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February 12, 2014 | By Jerry Hirsch
After years of improving car reliability, automakers have shifted into reverse while attempting to exact better fuel economy and add in-dash technology, J.D. Power & Associates reported in its 2014 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Owners of 3-year-old vehicles reported more problems than in the same study from the prior year, the automotive research firm said Wednesday. It was the first increase in problems reported since 1998. The slip in quality might be the first sign in a trend toward declining reliability in cars, according to the firm, whose research identified transmissions and infotainment systems as key trouble spots.
November 17, 2011
Thinking about buying a new car? Interested in automakers' latest offerings? Times autos writer Jerry Hirsch is at the L.A. Auto Show and will be chatting with readers at noon Thursday about what's in store when the doors open to the public on Friday. As Hirsch and colleagues David Undercoffler and Susan Carpenter have reported, Ford has a new-look Escape sport utility vehicle; Mazda is unveiling its newest small SUV, the CX-5; Land Rover is showing off its DC100 concept cars; and Hyundai has revived the Azera.
February 15, 2014 | By Jerry Hirsch
America loves trucks. California? The Prius hybrid. Toyota's Prius was the best-selling vehicle in the state for the second consecutive year in 2013, highlighting California's radically different taste in automobiles. Nationally, Ford's F-Series truck has been the bestselling vehicle for more than three decades. The Prius ranked 16th in sales nationally. For drivers in such places as Texas, Montana and much of the Midwest, trucks are practical - but also a lifestyle statement.
February 3, 2014 | By Jerry Hirsch
Cars of the future will know when they're about to get hit - and how to speak up about it. U.S. auto safety regulators on Monday took the first steps toward mandating that automakers build cars that talk to one another. They would speak in short-range radio signals, trading messages that would prevent accidents on a broad scale, according to the Transportation Department. The most advanced cars today can already spot trouble ahead. They use sensors to detect cars or fixed objects ahead, and alert drivers - or, in some cases, even slam on the brakes.
September 5, 2012 | By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
Auto sales surged in August as consumers reacted to higher gas prices by snapping up fuel-efficient cars and small sport utility vehicles. Total auto sales for the month were just under 1.3 million, 19.9% higher than a year earlier. That would put the annual pace at 14.5 million vehicles, the best of any month since the federal "cash for clunkers" economic stimulus program in August 2009 and a rate 2 million vehicles ahead of August 2011's. "The auto industry continued to outperform the general economy," said Bill Fay, Toyota group vice president and general manager.
May 17, 2012 | By David Undercoffler
You look fat in that. Of course I'll be late. Your baby reminds me of Gollum's uncle. This is what the 2013 Subaru BRZ might say if it could talk. The all-new, rear-wheel-drive sports car starts at $26,265, and boy is it honest - perhaps more so than any other car on the market today, save for its mechanical twin, the Scion FR-S. The two were jointly developed by Subaru and Scion's parent company, Toyota, with both assembled by Subaru in Japan. The question about the BRZ is, can you handle the honesty?
July 30, 2011 | By Jerry Hirsch
The government will require new cars and trucks to meet a fleetwide average fuel economy standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Fat chance. Many motorists know they can't expect to get the mileage they see on the window sticker if they drive too fast or don't keep the car in optimal condition. But what most of them don't know is even if they do drive like highway saints, they still won't get the Environmental Protection Agency-rated results. Under rules announced Friday, tough new mileage standards will be phased in starting in 2017.
December 15, 2011 | By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times
In another sign of the Internet's increasingly influential role in auto sales, dealers are in the middle of a fight between Honda and over prices displayed online. American Honda Motor Co. has told its dealers that it won't give them advertising allowances if they offer vehicles below invoice on TrueCar, the fast-growing online auto sales service. The Japanese automaker believes that disclosing cut-rate prices damages its brand and makes its dealers compete with one another for buyers rather than with other automakers.
June 28, 2012 | By David Undercoffler, Los Angeles Times
You're not going to see Lindsay Lohan crash a 2013 Nissan Altima into the back of a garbage truck. Your 10-year-old won't be hanging a poster of one on his bedroom wall next to a Lamborghini Aventador and Kobe Bryant. The car won't have a heavily scripted cameo in the next "Avengers" movie withRobert Downey Jr.'s character at the wheel. Mid-size sedans don't get that kind of attention. This Nissan should. The mid-size segment traditionally has the allure of a used toothbrush with none of the minty residue.
July 27, 2012 | Los Angeles Times
The economic news remains mixed, but that hasn't slowed car buyers down in July. With another weekend to go, industry analysts say sales remain comparatively strong and it is consumers who are fueling the industry. No, this isn't the roaring market of a decade ago, but it is healthy by post-recession, sluggish-growth standards. Market research firm J.D. Power & Associates estimates that retail sales of new vehicles will reach about 969,200 units this month. Although that's a slight dip from June, it still represents an 18% gain from a year earlier.
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