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7 Cars for Winter Driving

January 29, 2015
Unless you live in forever-sunny San Diego or Miami, winter weather calls for some changes in the way you drive. From four-wheel drive to new windshield wipers, you can exponentially increase your safety and performance on the road by switching out some features on your car. But even better than winterizing your car is getting a brand new one, right?! Of course it isn’t in the cards for everyone, but it’s always fun to think about. In the case that you are in the market for a new car this winter, here are my favorite cars for winter driving: 8S4 1. Toyota Sienna AWD: Though some people might scoff at the idea of a minivan making my list, the Toyota Sienna is a serious contender for winter performance. I wanted to add vehicles for a variety of lifestyles, and the Sienna is by far the best family-friendly van for snow driving. It’s the only minivan to have an all-wheel drive option and higher ground clearance to handle icy roads. 6W42. Toyota Highlander: Whether you’re plowing through a snowdrift or simply passing over muddy terrain, you will never have to worry about getting stuck in the Toyota Highlander. This SUV is small enough to remain convenient and compact, while large enough to allow for comfortable seating. EAP 4. Nissan RougeYou’ll feel far more confident in the Nissan Rouge than any small sedan. Like the Highlander, it’s a compact SUV with the option of all-wheel drive. The steering is secure and solid, while the high-quality interior, comfortable seating and all-around view monitor make it a great everyday vehicle. GBE 5. Chevy Suburban: This is one of the best cars for a a big family or otherwise large group of passengers. Because it has a wider frame, electronic stability  and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, you’ll know that you and your whole crew are safe and sound when the icy roads come along. (But of course you still want to make sure you drive carefully!)K23 6. Nissan Pathfinder: This beauty is one of the Kelley Blue Book selected vehicles for 10 top Cars and SUVS for Snow driving. I particularly like the Pathfinder because it gets better gas mileage than many SUVs out there, clocking in at about 21 miles per gallon on the highway!PU5 7. Hyundai Tucson: Named a “Top Safety Pick” in 2013, the Tucson is an excellent choice for winter driving if you have a love of Hyundai! The higher ground clearance allows better manuevering, and the Tucson also has great stability, assist control and brake control for going up and down hills. You can’t go wrong!
Auto News, Behind the Wheel

You're More Likely To Get a Speeding Ticket In These Cars!

January 18, 2015
There’s a common belief that red cars, yellow cars or super fast sports cars are the ones who get over by the police most often. But I just read an article that totally debunks that myth! According to the study they cite, the cars that get pulled over the most are actually the popular, lower end cars that are driven by young kids who are more likely to joy ride and speed. It just proves that it’s certainly not the car that makes you drive faster, but it’s the person behind the wheel! Hence, this study is really a reflection on the type of cars young people drive, which in consequence are the cars that get pulled over the most. The study found that the speedy, expensive cars are usually driven by older drivers who are more cautious (because of the price of the car and their wisdom with age!) led the study, and searched out all cars involved in moving violations in the past three years. Their findings seem to be pretty accurate:

Top 10 Most-Ticketed Cars

2. Pontiac GTO (32.7 percent) 3. Scion FR-S (32.6 percent) 4. Toyota Supra (30.8 percent) 5. Subaru Tribeca (29.7 percent) 6. Volkswagen Rabbit (29.6 percent) 7. Mercury Topaz (28.8 percent) 8. Scion tC (28.8 percent) 9. Toyota FJ Cruiser (28.4 percent) 10. Mazda2 (28.1 percent)

It seems like these cars are the type that might get into a little street racing, right? The Volkswagen Rabbit was a little surprising to me though! And another interesting tidbit: the Dodge Viper is actually the least likely car to be pulled over, out of the whole study!

What do you think of the results? Do any of them surprise you? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Auto News

Why are Gas Prices Lower in the Winter?

December 18, 2014
Have you been enjoying the perks of lower gas prices this winter? It’s usually a perk of the season around this time every year, and many people believe gas prices come down in the colder months because people drive less and lower the demand for gas. But I recently learned that is all a myth (from this blog!) — and the real reason is totally fascinating, so I wanted to share it with you here! Apparently, gas prices are actually lower in the winter because it’s a slightly different type of gas than what you’ll find in the summer. It costs less to make, hence, the price is lower! Pretty crazy, right? I mean, we’d all love to have the lower price year-round, so what’s the deal? I learned that gas is made differently in the summertime so that it produces less emissions. Since summer heat produces more smog and ozone, the gas-making people of the world create a formula for gas that is designed to lessen the harm to the environment. The more eco-friendly product costs a bit more because it includes special additives, so the price goes a bit higher in the summer. The more expensive summer gasoline comes back to the pump sometime from April to June, depending on the climate you live in, and then back to cheaper winter gas in September. Of course there are plenty of other factors that can change gas prices, including proximity to an oil refinery, relationships with other countries, government and state taxes, etc etc etc, but I would’ve never guessed that the quality of oil would change the prices from season to season! Have you ever heard anything like this, or is this news to you to? Tell me what you think in the comments!
Auto News

