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Car Buying

REVIEW: 2011 Chevy Cruze Thrashes the Corolla

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General Motors is very optimistic about the Chevrolet Cruze. However, in determining whether this optimism is warranted, we can’t help but remember that a major reason for GM’s past troubles has been the lack of a competent small car.

For decades, the General has struggled to produce a car that was at least in the same ball park as the industry benchmarks, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The Cavalier and Cobalt, as much of an improvement as they were over their predecessors, just didn’t cut the mustard, but have these efforts been in vein? With so many mistakes to learn from, has GM finally crafted a compact car that can truly compete with the Japanese? We found out in our review of the 2011 Chevy Cruze.

The Cruze is a new beginning for GM in the compact car segment, a fact the company acknowledged when it decided to not carry-on with the Cobalt name. And though just recently hitting the North American market, it has actually been on sale in some international markets since 2008. It uses the same Delta II architecture as the Opel Astra and the Chevrolet Volt and, as a true world car, most of its development took place in South Korea and Germany.

Our test Cruze had the 1LT trim, which with the Connectivity Package, came with such premium features as bluetooth, USB ports, six-month Onstar, leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and keyless entry. With the Cruze LT Turbo starting at $19,495, the additional features brought the as-tested price to $22,895 CAD, including destination.

With the Cruze, GM is all about the bangs for the buck, offering more standard features (i.e. ten air bags) and what the American automaker promises is an interior that feels more “premium” than one would expect from such a vehicle. For those that place top emphasis on fuel economy, the Cruze Eco, thanks to aerodynamic and weight-reduction modifications, achieves best-in-class fuel efficiency (Transport Canada: 7.2L/100 city and 4.6L highway; EPA: 28 mpg city and 42 mpg highway). But you’ll have to know how to drive manual to reap the benefits — the automatic Eco achieves very respectable numbers, but just not as good as the manual.

The 2012 Cruze hits the market when it’s at its hottest. The latest iterations (vast improvements over their predecessors) of the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra, in addition to an heavily updated Honda Civic, have upped the ante. The Toyota Corolla, as much of an appliance it has become, is still a serious contender. Even Volkswagen has decided to try a new take on the segment with the latest Jetta, placing an emphasis on value this time around. When all is said and done, the compact car market just got infused with a gigantic dose of “fierce”.

The Chevy Cruze is a fine looking car, moreso in person than in pictures. It’s more conservatively styled than, say, the new Hyundai Elantra, but that’s a good thing, because I find the Elantra to be too over-styled for my tastes. It also stacks-up well against the clumsy look of the new Civic and the bland-styling of the latest Toyota Corolla.

GM’s designers scored big with Cruze in that despite having a curvaceous profile and a very compact look, the sedan manages to appear both executive and cute, thus likely appealing to a wider audience. I dare say it’s one of the sportiest looking cars in its class. However, not all is perfect. One feature that does cheapen the Cruze’s overall looks just a tad bit is the plastic triangle at the trailing edge of the rear window — it’s not glass and it’s not fooling anyone.

Like the exterior, the Cruze’s interior is very attractive and validates GM claim of offering a higher premium feel than would be expect from a car in its class. The design of the interior is simple and well-executed — easy to read gauges, and easily operable audio and HVAC controls — while having a modern appearance. It puts the Cobalt’s and the latest Corolla’s stark, low-quality interiors to shame.

Its the use of dual-tone dashboard color scheme (we had the jet black and sports red combo scheme), in addition to higher-grade materials, that adds the premium and warm feel lacking in many of the Cruze’s key competitors. You can call it gimmicky or whatever you want, but it adds a lot to the interior’s warm ambiance. This premium feel was aided by the comfortable leather-wrapped three-spoke wheel in our tester and all the creature comforts one would not expect from such a car.

The Cruze offers ample room for all passengers, a feature that is even more noticeable in the rear compartment. Not only do the rear passengers get enough leg-room (for 5 11’ individuals), they also get a fold-down armrest with integrated cup-holders. With a tall greenhouse, there is also plenty of head room. The seats proved very comfortable, even over long distances. And for doing the weekly (or bi-weekly) groceries, the trunk offers ample — “giant” is a better descriptive word — room. It’s deep and wide, offering more than enough room for the four large containers of water we had to haul.

Another standout feature of the Cruze’s interior is how quiet it is, both at idle and at speed. But is it the quietest in its class? Well, it’s likely up there with the best. In fact, it’s quieter than a Corolla I had for a long trip not too long ago.

