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Autos - All posts in category Autos

  • May 2, 2012
    4:37 PM ET

    Free Mercedes With That Bank Account

    Consumers in the market for a new bank account have gotten used to three-figure bonuses. Now, one bank is dangling a $60,000 car — if you have a spare $1 million to stash away.

    A new offer from C1 Bank, a Florida community bank with assets of $827 million, promises new customers their choice of one of four new Mercedes in exchange for depositing $1 million in a five-year certificate of deposit. “We’ve had lots of questions about it,” says chief executive Trevor Burgess. “Nobody has taken us up on it yet, but we’re only on day two.”

  • Apr 4, 2012
    5:00 PM ET

    A Smart Car That Learns?

    With more technology in cars, the next advancement may be vehicles capable of remembering that Driver A likes hip hop and the a/c on full blast, while Driver B requires her seat pushed further forward and a classical station on the radio.

    Toyota’s new NS4 concept plug-in hybrid may be able to do exactly that. If it ever makes it to market. A spokesman says the vehicle may be available for a global debut by 2015. The details, he says, are “probably deliberately vague.”

  • Apr 4, 2012
    4:42 PM ET

    An Electric Vehicle Ride-Along

    Electric is one of the buzzwords at this year’s show, but the vehicles are still a pretty rare sight on the street.

    So we jumped at the chance to ride along at the auto show’s Electric Car pavilion. At a leisurely 5 miles per hour on the indoor, concrete track, there’s little difference in the handling or feel from a standard car. “It looks like a Prius and drives like a Prius,” says a Toyota spokesman of the new 2012 Prius plug-in. The $32,000 vehicle will be available in 15 states “any day now,” he says, and nationwide next year. All three were fairly comfortable, for the short trip, anyway.

  • Apr 4, 2012
    3:02 PM ET

    Cars That Stay Alert, Even When Drivers Don’t

    A widening array of airbags may help limit injuries in an accident, but automakers’ latest tech aims to help drivers avoid a collision altogether.

    Subaru’s new Legacy and Outback models will include the option for a new feature called Eyesight Technology. It uses a number of sensors and cameras to sense objects around the vehicle, braking to lessen the impact of an impending collision and altering cruise control to adapt to say, a sudden traffic jam. Drivers will also receive warnings if the vehicle starts to drift out of your intended lane. “It’s another pair of eyes on the road,” says a spokesman. Pricing has yet to be determined, he says.

  • Apr 4, 2012
    1:44 PM ET

    Plugging Into BMW’s Electric Concept

    Auto show “concept cars” are usually code for “you’ll never drive anything remotely like this,” but BMW says its two new electric concepts will be on the road as early as next fall.

    BMW is one of a number of manufacturers advancing electric models at the show, says Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. But electric vehicles “are still priced out of reach for a lot of consumers at this point,” he says, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Steinberg says pricing on the i3 and i8 has yet to be set, and will likely be competitive with other electrics on the market.

  • Apr 4, 2012
    1:15 PM ET

    Cup Holders Out, iPad Holders In

    Kelli B. Grant

    Consumers may upgrade their iPad every year and their smartphone every two, but car manufacturers have been slow to keep up. Now in-car technology is accelerating.

    The latest models from Mercedes-Benz incorporate a range of features that can update with your tech, including an iPad mount for rear-seat entertainment and cloud-based apps for web searches, directions and even stock market quotes. “It’s a really smart way to go,” says Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of pricing site “This way, [the car] doesn’t become obsolete when you switch out your technology.”

  • Apr 4, 2012
    11:24 AM ET

    The Lux Version of Eco-Friendly

    Now that hybrids have gone mainstream enough that many consumers can afford them, drivers who want some elite status while saving the environment have the look a little further.

    Enter the 2012 Fisker Karma, a zero-emissions sportscar with a solar-panel-embedded roof. Prices start at $102,000 for the vehicle, which first became available in December. “It greatly reduces your carbon footprint,” says a spokeswoman. “You never even have to use the gas engine if you don’t want to.”

  • Apr 4, 2012
    10:55 AM ET

    Is this the World’s Smallest 4-Seater?

    Send in the clown car.

    Scion’s new 2012 iQ claims the novel distinction of being the “world’s smallest four-person vehicle.”

    The $15,995 car, available on the East Coast since March and in Los Angeles since November, measures a squat 10′ by 5′. That translates to serious fuel economy, with a combined 37 miles per gallon. That figure is better than all but hybrid vehicles, according to a spokesman.

  • Apr 4, 2012
    10:12 AM ET

    Car Couture: New Models Change Color, Wardrobe

    Kelli B. Grant

    Smart car-owners will soon be able to match their car to their outfit — or anything else.

    The company has long offered buyers the option of seven standard colors, as well as a wider array of more customized paint options. But this year, drivers will have even more control over features like the leather interior, hatchback tops, and color trim on say, the door panels, speakers and dashboard. That personalization could add more than $3,000 to the 2013 Smart Fortwo cabriolet’s $17,890 price tag.

    And when they get bored of one option, says a spokesman, the exterior panels can be swapped out for new ones, at a cost of roughly $700. “We can match any color,” he says. “The sky’s the limit. You could dip your Smartcar in gold if you wanted to.” Drivers can also go for a more temporary change with customized wraps — essentially, a giant sticker that covers the car’s exterior. A spokesman says consumers often create them for weddings and other special occasions.

  • Apr 3, 2012
    4:58 PM ET

    Flying-Car Insurance May Cost $60,000

    After years of flying-car-envy from watching “The Jetsons” and “Back to the Future Part II,” drivers are months away from being able to buy their own. Experts say that insuring one, however, might be an even more futuristic challenge.

    Auto show attendees will get their first glimpse this week of Massachusetts-based Terrafugia’s Transition, a two-seat car with wings that fold out for flight. The company announced earlier this week that the vehicle completed its first flight — and could be on sale within a year. About 100 people already plunked down a deposit for the flying car, which is expected to sell for $279,000.

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.