Study: The safest driving cities in America listed for 2013

Filed under: Safety

Texting while driving

We all like to claim we know where the worst drivers in the US hog the road, but for the last nine years, Allstate has released a study telling us exactly where we can go to find the best and worst drivers in the country. After compiling crash data in America’s largest cities (with more than 50,000 residents), this finding shows that for the third time in four years, Fort Collins, CO tops the list for safest roadways. Fort Collins drivers go almost 14 years between car accidents – an accident rate that is far better than the national average of about 10 years.

Making huge strides in traffic safety, according to the study, Brownsville, TX and Montgomery, AL each soared 21 spots and are now among the top 10 cities on the list. Phoenix is 71 out of the 194 cities listed, but it has the highest safety for cities with the population of more than one million people with crashes 2 percent more likely than average and about 10 years between crashes for drivers. At the bottom of the list, drivers in Washington, D.C. are more than twice as likely to get into a crash, with that population experiencing a wreck about every five years. Big cities like Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA and Miami, FL were also some of the least-safe cities in which to drive. Scroll down for Allstate’s press release or check out the full report in pdf form.

*Note: cities in Massachusetts were excluded due to a lack of data.You lucked out, Bostonians.

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The safest driving cities in America listed for 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Review: 2013 Ferrari FF [w/video]

Filed under: Performance, Hatchback, Ferrari, New Car Reviews

The World’s Fastest Four-Passenger is Frickin’ Fabulous

2013 Ferrari FF

“I miss my mommy.”

Those frightened words floated from the mouth of a five-year-old boy strapped snugly into a booster seat in the backseat of the Ferrari FF I was piloting. Moments earlier, his father had allowed me to take him, and his two brothers, for their first ride in a supercar, and I had apparently failed miserably.

I craned my neck and moved slightly to the right, in an attempt to see him in the rearview mirror, before I asked with a cautionary tone, “What did you just say?” My mind raced during the next few seconds of silence. I wondered if I had unnecessarily traumatized him, or worse – given the little guy his first case of whiplash.

I knew this 651-horsepower Italian was going to get me into trouble.

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2013 Ferrari FF [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 08 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Review: 2013 Ram 1500

Filed under: Truck, Work, New Car Reviews, Off-Road, Ram

Enough Is Enough. Finally.

2013 Ram 1500 - front three-quarter view

Not long ago, the efforts of an automaker to put a six-cylinder engine into a pickup truck went something like this: take the basic bread-and-butter V8, lop two cylinders off one end of the block and call it a day. The resulting engines were generally pretty rough around the edges, and while they were able to churn out reasonable amounts of torque, they generally weren’t good at anything else. Instead of being smooth running, they shook and shimmied; in place of a quiet highway jaunt, they operated well outside their low-rpm comfort zones and sent a corresponding racket throughout the cabin. And, instead of returning significantly superior fuel economy over their V8 counterparts, they guzzled gas and spat noxious vapors out their tailpipes.

In other words, the only reason to choose the base V6 engine over an optional V8 was to save money on the initial purchase, and that usually meant you’d be driving home in a stripped-out machine and would be lucky to have power windows, cruise control and air conditioning.

Those days are long gone, and good riddance, we say. Today’s lineup of full-size trucks are better in every way than ever before, from styling and safety to towing and overall performance. And, for the first time ever, fuel efficiency is a primary selling point for V6-powered pickups. But how does a new, modern-day truck with a V6 engine work in the real world? Does it deliver on the promises of decent efficiency, refined driving manners and adequate performance (both around town and when put to work) all for a palatable price? We spent back-to-back weeks with two 2013 Ram 1500 pickups to find out, one with a Hemi V8 and one with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Read on, faithful truck buyers.

