www.washautopress.org March 2008
HYUNDAI BREAKS INTO CR'S TOP TEN
Silverado lone US make among the best
Consumer Reports unveiled its 2008 Auto Issue and braking, to fuel economy, noise-level measure-
at the February WAPA meeting and for the first time ments, and head light testing. Then CR analyzes reli-
a Korean automaker made it into CR's Top Ten Picks, ability data based on its Annual Car Reliability Survey
claiming two spots with Hyundai's Elantra SE the top covering 17 major trouble areas with feedback from
small sedan and Hyundai's Santa Fe as the top mid- over a million vehicle owners. CR bases its new car
sized SUV. The Americans muscled their way back reliability predictions on data from the three latest
into the Top Ten circle with the Chevrolet Silverado model years, provided the vehicle design hasn't
1500 Crew Cab after a two year absence. changed. CR also adds in a composite of IIHS and
CR's Top Ten Picks, which guides at lest 15 per- NHTSA crash-test results.
cent of consumers through their car buying process, This year, to be considered for the top ten, each
continued a two-year trend with Honda claiming the vehicle had to have ESC either as standard equipment
slot for best overall automaker based on road tests or as a readily available option. That criteria gave the
and predicted-reliability. However, not all Honda's edge to the Honda Accord in the family sedan cate-
lead their class. The CR-V was edged out by Toyota's gory over the Nissan Altima which actually scored
RAV4 and Toyota's Sienna bested the Honda Odyssey. slightly higher in CR testing but offers ESC only as a
CR buys 80 vehicles a year to put through 50 pricey option on the V6 and standard on the hybrid
individual tests mostly preformed at its Auto Test model, David Champion, CR director of automotive
Center in Connecticut. Engineers and technicians put testing said. The ESC system has the potential to cut
2,000 miles on each test vehicle to break it in. Fol- highway fatalities by one third, Champion said, mak-
lowing the break-in period, each vehicle undergoes ing it a critical safety choice for buyers.
tests ranging from emergency handling, acceleration
See Consumer Reports, page 2
www.washautopress.org March 2008
(continued from page one)
Lexus LS 460L took top honors in the luxury
sedan category with a score of 99 out of 100, mak-
ing it CR's highest rated vehicle. Calling it a de-
light to drive, Champion revealed he got a ticket
for speeding while testing the LS.
The Infiniti G35 took the upscale sedan cate-
gory for the second straight year with its "success-
ful blend of sportiness and luxury."
Mazda captured the fun-to-drive category Rik Paul, CR Automotive Editor, outlines the
with the Miata MX-5. It tied with the Porsche publication's new Owner Cost Comparisons,
Boxster in CR's test scoring but sells for half the which show a cheaper car can cost more to
own than some higher-priced alternatives.
Toyota swept the last three categories with
the Rav4 in the small SUV category; the Toyota Consumer Reports readers surveyed said they spent
Sienna in the minivan category and the Toyota Prius more for a new-car warranty than they got back in
in the green car category. repair cost savings. The average warranty costs of
This year, CR introduced a new owner-cost esti- $1,000 gave back $700 in benefits. An additional 42
mate which gives consumers an idea of what it will percent of extended warranties were not used and
cost to own a vehicle over five years in terms of de- only about a third of all respondents used their plan
preciation, fuel costs (at 12,000 miles a year), interest to cover a serious problem. "Extended warranties sell
on a five-year loan, insurance, maintenance and repair costly `peace of mind' for repair nightmares that
and sales tax. The analysis is based on an assumption probably won't occur," said Paul. "Sellers know what
that owners will trade in their vehicles after five years. tends to break, and in most cases consumers are bet-
Surprisingly, the magazine found that cheaper ting against the house."
cars can cost consumers more in the long run than a However, extended warranties were a better deal
more expensive alternative. For example a $17,500 for consumers who bought cars scoring lower in CR's
Mitsubishi Lancer could cost $5,000 less than a Mini reliability ratings. But only 38 percent of those owners
Cooper to drive home, but it will cost the owner said they saved money. CR suggested that consumers
$3,000 more to maintain over the next five years. put the price of the extended warranty into a savings
Rick Paul, CRs automotive editor, said the most ex- account to cover unexpected repairs.
