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April 16, 2014

Best Car Commercials - They Make Us Feel!

Have you noticed how car commercials have become more like mini-movies? And, how in recent years they've really tapped into the emotional connection we all have with our cars?

Since 1996, the International Car of the Year Awards, produced by Road & Travel Magazine, has shed light on the 'emotional connection' between car and consumer during its annual award's show. Our mission was to demonstrate that cars spark feelings and emotions, whether it's during the purchase process or ownership experience, or both.

Back then, most automakers were scratching their head asking, 'what emotional connection?' Some even laughed at the notion. But the fact is that we all have some sort of connection with our cars whether it be a status symbol, sex appeal, rough and tumble, an attitude of gratitude, or even just point a to point b. Our cars not only serve our need for transportation they are also an extension of our personality, who we are, and how we want to be seen. Or not! Can you say minivan?

That said, check out some of our favorite commercials over the years. It's pretty clear that automakers have caught up to our hearts and minds, and now get it, and clearly, get you, the consumer. [Click here for car commercial winners]

 

 

 

April 11, 2014

2014 Luxe & Large SUV Buyer's Guide

2014 Luxe & Large SUV Buyer's Guide by Bob Plunkett and Martha Hindes                                        

 by Bob Plunkett & Martha Hindes

Road & Travel Magazine's Top  Picks

Dodge Durango

Range Rover Sport

Ford Expedition

Toyota 4-Runner

SUVs have been a life saver for people who are active and haul lots and lots of stuff around. They've also been a blessing for families, especially women, who do not want to be seen in a minivan, deemed and doomed the mom-mobile. But even more so, SUVs have evolved into a status symbol of success for those who wish to be seen as purposeful, powerful and plentiful. SUVs serve our need for utility but they also serve our demand for individualism and identity.

Check out Road & Travel Magazine's top eight picks in its 2014 Luxe and Large SUV Buyer's Guide. Chock full of new amenities for cabin comfort and convenience. These go anywhere, do anything vehicles are not just for off-roaders anymore. They're built with cush for the tush in mind as well as all the interior bells and whistles that  make a vehicle glide in a ride on the inside.

From the outside looking in, they present a rock-star glow for whoever sits behind the wheel. Sitting above the rest, these luxe and large SUVs for 2014 offer a birds eye view for things to come, and go! [Full story]

April 07, 2014

Years of Living Dangerously by James Cameron - A Must See

What have we done? More than half of U.S. citizens are convinced that climate change is now ravishing the planet as demonstrated by the wicked weather patterns and flooding worldwide. What will it take to convince the non-believers? Some will argue that these cycles have happened many times throughout the eons and they would be right. However, never during the history of mankind has there ever been such a significant increase in such a short time of a warming of our planet, much of which is due to the human species pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into our atmosphere, otherwise known as greenhouse gasses. 

Imagine if you will yourself inside a greenhouse where one grows healthy, lovely plants and vegetables. There are windows that let the sunlight in for growth but these windows do not open. Now imagine someone slowly pumping that greenhouse full of poisonous gas with nowhere for it to exhaust. What would happen to you and the plants? Eventually, you would both wither and die from the consumption of the poisonous gas. 

Ask yourself, why do cars have exhaust pipes? To let out the carbon emissions from the engine (which is pumped into the air instead). Without those exhaust pipes, we could die from carbon monoxide poisoning. The planet is no different. The bottom line is that we've put too much CO2 into our planet's atmosphere from thousands of blamable sources and now it is choking to death. 

The one degree increase in global temperature is giving Earth a fever, just like it would in humans. The planet fights that fever with turbulent weather, its elixir to clean out the virus making it too hot in the first place. Human contribution of poisonous gasses, for which we are all responsible, is that virus. And the Earth always wins.  

We are now in the future, the future that climatologists and planetary scientists warned us about 30 years ago, then 20, then 10... no one would listen. Most wouldn't believe it. Many still refuse to believe it until it's their home, their neighborhood, their city, their family wiped out by a super cell. It's not only getting worse but is now on a path to extremes, in severity, frequency, intensity and mass loss of life. Seas are rising, flooding is rampant, super storms are the new normal. The tipping point is upon us.  

Please watch and listen (and include your children) to this new 'very important' documentary series about climate change, a call to arms if you will, Years of Living Dangerously by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/where-to-watch/ 

It will change your outlook.

A free '1st episode' showing starts today. T'was not yours alone, pass it on!

March 18, 2014

Recycle? We didn't do the 'green thing' back in our day!

From a Selfish Old Person to a Smartass Kid

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days." The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the 'green  thing' in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So, they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling and doodles. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

[Click Here for Full Revelation]

March 13, 2014

2014 Toyota Land Cruiser Road Test Review

Bob Plunkett Takes the Toyota Land Cruiser Out for a Test Drive

2014 Toyota Land Cruiser Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

On a  blacktop strip of Washington state route 409 threaded across an island in the  Columbia River, Toyota's mighty Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle lurches down  the road with a massive engine motivating all four of the 18-inch tires.

This  hefty full-size SUV has a high-strength and super-rigid frame structure, a  powerful yet efficient V8 engine tied to an electronically controlled 6-speed  automatic transmission, extensive on-board safety equipment including standard  ten air bags and high-tech vehicle control systems, plus a plush passenger  compartment to accommodate as many as eight adults on three tiers of seats with  multiple zones for climate, comfort and road-time audio-video entertainment.

And  the 2014 Land Cruiser carries even more standard gear as Toyota stacks aboard all of the wagon's  previously optional safety and luxury equipment. The list of new standard  content ranges from a navigation system and power moonroof to a Smart Key with  push-button starter, heated front and rear seats, a rear DVD entertainment kit,  rearview camera and parking sensors, HD radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

As  with past issues, the goal of Toyota  engineers for designing and developing the Land Cruiser remains  consistent:  "We aim to develop the  world's best sport utility vehicle," one designer confides. "We want  to create the largest, heaviest, best-equipped, most technically advanced and  most luxurious Land Cruiser ever, but also with the highest level of on-road  and off-road performance." [Read full review]

March 10, 2014

2014 Dodge Durango Test Drive Review

2014 Dodge Durango Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Dodge Durango Road Test Review

The unibody SUV gains new electronic controls

By Bob Plunkett

Big  chunky rocks, not water, fill the dry bed of a creek cut through the  cedar-studded hills of Texas as a brawny 2014 edition of Durango -- the big-rig  sport utility vehicle from Dodge packing massive firepower and applying  traction to all four wheels -- muscles its way in bump-bump-bump increments  across so many stones.

The  SUV doesn't waver from our mission to ford the dry wash, although its front  wheels, floating independently, articulate way-up and way-down to crawl over  the rocks.

Yet  from a driver's vantage in Durango's cushy cabin with a heated steering wheel  and leather hides covering the three tiers of seats, we never notice the wild  wheel gyrations because this formidable wagon feels surprisingly steady despite  the romp over rough terrain.

That  smooth but rock-solid ride quality begins with a monocoque platform that unites  chassis and body in a cohesive unit that's extremely rigid when set in motion. [Read]

February 24, 2014

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide - Which Made Top 10?

2014-13 Earth Aware CUV/SUV Buyer's Guide written by Martha Hindes

2014 Green SUV & CUV Buyer's Guide
written by Martha Hindes

The year 2014 could  be a fantastic or frustrating one for hypermiling crossover vehicle fans —  those who specialize in wringing every possible bit of energy, and distance,  from a vehicle fuel source. A tantalizing group of cutting edge, fuel-starving  green SUVs and CUVs peeks out from the pages of glossy automotive magazines.  They leap off the fluid screens of internet blog sites. They highlight conversations  of tree hugging enthusiasts over their water filtering bottles as they travel,  with tender footsteps, across fields, ford streams, climb rocks and breathe in  the essence of the clean air they are determined to protect. Those futuristic  vehicles—that might have made the Jetsons green with envy—hint at the  extraordinary research, development, and cost, from car companies trying to  find new, previously unimaginable ways to cut the energy footprint of getting  from here to there.

Combined with the  promise of an ecologically sound means of transport, they seem to be the  perfect answer for an increasingly clogged environment that conservationists  avow desperately needs cleaner, less earth sullying vehicles. These trendy,  coveted and ultimately usable people haulers seem to have it all — the perfect  size and shape for a number of travel needs from hauling some goods to carrying  a small group of people to subbing as a mobile office or at times a service  vehicle, such as a green taxi.