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2013 Ram 1500 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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July 2013: It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here Edition

Filed under: By the Numbers

Toyota Edges Out Ford, Honda Leads All

By the Numbers graphic

Sales figures for the US auto industry during July 2013 are in, and the big automakers should be pleased with the numbers they’re seeing. American Honda led the pack with a 20.95-percent rise in sales last month, followed by Toyota Motor Company with a 17.28-percent gain and General Motors, which rose 16.32 percent. Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Group and Nissan North America were all up about 11 percent, as well.

The eye-catcher in last month’s numbers is that Toyota and its brands (Lexus and Scion) outsold the Blue Oval fold for the first time since March 2010, but barely. Team Toyota posted sales of 193,394, just 321 units more than the 193,715 sales reported by Ford and Lincoln.

Even more conspicuous is the poor sales performance by Infiniti last month. Nissan’s luxury arm in the US saw sales fall 33.2 percent in July, far and away the biggest drop of any brand. In fact, no other brand even experienced a double-digit sales dip. Fortunately, Infiniti’s fall was more than offset by a strong 16.79-percent rise in Nissan sales.

Check out the full sales figures in the chart below.

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 25 selling days in July 2013 and 24 selling days in July 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.

July 2013: It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quick Spin: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS Hot Wheels Edition

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Chevrolet, Toys/Games, Quick Spins

2013 Chevy Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition - parked in front of Toys R Us store

Pairing your car, truck or SUV with another brand is a tried-and-true method to create the sort of positive association that sells vehicles, or at least gives them an attractive new look and higher margins. Ford knows this, having paired the Explorer and rugged apparel brand Eddie Bauer in the ’90s with great success, and the F-150 with iconic motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson since 2000 (that partnership, however, has ended with the 2012 model year).

Not every partnership is geared towards making a vehicle appear more macho, though. The Fiat 500 by Gucci, for instance, matches the cute Cinquecento with a high fashion icon (something Cadillac tried back in 1979), and Lexus has a history of Coach Edition models that came with higher grade leather and matching luggage. Indeed, this 2013 Chevy Camaro Hot Wheels Special Edition isn’t even the only pairing of toy and car, another example being the recent Call of Duty MW3 and Black Ops editions of the Jeep Wrangler. It isn’t even the only Camaro co-branded with a toy – the 2012 Transformers Edition with Bumblebee paint job preceded it.

Pairing your automobile with something sold inside a Toys R Us, however, can be tricky. Fashion and apparel brands have more universal appeal among adult buyers than, for instance, the latest first-person-shooter video game. Partnering with a brand that markets primarily to children can also communicate the wrong thing about the person who buys such a vehicle – that he or she has a Peter Pan syndrome, not wanting to grow up, buy that sensible sedan and get on with life like the rest of us. Then again, buying a Hot Wheels Special Edition Camaro could just mean you remember the fun side of life and have the extra disposable income to show it.

