2006 Honda Civic: Car of the year

Consumers in the market for a used Honda in New Jersey may want to check out the 2006 Civic, Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year.
Honda completely redesigned the Civic for 2006. They gave it a more powerful and fuel-efficient engine, more premium features and much more style, according to Edmunds.com.

“The outgoing 2005 Civic was a quality automobile – well crafted, capable, a strong value – but it didn’t tingle the fingertips, never moved the “gee!” meter,” says Motor Trend Magazine. “The new 2006 Civic does.”

Available as a sedan or a coupe, the 2006 Civic comes standard with an electronically controlled i-VTEC system with variable control timing, which continuously boosts power and fuel efficiency.

The ’06 coupe, which suffered from a power outage in the previous year, is the fastest production Civic in the company’s history. It has a powerful 197-horsepower engine, a six-speed manual transmission with a limited slip differential and a sport-tuned suspension, according to the news source.

Although the coupe and the sedan were designed with less trunk space and foot room than the 2005 model, they pack more punch and have a much sportier look.

Miata, Mustang and Beetle: The most affordable used convertibles on the road today

With spring just around the corner, the national interest level in convertible vehicles is sure to rise. Consumers in the market for a moderately priced used convertible in New Jersey may want to take a look at the Volkswagen New Beetle, the Mazda Miata and the Ford Mustang Convertible, three of the most affordable drop top cars manufactured in 2003.

The Volkswagen Beetle is the most moderately priced car in its class. The long-awaited convertible version reappeared on the scene in 2003 after a 6-year hiatus. It features a power-folding cloth top, a rollover protection system and a six-speed automatic transmission, the first of its kind in convertibles costing less than $30,000, according to Edmunds.com.

The New Beetle is more of a cruising vehicle. With a standard 115-horsepower, ULEV-certified 2.0-liter V4 engine, it goes from 0-60 miles per hour in about 11 seconds, Inside Line reports.

For car buyers looking for a bit more power, the convertible can be purchased as a performance-oriented 180-horsepower Turbo S, which is available as a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

“The Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun and upscale features for its price range,” reports the news source. In 2003, a brand new Beetle convertible was priced at $21,025, making it the least expensive drop top on the market.

The 2003 Mazda Miata is a 2-seat sports car that comes standard with a manual folding soft top, although a removable hard top is available.

Introduced in the late spring of ’03 were three new versions of the Miata. The Club Sport, which is designed for racing enthusiasts, has no power steering or air conditioning. Mazda also rolled out the Shinsen version and the LS – two higher end models with unique trim.

All three Miatas come with a 142-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic.

“It is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow,” says Edmunds. “The Miata defines the spirit of the modern roadster.” In 2003, a new Mazda Miata cost $22,363.

Falling just behind the Miata in terms of price is the 2003 Ford Mustang Convertible, which is “an absolute hoot to drive,” says Automotive.com. “The Mustang is fun to drive, fun to be seen in, quick, fast, and pretty loud, with excellent handling.”

The base Mustang comes with a 190-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, but the higher end GT model is available with a 260-horsepower 4.6-liter V8, making it one of the most powerful convertibles in its class. Car buyers can choose from a five-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic.

The 2003 Ford Mustang Convertible is a bit dated in the interior and isn’t as easy on the eyes as the Miata or Beetle, but it offers a stronger on-road performance. Brand new Mustangs in 2003 cost just over $24,000.

It’s official: GM sells Saab to Spyker Cars

Used Saab models in New Jersey may attract additional attention following the recent announcement that General Motors has sold the Swedish automaker to Spyker Cars.

After months of speculation that Saab would simply close its doors, the Dutch supercar manufacturer made a late bid and struck a deal that will pay GM $74 million in cash and $326 million in deferred shares of stock.

“We are very much looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Saab’s illustrious history. Saab is an iconic brand that we are honored to shepherd,” said Spyker CEO Victor Muller in a statement.

The deal will allow General Motors to concentrate on turning around Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac, the four U.S. car brands that they have decided to keep. The once imperialistic automaker is currently winding down Saturn and Pontiac and attempting to sell Hummer.

In the short term, GM will continue to provide transitional engineering services and powertrains to Saab, the Detroit Free Press reports. It is still unclear how long that relationship will last.

Many industry experts believe that absorbing Saab will be a challenging transition for Spyker, a company that employs 100 people and only manufactured 43 cars last year.

Toyota suspends sales of eight car lines after massive recall

On Tuesday, Toyota Motor Corporation suspended sales of eight of its most popular models as they wait for replacements for defective accelerator pedals. Last week, the Japanese-owned automaker recalled 2.3 million U.S. vehicles due to the faulty part.

Toyota also announced that they have scheduled a production shutdown beginning next week after news surfaced that their accelerator pedals are prone to stick after normal wear.

The recall is affecting several new models including the 2010 Rav4, Corolla, Matrix, Tundra, Avalon and Sequoia. No Lexus or Scion division vehicles are involved in the massive voluntary recall.

