Don’t think that Mexican-made will automatically mean substandard quality: the Ford Fusion is built in Mexico, and won top honors in a new survey released this week by San Diego-based research firm Strategic Vision. According to survey respondents, the Fusion is the best medium-sized car on the market. The results of the 2006 Total Quality Awards also show that imports are dominating traditional domestic strongholds, while the Detroit Three are gaining ground in the traditional car segments. While the Fusion took top honors in the medium car segment over stalwarts like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Honda Ridgeline beat out the best-selling Ford F-150 in the full-size pickup category. Other winners from Honda included the Civic and the Odyssey, while General Motors fielded the greatest number of domestic winners – including the Chevrolet Corvette and Saturn VUE. BMW took the best brand slot for the seventh time in eight years, while Volkswagen received recognition for the best overall model lineup.
If you’re like most people, however, you probably want more features for less money. If that’s your style, take a look at the 2006 Lincoln LS. The factory rebate for the LS is $8,000, available between now and July 31. The Lincoln LS is a fine luxury sport sedan with rear-wheel drive, entertaining handling, and a strong V8 engine. Despite its age and status as a lame duck in the market, we’d recommend the LS for its fun-to-drive nature, THX-certified audio system, comfortable front seats, and handsome design.
While Volkswagen cuts content and prices and Lincoln is blowing out V8-powered luxury sedans, Toyota is busy doing what it does best: engineering new four-cylinder engines that get better fuel economy, produce lower emissions, and make added power. Debuting this fall in Japan’s redesigned Corolla, the company’s new 1.8-liter engine does all of these things, while weighing less. Look for this engine to make it Stateside for 2008.
High gas prices, evidently here to stay, are taking a toll on the resale values of SUVs, which have dropped quicker than President Bush’s approval rating. In May, the average price of a full-sized SUV at auction was 5.8 percent lower than in April, and 10 percent lower than one year ago. The cost of fuel is also hitting the pickup truck segment hard. Truck sales have stalled, and analysts expect a price war to break out this summer to reduce the glut of inventory of about 660,000 full-size pickups sitting on dealer lots. With a new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra coming soon, and a new Texas-built and -sized Tundra due this fall, it is imperative to get the stockpiles moving off dealer lots this July and August, which means good deals for consumers.
One car that won’t be testing its safety equipment anytime soon is owned by Grand Prix Motors of Los Angeles. Ranking as the most expensive lawn ornament in history, the 1.7 million dollar Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR went out for its first test drive, got 10 blocks down the road, and quit. Now the dealership is suing Mercedes-Benz USA because it has been unable to get the car, which needs a new engine, repaired. Mercedes-Benz USA says that Grand Prix Motors has no case. The dealer bought the car direct from Germany, a model never imported by Mercedes-Benz USA, an organization which has neither the parts nor training to service a CLK-GTR.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers