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December 16, 2012

2013 Crossover Vehicle Buyer's Guide

Road & Travel Magazine's 2013 Crossover Vehicle Buyer's Guide by Martha Hindes with contributions from Bob Plunkett and Tim Healey

2013 Crossover Vehicle Buyer's Guide - Our Top 10 Picks
by Martha Hindes

With Contributions by Tim Healey and Bob Plunkett

When sport utility vehicles lost favor with a lot of American consumers a few years back and sedans didn't fill the need for flexibility and more space, auto makers came up with a new package to offer the best of both worlds. No one knew for sure what to call it until someone suggested “crossover or CUV” for crossover utility vehicle. The name stuck. For drivers ready for a new, more adaptable driving flavor, the idea also stuck. And the vehicle that some think of as a softened SUV or a wagon on steroids became a hit.

Since the CUV emerged as its own sub-classification it has continued to evolve, adding flash and dash to its utilitarian underpinnings, zip to its performance, comfort despite its expanded character and in many cases coddling its drivers with luxury details normally found in a premium auto. Let’s face it; the flexible CUV is getting lots of attention from the people who develop them and the people who buy them.

That transition has resulted in a number of new entries and redesigned vehicles for 2013 that are teasing potential buyers for attention with a deliciously appealing variety. At Road & Travel Magazine we chose our Top 10 CUV Picks for 2013, presenting those along with some other new or revived models that we expect to become “gotta haves” this coming year. Read on... 

November 03, 2012

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Road Test Review

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Road Test Review by Tim Healy

by Tim Healey

Earlier this year, we flew to Virginia to drive Chevrolet's much hyped Camaro ZL1. So, naturally, we're writing a review of the Malibu, Chevy's mainstream mid-size sedan.

Say what? How does a trip to a track end up with us behind the wheel of a totally different car than the one we intended to drive? Simple: blame Mother Nature. Torrential downpours washed out our scheduled track time with the Camaro, and since we didn't feel like cooling our heels all day, we grabbed the keys to a Malibu that Chevy had on hand and set out to explore Virginia and North Carolina. We got ourselves good and lost on several local back roads (maps? We don't need no stinkin' maps) and got well acquainted with both the Malibu and tobacco country.

Features & Prices

The first of the redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibus to hit dealerships were Eco models, and that's what we drove through the backwoods along the Virginia-Carolina border. Eco models come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that's matched with an electric motor for a combined 182 horsepower, and the electric motor is unable to run on its own. GM's eAssist system gives the car start/stop capability, meaning that the engine shuts down at a stop before firing back up when the brake is released, with the intent of reducing idling time. Read full review...

October 10, 2012

2013 Kia Optima SX Sedan Road Test Review

2013 Kia Optima SX Road Test Review by Courtney Caldwell

This Ain't Your Grandma's Car!

by Courtney Caldwell

I’ve never fancied myself much of a sedan girl. More like a speedy sports car siren or a mother trucker… the latter of which was my first priority for many years when rearing rugrats and camping out by babbling brooks in the back woods of New England. But this week, priorities changed when the new 2013 Kia Optima SX sedan was delivered as our test car. What a looker!

“Is that the new Jaguar,” one man shouted from across the parking lot. “No, it’s the new 2013 Kia Optima,” I yelled back. “Wow, woulda' never guessed,” he said shaking his head with surprise.

And that’s the reaction the Snow White Pearl Optima received all week long. Driving this car was like having a new puppy. Everyone wanted to stop and pet it, stoop down and take a closer look, inspiring miles of smiles and constant curiosity. I found one woman peering into the windows with her hands cupped around her eyes to get a better look inside. Approaching the car, I asked, “What do you think of it?” Startled and somewhat embarrassed she was caught, she replied, “Oh, so sorry, I wasn’t being nosy but this car is just so gorgeous. I had to get a closer look. I can’t believe this is a Kia!”

The beautiful black and white Nappa leather trim interior was surprisingly stunning upon opening the door. Not only elegant and upscale in appearance but also spurring sensations of a sexy sports car. Our SX test model came with the premium touring package, which included 18” luxury design alloy wheels with red brake calipers presenting a lower, wider stance in appearance, appealing to those who need practical but love performance. The SX delivers both. The chrome accent rear spoiler completed the overall exterior look and style of the Optima placing this unique sedan in a class above its 2012 predecessor. The new 2013 SX dispels any myths about a sedan being for old folk… this ain’t your grandma’s car! For full review, click here.

September 05, 2012

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer SE - First Impression Review

by Courtney Caldwell

Mitsubishi-lancerMitsubishi has been known throughout the years for their great electronics and other gadgets but their cars have had a limited audience. 

