Prius set for Super Bowl-sized ad spot Feb. 7


In III, a cocky young gunslinger guaranteed and then delivered a victory to bring an unlikely trophy to Broadway.

In XVIII, a shifty running back in silver and black reversed field to stun Washington and to raid a title for L.A.

In XLII, a previously unheralded wide receiver’s helmet catch ruined a perfect season.

And in 50, the 2016 Toyota Prius will make a play of its own, starring in a 60-second ad that will air Feb. 7 during America’s biggest sporting event … which Toyota failed to name in a press release as the Super Bowl.

Those guys up there, they didn’t deliver the biggest plays on the biggest stage by accident. No, they worked at it, bled for it. They practiced and practiced until it just came naturally. They had swagger, sure, but how could they not? When you do what you do for so long, great performances just become second nature.

And we’re not saying Prius is going to outshine those other performances – actually, maybe we are. But with 50-plus miles per gallon and a sleek new design, Toyota has a little extra swagger with this icon.

So let’s talk about the Prius. Toyota brought it to market in Japan in 1997, and to the United States in 2000. And since then, it’s been improvement after improvement. Now comes the fourth generation with a longer, sleeker exterior, a low center of gravity, and world-changing technology that will toss everything you thought you knew about Prius driving out the window.

You see, this is big. And the only stage big enough to handle this Prius is 50, the game so big roman numerals can’t do it justice anymore.

“We can’t wait to show off this Prius on the world’s biggest stage,” said Jack Hollis, Toyota’s group vice president of marketing.

So what did you expect? You don’t run ads for a car like this as some late night infomercial. No, you go to the biggest stage, where more than 100 million people can gather round, wide-eyed and drop-jawed in between scoops of guacamole dip.

Memorial Day Sales: Zero Glitz and Big Deals says


We’re used to lots of balloons, clowns and the big, tall 12-foot single color thing that waves all over the place to attract the attention of would-be car shoppers are dealerships.

Over this coming Memorial Day Weekend, there should be ZERO GLITZ AND GLITTER, according to analysts and plenty of bargains all around from many of the automakers.

0% Financing Galore:

0% financing is huge this month. analysts estimate that about 1/3 of all new vehicles have some sort of 0% promotion happening – and that’s even true for some of the small SUVs that are the hottest vehicle segment on the market right now.

Here are some examples:

  • Most Ford vehicles (including Escape Focus, Fusion, and outgoing non-aluminum F-150)
  • Many Nissan vehicles including Rogue and Versa
  • Most Toyota vehicles (including Camry, Corolla, RAV4)
  • Many Green vehicles including Volt, Leaf, Prius

$199 Leases:

There are a ton of these available, including on Buick, Chevy, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Subaru and VW models. More info here:

Crazy EV Lease:

Chevrolet Spark EV has a $139 Lease with $0 Due at Signing. This is an EV car payment that may be less than your cell phone bill!

Interested in getting one of these great deals but now sure how to do all your research in time? The consumer advice experts at offer a simple three-day shopping plan that makes it easy for you to do all your homework and bring home a new car before the deals run out:

Toyota’s puny Prius C passes the pumps

Toyota Prius C Three All photos by Gerry Miles

Toyota Prius C Three
All photos by Gerry Miles


Officially, the C in the Prius’ name stands for “city” where the smallest and most affordable aka cheapest edition of Toyota’s famed hybrid car line will provide the most dividends.  DSC_1764Perhaps, though, it should be an “e” for economy to get an EPA-rated 50 combined mpg is the prime factor folks will buy one.

As the runt of the four-model Prius litter, the C is also the smallest and the least expensive ($19,080) or cheap, but the C could also stand for the compromises needed to achieve the feat in this subcompact.

Compared to its larger midsized Prius – the only car introduced at the NY Auto Show where a hall full of auto journos in 1997 actually went silent to hear its intro price $19,995 – the C is 19.1 inches shorter (157.3 vs. 176.4 inches) and 542 pounds lighter (2,500 lbs. vs. 3,042 lbs.) to achieve its fuel efficiency.

