The Auto-Show Must Go On!

The end of the semester draws near and I have to say that I am having a really good experience of writing blogs for the ENG 414 class. One of the reasons I choose automobile as my topic is that I was a sales/lease consultant at the San Francisco Honda two years ago and my work experience plays a really huge part on contributing to the blogs I wrote so far. However, I discovered throughout the course that there are more than just sharing information; I am also sharing my passion for cars.

While writing each blog, I had to do reseach for the each car. Everytime I was doing research, I was amused by all of the new technology and models available in the auto-market. Whenever I encounter something new, I had the urge to see how does it works for me even though I may not buy any.

To be honest, I am really enjoying to see the surprises each car model has to offer and I want to keep this feeling fresh and continuous. So I had decided to keep on writing blogs for any new or old vehicle models that deserve attention. Since the semester is close to an end, I will no longer be bounded to just reviewing car; therefore, I will take advantage of that new freedom and share more important information such as special seasonal promotion from various dealerships, after-market products that bring out potentials of a already-well-built model, and subsidies from government on specific models. My one and only goal is to provide information to help car shoppers finding the best fitting car with the best deal possible.

Since I am having so much fun doing a car review blog, I am going to kick it up a notch. If anybody from this 2012 Spring ENG 414 is planning on purchasing a car and wants me to accompany for test driving, please feel free to make an appointment with me via e-mail at with your name and identify ENG 414 2012 Spring in the subject of e-mail. I will do my best to assist you with the car shopping process.

At the end, I would like to to thank all of the readers of my blog and I am really grateful for all of the comments and feedbacks. So please stay tuned for more stuff from me. THE AUTO-SHOW MUST GO ON AND I WILL SURPRISE YOU ! (^.^)

By Shi Z Yu

My Personal Ride – Honda Civic

One of the reasons for me to work for Honda two years ago was my faith in the quality of the products from this auto-company. Before I was an employee, I was also a proud owner of a 2005 Honda Civic Si, which I am still driving it today, and I enjoy every moment behind the wheel. What is so special about this Civic of Honda? We are about to find out.

2012 Honda Civic LX model

Under the Hood.

For the 2012 Honda Civic DX, LX, and EX models, they are all equipped with a 1.8 Liter I4 16 valves engine that generate 140 horsepower at 6500 rpm, which tops some of the major competitors such as the Toyota Corolla and the Chevrolet CRUZE. As for fuel economy, the 2012 Civic DX, LX, and EX models have the fuel efficiency of 28 mpg in city and 36 mpg in highway, which combined average is about 31 mpg. With the fuel capacity of 13.2 gallons, the Civic may run up to 475.2 miles with each full tank.

Under the hood

If the 140 horsepower or the average 31 mpg fuel efficiency is not good enough for you, I have an option to satisfy every single needs.

Five Star Safety.

Each Honda vehicle is built with the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. The purpose of this build is to absorb most of the force at the point of impact in case of a collision. In this case, there may be damage to the body of the car but the impact and damage is not easily transfer to passengers. Along with the ACE body structure, safety features such as frontal and side airbags, brake assist, and electronic brake distribution are all standard for each Civic as well as all other Honda vehicles; therefore, NHTSA tested the Civic and awarded it with the frontal crash safety rating, the side barrier crash rating, and the overall rating of Five Stars – a true champion of compact sedan.   

There is Always one Civic to Matches Your Needs.

It may seems confusing at first sight due to there are many trim levels available for the 2012 Civic. Here is a list of all trim levels with the basic MSRP and a brief description.

DX Sedan ($16,755): The basic model of the Civic. Most of the dealerships do not carry too many of the DX model because customers usually don’t pay attention due to missing features. The DX doesn’t have powered entry, powered window, and cruise control.

LX Sedan ($18,805): The LX model has everything that the DX doesn’t have. Most of the customers see this one as the basic model for the Civic product line.

EX Sedan ($20,655): This is the top trim levels of the Civic, which adds moon-roof, USB connection, and upgraded alloy rims. The EX model is also classified as the EX-L model, which adds genuine leather seats, and the EX w/Navi that has the genuine navigation system. There is also a EX-L w/Navi model, which is a fully loaded Civic with everything for the MSRP of $23,605.

