A couple of blown injected hot rods start their engines at the Rocket open day last year.
There is no definitive guide for all auto repairs. You must work on gaining knowledge that will help you protect your investment. The sheer importance of your car makes you nervous when thinking about repairs. However, these tips can help you have a smoother experience.
Be prepared for any emergency by equipping your car with a well stocked emergency kit. Your kit should include jumper cables, tire changing tools and maybe some extra gas. Should your car break down in the dark, it is helpful to have extra batteries, a flashlight, and some blankets.
Before allowing an auto shop to do repairs to your vehicle, ensure you are aware of the total cost. If something is not clear, clarify it with the service adviser or mechanic before starting any repair on the car. If you do not communicate with your mechanic, you might be surprised with additional fees once you receive your bill.
It is not always necessary to call a repairman when you have car trouble. Many things can be easily fixed. If you are game, then check online to research the problem. If the repair isn’t too difficult, you might be able to save money by doing it yourself.
When choosing a mechanic, ask if they’ve worked on your model of car before. If so, they will probably know what must be done to help your car work again.
Beware mechanics who charge you for repairs which are unnecessary. A good mechanic should let you know if they noticed parts that are starting to get worn down and will need to be replaced soon but they should not replace the part without your approval. Do not take your care twice to a mechanic who performed some unnecessary repairs.
Try figuring out the issue prior to going to get repairs. This will save you a ton of money, and it can prevent you from becoming a fraud victim. If you bring your car to a shop, you are sure to pay a hefty fee.
You need a spare tire and jack with you all the time. A majority of cars come equipped with them. Being stuck without a spare tire and jack means you will have to get your car towed. It will be quicker and less costly when you do it yourself.
When your headlights or taillights burn out, you can save a lot of money on repairs if you do it yourself. It is easier on some vehicles than others, however no matter what type of vehicle you have it will be cheaper than hiring a mechanic for the job. See if anyone you know can give you a lesson.
Your next car repair experience should be much better after reading these tips. Nobody likes auto repairs; however, the information provided should make the entire process a whole lot easier. Put this advice to get your auto repairs done today.
Your car is something that costs you quite a bit of money and time if you don’t know what it takes to care for it. On top of getting familiar with your specific model, you also need to learn other tricks. Keep reading to learn more about auto repairs and save money over the years.
Always have a good battery charger in your car. A dead battery is more common than you think and you will be able to help other broken down drivers if you have a battery charger with you. Make sure you learn the points on your car where the battery charger should be connected.
Make sure you know what is in your auto manual, and mark certain pages for reference. When you need to go to an auto repair shop, the professionals you are dealing with will want to know certain information regarding your car. After reading the manual, you might just find that you have an easy fix on your hands.
Avoid mechanics who charge you for repairs that are not really needed. A good mechanic should let you know if they noticed parts that are starting to get worn down and will need to be replaced soon but they should not replace the part without your approval. Don’t return to mechanics that do unnecessary repairs.
Before you actually take your car to a mechanic, try to assess what the problem is first. If you know what the problem is, you can save money and also easily identify any repair shop that is trying to scam you. If you bring your car to a shop, you are sure to pay a hefty fee.
If you’re having major service performed by an auto repair shop, always get more than one estimate for the job being done. Although most auto shops are reliable, you don’t want to pay too much. Find shops that specialize in the job that your car needs. These shops are more likely to understand how to perform the repairs your car needs.
Remove fluffy, fun key chains or have it so that your car key can be removed from the bunch. The ignition can’t support too much weight. If you notice the key sticking, then you must get rid of all the extra stuff attached to your keys.
As mentioned earlier, learning some basic repairs for your car has many long-term benefits. In addition to being able to help others and yourself, you will save tons of money. When performing do-it-yourself auto repairs, make use of these tips.
Your car is an expensive investment and taking care of it will save you money over the long haul. Besides learning about your specific car model, you should know a few other tricks as well. Continue reading if you want to save time and money.
Regularly check your radiator’s performance. Run your car for a bit, turn off the engine and then open the hood. Don’t open your radiator cap if your car is on. Check the level of fluid in radiator and add any if necessary. Be mindful that some coolants are meant to be mixed with 50% water.
You should wash your car often to avoid rust. Your car will rust out but you can easily delay this process by washing off salt and chemicals. Wax the paint job to protect it.
Keep your car records on hand. You may want to store them in the glove compartment for easy access. Repair professionals may want to see these records for repair purposes. The records can help them determine what is wrong with your car.
Look up reviews online for body shops in your area. These reviews will inform you of the company’s quality, customer service satisfaction rates, etc. Use this information to choose a good shop.
Check with your mechanic to see of they have experience working with the make of your vehicle. Basic components are usually the same, but there are big differences in different types of cars. If you’re unsure about your chosen mechanic’s ability, consider having a dealer repair your vehicle.
Know what all the lights stand for on your dashboard and be aware of when they go off. Paying attention to these warnings is always in your best interest. Problems will worsen if you simply ignore them.
A dealer is not your only option when car repairs are necessary. Good mechanics can be found elsewhere, not only at the dealer’s shop. If you’re comfortable with a local mechanic, don’t be afraid to use one.
Before you take your car in to the shop, learn about the standard classifications for auto parts. Know the difference between rebuilt and reconditioned, new, and salvage parts. New parts are made solely to a manufacturer’s specifications. Used parts that have been made good as new are classified as reconditioned. They may also carry a tag as “rebuilt,” or even “re-manufactured.” Salvage parts are parts that are used and have never been altered.
Don’t ignore minor issues you car is having, hoping they will go away on their own. Have it looked at. A seemingly small problem may grow into a major one if don’t pay attention to it.