That diet helps boost the fuel economy but it compromises the C in several other ways: the seats are supportive but relatively thin and best for short, city commutes and not visiting Aunt Bessie in Philadelphia; there’s a lot of plastic on the dash – the better to save weight with, and those hoping for a responsive time behind the wheel are shopping for the wrong car.

Bathed in 2014’s newest color – a retina-searing yellow called Sun Fusion – the C shows off a funky, wind-cheating style so common on many smaller cars today. It’ll appeal to the younger groups but still provides reasonable room up front.

DSC_1783The overall interior is clean, simple, and uncomplicated except for the number of options displayed on the information screen. The main dash features are centered, electronic and display a myriad of the car’s functions as well as tracking your prudent pedal pushing with each trip. However most controls are touch screen with only the temperature as the largest knob and the other climate controls as small buttons.

There’s plenty of leg and headroom up front, less so as expected in the back. The wind-cheating wedged-shape of today’s cars leaves little cargo or head space for adults in the back. Although the hatch opens wide, remember this is a subcompact built to sip gas and not perform weekend duty as a cargo mule.

A spare tire is included, housed under a two-piece large foam-like structure underneath a trunk mat that comes with the carpeted floor mats ($225) and a cargo net ($49). I wonder if the spare will be eliminated, as it has been in most cars these days, for an additional battery pack.

DSC_1762Power tops out at 99 horsepower with the 1.5-liter DOHC that boasts variable valve timing – just like Toyota’s Yaris – but produces just 73 hp compared to the 106 hp in the Yaris. The Hybrid Drive is tucked into the engine well while the battery is optimally placed under the left rear seat for weight distribution.

Output can be regulated in three modes: Eco, Normal and EV. To use the EV or battery mode, the shifter slides next to a large “B” however this mode requires one to drive under 25 mph for less than a mile.

Under way, the C is, as a certain coach is known to say, is what it is: an economy car that’s not meant to leave rubber from its 15-inch wheels behind. Even during city commutes the C’s motor protested too much when pressed for additional power before responding. At highway speeds the noise ratio rose, as did the wind noise and road noise. Passing a car becomes a planned event requiring time and distance. Merging onto the Spaulding Turnpike in Dover, N.H. was a tad frightening waiting for the automatic CVT trying to accumulate enough speed to stake out some pavement in the right lane before the oncoming traffic rushed upon the sawed off hatch’s backside.

Tradeoffs and piercing colors fade when your normal days to fill up are passed as the tank gauges shows plenty of petrol to keep motoring. When you can get 51 mpg, the C almost makes you want to slow down, watch the dashboard gas numbers rise, switch into Eco and be as stingy as Silas Marner.

Its diminutive size makes it easy to park in the city. Handling is somewhat light despite the thick steering wheel that’s meant to imply sturdiness and sportiness. Braking is reasonable, not that you’ll go that fast, and returns power to the battery in its regenerative form, as shown on the dash’s display.

At a time when gas prices are still fluctuating, the C offers an entry-level price into the hybrid market from the famed Prius lineup. Going green usually costs about $5,000 more green backs than a conventional model in many car lines. One has to consider if it’s mainly city stop-and-go driving where the benefit will be realized or not. A $5,000 hybrid tag can purchase more than 1,400 gallons of gas figured at $3.50 per gallon and provide a smaller monthly payment.

In comparison, the Yaris has nearly the same footprint as the C, more horsepower, a smaller suggested price that’s about $5,000 less and still owns EPA numbers in the 30s. It’s nice to have options.

The Prius C meets its mission as an affordable, non plug-in hybrid from the first family of hybrid technology. For a city commuter looking to max out the mileage and not the payment at the pump, the C is worth a look and a test drive.

Toyota Prius C Three

Toyota Prius C Three

2014 Toyota Prius C Three


Price, base (with destination): $21,765 ($810)

Options: $743

As Tested: $23,318

Fuel economy: 53-mpg city/46-mpg highway.

Globe observed: 51.0 mpg

Drivetrain: 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder, Hybrid Synergy Drive, Automatic CVT

Body: Four-door hatch


Horsepower: 73 hp

Torque: 82 lb-ft @ 1,850 rpm

Overall length: 157.3 inches.

