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Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Consumer]

Not "might" be spying on you, is spying on you.

You paid for it – possibly making payments on it for years. It’s your car now . . . right?


But the data it contains effectively belongs to someone else.

Don’t believe me? Then take a look at your owner’s manual – if you own (well,think you own) a new car.

Oh, and if you think it's only "if there is a crash", think again.

“Daimler AG can access these data and submit them … for safety research or vehicle diagnosis purposes … on the instruction of prosecuting authorities… (and) as otherwise permitted by law.

What prohibits them from having them and sending them?


The author notes that this has already happened -- his Onstar-equipped vehicle told Onstar of his "spirited" driving and OnStar called him in the car to inquire if he needed EMS.

He had not wrecked; it just didn't like the loads (presumably lateral and acceleration loads) it had detected.

And now the reason for unscrewing that pretty little antenna should be clear.  Oh -- can you do that any more?  The old AMPS service my Suburban used is no longer operating but I disabled it as soon as my "free trial" was over anyway.  Nor did I want (or was I willing to have) so-called "advanced telematics" in my newer vehicles.

I guess I'll be driving nothing newer and more-fancy than what I own now -- at least with my present newer vehicle you have to physically get to the car to get the data out of it.

That's not likely to be the case for any car in the near future, and it certainly isn't for any so-called "connected" vehicle now.

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So now with 10k on the clock since I first purchased and put into service my Mazda 6, how do I like it?

In a word: Lots.

First, fuel.  Real-world economy varies from about 30mpg (at its worst) to very close to 40mpg (at its best.)  The "worst" figure sounds rather more-awful than it is; it includes significant periods in the 95F heat we have right now where I use the car as a mobile air conditioning and cool-down source after long runs, where I sit in the thing with the A/C blasting and the engine idling.  Needless to say the mpg during such a period of time is zero.

The Jetta got zero during those times too, and I recorded several 30ish mpg tanks over my years with her in exactly this fashion (often during soccer season when my kid would be practicing and I'd be sitting with the AC going on the laptop during same) -- same deal there, consuming fuel but going nowhere.

It is what it is.

Over a long trip I clocked several 37+ mpg full tanks, and none of them featured material time with the car doing less than 65mph.  I'm reasonably sure that I could break the 40mpg barrier quite easily (and probably by quite a bit) if I locked the cruise at 60 as I've run several decade-miles-long stretches with the MFI showing a 4-handle @ 60mph in construction zones and similar.  However, I'm not willing to do that on a long trip any more than I was with the Jetta, so again it is what it is.  The folks over on TdiForum that would boast of low and even mid-50mpg tanks were amusing to me; I know full well how to get such economy in the Jetta, but is your time really worth that little to you for the additional incremental fuel economy?

In terms of interior refinement (read: nice, quiet ride and excellent road comfort) the Mazda continues to impress.  Long trips do not leave me looking for a chiropractor or cursing as I exit the car.  I have no complaints about handling to note, although I've yet to find that nice twisty road section with no cars or cops (read: where I can sequentially push harder and harder until I find out where the line actually is) to really wring it out.  I don't expect to be disappointed.  The steering balance is one of the major high points on the vehicle; I liked my Jetta in that regard, but I love the Mazda.  It's lighter and yet remains precise and "planted", a very rare combination.  One note for anyone thinking of stiffening the rear swaybar -- make damn sure you drive the car to its limit first.  Unlike most modern FWD vehicles the stock setup is quite well-balanced and you might loosen the rear end up enough doing that to get an unwelcome surprise!

The stereo upgrade I put in is arguably the best money I've spent on any vehicle in my lifetime to date.  It's a real joy that can only be fully appreciated when you either are alone or the other person(s) also like both your music and the volume at which you want to play it, and doesn't want to converse.  It really has to be heard to be appreciated; to have a real no-bull**** soundstage in a car is amazingly rare.  I should have done this a decade ago or more to my other vehicles.

I have nothing of note in terms of problems or complaints; routine maintenance has been simply two oil changes.  Oil consumption has dropped to very close to zero over the second interval; no make-up required.

