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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]

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 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]

July 24, 2013

2013 Buick Enclave CUV Road Test Review

2013 Buick Enclave Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

Buick's spectacular new 2013 Enclave CUV looks oh-so-sharp in a slinky new package stretched excessively long and decorated with a black-chromed prow flashing LED blue translucent rings around xenon headlamps on forward corners plus fender blisters rippling around multi-spoke alloy wheels.

The Enclave, stretching almost 17 feet long and well over six feet wide, comes with a full-size passenger compartment stocking three rows of seats for seven or eight passengers and a wagonload of fancy features.

Enclave's 2013 editions show a fresh exterior design, revamped cabin amenities such as a dashboard high-resolution color display with touch-screen control plus Choccochino leather and Cocoa leather color combinations, three new trim designations and new safety technologies including the auto industry's first front center side air bag designed to minimize injury from front-seat riders knocking into each other during a side-impact collision. [Full Review]

July 22, 2013

2013 Audi Allroad Wagon Road Test Review

2013 Audi Allroad Wagon New Car Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

The Allroad Quattro wagon debuted as a 2001 model riding on the platform of Audi's mid-size A6 sedan.

The 2013 Allroad Quattro, displaces Audi's compact-class A4 Avant wagon, uses the A4 platform and engine but measures half an inch wider and 2.5 inches taller than A4 Avant, with 1.5 inches of additional suspension height for good ground clearance of 7.1 inches plus 18-inch wheels as standard and 19-inch wheels available.
The new version of the 2013 Audi Allroad amounts to a slick design with a wide track, jacked suspension, protective undercarriage stainless steel skid plates and a 5-door wagon format featuring a sinuous and curvy exterior design and a spacious cabin containing two rows of seats with seatbacks of the back bench splitting and folding down to expand the capacity of the rear cargo bay.

April 23, 2013

2013 Green Car Buyer's Guide

2013 Green Car Buyer's Guide 

by Martha Hindes with contributions by
Bob Plunkett and
Tim Healey

Not long ago, the idea of a plug-in electric car was enough to raise lots of eyebrows. Quips circulated about a bubble-shaped car dragging an orange extension charging cord behind it like the tail of a cat, or sitting in the middle of a freeway when the AA batteries ran dry. Of course the batteries that power an electric car, or a gas-electric hybrid car for that matter, are light years beyond those that set a flashlight aglow.

But the idea behind it isn't futuristic at all. With tragedies such as Hurricane Sandy and this winter's severe snow storms in our rear view mirrors, the idea of climate change has taken on an urgency not seen in the past. And while auto companies already had gotten on the bandwagon in developing earth friendlier vehicles that could scoff at trips to the gas station or get their power from distant plants or wind farms away from urban areas, there's nothing like immediacy to get someone's attention. Look around you as you drive, and you're likely to see fuel conserving vehicles in the next lane, or down the block. To see RTM's Top 10 Picks, click here.

March 04, 2013

2013 Ford C-MAX Road Test Review

2013 Ford C-Max Road Test Review : Road & Travel Magazine

By Tim Healey

Ford's 2013 C-MAX Hybrid has flown sort of under the radar--we'd almost forgotten about the vehicle until we received our invitation to drive it at the company's press preview--but after spending a day driving it in Southern California, we think it might soon be getting a wee bit more press.

Built to compete with the Toyota Prius V, the C-MAX is basically a cross between a Focus and an Escape with a hybrid powertrain (a plug-in hybrid, dubbed the C-MAX Energi, is planned for the near future).

Ford invited us to Los Angeles and its surrounding environs to test out the C-MAX among the glitterati and paparazzi, and we found that this new player in the hybrid game presents some intriguing questions to hybrid buyers.

The Basics
Powered by a 2.0-liter gas engine paired with an electric motor (lithium-ion batteries supply the charge, marking the first time Ford has used them in a hybrid), the C-MAX is a four-door, five-seat compact crossover that won't be available with a non-hybrid powertrain.

Available in two trims, SE and SEL, C-MAX offers features such as: Ford's MyFordTouch and Sync infotainment systems, a hands-free power liftgate, in-floor storage, dual-zone climate control, a USB port, Bluetooth, a capless fuel-filler, keyless entry, Ford's MyKey security key, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, 17-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, an EcoGuide that tells the driver how efficiently he/she is driving, satellite radio, a reverse-sensing system, ambient interior lighting, a push-button start, and a park-assist system.

Prices start at $25,500 for the SE and $28,200 for the SEL. The SE we tested, which included MyFordTouch, the power liftgate, and a reverse-sensing system, cost $27,990, including the $795 destination fee. To continue the review, click here.