pensive vehicle to run for five years is the Mercedes- Overall Honda makes the best cars sold in the
Benz S550 at about $101,750. The least expensive ve- U.S.. according to the annual automaker report card
hicle to run over five years was the Toyota Yaris with in CR's auto issue. It is the second year that the
manual transmission at about $23,250. magazine has issued the report card and the second
In analyzing ownership costs, CR made some time that Honda has won. Honda was followed
notable discoveries. Most Lexus models have rela- closely by Toyota and Subaru. Only Honda and
tively high maintenance and repair costs primarily Subaru have all of their models tested by CR on its
due to maintenance despite excellent reliability. The recommended list.
Lexus ES350 costs an average of $2,300 in mainte- "I must say that GM and Ford have been making
nance and repairs in the first five years, or about twice significant progress recently," Champion said, adding
what a consumer would pay for a Lincoln MKZ. The that 93 percent of Ford vehicles have average or bet-
Toyota Prius actually costs less to own than similar ter reliability. GM has "improved tremendously as
conventional models. The Prius costs about $7,500 well with their new products," such as the Chevrolet
more to buy than a Chevrolet Cobalt but costs Malibu, Cadillac CTS and the Chevy Silverado named
$2,000 less to maintain over five years. Asked about as a class winner. "All have performed extremely well
the battery life of the Prius, CR said that the batter- in our testing. The big question with General Motors
ies were holding up and the 2000 to 3000 owners in is, is the reliability going to be there."
the survey still had their original battery in the 2001 Chrysler on the other hand dropped further in
models. CR ratings, "due to a number of unimpressive new
A new Consumer Reports Survey shows that vehicles" that CR tagged as noisy with underpowered
extended auto warranties are a high priced gamble, engines, poor fit and finish, cramped seating and lim-
Rick Paul said. Sixty-five percent of more than 8,000 ited visibility.
www.washautopress.org. March 2008 Volvo Shows Bush Green Trucks
Volvo showed off seven carbon-
dioxide-neutral trucks at the opening of
the Washington International Renew-
able Energy Conference March 6 at the
Washington Convention Center. Presi-
dent Bush toured the display of 6
Volvo trucks and one Mack truck each
capable of operating on different re-
newable fuels before addressing the
conference. Volvo Group CEO Lief
Johansson explained that each of the
trucks could be driven without any net
contribution of carbon dioxide to the
atmosphere. The display also included
a Mack hybrid electric vehicle which
will be delivered to the US Air Force
under a cooperative research and de- President George W. Bush is given a tour of Volvo and
velopment agreement. Four Mack HEV Mack carbon-dioxide-neutral trucks by Volvo Group
CEO Leif Johansson.
trucks are currently being tested by the
US Air Force.
"We are grateful for President Bush's
interest in our achievements and I shared with him Volvo's long-term goal of providing advanced vehicles
having a benign environmental footprint," Johansson said.
The Volvo Group is also participating in an environmental agreement developed by the American and
Swedish governments aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels through cooperative projects in energy and
automotive development, including advanced hybrid and alternative driveline technology.
For more information on the project contact: Marjorie Meyers, 212-418-7434 or 646-246-8606.
Mazda Briefing on 2008 Models Highlights Mazda 5
Mazda introduced its 2008 Mazda
5 to WAPA members February 27
at a luncheon at the USA Today
building. Vehicle Line Manager
Jeff Horne discussed the 2008 full
model line-up for Mazda and then
gave a walk-around of the new
www.washautopress.org. March 2008
The WAPA 2008 Speakers Calendar is ment affairs questions should be directed to
shaping up. We have commitments through Daniel Ehreiser at 202-216-4934.
Spring and are working on some outstanding Nissan's new headquarters in Tennessee
speakers for the Summer and Fall. will open in July and AP reports it will be a very
April 16: Smart Car presentation. green building. Sited on a 50-acre campus with
May 20 Challenge X at a different venue than a restored wetland, Nissan engineers developed
the National Press Club. Details will be an- the headquarters with green in mind. A "light
nounced. harvesting system" automatically dims or turns
June 18 Panel discussion on new materials in off interior lights in the offices while sun shades
plastics, rubber and aluminum which can re- driven by a computer reduce glare and reflect
duce weight and increase fuel economy. WAPA heat. Nissan engineers say the headquarters will
may also include an auto designer to discuss consume about 35 percent less energy than
both opportunities and challenges inherent in traditional buildings
the new materials.