You don’t want to diagnose complex auto issues on your own. Keep in mind that you’re not a professional. What you may think is an easy fix may be a hard one, especially if your car is newer. Let the auto repair shop diagnose the problem. Give your mechanic plenty of details on the issues you are encountering but do not diagnose the issue yourself.
As evidenced by the article above, learning as much as you can about repairing vehicles can give you life-long benefits. Besides being able to teach others and rely on yourself when you have car trouble, you can save lots of money. Remember the tricks in this article, and you should be able to do your own repairs.
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Learning about auto repair may seem overwhelming, however it is much easier than you think. If you educate yourself on the topic, it will be beneficial in the long run. Keep reading to see some excellent tips that you can do in regard to auto repair, so you don’t have to spend endless hours at the mechanic’s shop.
Prior to letting a mechanic touch your vehicle, ensure that they are A.S.E certified. This indicates passage of written testing and experience of no less than two years. This is a good way of finding a qualified mechanic who will care about doing a good job so they can keep their certification.
When you are at the auto shop, ask a lot of questions concerning your car. Make sure to consider previous problems you’ve had, and ask how to prevent them. You can prevent issues with your automobile, saving you some money.
You don’t always need a mechanic when you have trouble with your car. You can do a number of things on your own if you know how to. Try troubleshooting the issue on the Internet or talk to your friends to see if they have an idea of what could be wrong with your vehicle. If it is a simple fix, you can usually do it yourself.
Regular washing of your car will help prevent it from rusting. All cars eventually succumb to rust, however you can delay this process by washing all salt and chemicals from your car immediately. Make sure to wax your car so as to protect the paint.
Know your auto manual very well, or at least dog ear important pages. When you’re trying to get something repaired on your vehicle, you’ll be able to get more assistance if they’re able to read information quickly about your car. After reading the manual, you might just find that you have an easy fix on your hands.
Have records for your car on hand. Keeping them in the glove compartment is smart. Repair professionals may want to see these records for repair purposes. They help them figure out what’s wrong quickly.
Car trouble is not something that has to take you a lot of time or that has to be scary if you’re able to fix things yourself. By knowing how to fix small repairs and which mechanic to select for the larger repairs, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. Use the tips you’ve just read whenever your car needs some repairs.
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Your car is something that costs you quite a bit of money and time if you don’t know what it takes to care for it. In addition to knowing some basic facts about your car, there are other things that can help you out. This article will teach you about the more general tips you need to know.
Make sure you often check the radiator. Keep your car running then shut the engine for several minutes before opening the hood. Never open the radiator cap if the engine is running. Use a dipstick to check the fluid level in your radiator and mix some coolant with water if you need to add more fluid.
Wash your car often so you can prevent rust. All cars will eventually rust out, but you can delay the process considerably by making sure any salt or chemicals are washed off as soon as possible. Use a good wax to protect your paint job as much as possible.
Keep your car records on hand. It’s wise to keep them in your glove compartment in case you need to go to a auto repair shop on the fly. Professional mechanics are going to ask for those records. This will help them assess the problem quicker and more precisely.
Ask for OEM parts. These are original parts direct from the manufacturer. Although using generic parts may provide some short-term savings, it’s impossible to know whether or not they’ll hold up as well as OEM parts. It may seem like you are getting a deal now, but it may end up costing you a lot in the future.
See if you can find someone who is knowledgeable about cars to do the work for you. Mechanics who work from home are often able to charge less because they don’t have the overhead that shops do. This is a good way of saving money while investing in your local community.
In conclusion, there are many benefits to becoming educated on auto repairs. In addition to being able to help others and yourself, you can save money. Use these tips and fix problems yourself only if you are comfortable enough.
Anyone who has experienced car trouble know how much of a hassle it can be to get their vehicle fixed. It is tough to find a reputable repair shop, and finding one at the right price is challenging. Fortunately, this article will help you learn how to choose a good auto mechanic.
Always know how much your repairs will cost before handing your car over to a service department. If you do not understand something, have it cleared up with the mechanic before he or she makes the repairs. Don’t end up surprised by extra fees.
When you have problems with your car, you may not need to visit a mechanic. There are a few things that could be fixed very easily. If you would like to try it, you can research on the problem online. Simple repairs that do not require special tools can be done by yourself, and can save you money.
Each time you get your vehicle repaired, no matter what the reason, be sure you have a record of it. If you have problems with your vehicle later on, you will find it helpful to have some records for the next technician to look at. No records means a blank slate to go on.
If possible, test drive your car prior to paying for repairs. A lot of people do not do this; therefore, they wind up with the same issues that existed before taking their car to the shop.
Look for signs that should serve as a warning that your repair man is no good. If they beat around the bush and act shifty, they may not be the one you want to work with. It’s best to feel that you trust your repair person, so don’t hesitate to move on.
Sometimes you can find a good mechanic who works in their home garage. For basic repairs they can charge far less and you both can be happy. The costs will always be much lower.
Find out how much a mechanic charges for the repair, including labor, before you hand over your keys. Some shops have these costs in conspicuous places, so you need to carefully read and ask any questions you have if something doesn’t make sense. You must know what you’re being billed. Some mechanics bill you for estimated labor times established by the manufacturers they work with. Minor repairs can be considered jobs that require a full day of work to some manufacturers.
No matter how onerous car repairs are to deal with, we still have to get them done. The next time your car needs repairs or maintenance, the tips you’ve learned about here will surely come in handy. Doing things right the first time will relieve your stress in the long run.
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Is your vehicle in need of repair? Maybe you do not have any urgent issues, but you know the stress that car trouble can bring. You may be feeling overwhelmed because you’re not sure of what to do. So, what is the right thing to do? Keep reading to understand what you can do when your car needs repairs.
