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12 Aug 2014

2015 Audi S3 configurator goes live with all the black and silver paint you’ve hoped for

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It has already been nearly a year since we completed our First Drive of the premium pocket rocket Audi S3, with official pricing for the car detailed earlier this summer. Those are facts, but facts won’t help you while away your lunchtime in blissful, car-dreaming reverie, will they?

No, for help with imagining just exactly the kind of Audi S3 that you’d like to put in your garage, the freshly launched configurator is just the thing.

Every 2015 Audi S3 will come with 2.0T power under the hood – to the tune of 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The most basic Premium Plus trim (an interesting renaming of “entry level” we’ll grant you) starts at $41,100 before destination, while the higher-content Prestige asks $47,000. The extra six grand buys you full LED lighting, tri-zone climate control, S model appearance upgrades like quad exhaust tips and a more advanced infotainment suite with Bang & Olufsen sound.

Nine paint options are available at launch, though only one, Brilliant Black, comes without an additional upcharge. Most of the other hues will run you an extra $550, though if you’re sweet on the looks of the Panther Black Crystal (seen above), you’ll have to shell out $1,075 for the look. Your choice of three interior colorways are all cost-free options, however.

There are really only two options packages beyond the trim level differences: a technology pack for $1,400 and a performance pack for $1,500. The performance upgrades include 19-inch five spoke wheels (an inch larger than the standard rolling stock, with the same 225-section tires), and Audi’s magnetic ride control. The tech pack brings lane assist and adaptive cruise to help you crush those long road trips, along with an emergency city braking system for low-speed stops and a front camera with distance sensor for tight parking spots.

Finally, if you intend on putting folks (young or old) in the small rear seating area, we’d recommend dropping the $350 extra for rear side airbags. Always hoon responsibly.

2015 Audi S3 configurator goes live with all the black and silver paint you’ve hoped for originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Aug 2014

LaFerrari trading at double its list price

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Ferrari LaFerrari

If you’ve been looking at the seven-figure price tags (plus or minus) on the latest batch of hypercars, and wondering how their manufacturers could possibly charge that much, consider that their predecessors typically traded at well above their list price as it is. The Ferrari Enzo, for example, listed for “only” $650k, but with production limited to 349 units, demand far outstripped supply, driving the mark-up into seven-figures. In fact Enzos are still selling for a million or more at auction. Surely Ferrari deserves a piece of that action itself, at least as much as the speculators… hence the $1.7 million sticker price on its successor LaFerrari.

Here’s the thing, though: according to the latest reports, buyers are paying that much again just for the privilege of getting their hands on a LaFerrari. In other words, they’re paying double the already sky-high asking price: as much as $3.4 million to put it in the same ballpark as the Lamborghini Veneno (whose production was even more limited) and the latest Legend edition of the Bugatti Veyron Vitesse roadster.

The story gets a bit more sane with its rivals, though: according to the analysis reported by Oracle Finance, the McLaren P1 is commanding “only” a $500k premium over list, and the Porsche 918 Spyder “just” $335k extra. However even less expensive new models from high-end automakers like the Lamborghini Huracán and Porsche Macan are reportedly commanding $50k and $10k premiums, respectively.

LaFerrari trading at double its list price originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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06 Aug 2014

2015 Acura TLX configurator ready to spec your ‘red carpet athlete’

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2015 Acura TLX

When Acura launched the new TLX sedan as a prototype at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show it promised that the car would be a “red carpet athlete.” Presumably that meant it would mix photogenic looks with an engaging drive. Now, it’s your chance to dress up the vehicle for the festivities with its new configurator that’s just hitting the Web.

Prices start at $30,995* for the basic 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 206 horsepower and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic or $35,220 for the least expensive 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp with a nine-speed auto, but the bill goes all the way up to $44,700 for a V6 with all-wheel drive and the Advance Package (*plus a $895 destination and handling charge for them). Only the six-cylinder can be optioned with all-wheel drive, but all front-wheel-drive models get Acura’s slick P-AWS system that steers the rear wheels.

