Talking Cars (HQ)

In what's become an annual tradition, we take a look back at the cars that stood out over the last year, both the good and the bad. But no review of 2015 would be complete without discussing the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Our testing reveals that VW themselves may have created an efficient alternative to diesels, with their new 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. Moving on, we look at the cars that most impressed us. It was a good year for SUVs, with mentions going to the Kia Sorento, Ford Edge, and Volvo XC90. We're even more in agreement about the test cars we disliked the most over the last year, including the Fiat 500X, Acura ILX, and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Direct download: 1512ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_84_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 2:13pm EDT

This week on the “Talking Cars with Consumer Reports” we hit the track with two spectacular Mercedes-Benz AMG models; the $140,000 AMG GT and the $80,000 C63 AMG. There's no question they're wildly different in looks, price, and practicality, but they share the same heart and intention. All of this high-powered excitement has lead us to wonder about the future of BMW. Is Mercedes-Benz considered the new "Ultimate Driving Machine”?

Direct download: 1512ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_83_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

A new Honda Civic is always big news. After the misstep of the previous generation, Honda takes a big leap with this new-from-the-ground-up 10th generation. After lots of viewer inquiries, we've got Consumer Reports' first impressions. While the new Civic is a transformation, the redesigned Lexus RX sticks true to its highly successful formula, even if that's not evident at first glance. We discuss the cars that are liked least by their owners, fresh from our 2015 owner satisfaction survey. A lot hinges on meeting buyer expectations, and Nissan appears to be falling behind. Finally, we help a viewer find a safe and easy-to-drive car for his elderly mom.

Direct download: 1511ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_82_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jake and Tom hit the highway in our Tesla Model S P85D to discuss its Autopilot system, which can steer the car and keep it within its lane on its own. There are some advantages to the system, especially on long highway trips and in stop-and-go traffic, but this beta-level system is still working out some bugs. We also talk about the temptations posed by the technology, both for increasing distracted driving and for using it on roads where it is far from optimized. Finally, we contrast Tesla owners' willingness to purchase and try out this system, compared to the difficulty typical car buyers have in understanding the value of advanced safety systems like forward collision warning and autobraking.

Direct download: 1511ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_81_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey covers more than 740,000 vehicles. The 2015 survey results are out, and we discuss the trends, highlights, and lowlights in this year's results.

Direct download: 1510ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_80_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:45pm EDT

Many of the car buying questions we receive come from viewers requesting all-wheel-drive. But having four driven wheels isn't enough to ensure wintertime safety. Testing at the Consumer Reports test track found that AWD can help you get moving, but does nothing to help you corner or stop in the snow. For that, you need winter tires. We also evaluate three popular small SUVs - the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V - at our track to see how they fare in the snow, results that are also backed up by exclusive Consumer Reports survey data. Reader questions inquire about AWD sedans, Subaru manual shifters, and comparing the Mazda CX-3 and Mazda3.

Direct download: 1509ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_79_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Volkswagen admits to cheating on EPA emissions testing for its TDI diesels, subjecting it to possibly billions of dollars in fines. Talking Cars digs into the issue and what it might mean for owners. If you own one of these cars, we'd love to hear how this has affected you; please visit ConsumersUnion.org/vw-stories.

Direct download: 1509ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_78_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

Talking Cars gets lots of questions and comments; we love feedback from our loyal viewers and listeners! It's been a while since we've done a question-only episode, so we're making up for lost time. No surprise: we got lots of comments about the test results of the Tesla Model S P85D. Viewers comment on whether the Model S can be a practical only-car, the merits of home recharging, how we scored the P85D, and whether you need to be able to afford a Tesla in order to rate it. Moving on, we answer questions about sports sedans, cars for new drivers and going off to college, and replacing a well-worn Honda Odyssey minivan.

Direct download: 1509ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_77_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

It's official: the Tesla Model S P85D "broke" Consumer Reports' ratings scale. We explain why the P85D earned this distinction, and how we ultimately scored it a 100. As we discuss though, that doesn't mean the P85D is the perfect car. For starters, there's the matter of its $127,820 price tag. 

Direct download: 1508ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E76_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Scion makes a near-clean sweep of their product lineup, adding the new iA and iM. We take a look back at the genesis of Toyota's youth-oriented brand, and discuss how things didn't quite work out as expected. Although the funky xB box-on-wheels is gone, both the iA and iM prove surprisingly satsifying to drive, especially at their sub-$20,000 price tags. We also answer viewer questions about Episode #74 on tiny SUVs, including the perceived omission of the Kia Soul, Subaru XV Crosstrek, and Nissan Juke.

