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November 2009

November 20, 2009

2010 Buick Enclave Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

2010buickenclave Driving down Powers Ferry Road while meandering through Atlanta's tony Buckhead neighborhood, we're stacked in a line of cars waiting for a stoplight switch, engine idling and shifter stick notched to neutral with four 20-inch tires parked on the pavement.  The pause in our seat-time cruise around Atlanta in a large and luxurious crossover utility vehicle from the Buick brand of General Motors provides an opportunity to scrutinize the styling of what amounts to one sleek wagon.

A discreet badge on the tailgate spells the wagon's name in shiny chrome letters:  E-N-C-L-A-V-E.  Looking sharp in a slinky package stretched excessively long and decorated with a chrome-plated prow flashing multi-lens headlamp clusters on corners plus fender blisters rippling around multi-spoke alloy wheels, Buick's CUV seems different from the lot of right-angled and too-tall SUVs.

Its lower body appears substantial and strong like a SUV although the upper section including a narrow wrap of windows with tipped-back windshield and sweeping roofline may be more reminiscent of some classic sports car or even a GT-style coupe.  It's clearly a departure from the cube-stacked school of wagon styling.  The curvaceous body styling disguises what amounts to a very large vehicle.  Full-size passenger compartment contains seats for seven or eight riders with a load of cushy amenities in the mode of a premium luxury car.

The 2010 Enclave appears in two trims -- CX and CXL -- and each stocks electronic traction control (ETC) and GM's electronic stability device, StabiliTrak, with options for FWD or all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.  Climb aboard for a drive test and you'll quickly observe that Enclave reveals an impressive quality of quietness in the cabin in terms of reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).  Enclave's smooth ride quality also compares to a plush sedan, thanks to independent components for both front and rear suspension systems.  Enclave exhibits rather agile steering attributes due to the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system, and the brakes rig a disc at every wheel with electronic tie to an anti-lock brake system (ABS).

Passive safety systems are aboard including frontal and seat-mounted side-impact air bags for front seats and curtain-style air bags above outboard seats in all rows.  Also on tap is GM's rollover sensing system, dubbed rollover mitigation technology (RMT). It will automatically deploy the side-impact air bags and curtain-style air bags if on-board sensors detect a potential vehicular roll event.  The intelligent AWD rig employs a computer and wheel sensors in conjunction with ABS and StabiliTrak to determine how much power to apply to each wheel for maintaining tire traction on wet pavement.

Gear standard on base issue Enclave CX ranges from tri-zone automatic climate controls and power buttons to move windows and door locks and mirrors to auto-on headlamps and daytime running lights, six-way power for the driver's seat, real mahogany on the steering wheel with a leather wrap, power for the rear liftgate, GM's OnStar telecommunications equipment and XM satellite radio.  Upgrading to CXL adds treats, like eight-way power for front seats, plus perforated and heated leather seats.

Buick marks the 2010 price chart at $35,200 for Enclave CX FWD and $37,200 for CX AWD. Enclave CXL FWD lists for $38,400 and CXL AWD begins at $40,400.

For more information see Road & Travel’s Buick Buyer’s Guide or visit

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November 19, 2009

Dream Destinations for a Delightful Thanksgiving Day

By Liz Kaadou

Turkeyday Need a little pick-me-up when turkey time rolls around this year? Instead of spending the holidays at home slaving over dinner preparations and autumn decor, why not explore a few cities stuffed to the brim with enticing Thanksgiving festivities. Take a scrumptious bite out of these delicious destination getaways. Whether you are looking for adventure, warmth, tradition or family fun- these cities offer a Thanksgiving menu packed with spectacular specials guaranteed to make you say YUM!


NEW YORK CITY - The City That Never Sleeps literally lives up to its name for the Thanksgiving season.  The city boasts the beloved Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, filled with flying-high floats, marvelous marching bands and guest appearances from some of your favorite celebs. Catch a Broadway play, ice skate in Rockefeller Center, and if you are really daring- join the crazy crowds on Black Friday for some serious sales on Saks Fifth Avenue.


PHOENIX, ARIZONAWe can thank the Native Americans for the time-honored traditions of tummy-filling turkey, scrumptious sweet potatoes and succulent cranberry sauce.  Since Thanksgiving would not exist without them, why not spend the holidays in the proud home of numerous Indian Reservations, like the Navajo Reservation.  Learn about their history and culture with a tour of the Heard Museum or take a walk down the Apache Trail.


DENVER, COLORADO - Ski-lovers around the world get ready to slither down the slopes.  November marks the start of ski season with the opening of some of Colorado’s riveting resorts, including Aspen, Breckenridge and Cooper Mountain. What better way to spend Turkey Day than feeling the rush of the slopes followed by a delectable and delicious meal? 


MIAMI, FLORIDA -  The Magic City offers travelers a mix of warmth and winter with its famous North Miami Winternational Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Enjoy sunny weather with a winter theme! Plus, you can take a dip in the glistening waters of South Beach and pick and chose from exceptional eateries!

For even more Thanksgiving Day destinations, Click Here.


For more travel ideas from Road & Travel Magazine, visit our

Travel Channel.