Outside of the available Technology and Advance packages, the options are kept pretty slim. The range of colors is fairly subdued too with shades of black, white and silver, plus dark blue, dark red and a deep brown called Black Copper Pearl. Upholstery options are limited to a few choices for each exterior color.

During our First Drive, Michael Harley found the TLX to be a better vehicle than either the TSX or TL that it replaces. Now, here’s your chance to head over to Acura’s configurator to give the TLX a little TLC and find the one that’s just right for you.

2015 Acura TLX configurator ready to spec your ‘red carpet athlete’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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06 Aug 2014

GM says it will offer more diesels in US, but on which vehicles?

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Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel

The desire for more diesel vehicles on American roads has become a popular talking point among automotive enthusiasts. We hear about the super-efficient, high performance oil burners cruising all over Europe and don’t see any reason that they couldn’t work here. After all, their high torque figures and great range would seem like a perfect match for US roads, even if their fuel is generally more expensive than gasoline. It looks like General Motors might be listening, though. Steve Kiefer, the automaker’s vice president of global powertrain hinted this week that more diesels could be on the way.

“The Chevrolet Cruze diesel will be the first of many diesel-powered passenger cars General Motors will offer in the United States,” said Kiefer in a speech during the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI, according to Automotive News. “We will continue to introduce more diesels as appropriate and as the market accepts them.” In his remarks, he also went on to predict that oil-burning passenger vehicles will occupy 10 percent of the US auto market by 2020.

Kiefer’s statement is pretty unequivocal, but what does it really mean? Across its brands, GM’s current diesel lineup is pretty skimpy. There’s just the Cruze Diesel and the Duramax V8s in its larger trucks. Of course, the diesel Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon are on the way with a 2.8-liter four-cylinder, but it’s not exactly clear when those midsize pickups will be in showrooms. That still leaves a lot of room to grow somewhere.

Where would you like to see more diesels in the future GM lineup? A crossover could be a good fit with the popularity of that segment or an Impala with one of Opel’s top-spec oil-burners from Europe could be a ton of fun, though we have our concerns about how well they would actually sell. Let us know what you think might be a good fit for GM in Comments.

GM says it will offer more diesels in US, but on which vehicles? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Aug 2014

2015 Chevy Colorado to start at $20,100*, GMC Canyon at $20,995**

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Chevy Colorado

General Motors has just announced pricing for its new midsize pickup trucks, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Chevy’s truck starts at $20,100, *not including $895 for destination, and the GMC starts at $20,995, **not including $925 for destination. These prices are for the base, extended cab models with the 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine.

Comparatively, these prices fit nicely with the $18,125 starting MSRP of the Toyota Tacoma and the $21,510 of the Nissan Frontier. Compared to the Colorado, the Canyon’s extra $895 gets you niceties like LED running lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a four-way power driver’s seat.

Both trucks come standard with the 2.5-liter engine, and a more powerful, 305-hp 3.6-liter V6 will also be available. Pricing has not been announced for the upcoming diesel model, which is expected to launch for the 2016 model year.

Chevrolet has confirmed that the Colorado LT Crew Cab 2WD with a five-foot box will start at $27,090, and the more upscale Colorado Z70 Crew Cab 4×4 with a five-foot box comes in at $34,095. On the GMC front, the Canyon SLE Extended Cab 2WD will start at $$26,595, and the SLT Crew Cab 4×4 arrives at $36,950, including the aforementioned V6.

Optional features on the trucks include GM’s new 4G LTE connectivity with a built-in wifi hotspot, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and the GearOn accessory system. Specific option pricing has not been released as of this writing.

Scroll down for the full details in the pair of press releases.

