The Car Geek: August 2007

The Car Geek

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Long-Running Jetta

We know that Toyota and Honda cars are reliable. They have proven that to us in the past and they are continuing that tradition although I've been hearing about recalls after recalls from Toyota. Anyway, when it comes to reliability, Volkswagen is not far behind these Asian automakers. Want proof? Well, Volkswagen has one for you, a Jetta that has been running since 1986 and has 562,000 miles on it.

This car was discovered by Volkswagen of America after it announced that as part of its Diesel Heritage Search, they will locate the Volkswagen diesel vehicle in the United States with the highest mileage. And they have found it in the 1986 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Diesel which I think still has its parts in good condition just like Oil Filter Canada. The vehicle is owned by Syl Schmid of Blue Rock, Ohio. The mileage on Mr. Schmid's car was recently verified by the American arm of the largest European automaker and Byers Imports, a Volkswagen dealership in Columbus, Ohio.

Steve Keyes, Volkswagen Public Relations Director said: "Mr. Schmid has a story that is like so many of our diesel owners; he loves the longevity of the engine and fuel economy that his diesel Volkswagen has delivered these last twenty years. Throughout all of entries that we received for our Diesel Heritage Search, we found many VW owners who were passionate about their cars and the economic benefits of the diesel engine."

Fuel economy is indeed one of the strong selling points of diesel engines. The way that the fuel is burned and the amount of power it produces means that you would need to burn less fuel to get the amount of power that you would get by burning more gasoline fuel. But the emission of diesel engines has been in question in the past. But today, Volkswagen is leading the charge in the development of clean diesel engines which was exhibited by its subsidiary Audi in the two latest staging of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Winning the endurance race with a diesel race car has elevated the reputation of diesel engines not only among racing enthusiasts but among consumers too.

The Jetta owned by Mr. Schmid was originally leased by him for three years. But I think that the reliability and the good performance of the Jetta made Mr. Schmid decide to keep it so he bought the car after the lease period. More than half a million miles have been traveled by the Jetta but its powertrain and its muffler is still the same that came with it when Mr. Schmid leased the car.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2008 BMW 5Series: Worst In New Side Impact Crash Tests!

How on earth did this luxury ride have a failing grade in side impact crash tests?! I can’t believe it! And I think everyone can’t believe it either. The 2008 BMW 5 Series is one of the most admired vehicles in the planet and we are very shocked to know that it is the worst performer inthe new side-impact crash tests of luxury sedans by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

I read this shocking news on yesterday when I was searching for some information about the Saturn engine online. According to the news, the Volvo S80, Kia Amanti and the Acura RL got the highest safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. On the other hand, the Cadillac STS and the Mercedes E-Class grabbed the second-highest rating. IIHS side-impact crash tests were intended to reveal what would happen if a sport utility vehicle or a truck hit the side of the sedan at a speed of 31 miles per hour. According to the Isurance Institute for Highway Safety, around 9,000 people on U.S. roadways were killed due to common side-impact crashes after a frontal crash.

“Growing sales of SUVs and pickups have exacerbated height mismatches among passenger vehicles, thereby increasing the risks to occupants of many vehicles struck in the side,” Insurance Institute President Adrian Lund said in a news release.

“All six sedans were equipped with standard side air bags. The air bags in the BMW 5 Series protected the head, but separate air bags designed to protect the chest and abdomen performed poorly,” the institute said.

“The institute’s test indicated the 5 Series has a strong body structure but the dummy was injured when it was hit by the arm rest. BMW does up to 12 crash tests on all its cars as well as computer simulations of crashes,” said BMW spokesman Thomas Plucinsky on the results.

“The issue is that depending on the location of seat, the location of dummy, the location of the sled, the results could change. This was one test on one day on one car,” added Plucinsky.

One of the lowest priced sedans in the group was the Kia Amanti with a starting price of around $25,500. But with fair price for a luxury sedan, the Amanti offered a far better protection than more expensive sedans. According to automotive research site, the BMW 5 Series price starts at $43,500, while the Mercedes E-Class starts at $50,550.

“The Amanti shows that you don’t have to buy an expensive car to get good protection in crashes with SUVs and pickups,” Lund said.