Hybrid ($24,200): If the average 31 mpg fuel efficiency is not good enough, Honda has the Civic Hybrid model to offer an outstanding 44 mpg on both city and highway. The Hybrid model carry over the technology from the Insight and CR-Z. Even though the horsepower drops from 140 to 110, Civic Hybrid owner can enjoy the extra miles each gallon of gasoline can handle and the idle-stop feature that doesn’t burn excessive gas to keep the car turned on.

Si ($22,555): The Honda Civic Si model offers a treat to customers who are performance orientated. It offer a bigger 2.4 Liter i-VTEC(R) I4, DOHC engine that generates up 201 horsepower at 7000 rpm. This model also offers the 6-speed manual transmission for a smooth and responsive gear shifting.

Honda Civic SiR interior

Natural Gas Vehicle(NGV) ($26,305): The NGV model is an impressive innovations that Honda offer exclusively for a Civic model and it was introduced to the market just a little bit later than the Hybrid model. The NGV model, by definition, uses natural gas that connected to your home instead of gasoline from gas stations.

More on NGV: The NGV model is mainly used for business purposes because gas stations that offer natural gas are not common in our neighborhood. Even though we can install the natural gas refilling device at our home, we might have trouble for long distance trip because of the trouble finding a natural gas station. However, NGV is highly welcome for business entities such as government units and local transportation due to government subsidies for NGV purchases, lower gas price, and the ownership of refilling devices.

Thinking About Selling Your Civic?

If you are planning to sell your used Civic for whatever reasons, there is another good news for you if you have been keeping your Civic in a good condition. According to the Honda official comparison website, the Honda Civic has the highest residual value percentage among competitor such as Corolla, Chevy CRUZE and Ford Focus. The Civic has an ALG residual value of 53% after 36 months and 40% after 60 months, which means a well maintained Civic keeps its value really well and we can expect to sell the car for higher price.

No Doubt about the Civic.

When I was working at Honda as a Sales/lease Consultant, the Honda Civic is our best seller and the dealership always keeping a large pool of Civic inventory. Since I am an owner of a Civic myself, I can always present this vehicle with confident on its impressive quality and versatility. If you are currently looking for a new compact sedan, make sure you put the Honda Civic on your research list and definitely test drive one before making final decision.


By Shi Z Yu

Rotary Innovation: Mazda RX-8

When Mazda was first introduced to the U.S. auto-market back in 1970, this company brought a revolutionary innovation on automobile design and engineering technology: The Wankel Rotary engine and the RX series. The latest product of this technology is the Mazda RX-8, which is one of the performance car that I like the most, even though there are negative comment about this car.

The Mazda RX-8

Brief History of the RX

At the beginning generation of this product line, Mazda sold its R-100, RX-2, RX-3 and RX -4 series of rotary-power coupes, sedans, and wagons. The company also sold a rotary powered pickup model for a few years, and the rotary engine did a great job of introducing Mazda to America.

The Mazda RX-7

The RX-7 that went on sale in 1978 was the most successful rotary-engine-powered car because of its power output, handling and eye catching body design. The last year the RX-7 was sold in the U.S. was 1995, but the rotary engine make a comeback a decade later. The Mazda RX-8 was introduced in the middle of 2003 and it has higher performance than its predecessors and more practical in almost every way. The RX-8’s new award winning rotary engine is called the RENESIS and it is named International Engine of the Year 2003.

What is a Rotary Engine?

At this point, we had seem Rotary engine many times, but what is it that makes the RX outstanding? Like a piston engine, the rotary engine uses the pressure created when a combination of air and fuel is burned. In a piston engine, that pressure is contained in the cylinders and forces pistons to move back and forth. The connecting rods and crankshaft convert the reciprocating motion of the pistons into rotational motion that can be used to power a car.

Rotary engine

In a rotary engine, the pressure of combustion is contained in a chamber formed by part of the housing and sealed in by one face of the triangular rotor, which is what the engine uses instead of pistons.