Driving Notes

  • The Hot Wheels Special Edition options package is a $6,995 question that needs answering when ordering your Camaro 2LT (V6) or 2SS (V8) coupe or convertible. The package includes Kinetic Blue metallic paint; 21-inch black aluminum wheels with red striping; the Camaro’s RS appearance package; Hot Wheels badging, decals and embroidery; premium floor mats and a painted engine cover. Nothing here makes the car go quicker, turn better or stop shorter, which is fine, as the Camaro’s got plenty of other packages and models that do that. This test car was also equipped with the optional dual-mode performance exhaust for $895 and navigation system for $795, bringing its out-the-door price minus tax to $45,720.
  • In creating this Hot Wheels Special Edition model, Chevy designers have done a good job walking the fine line between attention-grabbing aesthetics and gratuitously over-the-top looks. The Kinetic Blue paint pops, but not nearly as much as some other Camaro colors (remember Synergy Green?). The design of the wheels is a matter of taste, and they appear neatly inspired by their 1:64 scale counterparts, but no one will guess this is a Hot Wheels car by wheels alone. What will tip them off is the badging, which includes Hot Wheels logos on the grill, front fenders and the rear. I wouldn’t mind if that badge count were halved, but wouldn’t dare touch the wide single matte black stripe or subtle blue flames on the rear fenders. The red striping on the wheels that’s mirrored around the grille and headlights is another subtle and appealing design touch.
  • I was less fond of this Camaro’s interior, which sports huge Hot Wheels logos embroidered in the seat backs, large logos on the side sill plates and an eency-weency logo embedded in the bottom of the steering wheel. The branding message while entering the vehicle is a bit obnoxious that way. Speaking of the wheel, General Motors needs to move on to a new tiller design. We’ve seen seen this one for years in everything down to the lowly Sonic, which makes grasping it in a $45k special edition Camaro feel less than special. Also, this was my first experience with a navigation system in the Camaro, and while the MyLink system Chevy uses is fine enough, its application in this pony car’s interior is a miss. More physical buttons to navigate the system, or more clearly marked ones, would help.
  • What you’re ultimately buying with a Camaro like this is a burnout machine. While other models, particularly ones with the 1LE package and the top-shelf ZL1, are engineered specifically to expand the Camaro’s handling envelope, this Hot Wheels model is basically an SS with wheels an inch larger in diameter than you could otherwise order. It feels neither particularly spry nor nimble when turning, which isn’t helped by the Camaro’s now-trademark tank-slit outward visibility. Not knowing the exact location of the car’s front corners while carrying that much inertia made me feel less-than-confident while cornering, so I gravitated more towards having fun in a straight line. My colleagues in the industry appeared to agree judging by the amount of tread left on the car’s rear tires upon arrival.
  • And what a performance the Camaro gives when getting on the gas. The 6.2-liter V8 producing 426 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque is everything an American muscle car’s engine should be. The optional dual-mode exhaust was a gloriously guttural flute through which to play the motor’s music, and I often found myself throttle-goosing for encores of the performance. Power is available everywhere in every gear, and the six-speed manual transmission was not at all a bear to operate around town. It feels stout enough to handle the engine’s fury at full bore, but the engagements are smooth and the pedal isn’t too firm.
  • Would I buy one? The Hot Wheels Special Edition model is a limited edition, and Chevy has said when they’re gone, they’re gone. We don’t know if all have been sold yet, but you can still build one using the configurator on Chevy’s website, which suggests they are still available. Regardless, my answer would be no, this isn’t the Camaro I would buy myself. As special editions go, I like its aesthetics a lot and a few less badges and logos would get me even more on board, though on some level, taht defeats the point of co-branding. But if you’re a parent with a kid who collects Hot Wheels and feel a mid-life crisis is coming on, could there be a more perfect purchase than this?

2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS Hot Wheels Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Hot lap the Hungaroring with Codemasters’ F1 2013 and Anthony Davidson

Filed under: Motorsports, Videos, Toys/Games

Au courant with the Hungarian Grand Prix running this weekend, Codemasters has released in-game footage from F1 2013 of a hot lap video of the Hungaroring driven by Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and narrated by ex-Formula One driver and current Sky F1 commentator and sportscar racer Anthony Davidson. The graphics have improved over F1 2012, Davidson’s commentary is just as good as it was last year, and the rear-view mirrors are still huge.

There are also hot lap vids of the Nürburgring driven by Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus and Silverstone piloted by Jenson Button in his McLaren. The game hits shelves October 8, but you can watch the hot lap videos below right now.

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Hot lap the Hungaroring with Codemasters’ F1 2013 and Anthony Davidson originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Jul 2013 13:13:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Toyota hangs on to title of world’s largest automaker for first half of 2013

Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota, Earnings/Financials

Toyota USA Headquarters

General Motors and Ford can have all the success they please, but it doesn’t seem like America’s two largest manufacturers are going to topple Toyota in the first half of 2013. According to Reuters, Toyota moved 4.91 million vehicles in the first six months of 2013, representing a 1.1-percent drop from the same period in 2012.

GM is on the rise, though, with a four-percent increase in global sales, to 4.85 million. Volkswagen, still sitting in third, saw a 5.5-percent jump to 4.7 million vehicles in the first half of 2013.