Direct download: 1508ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E75_HQ1.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Subcompact SUVs have become a new market niche, as automakers create SUVs to match every conceivable buyer whim and budget. We discuss what you gain - and what you give up - when you buy a super-small SUV, illustrated by our test results for the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade. This trio isn't that impressive, but we hold out hope for the promising Mazda CX-3. Moving on, we highlight Consumer Reports' research into car insurance premiums; you may be surprised by what dictates your rates. Much more information is online at www.consumerreports.org/fixcarinsurance. Finally, we answer a viewer question, one that we hear a lot these days: how do you pick between a Subaru Outback and a Volkswagen Golf SportWagen? 

Direct download: 1508ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_74_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Some cars burn a lot of oil between oil changes. An extensive look through Consumer Reports' survey data highlights which engines are most likely to suffer this problem. Many German brands appear on the list, as well as Subaru. We discuss the factors behind this trend, how various automakers are responding, and what consumers can do. We then dig through the digital mailbag, answering viewer comments about choosing a sports sedan.

Direct download: 1507ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E73_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

It doesn't get more "all-new" than the Volvo XC90, as the Swedish brand redesigns their flagship SUV from the ground up. In many ways, this car is a revolution for Volvo, featuring all four-cylinder powerplants, high-tech infotainment, and a stunning interior. Two station wagons get rather different receptions from our panel. The Volvo V60 Cross Country doesn't make a convincing case, while the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen proves appealing despite quibbles over its TDI diesel engine. We then answer a reader's question about which sports sedan to purchase, only to find that giving clear advice is tougher than it seems. 

Direct download: 1506ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E72_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jake and Tom talk about final test results for the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Colorado, recorded while driving around the track in our F-150 2.7-liter. While the F-150's engineering is revolutionary, the driving experience winds up being surprisingly mundane and truck-like, ultimately costing the truck points in our tests. Likewise, the Colorado finally gives the compact truck market a modern competitor, but it too has a host of flaws. How much those flaws matter to individuals winds up being a point of discussion, revolving around yet another viewer asking about buying a Mazda6. Another viewer complains about us complaining about the Mazda MX-5 Miata's seats. Finally we answer which is more enjoyable to drive: the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ or the Miata?

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E71_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

A new Mazda MX-5 Miata doesn't come along everyday, so the new 4th generation car is big news. While so many cars grow with each redesign, the Miata fights this inevitable bloat. Jake argues that the Miata's biggest competition is the wide variety of used Miatas available at any time; Tom hopes that people keep buying new ones so he can get one used someday. Moving on, the CX-3 small SUV brings the Miata's DNA to the subcompact SUV market, a segment that really lacked a truly desirable product. Finally, the Honda Pilot finally gets redesigned for 2016. While not immune from all of Honda's recent product gaffes (like annoying audio controls,) the Pilot proves appealing at first glance.

Direct download: 1505ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_70_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Two Ford F-150s were purchased for our test fleet, one with the familiar 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and the other with Ford's new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. Acceleration results from our test track proved surprising. Less surprising were the fuel economy numbers from the lightweight aluminium-bodied truck; we put those into perspective. In other news, our Tesla Model S P85D suffers an early malfunction, highlighting Tesla's customer service. We then reach deep into the mailbag, answering a variety of inquiries. Vehicle collaborations that were reliable, comparing the VW GTI to the Golf R, Acura ILX hate mail, sporty small SUVs, and the forgotten Mazda CX-9 are all discussed.

Direct download: 1505ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E69_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jeep sales are setting new records, driven by models like the new Renegade. These models might help Fiat-Chrysler Group’s balance sheet, but do they risk alienating traditionalists? To find out, we invited George to bring in his off-road-ready 1999 Jeep Cherokee. Other than mercilessly mocking his project Jeep’s various shortcomings, we talk about how the Renegade fits with the brand, how it matches customer expectations, and if it’s a good value or not. Next we answer some reader complaints about reliability and recommendations, particularly comparing the Jeep Cherokee and Volkswagen Golf. Finally, we look at the VW Golf R, the top-trim model of the legendary GTI hot hatch. As expected, the gang is split on the car’s appeal and value.

Direct download: 1504ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_68_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

We see it all the time in the YouTube comments: questions about the Mazda6 and CX-5. Both models were updated for 2016, so Talking Cars highlights the changes. Both cars stay true to form, with sharp handling and impressive fuel economy. We discuss if Mazda was successful in reducing interior noise, long a brand shortcoming. Also updated for 2016 is the Acura ILX. Despite changes, the car doesn't reach far beyond its Honda Civic roots, making us seriously question its $30,000 price tag.

Direct download: 1304ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_67_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Back in Episode #62, we asked our Talking Cars viewers if we should buy a Tesla Model S P85D, and heard a resounding "yes." Your support and interest was one reason for us to buy our most expensive test car yet. While the P85D delivers "insane" performance combined with impressive energy efficiency, that wasn't the only reason for our purchase. This latest Model S also offers Autopilot, with upcoming software updates that will make the Model S one of the first self-driving cars you can buy.