Wheelbase: 100.4 inches.

Height: 56.9 inches

Width: 66.7 inches.

Curb weight: 2,500 lbs.


Not stopping at gas stations. Fuel economy. Rear hatch, folding seat augments cargo space. Spare tire.


Awful color, dash gauges too busy, thin seats.


A non-plugin hybrid that meets its mission of providing superb economy for city commuters.

Also consider: Toyota Yaris, Scion iQ, Ford C-Max Energi, Honda CR-Z, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2

Parents, Edmunds name 10 Best Family Cars for 2014

From Budget-Friendly Wheels to Sports-Equipment Haulers, a Car to Fit the Needs of Every Type of Family

NEW YORK, NY —For the seventh year in a row, Parents magazine and car-shopping site are revealing their list of the year’s 10 Best Family Cars, a trusted guide for moms and dads who are in the market for a new car. Car experts from both organizations examined hundreds of vehicles and whittled the list to the safest, most family-friendly subcompacts cars, large SUVs and everything in between. All the cars share the features that make daily family journeys easier, such as reliability, impressive mileage and ample cargo capacity.

“Whether they’re taking a summer road trip or just making a grocery run, families expect a lot from their vehicles,” says Parents Editor-in-Chief Dana Points. “Safety is every parent’s top priority, and we’re excited by how many manufacturers are now offering blind-spot mirrors and collision-avoidance systems in addition to multiple airbags and government-required electronic stability control.”

The list includes choices for everyone, from budget-conscious environmentalists to big families seeking more space. “The 10 Best Family Cars of 2014” appears in the July issue of Parentsmagazine and online at

“Every year we test drive hundreds of cars, crossovers and SUVs,” says Editor in Chief Scott Oldham. “We evaluate each vehicle from top to bottom, from safety and fuel economy to its performance, comfort and cup holders. We do this to save parents time during the car-shopping process and make it easier for them to buy the right vehicle to haul their family and their stuff.”

According to Parents and, “The 10 Best Family Cars of 2014” (with starting prices) are:


  • Mazda3 ($17,740)
  • Ford Fiesta ($14,925)


  • Toyota Prius ($25,010)


  • Mazda6 ($21,785)
  • Honda Accord  ($22,745)


  • Subaru Outback ($24,320)


  • Nissan Rogue ($23,650)


  • Hyundai Santa Fe ($30,750)
  • Chevrolet Traverse ($31,670)


  • Honda Odyssey ($29,655)

Technology made a big impression on Parents and editors. From lane departure warnings to the Honda Odyssey’s popular built-in vacuum, each vehicle offers an affordable technology upgrade for safety or comfort.

A few technology package highlights include:

  • Mazda 3– $2,600 technology package includes Smart City Brake Support, which slows or stops your car when its front laser sensor detects a possible collision with a vehicle or object.
  • Toyota Prius-A $1,500 embedded solar panel roof is an add-on that’s available on most trim levels. It powers a fan to circulate ambient air through the cabin to keep your car cool in the hot sun.
  • Honda Accord– Honda’s LaneWatch, which is available on the $25,670 EX trim level, helps you check your right-side blind spot for pedestrians, cars and other objects. When the driver engages the right turn signal, a camera in the passenger side door mirror activates, sending a wide-angle view of the right rear area to your in-vehicle display.

Ram 1500, Tesla Model S, Santa Fe, Foresters are new top picks in Consumer Reports annual list


Ram 1500 pickup first Chrysler model to make list in 16 years

YONKERS, NY — In its annual Top Picks list, Consumer Reports has crowned four new vehicles—the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ram 1500, Subaru Forester, and Tesla Model S—with the top honor in each of their respective categories.

For the first time in 16 years, a Chrysler earned a spot on the list with the Ram 1500 nabbing best Pickup Truck, a category that had taken a hiatus in 2013 because Consumer Reports had not yet tested two newly-released vehicles in that segment, the extensively updated Ram 1500 and the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra. The last Chrysler vehicle to earn Consumer Reports’ Top Pick honors was the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

“The competition in the marketplace has grown fierce. There was a time when a handful of brands dominated our Top Picks list, but in recent years we’ve seen a more diverse group make the cut,” said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports’ automotive editor.

