After State of the Union, Republicans Face a Crucial Choice on Trade

First Up 02/07/19

Feb. 7, 2019

Kia, Honda Take Top Awards in US News’ Best Cars for the Money Rankings

Looking for a new ride? U.S. News & World Report announced Tuesday its annual best cars for the money list. “They’re not only cars that won’t cost you a lot of money, but they’re cars that’ll be a pleasure to own,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News’ Best Cars. The rankings take a look at cars that have the best combination of quality and value in their classes. Click here for the full list. WTOP reports that brands from Asia swept the awards this year, with Kia and Honda tied for the most awards with three each. With Kia matched with Honda for awards, Page Deaton said that shakes up the view of Kia as a provider of just cheap cars — there’s quality, too. “Kia won as many awards as Honda, and I think for most people, Honda is really a stalwart when it comes to quality and when it comes to value,” Deaton said. “With the Kia, what you’re getting is great cars that come loaded with standard features.” To see the winners, and to find out why no American or European brands were represented, click here.

Toyota Updates 2020 Tacoma with New Infotainment Options, Styling Touches

The latest freshening of the third-generation Toyota Tacoma will give the nation's top-selling midsize pickup a slightly altered look and model-dependent improved infotainment systems with special off-road goodies, while keeping the same powertrain choices. According to Automotive News, the 2020 Tacoma, introduced today at the Chicago Auto Show, will get larger touch screens and improved audio systems -- all Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa-compatible -- across all six trim levels and 30 configurations, as well as a new grille design, lighting improvements and updated wheels. Click here to see it. The base SR model will feature a larger 7-inch infotainment screen, a modified grille design and intermittent wiper setting, along with improved lighting treatments. Toyota did not release pricing information for the 2020 Tacoma lineup. Pricing for the 2019 Tacoma starts at $26,645, including shipping. For more details on each trim level of the new Tacoma, click here.

For Car Buyers Who Got a Lemon, State Laws Vary Widely

Motorists who live in New Jersey and have a major problem with a new vehicle have a handy tool: the best lemon law in the land. But about a third of the states have such weak lemon laws that consumers will have a tough time getting a fair deal, according to a study released this month by the Center for Auto Safety.  All 50 states and the District of Columbia have “something that is arguably a lemon law,” but too many fail consumers, Jason Levine, the executive director of the center, told the New York Times. In the worst states, Mr. Levine said, there might as well be no lemon law on the books. Click here to see the state rankings. The states differ on what constitutes a lemon. But in general, a lemon car or truck has a single, serious defect impairing its safety, use or value. A vehicle could also be a lemon if it had a series of problems and could not be used for a long period — often set at 30 days — because it was at the dealership. For the full story, click here.

After State of the Union, Republicans Face a Crucial Choice on Trade

For the first two years of President Donald Trump's tenure, his administration has been the sole driver of federal trade policy. Now, Reason reports, that for a variety of reasons, Congress is set to play a bigger role on the trade front, whether it wants to or not. Doing so likely will expose a deep divide within the Republican Party—where one faction is trying to claw back congressional control in the trade sphere, while another seeks to hand yet more authority to the chief executive to write the rules for how America participates in the global economy. Trump asked for the latter during Tuesday's State of the Union address, calling specifically for Congress to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act.  If the Reciprocal Trade Act were to become law, Trump could circumvent Congress and raise car tariffs to 10 percent—something that he's already threatened to do via a different mechanism, and something that would be disastrous for American auto dealers and car-buyers. For more on how Congressional republicans are responding, click here.

Is Your Car Hackable? Cybersecurity Experts Say it Might Be

If your vehicle is like most new ones, it’s basically a 2-ton connected, mobile computer on wheels – which is great if you want to enjoy the latest technological innovations during your commute. What's not so great, according to USA Today, is that hackers can use that connectivity to access your private information, steal your car or even worse.  "The worst-case scenario is that they can completely take over and control anything in your car, from the brakes to the steering wheel," said Asaf Ashkenazi, vice president of product strategy at Inside Secure, a software firm in San Jose, California. "The scariest scenario is that you're driving and they make your car crash." These type of hacks aren't just possible, they become even more likely as consumers continue to call for greater convenience in their daily driving companions. Convenience relies on connectivity and the more connectivity, the more gateways for hackers can crack into. For steps you can take to protect yourself, click here.

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