The flow of Rotary engine

The rotor follows a path that looks like something you’d create with a Spirograph. This path keeps each of the three peaks of the rotor in contact with the housing, creating three separate volumes of gas. As the rotor moves around the chamber, each of the three volumes of gas alternately expands and contracts. It is this expansion and contraction that draws air and fuel into the engine, compresses it and makes useful power as the gases expand, and then expels the exhaust.

The RX-8 Performance

Produced from 2004 through 2011, the Mazda RX-8 was a four-seat sport coupe with a pair of rear-hinged doors that eased access to the surprisingly roomy rear seats. The RX-8 was powered by a 1.3-liter twin-rotor Rotary engine. Power output depended on the transmission choice. The version with a six-speed manual produced 232 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. The six-speed automatic made 212 hp and had a redline limit of 7,500 rpm. With either transmission, the RX-8’s rotary delivered a 152 pound-feet of torque, which meant you had to keep the rotary at high rpm to keep the car perform to optimal.

Trim levels included Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and R3.

Even the base car came well equipped, featuring 18-inch wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The Grand Touring got a limited-slip rear differential, automatic xenon headlights, a power driver seat with memory functions, heated seats, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a Bose stereo, Bluetooth and a navigation system.

The R3 was a high-performance model that features 19-inch wheels, an aggressively tuned suspension, Recaro sport seats, exterior body modifications and some high-tech convenience features such as touch screen navigation system instead of the nod turning one.

The End of the RX and Rotary? No Way!

Unfortunately, we can only purchase 2011 or used RX series because Mazda announced that 2011 is the last year of the RX-8 production due to the high production cost and decline on sales in recent years and I am unable not provide an accurate cost of ownership. However, that doesn’t mean the end of the Rotary technology. There are rumors from many different car review homepages that said a new Mazda RX model with is working in progress, which offer a X16 Rotary (1.6 liter) engine instead of the 1.3 liter, lighter weight and possibly better fuel efficiency.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan

When a family is increasing in size or has a lifestyle that requires them to carry a lot of stuff, a minivan is no-doubt needed to satisfy these demands. However, picking up a minivan from dealership is not as easy as picking up a compact sedan because there are more decisions and constraints to worry about. These considerations include, but are not limited to: What features do I need to satisfy everyone whom will be riding with me? Is it worth it to spend more on the bigger vehicle? How long do I plan on keeping the car?

If you are looking for a minivan and having trouble making a decision, I recommend the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan to you.


Fully Equipped

The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T model is the fully equipped model with the capacity of eight passengers. The following is a list of what is included in this trim level:

  • Standard equipment: keyless entry, heated side mirrors, air conditioning, front and rear wind shield wipers, stereo and speaker system.
  • Safety equipment: electronic traction and stability control, 4-wheel disc brakes, front airbag and full side curtain airbags.
  • Optional equipment (Included in R/T model): Stow’n Place roof rack, heated front and rear leather seats, power lift-gate, rear backup sensor and monitor.

One of the most notable pieces of equipment is the Uconnect hard-drive-based navigation and entertainment system, which does pretty much everything besides driving. It features a Garmin navigation and voice-command system with a 30GB hard drive to store all kinds of digital data such as music and system updates. With subscription, Uconnect features the Web Mobile apps to make the Caravan R/T a Wi-Fi hot spot. In addition, the Caravan R/T is equipped with the rear-seat DVD entertainment, satellite radio, CD/MP3 auxiliary connection, and the Infinity 506-watt 9-speaker audio upgrade. With all of this over-powered equipment, there is no way to get bored on either short or long distance road-trip.

Under the Hood 

The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that generates 283 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. This class-leading power output is more than enough to carry eight persons with full cargo and have a trailer behind. My uncle has a old Caravan base model and it is capable of bringing his family of four and my family of three to a one-day Napa wine tour without a single problem.

