MINI is all set to expand its lineup yet again this Fall with the new 2013 MINI Clubvan, aimed squarely at the small business market. The Clubvan is based closely on the MINI Clubman, with its passenger-side double door intact to aid in cargo loading, though ditches the rear seats in favor of a partition and flat carpeted cargo floor, with plenty of retaining hooks to secure whatever you might be hauling.
Cargo capacity rings in at a smallish (for a commercial vehicle) 30.3 cu.ft., with maximum payload measuring 816 pounds. MINI says the Clubvan is a vehicle for fashion designers, photographers, caterers, architects and other smallbusinessmen who need an efficient yet stylish vehicle that will simultaneously handle work-a-day duties and help promote the brand. A Ford Transit Connect may be a more practical choice, but your high-class cupcake bakery’s name and logo sure will catch a lot of eyes adorning the Clubvan’s body-color side panels.
Base pricing will be revealed closer to the Clubvan’s Fall 2012 release date, but expect it to fall right around the base Clubman’s $21,200. Using the same 121-horsepower four-cylinder as that model, fuel efficiency should stay the same at a very business-friendly 27 city/35 highway mpg.
J.D. Power and Associates have picked Lexus and MINI, in the luxury and mass-market categories respectively, as the brands with the best dealership service departments. This is the fourth time in a row Lexus has come out on top among all brands in the annual customer satisfaction study, while MINI takes home top honors for the second consecutive year.
Customers are more-satisfied with dealer service than in recent years. This comes as free scheduled maintenance programs have become commonplace. Brands that offer free scheduled maintenance are much more likely to retain customers for dealership service after the complimentary period ends.
GM can boast that all four of its brands scored very high in dealership service satisfaction. Cadillac was just behind Lexus for second place among luxury brands, while Buick, GMC and Chevrolet were second, third and fourth among mass-market brands.
It’s Oscar season again, and we thought it would be fun to take a look at the cars, trucks and bikes driven by this year’s Best Actor and Best Actress nominees. Here you’ll find some cars the celebs drive (or are driven in) in their Academy Award-nominated films, plus some of the stars’ real-life rides! Tune in to watch the 84th Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26th, 2012 at 7:00pm EST/4:00pm PST. Check your local listings for more.
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir – “A Better Life”
Ford F-150 (10th Generation) in “A Better Life”
“A Better Life” is a film about a father and son, the American dream, the struggle to survive… and a work truck just like the one millions of Americans depend on every day. Carlos (Bichir) buys the F-150 and the business it represents, only to have the truck stolen. Much of the rest of the film covers the quest to get it back (spoiler alert!).
Best actor nominee George Clooney is a big proponent of the electric car, counting a black Tesla Roadster among his rides. Clooney used to drive an all-electric Tango, and is known to be a motorcycle fan as well.
*The Tesla Roadster is no longer available, but the bigger and better Tesla Model S is.
Jean Dujardin – “The Artist”
Circa-1930 Lincoln Model K in “The Artist”
Jean Dujardin plays silent film star George Valentin in “The Artist.” Valentin is the type of man who is driven rather than drives, but then must give his chauffeur Clifton his Lincoln limo in lieu of back payment. The film was criticized for using cars that did not appear until after the time period it attempted to portray.
Chevrolet Camaro SS
Pitt is a motorcycle lover at heart, having been spotted riding numerous Ducati, BMW and other bikes as well as a custom chopper. As for cars, Brad prefers this Chevrolet Camaro SS with wild orange racing stripes.
Lexus RX (2nd-Generation)
Ms. Close, one of the most prolific actresses in Hollywood and Broadway history, posted this photo on her official dog lover blog, Lively Licks. The pic clearly shows her two adorable pups in a second-gen Lexus RX, and we’re willing to bet it’s the hybrid model. Nice choice!
Davis and husband Julius Tennon live in this low-profile Granada Hills, Calif. home, shown here with 2 rides parked in the driveway. While we don’t know for sure who they belong to, the cars appear to be a 2000′s BMW and… a 1980′s Toyota Corolla? Davis told USA Today her car is “7 years old.”
Rooney Mara – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Custom Honda CL350 in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Rooney Mara’s Lisabeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is not to be messed with, and her blacked-out, custom Cafe Racer-style Honda CL350 fits her perfectly. The bike was custom-built for this film.
Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady”
2011 Toyota Prius
Streep has long been a champion of the Toyota Prius, BMW Hydrogen 7 and alternative-powertrain cars in general, once famously saying: “If everybody that had two cars had a Prius instead of an SUV, we wouldn’t be in the Middle East right now.” In 2009 Streep showed up at the Oscars in a 3rd-gen 2010 Prius, not even yet available to the public.
1952 Rolls Royce Phantom Wraith Limousine in “My Week With Marilyn”
Expertly portraying Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn”, it is only fitting that Michelle Williams’ Monroe would be driven about in a Rolls. The Phantom Wraith limo used in the film is a 1952 model, which won the gold medal at the 1953 Earls Court Motor Show.
The 2012 Fiat 500 and 2012 MINI Cooper invite natural comparisons. Both are subcompact hatchbacks with a high cool factor, youthful features, better-than-par handling and higher base prices than similar-sized but more-pedestrian rides (see Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, etc.).
Now Edmunds Inside Line has carried out a performance-heavy comparison test of the two cars that featured some corner carving through Los Angeles’s famous Mullholland Highway and instrumented track testing. The winner? The Cooper, but not by as much as you might think from a car built by BMW.
Both cars elicited quite a bit of praise, but the MINI exhibited more composed handling, faster 0-60 and slalom times and better braking. Testers liked both cars’ retro-inspired styling and found the interiors nice places to be. The MINI exuded interior quality, but the Fiat’s funky features are more interesting to look at.
While the MINI took the prize, it should be noted that onlookers were far more interested in checking out the newer and hipper Italian ride.
The 2011 Acura TL carries one of the best resale values.
Everyone’s heard or experienced the ugly fact of life known as depreciation. You buy that shiny, retina-searing Montego Blue Metallic 2011 BMW 328i Coupe and as soon as its beefy 255/35 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A run flats roll you off the lot, the value of your $39k sled quickly drops in value by about $3000. It’s a sad fact of life, but heavy lies the crown.
That being said, you can hedge your losses on purchasing a car that holds its value better than its peers, which is beneficial to car buyers who are on the fence between leasing and buying. Buying a car that holds its value better will allow owners to get the most money back should they choose to sell after 2-3 years.
It should be noted that most, if not all of the vehicles below rarely see big cash-back rebates on their current model years. In exercising this option, manufacturers are helping existing owners to retain the values of their vehicles since new car buyers have little negotiating room for big price reductions.
Here’s our Top 10 list of new cars that hold their value the best.