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 2011 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.
With so many cars available, it’s tough to choose just one. We’ve come up with the following list of vehicles which reflect the best value in each of their respective classes.
Subcompact | 2011 Ford Fiesta: It’s absolutely no surprise that the once beleaguered Ford had its hands full with an aging vehicle lineup. How rapidly times have changed. The Fiesta, a bonafide bargain in terms of fuel efficiency (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway) and price has its sights aimed squarely at the benchmark in the class: the 2011 Honda Fit. The Fiesta features a whole lot for just a little, and that’s the very definition of value. And with a respectable 120 horsepower on tap, you won’t be left in the slow lane. But the best part has to be its price. The 2011 Ford Fiesta starts at just $13,200.
Compact | 2011 Hyundai Elantra: It’s no secret that we’ve been talking a whole lot about the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. Maybe that’s because it’s such a breath of fresh air in an otherwise monotonous class of cars. By endowing the Elantra with such great fuel economy (29/40 mpg), Hyundai has set the bar pretty high—leaving Toyota and Honda scrambling to bring their next-gen compacts up to par. With styling, fuel economy and a low price point on its side, this once-overlooked Korean compact is finally getting its due. The 2011 Hyundai Elantra starts at just $14,830.
Midsize | 2011 Kia Optima: Most industry insiders quipped that it simply was the classic question of when, not if, the aging Accord would be dethroned from its space on the proverbial podium in which it occupied for so long. Well, it happened. Consumer Reports recently ranked the 2011 Optima ahead of the 2011 Honda Accord in a comparison test between the two four-cylinder midsize sedans. The EPA ratings for the 2.4-liter 2011 Optima at 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the six-speed manual, 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the six-speed automatic. Handsome looks, excellent fuel economy and a class-leading warranty all add up to one big value that’s tough to beat. The 2011 Kia Optima starts at just $18,995.
Luxury | 2011 Lincoln MKZ: This one was tough. With so many luxury sedans on the market, picking just one takes a lot of analyzing. But in the end, the 2011 Lincoln MKZ’s balanced approach beat out the best Germany had to offer. We’re not talking all-out performance, but value. The MKZ is a perfectly competent luxury sedan that comes nicely equipped. It also offers a delicate balance of tout handling and a smooth, comfortable ride. The 2011 Lincoln MKZ starts at just $34,645.
Sports | 2012 Ford Mustang: So, do you want a fast, sexy and fun-to-drive car? Do you want 29 mpg on the highway? How about racecar-like handling and big, beefy brakes? Look no further. The 2012 Ford Mustang is by far the best Mustang to date. It offers all the above in a package that everyone can afford, while still having a trunk big enough to load up with groceries on those monumental trips to Costco. It’s the ultimate value in the sports car class. The 2012 Ford Mustang starts at just $22,310.
Minivan | 2011 Honda Odyssey: The minivan bellies the tang of the quintessential step into adulthood that may seem like the point of no return. Honda’s has altered that feeling with the release of their all-new 2011 Honda Odyssey. The new Odyssey sports design tweaks that makes the vehicle appear much sportier and futuristic. The Odyssey also features an interior that promises to not only be the most well-appointed and comfortable in the minivan class, but the most utilitarian, as well, complete with the highly-sought after feature like fold flat 2nd and 3rd row seats—perfect for when you have that late-night itch to pick up a dozen sheets of plywood from Home Depot. The 2011 Honda Odyssey starts at just $28,075.
SUV | 2011 Ford Explorer: In 1990, the Ford Explorer changed the automotive landscape permanently. Big, bold builds were beautiful, and nobody questioned the sheer inefficiency that the Explorer exhibited. That would change. Tires blew up. Explorers rolled over. A massive recall ensued. And then, fuel prices skyrocketed. The combination almost killed the Explorer, and more notably, the SUV class as we knew it. Enter the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer. Groundbreaking is how we would sum it up. It’s the first Explorer to evolve from the traditional body-on-frame platform to a more sophisticated unibody structure, making it lighter and better in almost every way. And Ford didn’t stop there. It offers the most for the smallest amount of money in the SUV class. The 2011 Ford Explorer starts at just $28,360.
Crossover | 2011 Kia Sportage: Okay, so this one technically shouldn’t count since its only been out for a couple of months, but it’s hard to ignore what it has to offer: masculine styling, 29-31 mpg on the highway and utility starting at under $20k. The Sportage is powered by a stout 2.4L 176-horsepower 4-cylinder engine mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. The Sportage is on the smaller side of the scale in the Crossover class, but works perfectly for a family of four. Add Kia’s remarkable 10-Year 100,000 Mile Limited Powertrain Warranty and it’s easy to see why the Sportage is going to give the CR-V and RAV4 a run for their money. The 2011 Kia Sportage starts at just $18,295.
Compact Truck | 2011 Suzuki Equator: Suzuki? Yup. We have to give credit where it’s due, and this year, Suzuki stepped up to the plate to offer a truck that’s worth a strong look. It’s based off the 2011 Nissan Frontier, but offers a lower price and longer warranty. It makes short work of light duty towing and hauling and gets 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway—both excellent numbers in this particular class. The 2011 Suzuki Equator starts at just $17,995.
Overall Best Value | 2011 MINI Cooper: MINI, a name chock full of heritage, fun, efficiency and….value? No doubt about it. This was hands-down the easiest pick out of the vehicles mentioned here. The 2011 MINI Cooper gets a remarkable 37 mpg on the highway and will give you ear-to-ear grins on even the shortest of drives with a responsive 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower. From congested city streets to wide-open country roads, the Cooper’s handling and solid, billet-like feel will make believers who assume otherwise. The Cooper is big on value with a price won’t break the bank. The 2011 MINI Cooper starts at only $19,400.