Direct download: 1504ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_66_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Talking Cars hits the road, covering the 2015 New York Auto Show in an episode recorded right from the show floor. Honda surprises everyone with a 10th generation Civic. Old-school rivals Cadillac and Lincoln face-off, with the soon-to-production CT6 and the Continental concept. Lexus goes down a different road with the now-sportier RX: will it alienate previous buyers? The Chevrolet Malibu loses hundreds of pounds, yet gains four inches of needed rear seat room. While the Malibu looks way different from the previous car, it takes a much closer eye to spot the changes in the redesigned Kia Optima. The new Nissan Maxima draws on its oddly enduring brand equity. Subaru teases us with a BRZ STi while Scion outsources their iA and brings out a Corolla-based iM hatchback. Finally, the Volkswagen Golf Sportswagen Alltrack sets off a discussion about mainstream vs. enthusiast wagons.

Direct download: 1504NYAS_Talking_Cars_Episode_65_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Other car companies promise self-driving cars, coming years in the future. Tesla just shrinked that timeframe to months, thanks to software updates to the Model S. With the technology leading legislation, this raises a bunch of questions. We discuss how the car is becoming a rolling supercomputer, how that affects vehicle design, and what this all means for driving enthusiasts. 

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E64_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The magic number for this episode is "two." We look at two new two-row SUVs, the Ford Edge and Lexus NX, both powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinders. While the Lexus tries to be sporty (with some success), the 2015 Edge winds up being the better "Lexus," thanks to a redesign that transforms the car. Normally Toyota does hybrids well, but the hybrid NX300h isn't as fulfilling as the turbocharged NX200t. Viewer feedback ran deep from our annual Top Picks episode, asking about the lack of a sports car pick and our small car choice. Finally, we talk about the possibility of buying a Tesla Model S P85D.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E63_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Coinciding with our annual April auto issue, it's time to reveal Consumer Reports' Top Picks for 2015. Selections have to be among the top-scoring cars in their category, and must have average or better reliability according to our survey data. Two big trends emerge this year: American brands are fighting back, taking three of the ten top spots. Subaru also continues to dominate, grabbing three of the other spots. We discuss each pick, why there isn't a choice for top pickup truck this year, and look at some cars that almost made the list.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E62_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:45pm EDT

Right now, it feels like we're buying nothing but SUVs for the Consumer Reports test fleet. The two latest additions are the Kia Sorento and Chevrolet Trax. While the Sorento is a well-finished rival to rivals like the Toyota Highlander, the Trax literally comes up short - except for its optimistic price tag. We then dive into the viewer mailbag, answering questions about wintertime testing. Finally, several viewers didn't agree with us about the Cadillac Escalade, as discussed on episode #60.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E61_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

They're both big, plush, and expensive: the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator join the Consumer Reports test fleet. Each scores points in this skirmish in different ways, but we can't help thinking that this segment's heyday has come and gone. We also look at the new Nissan Murano, which aims for a upscale look and feel at a price point dominated by family haulers. After complaining about the Murano's steering feel, we debate how much that matters to its buyers. Finally, we answer two viewer questions from the Detroit Auto Show: Could Buick build the Avenir concept car without stepping on Cadillac's toes? And, could brands other than Volvo overcome the reputational baggage that comes with selling Chinese-built cars in America?

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E60_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

We cover all the news from the 2015 Detroit Auto Show floor! High-performance was a theme, whether it's supercars like the Acura NSX and Ford GT, or off-road-oriented trucks like the Ford Raptor and Ram Rebel. Diesel pickups also build up speed, with a fuel-efficient version of the Ram EcoDiesel and the new Nissan Titan XD. A revised Toyota Tacoma suggests new life in the small truck market, and Hyundai shows their Santa Cruz small truck concept. Buick has a strong show, with the stunning Avenir and the Cascada ragtop. Turns out our predictions for North American Car/Truck of the Year were half right, with the Ford F-150 taking the prize for trucks, but the VW Golf topping the Mustang among cars. We also look at new stuff from Volvo, Infiniti, and Lincoln.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E59_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Maybe CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show, but the big Las Vegas event is becoming a car show in its own right. We look at the latest technology coming from the show floor, and discuss the impact when (or if) it hits the showroom. Automated or self-driving cars stole the show, with Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz showing off their latest. Alternative fuel news includes Toyota allowing other companies to use their fuel cell patents, much like Tesla did with their electric car development. Gesture controls are all the rage, but we question how much they will really reduce driver distraction. Finally, new infotainment systems look promising. Ford dumps MyFord Touch for Sync3, and Hyundai and Volkswagen debut systems that use both Apple's CarPlay and Android Auto.

Direct download: 1501ATC_Talking_Cars_S01E58_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm EDT