Have a battery charger in your car at all times. People commonly experience dead batteries, making battery chargers good for helping stranded drivers. Make sure you know how to connect the charger to your battery.
It is important that you fully understand what all the charges will be upfront, before handing the mechanic your car keys. If something is not clear, clarify it with the service adviser or mechanic before starting any repair on the car. Don’t end up surprised by extra fees.
Referrals are one of the best ways to find a reputable auto mechanic. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask your family and friends for their recommendations. You can gain information about prices and level of quality. People will let you know how their experience went.
Look for online reviews about your chosen body shop. This will also allow you to know what the public thinks of how they handle customers and how good they are at solving any problem you may encounter. Use this information to choose a shop that you’re comfortable with giving money to.
Be wary of mechanics that try and make unnecessary repairs to your car. Good mechanics will tell you about worn down pieces without replacing them automatically. Never bring your car to someone who doesn’t do the right kinds of repairs.
Examine your headlights if they appear dim; they may simply need a good clean. Residue can diminish their light output. Wash them with glass cleaner and you should be able to see better.
Do you know the signs of a low quality mechanic? If you are being talked to in circles and your questions aren’t answered, then you will want to go elsewhere. Make sure that you trust the person that you are working with.
Replacing the bulbs on your taillights or headlights yourself can save you both time and money. Hiring a professional to install new lights costs a lot of money. Ask someone you know if they can instruct you on how to do it.
Pay attention to the condition of your car’s wiper blades. You need new windshield wipers if they are making noises or leaving streaks. You need to replace the wipers on your car about every year or even more often if there is a lot of rain where you live.
It is important to have your oil changed regularly. If you wish for your automobile to run great for a long time, the oil needs to be changed on a regular basis. Failing to get routine oil changes will shorten you car’s life, so set reminders if necessary.
Repairing your car yourself could be hazardous. Always have a buddy to help you. Invest in high quality tools that won’t break on you. You definitely don’t want to skimp when it comes to the items you use for tire changing. The jack has to be strong enough to keep the car secure above you. This is why it is wise for you to use quality hydraulic floor jacks and jack stands.
Using these tips will guide you towards great car repairs. Keep doing research on this topic and find people who can teach you a few things. When you are up to date, you’ll make the right choices.
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If you’re like a lot of people,, you probably don’t know much about auto repair. To fix this, you will need to learn as much as possible on auto repair, so you can fix your vehicle when a problem arises. The article below has auto repair tips and tricks you need to know.
You should wash your car often to avoid rust. Salt and other harmful chemicals will speed up the rusting process. If you want to avoid rust at all costs, do your best to clean the car thoroughly after contact with these substances. A good wax is your best friend: a friend that will protect that shiny new paint job for a long time.
Read as much of your auto manual as you can, marking anything that is important. During auto repair visits, your mechanic will probably need to gather some information from you, about your vehicle. The manual may give you information to help you easily fix a problem.
Before making your payment to the mechanic when picking up your car, take it out for a spin first to check that everything is working. If you don’t do this, it’s possible that the problem isn’t even fixed.
Remember that getting OEM parts is important. These parts are original and from the manufacturer. Generic are cheaper, but also less reliable. It may cost you more in the end to use generic parts even though you save money now.
Major repairs should always be accompanied by more than just one estimate. Although most auto shops are reliable, you don’t want to pay too much. Find a shop that specializes in your particular make of car. Shops like this may understand your car’s needs better.
You shouldn’t forget about your wiper blades. If you don’t have wipers that work well or streak your windows, you need to purchase newer ones. Wiper blades should at least be changed yearly, and sometimes you need to do this more often.
Speak with friends and family about where they get their auto repairs done for some good ideas. Personal recommendations are usually honest and forthright. Don’t rely entirely on what your friends tell you, though; do your own research. At least look for online reviews of those recommendations.
You should have more knowledge now with the information from this article. So, whenever an auto problem occurs, you can fix it on your own or find someone to do it for you. You are deserving of a good vehicle.
The 2015 Audi A4 doesn’t get much in the way of change this year, as next year an all-new generation of the A4 family is expected. For now, this lineup of sport sedans remains a design trend-setter, and you still can take your pick from its tasteful palette of exterior and interior trims, high-tech features, and various driving flavors from mild to intense.
Just like BMW’s 3-Series, with which it competes, the A4 encompasses a vast swath of compact luxury, ranging from four-cylinder CVTs to the S4’s supercharged six-cylinder and all-wheel drive. But it’s definitely more limited than in the past, going by what’s under the hood. A4 models all now come with the 220-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which responds with zest once it cuts through some initial turbo lag. It’s teamed with one of three transmissions. Front-drive cars get a continuously variable transmission, and good gas mileage, but CVTs aren’t known for quick responses. All-wheel drive is an option.
Those with quattro all-wheel drive can also have either a six-speed manual shifter, or an excellent eight-speed automatic with a sport shift mode, which only lacks paddle-shift controls. On either of these versions, the ones we recommend, acceleration is strong, and fuel economy on the highway is reasonable, with the automatic rated at 31 mpg highway.
The S4 is quattro-only. The powerplant is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, with 333 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of about 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. It delivers loads of torque almost evenly up the rev band, with a somewhat snarling soundtrack to match an otherwise smooth personality, and it’s hooked up to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. It’s nearly, but not quite, as fast as a BMW M3 or a Benz C63. And surprisingly, gas mileage is rather good for such a high-performance car—up to 18 mpg city, 28 highway.
