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.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

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

Report: Sony readying Gran Turismo movie with 50 Shades producers [w/poll]

Filed under: Etc., Toys/Games, TV/Movies

Gran Turismo 6 screencap showing Nissan GT-R Nismo racecar

Video game franchises turned into Hollywood blockbuster movies have certainly come a long way since the days of Super Mario Bros. and Double Dragon, yet each new adaptation still gives us pause as moviegoers. Even so, we’re prepared to momentarily suspend our cynicism upon learning that Sony is readying a Gran Turismo big-screen treatment, following on the heels of Dreamworks’ Need For Speed movie plans.

According to The Wrap, the movie is said to be proceeding under the direction of Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti, producers of Fifty Shades of Grey and The Social Network, with Sony executives Elizabeth Cantillon, DeVon Franklin and Hanna Minghella keeping a close eye on the project.

While not originating from a video game series, The Wrap notes that the Fast and The Furious series has become Universal Pictures’ most bankable franchise, triggering a run on car-related movies as of late. Other auto films set to hit the theaters soon include Ron Howard’s Rush and Snake and Mongoose, both based on historic motorsports battles.

No word yet on when the movie may see theaters, but it’s likely that fans of the franchise will doubtlessly have their copies of Gran Turismo 6 (shown above) before the film’s opening night.

View Poll

Sony readying Gran Turismo movie with 50 Shades producers [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Jul 2013 18:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Report: Sony readying Gran Turismo movie with 50 Shades producers [w/poll]”

Video: Is TrueCar’s new female car shopper ad sexist? [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Marketing/Advertising, Videos

Controversial Truecar commercial with female car shopper - screencap

TrueCar is getting bashed in both traditional and social media venues over a 30-second ad that’s gone viral due to what some perceive as sexist overtones. The ad features a number of women talking about using TrueCar for their latest vehicular purchase, and how the website takes the “anxiety” out of buying a car. It ends with the line, “I don’t need to bring a dude with me.”

The backlash, particularly on TrueCar’s Facebook page has been pretty severe, with angry women firing away at the service over the spot. In response to the bad press it’s been getting on sites like BuzzFeed and AdWeek, TrueCar’s PR agency, PGCCampbell, and the company’s founder and CEO, Scott Painter, issued the following statement:

“Regardless of race or gender, being a more informed car buyer benefits consumers. TrueCar supplies a hassle-free experience for both men and women by providing car-buying information the public can’t get elsewhere.

This particular ad is pro-consumer and pro-women. It was developed by our creative director, who is a woman, and it addresses a real consumer issue in the marketplace.”

Judge for yourself by screening the video below. Then vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in Comments. Has TrueCar been watching a bit too much Mad Men, or are people overreacting?

View Poll

Continue reading Is TrueCar’s new female car shopper ad sexist? [w/poll]

Is TrueCar’s new female car shopper ad sexist? [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Video: Is TrueCar’s new female car shopper ad sexist? [w/poll]”

Read This: Is it time for American carmakers to give up on dual-clutch transmissions? [w/poll]

Filed under: Etc., Technology, Chrysler, Ford, Read This

Dual-clutch transmissions in plant

Last week, in the midst of Detroit’s first days seeking relief in Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, Automotive News contributor Larry P. Vellequette penned an editorial suggesting that American car companies raise the white flag on dual clutch transmissions and give up on trying to persuade Americans to buy cars fitted with them. Why? Because, Vellequette says, like CVT transmissions, they “just don’t sound right or feel right to American drivers.” (Note: In the article, it’s not clear if Vellequette is arguing against wet-clutch and dry-clutch DCTs or just dry-clutch DCTs, which is what Ford and Chrysler use.) The article goes on to state that Ford and Chrysler have experimented with DCTs and that both consumers and the automotive press haven’t exactly given them glowing reviews, despite their quicker shifts and increased fuel efficiency potential compared to torque-converter automatic transmissions.

Autoblog staffers who weighed in on the relevance of DCTs in American cars generally disagreed with the blanket nature of Vellequette’s statement that they don’t sound or feel right, but admit that their lack of refinement compared to traditional automatics can be an issue for consumers. That’s particularly true in workaday cars like the Ford Focus and Dodge Dart, both of which have come in for criticism in reviews and owner surveys. From where we sit, the higher-performance orientation of such transmissions doesn’t always meld as well with the marching orders of everyday commuters (particularly if drivers haven’t been educated as to the transmission’s benefits and tradeoffs), and in models not fitted with paddle shifters, it’s particularly hard for drivers to use a DCT to its best advantage.

Finally, we also note that DCT tuning is very much an evolving science. For instance, Autoblog editors who objected to dual-clutch tuning in the Dart have more recently found the technology agreeable in the Fiat 500L. Practice makes perfect – or at least more acceptable.

