October 27, 2007

SUV crash test results -- substantial safety issue in Texas?

Last week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released the results of tests to evaluate how well midsize SUVs (sports utility vehicles) protect their contents from front and side impacts. Here in Dallas, it seems that almost everyone drives an SUV of some size -- so, this testing was quite welcome.

Frontal safety was determined from examining injury (as modeled by a Hybrid III test dummy) and the amount of intrusion into the vehicle’s occupant compartment during a 40 mph offset front crash. In the case of side safety, a side impact was simulated by a mobile barrier impacting the vehicles with an object at 31 mph.

The models evaluated were the: Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Xterra, Toyota 4Runner, and Ford Explorer. All these models received a rating of “good” for frontal crash protection with the exception of the TrailBlazer which was rated “acceptable”.

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October 19, 2007

Toyota Hilux = indestructible and anti-lemon law car?

Continuing on with the theme of cars that perform beyond the call of duty, today we look at a particular Toyota Hilux. Top Gear, a BBC automotive show, recently set out to test the commonly held belief that Toyota trucks are extremely durable. Top Gear is known for its creative and entertaining tests and this case was no exception.

The staff purchased a Toyota Hilux Diesel with 190,000 miles on it for approximately $2000. The vehicle had some body rust and was battered, but functioned well. They subjected this truck to numerous abuses.

First they drove it around Brsitol, sideswiped a stone wall and drove it into a tree. After prying the fender back, they kept on driving and tethered the truck onto the beach at low tide. The tide came in, the truck broke loose and was completely submerged. It was completely water logged and covered in silt. A mechanic working with only basic tools was able to get the truck drivable again in an hour (they did replace the windshield for safety).

Following the attempt to drown it, Top Gear ran the truck through a shed and dropped a caravan trailer on top of it and hit it with a wrecking ball. The truck sustained further body damage but was still functioning. Finally, they set the truck on fire. Even after this, once the fire burnt itself out, they were able to drive the truck into their set.

This has not been the show’s only encounter with the Hilux. In 2007, two presenters from the show became the first people to drive an automobile to the Magnetic north Pole (as determined by the 1996 measurement).

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September 5, 2007

Economic benefits of keeping a non-lemon car for a long time

Having a reliable vehicle to commute in the Dallas and Fort Worth area is essential. If you purchase a new car and it is defective, you may seek recourse under Lemon Laws or product warranty laws. However, the normal hope is that your new car will be perfect and last for years. Some people like to trade their car in every couple of years, but those who maintain their cars can save a great deal of money.

Consumer Reports writes that owners who keep their car for 15 years or 225,000 miles may save $31,000 compared to an owner who trades their car in every 5 years. Using the example of a Honda Civic and taking into account depreciation, taxes, fees, and insurance, an owner holding on to the car for 15 years would save $20,500. In addition to these savings, our hypothetical owner could make $10,300 by investing the money that would have been spent on new cars.

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Consumer Reports also compiled a list of cars that are more likely to make it to 200,000 miles. Included in this list are many cars by Honda and Toyota (included are: Civic, Lexus ES, Lexus LS, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Land Cruiser). It also published a list of vehicles that were not such good bets to make it to 200K threshold. These included such popular (and pricey!) vehicles as the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz M-class, Mercedes-Benz SL, BMW 7-series, Infiniti QX56, Jaguar X-type, V8-powered Volkswagen Touareg, and the V6-powered Volvo XC90.

Proper maintenance and care can help increase your car’s lifespan and protect your financial investment in it. Read your owner’s manuals and maintenance guide. Change your oil regularly and make repairs when parts do fail. Of course, if you bought a new car in Texas, have multiple failures within the first two years or 24,000, then you may have a lemon.

June 27, 2007

Top 10 Possible non-lemon Small SUVs

Potential clients with “lemon law” related claims usually contact my office with bad news about problems with their vehicles. Even the last two previous blog posts are about unreliable and problem cars. This post, however, is about good cars. At least, according to Jon Alain Guzik, the editor-at large of Yahoo! Autos.

Guzik’s conclusion is based on mileage, looks, and price tag. If I were Guzik and was in a position to make my list of top ten small SUVs, my criteria would most likely be different. It would be based on quality, numbers of consumer complaints, and price.

Guzik’s top 10 small SUVS are:

2008 Land Rover LR2

2008 Saturn Vue

2007 Jeep Patriot Sport

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

2007 Acura RDX

2007 Ford Edge SE

2008 Subaru Tribeca

2007 Honda CR-V LX

2007 Toyota RAV4 Sport

2007 Mazda CX-7 Sport

Do you agree with this assessment? For more information, please read the article here.

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June 14, 2007

Five Least Reliable (possible lemon) Luxury Cars on the Market

Thinking about buying a new luxury car? Here are 5 least reliable luxury cars that are currently on the market. These are cars that may become possible lemons down the road.

Dan Liebert from Forbes.com wrote an article last year about some of the least reliable luxury cars in the market. He compiled his “top five list” from data obtained from the Consumer Reports and J.D. Power & Associates. The award for top five least reliable luxury cars go to...

Land Rover LR3 SUV - Base Price: $39,000

Land Rover Range Rover SUV - Base Price: $75,750

Lincoln Navigator SUV - Base Price: $50,145

Saab 9-3 - Base Price: $26,620

Volkswagen Touareg SUV - Base Price: $37,410

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For more information on the article, go here.