I've adapted to the transmission's quirks (specifically the wide 1-2 ratio followed by the much-narrower and even gear ratios from 2-6) along with the very light (comparatively again) clutch; it's a joy and even in heavy traffic doesn't***** me off.  Of note is that when coming down in speed on entry to a corner the close-ratio gearbox ought to be driven much more like you would a track car, downshifting sequentially and often.  That's the right way to shift any stick but with wider ratios and fewer gears it's easy to get lazy while maintaining smoothness in ordinary day-to-day driving; not so here.  One note for Mazda -- unlike the newer common-rail diesels that will shut down if you drag them a bit below idle speed on a launch the Skyactiv engine will try to hang on -- and fail to do so, getting very rough in the process.  Having that happen is driver error of course but IMHO it's the wrong choice for the ECU software to make; just kill the fuel delivery if it happens and let the driver hit the START button again.  It's the only mar I've found on what is otherwise an extremely well-refined drivetrain beyond the ability of someone who is "tuned in" to note when the engine changes over from its hybrid Atkinson to Otto cycle as you come off very light throttle to a bit more-spirited use of the loud pedal; there's a bit of a rough edge to the drive train in that operating regime  It's very minor but if you Zen with your car you'll notice it.

Yes, I'd still like tires with less road noise although I have nothing terrible to say about their wet traction, and dry traction and ride comfort are fine.  That will be a "when they wear out" thing and is a while in the future.

My kid thinks the car needs a more "masculine" sound.  There are aftermarket axle-back exhausts now available (two I'm aware of) that would do that, but I sort of like the "stealth" aspect of not having an exhaust note intrude into the cabin at all during normal driving, and as things are from the factory that's what you get.  I'm going to leave it alone, at least for the time being.

Would I buy the "6" again with the miles now under its belt?

Oh hell yeah.

I'll post another update in another 10k miles or thereabouts, or if something happens that changes my mind.  

I don't expect it to.

PS: If you like the option of replacing the stereo system you better buy one before the 2016s come out early next year.  Mazda is apparently going to the "3" style infotainment system with the display on top of the dash instead of in it, which will make replacement impossible.  This, above all else, was why I didn't buy a "3"; I refuse to wind up hating and getting rid of a car because the stereo either sucks or breaks long before the rest of the vehicle does.  I note that the stock "premium" sound systems in the "6" do, in my opinion suck for varying reasons -- but that was perfectly ok from my perspective because I could both avoid buying it and could rip the stock unit out and replace it at a reasonable cost.

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Jesus, the skim just never stops, does it?

When Curtis Arnold launched the card-comparison website in early 2013, American Express Co. AXP -0.29% signed on as an early advertiser.

Soon after, Mr. Arnold said, the company asked him to refer to its widely used Bluebird card not as a prepaid card but as a "checking and debit alternative." Mr. Arnold agreed. Then, last summer, American Express executives urged the site to change how it presented the card's fees, he says.


Interviews with a dozen card-comparison sites reveal that as card-issuer pressure ramps up—with increased requests for sites to delete or change some information—most sites are giving in to their demands.

So let me see if I get this right.

The so-called "comparison" sites are in fact advertising vehicles.  If you don't present the data the way the card companies want it to be presented then you don't get their advertising.  This of course is how they're supported at all, which means absent that the site doesn't exist.

But the "face" presented to the public is that these sites compare cards from different issuers and brands.

One would expect that such "comparisons" are, well, comparisons and are developed by the site independently.  Now it may not be objective because what's objective to one person is subjective (or even biased!) to another, but there's a huge difference between a site that allegedly compares offerings and is run by some independent company and one that is nothing more than an advertising arm for a given card firm or set of card firms -- without fair, full and in-your-face disclosure of same!

Advertising is perfectly fine provided you're not misleading people.  But misleading people is not just about stating things that are not true -- it is also omitting things (or sticking them in illegible and never-read fine print) that are including who butters your bread and what they got in return!

At least when I see a commercial for ketchup on the TV I know who paid for and why -- they want me to buy a particular brand of ketchup.

How the hell can you figure out who is paying and what they're trying to lead you to buy on these so-called "comparison" sites -- and if you can't, isn't that by definition an abuse of the consumer and shouldn't it run afoul of consumer protection laws?

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