What do you think? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

View Poll

Is it time for American carmakers to give up on dual-clutch transmissions? [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Read This: Is it time for American carmakers to give up on dual-clutch transmissions? [w/poll]”

Read This: Jeep Cherokee name revival reignites question of cultural insensitivity [w/poll]

Filed under: SUV, Marketing/Advertising, Jeep, Off-Road

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk - front three-quarter view

The New York Times has published a new story that tackles the issue of ethnically charged product naming, this time in the auto industry. The paper dusts off the discourse because Chrysler has resurrected the Jeep Cherokee moniker for its latest model. Writer Glenn Collins uses the new Jeep as a jumping off point for a merry stroll through the auto industry’s history of culturally insensitive and/or politically incorrect names and advertising.

In the piece, Chrysler representatives say that reusing the Cherokee name isn’t meant to offend anyone, noting that the company hasn’t received any feedback about the name being disparaging. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has said that the group opposes stereotypes and applauds sports teams and schools for dropping offensive mascots, but has stopped short of criticizing the Jeep Cherokee based on its name. Officially, the Cherokee Nation has no stance on the matter, but spokesman Amanda Clinton says “it would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

It’s worth noting that “Cherokee” has been an active Jeep product name for decades now (through its more upscale Grand Cherokee range), and the company has long shied away from the sort of imagery and caricatures that have come under fire in the sporting world and elsewhere (e.g. Major League Baseball’s Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians). Here on Autoblog, when the new Cherokee was revealed, many commenters openly groused about the name choice – but not because of its Native American ties. The issue for many, it would seem, is that this new model represents such a radical departure from the long-serving, much-loved XJ generation, that it has been deemed to not be an appropriate fit.

Do you have a problem with Jeep bringing back the Cherokee name because you think it’s culturally insensitive, or is this much ado about nothing? Head over to The New York Times to read the piece for yourself, then vote in our poll below.

View Poll

Jeep Cherokee name revival reignites question of cultural insensitivity [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Read This: Jeep Cherokee name revival reignites question of cultural insensitivity [w/poll]”

Report: GM CEO Akerson wishes Opel Cascada, Adam were sold in Buick showrooms [w/poll]

Filed under: Convertible, Etc., Hatchback, Buick, Opel

​2013 Opel Cascada - dynamic top-down motoring shot

2013 Opel Adam - front three-quarter view, maroonAccording to Automotive News, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has his eye on a couple of overseas models for Buick. The General’s funky Opel Adam subcompact and Cascada four-place convertible are apparently on the executive’s wish list, as he openly expressed regret that they weren’t developed for the US during an investor conference earlier this month.

The distribution plans for both models were decided ahead of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy (prior to Akerson’s tenure), and they were apparently not designed with North America in mind. Whether Akerson and Co. are still looking to pursue versions for our market with the TriShield brand isn’t clear, in part because it isn’t known what modifications would need to be executed to make them suitable for sale. Automotive News cites GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky as having previously stated that the “expensive” Cascada “would have to be amalgamated for the US, which adds cost and complexity,” but it also quotes GM North America boss Mark Reuss as saying that Buick “is ready for ‘something special,’ citing a convertible, a coupe or a flagship sedan as possibilities.”

By our reckoning, the rakish Cascada droptop would seem to be the most natural fit for the Buick brand, as the idea of a comfortable four-place convertible doesn’t seem as boundary-stretching as a Fiat 500-sized supermini. Then again, the new Encore crossover is tiny and seems to be receiving a warm welcome from buyers in its first months on sale, and GM is looking to redefine Buick and court younger buyers. Stylistically, though, the Cascada would probably be the easier conversion to Buick branding, and the biggest factor in its favor would seem to be that it rides atop GM’s Delta II architecture, as does the Verano sedan, a North American model. At present, GM only has one four-seat convertible in its entire US lineup, the Chevrolet Camaro, and today’s Buick/GMC sales channel does not offer any droptops at all.

View Poll

GM CEO Akerson wishes Opel Cascada, Adam were sold in Buick showrooms [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Jun 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Report: GM CEO Akerson wishes Opel Cascada, Adam were sold in Buick showrooms [w/poll]”

Report: Company car offers in decline, but not at The Cheesecake Factory [w/poll]

Filed under: Etc., BMW

As businesses look to keep high-level employees happy, it seems that use of company cars can still be an effective method, although fewer companies are employing it. According to Businessweek, only about 25 percent of companies offer company vehicles as a perk, while less than half give allowances for employees to use their personal vehicles for work purposes.

The report says that one business still in the practice of handing out company cars is The Cheesecake Factory, which offers the benefit to top managers. And we’re not talking about some econobox, either. The article indicates the restaurant chain hands out BMWs on a three-year basis – although the company’s own report says that the type of vehicle “varies with the executive’s level.”

