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Summer cars and gadgets

After what seemed like a long tortuous winter, summer is finally here and many people are now getting ready to plan their summer vacations. While many people fly to their vacation spots, there are also a lot of us that will also plan a fun road trip to places like the mountains, the beach or maybe even just a fun drive up the coast. Here are five new cars that will make that road trip even more enjoyable and five of the latest gadgets to bring along for the trip.

Automakers like Ford and Hyundai have been pushing more turbocharged engines in their lineup as replacements for conventional engines, due to the turbocharged engines' claimed MPG and performance gains, but Consumer Reports isn't convinced. Automakers love to boast that turbocharged engines provide the power of larger engines, but deliver the fuel economy of smaller engines, but is it actually true? Consumer Reports claims that its own internal testing says otherwise.

Five Awesome Ways to Keep Your Car Clean Plus One Horrible Idea


We spend thousands of dollars on our precious new cars! Even though we may spend countless hours and even more money trying to keep them in "showroom" condition, there are always other ways to keep them clean other than a visit to the local car wash or the hose and bucket sitting in your driveway. For the most part, when it comes to cleaning your car most of us probably can only think of traditional methods like a bucket of soapy water and a sponge, but here are five cool ways to keep your car clean, that you may have never heard of before.

Jeremy Clarkson Hates the New 2012 VW Beetle...

VW unveiled the all-new 2012 Beetle two months ago and the immediate response seemed to be "it's better than the last one!" VW has decided to add a lot more "sport" into the 2012 Beetle than ever before. It's even available with the same engine as the VW GTI, but that isn't enough to convince the Top Gear crew and Jeremy Clarkson...

Clarkson's main criticism with the new Beetle is that it isn't sporty and even if VW claims the new Beetle is sporty, "There has never been a sporty Beetle. Not even Herbie. He wasn't sporty. He was just speeded up."

The 2012 VW Beetle is far "sportier" than the last one, but do you agree with Clarkson? Do you think anyone will care about the new Beetle?

IIHS: SUVs are Now Safer than Cars

According to the latest report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2006-2009 SUVs had a driver fatality rate that was half that of cars.

SUVs used to have a higher rollover rate, which contributed to their lower safety rating, but that is no longer the case thanks to the new anti-rollover technology.

"The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that's no longer the case," thanks to electronic stability control, said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. "Pound for pound, SUVs have lower death rates."

The study counts the number of years that each model has been on the road and multiplies that by the number of that model's vehicles. SUV driver fatalities totaled 28 per million registered vehicle years compared to 52 for trucks and 56 for cars. The safest segment is minivans, which only had 25 driver fatalities per million registered vehicles.

What vehicle had the highest driver fatality rates in the study? The Nissan 350Z.

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson recently had a two-hour interview with the Detroit News, in which he shared his opinion about the current gas prices and how the gas prices are pushing buyers towards more efficient vehicles.

Akerson is confident that the government will soon get rid of its remaining 26 percent share in General Motors. "I actually think the government will be out this year -- within the next 12 months, hopefully within the next six months."

One thing that Akerson would like to see the government do, is raise the current gas tax as part of its new energy policy. Akerson believes that a higher gas tax will force more people to buy small cars, which will do more than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards (CAFE).

"There ought to be a discussion on the cost versus the benefits," he said. "What we are going to do is tax production here, and that will cost us jobs."

What are the 10 Most Disappointing Cars of 2011?

We've reached the halfway point of 2011. With that we have a view of what cars buyers are ignoring or simply hate this year. CNN Money has put together a list of 10 cars that it sees as the most disappointing cars this year.

The list includes some models that aren't surprising, like the disappointing Honda Insight, which has failed to steal away Prius buyers and the Smart ForTwo, which is just too small for American buyers.

Which models do you think are missing from the list?

Check out the full list after the jump.

Should Toyota Kill the Matrix?

The Toyota Matrix debuted with the last generation Corolla in 2002. Since then a new Matrix has been released, but sales have continued to decline. Because of this it looks like Toyota may not bring the Matrix back when the next Corolla debuts in 2013.

