Consumer Reports’ 2015 Top Picks Surprised Everyone, Almost

Consumer Reports recently released its 10 Top Picks of 2015, and while the Tesla Model S won the overall best car award for the second consecutive year, some of the other winners might really surprise you. After years of mediocre product offerings, depressed sales and recall woes, American automaker General Motors saw two of its cars mixing it up with the best of the best.

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Part III: Practicality Abound at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

At the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, General Motors debuted a refresh of its Chevrolet Equinox, the highest volume Chevrolet model­—excluding the Silverado pickup truck. Consumers looking for major changes will be disappointed, as the mid-cycle update is more of an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” refresh. However, the brand is hoping it mixed things up enough this time around to keep the model fresh over the coming years.

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Part II: Practicality Abound at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

For 2016, the refreshed RDX received more technology, an improved powertrain and enhanced interior treatments.  By adding optional fog lights as well as new LED headlights, the updated lighting design keeps with the illumination scheme seen on the rest of the brand’s lineup. Powertrain improvements include a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Engineers were able to raise the fuel economy of the RDX by utilizing cylinder deactivation technology. The 2016 front-wheel drive model is capable of achieving 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. All-wheel drive versions see one mpg less in both city and highway driving.

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The 2015 Chicago Auto Show in Pictures

Focusing more on the interests of the mainstream buyer, the Chicago Auto Show is the preeminent consumer event of the auto show season. Consequently, automakers were keen on showcasing products that are most impactful for everyday consumers. Crossovers and SUVs from Honda, Acura and Chevrolet stood out from the pack, while concept vehicles from Kia and Mitsubishi hinted at what may be to come in their utility vehicle lineups. Of course, the stars of the recent major auto shows in Los Angeles and Detroit came in full force as well, and we were sure to get another look at some of the most exciting models.

While not the flashiest auto show, Chicago plays an important role for consumers and we were sure to capture the event for you through the digital lens. Be sure to check out our Facebook photo album and Twitter feed to revisit all that transpired.

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Part I: Practicality Abound at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

Arguably the most anticipated press conference in Chicago, Honda took center stage and showcased its all-new Pilot. Last redesigned in 2009, the current boxy look of Honda’s SUV fell behind the style trend as competing crossovers moved toward more fluid, sleeker design language.  Shifting sales within the segment reflected consumer affinity for less utilitarian styling, with Pilot deliveries falling by 14 percent year-over-year in 2014, while the industry exhibited 6 percent growth. For a model that realized 1.4 million sales in North America since its 2002 introduction, its recent performance has been uncharacteristic of a vehicle that has contributed to roughly 25% of Honda’s light truck deliveries over the past dozen years.

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Reviewed: 2015 KIA K900

The new luxury car market has performed quite well this past year. In an effort to not be left out of the action, Kia has created a new flagship sedan, the K900. Ryan Morris, senior editor at NADA Used Car Guide explains the greatest value points of this luxo-barge, along with how well it retains value.

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Used Price Update: Wholesale Prices Nearly Frozen

Wholesale prices for used vehicles up to eight years in age remain essentially unchanged through the first half of February with average prices increasing by only 0.2%. This month’s sluggish preliminary results can certainly be attributed to brutal winter weather and frigid temperatures throughout most of the country, especially parts of the northeast―like Boston.

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Get ‘Em While They’re Cheap: Cadillac’s Blowing Out 2014 ATS and CTS Sedans

According to AutoTrader.com, a nicely equipped 2014 CTS can be purchased for as much as $17,000 off of MSRP. A 2014 ATS can be had for as much as $13,000 off, assuming the purchaser qualifies for all available incentives currently offered. The two biggest problems Cadillac faces are that the CTS and ATS are overpriced and overproduced. While they’re great driving cars, higher MSRP’s have kept potential buyers out of showrooms.

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Part III: Honda’s Rebirth of a Supercar, and a Company

For Honda, the focus on advanced engineering doesn’t apply to just cars. The company has deep roots in the motorcycle industry as well, which includes participating in the top racing series in the world, MotoGP.

For the last two years, the number one spot on the championship podium has gone to the Repsol Honda team and its rider, Marc Marquez. The winning man rode Honda’s RC213V bike to victory in 13 of 18 races last season, breaking the record set during the 1997 500cc World Championship by former Repsol Honda rider, Mick Doohan. As a result, motorcycle consumers are treated with several trickle-down technologies created for the track via the RC213V-S Prototype. For simplicity’s sake, the superbike is the equivalent of a street-legal F1 car.

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Part II: Honda’s Rebirth of a Supercar, and a Company

Just as it had with the Acura flagship NSX, Honda applied many of its strengths in powertrain innovation, hybrid systems, super-handling technology and advanced body construction to create the Honda FCV Concept―a car that encompasses over 25 years of the automaker’s expertise in developing fuel cell technology. Making its North American debut in Detroit, the successor to the 4-passenger FCX Clarity is slated for the U.S. consumption in 2016. The vehicle contains a 33 percent smaller fuel cell stack, along with a 60 percent improvement in power density. Consequently, the upgrade translates into an estimated driving range of more than 300 miles, while increasing interior space to accommodate five passengers. With a refueling time of about three minutes, the advanced fuel cell vehicle aims to be more livable for American drivers than ever before.

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