In a mystery shopper study, car buying prospects at Audi dealerships expressed the greatest level of satisfaction, according to Pied Piper, a research company that has conducted this survey for the 12th year. Called the Prospect Satisfaction Index, the study ranked Audi as the top dealer experience for shoppers, followed by Lexus, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti.

According to the company, “Audi salespeople were most likely on average to ask customers questions to determine how a vehicle would be used,” and were more likely to conduct a walk-around demonstration of their products. The study measured the treatment of car shoppers at 3,466 dealers nationally.

Audi has the most significant gain among brands moving up eight positions to snare the top spot from Lexus. The PSI also measured satisfaction increases at Jeep and GMC. Overall, seven makes improved their scores, while 15 brands declined. The bottom five brands from the lowest index score of 89 (100 being industry average) are Tesla, Genesis, Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Fiat.

Making money with Maven

General Motors’ acquisition of the Maven car-sharing platform opens the door to the automaker’s customers to use the service to earn money by making their vehicles available to others enrolled in the service. This new peer-to-peer option offered via the Maven app will allows owners and eligible lessees of 2015 and newer Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC cars and trucks to rent their vehicles to more than 150,000 Maven members.

GM is conducting a beta test of the new app called Peer Cars in Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. All vehicles are covered by a $1 million insurance policy and Maven vets its driving members who are approved to use the Peer service.

“Your car is one of the most expensive things you own,” Julia Steyn, vice president of General Motors Urban Mobility and Maven said. “Sitting idle, it is a wasted asset. It’s time to put your car to work. Maven’s peer-to-peer offering is a smart way for owners to offset their vehicle investment. Maven is a platform designed for sharing and we’ve proven demand exists. In this beta, we are excited to offer GM owners the opportunity to capitalize on this demand and earn income by listing their vehicles.”

Owners who participate in the program can set rates either 20 percent higher or lower than the rates quoted on Maven for similar rentals. Owners receive 60 percent of the revenue, while Maven takes the balance. Owners who list their vehicles are also required to keep it filled and clean, while users are expected to return the vehicles in the same condition in which they pickup them up.

Maven currently operates car sharing services that allows its members to rent vehicles by the hour, day or month and the Peer-to-Peer program is added to a menu that includes city station-based car sharing, university campus sharing and Maven Gig, a program that allows members to rent vehicles up to a week to earn money by offering rides or deliveries.

GM says information collected in the test will be used in its rollout this fall of the Peer-to-Peer car sharing app in other markets.

2019 Honda HR-V priced

The refreshed 2019 Honda HR-V has gone on sale and boasts some product upgrades and a new Sport trim level. Honda has revamped the infotainment system integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as fitting the system with a volume knob. The Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assists is now available on EX trims and higher.

The base front-drive HR-V LX will start at $21,515 including destination. The new Sport model, which boasts blackout trim and 18-inch wheels, starts at $23,215 for front-drive. The EX model comes in at $24,715, while the EX-L is $26,315. All-wheel drive models add $1,400. The top-end touring, which has multi-element LED headlights, dark chrome trim, LED fog lights and standard AWD is priced at $29,535.

All 2019 Honda HR-V models are powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 141 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission, the front-drive LX is rated at 28 mpg city’34 mpg highway and a combined rating of 30 mpg.

New Porsche Macan bows

Porsche took the wraps off its new 2019 Macan in Shanghai and at first glance it looks pretty much the same as the current vehicle. Some minor exterior tweaks aside, mainly the horizontal bars in the grille replacing the eggcrate design, this sporty crossover’s biggest changes are inside including a new 11-inch touchscreen, redesigned vents and a new optional sport steering wheel inspired by the 911.

All 2019 Macans will come with a Connect Plus module which controls digital functions such as intelligent voice control and the real-time traffic information that is part of the standard onboard navigation system. Porsche uses a “Here Cloud” connection, which utilizes state-of-the-art, swarm-based traffic data. This cloud connection also enables a new Off-road Precision App, which allows owners to record and analyze off-road driving. Another new feature on the 2019 Porsche Macan is Traffic Jam Assist, which is part of the adaptive cruise control. Porsche says the system has partially automatic acceleration and braking and assists with steering in a traffic jam or slow-moving traffic at speeds up to 37 mph.

Porsche has also upgraded the sport suspension and specified new tires with redesigned 20- and 21-inch wheels which improves handling and enhances the vehicle’s appearance.

The rundown

Considering the donation of your old car to charity? If you use the new donate option here at Kelley Blue Book through Sept. 30, we’ll give an extra $100 to St. Jude’s Hospital. Details here.

Audi is upgrading its entry-level crossover SUV with a new exterior design and features. Get all the details on the 2019 Audi Q3 in this First Look.

Ford has created a new autonomous vehicle subsidiary to handle all its self-driving product and service development. The company has invested $4 billion in Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC.

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