Joe asks Jody Victor®: Best in Class Car Values For 2012 – III

In all categories these vehicles are the best for performance, value and safety. Here’s Jody Victor with the last few on this list.

Jody Victor: Here they are Joe, from an article by Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger, and from msn.com.

MIDSIZE AND LARGE CROSSOVERS: LEXUS RX 450H

Sticker price: $46,110
Invoice price: $42,039
TrueCar national average price: $44,965
3-year resale value: 60%, 5-year: 44%
City mpg: 32, Hwy: 28

A perennial Kiplinger’s favorite, the Lexus RX features top-notch safety in addition to luxury, and the hybrid RX 450h takes the cake for Most Fuel-Efficient. A ten-airbag tally includes knee airbags for front passengers and rear-seat side airbags, and an optional pre-collision system ($1,500) will tighten seat belts and make extra braking power available if it senses an accident is imminent.

TRUCK-BASED SUVS: CHEVROLET SUBURBAN

Sticker price: $46,625 (1500 LT)
Invoice price: $43,428
TrueCar national average price: $43,703
3-year resale value: 49%, 5-year: 34%
City mpg: 15, Hwy: 21

The ultimate family hauler, the Suburban seats nine and has a whopping 90 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and 46 cubic feet behind the third row. The 5.3-liter V8 puts out plenty of power, and the Suburban tows up to 5,000 pounds with ease. But (aside from SUV hybrids) fuel economy is better than any V8 in its segment.

MINIVANS: HONDA ODYSSEY

Sticker price: $29,035 (LX)
Invoice price: $26,390
TrueCar national average price: $27,498
3-year resale value: 55%, 5-year: 41%
City mpg: 18, Hwy: 27

Redesigned for 2011, when it swept Kiplinger’s minivan awards, Honda’s Odyssey still edges out the competition. Its bold exterior sets it apart from its peers, and improved driving dynamics and a more functional interior clinch its first-place status. For 2012, it picks up Most Fuel-Efficient plaudits, too.

Thanks, Jody! Can’t wait to check some of these great vehicles out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 12 Cars We Can’t Wait to Drive III

The annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit can induce serious sensory overload. For a true car nut, it’s like being a kid in a candy store – drooling over all that tasty sheet metal. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about 12 of them (in 3 instalments) from an article by Kirk Bell of MSN Autos, and msn.com.

Jody Victor: Hey Joe, can’t wait to see and drive some of these fantastic vehicles. Here’s the third batch.

Lexus LF-LC Concept – Though the LF-LC is just a concept, the hybrid sports coupe signals a new design direction for Lexus. If the luxury car brand gets positive response here in Detroit, it might be inspired to build the car, which would be super. Ideally, we’d like it to possess the handling prowess of the automaker’s celebrated LF-A, come in a rear-wheel drive platform and have the turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain pump out between 450 and 500 horsepower. Now that would be a world-class sports car.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL – In Mercedes parlance, SL stands for Super Lightweight. But the SL roadster hasn’t stuck to that philosophy in recent years. The 2013 SL550 gets back to those roots. With a body and structure rendered in almost all aluminum, the new SL is 242 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the equivalent of a good-sized middle linebacker. That should translate into improved handling for this grand tourer, as well as make the new turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine’s 429 horses all that more effective. Add in Mercedes’ responsive Direct Steer variable steering ratio and available active body control, and the new SL should be sportier than ever.

Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTec Hybrid – Hybrids aren’t usually the objects of passion for auto enthusiasts. They are, after all, usually underpowered and bland in the handling department. But we appreciate the compatible technologies involved in the E300 BlueTec Hybrid. Diesel engines offer great highway fuel economy and hybrids do the same for city efficiency, so combining the two is only natural. Mercedes has said the E300 BlueTec Hybrid will be offered only in Europe, at least initially, so U.S. fuel-economy numbers aren’t available, but we expect 50-plus mpg. Hopefully, Mercedes will see fit to bring this efficient car to these shores in the future. It’ll offer Prius-level efficiency in a fun-to-drive luxury package.

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet – The last generation of the Porsche 911 was a model of precision and agility. With its longer wheelbase, wider track and lighter weight, the all-new 911, code name 991, is even better. We’ve driven the coupe and it is more refined, more efficient, more luxurious and even more agile than the outgoing model, which was outstanding. The 2012 Cabriolet, shown here, gets a lighter top thanks to a new design that incorporates magnesium bows. Give us the 400-horsepower 911 Carrera S Cabriolet with the 7-speed manual transmission, a winding road and a clear summer day, and we’ll be in automotive heaven.

Thanks, Jody! We can’t wait to check ’em out!

Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 2012 Deals For Christmas

If you are looking for a great deal on a car, the right time may be coming up real soon. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us about these great deals from an article by Jamie Page Deaton of U.S. News & World Report from msn.com.

Jody Victor: You might be surprised but the best deals of the year will be happening the week between Christmas and New Years. Even if you aren’t planning on giving or getting a car Christmas morning you may want to take advantage of these deals. Here they are, the 12 best, in 2 parts.

2012 Buick Enclave– A perennial favorite with, the 2012 Buick Enclave features a plush interior and comfortable performance. Through Jan. 2, it also features $1,500 cash back or 1.9% financing for up to five years – which is about how long it will take you to work off all those Christmas cookies.

2012 Ford Fusion – The Ford Fusion features an affordable starting price and performance that’s more flavorful than Aunt Mary’s rum balls. Until New Year’s Day, you can get the 2012 Fusion with $2,000 cashback or 0% financing for up to 60 months.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan – Germans are famous for their Christmas markets and for building cars that outperform almost anything else on the road. With the 2012 VW Tiguan, you not only get German performance, but also enough space to haul all of those tacky sweaters that grandma gave you back to the mall. You should have some cash left over to get what you really want: Through Jan. 3, the Tiguan has 0.9% financing for up to 60 months.

2012 Mazda5 – Most people resolve to trim down in the new year, and with the 2012 Mazda5, you can start early. With seating for six and the convenience of sliding rear doors, the Mazda5 is as practical as a minivan, but its smaller footprint gives it engaging performance and better fuel economy. Save at the dealership as well as the pump by getting your Mazda5 by Jan. 3, when it has 0.9% financing and no payments for 90 days.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze – Good things (like diamond earrings) come in small packages, but if you’re shopping for a small car, a little extra space is always welcome. Reviewers say the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze packs a roomy interior, good performance and great features for the price. Through Jan 3, you can lease a 2012 Chevrolet Cruze for $169 per month for 36 months. That’s probably less than the data plan you’ll have to get to go with that new smartphone Santa gave you.

2012 Lexus IS – You won’t need eight tiny reindeer to get through winter’s snowy roads if you have all-wheel-drive. The Lexus IS 250 with all-wheel drive is not only sporty, but is available for $329 a month for 36 months, which should make it appealing to even the most dedicated Scrooge.

Thanks, Jody! More next time.

Joe Victor