All About Stop-Start Cars

December 7, 2014
Have you ever heard of, seen, or driven a stop-start car? The first time I rode in one, I kept thinking to myself, “Is something wrong with this car?” And, “Why is it silent every time we stop at a light? Why can’t I hear the engine?” Finally I asked my friend what was up with the car, when I foolishly discovered that this was NOT an ordinary car! This was a stop-start system car, and it kind of blew my mind! If you don’t know much about them, here’s the low-down: What is a stop start-car car anyway? Stop-start system cars are fitted with an engine that automatically turns off when the car is stopped and your foot is off the gas pedal, then turns back on as soon as you press down again. The whole process is quite seamless and nothing like switching the keys, shutting down the car, then starting it back up again. The only way you notice is because you don’t hear the sound of a loud engine! Though it might seem like a cutting-edge technology, start-stop engines have actually been around since the 70s! Originally, Toyota fitted the Crown sedan with an engine for initial testing of the invention. What’s the point? The whole idea for a stop-start system came about to help drivers save on gas — particularly those who spend a lot of time at traffic lights or in traffic jams. The feature is also found on hybrid cars like the Prius. And before you argue that starting your engine takes up more gas than it does to let it sit idle, let’s just squash that myth right here and right now! That rumor just simply isn’t true. The stop-start engine can actually save you 5 to 10 percent on gas. That amount can really add up over time! Even the Environmental Protection Agency confirms, “Idling has the greatest effect on [a vehicle’s] fuel economy. Starting/stopping a vehicle’s engine has little, if any, impact on fuel economy.” Additionally, these systems also reduce the main greenhouse gas emitted from cars (CO2) by 5 to 7 percent in city driving. Is it just a fad? Stop-start systems help automakers meet stricter emission standards, and it’s estimated that sales of cars with this technology will grow from 8.8 million in 2013 to more than 55 million by 2022! So say what you will about it, but the odds are in favor of the stop-start system! Major automakers like Ford and Mazda have stop-start cars in the works or already on the market. And in Canada, stop-start systems should take off even more, since Toronto has a law that makes idling in boats, cars, and even buses for more than one minute per hour punishable by a fine of up to $5000. Where can I get one? Now that you’ve learned a bit more about stop-start engines, what do you think about it? If you’re ready to go all-in on this eco-friendly, gas-saving invention, let’s talk about where to find one! Here’s a list of cars that currently feature stop-start technology:
  • BMW has a whole slew of cars with this technology, mainly in the BMW 1 Series and 3 Series.
  • Chevy Impala
  • Chevy Malibu
  • Ford Fusion
  • Ford F-150
  • Porsche also has several cars with stop-start engines
  • Ram 1500
Auto News

What Americans Want in a Car

November 25, 2014
Have you ever looked back at cars of a certain decade and marveled at how the times have changed? Just like fashion, music and food, the auto industry has its own set of trends that change immensely over time. And it’s all influenced by the economy, the culture, the current events…pretty fascinating stuff, if you think about it! All of these topics gave me a lot to think about when I read this article about what Americans look for in a car. Apparently, Americans used to be all about the whole experience of driving a car — how it felt to whip around turns, how fast it can go, how cool it looks, etc. But nowadays, most Americans care more about practicality. Less speed, more space! That translates to less Corvettes, more Suburbans! In the article, they say all of these things are determined by which types of cars are selling at the highest and fastest rate. And apparently, Americans usually buy the biggest car they can afford! Where do you lie on this scale? I know I certainly care about other things like fuel economy, effect on the environment, the way it looks…but that’s coming from someone who grew up with cars around constantly, so maybe I’m the minority. 🙂 The most interesting quote I found in the article was this:
Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Kevin Tynan still thinks this should be a little disconcerting to car executives. “All of this tells me we don’t want to drive any more,” he wrote in an e-mail this morning. “People would happily sit in the passenger seat of a mobile egg and let the vehicle drive itself while they play Angry Birds.”
That quote immediately made me think about all the posts I’ve made about hands-free driving! Are you siding with this article? Do you want bigger, more functional cars? And would it be better to not have to drive at all? Or do you still have that need for speed?! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Tell me your opinion on the comments below…and in the mean time, check out some of these BIG cars perfect for the average American of today! AMERICAN 1. Chevy Suburban 2. Chevy Tahoe  3. Toyota Sequoia 4. Nissan Titan 5. Toyota Tundra
Auto News