Still, we mostly agree with the article’s conclusion that money is the best way to keep employees or attract new ones, even if a corporate car is a big perk. What do you think? Let us know, in the poll below, whether a company car could sway you to work for a certain company (not just the Cheesecake factory, where the “Glamburgers” portion of the menu alone is enough to keep a guy hanging around).

View Poll

Company car offers in decline, but not at The Cheesecake Factory [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 22 Jun 2013 10:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Report: Company car offers in decline, but not at The Cheesecake Factory [w/poll]”

Motor Trend crowns new compact sedan king in eight-way comparo [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Budget, Sedan, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Reviews

2012 Hyundai Elantra

2012 Hyundai Elantra – Click above for high-res image gallery

With a raft of newly redesigned compact sedans hitting the streets this year, Motor Trend decided it was high time to crown a new king among the diminutive four-door masses. The editors gathered eight of the most popular models in the segment and pitted them against each other, battle royale style.

The magazine started by selecting the three best-selling Japanese compact sedans, the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda3, which, combined, accounted for 700,000 sales last year amid fears fostered by a weakened economy. Those were joined by America’s two best sellers, the Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze. Korea added the Kia Forte and the Hyundai Elantra, and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI from Germany rounded out the list.

MT tried to get the cars as closely matched as possible; all the cars were front-drive, four-cylinder automatics with alloy wheels and stability control, all stickering somewhere in the low-$20,000 range. Still, despite its efforts, there wound up being a fair amount of variance among each of the cars, which helped shape the results of the test.

In the end, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra came out on top, thanks to radical new styling, a raft of standard features and a new found sense of sophistication. The 2012 Honda Civic EX brought up the next spot in the line, followed by the 2011 Mazda3 Touring. The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI snagged fourth, followed by the 2012 Ford Focus Titanium and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ RS. The 2011 Kia Forte EX edged out the 2011 Toyota Corolla to take seventh place.

Which one would take your top honors? Let us know in the poll, and head over to Motor Trend to read the full results.

View Poll

Motor Trend crowns new compact sedan king in eight-way comparo [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 May 2011 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue readingMotor Trend crowns new compact sedan king in eight-way comparo [w/poll]”

Report: Citroen to follow Fiat’s lead with DS3 Airflow convertible [w/poll]

Filed under: Convertible, Europe, Citroën

Citroen DS3

Citroën DS3 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Citroën has come a long way with its revived DS line of premium offerings. What started with the basic DS3 hatchback has since grown to include the DS3 Racing hot hatch, the DS3 R3 and DS3 WRC rally machines; the DS4 crossover, and the new DS5. Now it seems a convertible is on the way as well.

Tentatively dubbed as the DS3 Airflow, the rumored convertible will apparently follow a similar approach to that taken by Fiat with the 500C. Look for a retractable fabric roof panel that will retain the pillars and door frames, in effect bridging the gap between a full convertible and a large sunroof. The advantage is a more cost-effective development cycle and superior handling, retaining much of the body’s rigidity while offering open-air driving. For our part, we’re interested to see what Citroën’s designers do with the car’s slick B-pillar treatment once the top drops. (Ben Walsh, we’re looking at you.)

European reports say the DS3 Airflow will launch in the spring of 2013. Of course, unlike Fiat, which has finally made a splashy return to North America, Citroën seems content to stay on its side of the Atlantic. Think it’s time for the French automaker to come back so we can sample cars like the reborn DS range? Cast your vote in the poll after the jump.

Continue reading Citroen to follow Fiat’s lead with DS3 Airflow convertible [w/poll]

Citroen to follow Fiat’s lead with DS3 Airflow convertible [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 15 May 2011 11:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Report: Citroen to follow Fiat’s lead with DS3 Airflow convertible [w/poll]”

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix points the way forward [Spoilers w/poll] Updated*

Filed under: Motorsports

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix – Click above for high-res image gallery

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So what does that mean in motor racing? Well, sometimes it’s the epic battles between the established front-runners that provides the most gripping race action. And this year’s Malaysian Grand certainly had plenty of that. But it’s the variety – those wild cards from which you never know what to expect – that throw us all for a loop.

Heading into the second round in the 2011 Formula One World Championship, defending champion Sebastian Vettel had already staked his claim for Red Bull and the lead in the standings, with McLaren close behind and the remade Lotus Renault GP following surprisingly in third. Would the same players dominate the field once again, or would new challengers mix it up so early in the season? Follow the jump to read on.

Gallery: 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

[Images: Clive Mason, Paul Gilham, Mark Thompson/Getty | Mark Baker, Raymond Ho, Vincent Thian, Aaron Favila, Eugene Hoshiko/AP]

Continue reading 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix points the way forward [Spoilers w/poll] Updated*

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix points the way forward [Spoilers w/poll] Updated* originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 10 Apr 2011 09:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “2011 Malaysian Grand Prix points the way forward [Spoilers w/poll] Updated*