If this pace continues for Toyota, it’ll finish 2013 in the top sales spot for the second year in a row. The manufacturer fell to third, behind GM and VW, in 2011 after earthquakes and tsunamis ravaged its production capacity.

Toyota hangs on to title of world’s largest automaker for first half of 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 26 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Review: 2013 BMW M3 Coupe Lime Rock Park Edition

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, BMW, New Car Reviews, Luxury

Sic Transit Gloria

2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition

I like difficult cars. I like turbo “moments,” dramatic weight distribution, low-grip, peaky power delivery, and overly quick steering, along with ultra-short wheelbases and any number of other non-racecar-perfect dynamic foibles. I love the newest generation of BMW cars and engines – all turbo’d up with tons of torque and power everywhere in the rev range, too. But what I think the enthusiast community will miss when this 2013 M3 Coupe becomes the 2014 M4 Coupe – replacing its idiosyncratic, small-displacement, revvy V8 for something like a triple-turbo, directly injected, inline six-cylinder powerhouse in the process – is the work it takes to drive the car fast and perfectly. Sometimes small flaws just make things better; my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, and all that.

The idea of this E92 M3 going away then, magnified by the loss of the M3 badge for the coupe, is at best bittersweet for me. This generation of M car is already surpassed in terms of raw thrills by the better-than-ever Mercedes-Benz C63, a car that doesn’t ask its driver to sacrifice low-end grunt or the very latest in amenities in return for stellar backroad performance. Yet any time I’ve been lucky enough to lap a track in the M3, it has quickly become clear that the Bimmer is the better on-edge tool. With the freedom to wring the neck of the 4.0-liter V8 and room to exercise the lovely balance of the car, the E92 is hard to match (even six years after its debut).

Still, when the 2013 BMW M3 Coupe Lime Rock Park Edition rolled into my driveway, its Fire Orange bodywork flashing over gloss-black 19-inch rolling stock, the car had me a little crossed up. BMW has been tossing out special edition M3s for the last few years now, all asking thousands of dollars extra for the limited production-run vehicles. I knew that the LRP was more than a mere trim and tape package, but would it be an appropriate send off for a spectacularly departing sports car legend, or just $10,000 down the drain where a stock M3 Coupe would have happily sufficed?

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2013 BMW M3 Coupe Lime Rock Park Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mitsubishi recalling 2013 Outlander Sport for suspension issue

Filed under: Recalls, Safety, Crossover, Mitsubishi

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - front three-quarter view, tan

Just 305 units of the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport are the subject of a recall over a potential suspension issue. Crossovers made from January 17-25 of this year might suffer from a bad weld on the front left strut’s stabilizer link. If it fails, damage to the brake hose or tire could result, in turn making steering or braking control of the compact CUV more difficult.

When the recall begins, owners can take their Outlander Sports to Mitsubishi dealers for inspection and replacement of the strut assembly if necessary. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration bulletin below has more information.

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Mitsubishi recalling 2013 Outlander Sport for suspension issue originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Honda recalls select 2013 Accords over fuel tank neck

Filed under: Coupe, Sedan, Recalls, Safety, Honda

Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have announced a recall for 1,659 model-year 2013 Honda Accord vehicles. The affected Accords are Low-Emission Vehicle II rated cars manufactured between January 15 and April 5 of 2013.

The recall is pursuant to a fuel tank neck that might be out of specification, and the variance could result in the fuel pump not properly sealing with the fuel tank. As you might guess, a bad seal here could result in a gasoline leak, posing a fire risk. As of this writing, there have been no reports of fires because of this problem.

Honda will reach out to owners of affected 2013 Accords, directing dealers to replace the cars’ fuel tank, nut and O-ring gasket. Expect the notifications when the recall begins in earnest on August 1. FInd the full NHTSA press release below.

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Honda recalls select 2013 Accords over fuel tank neck originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Jul 2013 15:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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