The Definitive Guide to New and Used Car Buying, Auto Leasing, Auto Financing and Auto Insurance

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2018 Honda Civic Type R Car Review

The 2018 Honda Civic Type R is like no Civic you’ve ever experienced, at least if your driving experience has been confined to North America. For many years enthusiast drivers in other markets have had various performance-oriented Civic Type Rs to fuel their automotive fantasies, but here our Civics were very reliable commuter modules and little more. Then late in the 2017 model year, American Honda finally authorized the hot hatchback for U.S. audiences.  And now, after the limited-run 2017 went well, Honda has just introduced the ever-so-slightly tweaked 2018 version, one part pure performance sports car and one part practical four-door hatchback, all for the bargain price of $35,000.

Let’s begin with the performance portion of the equation, because the bang for buck is nearly off the charts. First there’s the 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque output of its 2.0-liter dual overhead cam direct-injected VTEC turbo engine.  It helps the new model jet from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds, and it makes the Type R the most powerful Honda ever sold in America in the bargain.

But there’s more to the Type R than just straight-line speed.  Its ingenious Adaptive Damper System continually adjusts suspension damping at all four wheels to enable an otherworldly 1.0 g lateral acceleration number, essentially racecar-like cornering grip.  The ADS is an integral part of the three-mode driving system that offers comfort, sport and +R modes, the last for track use. The system modifies damping, throttle response and steering assist to match up with the driver's chosen setting.  If you’re wondering how 306 horsepower can be channeled through the front wheels without killer torque steer, Honda has the answer in the dual-axis strut front suspension design.

When ordering your own Type R be prepared to shift gears yourself.  Flying in the face of the dual-clutch automatic trend in sports machines, the Type R offers a short-throw, 6-speed manual as its only transmission choice, accompanied by a limited-slip differential.  Despite the throwback transmission, the Type R is equipped with a bevy of new-as-tomorrow electronic driving aids.  Included on the list are Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, advanced four-channel antilock brakes, electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist and an indirect tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).   It’ll even help you park with its multi-angle rearview camera with handy dynamic guidelines.

If you’re seeking to stay connected, you’ll be pleased to learn the Civic Type R includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition.  Those connections are accessed from a roomy and airy cabin that also offers substantial cargo room behind the rear seats.  And speaking of seats, the driver and front passenger seats are specially designed, high-bolstered units with suede-like upholstery in black and red. Fuel economy of 22 city/28 highway/25 combined won’t induce you to sell your Prius, but then the Prius won’t rocket to 60 mph in five seconds either.  In fact it’ll take about twice that long.

In the 2018 Honda Civic Type R Honda is offering a vehicle with distinctive looks, a convenient and comfortable interior and a level of performance that rivals the best from Audi, BMW and even Porsche, all for $35K.  We don’t know why Type R took so long to get here, but we’re sure glad it did.

 

Blue on Rise as Car Color

Fans of car color, you can rejoice. Into the sea of white, silver and black, an actual color is rising to the top of the car color popularity charts. According to international auto paint leader PPG, blue is the fastest-growing color for automobiles around the world.

Last year blue increased by three percent as a preference for luxury, midsize and compact cars, showing it was a color on the move. This upward trend continued across a number of regions worldwide this year, with blue increasing as a color preference for luxury cars by five percent.

Another piece of evidence that points to blue’s ascendancy is its recent use on auto how concept vehicles.  For example, blue was a dominant hue at the North American International Auto Show over the past four years, with featured applications on the Buick Avista concept car, Audi Sport, Volvo S90 and S60, as well as on various Mercedes, Porsche and Lexus models.

In North America, blue is a popular choice for luxury cars while it is a top choice among mini cars in China. In Europe, consumers prefer blue on sports cars more frequently than any other car type. Though blue is predicted to become more noticeable in the automotive marketplace, the applications of the color on vehicle types around the world remain unique.

“PPG’s leading position in paint and color forecasting allows us to analyze cross-cultural and cross-industry trends with our 20 global color stylists from seven countries,” said Jane Harrington, PPG manager, automotive color styling. “While white, black, gray and silver continue to be popular color choices, we’re seeing a steady increase in the desire for cars in varying blue and brown shades.”

