Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat has had an interesting odyssey thus far since it returned to selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2011. The company launched the 500, which is subcompact hatchback model, with aggressive sales targets of 50,000 units. Through October 2011, the model had sold less than 16,000 units, which is quite a setback.

Fiat has launched an aggressive advertising campaign bringing in Jennifer Lopez and partnering with Italian fashion maker Gucci for a special edition model. While the car has a distinctive design and was named an Insurance Institute For Highway Safety “Top Safety Pick”, the model will receive a needed boost when the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth arrives.

Abarth 500 Cabrio Italia at the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: Autoviva.com

Power & Fuel Economy

The Abarth is akin to the Cooper S in the Mini brand. While the base 500 has just a 101 horsepower engine, the Abarth is the performance models that takes the same 1.4-liter and adds a turbocharger and intercools it to produce 160 horsepower and a stout 170 pound-feet of torque in a lightweight car. The 500 Abarth weighs less than 2,600 pounds. The 500 Abarth’s 0-60 time is expected to be about 7 seconds.

The Abarth has a sport-tuned suspension, a lower-ride height, double-tipped exhausts, bigger brakes and wheels to handle the nearly 60% power boost over the base model. A rear spoiler is standard and aids aerodynamics. The model’s fuel economy should be similar to the 2012 Mini Cooper S, which gets EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway.

Taking on the Mini Cooper S

The 500 Abarth also has a spruced up interior and more muscular exterior styling with side skirts and flared wheels, which help ventilate the brake system. The model comes standard with 16-inch wheels with a 17-inch option. Buyers can also opt for a navigation system with a 4.3-inch touch-screen display and leather seats, including red and black leather.

The Fiat 500 Abarth raises the bar in small car safety with smart pedals that move out of the way during a collision to help protect the driver’s feet and legs. The model has seven airbags, 3 less than the diminutive Scion iQ.

Abarth 500 Cabrio Italia at the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: Autoviva.com

On Sale Soon

The Abarth 500 made its public debut at the November 2011 L.A. Auto Show. It will be interesting to see how the model competes against the Mini Cooper S. Check out our Mini Cooper vs. Fiat 500 article to see how the base models compared.

If you want Italian styling and performance at an affordable price, the Fiat 500 Abarth may be for you. The model goes on sale during the first quarter of 2012.

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Originally posted 2011-11-21 22:42:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Chevy Sonic

The all-new 2012 Chevy Sonic is the first vehicle built on GM”s new global small-vehicle architecture. This four-door sedan and five-door hatch replaces the Daewoo built Aveo and Aveo5 as Chevy’s subcompact model when it debuts fall 2011. Chevy says the vehicle is designed to be the most fun to drive 40-mpg model sold in the U.S.

The Sonic is certainly a big step up from the Aveo and Aveo5. It has a vastly improved interior and all trims get standard allow wheels. Even rear seat passenger room is relatively spacious with room for six-foot tall adults. North American sold Sonics will be built in Michigan.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG
2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

The Sonic utilizes the engines found in Chevy’s compact model, the Cruze, which debuted in 2011. Buyers can choose from the base 1.8-liter, 138 horsepower engine or an optional turbocharged 1.4-liter 138 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The turbocharged engine produces 23 more pound feet of torque than the normally aspirated four (148 vs. 125).

40-mpg highway fuel economy is expected from both engines. The Sonic comes standard with a five or six-speed manual transmission depending on the trim line. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The Sonic’s 0-60 time is expected to be between 8 and 9 seconds.

New models such as the 2012 Hyundai Accent and Sonic are really upping the power buyers can expect from the subcompact class. While most engines previously were in the 100-120 horsepower range, these two models both have more than 135 horsepower from fuel-efficient engines.

The Sonic made its debut in January at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. It is an important model for Chevy as it attempts to take a bigger chunk out of the growing subcompact market. The 2011 Cruze compact has been a big hit for Chevy already and in recent months has been the top selling compact model in the U.S.

Chevy Sonic LTZ Rear View
Creative Commons License photo credit: saebaryo
2012 Chevy Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

One added selling point for the Sonic is that it is the only subcompact model assembled in the U.S. Its key competitors, the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, are assembled in Mexico and Japan respectively.

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Originally posted 2011-07-03 11:37:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Mazda3

Mazda introduced its revamped 2012 Mazda3 at the New York International Auto Show. Not wanting to be outdone by its competitors, the model is featuring Mazda’s new SkyActiv engine technology in the Mazda3. However, engine changes are only occurring in trim lines with the 2.0-liter engine, leaving trims with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine unchanged power-wise.

Mazda has implemented its new SkyActiv engine technology to boost power in 2012 Mazda3 models with the 2.0 liter engine. While horsepower increases by 7 to 155, torque increases by 15 percent in comparison to the 2011 model. Despite the modest increase in power, the weight of the engine actually is down by about 4 pounds.

The new engine technology provides for greater efficiency and it is paired with six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission. In automatic form, the engine returns 40-mpg highway while the manual returns 39-mpg highway. The model will have a driving range of about 540 miles without a fill up. Both engines get 28-mpg city gas mileage. The engine will be offered in both sedan and hatchback versions of the model.

This engine is a substantial improvement over the 2011 model when the Mazda3 returned 24-mpg city and 33-mpg for the five-speed automatic and 25-mpg city and 33-mpg highway for the five-speed automatic.