History Lessons: Toyota Through the Ages

November 16, 2014
Can you guess the industry that Toyota started out in? Or where the name evolved from, or where the brand originated? I started thinking about all of these questions awhile back, and decided to write a post on my findings! An unusual beginning Toyota the automobile company actually evolved from Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, which was named after the Japanese founder Kiichiro Toyoda. So, as you may have guessed from the name, Toyota actually started our as a textile business! Believe it or not, the company still makes automatic looms and sewing machines that are sold all around the world. But they’ve also become even more famous for their automobiles. They produce some of the most common cars in America, such as the Toyota Camry and Corolla. War sparks innovation A war with China was actually the motivator for the Toyoda family to move from textile production into automobile production. The Japanese government relied on China for vehicles, but the war created need for vehicles created in their own country. Hence, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works tried a hand at automobile production in 1934. And we’re sure glad they did! Branching out In 1937, Toyota Motor Company became an official corporation, separate from Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. The name changed from being spelled with a “d” to a “t” to reflect a similar Chinese word that had 8 strokes in one of the characters — a lucky number in East Asian culture. Toyota_Model_AA Though the first car was the Toyota Model AA (shown above), Toyota focused on building trucks for soldiers through World War II. Because this was their main area of business, the company nearly went bankrupt after the war, in the 50s. 1957_Toyopet_Crown_01 But Toyota made a comeback in 1957 with the Toyota Crown, the first Japanese car to be exported to the U.S. and Brazil (shown above). Side note: I love the look of this car and wouldn’t mind driving one myself! Don’t you think it’s cute/cool? Sadly, the car is only sold in Japanese markets now and has a different look! A worldwide brand Heading into the 60s, Toyota went full-speed ahead by expanding around the world in places like Thailand and Australia. In fact, Australia became its biggest market until 1965! Annual sales exceeded over 5 million units in 2013, and now Toyota is a massive worldwide brand that has brought us iconic vehicles and cutting-edge technology. There have been more than 3 million Prius sales worldwide and 40 million Corolla sales worldwide. 40 million! Can you believe that? It’s certainly one of the most popular cars in America, and it’s reliability and endurance prove why. Thanks to Toyota for all you have shared with the world!
Auto News, Behind the Wheel

Soon Your Car Will Be Watching Out For You

September 11, 2014
Did you know a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a driver who is focusing on the road? Because of that statistic (and many others), GM is trying to make your car take care of you, monitoring how much you’re paying attention to the road and giving you a warning if you’re not! This technology has been in the works for many years, but now the advancements have been made so that cars should be sold with these monitoring devices within the next three to five years. Tracking Movements Made by a company called Seeing Machines, the device will monitor your eye movement, facial expressions and gestures to set alarms when you may be too distracted or drifting off to sleep. In the next few years, the car may even use autonomous driving to get the car back on track automatically. The device can also use facial recognition to start the car only when the owner is behind the wheel (rather than a thief or a mischievous child!) Future Advancements So, what do you think? Would you be interested in a device like this? It seems pretty revolutionary, but also has a lot of potential to be annoying. If the technology isn’t 100% accurate (and I can’t imagine it could be!) then it could make mistakes and be overly sensitive to your behavior. But it could also save you money (by avoiding car accidents and tickets) and even save your life! I’m sure this technology will be the norm a couple decades from now, if we don’t already switch over to autonomous cars. So tell me what you think of the future! Give your thoughts in the comments below!
Auto News

What is Natural Gas?

August 14, 2014
Have you ever come across a CNG station around town and wondered why in the world gas is so much cheaper there? I remember thinking I’d come across the greatest discovery in the world, only to realize that my car could actually take natural gas. It turns out only certain cars can take CNG, which is found deep underground in rock formations. Natural gas is formed when layers of buried plants, gases, and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over thousands of years, meaning we cannot replenish the earth’s natural gas resources in our lifetime. Pretty crazy, right? clean-energy Still, you might be wondering why that makes CNG cheaper. Well, unlike petrol (the gas most of us use in our cars), CNG is only sourced within the United States. That means we aren’t paying to the price it costs to ship the gas overseas. CNG is also in much lower demand than petrol, meaning that companies can’t afford to raise the price. Finally, new technology allows for that gas to be extracted from rock much more efficiently in our country, lowering the price even more. Does learning about CNG make you want a car that runs on natural gas? Well, before you go running for a new car, you should know that most states don’t have a bounty of CNG stations for filling up your car. That makes long road trips risky! Also, Honda is the only automaker producing a light-duty, factory-produced CNG vehicle — the Honda Civic Natural Gas. Honda is selling out of this model faster than it can make them! But CNG-run cars are on the rise, especially in California, New York and Utah. So perhaps, like autonomous vehicles, this is another trend to look out for in the future! What do you think about CNG vehicles? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
Auto News

Are You Ready For Hands-Free Driving?

