Category Archives: Auto Trivia

Mazda MX-5 wins Awards


The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Roadster was named the 2016 World Car of the Year, as well as the 2016 World Car Design of the Year. The only auto maker to have been nominated for both World Car and World Car Design, the MX-5 won in both categories. Joining its stablemate, the CX-3-was a finalist for the 2016 World Car Design of the Year, as well.

The fourth generation MX-5 is the first Japanese model to win the World Car Design of the Year award. Both the MX-5 and CX-3 are designed with the Mazda dynamic KODO-Soul of Motion design philosophy: Quality and style teamed with beauty and sophistication.

The MX-5 approaches one-million units of production; proof that Mazda s designs can connect with people all over the world.

2016 Scion FR-S

frs1Susan Frissell, PhD

Having spent a week in the Scion FR-S sport coupe, we were reminded of the original Celica of days past. A very popular little sport coupe, Celica’s demise was mourned by many. A stablemate to the Subaru BRZ, the FR-S has several good points; and a few not-so-good.

For 2016, Scion has given the FR-S its first meaningful update. Introduced in 2012,, the FR-s has had moderate success, in a category that is quickly disappearing. Minor changes include some visual tweaks and new trim for the cabin, two new exterior colors (Ablaze Red, Oceanic Blue), a new standard audio system, and new standard rearview camera.

The Scion FR-S raises pricing about t $400, bringing the MSRP to $26405 for the automatic, and manual $25,305. Not inexpensive, particularly for the Scion brand, the FR-S can be considered an “affordable” sports coupe.

The FR-S is for the most part, a fun coupe to drive. The ride is hard, but the seats are firm and supportive. The car is nimble and solid, offers high tech features for the young set, and of course, excels at safety equipment packages. We would have enjoyed driving it on some twisty roads rather than around town. Not just sure this writer would welcome it as a daily driver. But then, It’s not aimed at my demographic.

Sporty in looks, the FR-S has an aerodynamic look and feel, is well-built and economical. We found the center console cupholder feature annoying. The two-cup holder moves back/forth in the console but is in the way of the driver’s elbow. I spilled my coffee more than once.

We found that driving in Sport mode was more comfortable (less bumpy, more smooth) than standard mode. Getting the gearshift to move into gear proved more difficult than it needed to be. New features for 2016 on the FR-S include a 7-inch audio screen, featuring more resolution, a revised Nav system, connect Bluetooth (Aha lite, iTunes, tagging included on non-Nav model); standard backup camera, interior feature color changes (changed steering wheel bezel, door grips and center console side ornament to high brightness silver color).

The FR-S is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, with 200 horsepower. At 151 lb-ft, it’s not exactly a pocket rocket.. The engine is a variation of a Subaru design, with the addition of Toyota’s direct- and port-injection system.

Steering may not have the anticipated precision of a sports car, but it’s tight and performance-oriented. Brakes worked well, effective and not jerky. Tires are 17-inch, hold the road well and give the car a heavier feel

Sitting in the FR-S gives one the feel of a sports car, but getting in and out of it aren’t so pleasurable. The cabin is for the most part, quiet even with a small growl. It is a sporty vehicle, after all.

Head and leg room in the FR-S is more plentiful than expected. The small back seat space is hardly worth it, but could hold packages (or a 5-year-old), and the like. Some reviewers believe an adult passenger can fit in the rear seats; we’re not so sure.

Cargo space is what would be expected for a two-plus-two coupe. Not as much as a Corvette, for instance, but enough for a couple of suitcases and gear. Also helpful are the fold flat rear seats, opening up additional horizontal space.

Scion says the FR-S was designed to hold four wheels and tires, a toolbox, a helmet, and a driver–all you need for a basic day at the track. I suppose that could work. Our silver exterior color wouldn’t have been our choice for a sport coupe: Rather, the blue or yellow, maybe even red would be a better fit.

Standard features on the 2016 Scion FR-S are generous which makes up for a lack of many options. Consumers can choose most of the options and upgrades on their own rather than in the usual packages. We wish more manufacturers would operate this way.

Optional equipment available on the FR-S includes carpeted trunk and cabin floor mats, an ashtray kit, mud guards, wheel locks, suspension kits and larger wheels. Not on the option list is navigation. This seems strange as it is available on the Subaru BRZ.

Standard equipment includes manually adjustable six-way driver and four-way passenger front seats; fold-flat rear seats; a first-aid kit; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an eight-speaker audio system; USB/Bluetooth/auxiliary inputs; and more.

Competition for the Scion FR-S includes Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, Nissan 370Z and Miata MX5. Some pretty hefty choices.


MSRP: $26,405; total vehicle price $27,175; destinaiton $770

Engine: 2.0-liter H-4, 4-cylinder Boxer DOHC, 16-valve, 200 hp., 151 lb. ft. torque

Transmission: six-speed sequential automatic w/paddle shifters, Dynamic Rev Management

Wheelbase: 101.2 in.

Length: 166.7 in.

Height: 50.6 in.

Width: 69.9 in.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.