Side by side, the A4 shares the lead in styling with the ATS, sleek and rakish and embossed with details back in 2013 for a fresh take on its spare lines. Trimmer headlamps and a toned-down grille are subtle enough, but the grille’s angled corners are an expert touch; wider fog lamps build more muscle at ground level, where the car could use it. The cockpit’s trimmed in aluminum or a warmer-looking wood, and leather is standard. The controls are more easily understood since they were rearranged a bit last year, too.
The S4 wears its own body kit and metallic trim, but it’s largely a lookalike to the standard four-door. The cabin of the S4 gets a new piano-black and steel trim option that coordinates in a hot way with red-stitched sport seats.
No matter which one you choose, Audi’s entry-level sedan has good front seats, excellent sport seats available as an option (they’re standard on the S4) and good room for those passengers. The rear bench sits low to the ground, though, and space is snug in back, particularly in knee room for taller passengers. The trunk’s on the small side compared to the likes of the 3-Series.
The A4 handles well with its basic suspension and steering, with a slightly firm ride and decent electric power steering feel. A sport package stiffens things up considerably, with summer tires, 18-inch wheels, and sport shocks. Buyers can also choose dynamic steering and Drive Select, which adds variable settings for the suspension, steering, throttle and transmission. In our experience, the stock setup is more pleasant and more predictable, even on the S4, which gets a sport suspension and bigger wheels and tires standard, for awesome road-holding and grip.
In the past, the A4 has scored well in safety tests, but the IIHS has taken it down a notch in its newest crash test. Audi still doesn’t make a rearview camera standard, but one is available, as are blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a full stop if it senses obstacles at up to 19 mph.
The A4 offers some exotic features make it a complex, high tech piece. The usual power features, leather seats, and satellite radio are standard on the A4; Bluetooth and a music interface are standard for 2015. The S4 gets sport content standard, as well as a rearview camera.
MMI, the Multi Media Interface that takes charge of available navigation systems, is standard on both, and it also controls the beautiful Google Earth and Google Street View mapping. That setup requires a monthly subscription to Audi Connect, which also adds 3G wireless Internet service — turning the A4 into a rolling wireless hotspot. MMI can also control an optional Bang & Olufsen audio system, an expensive option, but one of the cleanest-sounding systems we’ve heard.
Car buyers who consider minicars just too impractical–and impossibly tiny–are in for a shock with the 2015 Chevrolet Spark. The littlest Chevy in many years may be a five-door hatchback that’s precisely 3 feet shorter than a compact Cruze sedan, but it will actually hold four adults. The quarters are close, but there’s ample headroom, and it’s possibly the best value among a wide array of competitors in the basic-transportation category. The Spark’s sticker price may be inexpensive, but its stylish (if stubby) lines are generations away from the old “econobox” stereotype.
Contenders for that title include the Spark, now in its third model year, and the underpowered and underwhelming Mitsubishi Mirage, its most direct competitor. You might include the two-seat Smart ForTwo and three-seat Scion iQ, and there are also the retro but fashion-forward Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper. Those are both three-door hatchbacks that sacrifice any real-world uses of their rear seats (though the MINI is far better in the new 2015 model than previous generations were).
The proportions of the 2015 Spark hide its size, and it doesn’t look as small as it is unless you park it next to something really big–a Chevy Suburban, say. Up front, the traditional Chevrolet twin-opening grille and big wraparound light units eliminate much of the snub-nosed look. Its accent lines, exaggerated wheel-opening flares, and black-plastic panels that continue the window line all help alleviate the tall-box-on-little-wheels look, as does a spoiler at the top of the tailgate that extends the horizontal line of the Spark’s roof.
The materials used for the interior don’t make a lot of attempt to be upmarket; the dash is textured hard plastic, and the synthetic cloth seats look like what they are. But the body-color trim inserts on the dash, doors, and inside the door bins are a nice touch that harkens back to painted metal panels on inexpensive cars of the Sixties.
The instrument cluster is “motorcycle-inspired,” meaning it’s a small pod mounted on the steering column, and has one large dial gauge and quite a few colored lights and monochrome graphics. We give the Spark’s interior designers credit, though, for lots of useful storage in the doors, console, and the dash face itself–including a slot on each side of the center stack that’s perfect for a smart phone. On the top-end LT trim levels, a 7-inch color touchscreen display sits in the center of the dash.
Inside, the front seats are small and and a little narrow for American-sized occupants–and a little more rearward travel would be good too. Taller drivers may find that their right knee brushes the climate controls at times. With a bit of negotiation between front- and back-seat riders, four adult humans can occupy the Spark and travel in reasonable space–even in the upright rear seat–which can’t be said of the Fiat 500, MINI Cooper, or the two-seat Smart ForTwo. The Spark offers 11.4 cubic feet of cargo space–enough to hold 10 to 12 full paper grocery bags with ease–with the rear seat up, which can be expanded to 31.2 cubic feet if you flip and fold down the 60/40 split rear seat.
The Spark is powered by an 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed manual gearbox standard and a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) as an option. The manual can be hustled along to keep up with traffic if you drive it aggressively; the CVT gives automatic ratio adjustment and still delivers tolerable performance while avoiding the drone that can afflict small cars with CVTs. Fuel economy is 34 mpg combined and 39 mpg on the highway cycle with either option; the manual’s city rating of 31 mpg is 1 mpg better than the CVT’s 30 mpg city.
While the Spark holds the road decently, the ride is somewhere between firm and hard, and passengers will feel nearly every bump, pothole, ridge, and ripple in the road. They’ll also feel some body roll on corners, the inevitable price of a narrow car in which passengers sit up tall and ride on small wheels and tires. While the Spark is no MINI Cooper, its electric power steering provides some road feel, and it’s easy to slip into vanishingly small spaces in traffic–or parking spaces–that other cars won’t attempt.