When questioned about a new Matrix, Toyota's Bob Carter told Ward's, "There's no change right now on the car, (but) we haven't made the decision yet."

The Matrix had its best year in 2002 with sales of 66,836 units, but since then sales have continued to sink. Last year Toyota only sold 14,492 Matrix hatchbacks, which was down from 26,121 in 2009 and 49,567 in 2008.

Critics would be quick to point out that hatchbacks don't generally sell that well in the U.S., but a number of C-segment models are offered in hatchback and wagon variants. The Ford Focus and Mazda3 quickly come to mind. According to Ford, the hatchback version of the recently launched 2012 Focus accounts for 43 percent of the Focus sales.

Matrix sales through April are down 37.3 percent compared to a year ago. One issue Toyota is trying to figure out is the fact that the Matrix sells well in Canada. "It's huge in Canada," Carter says.

What do you think? Should Toyota kill the Matrix? Or maybe Toyota should make a true Mazda3 competitor? The current Matrix is pretty boring to drive compared to the Mazda3 and new Ford Focus.

EU Wants to Ban Gas and Diesel Powered Cars by 2050

The European Commission has proposed a new ban, that would ban diesel and gas powered passenger cars in urban areas by 2050. The proposal is part of a plan to cut CO2 emissions from cars by 60 percent in 2050. vw_tdi_badge_new.jpg

The process involves focusing more on hybrid powered vehicles in the next few decades, which would eventually make it easier for a full transition to electric powered vehicles. Another big part of the proposal is for more emphasis to be placed on the use of public transportation.

Of course you can expect all the automakers to release statements against this proposal. Ford had this to say:

"The Commission's position paper while well intentioned would not achieve its goals of improving transportation policy," said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. "I believe the Commission should address the environmental and congestion issues associated with vehicles in urban areas to ensure consumer choice, and drive jobs and economic growth in Europe." Check out Ford's full press release after the jump.

Study: Small Car Buyers are Having Buyers Remorse


Last year when gas prices topped $4.50 a gallon in many parts of the country, car buyers ditched their large SUVs and trucks for smaller cars like the Honda Fit, but now many of those buyers are beginning to regret their purchase.

Gas prices are not quite as high as they were last year, which is part of the explanation for why truck sales have rebounded from last year. Car buyers have all but forgotten how painful it was to see near $5 prices and have moved back into larger vehicles. According to the latest figures subcompact car sales are off 15 percent year to date and compact cars are off 28.5 percent. Popular small cars like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit sales are down 41 percent and 8.2 percent respectively.

It get's worse for the small car market, according to a new study by AutoPacific, small car buyers are not happy with their small cars.

The news that GM has killed Pontiac may make some of you want to rush out and buy a G8 or Solstice in the hope that it may one day become a collectors item, but you may want to rethink that.

According to General Manager Rob Huting of AutoTrader Classic, the current Pontiacs are unlikely to become significant to collectors. GM has already produced 12,000 units of the G8, which has only been on the market for a short time. Although it represents a good performance value, it is unlikely to become as collectible as say a Corvette. The same will likely go for the Solstice or any other car currently in the Pontiac lineup.

GM has put together an informational video of what it predicts will happen if the Big Three automakers all fail next year.

Some highlights:
-If all three fail next year it will result in 3 million U.S. jobs lost in the first year
-Total governement tax loss over three years = $156.4 billion
-The U.S. GDP would drop 4 percent, compare that to the fact that the current economic downturn was caused by a .3 percent drop
-One out of every ten jobs in the U.S. relies on the U.S. auto industry

Motor Trend is currently hanging out at the Hyundai/Kia testing facility, in Mojave, California testing 17 new cars to see which one will take the title this year as the "2009 Motor Trend Car of the Year."

Motor Trend is quick to point out that this is not a comparison test and is only open to all-new or substantially upgraded vehicles that have gone on sale in the 12 months from November 1, 2007. Motor Trend also does not test vehicles that have been on sale for the past five years.

Republican Bill Maze has proposed a bill in California that would make it illegal for drivers to drive with their beloved pets on their laps.

Do Consumers Really Prefer Cupholders Over Fuel Economy?