Consumer Reports’ 2014 Top Picks list, Car Brand Report Cards and more from the annual auto issue were released at a press conference today before the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) in Washington, D.C. For more details and videos of the Top Picks, visit Consumer Reports’ 2014 Autos Spotlight.

The redesigned Subaru Forester knocked the Honda CR-V from the top of the Small SUV category, and the Hyundai Santa Fe took top honors in the Midsized SUV category.

Although pricey, the Tesla Model S nabbed Consumer Reports’ Top Pick for Best Overall vehicle for its exceptional performance and its many impressive technological innovations.

For the 11th consecutive year and 13th overall, the Toyota Prius reigns as Consumer Reports’ Top Pick for Green Car. The only other vehicle since 2001 to be named a Top Pick in the Green Car category was the Honda Civic Hybrid—which took the honor in 2003. The Prius continues to offer the best fuel economy, at 44 mpg overall, of any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle.

For the second year in a row, the Audi A6 and  the  BMW 328i  top  the  Luxury  Car  and  Sports Sedan categories respectively. Until last year, neither carmaker had a Top Pick in more than 10 years. The A6 was praised as a joy to drive and the 328i touted for setting the standard for sports sedans.

Consumer Reports’ Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories; chosen from more than 260 vehicles the organization has recently tested. Top Pick models must meet CR’s stringent criteria in three areas: road test, reliability, and safety. They must rank at or near the top of their category on overall road test scores; they must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on problems Consumer Reports’ subscribers reported on 1.1 million vehicles in the latest survey; and they must perform adequately if tested in crash or rollover tests by the government or the insurance industry.

The Honda Odyssey and Subaru Impreza round out Consumer Reports’ Top Picks List. The Honda Odyssey, Top Pick Minivan, is praised as the most complete family vehicle one can buy also offering decent fuel economy. For the fourth consecutive year, the Subaru Impreza has been named Top Pick Compact Car, with both the sedan and hatchback versions praised for their compliant ride and impressive fuel economy for all-wheel-drive cars.

Consumer Reports’ 2014 Top Picks By Category:

BEST OVERALL: Tesla Model S ($89,650)  This electric luxury vehicle offers blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, a compliant ride, and a versatile cabin with room for a small third-row seat. This technological tour de force, while pricey, is brimming with innovation and offers a 225-mile driving range and 5-hour charges with Tesla’s special connector.

MIDSIZED SEDAN: Honda Accord (4-cyl.) ($23,270)  This roomy, well-equipped, and competitively priced sedan gets a lot right and squeezes out an impressive 30 mpg overall and 40 on the highway which is as good as the tiny Honda Fit subcompact. Handling is agile, although the ride isn’t quite as comfortable as that in some competitors.

COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza  (sedan, $21,345; hatchback, $22,345)  This all-wheel-drive vehicle gives a lot for its affordable price. Both sedan and hatchback versions are well-rounded packages. They deliver nimble handling and an impressively compliant, absorbent ride that’s among the best in its class. For an AWD car, fuel economy is also commendable.

GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($26,750)  There’s no shortage of hybrids on the showroom floor; however none can match the combination of affordability, practicality, and fuel efficiency that the Prius delivers—which is why it leads in this category for the 11th year in a row. Its 44 mpg overall is still the best Consumer Reports has measured in any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle. And its roomy interior and hatchback versatility make it practical.

LUXURY CAR: Audi A6 ($56,295)  A joy to drive with its potent, supercharged V6 engine and super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission delivering invigorating power; the interior is an impeccably finished, first-class cabin brimming with the latest in high-tech features. And the A6 returns a respectable 22 mpg overall, even with all-wheel drive; the diesel-powered TDI delivers 28 mpg.