The Chevy Spark was the sole minicar to receive an “Acceptable” rating in the new and tough small-overlap frontal crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also earned a four-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with impressive five-star side and side pole ratings. Outward vision is good, too, despite the lack of a rear camera system. Ten airbags are included as part of the Spark’s standard equipment, as are electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The base 2015 Chevrolet Spark LS starts at about $13,000. All Spark models come standard with air conditioning, power windows, a rear-window wiper, and a trip computer. And even base cars have 15-inch painted aluminum wheels–no plastic covers over slotted metal wheels here. Infotainment is actually much better than what’s offered in most other small cars, and even better than the systems in some much more expensive vehicles.
Throw in an extra $1,500 to upgrade from the base LS to the 1LT model, and you’ll add Chevrolet MyLink with the 7-inch touchscreen dashboard display, audio controls on the steering wheel, a USB port, Bluetooth audio pairing, and built-in Sirius XM radio with 3 months of free service. It also includes remote keyless entry, power door locks, an anti-theft system, power door mirrors, cruise control, and floor mats.
Move up to the top-of-the-line 2LT model and you add 15-inch alloy wheels,leatherette seats with heated fronts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, and a long list of cosmetic upgrades. Automatic headlamps and daytime running lamps were made standard last year, along with heated power-adjustable body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals on the 2LT model. For 2015, the main changes are 4G LTE connectivity through the OnStar built-in cellular connection, and an available WiFi hot spot. The array of dealer-installed accessories has grown somewhat, and colors include both predictable hues (white, silver, red, black) and some startling shades like Techno Pink, Lime Green, and Denim (a kind of baby blue).
The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system includes an AM/FM stereo with the 7-inch display (Sirius XM can be added), Bluetooth streaming, and compatibility with Pandora and Stitcher apps. The Spark is the first Chevy to offer a navigation system that’s not built into the car, but runs via an optional $50 smartphone app called BringGo. It compresses the entire North American map database into a 2GB app that runs on the user’s smartphone and essentially transmits the display to the vehicle system. New for this year, if you have an iPhone, you can use Siri hands-free through the system (using your smartphone’s data connection, again). It’s a smart solution and works well, although we don’t know whether Spark owners will pay even $50 to get a more integrated solution or simply spend $12 on a bracket to hold their smartphones running Google Maps (or listening to the voice instructions with the phone tossed in a cupholder).
That the Chevy Spark may be the best all-around value among its varied small-car competitors is a real testament to the little minicar, which sells in much higher volumes in India and Asia (where it’s sometimes known as the Beat).
There’s another Spark model, the Spark EV battery-electric version, but it’s sold only in small numbers and only in California and Oregon. It’s by far the most powerful Spark–and hence the most amusing to drive–with a 105-kilowatt (140-hp) electric motor powered by a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. (A new and slightly lower-capacity pack for 2015 delivers the same range and efficiency as its predecessor). Chevy quotes a 0-to-60-mph time for the Spark EV of just 7.6 seconds, and the EPA rates the electric Spark at 82 miles of driving range and 119 MPGe, making it the second most-efficient car sold in the U.S. this year.
The best-selling model offered by VW in the United States, the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta has gotten a number of upgrades over the past two years to keep it viable in the face of tougher competition from new and revised compact four-door sedans. Now in its fifth model year, the Mexican-built Jetta gets two new and more fuel-efficient engines–one gasoline, one diesel–along with a slightly refreshed interior, a handful of very minor updates to the exterior styling, and various new active-safety features.
The Jetta offers a multitude of powertrains, not only gasoline and diesel, but also a low-volume hybrid version. Their range lets the VW sedan be many things to many different buyers, though it has a lot of ground to cover. It must squeeze in what might be the most usable amount of interior space in the compact class; deliver an impressive sweet spot of performance, refinement, and fuel economy; and pack in plenty of features, all while keeping the price point in the mid-$20,000 range. Somehow, the Jetta seems to accomplish all of that, and its sales reflect that success.
From the outside, however, the Jetta remains one of the more conservatively styled options in the segment. If you want style and flair in a compact sedan, you’d probably be better served going for a model like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, or Dodge Dart. The Jetta’s latest refresh brings a few subtle changes to the front and rear fascia, which VW claims should improve the Jetta’s aerodynamics. At the rear, there’s a new trunk lid with an integrated aerodynamic trailing edge, and GLI and Hybrid models get newly optional LED taillights. The rear-end changes give the car a conspicuous premium look, as it resembles very closely the current Audi A4. The car’s interior has also been updated with a new steering wheel and revised infotainment and climate controls.
The 2015 Jetta is still so spacious, it barely squeezes into the compact class. A great driving position, the back-seat space of a mid-size sedan, and obvious German heritage throughout, from the first turn of the steering wheel: It’s all part of the experience in the Jetta, which is one of the most livable and refined of its kind.
Most Jetta models will be powered either by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (1.8T) or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel (TDI). Both models now receive an active radiator shutter that closes to shorten engine warm-up times and also reduce aerodynamic drag when extra cooling isn’t needed. The diesel engine in the TDI models is a new unit, and delivers 36 mpg combined with either the manual or automatic transmissions. Real-world fuel economy could reach 40 mpg or more, however, as diesels often achieve on their ratings–especially in high-speed use, where the EPA highway ratings are 45 or 46 mpg. The anemic naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four returns to the lineup in base models.
The Jetta Hybrid also carries over, with its 1.4-liter turbocharged four, hybrid system, and additional battery pack—all adding up to a car that’s more fun to drive than a Prius, albeit not quite as efficient. And the GLI, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four and sportier demeanor, will continue as the Jetta that packs the most fun. The Hybrid and GLI models are expected to go on sale early in 2015.
