Thursday, 31 March 2011

Who made the best cars in 2010?

Who made the best cars in 2010?

Consumer Reports - Consumer Reports
Honda and Subaru still make the best vehicles overall, but Ford posted the largest gain in the past year, improving in its road-test and reliability scores. General Motors and Volvo also improved in both areas. On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer whose scores dropped in both measures.
More from

Consumer Reports’ annual auto issue
Complete ratings for 200 cars and trucks
Our automaker report cards reflect the performance, comfort, utility, and reliability of more than 270 vehicles that we've recently tested. Here are other highlights from this year's analysis:
  • Honda, Subaru, and Toyota are the top three automakers for the third year in a row. Most of their vehicles do well in our tests and are relatively trouble-free
  • Newer GM models have performed well in our tests, but the company still fields a few lackluster cars that drag down its overall score. Reliability has improved, but it's still not stellar.
  • Chrysler came in last, with the lowest average test score by far. But the company, now run by Italian automaker Fiat, is currently overhauling its lineup. Newer models, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram, have done better in our tests than older models, and we're encouraged by our early looks at upcoming redesigns. Chrysler's reliability needs to improve for the automaker to be competitive.
European cars perform well in our tests, but many have confusing controls and inconsistent reliability. Volvo is the only European make with an above-average reliability score.
Each automaker's overall score is based on a composite of road-test and predicted-reliability scores for all of its models that we've tested. The road tests comprise more than 50 tests we perform, covering performance, safety, fuel economy, comfort, and convenience. Reliability scores come from our Annual Auto Survey. We also show the percentage of each carmaker's tested vehicles that we recommend. We revised our methodology this year, now giving equal weight to reliability and test scores. Previously, test scores carried more weight. So the overall scores are not directly comparable with last year's. We also had insufficient data on one brand we included last year, Mitsubishi.
Asian makes lead the pack
Honda, including its Acura division, has had the best reliability record of any manufacturer and has made mostly good to outstanding vehicles. The subcompact Fit, midsized Accord, and Acura MDX SUV have been at or near the top of their categories for years. In fact, no Honda product scores less than average in reliability. But some new Hondas have been unimpressive, including the CR-Z and Insight hybrids, which didn't score well enough in our tests to be recommended. The redesigned Odyssey, still our top-ranked minivan, dropped a few points in our testing.
Subaru, which has the highest average road-test score, makes only about a half-dozen models, but almost all do well in our road tests and have been reliability stalwarts. The Forester is a top-rated small SUV, and the Legacy, a good-performing sedan, has improved with each generation. Only one model, the sporty Impreza WRX, has below-average reliability.
Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models remain solid choices overall, but some newer Toyotas have slipped in interior fit and finish, with the Sienna minivan and Venza wagon being two recent examples. Two Toyotas, the subcompact Yaris and the FJ Cruiser SUV, have shown superb reliability but scored too low in our road tests for us to recommend them. Hyundai's overall road-test score is a bit higher than last year's and could further improve with the impressive new models we are now testing.
Ford rules Detroit
Ford has outpaced its crosstown rivals in reliability in recent years. In our road tests, we have been impressed by current Fords such as the Fusion, Flex SUV, and Mustang. Even the new small Fiesta drives nicely. But the Ford Escape and Edge SUVs are nothing special, the large Ford Taurus has limited visibility, and the touch-sensitive controls in some new Fords and Lincolns are difficult to use.
Newer GM vehicles such as the Buick Enclave and LaCrosse, and the Chevrolet Equinox and Traverse, have done well in our road tests and have average reliability. The new Chevrolet Cruze performed well in our tests, but reliability remains to be seen. The below-average reliability of some Cadillac and GMC models hurts the automaker's overall score, as did subpar older models such as the Chevrolet Impala sedan, Colorado pickup, and the outgoing Aveo subcompact.
Europe is mixed
If front-seat comfort, fit and finish, and driving dynamics were all that counted, European cars would rule the roost. As it is, subpar reliability hounds some European brands. Volkswagen's brand reliability has improved of late, but Audi's spotty reliability brings the combined automaker's score down. If the new Jetta sedan, with its low-grade interior and mediocre fuel economy, is an indication of where Volkswagen is headed, it's going in the wrong direction. Mercedes-Benz and BMW, with below-average reliability, are near the bottom of our ranking. Their SUVs, especially, had reliability problems, according to our survey, despite being good performers. And although the BMW 1 Series has an excellent road-test score, it is hobbled by terrible reliability.

via yahoo

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Giving Car to Charity

10 Tips on How to donate a car to Charity

Before you hand one of your biggest assets over to anyone, read the following tips to be sure you’re making the right moves.

1. Avoid middlemen.
    Numerous for-profit intermediary organizations advertise aggressively on TV, billboards and elsewhere, offering to help you donate your vehicle to charity. Here’s the catch: These organizations typically keep about 50 percent to 90 percent of the vehicle’s value for themselves, and the charities don’t get what they could have gotten. To prevent this, check directly with charities you admire and find out whether they accept car  donations.

2. Find a worthy charity. If the charities you normally support aren’t equipped to accept such donations, do some homework until you find a reputable charity that is.

3. Check the math. If you still feel compelled to use an intermediary organization – possibly because you’re busy – at least ask the organization how much of the car’s value will go to charity. If the organization simply gives charities flat fees — say, $100 for a used vehicle regardless of its value, or $2,000 a month — your donation may not be eligible for a tax deduction.
4. Know the status of your recipient. In order for you to qualify for a deduction, the charity that gets your donation must be an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) organization. Your church, synagogue, mosque or temple likely qualifies. (Check first just to make sure.) 
5. Do the delivery yourself. Once you’ve identified a worthy charity, recognize that it will have to pay someone to pick up your car or boat for you. To help the charity maximize the benefit of your donation, drop the car  off yourself.
6. Transfer the vehicle with care. Want to eliminate all risk of running up parking tickets and other violations after you’ve said goodbye to your donated vehicle? Then formally re-title the vehicle to the charity, and report the transfer to your state’s department of motor vehicles or licensing. Never agree to leave the ownership space on the charity donation papers blank.
7. Your estimate of the donation’s value probably won’t cut it. If your car  is worth more than $500, the IRS is going to want to see evidence of how much the charity got for it. (Most charities that accept these donations turn around and sell them for cash.) You’ll need to get a receipt from the charity revealing exactly how much money it made.
8. Know when you can report the fair market value. You won’t need evidence of the sales price if the charity keeps the vehicle and uses it in its charitable work, or if your donation is worth less than $500.
9. Keep a thorough paper trail. If your donation is worth more than $500, you’ll have to attach IRS Form 8283 to your tax return. If it’s worth more than $5,000, your documentation must include an outside appraisal. You’ll also need proof of the donation, such as a receipt from the charity and a copy of the title change.
10. Be detail-oriented. This paper trail may seem cumbersome, but think about it: This may be one of the biggest charitable donations you ever make. By taking the time to dot the i’s, you can make sure that the charity gets the most benefit and you get the biggest possible deduction