Auto Outlook: Japanese cars best in resale value, teen texting study scary

By AL SWANSON, UPI Auto Writer  |  Dec. 2, 2012 at 5:30 AM
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New Japanese autos are at the top of the heap in resale value five years after they are sold, with the U.S.-built Jeep Wrangler also making the list.

Kelley Blue Book looked at the projected value of 2013 model vehicles calculating what they may be worth as used cars after 60 months of ownership or leasing. After depreciation, data indicate an average new model would retain about 38 percent of its original value after five years.

The data was collected from auction transactions, sales and market conditions for each vehicle, competition within vehicle segments, future economic expectations and projections by KBB analysts of residual value for vehicles in average condition with 75,000 miles on the odometer at the end of five years.

Kelley also said most options and features -- except for high-performance engines, sports performance packages and all-wheel drive -- won't boost resale value.

The Top 10 vehicles for resale value overall were: Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Wrangler, Honda CR-V, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Land Cruiser, Porsche Cayenne, Lexus LX, Honda Civic and Scion tC.

By category, the Honda Fit had the best projected resale value of any subcompact, the Honda Civic was the best compact, the Honda Civic Si the best sporty compact, Honda Accord best midsize car and the Toyota Avalon the best full-size car for resale.

"I think Toyota and Honda have been fairly dominant just about every year," Eric Ibara, Kelley Blue Book's director of residual consulting, told The Detroit News. Still, the Detroit Three automakers have made progress with the Chevrolet Camaro V-6 holding the best resale value for a sports car, the Chevrolet Camaro SS the best high-performance car and the Chevrolet Volt the best electric vehicle.

Ford's Fusion was the best hybrid/alternative energy car for resale and Chrysler's Jeep Wrangler was tops among compact SUVs and crossovers. Jeep improved nearly 4 points in resale value in the survey.

Ibara said domestic vehicles may not be at the top of their market segments in terms of resale value, but they have improved. "Not only does Wrangler command a significant amount as a used vehicle, but it consistently does so year after year," he added.

In addition to the Avalon, Toyotas with the best resale value included the FJ Cruiser in the midsize SUV/crossover category, the Toyota Sequoia the best full-size SUV/crossover, the Tacoma the best midsize pickup, the Tundra best full-size pickup and the Sienna best minivan/van.

On the luxury end, the Lexus IS was best among entry-level luxury cars for resale, the Lexus GS 350 the best luxury car, the Porsche Panamera best high-end luxury car, the Porsche Cayenne best luxury full-size SUV/crossover, Infiniti EX best luxury compact SUV/crossover, Lexus LX best luxury full-size SUV/crossover and the Lexus RX 450h the best hybrid SUV/crossover.

"Getting the most for your money means knowing what your car will be worth when you sell it," said Kelley Blue Book marketing analyst Jack Nerad, "not just what it's worth when you buy it."

The awards were presented during the media preview of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Teen texting while driving a menace

Some parents probably don't realize their children don't stop sending and reading those ubiquitous text messages once they get behind the wheel.

A national survey jointly conducted by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota found teens were 26 times more likely to text while driving than their parents think. The study looked at more than 5,500 16- to 18-year-old drivers and their parents, and included interviews with 400 pairs of teens and their parents living in the same households.

Twenty percent of teens admitted to having extended, multi-text conversations while driving, 54 percent said they used hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel and 61 percent of parents admitted they used hand-held cellphones while driving.

A recent survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found drivers 18 to 20 were three times more likely to text and drive than drivers 25 or older. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said.

Texting and driving is against the law in 39 states and is a factor in thousands of accidents caused by distracted drivers.

"Driver education begins the day a child's car seat is turned around to face front," said Tina Sayer, principal engineer of Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center, which looked at driving risks. "As the study shows, the actions parents take and, by extension, the expectations they set for young drivers each day are powerful factors in encouraging safe behavior behind the wheel.

"Seat belts and good defensive driving skills are critical. However, the one piece of advice I would give to parents to help them keep newly licensed drivers safe on the road is to always be the driver you want your teen to be."

Ford takes wraps off 2014 Fiesta

The entry-level passenger car market got more competition as Ford debuted its redesigned 2014 Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The Fiesta ST has a high-performance 1.6-liter version of the four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine capable of churning out 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. The subcompact ST can get 34 mpg with a six-speed manual transmission.

The hatchback subcompact, which goes on sale next Spring, competes with the Mini Cooper S, Fit 500 Abarth and the Chevrolet Sonic RS.

Ford has downsized and simplified its problem-plagued MyFord Touch infotainment and Sync voice activation systems in the new Fiesta reducing the size of the touchscreen from 8 inches to 6 1/2 inches, The Detroit News reported.

Voice commands to listen to music are much more direct; a driver can simply say "play' followed by the artist's name, song or album. The same goes for tuning radio stations.

Competition in vehicle electronics is getting fierce as General Motors gears up to make Apple's Siri personal assistant available in two versions of the Chevrolet Spark subcompact, the 2014 Spark Electric and two models of the Chevrolet Sonic.

Drivers of those small cars will be able to connect their Apple iPhones to the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system using Bluetooth, enabling motorists to make hands-free, voice-activated calls to any contact in their phone or play any song from their iTunes library.

The system also allows Siri to send an instant message or text to any contact and access calendars while keeping the iPhone's screen dark, the News said.

"It says a lot about our commitment to small-car customers that Chevrolet has announced that Siri Eyes Free capability will be available in the Spark and Sonic well before the luxury brands," Chevrolet small car marketing director Cristi Landy said in a statement.

A $50 app called BringGo gives Spark and Sonic drivers full GPS navigation and live traffic updates via their smartphones.

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