Since the Volvo S80 earned the highest ratings in front, side and rear crash tests with electronic stability control as standard equipment, it went home with the IIHS top safety award! The S40 also won the institute’s top safety award for overall crash protection as well. The 2007 Volvo S80 starts at $47,350, according to

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Subaru Has Green Cars

I’ve always associated Subaru with hood scoops and turbocharged boxers. After all, the Subaru Impreza WRX with its hood scoop and turbocharged engine is the most popular model from the Japanese firm. But Subaru is not all about powerful engines and cool-looking exteriors. The automaker is also on the forefront of developing clean cars.

Recently, the automaker received EPA’s SmartWay certification for some of its nameplates. The naturally-aspirated variants of the Subaru Legacy, Outback and the Forester 2.5 were given a Partial Zero Emission Vehicle classification. The SmartWay certification given to the variants of these nameplates means that they are now listed in the agency’s Green Vehicle Guide. The three Subaru nameplates equipped with catalytic converters joins other cars in the list such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and the Ford Escape Hybrid among others.

Tim Mahoney, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Subaru of America , Inc., has this to say: “Customers are increasingly concerned with the environmental performance of their vehicles. The EPA's website is a great source of information for car shoppers as it shows them the best vehicle to meet their needs. Subaru is pleased to be among the EPA's SmartWay choices and we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the earth while providing the fun, freedom, adventure, confidence and control that only a Subaru all-wheel drive vehicle can deliver.”

The EPA used a formula to determine which cars should be included in the list. This formula takes into account the amount of emission produced by a particular auto. Another data that they look into is the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. If a vehicle has small amount of greenhouse gas emissions but at the same time consumes a huge amount of petroleum fuel, there is still the tendency that it will not be given the SmartWay certification. In the case of the Forester 2.5, Outback, and the Legacy, they have satisfied both requirements.

This surely gives Subaru a boost in terms of popularity with auto buyers. The increasing awareness of global warming means that more consumers will be looking for eco-friendly vehicles. And the Subaru vehicles given the certification will be in place to provide consumers with clean vehicles without sacrificing performance and good looks. According to the automaker, they have already sold more than 100,000 units of PZEV vehicles. That number would surely surge upward in the near future, thanks to the SmartWay certification.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Buick LaCrosse

At first glance, you can easily say that the LaCrosse sedan is an over-achiever! Recipient of the J.D Power and Associate’s 2007 Gold Plant Quality Award in North and South America and one of the top vehicles chosen for dependability, the LaCrosse is one classy ride you can’t deny!

Powered by a 3.8L 3800 Series III V6 engine with ABS Traction Control, this 5 passenger sedan assures new car buyers a different driving experience that is way beyond the given performance of other cars.

Styling… Aside from the absolute power performance of the LaCrosse, it boasts off a gorgeous body that defines the true meaning of class! With headlights as vibrant as Mazda headlights and body parts that are way too cool, you couldn't ask for more from this extraordinary ride!

Sophistication is the perfect term for the 2007 LaCrosse. The spacious interior allows you to feel like you are just lying or sitting on your lovely couch or bedroom! Absolutely feels like heaven! Interior features include glovebox, trunk, delayed entry/exit with theater dimming, rear courtesy, front footwell and front map lights, AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player, seek-and-scan, digital clock, speed-compensated volume and TheftLock. It also includes Concert Sound III 9-speaker system rear subwoofers as well as coaxial mid-range speakers and XM Satellite Radio. These are just a few of the numerous interior features of the 2007 LaCrosse. What more if I gave out all the wonders of this car?! Imagine that!

From's review of the 2007 Buick LaCrosse, new car buyers shared their joy and delight upon purchasing this ride. Check out some of their remarks:

Best Car We Have Had by Mrs Brown: “Bought an '07 with little over 4,000 miles. We were impressed with the extras, remote start, dual climate control among many others. We get tons of compliments on this car. Only suggestion would be to add air vents in back for back seat riders. Overall, the best car we have owned by far. The ride is very smooth, the power is awesome."

LaCrosse, Best in Class by Florida Amy: "We are absolutely thrilled with our LaCrosse. It is luxurious and exhilarating. I look for reasons to leave the house just so I can drive the LaCrosse. The 3.8l V-6 needs no urging and jumps at the chance to run like the wind! It dives into corners with an unquenchable hunger and the traction control adds a new level of control. The car is almost alive in it's ability to know how to get through the corners. You don't drive LaCrosse, you command the LaCrosse! We've never been so thrilled by a "luxury" sedan."