The other important news for 2015 is that VW has decided to bring some of its advanced-tech features and active-safety equipment to the U.S.; previously, these expensive items were only available in Europe and other overseas markets. Blind-spot detection, frontal collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert are all newly available this year. It also has a beefed-up front crash structure (though you’ll never know it–the changes are all under the surface), which lets the 2015 Jetta ace the new and tougher IIHS small-overlap front crash test. It gets not only the top “Good” ratings on every IIHS test, but also the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation.
Shoppers interested in well-equipped models will have the option of adding bi-xenon headlamps with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, which were previously exclusive to GLI and Hybrid Jetta trims. We’re glad to see the inclusion of these technologies, seen in many luxury cars, because when this Jetta generation was launched in 2011 it fell victim to U.S.-centric cost-cutting that denied our market of many of the premium-feeling materials and features available on Jettas elsewhere.
One other Jetta program note: For 2015, the SportWagen gives up its Jetta name, with an all-new SportWagen now becoming part of the Golf lineup. It had always been based on the Golf platform, so Golf SportWagen is a more honest name, even if the change might throw some consumers.
Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
2-Door Coupe SXT Plus
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L
|$ 29,126||$ 29,995|
2-Door Coupe R/T
Premium Unleaded V-8, 5.7 L
|$ 26,336||$ 26,995|
2-Door Coupe SXT
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.6 L
|$ 26,336||$ 26,995|
2-Door Coupe R/T Plus
Premium Unleaded V-8, 5.7 L
|$ 29,126||$ 29,995|
The Dodge Challenger, for 2015, gets its first major update since this model was first introduced. But that’s not even the biggest piece of news for this muscle-car lineup; the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat arrives as the most powerful muscle car ever.
With carefully refined exterior styling, new powertrains, upgraded suspension, and an all-new–and far more pleasant–interior, the 2015 Dodge Challenger stays up to date in the face of competition from not only the Chevy Camaro but an all-new Ford Mustang this year.
The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, giving it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe–large and comfortable, with a supple ride on long trips. Now that persona is joined by an array of even more powerful, rip-up-the-track models at the top end, for Challenger buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition’s lineups.
The revised exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger, including a new split grille in a slimmer front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos, a pronounced and fully functional “power bulge” hood, and LED tail lamps in a glossy piano black surround. Inside, the 2015 Challenger’s interior has been completely revamped. The sweeping surfaces of hard black plastic are gone, replaced by a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces and a fully modern instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center display screen and available 8.4-inch touch-screen system.
Its slightly larger size pays dividends inside: The Challenger is the only one of the three muscle coupes to offer seating for five. Access to the back seat will entail some contortion, and only two adults will really fit back there, but it’s doable. At 16 cubic feet, the trunk is also larger than those of even some mid-size sedans on the market.
The standard powertrain on the 2015 Challenger is a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Then there’s the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which will be rated at up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft or torque. Finally, there’s a new 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that Dodge estimates at 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. All three engines can be mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the only one offered on any of the three U.S. muscle cars, with a Sport Mode and paddle shifters as well as visual and tactile feedback on the electronically-actuated shift lever. A six-speed manual gearbox remains available as well. Like all three of its competitors this year, the Challenger remains a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with independent rear suspensions.
Suspension changes across the board include a Super Track Pak available on all Challenger models, uprated suspension, and new electric power steering with three modes: Normal, Comfort, and Sport. A fully track-ready 6.4-liter Scat Pack model includes not only the 6.4-liter Hemi but also 20-inch aluminum wheels, Brembo disc brakes, and the 392 Scat Pack Shaker model adds a functional Shaker hood inlet scoop.
Eight separate trim levels will be offered on the 2015 Challenger: SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Plus Shaker, 6.4-liter Scat Pack and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker. Customization options mean no two Challengers need be identical, with fourteen different interiors, nine wheel options, and a range of new paint colors, including retro shades like Sublime Green and B5 Blue.
Challenger sales have increased steadily throughout its life, so there’s clearly a market for a retro muscle car. We tend to think that the best deals in the lineup include the base SXT, where the Challenger costs less than $30k and is far more flamboyant and exciting than any other comfort-oriented mid-sizer. R/T Scat Pack models are also quite the deal, with as much performance as you could possibly take advantage of on the street, all for around $40k.
- Updated retro looks
- 707-HP Hellcat flagship
- Comfortable ride
- Adult-size back seat
- Manual shifting available (V-8s)
- Poor outward visibility
- Awkward back-seat access
- Still quite thirsty
- Social stigma, depending where you are
The 2015 XV Crosstrek is essentially a small utility vehicle, but with the profile of a compact hatchback. It’s based on the Impreza hatchback—a version of it, really—offering increased ground clearance, suspension and mechanical changes, and a rough-and-tumble appearance with flared fenders and an integrated roof rack.
Altogether, it’s enough additional buff and brawn to merit the separate model name. And it certainly surpasses the ability set of a lot of truckier-looking crossovers. In addition to a 2.0-liter engine with standard all-wheel drive that is borrowed from the Impreza line, the XV is available as a hybrid, which was added for 2014.
The XV Crosstrek has a ramped-up, rugged appearance that’s surprisingly different in stance from its Impreza hatchback base. But with the exception of some extra noise and more vague on-road behavior, it still handles pretty much like a passenger car–and it offers versatile and impressive cargo capacity for ski gear, camping supplies, or just groceries and other everyday cargo. Subaru also notes that the hybrid version’s battery pack is stowed under the deck, meaning that its cargo volume is largely unchanged from the conventional version.
