, though, is that the deck is kind of stacked against the Turbo model.

See, a Veloster with its base powertrain and less of the gimmicky, look-at-me styling is a solid, fashion-forward, nicely packaged hatchback at a good price. Our issues haven’t so much been with the Veloster itself, but with the unfulfilled expectations of hot-hatchery that the Turbo brings to the equation.

For this update, then, I will focus on a common bridge between the two Veloster models: the cars’ top-end infotainment systems. Tack on the Style and Tech packs on the standard Veloster or the Ultimate Package on a Veloster Turbo, and you’ll get the same Blue Link infotainment system, touchscreen navigation and eight-speaker Dimension stereo (a standard item on the VT).

Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013

Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Hyundai, Long-Term Garage

Long-term 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

If you’ve been reading the past several updates on our long-term 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, you may have noticed a trend developing. This is a flawed vehicle. Not critically so, but for many of our editors, this vehicle’s annoying attributes are indeed outweighing the good. What may not be obvious, though, is that the deck is kind of stacked against the Turbo model.

See, a Veloster with its base powertrain and less of the gimmicky, look-at-me styling is a solid, fashion-forward, nicely packaged hatchback at a good price. Our issues haven’t so much been with the Veloster itself, but with the unfulfilled expectations of hot-hatchery that the Turbo brings to the equation.

For this update, then, I will focus on a common bridge between the two Veloster models: the cars’ top-end infotainment systems. Tack on the Style and Tech packs on the standard Veloster or the Ultimate Package on a Veloster Turbo, and you’ll get the same Blue Link infotainment system, touchscreen navigation and eight-speaker Dimension stereo (a standard item on the VT).

Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: July/August 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art

Filed under: Performance, Etc., Toys/Games, SRT

2013 GTAV Bravado Banshee

Bravado BansheeEven though our first response was something along the lines of “It should have been the Cheetah,” we will admit that building a real-life version of a Grand Theft Auto V car is a pretty meta, pretty cool promotion.

Details on the Banshee’s mechanicals are pretty scarce, but the car has obviously been crafted using a Viper as its base (a fourth- or fifth-generation car seems likely). Created by the West Coast Customs shop of reality TV fame, the body panels of the Banshee were designed and cut to form a “screen accurate” replica of the in-game car (which is pictured in the inset photo). Even the interior of the vehicle has been customized to be gamer-friendly, with reconfigured dashboard, door panels and center console, as well as the Banshee name and insignia stitched on the seats.

Best of all, video game retailer GameStop is giving away the car as part of the promotion for GTA’s September 17 release. As if the title needed more publicity, right? Get a bit more info about the car in the press release below.

Continue reading 2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art

2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art

Filed under: Performance, Etc., Toys/Games, SRT

2013 GTAV Bravado Banshee

Bravado BansheeEven though our first response was something along the lines of “It should have been the Cheetah,” we will admit that building a real-life version of a Grand Theft Auto V car is a pretty meta, pretty cool promotion.

Details on the Banshee’s mechanicals are pretty scarce, but the car has obviously been crafted using a Viper as its base (a fourth- or fifth-generation car seems likely). Created by the West Coast Customs shop of reality TV fame, the body panels of the Banshee were designed and cut to form a “screen accurate” replica of the in-game car (which is pictured in the inset photo). Even the interior of the vehicle has been customized to be gamer-friendly, with reconfigured dashboard, door panels and center console, as well as the Banshee name and insignia stitched on the seats.

Best of all, video game retailer GameStop is giving away the car as part of the promotion for GTA’s September 17 release. As if the title needed more publicity, right? Get a bit more info about the car in the press release below.

Continue reading 2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art

2013 GTA V Bravado Banshee is life imitating video-game art originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Honda, Quick Spins

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid

Even after Honda’s Great Emergency Refresh of 2013, it still takes a sharp eye to spot the visual differences between the 2013 Honda Civic and its 2012 counterpart. While annual styling changes used to be commonplace back in the 1950s and ’60s, this has become a much rarer practice in the industry due to the high costs of doing so, and sets the tone for just how important the Civic is in the Honda lineup.

One thing that hasn’t changed for the Civic is the wide selection of models available including the fuel-efficient HF, Natural Gas and Hybrid models. For this Quick Spin, I spent a week with the 2013 Civic Hybrid, which has always been a kind of un-Prius with its more-conventional sedan styling. The Civic’s top-mpg offering now finds itself under fire from newer rivals like the Chevy Cruze (Eco and Diesel) and VW Jetta (TDI and Hybrid). With the growing number of hybrids, diesels and high-fuel-economy gas models car buyers currently have at their disposal, if you’ve been clamoring for more fuel-efficient cars in recent years, now’s the time to be putting your money where your mouth is.