March 01, 2013

2013 Chevrolet Spark Road Test Review

2013 Chevy Spark Road Test Review by Tim Healey

By Tim Healey

Most new-car press launches are set in places that offer twisty roads and elevation changes. Even when they're set in urban environs, the automaker seeks out the curviest possible nearby roads.

Not so with the 2013 Chevrolet Spark. Chevy invited us to Chicago so we dutifully shuffled off to the West Loop (home of meat-packing plants and tastefully decorated loft condos) to sample the Spark. With Chevy's new minicar being aimed at an urban audience, perhaps it should've been no surprise when the drive route turned out to be all urban.

The Spark truly is a city car. Chevy execs said so themselves, suggesting the brand's subcompact Sonic or compact Cruze as alternatives for those who do most of their driving outside of the confines of the concrete jungle. At just 144.7 inches long (the wheelbase is 93.5 inches long), the Spark will be competing with other mighty mites like the Scion iQ, the Fiat 500, and the Smart ForTwo. It's the only five-door hatchback in the segment.

Features & Prices

Chevrolet is keeping it simple by offering just one engine, two transmissions, and three trim levels (base LS, midlevel 1LT, and top-trim 2LT). The cheapest Spark starts at $12,995, including $750 destination fee. A manual-transmission 1LT will start at $14,495 (again, including destination), while a fully-loaded automatic 2LT will set you back $16,720. Chevy says it's keeping a $2,000 price gap between each Spark trim and the corresponding Sonic, in order to keep sales of one car from encroaching on sales of the other. To continue the review, click here.

February 27, 2013

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Road Test Review

2013 Hyundai Veloster Road Test Review by Tim Healey

By Tim Healey

Face it, America has become a nation of excess. Too much is not enough. We won't settle for anything less than the best, and no matter how much we have, we want more, more, more.

That's all true, but sometimes we really do need more. Such is the case with the power numbers on Hyundai's Veloster. The odd little three-door hatchback provided plenty of sporty handling when it hit the road in the fall of 2011, but its 138 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque doomed it to some disdain from the motoring press. Consider these quotes from this very Website, the one that you're reading right now, published just days prior to last Christmas: "Of course, spirit is in more than the eye of the beholder. A car that looks fast may not actually be fast, and that is sadly the case with the Veloster," and, "Even when mated to a six-speed manual transmission, the Veloster feels just a wee bit short of breath. Get it rolling and get rowing with the gears, and the Veloster is fun. Trouble is, getting it going takes a fair bit of patience, and the off-the-line jump isn’t quite enough." We also said this: "Hyundai has promised a turbo, and that may cure the Veloster’s ills." This all from the same review in which we compared the car to Charlie Sheen, for whatever that's worth.

Hyundai did make good on the turbo promise, and hence we found ourselves somewhere near San Diego in the driver's seat of the
2013 Veloster Turbo. With 201 ponies now under hood and 195 lb-ft of torque twisting the front wheels, we were hopeful that all the Veloster's "ills" (which were admittedly relatively few) would be cured. To coninue the review, click here.

February 25, 2013

2013 Lincoln MKS Road Test Review

2013 Lincoln MKS New Car Test Drive : Road & Travel Magazine's 2013 Luxury Car Buyer's Guide

by Bob Plunkett

Streaking along serpentine Skyline Drive, the ridge route high above Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, a powerful MKS EcoBoost -- elegant flagship sedan for the 2013 fleet of Lincoln -- tracks in a predictable line through so many chicanes.

MKS's all-aluminum 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine sends turbo-charged muscle to all four of the 20-inch 245/45R20 V-rated tires with big treads clawing for traction on blacktop around every bend.

Rumples in the erosive pavement don't upset this car's smooth suspension due to new Continuously Controlled Damping, a sophisticated device which regulates actions for the shock absorber at every wheel through electronic damping. It changes as much as 20 times every second, switching from soft to hard to soft again in an effort to isolates the movement of each tire for less bounce, vibration and noise, and producing more controlled handling with a smoother ride quality.

The 2013 issues of MKS score multiple enhancements including styling revisions to the body and cabin, upgrades to suspension and powertrain, plus improvements in fuel economy figures.

Lincoln's flagship sedan looks elegant and classy in a bold design for the body which focuses on a double-wing grille that's a contemporary homage to the classic 1941 Lincoln Continental. For 2013 issues the grille tips rearward in a sleeker pose as the prow adds horizontal louvers in a new fascia to underscore the grille with piercing optics of projector-type HID (high-intensity discharge) headlamps wrapping around front corners. To continue the review, click here.