Posts Tagged ‘Beetle’
The Toyota Corolla has long been the antithesis of the enthusiast car. It’s the automotive equivalent of smooth jazz — ubiquitous and innocuous but seldom loved. And like a forgettably syrupy Kenny G ballad album, it’s also enjoyed enviable success over the years; in 1997 it beat out the Volkswagen Beetle to become the best-selling car of all time, and is always near the top of the charts for its segment, selling 290,947 units in 2012 in spite of being near the end of its model cycle.
But reputation and bulletproof reliability alone hasn’t been enough to stave off competition in recent years, and it’s been sparring with the Ford Focus for bragging rights as the best-seller. Since a half-hearted makeover would likely lead to losing more market share, Toyota has unveiled a new, eleventh generation Corolla that’s sleeker and dare I say, interesting.
Surprisingly similar to the carbon fiber-trimmed Corolla Furia concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the production version sheds the frumpy profile from the existing car by stretching the wheelbase and overall length by almost four inches. With chiseled lines and sculpted creases on the outside and a sportily svelte cabin within, it’s the best-looking Corolla yet. Nonetheless, the smallish tires tucked into cavernous wheel wells show it’s still an economy car at its core.
And while the fundamentals of the car won’t change much — there’s still a 1.8-liter, 132-hp engine, a four-speed automatic (in addition to a six-speed manual and CVT) and a torsion beam rear suspension — Toyota promises a more engaging drive. Steering has been slightly quickened to 3.19 turns lock-to-lock similar to the pre-refresh 2012 Honda Civic, and the electronic power steering unit touts better road feedback and accuracy. The S trim traditionally has little frills and no thrills, and for 2014 it’ll see a stiffened suspension setup as well as a 140-hp engine.
So the “sporty” grade won’t take on a Volkswagen GLI at a stoplight, but efficiency, not speed, has always been one of the key selling points of the Corolla, and Toyota is targeting 42 highway mpg for the LE Eco trim. The compact will also see more standard features across the line-up, including Bluetooth connectivity, LED-adorned headlights and eight airbags.
None of those are groundbreaking specs, but what’s game changing is Toyota’s shift towards the sporty, even with what has long been a hopelessly forgettable appliance. If the Corolla gets a competitive pricepoint and driving dynamics that don’t induce sea sickness, it may not only be a value-minded purchase for buyers, but an enjoyable one.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying a used car — not the least of which is the honesty of the seller; but the most important thing to consider when buying a used car is the reliability record of the make and model. To help us with that, CBS MoneyWatch looked at owner surveys, J.D. Power ratings and Consumer Report ratings in 5 car catgories to see which cars had less-than-stellar reliability records and to offer some more reliable alternatives.
Small Car Category:
Avoid: The Volkswagen Beetle — Owners reported problems with the climate control system and power equipment, both of which can lead to expensive repairs.
Alternative: Hyundai Elantra — Owners reported no major problems; and the Elantra got the maximum rating from J.D. Power, and is ranked above-average by Consumer Reports.
Midsize Car Category:
Avoid: Volkswagen Passat — Consumers reported problems with the fuel, electrical and climate systems, as well as the power equipment.
Alternative: The Ford Fusion — Fusion won the reliability award in this year’s J.D. Power survey, and Consumer Reports gives it a much-above-average used car rating.
Midsize SUV Category:
Avoid: GMC Acadia — Owners reported problems with the suspension and audio systems, and J.D. Power and Consumer Reports both gave it their lowest used car rating.
Alternative: Toyota 4 Runner — the 4 Runner won J.D. Power’s top reliability award, and Consumer Reports rated it much better than average as a used car. Owners liked its highway and off-road capability.
Large SUV Category:
Avoid: The Ford Expedition — Owners reported problems with the transmission and audio systems, and its best gas efficiency is only 18 mpg. J.D. Powers and Consumer Reports both gave it a low used-car rating.
Alternative: Toyota Sequoia — While just slightly better on fuel efficiency, the Sequoia gets a high rating from both J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Owners liked its roomy seating and comfortable ride for long trips.
Avoid: Chrysler Town & Country — Although very popular as a new car, owners reported problems with suspension, brakes, climate system and power equipment. J.D. Power and Consumer Reports both rated it low as a used-car purchase.
Alternative: Toyota Sienna — The Sienna won the reliability award for minivans from J.D Power, and it got a better-than-average rating from Consumer Reports.
In addition to the tips above, it’s often wiser to purchase a 3+ year old used car for a couple of reasons. The biggest new-car depreciation has already taken place, and with new car prices rising sharply, buying a 1 or 2 year old used car often make worse financial sense than buying new.
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Volkswagon’s 2012 redesigned Beetle will hit the U.S. in September, and when it does, Volkswagon is betting that more men and younger customer will be buying it. Until now, 65% of Beetle purchasers were women, but with its new sleek,”more masculine” appearance – including a higher beltline – plus 20 more horsepower, the 2012 model targets more of a 50/50 mix of consumers. Volkswagon also predicts that the average age of Beetle buyers will drop from 58 to 36.
Initially, the redesigned 2012 model will be available with a 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine, and a 200-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The base model starts at $19,765, and the turbo will start at $24,165 — prices include shipping.