[See Which Green Vehicles for 2014 Made the Top 10 List]

February 17, 2014

Toyota Corolla Wins 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year

2014 Toyota Corolla Eco Wins 2014 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year - Most Earth Aware

Toyota Corolla Eco Named

2014 Earth, Wind & Power "Most Earth Aware Car of the Year"

Earth, Wind & Power Awards - Most Earth Friendly Car of the Year
sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

As we watched a profusion of college students jog, skate, bicycle and schmooze their way past our Minneapolis hotel, we realized we were in for an education on what is important to those on the cusp of an environmentally challenging world. They were the kind, in their early 20s to maybe mid-30s it seemed, in plaid sneakers, cutoffs in cold weather and eyes glued to a smart phone screen. Just the type, we thought, who would be woed and won by a point-in-life auto like the resoundingly revised 2014 Toyota Corolla.   We had come to the largest of Minnesota's Twin Cities to find out why Toyota considered its revised compact car so important as the automaker kicked off the 11th generation of this staple. After all, the Corolla has dominated the world of compact autos in all corners of the globe for decades. It virtually launched the small car industry in the U.S. when seeming block-long domestic gas guzzlers dominated American roads. And it has spawned a wealth of imitators seeking to dethrone it from its lofty perch ever since. 

It didn't take long to realize that not only was the Corolla a breath of fresh air visually, but in driving credentials as well. But it also pointed out how the auto is aiding in preserving the fresh air we breathe and protecting our planet by diminishing the factors that add pollutants to the atmosphere. And its achievement of reaching a lofty 40 miles per gallon mileage with an internal combustion engine heart rather than with a highly sophisticated and costly hybrid, clean diesel or more elaborate technology tells us there really still is life in yesterday's engine type when it's tamed and tweaked to accommodate tomorrow’s vehicles.   With those gold star elements plus pricing that has not gone ballistic, it didn't take long to determine the 2014 Corolla was an uncompromising champion to be recognized. And so, it was name Earth, Wind & Power’s Most Earth Aware Car of the Year for 2014. 

2014 Toyota Corolla Named 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year by Road & Travel Magazine
Presenting the 2014 Most Earth Aware Car of the Year award to Bill Fay, Group VP & GM Toyota Division U.S., are Courtney Caldwell, editor, Road & Travel Magazine; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas, and EWP award sponsor.

In accepting the award, Bill Fay, Group Vice President and General Manager - Toyota Division, cited the company's long-time commitment to good fuel economy. "For the past 47 years, Toyota has prioritized outstanding fuel economy for the Corolla.  It’s this attention to detail that has enabled our company to sell a record 40 million Corollas worldwide," he said.   “With the new, 11th generation Corolla, we’ve illustrated that 40 miles per gallon can be achieved through excellent design and engineering. We are truly humbled and appreciative that Corolla has been named the 2014 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year. This award validates the efforts of our team to make Corolla the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class.” [Full story]

February 10, 2014

2014 Audi Q5 Wins Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year

2014 Audi Q5 Diesel Named 6th Annual Earth, Wind & Power SUV of the Year - Most Earth Aware

2014 Audi Q5 Named

2014 Earth, Wind & Power's

~ Most Earth Aware - SUV of the Year ~

Earth, Wind & Power Awards - Most Earth Friendly Car of the Year

sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

We were smitten at first sight of the sassy, sporty 2014 Audi turbo-diesel when it showed up at our doorstep. Our test model was Glacier White Metallic and sported a large "TDI" on each front door for a sophisticated, no-nonsense announcement of its capabilities. So much for not blowing one's own horn.

A flared front end with sultry headlamp "eyes," anchored by those famed four interlocking grille hoops sniffing down the road balances the trim tush in the rear and announces in no uncertain terms this is a coveted Audi.

For those who need to transport five in luxurious comfort, the Q5 could be an ideal choice. The priciest of the fuel conscious versions (which seems like a no-brainer) is the hybrid Q5 that uses a 2.0-liter 245-horsepower inline four engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 245-horsepower and 254-lb. ft. of torque. It clocks in with a $51,300 base price, earning EPA ratings of 24 city/30 highway miles.

Those high ticket items point out what every wannabe Audi owner certainly knows—that no matter how environmentally conscious one might be in choosing a vehicle, when you're paying premium prices you expect to get premium perks out of the deal.

So what can the Q5 offer in the way of amenities, both in driving manners and the way it strokes the owner on the upmarket side?

Once inside, besides keyless start, there's leather (luscious Milano leather when fitted with comfort seats), aluminum and all-natural walnut trim and a heated/cooled cup holder to ensure drinks are kept at optimal temperature. Driving at night is a kick even if the only reason is to see the glow of red from all those buttons and controls that jump to life when activated.