Tires: 215/45R17 all-season

Wheels: 17-inch alloy

Countdown of the 15 “Hottest New Cars”

The ‘hottest’ new cars of 2015, according to columnist Jim Gorzelany include:

*Ford F150 truck: long-awaited redesign
*Midsize Pickups: Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon
*Large SUV’s: GM models Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/XL and Cadillac Escalade/ESV
*CUV’s: Chevrolet Trax/Jeep Renegade, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC
*More Crossover SUVS
*First sporty SUV: Porsche Macan
*New Luxury models: Audi A3, Kia K900, Hyundai Genesis, Acura TLX, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, S63 AMG, MB S550 Coupe-redesigned, renamed
*Muscle car: Corvette Z06
*Italian Sports Cars: Alfa Romeo 4C
*Exotic Supercar: Porsche 918 Spyder

*Less worthy models: Chrysler 200, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Sonata-redesigned, MB C-Class, Mini Cooper Hardtop, Subaru Legacy and Outback.

Jim’s Picks for the Least Exciting Cars:

15. Smart 4Two
14. Scion iQ
13. Nissan Titan-redesigned
12. Nissan Armada
11. Mitsubishi Mirage
10. Mitsubishi MiEV
9. Lincoln MKT
8. Lincoln MKS
7. Jeep Wrangler
6. Jeep Patriot
5. Jeep Compass
4. Fiat 500L (not competitive to CUV’s on mkt)
3. Dodge Journey
2. Cadillac XTS (among industry’s worst values
1. BMW-7 Series (lost its edge)

reprinted from Jim Gorzelany in Autos column

Racer Tommy Kendall Receives Award

Tommy Kendall, Motorsports race-car driver recently received the Shav Glick award for his significant contributions to motorsports. Awarded annually in California by Justice Brothers, the award is named for LA Times Sportswriter Shav Glick and has been presented since 2000.wpe7a23fed_05_06

Mitsubishi Ends 2014 with Sales Increase

Mitsubishi Motors of America is singing their praises about a jump in sales for the year 2014. When many are wondering whether/not they will survive in the United States market, total sales for 2014 was 77,643 units or, a 24.8 percent increase over 2013. The brand’s strong momentum through 2014 was carried into December, which was the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. December sales of 6,545 units mark the best December for Mitsubishi since 2006.

Highlights of the 2014 sales include a 24.5 percent increase from 2013 for the Outlander Sport and a 6.4 percent increase from 2013 for Outlander. According to Don Swearingen, Executive V.P. MMNA, Mirage continued its strong sales pace with 1,135 units sold.

Americans are Holding onto Cars Longer

Research indicates that Americans are keeping their vehicles longer than ever. In 2013, the average age of a vehicle was 11.4 years, according to HIS Automotive. The average age of the American car in the last several years is as follows:

2004: 9.4 years

2005: 9.5 years

2006: 9.7 years

2007: 9.8 years

2008: 10.0 years

2009: 10.3 years

2010: 10.6 years

2011: 10.6 years

2012: 11.2 years

2013: 11.4 years

(Source: Tulsa World, 2014)

10 Cars Americans Don’t Want to Buy

Believe or not, there is a list compiled for those cars consumers don’t want to buy. Compiled by TrueCar, the statistics report the average time a new car spends on a dealer’s lot after they take delivery.

10) Toyota Scion: 90.2 days

9) Dodge Avenger: 96.5 days

8) Lincoln MKS: 97.0 days

7) Chevy Tahoe: 101.5 days

6) Chrysler 200: 102.5 days

5)Jaguar XK: 102.7 days

4) GMC Yukon: 112 days

3) Cadillac Escalade: 115.5 days

2) Mitsubishi Outlander: 117.1 days

1) Volvo S60: 155.5 days throws out some recent Auto Stats

December 6, 2012

16 is the most common age to get a first car

          15% of respondents have never owned a car
          61% have named their car
          17% of respondents are OK if someone smokes in their car
o   When broken down to smokers vs. non-smokers, 67% of smokers are OK if someone smokes in the car, while only 6% of non-smokers are OK with someone smoking
          92% said that they always or usually wear their seatbelts
          80% of parents expect their passengers to buckle up
( buyer’s guide to new and used cars survey results on the car habits of consumers, coast to coast)

Auto Trivia

*Since 2008, several vehicles have experienced a jump in mpg as they strive to keep ahead of rising gas prices and meet their fleet’s fuel economy requirements. The biggest strides go to the Audi A3, which climbed 38.5 percent and is at 29.1 mpg for 2012. An example:

Rank/Make/Model MPG 2008 MPG 2012
1. Audi A3 21.0 29.1
2. Chevy Equinox 19.0 25.1
3. Kia Sorento 17.0 22.2
4. Dodge Challenger 15.0 19.5
5. Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class 17.9 23.0
6. Ford Explorer 15.4 19.5
7. Hyundai Sonata 22.0 27.7
8. Porsche Cayenne 14.7 18.3
9. Buick LaCrosse 20.9 26.0
10. VW Passat 21.8 27.0
(Chicago Tribune, 3/18/2012)

*Long-time automotive journalist for Autoweek Patrick C. Paternie died March 10 at the age of 65. Though tragic, and too soon, Paternie suffered a heart attack while finishing a race at Willow Springs in his Porsche 911. As he pulled into the pit area, he succombed and medical crew at the track tried to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Writing for Autoweek since 2000, Paternie covered a wide variety of subjects, from concours to Corvettes, driving Mustangs and motorcycles. His whole career was spent writing about and enjoying cars. RIP Patrick.

