March 24, 2011
Montreal, Quebec – The Automobile Protection Association (APA) has released its annual new-car ratings, coinciding with the launch of Protégez-Vous, Quebec’s premier consumer magazine.
The Lemon-Aid new-car ratings, in English, are available for free at the APA’s Web site. These include information on the options that offer the best value for each model, price comparisons, and the APA’s reliability ratings, based on consumer complaints and experts in automobile service and repair.
Among the “best bets” for 2011 are the Honda Fit, Honda Civic, Toyota Matrix, Toyota Camry, Infiniti G, Subaru Impreza WRX,Volkswagen Golf GTI, Kia Rondo, Honda Odyssey and Subaru Forester.
The APA also warns that uncertainty in the supply of both new and used vehicles in North America, due to production interruptions in Japan, is likely to result in higher prices and disappearing incentives and that “now is the time to buy.” Rebates are currently running at very high levels, with manufacturers involved in price wars in several market segments.
The used-car market is entering a period of more restricted supply that will result in higher prices. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler virtually stopped leasing new vehicles as of July 2008, and consequently, the supply of late-model lease return vehicles for their brands will dry up. This will drive up prices as dealers look at import brands to close the gap.
The APA also reports that while auto advertising has improved, there are still some confusing and deceptive practices. A recent roundup of new-vehicle ads by the association discovered that some dealers are adding fees to their advertised prices, which is illegal in Quebec and Ontario where fees must be included in the advertised price; many ads use the wrong photo, with pictures of lavishly-equipped models that may cost up to $10,000 more than the advertised price of the base model featured; and to make payments look smaller, dealers are advertising bi-weekly payments and are pushing 84- and 96-month financing. The APA recommends that consumers limit car financing to 72 months if possible, since long repayment periods can result in the car being worth less than the balance of the loan for several years. Luxury brands are advertising monthly lease payments that are similar to those charged by mainstream brands, but buried in the fine print are large down payments from $3,000 to $8,000.
The APA’s consumer Web site has added a new feature, allowing consumers to request the confidential dealer cost price and rebates for the most popular models. The service, which is available 24/7, costs $25 for the general public, with five free price quotations for APA members.