Our test Cruze had GM’s 1.4L ECOTEC Turbocharged engine. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the engine produced 138 horsepower, which is very competitive for its class. However, with the car weighing around 250 lbs more than many of its peers, we suspected that the engine would struggle. However, hitting the streets invalidated our suspicions. Although you could feel it work hard when accelerating form a near stop, we found the unit to have more than adequate power when underway.

The premium feel of Chevy’s latest small car didn’t just end in the cockpit. Although not a race car, the Cruze felt surprisingly well-grounded, making it appear more agile than one would expect. Nicely-boosted electric power steering offered predictable handling that bordered on very sporty, while ride quality was almost perfect. Turning the car was predictable with good tire grip and steering feedback, which is something that can’t be said about the Corolla. The Cruze handled road imperfections masterfully, putting many more expensive vehicles to shame. Every single passenger we had in the car commented on the smoothness of its ride, often without us even asking. Again, the quietness of the Cruze’s interior proved to be a selling point, especially at speeds on long stretches of road. It’s simply one of the quietest interior we have ever experienced in any class of car, which speaks volumes about how far GM has come in this segment.

A key selling point of any compact car is fuel-economy, a department in which the Cruze delivered. At mostly city driving (about 88% of the time), we managed a combined 9.6L/100 (24.5 miles per gallon) over seven days. It is important to note that we drove Toronto’s busy streets with heavy feet and would have achieved better results had we been easier on the paddle. For the curious, we achieved around 7.2L/100 highway (around 32.5 mpg) for the very little highway driving we did. These are very respectable numbers for this class and for the kind of driving we did.

Aside from a very noticeable upshift the transmission made when accelerating from slow speeds (the shifts were very smooth, otherwise), we were very pleased and sometime surprised at the Cruze’s driving characteristics. In fact, it felt a step-above the class average — sometimes jumping a class ahead — in just about every way. GM did its homework properly.

With the Cruze, GM has shown that it has finally learned from its past mistakes in the compact car segment. With the help of its international operations, the once-struggling carmaker has designed, engineered and styled a world-class car in nearly every way. And despite having fierce competition from the likes of the new Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus, it is without saying that you cannot go wrong cruising away from your local dealership in Chevrolet’s latest small car. It thrashes the Corolla and is likely to give the new Honda Civic, which looks to be a refresh of the current model, a run for its money. Forget about the Cobalt of yore, because the Cruze is here, and we wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Car Buying

You Can Now Build Your New Porsche 911 (992)

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New Porsche 911 Carrera_4S, rear

How will you build your spanking new 911?

Porsche has powered up the online configurator for the 2020 911 Carrera S and 4S models, allowing dreamers and prospective buyers alike to design their very own model from all the options available.

For 2020,  the Porsche 911 Carrera S and Carrera 4S are powered by a 3.0L turbocharged six-cylinder engine that produces 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque, channeled to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission or manual transmission.

The Carrera S reaches 60 mph (96 km/h) in 3.5 seconds, while the all-wheel drive Carrera 4S completes the sprint in 3.4 seconds. Opting for the Sport Chrono package (and you should) drops the 0-60 mph time to only 3.2 seconds.

Prices in the U.S. start at $114,250 for the 911 Carrera S and $121,650 for the 911 Carrera 4S.

In addition to the countless number of options, buyers have the choice of two packages. The Premium Package is priced at $5,380 and adds LED Headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus, Comfort Access, a BOSE Surround Sound System, Seat Ventilation, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.

The Sport Package fetches $5,460 and adds the Porsche Active Suspension Management, the Sport Exhaust System with Tailpipes in Silver or Black and the Sport Chrono Package.

Share your Porsche 911 build in the comments below.

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Advice

5 Reasons To Buy Your Next Car Online

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Buying BMW Car Online

Have you considered buying a new or used car online? What’s stopping you?

Buying a car is a very big decision. Ideally, it will last you years, and you’ll use it practically every day to commute to and from work, school or other social obligations. And while you want to get the right vehicle, you certainly wouldn’t want to overpay.

This is where online shopping comes in. Many people resort to the internet nowadays when shopping for and buying a vehicle for a number of key reasons, namely the lower prices that can be had, higher number of vehicles to choose from, readily available information, and less stressful shopping experience.

1. Online Prices Are Cheaper

Online shopping has really taken off over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. Thanks to their lower overhead costs, online retailers tend to be cheaper than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. That’s true in every corner of the e-commerce world, and auto sales are no exception.