Driving Notes:

  • The only part of the 2013 Civic Hybrid that was left alone, was the one area it could have used a little modernization: Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. On the fuel economy front, sandwiching the 27-horsepower motor between the 110-hp 1.5-liter engine and the CVT returns EPA estimates of 44 miles per gallon for city and highway, which is far better than the mild-hybrid eAssist system used by General Motors but not as advanced as other hybrids in this segment. Unlike eAssist, Honda says that the motor can send power directly to the front wheels (but only during deceleration as a way to lessen the load on the engine), but unlike a more advanced hybrid, the Civic can’t accelerate under all-electric power. Honda stepped up its game with a new lithium-ion battery for 2012, but it needs to come up with an equally advanced answer for the rest of the system.
  • The advantage of IMA, though, is a less intrusive hybrid experience. Except for the stop-start system, the only way most drivers will really know this is a hybrid is by how much better it is at the pump. During my week with the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how the Civic never ‘felt’ like a hybrid but returned excellent fuel economy. Based on the in-cluster estimates I averaged just over 40 mpg on the highway, and in the city my numbers were consistently above the official 44-mpg rating.
  • Aside from the powertrain, Honda made numerous small improvements that paid off big time with the styling of the 2013 Civic sedan lineup. The exterior received new fascias, taillights and a modified decklid to give all sedan models a more mature appearance, and the Civic Hybrid probably comes off as the most stylish of the Civic models now with its grinning chrome grille, LED running lights and the clear-lens, light-pipe taillights.
  • Interior updates were equally subtle but make a huge difference in terms of comfort and style, such as the added padding to the door panels for added comfort, the reworked instrument panel with a cleaner, less awkward design and much better HVAC controls. Despite being a big step up from 2012, the 2013 Civic’s interior is still a step behind class leaders (in roominess and styling). All of these interior and exterior changes were most likely already in the product pipeline as a midcycle refresh, so it will be interesting to see how Honda updates this design in another couple years.
  • Starting at $24,360, the Civic Hybrid has about the same premium as most hybrids or diesels in this class, but my fully loaded tester with navigation and leather came out to $27,850. This is still a reasonable price for such a well-equipped car in this market, but for dedicated green-car enthusiasts, it might be a little too close to new plug-in or full-EV models to warrant the price.
  • Considering that a Civic Hybrid buyer could have just as easily bought a Civic Si, I’m not going to harp on the Hybrid too much, but the 110-hp engine and the equally buzz-killing CVT don’t make for an exciting car. Still, going back to the IMA, the true saving grace of this system is that it doesn’t add too much weight. At 2,879 pounds, the Civic Hybrid weighs almost the same as the non-hybrid Civic EX-L. In terms of braking, the weight saving means better performance along with pedal feel that is neither too spongy or frightening.
  • A new feature for 2013 is a lane departure warning system that uses a forward-mounted camera to sense the road lines and flash a bright warning on the upper screen if the car swerves out of its lane. Unfortunately, this camera takes up an unusually vast amount of windshield real estate, which was obvious as I was pulling out into traffic on more than one occasion.
  • When it comes to the idea of small, fuel-efficient cars, I’ve always been in the diesel camp, but I also enjoy taking long road trips. Those with regular city commutes should appreciate Civic Hybrid as much for what it brings to the table (excellent fuel economy) as for what it leaves behind (an overly flashy “I’m a hybrid” design). There is no doubt that this refresh has bought the Civic some time to keep pace with other compact cars, but I think that as much that has changed in this segment in the last few years, Honda isn’t going to have much breathing room in this segment until the next-gen Civic can get here.

2013 Honda Civic Hybrid originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Strong US auto sales in August on pace to top 15.5M in 2013

Filed under: Car Buying

ford dealership lot

August sales will be announced next week, but early numbers say that it has been an exceptionally good month for new-car sales so far with two days left to go – including the kickoff to Labor Day weekend. Automotive News is reporting that forecasters are expecting this month to be the strongest single month since 2006 with retail sales projected to be around 1.27 million units.

Factoring this into the known 9.13 million sales through July, many experts are saying that annual sales in 2013 could be in the mid-15-million unit range including one estimate pushing this year’s totals past 16 million units – a mark the US industry hasn’t seen since 2007. The article states that sales could be even higher if automakers like Hyundai, Ford and Subaru were able to keep supply up with the demand of some of their popular models. Stay tuned as we’ll know for sure when we put together our usual By The Numbers post next week.

Strong US auto sales in August on pace to top 15.5M in 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 17:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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