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Best Cars For Back To School

On: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 9:36AM | By: Chris Weiss

Best Cars For Back To School test 2

Back when I was in college about 10 years ago, your car was quite a status symbol. Kids drove around campus with their bright-rimmed, leather-seated, current-model-year rides pumping bass and feeling good about themselves. Nevermind the fact that the car lease was being paid for by the kid's grandma, the car made him look and feel like a player.  With gas prices hovering around $1 a gallon, fuel economy wasn't even a thought in the back of your mind, and you were free to get the biggest, loudest engine available without remorse.

The world has changed a lot in a decade. Market analysis like this has demonstrated that the car is sliding rapidly as a status symbol among youth. Many young people look at cars simply as a necessary evil needed to get around. With the world pushing greener lifestyles, the car may even be seen as a dirty, old remnant of outdated technology compared with newer, cleaner modes of transportation. So it's no surprise that the recommended cars for students aren't hot sports coupes--like the Acura Integra I used to drive around in college--but more practical, safe commuters. These options should make both kids and parents happy.

Are You A SUV Or Minivan Type?

On: Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 9:02AM | By: Peter C Sessler

Are you a SUV or Minivan type? test 2

Over the past 25 years or so, the most popular vehicles in America have been minivans and SUV vehicles.  And one of the areas where the automakers have concentrated their research dollars is in finding out who buys these vehicles, the reasons behind it and what it says about them. And this research has affected the way these vehicles are designed and marketed.

If you look at this group by median income, age, occupation, family size and where they live, minivan and SUV buyers seem, at first glance, to be very similar.  The typical buyer of a minivan or an SUV is more often than not, an affluent couple in their 40s with children. And even though minivans have a reputation of being “Mom’s” car, like, SUV’s, the principal drivers are male.

Time For A New Brand: Hyundai To Continue Moving Upmarket

On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 3:02PM | By: Chris Weiss

Time For a New Brand: Hyundai To Continue Moving Upmarket test 2

One of these days, Hyundai is going to need to release an upscale brand, a counterpart to Honda's Acura and Toyota's Lexus. Because despite the fact that the brand has made a steady climb upmarket with offerings like the $58,000 Equus, it's still hard to think of Hyundai in the same category as BMW or Mercedes. And the company has no plans of slowing down in its move up market.

According to AutoWeek, Hyundai plans to expand its offerings over the next few years, including moving into several higher end segments. It will also continue to offer more traditional, low priced models like the Accent and Elantra.

And therein lies Hyundai's problem from a marketing perspective – it's just hard for people to grasp a brand that offers the 1.6-liter four-cylinder-powered Accent, one of the lowest priced cars on the market, with high-end sports coupes and luxury sedans. It would behoove the brand to spin-off a luxury unit.

Hybrid VS. Conventional Cars

On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 1:52PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Hybrid VS Convetional Cars test 2

Hybrid cars have definitely made a dent in the sales of new cars. More and more people are evaluating whether they should buy one or at least, look at one before they buy. The reason is obvious. With gasoline prices rising this year, conventional cars are really starting to become too expensive, especially trucks and SUVs. You can save money with a hybrid car, but you have to be careful.

Hybrid cars stand out because they get much better mileage. Compared to a regular car, you can save substantially in fuel costs with a hybrid. For example, the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid car, has an estimated 51/48 mpg. Compare that with the highest mpg from a regular car and you’ll see that the Prius is ahead. What about cost? Yes, you may pay extra for your hybrid up front, but you can recoup the gap in gasoline savings later. The hybrid can put you into the plus when compared to a conventional car when you reach the break-even point on the fuel cost.


A Different Kind of Microbus From Mia Electric

On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 12:05PM | By: Chris Weiss

Microbus From Mia Electric  test 2

While the world waits for an official Microbus decision from Volkswagen, a new player has swept in and stolen some of its thunder. In VW terms, "microbus" was but a nickname for Type 2 (T1 and T2). It wasn't an official model name. Over at Mia Electric, on the other hand, "Microbus" is an official model name.

Not only did France-based Mia Electric borrow VW's name, it borrowed some of its talent. The all-electric Microbus was designed by Murat Günak, former VW head of design. The design reinvents a quirky van for modern times by making it smaller, lighter and far more efficient than ever. According to the company, the standard Microbus weighs just 1,650 lbs. and the longest version adds about 20 lbs.

The Microbus is offered in three varieties: the standard, small-wheelbase version, a longer L model and the box van. While each is a different size, they all feature the same funky shape.

Synthetic Oils - Are They For You?