Buick LaCrosse CXS by J HARLOW: "I have the performance engine and it is great! I also like the chrome accents that are optional and the chrome wheels. We get outstanding comments on this car. The light leather interior is perfect!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Return Of The Pentastar

If you would ask your grandfather what was the emblem of Chrysler during their days, I’m sure he would say that it is just the same as of today. That is if he knows that the Pentastar is now being used again by the automaker as their corporate logo. The Chrysler logo that you may be familiar with is that winged logo with the medallion in the center. That was actually used on Chrysler vehicles starting in 1994. But before the use of that logo, there was the Pentastar.

As the name suggest, it has five sides. I’m sure you have seen this logo already. The logo was first used by the company in 1962 but was shelved in favor of the winged emblem. The history of the Pentastar started when then Chrysler President Lynn Townsend was looking for a corporate logo that can be sued on packaging, stationery, signage and others. The Pentastar was chosen because it can be easily recognized even without the word Chrysler beneath it.

During the initial use of the Pentastar, it was widely believed that it represents the five divisions of the company during those days. The five divisions are Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, and Airtemp. But this is not the reason for the design of the Pentastar. In fact, only a year later since the adoption of the emblem, the company was left with three divisions which were Chrysler-Plymouth, Imperial, and Dodge.

The Pentastar became an icon since it was used on all the vehicles made by all the company’s divisions. Dodge back then uses the Fratzog logo. The use of this was phased out in favor of the Pentastar. The first batch of vehicles to sport the Pentastar includes those made under the brands Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial, Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam, Singer, and Simca. Even trucks made by Fargo, DeSoto, Dodge, Commer, and Karrier use the Pentastar.

After the ‘failed marriage’ between Chrysler and German automaker Daimler-Benz, the American auto group was acquired by Cerberus. After the acquisition of the carmaker, Cerberus announced that Chrysler will have a new CEO in Robert Nardelli. This means that Tom LaSorda, the former CEO will now be the number two man in the company.

Just like General Motors and Ford, Chrysler is also facing a tough time. Whether the logo change will help them or not remains to be seen. The arrival of the new CEO is also something that the auto industry is observing. Will Nardelli be what Carlos Ghosn was to Nissan? Can he save the company that he now heads? We will know the answer soon I’m sure.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Purchasing A Car Is Still A Major Hassle For Women

Women… why do they find it so hard to purchase a car? Why do our lovely ladies feel much hassle when they try to buy their own vehicle? Whew… women! What more if they are obliged to read an entire VW repair manual?!

Anyway, the response for these hassling questions will be answered by CarMax Inc, the largest retailer of vehicles in the country! They have come up with a poll and conducted it on their web site to know the major concerns and complaints of women regarding the buying a car. The poll revealed a little improvement in women’s complaints compared to last year.

"We continue to see the same trends as women search for satisfaction in shopping for a vehicle. It is essential for women to find a car retailer, such as CarMax, that focuses on excellent customer service and a hassle free car-buying experience," says Donna Wassel, the regional vice president of CarMax.

"Being prepared to walk away can be tough to do, especially if you have spent a lot of time on one car lot. But if you are not pleased with the car buying process, it's worth it - remember, you are the one who has to drive the car and make the payments, not the salesperson," added Wassel.

More than 12,000 women were asked on to open up their concerns and share things they are unfamiliar with in the car-buying experience. Here are the results of the survey this year and the results for the year 2006 survey. These were published in

What was most lacking when you bought your last car? Criteria: This Year's Response / Response in 2006

  • A quick, effortless transaction: 21% / 21%
  • A salesperson I liked and trusted: 16% / 15%
  • Lowest, fair pricing: 14% / 14%
  • A fair trade-in value: 13% / 14%
  • Respect for/attention to my wants and needs: 13% / 13%
  • A fair, reasonable finance rate: 7% / 6%
  • Understandable paperwork: 4% / 4%
  • Other factors: 12 % / 12%

Hey! Calling out the lovely ladies out there! You better listen up! Here are some tips for you courtesy of and! Take these down and it might help you get rid of the hassles you experience when you want to purchase a car:

1. Use the Internet to research vehicle types, makes, models, options, features, and prices. Visit websites such as to see actual prices and photos of nearly every vehicle make and model, review vehicle history reports, and read actual customer reviews.