•For the seventh straight year, consumer voters proclaimed their favorites in five categories in the Chicago Auto Show’s “Best of Show” balloting. In voting conducted over the 10-day public run of the nation’s biggest auto show, winners in the contest’s five categories were:
Best All-New Production Vehicle: Ford Shelby GT500
• Best Concept Vehicle: Lexus LF-LC
• Best Green Vehicle: Chevrolet Volt
• Best Exhibit: Jeep
• Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway: Ford Shelby GT500

According to LoJack’s 2011 Vehicle Theft Recovery Report:

2011 Ranking                                                                   2010 Ranking

1. Honda Accord                                                                1

2. Toyota Camry                                                                3

3. Honda Civic                                                                    2

4. Acura Integra                                                                 4

5. Toyota Corolla                                                                6

6.  Nissan Altima                                                                8

7.  Nissan Maxima                                                              9

8. Cadillac Escalade                                                            5

9. Chevrolet Tahoe                                                             10

10. Ford F250 Pick Up                                                       (new)

LoJack’s Most Stolen and Recovered Vehicles by Year, Make, Model (Less than 5 yrs. old):

2011                                                                                      2010

1. 2007 Toyota Camry                                                         1

2. 2010 Toyota Corolla                                                      (new)

3. 2007 Cadillac Escalade                                                   4

4. 2009 Toyota Camry                                                         2

5. 2007 Toyota Corolla                                                      (new)

Most Stolen and Recovered 2011 Models:

1. Toyota Camry

2. Mercedes-Benz C300

3. Ford F-350 Series

4. Honda Civic

5. Toyota Corolla

States with Most Stolen and Recovered Vehicles:

2011 Ranking                                                 2010 Ranking

1. California                                                         1

2. Texas                                                                2

3. Florida                                                             3

4. New York                                                        4

5. New Jersey                                                      6

6. Massachussetts                                               5

7. Maryland                                                          8

8. Arizona                                                             7

9. Georgia                                                             9

10. Nevada                                                           10

Interesting Recovery Factoids:

Oldest Stolen Vehicle Recovered: 1948 Chevy Fleetline

Most Expensive Stolen Vehicle Recovered: 2010 Mercedes-Benz S63 AM, worth approx. $116,825

First Recovery of the Year: 2008 Nissan Altima on Jan. 1st at 2:20 am

Last Recovery of the Year: 1995 Honda Accord on Dec 31st at 11:19 pm

Percentage Increase of Stolen Hybrids Recovered in 2011 vs. 2010: 19 percent

Average NADA Value of Stolen and Recovered Vehicles: $11,850

Most common colors: White, Silver, Black, Gray and Blue

*The Top 10 Ugly Cars (

*Toyota Tercel Wagon, 1983-1987                          *Honda Accord Crosstour, 2010-present

*Ford Mustang SVO, 1984-1986                              *Lincoln MKT, 2010-present

*Ford Probe, 1989-1992                                            *Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, 2011-present

*Chevy Lumina APV, 1990-1993

*Ford Taurus, 1996-1999

*Subaru B9 Tribeca, 2006-2007

*BMW 5-Series GT, 2010-present


*What are the differences in gender between men and women drivers? Author Tom Vanderbilt (Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do) thinks he knows:

*Eighty-one percent of men wore seatbelts in 2009;      *Eighty-seven percent of women wore seatbelts in 2009;      *Male drivers drink more often when driving and were involved        in 25 percent of fatal crashes in 2008;      *Thirteen percent of female drivers were involved in fatal car crashes        in 2008. Because women are driving more, says Vanderbilt, more speeding and aggressive behaviors are noted in female drivers. Driving behavior and driving performance are two different things. Although in studies male drivers performed better statistically, during actual driving experiences, males are involved in more serious crashes. (AAA Living, March/April 2011)

*How Do Men and Women Compare when Car Shopping?

The Top 10 models with the highest percentage of male buyers in 2010:      *Porsche 911      *GMC Sierra      *Chevrolet Corvette      *Chevrolet Silverado      *Ford F-Series      *BMW M3      *Ford Ranger      *Toyota Tundra      *Dodge Ram      *Audi S5

The Top 10 models with the highest percentage of female buyersin 2010:      *VW New Beetle      *Kia Spectra      *Nissan Rogue      *VW EOS      *Hyundai Entourage      *Volvo S40      *Jeep Compass      *Honda CR-V      *Nissan Sentra      *Hyundai Tucson

*According to the American Automobile Association, in 2010 it cost more than $8,500 to drive a midsize sedan 15,000 miles, factoring in gasoline, maintenance, insurance and depreciation.

*According to the the Manheim used-car price index, compact used cars sell for almost 17 percent more than they did in the summer of 2010