SPORTS SEDAN: BMW 328i ($43,195)  The 3 Series has long set the standard for sports sedans. The current, roomier, more luxurious model delivers excellent handling and a high fun-to-drive factor. It’s more fuel-efficient than past models, posting 28 mpg overall—the best among gas-powered models in its class.

SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814)  This user-friendly small SUV climbed to the top of the class after its 2014 redesign. With a space-efficient design and large windows and doors, it provides the easiest access and best visibility in its category; plus a class-leading 26 mpg overall and a frugal 35 mpg on the highway.

MIDSIZED SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe ($36,290)  Redesigned for 2013, this seven passenger mid-sized SUV provides a comfortable ride, a quiet interior, a limo-like rear seat, and generous cargo area—yet doesn’t feel too bulky to drive or park and offers a lot of features for the money. Its smooth, refined 290-hp V6 engine delivers a decent 20 mpg overall.

MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey ($36,830)  The most complete family vehicle available—easily carrying up to eight people—features comfy second- and third-row seats that can be configured in a myriad of ways to accommodate a wide range of cargo- and passenger-carrying needs. This minivan is relatively fun to drive and gets decent fuel economy too.

PICKUP TRUCK: Ram 1500 ($42,810)  With its 2013 freshening, the Ram is surprisingly refined and inviting. A coil-spring rear suspension—unique for full-sized pickups—makes it the most comfortable-riding truck. And the whisper-quiet cabin makes it feel like a luxury vehicle, while being able to get its hands dirty when duty calls.

Prius named best new car value for 2d straight year by Consumer Reports


Toyota's Prius took top honors for new car value for the second straight year in Consumer Reports annual ranking.

Toyota’s Prius took top honors for new car value for the second straight year in Consumer Reports annual ranking.

 Nissan Armada ranked lowest overall in CR’s annual Best- & Worst-Value Ranking


It may not be a surprise in these days of rising gas prices that a gas-sipping pioneer hybrid took top honors over a full-sized SUV that can haul plenty of people and parcels this holiday season with the greatest of ease but may require in-flight refueling.

Today, Consumer Reports crowned the Toyota Prius as  the best overall value for the automotive dollar and the Nissan Armada the worst in its annual Best New-Car Value analysis.

CR said the hybrid has the right combination of performance, reliability and low estimated five-year ownership costs of 47 cents per mile. Last year, the Prius unseated the perennial best-value leader, the Honda Fit and its four-year title run.

Nissan's full-sized SUV, Armada, received the lowest ranking for value, no doubt to a rise in gas prices.

Nissan’s full-sized SUV, Armada, received the lowest ranking for value, no doubt to a rise in gas prices.

It figures, that the Armada, a large SUV that gets only 13 mpg overall is said to cost $1.20 per mile – because it has a very different inherent mission than the Prius. However CR also noted that Armada scored poorly in its annual reliability survey.

Toyota and Lexus models placed at the top in three of the 10 categories that Consumer Reports analyzed—with the Prius taking top overall ranking and emerging in first place in the compact/subcompact cars category. The Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited is the top-scoring vehicle in the Large Cars group and the Lexus ES 300h is the top model in the Luxury Cars category.

Vehicles from Subaru and Mazda were also standouts in the analysis; each automaker had vehicles that topped the rankings in two categories. The Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium was the top-scoring vehicle in the Midsized Cars category and the Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium scored best among Small SUVs. The Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand ranked first overall in the Sports Cars/Convertibles category while the Mazda5 Grand Touring was best in the Wagons/Minivans group.

In creating its annual Best and Worst New-Car Values list, Consumer Reports rates performance, reliability, and owner-cost data to calculate a value score for more than 200 different vehicles ranging from small cars like the Hyundai Accent and Honda Fit to luxury sedans such as the Cadillac XTS and BMW 750Li.

“The Prius’ 44 mpg overall is the best fuel economy of any non-plug-in car that Consumer Reports has tested,” said Consumer Reports Automotive Editor Rik Paul. “Though it’s not particularly cheap to buy, the Prius’ depreciation is so low that it costs less to own over the first five years than its initial MSRP. We call that a bargain.”

The scores were calculated based on the five-year owner cost for each vehicle, along with Consumer Reports’ road-test score and the organization’s own predicted-reliability score from the latest Annual Auto Survey. The five-year owner cost estimates factor in depreciation, fuel, insurance premiums, interest on financing, maintenance and repairs, and sales tax. Depreciation is by far the largest owner-cost factor.

The 10 vehicle categories Consumer Reports included in this analysis:

  • Compact/Subcompact Cars
  • Midsized Cars
  • Large Cars
  • Luxury Cars
  • Sports Cars/Convertibles
  • Wagons/Minivans
  • Small SUVs
  • Midsized SUVs
  • Luxury/Large SUVs
  • Pickups

Here’s a look at the winners and losers in each of the categories:

  • – Compact /Subcompact Cars: Best, Toyota Prius Four; Worst, Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L
  • – Midsized Cars: Best, Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium; Worst, Nissan Altima 3.5 SL
  • – Large Cars: Best, Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited; Worst, Ford Taurus Limited
  • – Luxury Cars: Best, Lexus ES 300h; Worst, BMW 750Li
  • – Sports Cars/Convertibles: Best: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring; Worst, Chevrolet Camaro convertible 2SS (V8)
  • – Wagons/Minivans: Best, Mazda5 Grand Touring; Worst, Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L
  • – Small SUVs: Best, Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium; Worst, Ford Escape SE (1.6T)
  • – Midsized SUVs: Best, Nissan Murano SL; Worst, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
  • – Luxury/Large SUVs: Best, BMW X1 xDrive28i; Worst, Nissan Armada Platinum
  • – Pickups: Best, Honda Ridgeline RTS; Worst, Ford F-250 Lariat (6.7L V8)

Chevy cuts Volt $5,000 to charge sales

2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt


Think of it as a $5,000 VAT Rebate. From Chevy. And General Motors.

Because, they say, so many owners are so satisfied with the Chevy Volt, GM is cutting the price $5,000 to $34,995 (which includes the $810 destination fee) for the 2014 model year.

If you now figure in the federal tax credits, which range up to $7,500 reflective of your income tax range, the Volt could cost as little as $27,495.

Chevy, naturally, says the downturn in price results from the aggregated knowledge base from producing the Volt, making things better, faster, cheaper and the like. Others say it’s due to slow sales and the value-added pitch is just that…an advertising ploy.

“We have made great strides in reducing costs as we gain experience with electric vehicles and their components,” Don Johnson, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet sales and service. “In fact, the Volt has seen an increase in battery range and the addition of creature comforts, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and MyLink, since its launch in 2010.”

Chevy’s Volt lags in sales with the Nissan Leaf, which dropped its price earlier in the year and outpaces the GM product, as Nicole Wakelin wrote earlier this year.

Volt owners who charge their car regularly typically drive 900 miles between fill-ups and visit the gas station about once a month. The 2014 Volt will continue to provide owners with impressive fuel economy of 98 MPGe (electric) and 35 city/40 highway on gasoline power without any need to change their daily driving habits while saving $900 in annual fuel costs. Chevy claims Volt owners have logged 364 million miles, including 225 million electric miles in their famed plug-in.

Chevy proudly crows over 70 percent of its buyers are conquest buyers – or new to GM – and they add, not surprisingly – Chevy’s PR words not mine – the Prius is the most commonly traded vehicle for a Volt. That is surprising because the Volt is much smaller in person than it appears in pictures, has less backseat and hatch space than a Prius. Perhaps folks don’t care about versatility and opt for only the mpgs. Who knew?

The Gold Coast is not surprisingly (my words) Volt’s largest market. Volt’s low emissions earn it a “sticker” for single-occupancy HOV lane access in California and New York.

The Chevrolet Volt allows gas-free driving for an EPA-estimated 38 miles, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature. The range-extending engine gives the Volt up to 380 total miles of total driving range.

Oh yeah: here’s the value part that’s hidden at the bottom of the PR sheet: Volt will come in 2 new colors: Ashen Gray Metallic and Brownstowne Metallic. And don’t overlook the leather-wrapped steering wheel.