Judging by the destruction the Oklahoma City area experienced earlier this week, residents are going to need a lot of help in coming months. Fortunately, a number of automakers - including General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota - have stepped up to donate money, supplies and vehicles to aid in the recovery and rebuilding processes.
Here's a quick rundown of which automakers have pitched in and what each contributed so far:
Ford Motor Company has donating $250,000 and a Transit Connect to the American Red Cross, and it will match all other donations made to the Red Cross (up to $250,000) using a special URL tied to the latter's website (link here). Additionally, its local Oklahoma dealers have thrown in an extra $150,000 for the United Way and the automaker will be offering an extra $500 toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle.
GM has given $50,000 and a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado to a Detroit-area charity called Forgotten Harvest, which has set up a campaign called "Help 4 Oklahoma" to bring food, medical and hygiene products to the area.
Toyota has announced that it is donating $250,000 to restore food service to the area, small businesses revitalization and home rebuilding, and in addition to this amount, it will also be matching employee contributions.
TheDetroit Free Press is reporting that Honda is donating generators to the Red Cross - a big advantage of having a power equipment division.
Volkswagen says it made a $250,000 donation to the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, but it isn't clear if that was a combined donation or that much was given to each organization. VW is also matching the funds of its employees.
Ford began manufacturing cars in Australia in 1925 with the Model T. In 2016, Ford will stop manufacturing cars Down Under, including the Falcon and the Territory SUV. Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano has reportedly confirmed the closure of the company's Broadmeadows assembly plant and the Geelong engine plant, both in the state of Victoria. There will be 650 jobs lost at Broadmeadows, 510 sacrificed at Geelong. Of the roughly 3,000 workers the Blue Oval has in Australia, it's said it will try to retain about 1,000 of them at its R&D and product development facilities.
The writing hasn't just been on the wall, it's been a regular item in all the papers and on Ford's bottom line for years. As recently as 2003, Ford sold nearly 75,000 Falcons, but over the next four years, annual sales dropped by something like 10,000 units, and over the last two years, it has sold less than 20,000 per year. It isn't only Ford that has suffered - sales of the other large, locally produced sedan, the Holden Commodore, have also gone over the precipice, triggering the same kind of angst about Holden's continued existence. Ford is the smallest of Australia's local automakers, Holden and Toyota the others, and has posted losses of $AUD141 million last year ($136M US) and $AUD600 million ($580M US) in the past five years. Graziano said the cost of manufacturing is simply too expensive in the country, twice as high as Europe and three times as high as Asia, and there no way to make a business case for staying in the country.
In January 2012, Ford Australia announced it would stay in the country until at least 2016, but by July of the same year, most outside observers were quietly declaring that 2016 would be the last year of Ford Down Under, and even the speculation was making other observers nervous. Ford received money from the Victorian government last year to aid its refresh of the Falcon and Territory, which will continue on schedule for the 2014 model year. A front- and all-wheel-drive sedan on a global platform is predicted to replace the Falcon, with some other SUV expected to replace the Territory. The company says it still intends to expand its lineup in the country.
As for what will replace the employment hole at the factories and the supplier base, no one is quite sure. Ford has said that the employees will receive their entitlements, and workers do have three years to prepare for what's coming. As well, the state and national governments have already committed tens of millions to a fund to assist the employees.
Most domestic automaker assembly plants traditionally take a couple of weeks off during the summer. The shutdowns give each plant time for much needed repairs and maintenance, and in some cases, help better align production with demand. Not this year, though, as demand for many models is outstripping what Ford, Chrysler and General Motors plants can produce.
Ford has announced that it will shorten its annual summer shutdown for most North American plants from two weeks to one. The shorter shutdown will increase the carmaker's annual North American production by 40,000 units on top of the 200,000 extra units that it was already planning to produce this year versus last. Automotive News reports that Ford produced 2.8 million vehicles on this continent in 2012, and that output this year has already increased 13 percent through April.
Chrysler, meanwhile, is also operating at full tilt and plans to run some plants through the summer with no shutdown at all. Those not getting a break include Jefferson North where the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango are assembled, Toledo North that will assemble the new Cherokee, and Conner Avenue, home of SRT Viper production. Other assembly plants will be down for a single week, while all of Chrysler's engine and transmission plants except one in Indiana will continue operating with no shutdown this summer.
Lastly, GM is keeping its cards closer to its chest. The automaker declined to comment to Automotive News about its summer production plans, instead saying that the company "does things a bit differently" now compared to the past, tying plant shutdowns to model life cycles and market demand rather than traditional annual timetables.
Employing complex scientific formulas and methodologies probably best described as "Whatever we felt like choosing," Automobile has named its All-Stars for the 2013 model year. The 11 vehicles earned their trophies for being "the best and most significant" offerings to the mag's staff and contributors, and while we were surprised to see a couple of them on the list, none of them were shocking. In no particular order, they are:
Random notes: The least expensive vehicle on the list was the Ford Focus at $16,995 however, it was the $24,495 Focus ST that was actually driven; the least expensive vehicle as-tested, when such indication was given, was the $28,265 BRZ; the most expensive vehicle as-tested was the $75,615 Porsche Boxster S, hurdling the price of the A7 by nearly $4,000; the greatest disparity between base and as-tested price was the Ram, from the $24,395 skin-and-bones truck to the $54,335 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab; the GTI was viewed through the history of its birthplace, Wolfsburg.