Continue reading 2015 Chevy Colorado to start at $20,100*, GMC Canyon at $20,995**

2015 Chevy Colorado to start at $20,100*, GMC Canyon at $20,995** originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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05 Aug 2014

GM financing arm investigated over subprime loans

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General Motors Investigation

General Motors just can’t seem to avoid controversy in 2014. Of course, there has been a continual run of recalls throughout the year, and now, its GM Financial division is under investigation for possibly violating the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, according to Reuters. FIRREA gives the DoJ the power to examine and potentially sue companies that are found to be acting fraudulently. In this case, the feds want to know the division’s criteria when securitizing subprime loans.

GM bought the company previously known as AmeriCredit in 2010 for $3.5 billion and renamed it GM Financial. It allowed the automaker to have an in-house division to offer finance and lease options through dealers, since it sold off GMAC, now Ally Financial. According to Reuters, GM Financial has issued $2.15 billion in subprime-auto-loan-backed securities in the first six months of the year.

Subprime auto loans have been on the upswing this year, despite the recent financial crisis. According to a recent study from credit reporting company Equifax looking at data as of April 2014, $46.2 billion in auto loans have been extended to subprime buyers. That’s an eight-year high and about 28 percent of the auto loan balance.

GM financing arm investigated over subprime loans originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 05 Aug 2014 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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04 Aug 2014

It’s been 5 years since Cash For Clunkers, was it a success? [w/poll]

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Cash For Clunkers Program Yielded Nearly 700,000 Sales

CARS set out to kill two birds with one stone: jumpstart slow automobile sales and get a large number of older cars off the road.

A lot has happened since 2009. President Obama was re-elected. The Arab Spring saw popular uprisings overthrow dictators across the Middle East and North Africa. General Motors declared and subsequently emerged from bankruptcy. Fiat bought Chrysler. And the Cash for Clunkers program came and went.

That’s right, it’s been five years since the federal government launched the Car Allowance Rebate System – known as CARS for short, or more popularly as Cash for Clunkers. The program set out to kill two birds with one proverbial stone: jumpstart slow automobile sales across the country on the one hand, and get a large number of older (and less environmentally friendly) cars off the road. Identifying both problems and a single way to solve them, the government offered financial incentives (cash) for drivers to trade-in their old cars (clunkers) in favor of new ones, following the lead set by similar scrappage programs that had taken place in other countries around the world.

Even with a moribund economy, buyers jumped at the opportunity, and in less than a month, the entire $1 billion allotted by Congress to the program had been used up. So legislators approved an additional $2 billion, which ran out before the end of August 2009 – two months ahead of schedule.

The question that lingers five years later is whether the program was actually a success. Proponents point to the rapid rate at which customers took advantage of the program as a sign of its success, providing a boost in sales to automakers and dealers across the country. The Department of Transportation also reported that the new vehicles acquired averaged over 60-percent better fuel economy than the ones that were traded in, all the while giving a shot of adrenaline to Detroit’s automakers.

Critics, however, debate the veracity of those claims and paint a different picture. The program’s detractors claim that the increased sales promoted by the program were not created out of nowhere, they merely pulled ahead future sales that would’ve taken place anyhow, resulting in a zero net gain at the cost of $3 billion to the taxpayer. Implementing the program also required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take on thousands of additional employees to process the applications for reimbursement and necessitated the government setting up the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System just to keep track of it all.

Meanwhile, detractors point out, it was not American automakers but Japanese ones like Toyota, Honda and Nissan that brought in the lion’s share of new car sales from the program (while American cars were ineligible under Japan’s own scrappage program). The initiative is also said to have had the unfortunate side-effect of raising prices on used cars (which only made things harder on those who couldn’t afford new ones during difficult financial times), and reduced the number of old cars being donated to charities that depended on them.

As for the improvement in fuel economy, critics claim that drivers are likely to drive their newly fuel-efficient cars more (canceling out any environmental benefit of their improved economy), also arguing that the environmental impact of manufacturing and shipping the new cars bought hadn’t been taken into account. Further, they note that many large SUVs and crossovers qualified for the program even though they didn’t meet the 20-mpg threshold for eligibility.

