March 2017

Jeep Wrangler adds two doors, comforts, but still loves the wild side

By Peter Hubbard

(March 31, 2017) True confession time.  It’s been a few years since my backside was nestled in the driver’s seat of a Jeep Wrangler.  In fact, this was the very FIRST time I’d slid behind the wheel of a 4-Door Wrangler … it’s been that long.  But I have a legitimate excuse.  For the past 15 years or so my duties only required me to test, review and evaluate pickup trucks.  

Driverless cars, shared mobility to transform traditional vehicle interiors

(March 31, 2017) LONDON — Fully driverless technology will spark a transformation of personal mobility, enabling consumers to abandon costly vehicle ownership and summon shared vehicles when needed. ABI Research predicts that this will transform the vehicle interior, which car manufacturers will design to be reconfigurable per the individual needs and preferences of whoever is using the vehicle at the time.

Lexus, Kia win top customer experience ratings from Temkin Group

(March 30, 2017) WABAN, Mass. — Lexus and Kia deliver the best customer experience across auto dealers, according to the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual customer experience ranking of companies based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. Lexus took the top spot out of the 21 auto dealers included in this year's ratings, earning a score of 77% and coming in 38th place overall out of 331 companies across 20 industries.

Words do make a difference in selling a car

(March 29, 2017) HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — New research released today by CDK Global, a global provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to the automotive retail and adjacent industries, reveals that all potential car buyers are not alike when it comes to language that entices them. In fact, according to the fourth edition of the company's Language of Closers series, different buyers respond better or worse to completely different words when deciding which car to buy.

Ahead of summer, many Americans say gas prices are too high

(March 29, 2017) WASHINGTON, D.C.  — A new AAA survey reveals that nearly a quarter of consumers believe the price at the pump is already too high. AAA projects the national average for a gallon of gasoline to increase 40 cents this summer, peaking near $2.70. To offset the increase in gas prices (about a 70 cent increase from last year at this time), more than 70 percent of consumers say they would make everyday lifestyle or driving habit changes.

Virtual Reality app can help drivers understand new technologies

(March 28, 2017) ITASCA, Ill. — A new survey from the National Safety Council found 39 percent of drivers with new safety technologies in their vehicles say sometimes their vehicles act in ways that scare or surprise them. To help educate drivers and understand new vehicle safety technologies, the Council and the University of Iowa have developed the first-of-its-kind virtual reality mobile phone app, CarTech VR360, which gives drivers a 360-degree tour of some of the safety systems so drivers have a better understanding how the technologies work.

Frank Beard named GasBuddy convenience store analyst/evangelist

(March 27, 2017) BOSTON — GasBuddy has announced it has named Frank Beard to the new position of analyst/evangelist of convenience store and retail trends. Beard made waves in the convenience store industry when he documented himself eating every meal at a gas station for 30 consecutive days. Not only did he avoid gaining weight, he lost six pounds and proved that the industry has evolved and expanded its offerings to include healthier food options.

Kelley — March new-car sales to rise 3 percent year-over-year

(March 25, 2017) IRVINE, Calif. — New-vehicle sales are expected to increase 3 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.63 million units in March 2017, resulting in an estimated 17.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book At 1.63 million units this month, the first quarter total comes in at 4.1 million units, up 3 percent year-over-year. 

This would be the second highest first quarter on record, surpassed only by Q1 of 2000.  This also would be the highest March sales total since 2000, when sales hit 1.66 million total units.

Fiat 500X adds flair to a genre known more for its economy

By Paul Borden

(March 24, 2017) Subcompact cars are usually more about functionality and fuel-saving than they are about style. Not that they are all inherently ugly, but style is not the first thing that comes to mind about them. Fiat’s 500 series, however, is one exception. With its Italian flair and carefree air — the front fascia even has a rather impish look about it — the Fiat 500 series adds a little chicness to a segment that tends to lean toward “cute” when it comes to appearance.

Autotrader lists its Must Test Drive Award winners for 2017

(March 24, 2017) ATLANTA — With more than 300 new car models to choose from, shopping for a new ride can be overwhelming. And since the average age of existing vehicles on the road today is more than 11 years, current in-market new-car shoppers may be surprised to find just how much the automotive landscape has changed in the last decade.

With all of this in mind, the editors at Autotrader announce the winners of the 2017 Must Test Drive Awards, featuring the best new cars worth taking for a spin before shoppers make their final purchase decision.