On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:19AM | By: Peter C Sessler

Synthetic Oils - Are They For You? test 2

You’ve probably heard a lot about synthetic oils, good and bad. Still, there are things you should consider, before you decide which is better for your car – conventional or synthetic oil. First, now every manufacturer offers their synthetic oil version and existing brands have been reformulated and improved. There are more synthetic blends around, too. The blends are supposed to bridge the gap between true synthetics and regular oils, in terms of price and performance.

There are lots of reasons why you should consider synthetics.

2012 Toyota Camry Gets Price Drops

On: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 9:03AM | By: Chris Weiss

2012 Toyota Camry Gets Price Drops  test 2

America's long-standing best-selling car may just sell even better this year. Toyota revealed the 2012 Camry earlier this week. The mid-sized market-staple loses a little price over the outgoing 2011 model while gaining some updates.

Toyota introduced the car via a California-based Web production on Tuesday. According to the NY TImes, Toyota exec Bob Carter said of the unveil: "That’s the most excitement that we’ve ever had for the introduction of a new model."

However, it sounds like most of the excitement was generated from the event itself, an event that included skateboarders, dancers and other entertainers – because there really isn't anything that exciting about the 2012 Camry. It is a Camry, after all—solid, reliable, inexpensive—but not really exciting.

Driving Abroad

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 5:27PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Driving Abroad test 2

Think American drivers are bad and undisciplined? You don’t know how good you have it until you’ve driven abroad. Since I’ve had the opportunity to drive in several foreign countries, I’ll save you the trouble of finding out yourself.

First, let’s take a look at the cars themselves. Generally, you’ll find that use of automatic transmissions is still lagging abroad. The reason for this is fairly simple. Automatic equipped cars cost more, and also use more gas. With gas costing more than it does here, the typical foreign driver prefers to use a manual transmission. Don’t worry, for those of you who don’t know how to shift, rental cars are typically equipped with automatic transmissions.

Driving habits obviously differ from country to country – it is to be expected. English and German drivers are more disciplined than those here, especially the Germans. Because they drive much faster in Germany, you’ll find that slower drivers do stay in the slower lanes. You won’t find self-appointed speed-limit wardens holding up traffic, because it’s downright dangerous to do so – cars will be cruising at speeds way over 100 mph, and you don’t want to get in their way.

Ford Focus Electric Gets Greener With Solar Charging

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 4:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Focus Electric Gets Greener With Solar Charging test 2

Despite the fact that studies—like this one from the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center—have shown that the overall emissions of electric vehicles are less than gas-powered vehicles, the sentiment about electric vehicles not being clean because they rely on dirty, dirty electricity still prevails. Well, Ford is attacking that sentiment head-on with a new solar-charging option for the 2012 Focus Electric.

The Focus Electric, which will be giving the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt some competition when it starts hitting dealers in select markets later this year, has gotten a little greener. Ford announced recently that it will offer a solar-charging option with the compact. The 2.5 kW solar option, offered in conjunction with SunPower, hooks up to your home via a solar roof panel and provides enough juice for about 1,000 miles worth of Focus Electric driving per month. It will provide up to 3,000 kWh per year.

So, if you choose this option and average less than 1,000 miles per month, you won't be taking a drop of juice from the power grid. And then you can officially tell all those EV naysayers to shove it—shove it good.

How To Detect Drunk Drivers

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 2:29PM | By: Peter C Sessler

How To Detect Drunk Drivers test 2

Even with all the stigma attached to driving under the influence (DUI), public warnings, increasingly stiffer sentences, etc., people just don’t seem to get the message. Tens of thousands of people still die each year because of drunk-driving—and it could be anyone. You really can’t assume that there are particular classes of people who DUI.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put together a booklet that lists visual clues that can be used to identify whether a nighttime driver is likely to be drunk or not, based on the results of field studies in which clues were observed in more than 4,600 patrol stops correlated with driver blood-alcohol concentrations (BAC). These clues or cues account for more than 90 percent of all DUI detections.

I‘ve listed the cues below. The number given with each visual cue is the probability that a driver exhibiting that cue has a BAC equal to or greater than 0.10.

From AMG To Amex: Mercedes-Benz Introduces Partnership With American Express

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 12:57PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express test 2

NOTE: The author does not hold himself out as providing any legal, financial or other advice, does not make any recommendation or endorsement as to any investment, advisor or other service or product, and does not offer any advice regarding the nature, potential value or suitability of any particular investment, security or investment strategy.

And as the author more than likely has neither the financial fortitude nor the credit score to qualify for a “regular” American Express card, let alone a Benz-branded oneand let’s not even get into affording an ACTUAL Mercedes-Benzconsider all financial choices carefully before investing on his snarky whim.

His lack of financial prowess aside, Mercedes-Benz IS a car company, so their decision to put their good name on Amex cards gives your favorite automotive editor/writer a reason to FINALLY cover a Wall Street Journal-style story. Sweet!