2. Print out fact sheets or information about the vehicles you are interested in, so you can remind yourself about what you want when you step onto the lot.

3. Bring key paperwork items with you, including title and registration for your current vehicle, your driver's license, and insurance card.

4. If you have been pre-approved for a car loan, bring in the approval letter with you.

5. Find a car retailer and salesperson you like and trust by asking friends and family for referrals.

Monday, August 06, 2007’s Top 10 Wallet-Friendly Wheels

With so many things to buy these days, and you’re a great spender, sure you’ll be running out of money! And if it’s necessary to buy a new car, what would you do?

If that problem has been troubling you for quite a long time, don’t fret. has a timely solution… Consumers searching for wallet-friendly wheels don't need to sacrifice safety, reliability and cabin comfort, according to You can have the best late-model used for as low as $10,000!

2005 Ford Focus - Expect to pay around $10,500 for an entry-level ZX4 sedan with ABS, side airbags, a stick shift and 40,000 miles. Automatic transmissions add around $650. The ST can cost upward of $13,000.

2003 Ford Taurus - With ABS and side airbags, a Taurus sedan with 60,000 miles should cost between $8,000 and $12,000. Similarly equipped wagons range from $10,500 to $12,000. Pay additional $400 for the Duratec V-6.

2003 Mazda Protege - With antilock brakes, side airbags and 60,000 miles, the no-frills DX trim should cost around $8,500 with a stick shift. The LX and ES models have more features and run between $9,500 and $10,500. Add around $600 if you want an automatic. The turbocharged Mazdaspeed Protege commands close to $15,000.

2003 Mercury Sable - With antilock brakes, side airbags and 60,000 miles, prices range from $9,000 to $11,500 for the Sable sedan; wagons should sell for $10,000 to $13,000. The uplevel Sable LS includes the Duratec V-6, which is unavailable in the base GS. An LS sedan light on luxury options can be had for around $10,000.

2002 Buick LeSabre - With 70,000 miles, a LeSabre Custom runs around $9,000. A well-appointed LeSabre Limited should cost about $12,000.

2002 Chevrolet Impala - Expect to pay around $9,000 for a base Impala with 70,000 miles, antilock brakes and the driver's side airbag. A fully loaded LS is about $11,500.

2002 Ford Windstar - A base Windstar LX with 70,000 miles and side airbags should cost around $7,500. That's a steal, considering the standard ABS, air conditioning and power accessories. Better-equipped SE and SEL models run past $10,000, and a loaded Limited can cost upward of $15,000.

2002 Honda Accord - A base DX sedan with 70,000 miles, a manual transmission, ABS and side airbags should run just under $10,000; better-equipped LX and EX models will cost between $11,500 and $13,000. Cars with an automatic go for an extra $700 or so, and the V-6 can add $850 to $1,500. Pay at least $12,000 for an Accord coupe.

2002 Honda Civic - With 70,000 miles, a basic DX sedan or coupe with side airbags, ABS and a stick shift should cost around $10,000. Better-equipped LX and EX models range from $11,000 to $12,000. Add about $550 for an automatic.

2002 Oldsmobile Aurora - With 70,000 miles, well-equipped V-6 models can be had for under $11,000. If you want the V-8 and a full host of luxury features, expect to pay $13,000 or more.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Foreign Carmakers Outsell Detroit’s Big 3

Auto industry’s bad fate comes like buses. You wait ages for one to come along and then two or more come along at the same time.

It seems like I’m getting used to receiving bad news from the industry. Come rising gasoline prices, slashing of jobs, closure of facilities, diminution of labor wages and benefits, declining sales – whew! – the list seems to be endless. The latest negative issue, so far, is the dropping of monthly market share under 50%. It is alarming! But could you think of non-alarming news involving the auto industry in the past few months? You might find it difficult to recollect.

Earlier, the Detroit News reported that foreign rivals outsold domestic automakers for the first time in history in July - a grim milestone that came as the entire U.S. auto industry was battered by its worst sales month in nearly two years.

In July, domestic automakers had a record low 48.1 percent of the market. The figure represents domestic automakers' shrinking presence in a market they once dominated. Across the country, rising gas prices, declining housing markets and other economic concerns pulled the sales and further hampered turnaround plans of Detroit automakers.