“Our investigation indicates that there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position,” said Toyota USA group vice president Irv Miller.

Meanwhile, the automaker has not ended its relationship with gas pedal supplier CTS, which is currently developing a new part to meet Toyota’s tougher standards, USA Today reports.

Mitchell Walorski, head of investor relations for CTS, has said that they have no knowledge of any accident stemming from the accelerator pedals that the company supplies to Toyota.

Truck and bus drivers now prohibited from texting while driving

Owners of used cars in New Jersey may feel a bit safer on the roadways following the announcement of a new federal law. On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation declared that operators of trucks and buses driving on interstate roadways are now banned from using handheld devices to send text messages while behind the wheel.

The ban, which will go into effect immediately, was supported by officials of the trucking and busing industries. Drivers of commercial vehicles caught texting will now be subject to fines in excess of $2,000.

“We said the federal government would do everything in its power to send a clear message that texting, talking and driving are potentially lethal activities with very serious consequences,” said U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood.

“Today we are sending a strong message. We don’t merely expect you to share the road responsibly with other travelers – we will require you to do so,” he added.

The announcement of the new law was due in part to a recent Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study that found that truckers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident while texting.

Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4 and Toyota Highlander: Three of the more fuel-efficient compact SUVs on the market

In the current economic conditions, many consumers have decided that fuel economy is one of the more important factors involved in the car buying process. For those interested in purchasing a used SUV in New Jersey, there are several models that can offer you the benefits of a larger family vehicle that won’t hurt your wallet at the pump.

In 2005, several car manufactures began specializing in the compact sports utility vehicle. Three of the highest rated, most moderately priced SUVs that also have the best fuel economy include the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Rav4 and the Toyota Highlander.

The 2005 Honda CR-V is one of the more fuel-efficient SUVs in its class. It gets a respectable 23 miles per gallon in the city and a very solid 29 mpg on the highway, according to About.com.

The ’05 model is equipped with Honda’s four-cylinder 2.4-liter engine that is more than capable of competing with various sedans on the highway. With 160-horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, the CR-V is able to outperform most any compact SUV in its class, Edmunds.com reports.

Honda’s 2005 CRV comes standard with an “intelligent” variable valve timing system called i-VTEC, which allows the engine to generate plenty of power while maintaining an impressive fuel economy. It offers class-leading interior space, yet drives more like a sedan than a larger family car.

“If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, all-purpose vehicle with a sense of adventure and fine foul-weather capability, the CR-V is hard to beat,” says the news source.

Just behind the CR-V in terms of fuel economy for a compact SUV is the Toyota Rav4, which gets 23 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The two-wheel drive, manual transmission model is even more fuel-efficient.

In 2005, the Rav4 was reequipped with a more powerful engine and received significant safety improvements.

The ’05 model has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 161-horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. Similar to the CR-V, the Rav4 comes standard with a variable valve timing system that boosts torque at low- and mid-range engine speeds.

Outfitted with four-wheel anti-lock brakes and side airbags for front passengers, outshines its competition in terms of standard safety features. In government crash tests, the Rav4 earned four out of five stars for frontal impact protection and a perfect grade for side impacts, according to Edmunds.

The Rav4 is the first car to win the Best Pick designation for both front and side impact tests.

“Intended for a life on pavement, the RAV4 really shines in this environment, where its taut suspension, quick steering and tight turning radius come together to produce one of the best-handling SUVs we’ve ever driven,” says the news source.

For consumers interested in a mid-size SUV with a strong fuel economy, the 4-cylinder Toyota Highlander may be of interest.

Highlanders are available with a 230-horsepower V6, but the V4 model gets significantly more miles per gallon. City mileage ranges from 18-22 mpg, but the Highlander can get up to 27 mpg on the highway.

It is available with four-wheel-drive and can seat up to seven passengers. The ’05 Highlander sits much higher than the Rav4 of CR-V and has considerably more interior space. It costs a bit more than some compact SUVs, but is fairly priced for its size, strong fuel efficiency and smooth ride.

“The Highlander is so darn smooth it encourages the driver to make every trip a pleasure for his or her passengers,” says Phillip Powell from About.com.

Study: Driving adversely affects ability to talk on the phone

Owners of used cars in New York and New Jersey may want to think twice before conducting an important business call while driving. A new study has found that operating a vehicle can significantly impair one’s ability to speak and comprehend language.

Researchers at the University of Illinois tested participants’ ability to listen to and retell stories that they had never heard before as a passenger and as a driver. The study found that a participant’s ability to recall information declined significantly if he or she was also driving during the exercise.

The results suggest that a driver remembers 20 percent less of what is told to them while behind the wheel compared to times when they are simply sitting still. Researchers also found that drivers were least accurate in retelling stories that were communicated to them while navigating through intersections or demanding traffic conditions.

“This study shows that various aspects of language go to hell when you’re driving,” said psychology professor Art Kramer, who collaborated on the study.

Although older subjects performed more poorly on the control test than their younger peers, their ability to retain information while driving worsened at the same rate.