Ground clearance is raised to 8.7 inches, and the Crosstrek has more engine cooling, a larger gas tank, some suspension and structural reinforcements, and good approach and departure angles (18 degrees and nearly 28 degrees, respectively). With Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive distributing power among all four wheels, the Impreza-based crossover might be one of the best small vehicles for snowy driveways and dirt, gravel, and rutted roads.
The model range can be considered in the same vein as a good pair of cross-trainer shoes: sufficiently sturdy to handle a variety of different uses, but not specialized to any one particular duty cycle at the expense of any others.
The standard XV Crosstrek comes with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter flat-four engine paired either with a five-speed manual gearbox or Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The new hybrid powertrain inserts a small 10-kilowatt (13.4-hp) electric motor between the engine and CVT, though it’s there largely to assist the engine and can propel the vehicle from a stop on electricity alone only if you’re willing to accelerate very, very gently–and there’s no one behind you.
The Crosstrek Hybrid is Subaru’s first gas-electric effort. The system only adds a mile mileage boost–it’s a mild-hybrid system that only kicks in at 40 mph or less. But the real allure of the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid model is a lengthy list of upgrades to its suspension and noise insulation that make it a considerably more pleasant car in which to spend time than the noisy, occasionally wandering conventional Crosstrek. The hybrid operates much like Honda’s mild-hybrid system–meaning it’s there largely to restart the engine, capture braking energy to recharge the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, and otherwise add supplementary torque so the gasoline engine doesn’t have to work as hard.
There’s a lot that’s appealing to a wide range of everyday needs here—like a smooth, refined ride that’s a step above rival models like the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and MINI Countryman. But we’ve found that the Crosstrek wanders easily at highway speeds, with numb steering and some susceptibility to crosswinds. It’s also astoundingly noisy on certain rough types of pavement. The hybrid model has five upgrades to its front suspension and a dozen improvements to noise and vibration insulation–which together pretty much cure those problems. Non-hybrid models get some, but not all, of these changes for 2015—and we’ll revisit this impression as soon as we’ve spent time in the 2015 XV Crosstrek.
Below 50 mph, handling is surprisingly nimble, and the Crosstrek rides well and soaks up harshness from trails and gravel roads with great competence. It’s not particularly quick, with less than 150 hp moving more than 3,200 pounds for a fully-loaded Crosstrek Limited. The five-speed manual feels more agile, against an occasional lag in power delivery with the CVT.
The cabin of the XV Crosstrek is largely the same as the Impreza, with some changes to fabrics, meaning adults can get in and out of all four doors, and four of them will fit fine front and rear. All models include a rubberized cargo tray that’s easily removed and hosed off, and the electronic-circuit pattern stamped into the rubber of the hybrid’s tray is a nice touch. The roof rack on all models is standard and can carry up to 150 pounds. Crosstrek models come rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, too. Materials and trims are only average for this price range, though, perhaps fitting Subaru’s utilitarian image. Some interfaces for audio and trip-computer displays also feel clunky and outdated.
With a starting price around $22,000, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium (the lowest trim level) is a strong value. The Hybrid starts around $25,000. Then there’s the Limited model, the more upscale trim level. That adds leather upholstery, leather shift-knob and steering-wheel trim, automatic climate control, and a fold-down rear-seat armrest with cupholders. All Crosstreks come with keyless entry, air conditioning, power accessories, and cruise control, as well–of course–as all-wheel drive. They also get a step-up display audio system with 7.0-inch screen, rear camera and HD Radio, and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic, voice control, and text-messaging ability is optional. Adding options and the mandatory delivery fee can push that up toward $28,000, however, which brings the Crosstrek into competition with more traditional compact crossovers, and the top-of-the-line Crosstrek Hybrid just crosses $30,000.
For the 2015 model year, Subaru is offering its EyeSight accident-avoidance technology. It uses cameras to power lane-departure and collision warning systems. Subaru has also updated the infotainment offerings for 2015, with a 6.2-inch touch screen standard and a 7.0-inch screen with multi-touch gestures included on upper trim levels.
Gas mileage is excellent for a crossover (the best in the class, really), at up to 28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway) with the CVT. It falls to 26 mpg combined, or 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway, with the manual. The hybrid improves on that a bit, at a combined 31 mpg rating (28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway) — not as much as hybrid buyers may expect — although we failed to see any real-world improvement over the CVT-equipped Crosstrek in a road test of almost 500 miles.
The 2015 Nissan Titan has fallen to the back of the pack, as the rest of the segment has seen–in some cases–multiple redesigns since it first made its debut. However, it still looks and sounds distinctive, even a decade later.
There are essentially two different body styles for the 2015 Nissan Titan–King Cab and Crew Cab–and between them as well as the four trim levels, there’s a wide range of equipment, comfort, and luxury for pickup drivers. Although interior appointments vary, what all these models have in common is a lot of usable space inside–which almost makes the plasticky interior forgivable. We much prefer the four-door Crew Cabs, with their wide, nicely positioned seats that seem to be more of a climb to get into than in some of the competitive trucks. The Titan is available with a factory-applied spray-in bedliner and lockable storage bins built into its bed fenders. Those features, and a channel-based cargo-cleat system, make the Titan better than most for the sort of weekend hobbyist-hauler tasks you might have–like picking up furniture, or an outboard motor.
The Titan is aimed at recreational or casual truck users more than the work crowd, so it doesn’t skimp on the comfort and convenience features. PRO-4X and SL models especially cater to those who don’t want much compromise versus a luxury SUV. The PRO-4X brings with it a special set of features keyed directly at trailblazers of all kinds–with tow hooks, off-road tires, Rancho shocks, and a locking tailgate and locking storage box. And at the top of the lineup, the SL is as you would guess, a loaded, dressed-up street truck ready for a night out. On various models, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, Rockford Fosgate premium audio, heated/leather seats, and a DVD entertainment center are all available.
