Archive for August, 2013
Its official designation is U.S. Route 129, and though it runs through four states along the Appalachian Mountains, it’s most renowned for an 11-mile stretch of tightly twisting asphalt known the world over as The Tail of the Dragon.
A suggestion left by a reader of the Cars of Walmart post we shared yesterday suggested that were we to revisit the same parking a few hours later, we would find an entirely different collection of interesting vehicles worth sharing. Why not?
Inspired by the People of Walmart website, I present the Cars of Walmart. The five rides shared here were all found this morning at the same time at the Walmart closest to our Chicago-area office.
Automakers tend to avoid talking price at the national level. That’s why it was relatively uncommon to see prices in magazine ads. At the local dealer level, however, that’s where the haggling begins. There’s little more entertaining to a car guy than to find the car ads in an old newspaper. We’ll have to post a collection of those some time soon, too.
With the average transaction price of a new vehicle hovering around $32,000, the prices in these ads now seem a little quaint. But the real charm is in the small print. Apparently “loaded” once meant that a car came with headrests (see the AMC ad above).
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited “Sahara”
Dates tested: 8/12/2013-8/26/2013
Miles driven: 183
Base price: $31,495 (not including $995 destination fee)
2014 Fiat 500L “Lounge”
Dates tested: 8/12/2013-8/26/2013
Miles driven: 317
Base price: $24,195 (not including $800 destination fee)
Price as tested: $27,455
Options on test car: Sun roof ($950), Black “Nero” roof ($500), Premium audio ($500), painted wheels ($500)
Real-world fuel economy: 27.8 mpg
Driving mix: 50 percent city, 50 percent highway
The great: Spacious, airy cabin, great visibility
The good: Good mileage, fun styling
The not so good: Limited rear-seat headroom, clunky low-speed drivetrain behavior
Steve King and Johnnie Putman, Chicago radio personalities and car enthusiasts, are longtime friends of Consumer Guide Automotive. Click the video below for their latest car review.
Get the Consumer Guide take on the Sonata Limited here.
Keep up with Steve and Johnnie by checking in at their “Both Sides Now” blog: http://steveandjohnnie.wordpress.com/
2013 Lincoln MKZ
Dates Tested: 8/15/2013-8/29/2013
Miles driven: 353
Base price: $38,710 (not including $895 destination fee)
Price as tested: $45,550
Options on test car: Group 102A ($3150), Technology Package ($2250), polished alloy wheels ($750),
optional paint ($495), rear inflatable seat belts ($195)
Real-World Fuel Economy: 21.9 mpg
Driving Mix: 60 percent city, 40 percent highway
The Great: Bold styling
The Good: Good power, reasonable fuel economy for class
The not so good: Cranky MyLincoln Touch control interface, lack of character
Visit the Zap! website and poke around for a while, it’s kind of fun. What you’ll see is a dozen or so electric vehicles that fall readily into three categories: those that look like farm implements, those that look like crappy low-end Chinese cars (which they are), and those that look like seventh-grade concept-car design contest runner up drawings come to life.
In an automotive world where many vehicles look too much alike, the Smart ForTwo stands out. Like a baby shoe surrounded by sneakers, wingtips, and cowboy boots, the Smart’s diminutive size almost always elicits a smile. But just like that baby shoe, it really doesn’t fit the needs of most American buyers.
Furthermore, the Smart ForTwo, which arrived on these shores in 2009, was not without its dynamic faults. Principle among these were a jerky automated-manual transmission, underpowered engine, and buckboard ride. As such, it was often passed over even by those whose needs it fit.
While electric cars have their own limitations, electrifying the Smart actually broadens its appeal. The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, so the jerkiness suffered by its gas-powered sibling is completely gone; the Electric Drive accelerates from a dead stop to its claimed 78-mph top speed with linear smoothness, and since there is no transmission “kickdown” required for passing sprints, those, too, are accomplished much more smoothly.