The Automobile Protection Association released its 2007 new vehicle ratings today



    MONTREAL, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The release coincides with the
publication of Autos 2007, the annual car guide published jointly with
Protégez-Vous, the French language consumer magazine. The APA ratings are
compiled with information from its new vehicle testing program, and complaint
assistance and referrals.
    New vehicle sales were around 1.6 million in 2006, continuing an amazing
10-year run of strong vehicle sales activity. Uncertainty over gasoline prices
has impacted the market in different ways across Canada. In Quebec buyers have
rediscovered a new generation of subcompact cars from the Japanese carmakers.
This size of vehicle had almost disappeared from North America by the end of
the 1990s.
    The shift to "Small is beautiful" is more apparent in Quebec than
elsewhere in Canada. Although they comprise about one quarter of the new car
market, consumers in the Province of Quebec buy almost half of the
highest-rated small cars - vehicles like the Mazda3, Toyota Yaris, and Honda
Civic. Quebec also counts for slightly under half the Mazda5 minivans sold in
Canada - the Mazda5 marks the return of the compact minivan to Canada after a
10 year absence. Sales of less highly rated small cars, like the Chevrolet
Cobalt and Ford Focus are currently average in Quebec, at one quarter of the
total Canadian sales. Consumers in Quebec want more than inexpensive
transportation. They are looking for vehicles with style, and that are fun to
drive.

    Reviewing the brands

    Formerly a small car company, Hyundai's strongest models this year are in
the mid-size and SUV segments. Hyundai continues to renew its line-up at a
breathtaking rate, with most of its models either new or significantly
redesigned in the last 18 months. This year for the first time, a Hyundai
vehicle has earned the APA's coveted "Recommended" rating.
    The domestic automakers will likely have another difficult year, with
some further erosion of market share. Incredibly, General Motors, which once
appeared to have the largest turn around job, appears to be ahead of the other
two domestic carmakers. Chrysler's future is anybody's guess, as
DaimlerChrysler is looking for a buyer for its North American brands, and is
reported to be talking with American venture capitalists.

    The year of the crossover

    Crossover vehicles combine the enclosed cargo area and all-wheel drive of
a truck, with the suspension and floor height of a car. They are very popular
this year, with new models attracting buyers from the mid-size domestic
passenger cars, minivans and larger truck-based SUVs. There are a lot of new
products in this segment, including a trio from GM, the Mazda CX-7 and CX-9,
and the Chrysler Patriot, Compass and Caliber.

    New car advertising: time for a big spring cleanup

    A recent APA investigation of new car advertising, undertaken with the
aid of APA's mystery shoppers, revealed that many car new ads hide expensive
surprises in the fine print, and others are deliberately misleading or
incomplete.
    APA President, George Iny, says Kia's lease deal at $199 a month, with
"available" $0 down, $0 security deposit and $0 transport and preparation is
an example of advertising smoke and mirrors that is all too common in the
industry. You need to look at the fine print to realize that you would have to
put down nearly $4,000 taxes-in to lease a Kia Spectra at $199 a month, and
that the $0 down "available" refers to a much higher monthly payment that is
not specified anywhere in the ad!
    At Rond Point Dodge Chrysler in Longueuil, the APA mystery shoppers
learned they could not buy an advertised Dodge Caravan at the $16,992 cash
price. The shoppers were told they had to purchase a $1,555 extended warranty,
and 6-year financing arranged through the dealership. With additional charges
not listed in the ad, transport, preparation and taxes, the total
all-inclusive price came to over $29,000!
    APA president, George Iny, says when it comes to lease advertising,
General Motors and Toyota provide the best information with downpayments that
correspond to the advertised monthly payment included in the bold print. In
January, Quebec recently tightened up rules for used car advertising; the APA
says the new rules have improved the shopping experience for a used vehicle
and that similar changes are needed for new car advertising.

    Lease returns

    Some carmakers are paying closer attention to the condition of
lease-return vehicles, and billing consumers for excess wear and tear to
interior trim and upholstery as well as body and windshield damage. If you're
in doubt, the APA recommends using an independent appraisal service that will
prepare an estimate for you before returning the car to the leasing company.
If necessary, the appraiser will tell you how to obtain cost-effective
repairs. Currently, only one lease-return appraiser in Quebec offers a service
geared to consumers. (Auto Check Canada at 514-839-7358)

    APA's complete 2007 New Vehicle Ratings are available on the APA website
(English) at www.apa.ca, and in the annual Autos 2007 car guide published with
Protégez-Vous magazine (French).

    
    The news conference will be held at :

    Place : Le Paris Beurre (Restaurant)
            1226, rue Van Horne
            Outremont (Québec) H2V 1K3
    Tél:    (514) 271-7502

    Date :  Wednesday March 21, 2007

    Time :  10 : 30

    Coffee and croissants will be served.

    News documents and a sample vehicle inspection prior to returning vehicle
at lease-end will be available on site.
    For more information following our news conference, consult the APA web
site at www.apa.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Georges Iny, president; Antoinette Greco,
Association pour la protection des automobilistes (APA), (514) 273-1662, (514)
867-0441, Fax : (514) 273-0797

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Association pour la protection des automobilistes (APA)

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