While blue is definitely on the rise, in North America white is still the reigning champ with 25 of vehicles sporting that (non) color.  Black (21 percent) and gray (17 percent) rose 2 percent and 5 percent respectively for 2017, while silver (13 percent) dropped six percent.  Despite the fact that its star is on the assent blue tied with red at 10 percent in the latest analysis. 

PPG color expert Harrington said the same “comforting neutrals” that consumers favor in fashion, technology and their homes cause silver and gray to continue to be popular in automotive colors across all types of vehicles due to slight nuances in color and classic roots. “Chameleon-like hues” that have gray and blue undertones remain top choices among consumers, as they represent calm, comfort and a middle ground.

Best Car Lease Deals This Month

If what you are seeking in life is the best car lease you can get, you might find exactly what you want this month. Consumers looking for an affordable car lease right are likely to find not only find a car to love but also a lease payment to love, according to data compiled by Wantalease.com, the nation’s first online marketplace for new auto lease deals.  The website says prices on most of today’s popular leases have held steady from last month, and last month’s lease deals were very favorable to the consumer. In all, 24 make-models (e.g. Honda Accord) maintained their monthly lease payments and terms from the previous month. For those shopping the economy end of the new-car market, 16 make-models are currently offered for $200/month or less, and three vehicles are currently offered for less than $150/month.

Among popular choices, the Honda Civic LX, Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S and Volkswagen Jetta S are all currently leasing for less than $150 per month on Wantalease.com. In fact, the Volkswagen Jetta S is now being leased at an eye-popping $109 per month, making it the most affordable lease vehicle for October.  At that price point, the Jetta S monthly lease payment has decreased in price by 5.78% since last month.

Looking for prestige at a bargain price?  Three “entry-level” luxury cars are currently offered at less than $300/month. The Audi A3 2.0T FWD Premium and the Lexus IA 200t (turbo) are DT Editors’ favorites and both are priced at $299/month. If 300 bucks is too rich for your blood, the Acura ILX small sedan is currently being leasing at $199 per month, the same price it has maintained since August of this year.  The softening car market and some weakness in Acura sales has prompted the continuing “sale” on the ILX.

The Ram 1500 Express Crew Cab 4X4 with the 5'7'' cargo box was the vehicle that saw the largest price drop in October. If you are looking for a lot of vehicle for your money, it is currently offered at $189/month. That represents a whopping 39.58% decrease in price compared to last month, making it the most affordable vehicle in the large pickup segment. On the other side of the ledger, the Toyota Corolla SE compact sedan saw the largest increase in monthly payment.  The $199/month lease payment represents a18.65% increase versus the September payment.

“Prices on popular leased vehicles are remaining steady as we head into fall,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Wantalease.com. “As the holiday season approaches, as well as end-of-year deals, more dealers will try to find ways to attract lease shoppers looking for presents for loved ones or just a good deal on a vehicle to close out 2017.”

Toyota, Lexus Most Reliable According to Consumer Reports

Some brands were big losers and other big gainers in Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey, but one thing that stayed largely the same was the dominance of Toyota’s Lexus and Toyota brands in dependability.  For the fifth straight year, Toyota brands took their places on top of the ranking of 27 brands for predicted new-car reliability, but other Asia-based manufacturers, notably Acura and Mazda, saw their reliability averages fall. In contrast, Korea-based Kia continued to surprise observers with its rapid rise in the rankings.  Kia continues to make impressive strides in reliability, rising to third. General Motors, on the other hand, took a nosedive with three of its four brands -- Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC -- in the bottom third.

The Chrysler brand has had a difficult time in previous reliability surveys, but this year it registered the biggest gain, jumping 10 positions from last year. Even with the big gain it remains in the lower half of all 27 brands ranked by CR, but the general trend at Chrysler is up. Its new Pacifica minivan has average reliability, affected by some minor transmission issues, and overall the brand is greatly improved.  Other FCA brands – Jeep, Dodge and Ram – also registered gains, though the improvement did not push them into the top ranks. CR said Jeep seems to have worked out some of the transmission problems that plagued the early years of the Cherokee, but the Grand Cherokee and Renegade remain below average despite showing “marked improvement with these models each year.” The only Dodge model that did not have below-average reliability was the Grand Caravan, while the Charger and Challenger improved over last year, yet ranked below average. The Ram 1500 pickup improved to average, but the low standing of the 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups keeps the brand near the bottom of the overall list.