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November 17, 2009

The Ultimate Emergency Survival Kit

By Liz Kaadou

Earthquake Natural disasters happen every day, and the truth is, how many of us are actually prepared for the very worst? From tornadoes, to earthquakes, to even mudslides, these tremendous terrors can take anyone by surprise; especially if you are aimlessly driving along the highway on what you thought would be an average and ordinary day.  Instead of facing the additional disaster of being stranded and unfortunately unprepared, take charge and always be effectively equipped for the unforeseen.


Forget stuffing band aids in your glove compartment and bottles of water in your trunk, with the First Alert Emergency Preparedness Kit from Safeguard, all of your safety needs are combined into one expertly organized and convenient container.  Perfect for on-the-go travel, the one-person kit is equipped with a three day supply of everything that would make a somewhat scary situation that much better. Food, water, rations, tools and first aid are effectively organized for easy find and use, with all contents clearly marked. 


Emergencykit The outside of this creative kit is a sturdy carrying case, and inside are three Packing Cubes, each containing its own supplies.  The first Packing Cube is First Aid and Anti-exposure, like an emergency poncho, first aid guide, medical tape, a survival blanket, cleansing pads, etc. The second Packing Cube is labeled Tools & Gear, and boasts indispensible utensils including an LED flashlight, radio with batteries, compass, waterproof matches, and even a deck of cards to pass time before help arrives.  The third Packing Cube provides a three-day supply of purified water and food.  If left in their unopened packages, the food and water are good for five years.   Click Here to buy one!


For more auto safety advice from Road & Travel Magazine, visit our Safety & Security section.


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November 16, 2009

Proactively Prepare For That Dreaded Flat Tire

By Liz Kaadou

Flattire You are driving down a winding three-lane highway, hands gripped tightly to your leather-clad steering wheel, the sun is shining through your crystal clear windows, and a light breeze is wispily blowing through your hair. Sounds like the perfect way to start off your morning…until with no warning at all, you feel a sudden pop and your car seems completely off balance.  The dreaded flat tire has veered itself directly into your once tranquil driving path.  This could be cause for immediate concern and panic, especially if you are woman. But before you find yourself stranded on the side of the freeway with nothing in your trunk but a box of Kleenex and some mouth-watering mints, you may want to follow these practical steps to make sure you are always proactively prepared.


1) Make sure you always have a spare tire that is adequately filled with air.


2) Buy yourself a drill that can be plugged into your car lighter.  Make sure and also buy a tip for the drill that will fit the lug nuts on your car.  This way, you will be prepared in the event that the lug nuts are too tight for you to loosen.


3) Keep a ramp in your car so you will be able to lift the tire into the air during your tire changing extravaganza.  You can purchase a small ramp at any auto supply store.


4) Stash a pair of work gloves and and a set of disposable paper coveralls in your trunk.


5) Keep a small jack and tire iron in your trunk.


For more auto safety advice from Road & Travel Magazine, visit our Safety & Security section.

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November 13, 2009

2010 Acura RDX Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

2010audirdxred Clutching a leather-wrapped steering wheel while flicking the shift paddles on the SportShift electronic automatic in a tuned-up crossover utility vehicle, we're carving a keen line around oh-so-tight curves on Route 88 as it winds through sandstone canyons in Arizona's Superstition Mountains.  This is play time:  The agile CUV, cast on a rigid chassis with a turbo-boosted four-in-line engine directing a considerable load of torque to front wheels dressed with Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 rubber, snakes through the curlicue canyon course like a sidewinder rattler slithering through Sonoran Desert sand.

A label on the hatchback trunk pegs our CUV as the RDX by Acura, marque of performance and luxury vehicles derived from Honda of Japan.  RDX slots into the compact class with a 104-inch wheelbase and totes a unique variable-flow turbocharger to nix the typical turbo's power lag.  All RDX '10 models show fresh styling on the body, more luxury content in the five-seat passenger compartment and a number of new technology features on-board.  Sole transaxle is a silky smooth electronically controlled automatic with five forward speeds plus Honda's Sequential SportShift override for clutch-less manual shifts with those paddle tabs mounted behind the steering wheel's center spoke.

Federal EPA fuel consumption numbers for the RDX FWD come to 18 miles per gallon for city driving and 24 mpg on the highway.  For RDX AWD, the numbers tally to 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

RDX with AWD employs Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) equipment.  The computer-controlled AWD system can disburse the engine's considerable torque not only to wheels fore and aft but the left or right ones too. It's always engaged and enables the vehicle to maneuver on wet or dry pavement with the uncanny agility of a wily sports car.  There's a computer-managed vehicle stability control (VSC) system aboard coupled to a traction control system (TCS), plus a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA) units.

The 2010 issues of RDX look more aggressive due to styling revisions for a streamlined body posing in a hunkered stance.  In the handsome cabin there's room for five riders with supportive sport bucket seats in front of a bench for three and a rear bay for cargo.  The driver-oriented cockpit features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an instrument cluster with light-emitting-diode (LED) back-lighting for an easy read and a Multi-Information Display (MID) which provides access to a variety of electronic functions.

