Posts Tagged ‘Beetle’
Quality is something we all want when it comes to cars, especially older used ones. But how do we get it?
I have been studying this question in one form or another for nearly 14 years now. I began my automotive career as a car dealer, buying and selling hundreds of vehicles a year. As time went on, I became an auto auctioneer, a remarketing manager and a part-owner of a wholesale auto auction.
I saw thousands of cars come and go through the auction block during the course of each year, and as my worked changed, so did my understanding of quality. The overwhelming majority of the time, cars and trucks considered reliable in their early days would draw the strongest bids. But it wasn’t always true; I observed some models experience costly transmission failure just as the odometer rolled past the 100,000-mile mark, while others would exhibit everything from blown head gaskets, to chronic rust issues to inoperative battery packs for hybrid vehicles.
Well-respected publications such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power & Associates do an outstanding job finding defect trends among new and slightly used vehicles. However, once that specific vehicle is sold by the survey participant, there’s no access to the history of the vehicle. As the average car owner over the last decade has typically kept their vehicle for approximately five to six years, a lot of data has disappeared.
Because there is no tracking service covering the problems in these vehicles, the 10-year-old vehicle that everyone assumed had great reliability will at times have terrible issues. Who knew? No one really. Consumer Reports’ database goes back 10 years, but the average car and truck is now 11.4 years old.
So I decided to test my guesses about used vehicles by using data from auto auctions and the problems dealers themselves disclose. As a frequent buyer and seller, I started my study with what I consider the key quality question for most car owners: “At what point does my car become so undesirable that I am willing to accept a wholesale used price for my vehicle?”
Trade-ins are a great measurement of that emotional question. Most consumers who trade their vehicle will get a price hundreds to thousands of dollars less than retail. Car dealers not only know the wholesale market, they know the retail market as well, and are often able to get cars repaired for a lot less than most car owners.
This isn’t always the case. Clean cars can sometimes be traded-in at a retail price, and then financed to a sub-prime car buyer for even more money. Dealers who specialize in a given car brand are usually more effective in marketing and selling that specific name, and they also get a greater share of trade-ins from the brand — along with a better selection of clean vehicles.
To remove this bias, I decided to gather data on trade-ins sent to wholesale auctions by large used-car retailers such as Carmax, J.D. Byrider, Drivetime, and other regional used-car retailers that don’t cater to a single automaker. This way there wouldn’t be an over-representation of a given brand. I also employed the help of Nick Lariviere, a statistician capable of creating visuals that would make all this real-world used car data easy to understand.
One year and nearly 300,000 vehicles later, we have developed a new quality index that you can find here. For now, we are focusing on brands and models. As the study continues to pool more vehicles, we’ll gradually introduce specific model year data, and even powertrain combinations, so that used car buyers can figure out where to find that older used vehicle that has truly earned its quality reputation.
So what out there is truly low quality? As far as those cars with the highest defect level at trade-in time, here are the 10 worst:
10. Volkswagen New Beetle(automatic transmission issues and cheap interior components; diesel models with 5-speed manuals are by far the best powertrain option.)
9. Mazda 626 (automatic transmission issues, all models.)
8. Lincoln Aviator (a gussied-up, unpopular Ford Explorer that had unique sensor and software issues which negatively impacted the overall powertrain and electronics.)
7. Jaguar S-Type(Extensive transmission and engine issues on all V-6 and V-8 models. Along with Limited edition models with ungodly replacement costs.)
6. Lincoln LS (Same basic powertrain as the Jaguar S-Type with nearly identical results.)
5. Mazda Millenia (Engine issues, transmission issues and cheap interiors that just don’t wear well.)
4. Land Rover Discovery (Expensive parts. Expensive powertrains. Electronics that are apparently the spawn of Beelzebub.)
3. Mini Cooper(Bad transmissions that are unusually expensive to replace. Cheap interior parts. Cheap hydraulics.)
2. Land Rover Freelander(A cost-cutting exercise that went way past the bone.)
And a true shocker, the single worst used vehicle at the wholesale auctions when it comes to overall defect rate at trade-in time is….
No list can be perfect, and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t offer at least a couple of important caveats here. There are cars out there that are worth so little money now that they go straight to the junkyards instead of the wholesale auctions: Older Chryslers with defective 2.7-liter engines, older Suzukis and Kias, and the aquatic late ’90′s Ford Tauruses sometimes fall straight into the crusher once a major problem takes hold.
Also, if the vehicle appeared to have reliability issues, but didn’t have enough of a sample size at this point (for example: Mercury Mystique, Isuzu Axiom, Suzuki Forenza), I have kept it off the list for right now.
Finally some models, like the VW New Beetle, may have a pearl of quality in a specific engine/transmission combination within the overall swamp of trouble. This is one of the reasons why we are going to delve deeper as this study continues to take shape. In the meantime, if you want to know the top ten models in terms of long-term quality, click here.
The sign may say no, but how could you resist? If I owned a rock-crawling Jeep like this one photographed by Jason Bo, I’d drive it over everything. Got a shot to share? Add it to the Motoramic …
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.
READ MORE: http://bit.ly/p99WHy
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.