Until recently, Mitsubishi cars almost seemed like a hobby to the company, a small fish in a big pond of automakers. Their small line of vehicles appeared to target the men's gear-head market, save their Galant sedan, which leans more towards a family audience. 

Then, this week, their new and improved 2013 Lancer 4-door sedan showed up on my doorstep for a test drive. Impressed would be an understatement. Gear-heads, move over. First, it's got looks, good looks. Small and compact for a sedan, it's certainly roomy enough for four and has more pep and pizazz than imagined. Corners very well, holds a steady grip on the road when turning (unless you're tearing into a corner at warp speed) at which time expect to test its 4-star rollover safety rating.

After driving it around town for everyday use it hit me that this was a fun yet practical car, a rare combination in most vehicles today. They're either practical and not much fun, or loads of fun but not very practical. The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer definitely owns both characteristics as well as charm. 

It also comes with a gaggle of safety features so me thinks it's fair to say that the Lancer would make a very nice, practical with sporty handling family car, especially for those starting out, say a young family, single drivers on a budget, even a great empty nest vehicle to drive around and leave at your warm weather cabin. This is not to say the Lancer wouldn't make a great year round car... as it would with ease. However, I know many 'retired' people who are always looking for a 'second car' to leave at their summer or winter home so they don't have to ship a car back and forth. After test driving it this week, the 2013 Lancer passed my 'family and friend recommendation' test with flying colors. 

The estimated fuel cost per year is $2150, which of course always depends on how you drive and gas prices at any given time. More aggressive drivers can expect to spend more. Mitsubishi claims a 25MPG average but again that would be subjective to your driving habits and environment. It still has a way to go to catch up with other vehicles, some of which now get up to 50MPG, especially hybrids, but if there was ever a little engine that could it would be Mitsubishi.

Its warranty is a 10 year-100,000 mile selling point; however Mitsubishi does offer other variations of the warranty so as in all things, be sure to do the research, make a list of questions before buying, get the answers you need to make an informed decision, and always, always read the fine print on any car you buy or lease. While owning a new vehicle can be a wonderful and exciting emotional experience, one must not let the emotions get in the way of the negotiating and deal making. Save your giggles and showing off for later when you can also brag about what a great deal you got.

Our test car price tag, including options and destination charges, was $22,640K, sticker price. But as we all know, no one pays sticker price so be ready to bargain. The 2013 Lancer seems well worth the effort. 

I must say that my first impression of the little Lancer was surprise at how far the company had come. After the first day on the road, driving it in a manner that the average driver would drive (meaning no hot-dogging, race-tracks, peeling off at red-lights), I was sold. Welcome to the big pond, Mitsubishi. 

For more road test reviews and vehicle buyer's guides from Road & Travel Magazine, click here

 

 

August 17, 2012

2012 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Sultry Sports Cars

Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Hottest Cars for 2012

by Martha Hindes

Smokin’ hot and haunchy, lithe, taut and delicious – all steamy words that can launch a major vehicular daydream, a memory of tamed tracks of the past, of “Gotta Have” ambitions. After all, big girls, like their big boy counterparts, thrive on the lure of the heat of a truly sexy car. Any reason not to? At ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine, we don’t think there is. In fact, we consider possessing “the sexiest driving machine” or comparably alluring set of wheels a right of sisterhood for any woman who puts such an acquisition high on her wish list for owning a car with the most sex appeal. Truly a refection of her own inner soul. Click here to see the Top 10 for 2012.

 

July 10, 2012

Why Now is the Best Time to Shop for a New Car

Why Now is the Best Time to Shop For & Buy a New Vehicle

People often ask when the best time is to buy a new car. There are many different answers. It all depends on your needs. Below are some of the factors to consider...

Winter
The colder, nastier months are typically the low point of the year for auto sales. Since business is slow, you may find some excellent deals. However, since customers are scarce, you may find some very hungry salespeople who could be a bit pushy. If you are in the market for a convertible, buy during the winter. 

Spring/Early Summer
The beginning of the season. President's day starts the real upswing in automotive sales after the winter. Dealerships try and get the season started with the holiday sale, and you will find the industry is getting busy.

Late Summer/Fall
L
ate summer and early fall is when dealers push great deals and sales the hardest because they need to make room on the lot for the upcoming new-year models. Look for plenty of television commercials starting from July through October each year offering much lower prices, higher rebates, and other great deals. 

Click here to link to full story! 

