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Month: May 2018

5 hidden ways automakers keep new cars affordable

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A cheap car used to feel like what it was: a cheap car. That’s no longer the case, and it’s due in part to exceptionally careful cost-cutting. Car manufacturers trim pennies here and dollars there in ways not always obvious to consumers.

Here’s a look at a few tricks automakers use and how they’re passed onto consumers.

1. Platform sharing

New cars are all about scalability, at least in terms of what you can’t readily see. Peel a new car’s fenders back and you’ll probably find a lot of things shared between models in the automaker’s lineup, even if they look very different.

Car manufacturers call it scalable architecture and it’s a relatively recent development that lets them stretch what’s underneath to make cars larger or smaller. Common mounting points for suspension and powertrain parts help automakers shave development and production costs.

For example: Subaru and VW are consolidating their lineups to just a single platform each for everything from compact cars to three-row crossover SUVs.

2. Forgotten features

The CD player has gone the way of the tape player, which bit the dust a few years after the 8-track. Eventually, wireless charging pads and streaming music will do the same for USB ports.

But not all features bite the dust due to irrelevance. Automakers sometimes restrict small features like one-touch power windows, map pockets, rear-seat air vents, split-folding rear seats, and illuminated vanity mirrors to higher-spec trim levels. These aren’t usually deal-breakers and they help automakers trim costs to keep models and trim levels price-competitive.

For example: The 2018 Honda Civic LX lacks a map pocket on the back of the passenger’s seat. The Civic EX has one.



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2019 Honda Fit Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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The 2019 Honda Fit is a no-frills, dependable compact hatchback for first-time or budget buyers.

That doesn’t mean cheap: Honda has bestowed the Fit with flexible seating, great gas mileage, a lively ride, and an optional package of safety technology that defies its low price tag.

With this in mind, we’ve rated the 2019 Honda fit at 5.8 out of 10. Its materials are fitting for a car of its $17,085 entry price. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

The Fit rides tall for such a small vehicle and looks something like a shrunken minivan. The design works though, and has aged well through the years and generations. The 2019 Fit is the same as last year offered in four trims: LX, Sport, EX, and EX-L. Budget buyers will be able to get into a Fit for just over $17,000, with the range topping out around $20,000.

All 2019 Fit models come equipped with Honda’s plucky 1.5-liter inline-4 and are paired with either a 6-speed manual or an optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with sport mode and paddle shifters. These combos are good to propel the Fit 0-60 mph in around 10 seconds. Like last year, the 2019 Fit is rated at around 33 mpg combined depending on wheel and transmission choices.

Now in its third generation, the Fit isn’t quite as nimble as previous versions but manages to offer up some fun weaving through traffic. The suspension is soft enough to soak up quite a bit of rough road.

While not particularly noteworthy, the Fit’s seats are where things get interesting. Surrounded by a deceptively vast interior with plenty of head room, the Fit’s rear seats can fold and recline, opening up a tall cargo space behind the front seats. When folded all the way down, the Fit is large enough inside to carry a couple of mountain bikes.

The Fit scored reasonably well on crash tests including mostly “Good” scores from the IIHS, although its headlights were rated “Poor.” Honda has made its active safety tech, Honda Sensing, available in all trim models, which offers forward collision warning, lane departure alerts, and other clever tech to keep passengers safe.



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What’s New @ The Car Connection

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2018.5 Nissan Versa adds safety, convenience tech for modest $200 price hike

At the proverbial eleventh hour, the budget-friendly 2018 Nissan Versa has gained $200 worth of additional safety and convenience gear: a rearview monitor paired to a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a USB input.

Cadillac ATS sedan won’t return for 2019

The Cadillac ATS sedan won’t return for 2019, a company spokesman told The Car Connection on Wednesday. The two-door coupe will return for 2019, and likely the high-performance ATS-V coupe, although their futures beyond next year is unclear.

The federal government is pleading with 2006 model year Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickup owners to park their trucks unless they’ve had their faulty Takata airbags replaced.

From Motor Authority:

290-horsepower VW Golf GTI TCR road car previewed by concept

Volkswagen’s Golf GTI race car developed for the TCR International Series is about to spawn a road-going version.

Uber to resume testing self-driving cars in “a few months”

Uber believes it will have its self-driving cars back on the roads in “a few months,” as the company awaits a preliminary report from the National Traffic Safety Board.

Zoyte preps a Range Rover Sport clone for the Chinese market

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for western automakers when Chinese brands rip off their designs. The latest copycat car maker? Zotye, which is prepping a vehicle called the T800. It’s an SUV that looks an awful lot like Land Rover’s own Range Rover Sport.

From Green Car Reports:

Audi invests heavily in 20 electrified cars by 2025

At its annual meeting Wednesday, Audi announced an ambitious plan to build 20 new electrified cars by 2025, most of them battery electrics,.

NTSB launches investigation into another Tesla crash after it caught fire and killed two teens in Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Wednesday that it is investigating a crash involving a Tesla that killed two teens and injured a third in Florida.

CFA study shows better gas mileage standards offset cost of modern safety tech

Cars that get good gas mileage aren’t unsafe. In fact, gas savings have more than paid for safety improvements in modern cars, as well as for the technology needed to make the gains in fuel economy.



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