August 3, 2014
car It seems like driverless cars are still something reserved for sci-fi movies and the far-away future. So I was shocked when I read an article awhile back about hands-free driving coming to the roads of California next year! Other states may take awhile to catch up, but because California is changing road regulations to allow autonomous vehicles, they’re first to state to have this new invention legal for the road. The $10,000 Cruise RP-1 is a system that actually turns any normal car into a hands-free driving vehicle. The system is like an upgraded cruise control that also takes over the steering wheel and ensures that the car stays on the right route. crsbutt90870 Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how this type of technology can be safe! But that’s probably how the horse and buggy drivers felt when they saw the crazy Model T “flying” down the road. 🙂 And I’m sure they’ve done a ton of testing on it. In fact, the system includes a “sensor pod,” of the roof that has two cameras, a radar mechanism, a GPS, and other technology that controls the car’s steering, acceleration and brakes. The Cruise RP-1 constantly scans the road to keep the car a safe distance from other cars and other obstacles. The makers of the system have said that they don’t consider it to be a truly automated vehicle, but it seems like a huge step in that direction! So, I’m curious to hear what you guys think. Would you be daring enough to try this invention as soon as it comes out? Let me know in the comments below!
Auto News

6 Concept Cars You Could Be Driving One Day

July 15, 2014
Whenever I think about the future of cars, an image of The Jetsons pops into my mind: retro-futuristic flying cars that fit the whole family and speed around in the air. It’s a fun idea to imagine it really happening! The Jetsons is set in the year 2062, which is still quite a ways off from now. So who knows — maybe those flying cars will be our reality by then! In the mean time, the auto industry is dreaming up some other pretty amazing ideas that are much closer to hitting the roads in your lifetime. And while flying cars may be 50 years out, self-driving cars, single-person cars and electric cars are already made. It’s only a matter of time before they become the norm. Read on to see my list of six concept cars you could soon be driving! ft-1-8 1. Toyota FT-1 The Toyota FT-1 was just introduced at the North American International Auto Show this year. It is a sports car that is all about speed and function. For example, at high speeds, a retractable rear wing comes out and tilts forward to create even more force! It also has a “cockpit” that focuses on minimalism and function for the driver. This car is a sports enthusiasts dream. Nissan_iV 2. Nissan iV This crazy-looking car is truly the wave of the future: it features “organic synthetics,” meaning the automotive parts are cultivated in a 100% sustainable, carbon-neutral process. It is all about sleek minimalism, and the hub-less wheels function as the vehicle’s steering and suspension system at the same time. As the makers state, “Every detail is engineered toward renewable, lightweight strength and maximum efficiency.” Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.35.56 AM 3. Chevrolet En V These futuristic-looking cars seem like something that really could be straight out of The Jetsons! The En V is a cross between a Segway and a car, meant to be friendly for intermingling with pedestrians. They only reach speeds up tot 25 mph and are meant for single passengers, ideally in a city environment. The makers of the car say that the future of the automotive industry has to steer away from large, high-speed cars that fit a whole family. So it will be interesting to see how these pan out! 2003-Toyota-PM-Concept-FA-1280x960 4. Toyota PM “PM” stands for “personal mobility,” so clearly this is another car meant for a single driver. Toyota says that this car is all about creating unity between the driver, the car and the road — something we could all use more of! The car uses communication technology to unite the car to the driver and to other cars on the road. Sounds like a great car for limiting dangers on the road! TILE1   5. Nissan TeRRA One reason the Nissan TeRRA is bound to be successful in the future is because it is pushing the boundaries in zero emission technology — especially for SUVs. This car is unique because it has rugged, thick tires that are perfect for off-roading, but it’s also sleek and compact enough for the city. The TeRRA is equipped with all kinds of futuristic elements, including a tablet dock for your iPad and sleek seats that maximize space on the inside and look really cool. I could see myself driving this car! performance 6. Nissan ESFlow This one is another sports car of the future. The Nissan ESFlow is Nissan’s first 100% electric, no-gas, high-performance electric sports car. The interior includes illuminated LCD displays and the car can go from zero to 62 mph in under 5 seconds! It’s so smooth and sleek-looking, I can totally see this becoming a hit car in a few years, when electric cars are mainstream. That wraps up my list of cool concept cars of the future! Are there any concept cars you’ve seen recently that I missed? Which car would you most like to test drive? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!