It has just one performance flavor, and it’s for the most part a good one: The 5.6-liter V-8 that’s under the hood of the Titan sounds ripped and ready–and it is. That NASCAR-ish sound quality remains appropriate for this Mississippi-built truck. And while its numbers, of 317 horsepower and 385 pound-feet of torque, are no longer near best in class, the Titan’s always on its powerband, and aided by a transmission that feels like it was (and it was) designed as a willing companion to it. Considering the Titan’s size and heft, it handles quite well (at least compared to other large pickups) and it feels smaller and nimbler than it is, with good low-speed maneuverability.
PRO-4X models are only offered with four-wheel drive, while the rest of the lineup can be had in either rear- or four-wheel drive. If you’re considering the PRO-4X, keep in mind that its suspension tuning is very firm–to the point of being skittish on some surfaces. But with ten inches of ground clearance and various upgrades like skid plates, the ability is there.
Towing capacity for the Titan is impressive–up to 9,500 pounds with the King Cab and 9,400 pounds with the Crew Cab–although in this age of ever-burlier trucks, it stands well behind the F-150’s top 11,700-pound rating.
If safety if one of your chief concerns, you can probably do better with one of the alternatives to the Nissan Titan. Stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard; rear parking sensors are an option; and a rearview camera system is either included or available on most of the lineup. But most of the full-size truck arena gets better safety ratings.
Nissan hasn’t felt the need to make many changes to the Titan over its 10 years of production, either. We’re okay with that in terms of exterior design–it’s one of the most aggressively-styled trucks in the segment. However, hard plastics and cheap-feeling textures have aged its interior, especially when every other truck has received at least one major modernization in recent years.
- Sounds fast
- Strong, responsive engine
- Cargo-friendly bed
- Handles well for a truck
- Guzzles gas, faster than other V-8 trucks
- Irrepressible engine note
- Safety ratings
- No V-6 option
Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
FWD 4-Door SV
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
|$ 23,007||$ 24,490|
AWD 4-Door SV
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
|$ 24,271||$ 25,840|
AWD 4-Door SL
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
|$ 27,824||$ 29,630|
AWD 4-Door S
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
|$ 22,679||$ 24,140|
The Nissan Rogue was redesigned for last year–at least one version of it. You can still find a 2015 version of the previous-generation Rogue on the road today. It’s called the Rogue Select, and it’s intended only for rental fleets. The newer version of the Rogue you can buy is now only a year old, and it’s more stylish and more spacious. Our recommendation is that you skip past the old version if it’s offered to you–the 2015 Rogue is a significantly better product, and it earns class-leading fuel economy.
The first thing you’ll notice with this current generation of Nissan Rogue is the handsome styling. Gone are the wild grille treatments, replaced by something a little more conservative and considerably more contemporary. The front and rear of the crossover are both more interesting and modern, and the overall look is one that feels less economical. The interior is better organized and finished in attractive, higher-quality materials.
With just marginal growth in wheelbase (up just 0.6 inches), the Rogue hasn’t gained considerable interior room, which keeps it positioned at the smaller end of the compact-crossover class. It’s 1.2 inches taller, though, and doors open more widely.
As with the Altima, Nissan delivers better seating comfort with especially dense seat foam, and finds a bit more room for back-seat passengers, thanks to a sliding and reclining second-row seat. The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with heating controls that warm up in more sensitive contact areas. A power driver seat is available, but like the Ford Escape, there’s no power offered for the front passenger seat–though it does fold down for more carrying capacity.
Maybe the most unusual decision is to offer a third-row seat in the Rogue, though there’s not a big increase in passenger space. Since the second row can be adjusted on a 9-inch-long track, the third-row seat has usable leg room–but only if you’re in the awkward stage between booster seat and driving yourself. And even then, it’s a temporary, short-distance solution at best.
The Rogue returns with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission found in the first-generation crossover. Power output’s still fixed at 170 horsepower, and acceleration is mediocre at best. It’s not the CVT’s fault entirely, but the transmission does put the Rogue in a noisy stretch of its powerband pretty often. A few pounds of extra firewall damping would be well-received.
Where the Rogue excels is in gas mileage and in road manners. The EPA-rated 33 mpg highway looks great on paper, but the 28 mpg combined of either the front-drive or all-wheel-drive Rogue is even better in real life.
The Rogue’s all-independent suspension and electric power steering gets some assistance in controlling the Rogue’s ride. A new function, Active Ride Control, directs the CVT and engine responses to smooth the Rogue’s body motions after it crosses a bump, Nissan says. Active Trace Control can also apply a brake or adjust torque to an inside wheel to aid cornering. The new Rogue steers with more heft, damps its ride better, and has a more substantial and composed feel than the Rogue Select in every way we can think of. Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue.
All Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as a rearview camera and tire pressure monitors. Nissan’s Easy Fill tire alert is also included. Federal safety ratings include four- and five-star ratings, and it’s earned Top Safety Pick (TSP) status from the insurance-funded IIHS. Safety options include a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
The base Rogue S comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and a rearview camera.
The Rogue SV adds 17-inch wheels; a power driver seat; satellite radio; automatic climate control; pushbutton start; and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora.
The Rogue SL gets Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.
Options include third-row seating; run-flat tires; a panoramic sunroof; those advanced-safety features; and LED headlights.
- AroundView cameras are a must-have feature
- USB and Bluetooth streaming, standard
- Lots of safety features
- Good looks
- Carryover powertrain
- Noisy under hard acceleration
- Still a crossover…
- …with a third-row seat?