Cars

Our choice of color; CR on MPG claims; An amusement ride

Auto advertisements used to feature a stripped-down model as a priceleader along with the words: “Order in your choice of color.”

Buyers’ collective choice of automotive color through the years has been of enough interest that DuPont has compiled an annual automotive color popularity report for 60 years.

The No. 1 choice worldwide in 2012 was white/white pearlescent (23 percent), followed by black and black effect (21 percent). Long-time favorite silver continued to slip, winding up third at 18 percent. Gray (14 percent) and red (8 percent) completed the top five.

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There are concerns the report might disappear from the automotive landscape with DuPont’s pending $4.9 billion sale of its Performance Coatings (automotive paint) division to the Carlyle Group.

“Silver peaked in popularity between 2000 and 2006,” says Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. “We’re seeing more luxury vehicle purchases today now that the economy has started to stabilize, and vehicles painted black or black effect are seen as luxury status symbols in several key global markets.”

Among those markets is China, where black leads with a 24 percent share.

Elsewhere in Asia, both Japan (27 percent) and South Korea (28 percent) opt for the whites while India retains an affinity for silver (28 percent).

At home (North America), white and pearl are No. 1 (24 percent) for the sixth straight year with black staying No. 2 (19 percent) but leading in both the intermediate and luxury SUV markets.

For the first time since 1998, silver did not lead any North American vehicle segments, though it held steady at 16 percent of overall sales.

Gray (15 percent) and red (10 percent) rounded out the top five.

CR Questions Ford Hybrids’ MPG

It’s been disturbing to read that real-world mileage figures haven’t equaled advertised numbers and EPA estimates for some Hyundai, Kia, and Ford models.

Consumer Reports early this month reported it was unable to duplicate Ford’s fuel economy numbers for the hybrid Fusion and C-Max.

Earlier this fall, Hyundai and Kia confessed to having inaccurate mpg numbers after the EPA investigated complaints from consumers. Now Ford is undergoing a similar inquiry.

The EPA annually posts a disclaimer that its ratings“are a useful tool for comparing vehicles when car buying, but they may not accurately predict the fuel economy you will get.”

However, most of us like to think we’re capable of getting results within the EPA’s guidelines, taking into account mileage-affecting factors such as aggressive driving (hard acceleration and braking), excessive time in stop-and-go traffic, lots of cold-weather starts, driving a heavily loaded vehicle, use of air conditioning, underinflated tires, and use of a remote starter.

EPA fuel numbers annually are documented exhaustively in a downloadable 40-page report available at fueleconomy.gov.

Consumer Reports earlier this month said its initial testing of Ford’s Fusion hybrid and C-Max hybrid wagon produced mpg results about 20 percent below the vehicles’ advertised“47 city/47 highway/47 combined”claims. CR’s figures were 39 mpg overall for the Fusion hybrid and 37 overall for the C-Max hybrid.

“Our overall mpg results usually are pretty close to the EPA’s combined-mpg estimate. Among current models, more than 80 percent of the vehicles we’ve tested are within two mpg,” says CR’s statement. “The largest discrepancy we’ve previously seen was seven and six mpg for the Toyota Prius C subcompact and Prius hatchback.”

While the news is discouraging, the fact remains that they are still extremely economical vehicles.

Says CR, “Both the Fusion hybrid and C-Max hybrid still deliver excellent fuel economy. The Fusion Hybrid’s 39 mpg is the best of any family sedan we’ve tested, edging out the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 1 mpg. And the C-Max Hybrid’s 37 mpg is second only to the PriusV’s 41 mpg in its class. But our tests show that buyers shouldn’t expect the stellar 47 mpg that Ford is promoting.”

Etc.

Chevrolet and Disney have collaborated on a test track design-and-drive feature at the Epcot theme park. Park-goers can design a virtual concept vehicle, then go on a test drive (at speeds up to 65 mph) on the hills, hairpin corners, and straightaways on the test track. …The Jaffarian Automotive Group of Haverhill this fall passed the $35,000 milestone in its“Game On”program, which has been underway since August 2011. The company donates $50 from each vehicle sale or lease to the athletic programs of regional buyers’hometown high schools. Participating school districts include Amesbury, Andover, Masconomet, Pentucket, Haverhill, Triton, Newburyport, and North Andover in Massachusetts and Timberlane in Southern NewHampshire. ...If you’re one of the clever sorts who can say a lot in the 140-character Twitter limit, Lincoln wants you. As part of its brand rebuilding campaign, the company has hired comedian Jimmy Fallon to create a Super Bowl ad (Lincoln’s first-ever) written from social media thoughts. …Speaking of prospective (and provocative) ads, if you liked Fiat’s seduction commercial with a supermodel for the 500, there are several more using suggestive, sexy humor and shown at the LA Auto Show.They include one in which an (Abarth) scorpion manages to leave the model topless on a beach, another in which she causes a test driver to lose control on a test track, and a third (for the roomier 500L) in which bridesmaids change clothes in the back seat, then arrive at the church where a previously unseen fifth passenger emerges smiling.…And a tip of the hat to the Ram 1500, named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year.

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