July 16 Speakers to be announced.
August NO MEETING
September: A green take on the racing scene April 16 WAPA Meeting
speakers from NASCAR or Lemans, and, per-
October is the annual WAPA rally route and
venue to be announced.
Detlev von Platen takes over Porsche in
the U.S. market beginning next month. Von With oil climbing to $109 a barrel and the
Platen as president and chief executive officer of end not yet in sight,
Porsche Cars North America moves into the the planets aligned for
head office in Atlanta, replacing Peter Schwar- the introduction of the
zenbauer, who will join the management board Smart Car in the U.S.
for Audi AG in Germany. Von Platen moves to Smart USA Distribu-
Atlanta after nine years as head of Porsche tor LLC, a subsidiary
of Penske Automotive
Group, Inc., will have
Porsche North America accounts for almost a dealership network
40 percent of the automaker's worldwide sales. of 74 Smart Centers
Porsche Cars Canada, a new independent sub- with 68 open now.
sidiary, will open for business in April, with Chris- The first Smart
tian Marti serving as president and CEO. car debuted at the
Marijke Smith, Public Affairs Manager Frankfurt Motor Show
with Volkswagen of America, Inc. is leaving after in 1997. The Smart
eight years at VW. She will become Director of moniker comes from a
combination of the words Swatch, Mercedes
Membership Recruitment at the Intelligent
and art. The tiny ForTwo gets 46.3 mpg in the
Transportation Society of America (ITSA) in city and on the highway manages 68.9 mpg.
Washington, DC. "I am very excited to start a All Fortwos come with Electronic Stability
new chapter in my career," Marijke said and Program, Hill Start Assist, Anti-lock brakes,
added although she won't be in the auto industry Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD),
anymore she will be glad to hear from folks who Acceleration Skid Control (ASC), Electronic
may want info on ITSA or just want to stay in Brake Assist, Dual-circuit brake system with
contact. Her new contact numbers are: email: servo assistance and disc brakes at front and
firstname.lastname@example.org, office phone: 202-721-4203 drum brakes at rear.
and mobile phone: 301-509-2314. The Smart presentation will be held at the
National Press Club at noon April 16. For reser-
Steve Keyes will take over media relations for vations visit our website:
Volkswagen. His phone is 248-754-5054. Jeff www.washautopress.org and click on Upcoming
Kuhlman will field media questions for Audi. Events.
His phone is 248-754-6017. Industry Govern-
WWW.WASHAUTOPRESS.ORG March 2008
And we're off ! What a great way to start the WAPA calendar year, with a stellar
presentation by Consumer Reports last month.
This was the first time CR presented results of its annual vehicle issue at an
automotive press event. And there were plenty of surprises. In the 2008 Top Ten
rankings, Korean automaker Hyundai made major inroads in vehicle quality, while
other automakers jockeyed for position. To help consumers make better buying de-
cisions, CR added some new testing criteria: an owner-cost estimate, for example,
looks at a vehicle's five-year expense for depreciation, fuel, interest, insurance,
maintenance/repair, and sales tax. CR then explained how cheaper cars can actually
2008 cost consumers more in the long run than more expensive vehicles. Perhaps only
CR can take such detailed automotive data and make it lively.
Kudos to CR speakers Dave Champion and Rik Paul for their spirited presenta-
tions. With WAPA turnout twice the size of a regular luncheon, it's no wonder CR
wants to make this an annual event.
Next up is the April luncheon, hosted by Smart USA. Expect an engaging look
at this newest entry into the North American market.
And please remember to renew your WAPA memberships. It's that time of year
again, and membership renewal ensures that your listing makes it into the annual
See you April. 16.
WAPA 2008 Board
President Joe Phillips
1st Vice President Rick Trawick
2nd Vice President Mark Solheim
Treasurer Pete Langlois
Secretary Annemarie Pender
Media Focus Group Les Jackson
Pres. Emeritus Kimatni Rawlins
Newsletter Cathy Nikkel Orme
Web Master Yenny Louie
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