There you have it. Head on over to Automobile for the full story and the adventures they created to test each winner.
Small SUVs are one of the hottest vehicle categories. Their good fuel economy, easy access, all-weather traction, and plenty of passenger and cargo space make them an appealing choice for many car buyers. In this crowded segment, it can be challenging for consumers to determine which one is best to buy. That's where we come in.
Most automakers offer a small SUV in their lineup, but the list below focuses on popular models priced between $20,000 and $30,000. All score high enough to earn a Consumer Reports Recommendation, although not all have proven their reliability to be worthy of the accolade.
The list is organized in rank order of overall test score. While we cover the highlights here, it is well worth visiting their respective model pages to read the detailed road test and review the complete ratings.
Check out our SUV buying guide for quick access to the latest advice, Ratings, road tests, and videos.
Subaru Forester: The straight-A student
The 2014 redesign brings many changes that helps the Forester go to the top of the class, leaving its competition far behind. Improvements include class-leading fuel economy at 26 mpg overall and 35 mpg highway, a standard backup camera, excellent visibility, a roomy interior, and very easy access. In addition, the Forester is the only small SUV to receive a Good score in all five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. It isn't perfect, however. The ride is a bit jittery, and the infotainment system feels antiquated.
Honda CR-V: Easy-going and sensible
Buyers prizing reliability and space will appreciate the CR-V. A flexible and roomy cabin provides plenty of storage and cargo space. The engine is smooth, but fuel economy is falling a bit behind the curve, thanks to Mazda and Subaru. Handling is responsive but emergency handling is less competent. Road noise is excessive. A standard backup camera is welcome, especially as rearward visibility is challenged. Mazda CX-5: Aimed at fuel-frugal fun-seekers
Combining quick acceleration, impressive fuel economy, and agile handling seems like a tall order, but the CX-5 manages this feat. The new 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine feels more muscular and provides much quicker acceleration than the previous-generation powerplant, now relegated to the base Sport trim. Plus, the CX-5 got the same impressive fuel economy—25 mpg overall—with the bigger engine. However, cabin noise is loud and the price is relatively high. A blind-spot monitoring system comes on most trim lines. A sleeper in this class, the CX-5 is good enough that consumers should wake up to its virtues.
Toyota RAV4: A good all-around package
The RAV4 is a safe overall choice, even if it doesn't stand out in any one attribute. Its 2013 redesign made notable improvements, such as removing the awkward side-hinged rear gate and moving the spare tire to under the cargo floor. Handling is now more agile, too. Power and fuel economy are good from the capable four-cylinder engine and slick six-speed automatic. Interior trim gained attractive touches in some places but skimped elsewhere. Still, rear-seat room is generous, access is super easy, controls are mostly intuitive, and a backup camera is standard.
Ford Escape: Sophisticated and athletic, at a price
Many small SUVs tend to be loud and stiff riding. But the redesigned Escape is solid, sophisticated, and athletic. Highlights agile handling and an impressively supple and composed ride, plus its cabin is one of the quietest in the class. However, there are a few shortcomings, including controls that are needlessly complicated, such as the optional MyFord Touch infotainment system. You need to pay a lot to get a model with the optional rear camera. Plus, we don't have reliability information yet. Consider the Escape to be the model reaching for the luxury class, both in refinement and price.
Nissan Rogue: Starting to feel old
Compared to the other models on this list, the Rogue is one of the oldest small SUVs available; a redesign is imminent. Handling is responsive and the ride is supple. The 170-hp engine is raspy at high revs, and fuel economy isn't keeping up with newer competitors. The cargo area is small and rear visibility is poor. We expect a redesign to bring similar improvements as seen on other freshened models, such as a standard backup camera and improved fuel economy to make it more competitive. Kia Sportage: Sporty and reliable, but less practical
With appealing styling and nimble handling, the Sportage adds some sport to the small SUV segment. But the styling makes for difficult rear visibility. You also sacrifice refinement for sportiness, with a stiff ride and pronounced road noise. Performance is leisurely, unless you get the optional turbocharged engine, and fuel economy is falling behind newer competition. On the plus side, the Sportage has been very reliable.
Hyundai Tucson: Styling stands out, but little else
Unlike many of its boxy rivals, the Tucson's more coupe-like styling catches the eye. But the sloping roof robs cargo space and inhibits the view to the rear. Overall, facing freshened competition, the Tucson proves forgettable. Buyers seem to agree, as owner satisfaction is below average. Handling is secure but uninspiring, and the ride is stiff. Road noise is pronounced, making the Tucson feel insubstantial.
On paper, many of the small SUVs look the same, with similar size, features, and power. Through the road tests, we're able to discern meaningful differences. Continue your research in our SUV buying guide and model pages, then test drive the standouts yourself and see if their personality is a good fit with yours.