Most Affordable Base Price

The Dodge Grand Caravan is the America’s Best Selling Minivan for its lowest base price and highest horse-power among its competitors. The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan basic trim model has a MSRP starting under $22,000 plus tax and fees, which is more affordable than a Honda Accord EX or Toyota Camry LE. In comparison, the Toyota Sienna V6 costs about $4,000 more, while the entry-level Honda Odyssey will cost an additional $7,000. The MSRP of the fully equipped R/T model will climb up to $38,000 plus tax and fees, which brings the price difference closer for the comparable models. Even though the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan has a lower base price, it does not retain the resale value as well as the Odyssey and the Sienna.

Overall Evaluation

The Dodge Grand Caravan has been one of the most practical minivans in the United States and they are basically everywhere around the street. The Caravan may not have a fancy exterior appearance, but its low base price, high power output, and countless convenience features make this minivan an excellent investment for any household and business owner. If you are looking for a minivan and want to buy American, look no further and test drive one today.

The Long Lasting Corolla

When I was working at San Francisco Honda, one of the best selling compact sedan is the Honda Civic due to its outstanding engineering quality and resell value. Within the automobile market, the biggest competitor to the Honda Civic is the Toyota Corolla and these two models had been fighting for the market share for decades. Since I was the sales/lease consultant at San Francisco Honda back then, I was required to study the specs, advantage, and disadvantage of the Corolla. To be honest, the Corolla is a very good car for small family and single working class, and it certainly deserves our attention.

The Corolla is not a stranger to most driver because they are basically everywhere around our neighborhood. It is the best selling compact sedan for Toyota company as well as the whole U.S.. According to an article in the Toyota USA Newsroom, there were more than 240,000 Corolla being sold in the U.S. in 2011, more than 36,000 in both Canada and Australia.

The 2012 Corolla model is the 10th generation of the product line, and it had been evolved in every category from performance to style. It is now available in trim levels: L, LE, and the Sport. The newer Corolla model is a compact sedan that comes with a very sophisticated car body style, which is comparable with some of the luxury sedans like the Lexus IS series; the Sport trim level adds a rear wind spoiler and chrome-finished muffler, which makes the appearance even more appealing.

The 2012 Corolla is available in both 5-speed manual and 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that equipped with a 1.8-Liter 4-Cyclinder 16-Valve engine, which generates up to 132 horse-power. The estimated fuel mileage for this car is about 26 mpg when driving in city local and up to 34 mpg in highway. The spec of the Corolla may not help you win a trophy in a race, but it is a very economic vehicle for daily commuting. As a matter of fact, I am a owner of a 2001 Corolla and I can travel up to 450 miles in highway for each full tank of gasoline, which is just a little bit behinds compares to hybrid vehicles.

Even though it is a small compact vehicle, Toyota doesn’t slack on keeping the passenger safe in the Corolla; Each 2012 Corolla trim level is equipped with the standard safety system and full-side airbags. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2012 Corolla received the Top Safety Pick award and the comment: “good performance in front, side, rollover, and rear tests and standard electronic stability control.”, so passengers have a higher chance of surviving serious accident. (Note: Please practice cautious driving behavior to avoid car accident.)

The Entune multimedia system is an outstanding device available for the new Corolla. It is a touch-screen console that integrates GPS, audio player, Bluetooth wireless, and various apps. With the Entune system, drivers can do much more than just look for a traveling route; with the proper apps installed, they can enable the driver to access many  information like the fuel price, sports, stocks, and movie ticket price. So if the budget allows, I highly recommend this genuine Entune multimedia system because it adds a high-tech touch to the already sophisticated 2012 Corolla.

The Toyota Corolla is known for its long lasting engine life. With regular periodic maintenance, the Corolla, as well as other Toyota models, can runs for a very long time. According the Polk U.S. Vehicles in Operation registration statistics, over 80% of the Corolla sold in the last 20 years are still running today.

Some people may recognize the Corolla as this

The MSRP for the 2012 Corolla starts from $16,130 plus tax and fees, and the estimated total cost of ownership in a five-year period is about $35,000 if the car is driving for 15,000 miles per year, which is relatively less expensive than competitors.

My family had been driving the Corolla for the last 12 years and we are not planning on getting rid of it any time soon. As a matter of fact, we are planning to keep driving it for at least another 12 years. So if a car shopper is looking for a economic commuting car and planning on keeping it for a long time, the Corolla is usually the first choice that pops up in mind.