The hybrid version gets Audi's Bang & Olufsen 505-watt premium Sound System with 14 speakers as standard equipment. "Audi connect" can mate with as many as eight wireless devices at one time.


And the TDI gets something that's becoming a vanishing breed in many vehicles as precious interior space is diverted for heavy battery storage and a bit more cargo space. That's an actual compact space saver spare tire, designed for temporary use.

A Q5 biggie is "quattro" drive on all versions. That's Audi talk for its permanent all-wheel-drive system, and a clear indication this is a go almost anywhere vehicle when driving conditions get tough, such as during a Northern midwinter blizzard or blazing through pools of water on rain slicked roads. All Q5 power plants mate to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic for smooth, supple handling and a stingier need for fuel in the process.

We can attest to the punch the diesel fuel-drinking TDI can deliver when rubber meets the road. It rates at an even feistier 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

Mark Del Rosso, executive vice president and COO Audi America accepts Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year Award from Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE America and Courtney Caldwell, editor in chief, Road & Travel Magazine
Presenting the 2014 Most Earth Aware SUV of the Year award to Mark Del Rosso, EVP & COO, Audi America, are Courtney Caldwell, editor, Road & Travel Magazine; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas, and EWP award sponsor.

Audi calls the Q5 "sporty and sophisticated, spacious and functional." We agree. Its green attributes and the strength of its Audi character were pointed out by Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. “In addition to its excellent fuel economy, the Audi Q5 combines the sportiness of a sedan with a variable interior and many practical solutions for everyday and recreational use. With 2013 year to date sales up 40.8% compared to 2012, it’s clear that consumers are continuing to respond positively to the Audi Q5’s sportiness and sophistication, spaciousness and functionality.”

“We are honored to accept the Earth, Wind & Power Award for Most Earth Aware SUV of the year, which recognizes the environmental friendliness and fuel economy of the Audi Q5.” said Del Rosso.

[Full story]

February 03, 2014

Chevy Silverado Wins 2014 International Truck of the Year

RTM Names Chevrolet Silverado 2014 International Truck of the Year

Chevrolet Silverado Named

2014 International Truck of the Year

by Road & Travel Magazine

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel Magazine

sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

When we climbed into the cabin of Chevrolet's newly redesigned 2014 Silverado pickup truck we felt like Mary Barra must have felt upon learning she'd just been named CEO of Chevrolet's parent company, General Motors. We were on top of the world.

At first it was obviously a vehicle meant to do a tough job. We had no doubts about its capability. Then all the plusses that have been incorporated began to catch our attention: The i-Pad sized anchor slot centered in the console just below the instrument panel designed to hold our tablet at a good viewing angle. That location let it sit directly in front of a band of power and data ports—dual 12-volt outlets, a three-prong 120-volt outlet, a flip-up tab hiding three USB ports (not to mention two additional data ports inside a large console bin.)

Envision some woman at a job site scanning architectural specifications, with her tablet easily providing every detail as needed, this is a vehicle that took a lot of thinking. And considering Barra's previous iteration heading up GM's design efforts we suspect she had something to do with the thoughtfulness that went into it.

How vehicles relate to both men and women is one of the key factors Road & Travel Magazine (RTM) looks at when choosing the best truck of the year. We consider the Silverado a thinking person's pickup, anticipating what's needed and providing just the right solution. That makes driving a pleasure instead of a chore. And it's one of the reasons we choose the Silverado as Road & Travel's "International Truck of the Year" winner for 2014.

2014 Chevy Silverado named 2014 International Truck of the Year - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine editor Courtney Caldwell, and ICOTY sponsor, Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas in Detroit
Presenting the 2014 International Truck of the Year for the Chevrolet Silverado are Courtney Caldwell, editor, Road & Travel Magazine; and Mike Martini, president Bridgestone OE Americas, and ICOTY's 18th annual award sponsor.

RTM editor Courtney Caldwell noted that Chevy's win comes on the 18th Anniversary of the ICOTY awards as well as RTM's 25th anniversary. She cited overall styling, new and more comfortable interior and improved miles per gallon among high points. Its appeal for women as well as men was highlighted in Chevy's groundbreaking commercial as seen here on You Tube, "Her Horse - A Woman and Her Truck," said Caldwell. "Chevy has achieved a remarkable milestone... marketing the Silverado with both genders in mind, those who are active, athletic, rugged, independent and confident. And, as in the case of the 'Her Horse' commercial, a woman of many faces and many hats, and accomplishing this without a hint of 'chick flick' in one frame."

[Full Story]