June 25, 2012

2012 Sedan Buyer's Guide - Most Dependable Cars

RTM's 2012 Sedan Buyer's Guide written by Martha Hindes

by Martha Hindes

Mom, dad and apple pie. A day at the  ballpark. A long, luxurious trip. Courting a business client in comfortable style. Think of driving a sedan and those are some of the things that might come to mind. For this is one middle-of-the-road vehicle that can capably fulfill so many functions it can defy being categorized. It's the family hauler that keeps siblings safely stowed in the back seat, with ample room to wriggle on a long trip.

It's the cushy carrier that can ferry a potential client to lunch in appropriate style for serious business talk. It has cozied up to uncountable fast food windows for a  family meal on the fly. You know the drill: shake, burger, fries and maybe a slice of prepackaged pie after a winning ballgame or a busy day at work. It's about as mainstream and dependable as any set of wheels can get.

To read about Road & Travel Magazine's Top 10 sedan picks for 2012, AND to find out which one won the 2012 International Sedan of the Year, click here.

April 17, 2012

2012 Green SUV Buyer's Guide

2012 Green SUV Buyer's Guide by Martha Hindes

2012 Green SUV Buyer's Guide - Lighter Footprints

by Martha Hindes

Let's face it. Driving isn't a color blind activity any longer. Besides the reds, blues, silvers and blacks that adorn the exterior of that new set of wheels we're coveting, green is emerging as an earth-friendly hue worthy of equal consideration. “Green” cars generally spew out fewer toxic emissions. They get more miles from the power source that propels them. And their more "bang for the buck" capability often comes from a downsized footprint.

But wait. What if you have a family of six, or you regularly haul a boatload of gear, or you need to travel on roads less friendly to tiny, subcompact autos? Or maybe you simply like riding higher than the crowd for its good visibility, feeling of security and sense of freedom? The technological geniuses who bring us those super small, environmentally friendly road runners haven't been sitting on the sidelines. While it may sound like an oxymoron, there are such things as green sport utility vehicles or their crossover utility siblings already around, with more on the near horizon. (So much for the standing "gas guzzling behemoth" jokes that are a favorite of some ecologically sensitive folks.) (Discover our Top 10 Picks for Green SUVs for 2012 here)

 

March 29, 2012

2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan Review

2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan Road Test Review

2012 Cadillac CTS Sedan Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

We're scooting down narrow and winding Old Talking Rock Highway through the hills of Georgia while putting the pedal down on a new sports touring sedan that's well equipped for the task of tracking quickly but adeptly through so many curves.

Our vehicle -- the 2012 Cadillac CTS 3.6 Performance sedan cast with a new V6 engine pumping top-of-class power below a chiseled hood -- behaves itself superbly on this dicey road, rear wheels throwing torque muscle into each turn as the 245/45R19 Continental SportContact3 summer tires claw for traction.

Tap flanking finger paddles posted behind the suede-wrapped steering wheel to play the upshift/downshift game when slicing apexes in the curvy stuff at a swift clip.

Or put your foot into the pedal on the rare straightaway but hang on because this thing leaps to action.

At its debut in 2003 the car made history as the first rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vehicle in Cadillac's fleet since 1979 and the first to offer a manual transmission for a RWD Caddy in half a century.

In 2008 a make-over for Generation 2.0 of CTS brought fresh package styling and a wheel track two inches wider with traction in conventional RWD or on-demand all-wheel-drive (AWD) and two powertrain choices.

For 2012, a lighter and more powerful V6 applies to the top two trims of the 2012 Cadillac CTS and all editions wear a new shield-shaped front grille bearing Cadillac's Wreath & Crest emblem. [Read full review]

 

March 26, 2012

Tips for Taking Car to College

Taking Your Car to College by Cameron Stone

Tips for Taking Your Car to College

by Cameron Sloane

When you’re deciding what to take to college, one of the most important things to figure out is whether you’ll need a car. Having a car in college offers a lot of conveniences: You won’t have to rely on public transportation or ask friends for rides, so you’ll be able to come and go as you please. But before you head off to campus with a car, here are a few things to consider. 

Parking on campus
If you’re going to live on campus, find out what your college’s student-vehicle policy is. Colleges often don’t allow first-year students to bring cars on campus.

If you are allowed to bring a car to your college campus, find out what parking options are available. You’ll probably need to get a parking permit, so make sure you budget for the cost. Also, familiarize yourself with – and follow – your college’s regulations for parking on campus to avoid tickets.

Sharing your car at college
You’ll probably make friends who didn’t bring a car to college. Before the situation arises, think about whether you’re willing to lend your car or give them rides. If you don’t want to share your car or drive your friends around, you can offer to take them along when you’re already making a trip somewhere. Thinking through these scenarios before you take your car to college will help you avoid being put on the spot and making a decision you aren’t comfortable with. [Full story]