According to the latest report by CNW Marketing Research, consumers prefer heated seats and cup holders over fuel economy.

Ok as ridiculous as this story sounds it is true. Ford's sales last month dipped over 20 percent compared to September 2006. The American Family Association is now taking some of the credit for the disappointing sales.

Upcoming Audi RS6 May Produce Over 600HP! Is That Too Much?


In the past Japanese automakers had to downplay the actual horsepower ratings of their vehicles due to certain laws in Japan. This meant that many of Japan's high-performance vehicles all had around 274-276 horsepower, even though they were obviously capable of much more. Well Audi seems to be doing the same thing with the upcoming RS6.

Forbes has put together a list of the top 20 most dangerous vehicles on the road. The Buick Rendevous SUV/ Minivan topped their list as possibly the worst car to buy right now in terms of safety. Compared to other minivans the Rendevous is up to three times more likely to cause a fatality.

Toyota for the first time ever outsold GM worldwide in the first quarter of this year. So far this year Toyota is still outselling GM, but only by 46,000 units. In addition GM even outsold Toyota last quarter (April-June). Could GM win back its title of number 1 automaker this year?

Cars Could Soon be Banned from Times Square


Anyone who has ever been to Times Square can attest to the fact that it is significantly overcrowded due to all the cars and pedestrians. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to hire Jan Gehl, a Danish urban planning consultant and architect to figure out ways to reduce the amount of traffic in and around Times Square.

Sales of subcompact cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris have taken off this year, due to the ever increasing gas prices. Honda has already sold approximately 28,000 of the 54,000 Fits that are allotted for the US this year. Last year Honda only sold 23,000 of the little cars. Now Honda dealers can't keep up with the demand, but even with that evidence Mazda still remains skeptical about the market.

With the consistently rising gas prices many consumers have been flocking to hybrid powered vehicles, only to later find out that they do not achieve the same gas mileage as the window sticker states. This has been a major problem and will hopefully change with the new 2008 EPA changes.

Leave it to Hollywood to remake every cool movie possible. Hollywood is following the Detroit automakers with their retro Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers, with the remake for the popular 1960's movie Bullit.

Would You Pay $35K for the new 2008 Pontiac G8 GT?

| 51 Comments is reporting that GM is going to price the upcoming Pontiac G8 GT sedan at an MSRP under $35,000. This may actually be the starting price with a fully loaded version coming in closer to $40,000. Is that a lot to pay for a Pontiac?

Scion, Toyota's youth oriented brand has been on the market for only about four years, but Toyota has managed to hit their target market head on. One of the main reasons that Scion is one of the most recognized car brands among younger drivers is because of their marketing. Scion is not pitched as only a car brand, but a lifestyle. When you buy a Scion you are not only getting a "cool" ride, but you are also gaining access to a community.

Lately it seems that hybrids get all the attention for being fuel-efficient, but there are a handful of non-hybrid cars that get close to the same levels as the hybrids. In the US this list is dominated by Honda, Toyota and Nissan. Only one European model made the list, the MINI. The big question is: Why aren't there any models from Ford, GM or Chrysler on this list?

Ok, as ridiculous as that headline sounds, it is true. There is a proposal to the European Parliament that is calling for a ban on making cars that are capable of reaching speeds faster than 101mph.

According a new study by the Civil Society Institute, 76 percent of Americans favor drastic changes to the current fuel-economy standards. 3/4 of the U.S. population is in favor of a 40 miles-per-gallon standard by 2010 rather than waiting until 2018.

Is the Ford Ranger Going to Die After 2008?


The Ford Ranger is definitely one of the oldest vehicles in Ford's current lineup. The truck hasn't received a major redesign since 1993 and since the small truck segment has been shrinking, Ford hasn't redesigned it. The current plant that Ford builds the Ranger in is slated to be closed in 2008. So what will happen to the Ranger?

According to a new report by Ricardo and UBS, diesel powered cars will outsell hybrids by 2012. Right now diesel cars barely register on the radar in the US, but in the next few years many automakers will offer diesel versions of their popular vehicles.

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