Ram has domestic-manufacturer company at the lower reaches of the rankings.  GMC and Cadillac are at the bottom of Consumer Reports’ brand list. The much-touted GMC Acadia debuted with well-below-average reliability, and it has the dubious distinction of being among the 10 least-reliable new models. Aside from some infotainment issues in the Acadia, problems with drive system, power equipment, and climate system were also reported. Equally dismal for General Motors is the fact that all of luxury-brand Cadillac’s models had below-average reliability, including the new-for-2017 XT5 compact SUV that Cadillac hopes will become a volume-driver.

For GM, Buick was the lone bright spot among the brands, but after ranking third last year, it dropped five spots to eighth.  Its biggest “miss” was the redesigned LaCrosse large sedan, which debuted with reliability well-below average. The much-better-than-average reliability of the Encore crossover, and the better-than-average reliability of the Cascada convertible and Envision crossover enabled Buick to stay in the top 10.

Chevy presented a mixed bag, but lagged most major players. Its new Bolt electric car is Chevrolet’s most reliable model with above average reliability, but the Volt plug-in hybrid remains below average, and the Cruze compact, which debuted with well-above-average reliability last year, plunged to below average this time around.

The third major domestic manufacturer, Ford, gained several spots in this year’s survey but ranks mid-pack at 15th. The mainstay F-150 pickup improved to average reliability, but the Focus and Fiesta small cars are still well below average with ongoing clutch and transmission problems.  Another somber note was that some respondents reported a few problems with the new Sync3 infotainment system in the Fusion midsize sedan. Ford had hoped Sync3 would cure its ongoing infotainment headaches.  Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand didn’t fare that well either.  Its MKZ sedan had average reliability, and the MKC and MKX crossover SUVs were below average.

Plagued by infotainment woes over the past couple of years, Honda has fallen from its perch as a top-echelon brand for reliability, but it improved by one spot this year, with all of its models having average or better reliability.  Serious improvement included solving the bugs with the Civic’s in-car electronics, and those enhancements were echoed in the redesigned-for-2017 CR-V, which in many ways is a tall Civic. But Honda’s luxury Acura brand took a nosedive this year, dropping to the bottom third of the brand rankings. While the RDX, which was last redesigned in 2013, is above average, the other Acuras were all below average.

As noted earlier, Kia continues to move forward positively in reliability, rising two spots to rank third overall. To demonstrate Kia’s efforts, the new Niro hybrid debuted as the most reliable new car in the entire survey. Kia’s lowest scoring model is the Sportage, which has average reliability. Subaru is another brand on the upswing. It gained five spots to rank sixth this year, despite the “below average” reliability of the redesigned Impreza compact.

Hyundai fell three places to rank 10th. The Elantra compact car, which was renewed for 2017, had well-above average reliability, but problems with the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission dropped the Tucson compact crossover to below average. Nissan had a slight gain, with the popular Altima sedan improving to better-than-average and the Pathfinder SUV finally improving to average.

Some suggest that highly complex European vehicles deliver poor reliability, but the Consumer Reports survey suggests that, as with vehicles that are designed elsewhere, some European brands are stellar while others are laggards.  For instance, despite travails on the diesel engine front, Audi retained the fourth spot on the survey, and BMW jumped four places to land fifth. All of BMW’s models featured average or better reliability. 

Mercedes-Benz had mixed results. Its redesigned 2017 E-Class bucked the debut jinx to turn in better-than-average reliability in its first year, while the flagship S-Class, one of the world’s most sophisticated models, finally improved to average. The report on Volvo wasn’t as good.  The Chinese-owned Swedish brand remained near the bottom of the heap, dragged down by the much-worse-than-average XC90 crossover SUV, which ranks as the third least reliable model among new vehicles covered in the survey. The problem rate for the XC90’s infotainment, which has been much touted by vehicle reviewers, was the worst in CR’s Survey at 21 percent.  That negative rate was nearly as high as the now notorious Ford/Lincoln’s MyTouch system when it debuted several years ago.

For more information on Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Reliability Survey, or to get the latest ratings and scores for more than 300 models, visit www.CR.org.