Volkswagen GTI

While a compact hybrid vehicle is excellent in term of gasoline efficiency, its relatively low horse power and slow acceleration may not satisfy drivers who are performance oriented. There are many exotic sport vehicles available in the market such as the BMW M series, the Chevrolet Corvette, and the Porsche 911 Turbo that can easily satisfy the needs for speed; however, they are very costly to buy and to maintain. If you looking for a car with good performance and don’t want to spend more than $50,000 at the dealership, I have a suggestion: the Volkswagen GTI.

The Volkswagen GTI is the high performance version of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback, so the vehicle’s body and interior layout are almost identical. The GTI available in two-door and four-door for both Base and Autobahn trim levels. The 2012  GTI Base model is equipped with many convenient features, which some of them are listed as below:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • a rear roof spoiler and sport suspension
  • standard fog light
  • heated front sport seats and heated outside mirror
  • cruise control and a trip computer
  • air-conditioning
  • an eight-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack and USB connection for device such as the iPod.

Some of those features are usually not available in the comparably competitor model with the similar MSRP.

The 2012 Volkswagen GTI is only available in a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive and it is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinders, 16-Valve engine that generates up to 200 hp and 207 pounds of torque. It can accelerates from zero to 60 mph in about 7.3 seconds, which is just about one second difference compares to some of the BMW 5-series models.

Vehicles with high performance usually come with full standard safety equipments and the 2012 GTI is of no exception. The GTI includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat airbags and full side curtain airbags. While the equipments help minimize the chance of injury during an accident, helping the driver to avoid accident is just as important. According the, a vehicle review website, the 2012 GTI can braking from 60 to zero mph in 129 feet to avoid front-rear collision.

The Volkswagen GTI is surprising roomy compares to other sporty hatchback vehicle and getting in and out of the vehicle is relatively painless in both two-door and four-door style. Behind the rear seat, the cargo space is about 12.4 cubic feet and up to 46 cubic feet with the rear seat fold down. The same stat also applies to the Volkswagen Golf and Rabbit models, so car shoppers who do not want to drive a manual transmission vehicle have the options for the alternatives.

Even though the Volkswagen GTI is considered a high performance vehicle, it doesn’t suck up gasoline like the other exotic sport cars. The gasoline efficiency of the GTI is about 21 mpg for city local and up to 31 mpg for highway. A partial-zero-emission-vehicle (PZEV) model is available GTI, which makes it relatively more environmental friendly.

The MSRP for the 2012 Volkswagen GTI base model is $24,595 plus tax and fees. When breaking down the cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance, financing, and depreciation, the estimated cost of ownership over a 5-year period is about $35,545 plus the price of the vehicle.

Overall, the Volkswagen GTI may not be the fastest among competitors when compares with number and stats; however, the GTI gets very good rating for comfort and solid ride quality. At highway speed, the cabin can be as quite as some of the other luxury vehicle, so drivers will not suffer from the rumbling and they can enjoy the music and radio while driving. So if you want to satisfy your needs for speed without the rough ride, Volkswagen GTI will be the best answer.

Look Inside the Insight


            The demands in the automobile market are constantly changing due to economic and environmental concerns. One of the most significant changes my sales team observed was the rise of the demand for hybrid vehicles. Over the last decade, the U.S. experienced a soaring rise in the price of gasoline which put a heavy burden on many drivers. Besides the gasoline price, there are also concerns about global warming and harmful chemical emissions from cars. In order to tackle these two economic and environmental crisises, the technology behind hybrid vehicle is constantly improving and evolving. In the current market, most of the hybrid vehicles available have great gas mileage averaging about 40 miles per gallon of gasoline(MPG) as well as idle stop technology, which allows drivers to enjoy utilities without running the engine and thus reduces harmful chemical emission.  

            The Honda Insight is one of the best choices in the hybrid vehicle market. The Insight was the first hybrid vehicle introduced to the U.S. automobile market back in 1999 and it had been improved significantly during the last 13 years. The Insight is also rated as the most affordable hybrid vehicle because it is less expensive than any other competitors of comparably trim level within the market.

