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.

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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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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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Report: More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Earnings/Financials

Couple shopping for new cars

The length of car loans in the US keeps on growing as more and more consumers look for ways to save money every month to pay off obligations and necessities. Extremely low interest rates and more durable automobiles have become key factors in driving these new longer-term car loans, which can last anywhere from six to 10 years.

Auto loans used to last four or five years on average, but, in today’s cash-strapped era, automakers are more interested in selling cars than profiting from financing, which has resulted in the low interest rates and longer loan terms consumers are seeing today. While some might be concerned that this is the same sort of subprime lending that led to the housing crash in 2008, James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota North America, tells The Detroit News that there’s little risk added with these longer loans because defaults typically happen within six months. He also told the newspaper that the longer term options can be the difference between a customer buying a Corolla or a more expensive Camry.

And consider Bradley Gallant’s case. The Detroit News reported that he financed a new Honda Accord with a six-year loan at 1.89 percent to divert money to other investments. Compared to a four-year loan on the same car, he saves $130 on his monthly bill and only ends up paying $370 more in interest by the end of the loan. We commend Mr. Gallant on negotiating such loan terms, but it also drives home the point that interest rates must remain low for such loans to be good deals.

In December, we reported that the fastest-growing category in automotive borrowing was the seven-year loan and noted that automakers were reluctant to offer them because it kept customers off the market for too long. Well, apparently, the times they are a-changin’ – and they’re getting longer.

View Poll

More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Chevy Sonic to offer short-term limited-edition colors

Filed under: Budget, Sedan, Crossover, Chevrolet, Design/Style

2014 Chevy Sonic - front three-quarter view - Deep Magenta Metallic paint

When Chevrolet launched its subcompact Sonic, it made a splash with a bright paint dubbed Inferno Orange. The metallic citrus shade was a genuine retina searer, featuring prominently in the car’s early marketing efforts as its so-called ‘launch color.’ But Inferno Orange is now gone from the Sonic’s order sheets, and the rest of the car’s color palate is more traditional and – dare we say it – a bit sober.

But that’s about to change – Chevy has just announced that it will begin releasing a range of limited-edition short-term paint colors beginning with the “chromatic plum” shade seen above, Deep Magenta Metallic. The striking hue came about after witnessing the successful launch of the Chevy Spark in Techno Pink. The special paint will only be available from August through October, but Chevy hasn’t revealed if it is capping the number of vehicles it will produce in this shade.

Chevy says that Deep Magenta Metallic will be followed up by Cool Blue, a shade the company describes as “a grayish, dirty blue.” The latter will be available from November until March, and another new shade, Dragon Green, will join the Sonic’s permanent color choices sometime in the first quarter of 2014. Interestingly, the company says that a typical Chevy vehicle receives “10 to 12 color options throughout its lifecycle.” The Sonic already received a similar number of paints before Deep Magenta Metallic and it’s still relatively early in the car’s lifecycle, so clearly Chevy sees small car buyers as being receptive to a broader range of color choices.

Continue reading 2014 Chevy Sonic to offer short-term limited-edition colors

2014 Chevy Sonic to offer short-term limited-edition colors originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder: June 2013

Filed under: Crossover, Nissan, Long-Term Garage

Long-Term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder - front three-quarter view

When we say that our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has been busy, we mean it. Want proof? In the past month, the big, brown Nissan was only idle enough for us to take it in for its 11,500-mile routine service and to shoot a couple of new photos of the long-termer in Detroit.

Most recently, the Pathfinder spent a few weeks in the hands of AOL Autos‘ executive editor Sharon Carty, who used the three-row CUV to haul her entire family from Detroit to New Jersey and back… twice. That’s a pretty serious amount of miles, but it gave Sharon a really solid look into how the vehicle holds up for the needs of a family with kids of different ages.