For 2012, the Mazda3 joins the club of compact models that gets 40-mpg highway showing how fuel economy continues to improve, largely without sacrificing power. Mazda is making an effort to reduce the fuel economy of all its vehicles by 30 percent by 2012. The 2012 Mazda3 introduction comes on the heels of the debut of the 2012 Subaru Impreza, which has also made substantial improvements in fuel economy.

Other changes for the 2012 Mazda3 include body stiffening for improved ride quality, improvements in suspension and steering, and greater aerodynamics.

Unlike some of its competitor such as Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai, Mazda has not unveiled a hybrid engine in the U.S. However, the company will make a diesel variant of the SkyActiv engine in the next two years.

The Mazda3 is an important model for the automaker. Atop many best compact cars lists, it is the company’s top selling model in the U.S. accounting for nearly half of its sales stateside. The SkyActiv engine technology will also be featured in the upcoming Mazda CX-5 compact SUV.

Originally posted 2011-04-22 16:56:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Most Stolen Cars

Car theft is a major problem throughout the country. Each month, many thousands of cars are broken into and stolen. Some owners park their car one night only to wake up the next morning and never see it again. Car break-ins affect nearly all neighborhoods, and are a significant contributing factor to high auto insurance costs.

LoJack, a company that provides theft prevention and car recovery services, has released its 2010 “Vehicle Theft Recovery Report”. It is the second year the company has published the report, which lists the top 10 most stolen cars in America. According to LoJack, the number one most stolen car in 2010 was the Honda Accord, a popular midsize sedan. Number two on the list was the Honda Civic, a compact sedan.

This is a flip from 2009 when the Civic finished as the most stolen car and the Accord finished second. Hondas have been popular theft targets for years due to their renowned reliability and popularity for parts and ability to make modifications. Honda makes Acura, which had a model place fourth on the list, making three of the top four most stolen cars in 2010 Honda products.

Below is the top 10 list for most stolen cars of 2010 according to LoJack:

1. Honda Accord

2. Honda Civic

3. Toyota Camry

4. Acura Integra

5. Cadillac Escalade

6. Toyota Corolla

7. Dodge Ram

8. Nissan Altima

9. Nissan Maxima

10. Chevrolet Tahoe

Three of the cars on this list are compact models – the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Acura Integra. The Integra is actually a compact sport coupe that was sold from 1995-2007. Excluding the two SUVs and one pick-up, all cars in the top 10 list were made by Japanese automakers.

No matter how much your car is worth, if you wish to better protect it from theft, you may wish to consider purchasing LoJack’s service. It is available at many auto parts stores. How it works is that a LoJack transmitter is installed, hidden inside of your vehicle. In that way, if your car is stolen, the tracking device allows police to find and recover it. With this device installed, vehicle recovery usually only takes a few hours.

LoJack has a high success rate noting that nearly 90% of the vehicles equipped with its tracking hardware were recovered in 2010. The company is now offering a 24-hour recovery guarantee.

Originally posted 2011-04-17 12:54:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Worst Small Cars

To make our worst small cars for 2011 list, a model needed to be: (1) a subcompact or compact, (2) offer an optional 4-speed automatic transmission, and (3) not make the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Picks”, which includes the 2011 safest small cars. If a model does not fit into all three of these categories, they could not be included in our list.

The good news is that quality has gotten improved considerably in recent years in the compact and subcompact class. New generation models such as the 2011 Hyundai Elantra and 2012 Ford Focus have helped raised the bar in the compact class and offer optional six-speed automatic transmissions. Models such as the 2011 Honda Fit and 2011 Ford Fiesta have really improved the quality of the subcompact class.

2011 Chevrolet Aveo
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB
2011 Chevrolet Aveo
Creative Commons License photo credit: theKCB

Our picks for the top three worst small cars of 2011 are:

1. Chevy Aveo/Aveo5 – The Aveo is made by Korean automaker Daewoo. Fortunately, the Aveo will die in 2011 to be replaced by Chevy’s all-new subcompact model, the Sonic.

2. Kia Rio – On the bright side, despite having a four-speed automatic, the Rio LX gets a respectable 27-mpg city and 36-mpg highway. However, the model does not even offer traction control and electronic stability control. This will change in 2012.

The Rio and Rio5 are being totally redesigned for the new model year and will be a much higher quality vehicle. The model is said to offer stop-start technology and a six- speed manual or automatic transmission that will help boost fuel economy to 30-mpg city and 40-mpg highway.

3. Hyundai Accent – The Accent was a blight on Hyundai’s otherwise quality lineup in 2011. That will change for 2012 as the Accent will be all-new offering many of the features seen in its sister vehicle, the Kia Rio.

The only real appeal in buying these cars is their price. These cars are among the cheapest 2011 cars with each having starting prices under $12,500.

With all the changes coming to the above model in 2012, small car buyers have much to look forward to. It will become increasingly difficult to come up with a worst small cars list. Furthermore, 2012 federal law requires all cars sold in the U.S. (weighing less than 10,000) pounds to have standard electronic stability control, which is a great safety feature.

Models such as the 2012 Mazda Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris should also be significantly improved from 2011. In other small car news, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed that a new compact hatchback will replace the Dodge Caliber hatchback by the 2013 model year. The new model will make its debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

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Originally posted 2011-06-17 17:09:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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