Online car search engines and dealers can connect you with cars for less. Some even have a feature that will give you the chance to snipe a new or used car for less than it would normally be worth.

2. More Cars To Choose From Online

When you go to a dealership or check the local classifieds, you’ll see lots of cars. However, you’ll see a whole lot more if you don’t limit yourself so much geographically. An online hunt for your dream car will turn up far more options, especially when you’re looking for a used vehicle that’s a golden goose.

When you’re buying something as important as a car, you shouldn’t limit yourself to what’s on the lot around the corner. This is a big decision, and you want to cast a wide net.

3. Avoid Stressful Dealership Experience

Consumer polls indicate that people find the car-buying experience to be , and it’s not hard to see why. When you step onto a dealership lot, you are more often than not immediately accosted by a salesperson who works on commission, which of course means he or she will make more money if they get you to buy a car.

Even if the car you want is not there, the salesperson will try to sell you one of the other vehicles on the lot. Is there any wonder why even many dealership employees agree that c?

You can spare yourself the headache by shopping online.

4. More Information At Your Fingertips

One of the reasons that buying a car at a dealership can be so stressful is that most of us don’t know the world of car sales very well. We don’t have all the latest information about which models depreciate the fastest or which cars are the safest, most fuel-efficient, or most stocked with luxurious options. Car dealers know, however, putting the power dynamic in their favor.

Fortunately, the online marketplace is also the world’s most powerful source of information. even if they go to the dealership, but online shopping can help you learn more on the fly as you shop or negotiate. For example, you can just open up another browser tab when you want to know something like the long-term value of a given model or peruse online vehicle history reports and other resources to help make sure you’re getting a reliable car.

5. It’s The Future

With an increasing number of small carmarkers selling their wares exclusively online (see Tesla and Polestar), buying a car online will surely become mainstream. Some car shoppers still value heading into a dealership to find a reliable used vehicle, but more and more consumers are embracing online car buying because of the reasons listed above.

Buying a car online can get you a lower price, a higher number of vehicles to choose from, more information to work with on the go, and a less stressful shopping experience. But, as often is the case with everything in life, proceeded with caution. Here is a guide buying and selling vehicles online the right way.

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Car Buying

Where To Find A Private Party Car Loan

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The vast majority of new car purchases still involve financing of some kind.

Buying a car from a private seller remains the norm; however, without a sizable downpayment, the procurement of a loan is often necessary, and the process requires due care.

Take it upon yourself to be be prepared. Here’s where to find a private party car loan.

What Is a Private Party Car Loan?

When buying a car, it is customary for people to a car dealership, but this isn’t the only place to purchase a car. Many great vehicles can be obtained from private sellers — everyday people willing to sell you their vehicle with little hassle and usually at lower prices than at a dealership.

Even so, paying out of pocket may not be an option despite the lower price, necessitating a private party car loan. Such loans are convenient, but there are a few things to when going through a private seller as opposed to a dealership:

  • You will often have to transfer the bill of sale and registration on your own. These things are typically taken care of by the dealership when you buy from them.
  • Each provinces / state might have different taxes, fees, and regulations concerning the purchase of a car. This is research you must do on your own when buying directly from an individual seller.
  • Dealerships have to meet certain regulatory standards that aren’t required of private sellers. Keep this in mind when looking around at privately owned vehicles.
  • You can often bargain down the price more if you work with a private seller. This can significantly lower your monthly loan payments.

Who Offers Private Party Car Loans?

After deciding that you want to purchase a privately-owned vehicle, the next course of action is to secure a . There are a few ways to go about this.

Some large financial institutions are able to offer their clients private party car loans, though with some major caveats. For starters, in the United States don’t have a bank account, which automatically negates millions of people of this option.

Additionally, a lot of big banks won’t offer private party car loans to people who don’t meet a certain credit threshold. This further discriminates against people who have gone through bankruptcy or have lower credit for any other reason.

Can I Get a Private Party Car Loan with Bad Credit?

It can be hard to get a loan, let alone a quality loan, if you have poor credit, but all is not lost.

One popular option is to go through a subprime auto loan lender. Subprime-level auto loan credit is typically defined as having a credit score between 501 and 600. Deep subprime is considered a score from 300-500.

There are options out there for people with all levels of credit. You should definitely compare loans from a few sources, as some will offer much higher rates. Also, be sure to see if there are any additional fees built into the loan, as these can greatly affect your overall repayment.

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