Continue reading 2013 Nissan Pathfinder: June 2013

2013 Nissan Pathfinder: June 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2014 Mazda6: June 2013

Filed under: Sedan, Mazda, Long-Term Garage

The 2014 Mazda6 is our most recent addition to the Autoblog long-term fleet, and we spent the month of June getting to know our Soul Red tester, generally enjoying the honeymoon phase of this twelve-month relationship. During June, the Mazda6 spent the majority of its time with director of photography Drew Phillips, who in addition to putting together this pretty gallery of our rakish long-term car, had a lot to say about it as a daily driver.

You see, not too long before Mazda delivered our long-term 6, Drew bought a 2014 CX-5 crossover to support his growing family. The CX-5 was the first vehicle to use Mazda’s full suite of Skyactiv technologies, and we’ve generally enjoyed the good-to-drive CUV. A lot of that CX-5 goodness lies beneath the more shapely lines of this sleek Mazda6 sedan, so it’s only fitting that Drew had a lot of comparisons between Mazda’s two housemates during his month behind the wheel.

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2014 Mazda6: June 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: June 2013

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

There are an awful lot of good reasons to get into the Hyundai Veloster family and formula. This car looks good, is loaded out with tech and offers a great deal of practicality in a small form factor. One good reason not to consider a Veloster, at least if you’re a city dweller or have primarily urban daily driving path, is the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine in the eponymous Veloster Turbo.

Two major factors kill the Veloster Turbo in terms of said city driving: turbo lag and fuel economy.

Two major factors kill the Veloster Turbo in terms of city driving: turbo lag and fuel economy.

I had our long-term Turbo for all of June and the first week of July, during which time I primarily used the car as a runabout in Ann Arbor, MI. With the exception of a few 40-ish-mile jaunts into Metro Detroit, I drove the Hyundai roughly five to ten miles at a time, with speeds that I’m sure averaged 30 miles per hour or less. This kind of driving isn’t a good recipe for high mile-per-gallon numbers, to be sure, and I netted out at about 21.6 mpg – a decent bit lower than the EPA estimate of 24 mpg in the city.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t having a riveting time whilst burning that gas (at least you don’t have to run premium). If you’ve been following the saga of this long-term car to date, you’ve read a lot about how the Turbo doesn’t feel especially hot-hatchy. There are plenty of reasons for this, but I think much of it comes down to a laggy turbo. Getting into the heart of the boost takes a really heavy foot and a low gear when initially accelerating. Worse, the rush from the turbo boost doesn’t feel especially strong once it does come on. (I don’t actually mind a bit of turbo lag, if the payout at the end is a crazy accelerative moment; see Mazdaspeed3, Mini Cooper S, etc.)

In other words: If the Veloster Turbo felt really fast, even sometimes, I’d forgive the fuel economy. As it stands, I’m quite sure the trade-off versus the standard, slow, nice handling non-turbo Veloster, at least for city drivers, is a bad one to make. That’s not even taking sticker price into account…

Continue reading 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: June 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: June 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 12 Jul 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Long Term: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI joins Autoblog’s Long-Term Garage

Filed under: Sedan, Volkswagen, Diesel, Long-Term Garage

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you had told us last year that this year’s most controversial redesign would be the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, we would’ve politely walked away and laughed at your outrageous claim behind your back. We’re like that. But here we are, and the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is, arguably, the most controversial redesign of the year.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The reason is not so much how the designer’s hand has changed the car’s look, but rather how the bean counters and product managers have completely changed what the Jetta is. It’s no longer a premium compact sedan with a price to match. Now it’s a near-mid-size four-door with an ultra-competitive base price.

Jetta fans and auto journalists have been less than enthused with the changes. Buyers, however, apparently disagree. Sales of the new Jetta through April are up 68.8 percent. So which camp is right?

After the untimely demise of our last long-term Jetta (follow the jump for the whole story), a 2010 model year TDI Cup Street Edition, we were offered a 2011 model to take its place. Driving these two diesel Jettas back-to-back will help us craft a before-and-after snapshot of what the car has gained and lost with this latest redesign.

Continue reading 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI joins Autoblog’s Long-Term Garage

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI joins Autoblog’s Long-Term Garage originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 31 May 2011 14:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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