Archive for April, 2012


Under normal driving conditions, two of our Consumer Guide test drivers came very close to the EPA-estimated 44 mpg in the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid.

That famous slogan is attached in fine print to most advertising claims of fuel economy, and indeed it’s true. This has long been accepted, as driving styles vary greatly, and that in turn can make fuel economy vary greatly.

2012 Chevrolet Volt, Why I Dislike the Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

The Chevy Volt is in the news again. This time it’s because the much-maligned “extended-range electric vehicle” is not catching fire, either after a crash (good!) or with the buying public (bad!).

1980 Chevrolet Chevette, Bring Back the Chevette

1980 Chevrolet Chevette

The Chevette was a piece of crap. Everyone knew it then, and most people recall it that way now. So, why would anyone wax poetic about a vehicle that was the very embodiment of American carmakers’ contempt for folks seeking small, inexpensive, reliable transportation? Because America needs crap cars too—or at least it used to.


2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport, Cars That Should Sell Better

This is the second in a series of articles about cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs that we think more people should consider purchasing.

Honda Ridgeline sales in calendar 2011: 9,759

Rival sales during the same time period:

1962 Pontiac Catalina with pearly satin finish; 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 with matte finish, Matte Finishes

1962 Pontiac Catalina with pearly satin finish; 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 with matte finish

Over the last few years, I’ve found it interesting to see the emergence of non-glossy paint jobs on some new cars. Mostly appearing on exotic cars these days, matte- or satin-finish paint is something that is very dear to me. I’ve been enamored with the look since I first began to see it in the 1990s on vintage custom cars being built primarily on the West Coast.

2012 Volkswagen Passat

One of our test drivers averaged 46.9 mpg over 332 miles (mostly highway) with the 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

In the article “It’s Diesel’s Time to Shine,” Consumer Guide Automotive lists 11 advantages (and some drawbacks) to owning a diesel-powered car. The main reason is fuel economy. According to the EPA, the TDI (turbodiesel) versions of the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, Golf, and Jetta SportWagen each get 34 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

Pricing on the 2012 Dodge Journey, Confusing Window Sticker

The retail price of the 2012 Dodge Journey SE is only $18,995 . . . except you’re required to buy the $2,000 Preferred Order Package.

Most people don’t like buying cars. They like inhaling the new car smell while driving home from the dealership, but they don’t like the haggling and anxiety that goes with purchasing a new vehicle. Many blame the dealers, but often the chicanery starts at the factory. Putting a price on the window sticker should be straightforward, but it seldom is. I’ve been tracking car prices for over a decade, and I’m still confused. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Chevrolet Spark interior space, Chevy Spark Roominess

Absurd comparison?

After being sold overseas for two years, Chevrolet’s Korean-designed and –sourced Spark subcompact car is arriving here soon as a 2013 entry. Naturally, the bow-tie brigade has cranked up its PR machine to make sure everyone knows about it. Leading the hype parade is a press release that caught our eye. Headlined “Four Decades Later, Mini Cars Livin’ Large Sedan Life,” it makes the point that although the Spark and its ilk may be small outside, they’re deceptively roomy inside. In fact, Chevy claims the Spark is as spacious as full-size American sedans of the early and mid-1970s, which it aptly termed “some of the largest passenger cars ever.”

Rating Compact Cars

2012 Volkswagen Golf

Each year, Consumer Guide Automotive editors test drive and evaluate nearly every vehicle sold in the United States. Together, the editors rate each vehicle 1–10 in the following categories: Acceleration, Fuel Economy, Ride Quality, Steering/Handling/Braking, Quietness, Controls, Details, Room/Comfort/Driver Seating (front), Room/Comfort (rear), Cargo Room, and Value Within Class.


Typically, real-world fuel-economy numbers are lower than EPA estimates, but not when Don takes the wheel. He averaged 46.87 mpg with the 2012 Volkswagen Passat, exceeding the highway estimate by 6.87 mpg.

At Consumer Guide HQ, we all have our little areas of expertise. Ed Piotrowski is always upgrading his electronic gadgets, and he understands better than anybody on the staff the good and bad qualities in every car’s connectivity options. I bet Ed even knows what Pandora is. Jack Stewart knows Jaguars. Rick Cotta can recall which cars have good outward visibility like nobody in the business. What’s my claim to fame? Somehow, it has ended up being fuel economy. I’m almost always the office gas-mileage champ.

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