"This is certainly not the way we wanted to start the summer selling season," GM sales analyst Paul Ballew said last Wednesday in a DetNews interview. "We have been running below where we discussed we need to be in terms of the North American restructuring plan."

GM reported a 22.3 percent drop in sales. Ford dived by 19.1 percent and Chrysler fell 8.4 percent. Even Japanese automakers weren't impervious. Sales were down 7.3 percent at Toyota and 7.1 percent at Honda. Only Nissan managed to eke out a 1.7 percent raise.

Even so, Toyota outsold both Ford and Chrysler. Demand nationwide is at its weakest in more than a year and is falling short of the already underwhelming 16 million unit sales analysts predicted earlier this year, said DetNews. "It was a tough industry last month, no doubt about it," said Bob Carter, the group vice president and general manager of the Toyota division in North America.

"This is more than 30 years in the making," Ford sales analyst George Pipas said. He noted the company isn't worried about its ranking - instead, its focus is on returning Ford to profitability as a smaller automaker. Ford will not "get off on some sales race baloney," Pipas said.

According to experts the industry tends to suffer in a wobbly economy because consumers often can delay the purchase of a new vehicle. "All that home equity that people were building up as their homes appreciated has dried up because home prices have started to pull back," said Alex Rosten, the manager, pricing and market analysis at automotive research site

He added California, where sales have been especially slow, accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. The domestics' slide wasn't expected until after this summer, he said, because big summer promotions typically bolster sales.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Top 2007 Motorist Choice Awards Grabbed By Toyota And GM

Another astonishing result has been released by, the leading online source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis and the AutoPacific, the industry source for owner satisfaction ratings!

Yesterday, the winners of the second annual 2007 Motorist Choice Awards was declared! And guess who topped the honor list? Oh yeah, Toyota and GM emerged as the greatest winners of this year! Toyota vehicles won eight awards in their respective segments including the over-all winner Lexus LS. On the other hand, GM trailed Toyota with 5 segment winners.

"This year's roster of winners earned their place by challenging vehicles often recognized for their quality and value. While Japanese manufacturers garnered a majority of the 25 vehicle segments, the 2007 Cadillac DTS checked in as the top overall large luxury car. GM also showed well by scoring top honors in both the large light-duty and heavy-duty truck segments with the Chevrolet Silverado," said James Bell, the publisher of

"Those who monitor the industry closely are probably not surprised by the performance of the Cadillac DTS. Across all segments, the DTS came in a close second to the overall winner Lexus LS, and it was the top ranked vehicle overall in AutoPacific's recently announced Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. It's a car that can definitely challenge the other elite brands," announced George Peterson who is the president of AutoPacific.

AutoPacific and designed the Motorist Choice Awards for consumers to be familiar with cars and other vehicles that provide both maximum customer satisfaction and the lowest cost of ownership. Results from AutoPacific and data were combined to provide a new kind of recognition that could bring a smile to both wallets and hearts of car buyers.

Any vehicle that can collect 700 points or more in the Motorists Choice Awards can be considered as a top tier in the most desired vehicles list.

List Of Winners:

  • Aspirational Luxury Car Lexus IS
  • Compact Car -- Mazda Mazda3 Sedan
  • Compact Crossover SUV -- Chevrolet HHR
  • Compact Pickup -- Toyota Tacoma
  • Compact Sport Utility/ORV -- Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Economy Car -- Honda Fit
  • Image Compact Car -- Volkswagen GTI
  • Large Car -- Toyota Avalon
  • Large HD Pickup -- Chevrolet Silverado HD
  • Large LD Pickup -- Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • Large Luxury Car -- Cadillac DTS
  • Large Sport Utility -- GMC Yukon XL
  • Luxury Crossover SUV -- Acura MDX
  • Luxury Mid-Size Car -- Nissan Maxima
  • Luxury Sport Utility -- Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • Mid-Size Car -- Volkswagen Jetta
  • Mid-Size Crossover SUV -- Honda CR-V
  • Mid-Size Sport Utility -- Toyota 4Runner
  • Minivan -- Honda Odyssey
  • Premium Luxury Car -- Lexus LS
  • Premium Mid-Size Car -- Nissan Altima
  • Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV -- Nissan Murano
  • Premium Sports Car -- Lexus SC
  • Sports Car -- Porsche Boxster
  • Sporty Car -- Scion tC