GM names interim boss Ed Whitacre permanent CEO

The popularity of American-made used cars in New Jersey may be on the rise following Monday’s announcement that General Motors has named current chairman and acting CEO Ed Whitacre its permanent chief operating officer.

Whitacre, who took over for former GM head Fritz Henderson two months ago on an interim basis, had been leading the search for the auto manufacturer’s new CEO when the board of directors asked him if he would stay on as a permanent replacement.

“I was both honored and pleased to accept this role,” said Whitacre, 68, “so I’m going to do it for a while.”

During the press conference, Whitacre promised that GM will repay all of its government loans by June 2010, totaling almost $6.7 billion. The former AT&T CEO also indicated that GM is aiming for an initial public offering of stock for the public, but did not set a timetable for that to happen, according to AutoWeek.com.

Meanwhile, Whitacre said that GM will continue to plan to wind down Saab, even though the automaker is negotiating with Dutch carmaker Spyker about a sale.

CEO David Smith parts ways with Jaguar Land Rover

Used Jaguar models in New Jersey may begin to attract additional attention following news that chief executive officer David Smith has resigned from Jaguar Land Rover, effective immediately.

A company spokesman declined comment on the reasons for Smith’s abrupt departure, stating that his resignation was “confidential between the company and Mr Smith.” Jaguar issued a brief statement thanking Smith “for his efforts in the role and for his services to Jaguar and Land Rover over many years.”

Smith was installed as CEO after Ford Motor Company sold the car manufacturer to India-based Tata, who purchased Jaguar Land Rover for $2.3 billion in 2008. Auto Week reports that the former CEO lacked industry experience in production, engineering and marketing.

In November of last year, Tata announced that Jaguar had lost nearly $100 million in the third quarter alone and subsequently cut almost 2,500 jobs, ABC News reports.

Former BMW and Opel head Carl-Peter Forster had been linked to the newly opened position, although Tata has dismissed the notion that they have a specific candidate in mind for the role.

Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest: Three of the top minivans of the decade

Over the last few years, car manufacturers have begun concentrating on developing smaller sedans and have started producing fewer family-sized vehicles, meaning there are smaller quantities of new minivan models to choose from today than in the past. For consumers in the market for a used minivan in New Jersey, you are in luck. Many industry experts feel that the most popular vehicles of the genre were produced in 2006 and 2007.

The folks at MSN Autos have recently put together a list of the most sought after minivans on the road today. Topping that list are the 2006 Honda Odyssey, the 2007 Toyota Sienna and the 2007 Nissan Quest.

The ’06 Honda Odyssey, ranked the most popular minivan by the news source, was named Consumer Guide’s 2006 Best Buy, Money Magazine’s 2006 Best Minivan and Kelley Blue Book’s 2006 Best Resale Value.

The Odyssey has a powerful V6 engine, carlike handling and optional eight-passenger seating, according to Edmunds.com. If consumers purchase the EX or the Touring package, they will have access to Honda’s variable cylinder management system, which deactivates three of the six cylinders during cruising to maximize fuel efficiency.

“The [2006] Honda Odyssey is quieter, more spacious and offers even more innovative features than before, including increased seating configurations and unique storage solutions,” says the news source.

In 2007, the Toyota Sienna actually beat out the Honda Odyssey as Consumer Reports’ Top Pick of the Year and was recently named one of their best used cars.

The Sienna received a huge power upgrade in 2007 with the addition of a 266-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that replaced the 3.3 liter 2006 engine, making it the most powerful minivan in its class.

“Whether you’re a new parent, an empty nester or somewhere in between, [the 2007 Sienna] will almost certainly meet your needs,” says Edmunds.

It has a smooth ride, solid gas mileage and excellent safety features. Similar to the Odyssey, the Sienna has eight-passenger seating capacity and excellent handling. All ’07 models that have CD changers are satellite radio compliant.

The Nissan Quest, which finished 5th in MSN Auto’s popularity ratings, received a facelift in 2007 with a complete revamping of the vehicle’s interior.

Nissan expanded the Quest’s storage capacity, improved its center stack design and added a six-disc CD player with MP3 playback and Bluetooth connectivity, the news source reports. They also added a larger glovebox, a newly designed third row seat and revised climate controls.

Even with the new changes to the interior, the most impressive features of the 2007 Nissan Quest may be its handling and power.

“The 2007 Nissan Quest is an enthusiast-oriented option in the minivan category; the van is acquiescent around corners and offers sharp steering,” says Edmunds. “The V6 is eager off the line, accelerating with gusto. Overall, the large Quest feels more agile than its heft suggests.”

The Quest only seats seven, but offers much more interior room than other minivans in its class. It has flat folding seats in both the second and third row making it ideal for family travel.

If you are interested in a used minivan in New Jersey, you should certainly take a look at the 2006 Honda Odyssey, the 2007 Toyota Sienna and the 2007 Nissan Quest. They were all designed and produced during the peak of minivan ingenuity and are fairly priced.