Toyota ranks third in Consumer Reports' Automaker Report Cards
Toyota places behind fellow Japanese carmakers Honda and Subaru, which take the one-two spots for delivering best all-around quality for American drivers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, beleaguered Chrysler has fallen off further than even last year, ranking dead last. According to the magazine: "Most models from the manufacturer have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains; subpar interiors; and poor visibility."
By Neil Roland, Automotive News
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. President James Lentz plans to stick to his guns and tell skeptical lawmakers Tuesday that the company's unwanted acceleration problems do not stem from electronic defects, a copy of his testimony shows.
Lentz's reiteration of Toyota's longstanding position suggests that top company executives were unmoved by sharp criticism of that stance Monday by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman.
“We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles,” Lentz says in 2½ pages of written testimony prepared for delivery to the House panel. “We have designed our electronic throttle control system with multiple fail-safe mechanisms to shut off or reduce engine power in the event of a system failure.”
His testimony adds that the company's “extensive testing of this system” has “never found a malfunction that caused unintended acceleration.”
Buying from charity auctions can be a win-win.
While big-number charity auctions promoted by supermodels like Naomi Campbell tend to grab headlines, the truth is that plenty of auctions are more approachable for everyday buyers and still benefit good causes.
California residents to get less expensive car facts
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Toyota chief Akio Toyoda may want to pack his fire-retardant driving shoes for this week's congressional hearing, considering that participating officials have pledged to “hold Toyota’s feet to the fire.” In between bouts of grandstanding, the politicos will also subject the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to scrutiny -- which they should. There are recurring inconsistencies in the way consumer complaints to NHTSA turn into actual investigations; there's a similar lack of rhyme or reason to the pace of investigations, which could be wrapped up in 10 days or drag on without closure for several years.
This raises important questions about why some cars are investigated or recalled after just a handful of customer issues, which others are not, despite thousands of consumer complaints. Based on my own reading of complaints to NHTSA, I’ve long suspected that what bothers some people is simply the way their car works. Without minimizing genuine defects, I’ve met plenty of drivers who simply don’t know enough about cars to offer objective criticism of their functions.
Damaging revelations about Toyota's attempt to save costs with limited recall.
Well, this isn't going to help Toyota's reputation.
According to documents requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (as part of the government's investigation into the myriad Toyota safety issues), Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's head of U.S. operations, crowed to the company's Washington staff that Toyota had saved about $100 million through its work with the government to limit regulatory action in the face of unintended-acceleration issues. The statistic was part of an internal presentation by Inaba during a July 6 meeting in Washington and was listed under a subheading called "Wins for Toyota."
The documents were recently obtained by the Detroit Free Press.
New Optima to be unveiled in New York
Sure, the Korean automaker is making a (new) name for itself with capable and dependable models like the Soul and the Borrego -- all with a bang-for-the-buck factor, considering their low price points.
Which is not, of course, to say that you're going to have your head turned by a Kia rolling down your street.
But could that change? Based solely on the picture above (and, yes, that's a Kia), perhaps: That image is the concept version of an all-new, redesigned Optima that, it has just been announced, will make its debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show, in April.
Will the production model resemble the sleek, mean, low-slung monster that looks like a powerhouse Audi/Beemer mash-up? Few models bound for showrooms closely mirror their concept counterparts, so probably not. But considering the side-by-side view of the current Optima against its slick rendering, we are, yes, excited to see exactly how the transformation plays out.
By Chrissie Thompson, Automotive News
General Motors will create a European arm for its Cadillac luxury brand after distributor Kroymans Corp. declared bankruptcy last year.
Cadillac Europe will import, market and distribute Cadillacs through a sales and service network in “key European markets,” GM said on Monday in a statement. The company said it would give details later.
Kroymans, a Dutch dealership group, went bankrupt in March. But some Cadillacs, such as the CTS and the CTS-V sedans, have remained on sale in Europe since then, Cadillac spokesman Nick Twork said in an e-mail.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5