Whether the program, now five years in hindsight, could ultimately be viewed as a success or not, one thing’s for sure: it was certainly expensive.

View Poll

It’s been 5 years since Cash For Clunkers, was it a success? [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 04 Aug 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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02 Aug 2014

Limited-edition Volvo S60 Polestar priced at $59,300*, V60 at $60,900*

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2015 Volvo V60 and S60 Polestar

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar BrochureYou saw their US reveal at this year’s Chicago Auto Show and read our driving impressions from Sweden. Now, if you act fast, you can actually own one of the very limited 2015.5 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar models coming to the United States. The order page for these slick Swedes is now online, but the slots are filling up about as quickly as these cars accelerate.

Volvo plans to build a combined 750 of these Polestar models for the world, but the US is being allocated just 120 of them. Prices start at $59,300 for the S60 or $60,900 for the V60 (*plus a $925 destination charge). The only option is color – either Black Sapphire or Rebel Blue. If rarity is playing a part in your decision, you might want to pick the S60. According to the reservation site, only 20 of the sedans in each color are making it over here; the rest are V60s.

As the top versions of their respective models, both Polestars are packed with features. They share a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 345 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour is claimed to take 4.7 seconds for the S60 or a tenth more for the V60 with a top speed of 155 mph. They are about more than just a hotter engine, though, with Öhlins shocks, six-piston brake calipers and 20-inch Polestar wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Check out the gallery for the full, official specs, and get to the order page soon, if you decide you need one of these limited Swedish sportsters.

Limited-edition Volvo S60 Polestar priced at $59,300*, V60 at $60,900* originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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02 Aug 2014

Gen Y car shoppers overtake Gen X buyers, still trail boomers

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LA Car Dealers

Generation Y has overtaken Generation X among car shoppers, according to a new report on US retail vehicle sales from J.D. Power.

Through 2014, Generation Y, or those born between 1977 and 1994, make up 26 percent of new retail sales compared to 24 percent of Gen X, or those born between 1965 and 1976. For full-year sales, we need to look back to 2013, where Gen X maintained its 24-percent share to Gen Y’s 23-percent stake.

Of course, the large, powerful Baby Boomer generation (1946 to 1964) is still dominant, retaining 38 percent of sales through 2014, which is actually down from its 2013 total of 39 percent.

Meanwhile, Gen X, which has the disadvantage of representing a mere 12-year span compared to Gen Y’s 18-year spread, will continue to see its influence decline relative to the youths. Sales are expected to grow a mere six percent for X, compared to 16 percent for Y.

Scroll down for the full press release on the study from J.D. Power.

Continue reading Gen Y car shoppers overtake Gen X buyers, still trail boomers

Gen Y car shoppers overtake Gen X buyers, still trail boomers originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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31 Jul 2014

Honda asking used-car buyers to sign liability document [w/poll]

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AUTO SALES OUTLOOK

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them but used cars are under no such mandate.

When it comes to informing the car-buying public about potential safety hazards on used vehicles, there are two emerging schools of thought among used-car dealers.

In one camp: those who disclose as little as possible. Used-car giant CarMax leaves it to customers to check to see whether a car is under recall. Consumer groups filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last month, because they believe the lack of information amounts to deceptive advertising.

In the other: Honda, which has gone in the opposite direction. The company recently started disclosing possible recalls related to airbag malfunctions in certain vehicles. Honda is asking customers buying those used cars to sign a document that acknowledges they’ve been made aware of the issue. Buyers may be better informed, but such a signature could also shift liability away from the automaker.

It’s a vexing issue on several fronts.

New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them, under rules imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But used-car sellers are under no such mandate. Honda’s disclosure helps consumers understand their new purchase may contain a potentially lethal defect, but some are worried that it could frighten customers away or expose dealerships to greater liability.

Continue reading Honda asking used-car buyers to sign liability document [w/poll]

Honda asking used-car buyers to sign liability document [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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