            The original 2000 Insight model is a small two-seated three-door hatchback vehicle that offers exceptional gas mileage averaging more than 50 MPG. This model was rated the most gas efficient Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified gasoline-fueled vehicle ever. Honda introduced the second generation of the Insight in 2009 with significant changes over its predecessor. The new Insight is bigger than the original, which now sits five people instead of two and it is equipped with a 15.9 cubic feet cargo space; 31.5 cubic feet with the back seat rolled down for bigger luggage. Since the size of the vehicle has increased, the vehicle is now equipped with the bigger Hybrid 1.3 liter i-VTEC engine with Integrated Motor Assist(IMA) electric motor, which offers a maximum of 98 horsepower and idle stop feature. One drawback of the new Insight is the gas mileage dropped to averaging 40 MPG, but it is still excellent compared to conventional vehicles.

            Let’s take a look at what is on the dashboard of the new Honda Insight. One of the unique feature in this vehicle is the ECO system, which automatically reduces the usage of unnecessary electronic devices to maximize the battery life. The ECO system display within the speedometer rates the driver’s driving behavior ranging from one to five leafs after each trip, with slower acceleration and less sudden stops usually resulting in a higher ECO score. A stereo system or navigation display maybe installed on the center of the dashboard depending on the trim levels of the vehicle, which are LX, EX, and EX with navigation. Every trim level comes equipped with features such as heater and air-conditioning, auxiliary jack or USB, and radio, which are very useful when driving and keeping passengers entertained.

            When compared to other hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, and the Civic hybrid from the same Honda family, the Insight is the least expensive. Most of the vehicles listed above may cost as much as $30,000 plus tax and fees if fully equipped, while the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a 2012 Insight EX model with automatic transmission and navigation is $23,540 plus tax and fees; the difference is clear. According to various vehicle websites, the residual value percentage of the Honda Insight after 36 months is 52% and 38% after 60 months, which is very important information because it means car owner can expect to sell the Insight later on with at a higher resale price, or lease the brand new Insight model from dealerships with lower monthly rate.

            With the ever increasing price of gasoline, it may be a good time to consider switching to a hybrid vehicle and the Honda Insight, both the new and the used model, are the best choice in terms of value. If anybody is interested in buying a hybrid vehicle, put the Honda Insight on your shopping list and test drive one today.

Tips for Car Shopping

After we get our official driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles, our car  plays a big role in our life. As much as we need cars to get us around to places, buying one can be a difficult and a time-consuming process because of the huge selection available in the market; furthermore, this process is probably the first big investment decision we need to make in our life. From 2008 to 2010, I worked as a vehicle sales/lease consultant at San Francisco Honda. Our sales team received training on how to help customers select the best fitting vehicle and we had mandatory weekly meetings to discuss possible improvements on the selection process. I would like to share some of this information as well as reviewing various vehicles in my blog, so car shoppers can get a better and clearer direction about the cars they are really looking for.

Some of the common questions I heard from my customers were: “What is the engine size of this car?”, “Does it come with leather seat?”, “How many air bags in this car?”, and “What is the gas mileage?”. Based on these common questions and sales records, our sales team summed up that car shoppers have different buying intentions based on four primary categories: performance, quality, safety, and utility. Some shoppers may emphasize concerns in all four categories, or they may only focus on just one or two. By identifying the buying intention and keeping a budget plan in mind, car shoppers can significantly narrow down their selection; therefore, they don’t need to waste time on unnecessary research. For example, if I want a sporty car that has good horsepower and I have a budget of about 25,000 dollars limit, then I would look for cars like the Volkswagen GTI base model or Mazda Speed3 model because they match my criteria; therefore, all I have to do from here is to test drive them and pick from these two.

In the following days, I will review one vehicle on each blog. Each review will be based on the four primary buying intentions, I will be introducing a particular car’s mechanical performance, special quality features, safety ratings, and useful functions that come with it. On top of that, I will also include the manufacturer suggested retail price of each vehicle as well as the true cost of ownership. With this information, my blogs may serve as a mini guide for your next car purchase.