Posh gear includes perforated leather trimming the seats, automatic controls for the climate system with dual zones for comfort, power operation for windows and mirrors and door locks, the driver's bucket with 8-way power controls including adjustable lumbar support, heat elements inside both front buckets, a center console up front with dual-level stow bins, a power moonroof with tilt, auto-open/close, auto-reverse and key-off functions, a keyless entry device, the back bench with a 60/40 split-folding seatback and a 360-watt Acura Premium Sound System with AM/FM/6xCD/MP3/WMA plus seven speakers and XM satellite radio service.

Acura establishes MSRP figures for the 2010 RDX CUV beginning at $32,520 for RDX FWD, or $35,620 with the Technology Package aboard. The 2010 RDX SH-AWD lists for $34,520, or $37,620 with the Technology Package.

For more information see Road & Travel’s Acura Buyer’s Guide or visit

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November 12, 2009

Unknown Tourist Attractions Around the Globe

By Liz Kaadou

Paradise Looking for a little slice of private paradise? We all know about the tourist hot-spots around the globe like Paris, New York and Milan, but what about those hidden hideaways tucked away somewhere in between? Here are a few of the best kept secret tourist attractions anxiously awaiting your arrival.

Graskop, South Africa- a small town perched in the Panorama tourist region of Mpumalanga, South Africa.  Boasting a mix of hip-hop artists and Afrikaner farmers, this secret destination offers up traditional African culture and art.  It is also only a few minutes from some of Earth's wonders, like God's Window, the Lisbon Waterfalls and Blyde River Canyon. Known for its gold panning, abseiling and river rafting, this is the perfect place for any adventure seeking traveler!

Weymouth, England- situated along the English Channel and surrounded by sandy, sunshine filled beaches and beautiful Georgian homes, this large town is home to one of the best diving locations in the world. Waters surrounding the city are riddled with Roman shipwrecks and submarines from both world wars.  The beaches attract thousands of visitors each summer with firework festivals and drag boat racing. If you are looking for a little English charm, this is definitely the place to be.

Willunga, Australia- take a drip down under and experience a taste of heaven, with an overflow of red wines and local pizza parlors. This trendy town is situated in the McLaren Vale area and is home to numerous festivals including the Tour Down Under and the historic Almond Blossom Festival. It also encompasses a number of beaches for sunny family outings and barbeque's.

Gaziantep, Turkey- the aroma of flavorful, exotic foods and spices fill the air of this popular province in south central Turkey.  Home to the breathtakingly gorgeous Gaziantep castle, this province is known for its use of a scrumptious secret ingredient in almost all of its savory dessert dishes - pistachios!

Source: Hotel & Resort Insider

For more travel ideas from RTM, visit our Travel Channel.

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November 11, 2009

Cruise Control's Contradictory Effects

By Sara Hoffman

Drivinginrain There is many a beauty about using cruise control while driving long distances – it prevents speeding tickets, gives the foot a rest, and can save gas. Drivers may think it will ease driving in bad weather conditions, but rainy weather is one case where relying too heavily on cruise control can have the opposite effect.

If your car does begin to hydroplane (meaning that the tires actually rise up on top of the water like water skis), braking is the worst thing to do – and yet it is the most commonly used way to disable cruise control. Cruise control also maintains the speed of your car while you’re trying to decrease speed without hitting the brakes. The safest thing to do if it begins to rain even a little bit, is to disable cruise control. If you lose control of the car, decrease speed by taking your foot off the gas and regain control before using the brakes.

Driving in rainy conditions is no time to be on auto-pilot, hydroplaning can literally make a vehicle take off instantaneously like an airplane if speed isn’t reduced. The risk of driving with cruise control in the rain isn’t worth taking. Though it’s not as well-known as it should be, this risk is serious enough that some cars, like the 2010 Toyota Sienna Limited XLE, won’t let you set the cruise control when the windshield wipers are on.

Source: The National Safety Commission

For more auto safety advice from Road & Travel Magazine, visit our Safety & Security section.

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November 10, 2009

Take a Vacation - At Home!

By Liz Kaadou


Stayhome Not much bang for the buck these days when it comes to traveling? With the current state of our economy, the last thing you need to worry about is purchasing pricey airline tickets and shelling out your savings account for a swanky hotel stay.  It may be time to rethink the traditional vacation, and opt for a more convenient, economical choice, otherwise known as a “staycation.” This new travel trend simply means spending your vacation in the comfort of your own home and saving tons of money while you're at it.  Even though you won’t be soaking up the sun along the beach, these simple suggestions will make other travelers green with staycation envy.


1) Explore your own city – dig a little deeper for hidden treasures right under your nose. Most cities have fun festivals during the year, house community centers that offer theater productions, free dance classes and art exhibits, and many even have historical districts with antique shops and exceptional eateries. Check out local parks or lakes in the area for a little fishing fun or picnic party. It’s okay to be a tourist for the week, remember you are on vacation!


2) Unplug yourself – if you were flying high in the sky all electronic devices would have to be turned off, so adhere to vacation rules and wander far away from the wireless world.  After all, the whole idea of a vacation is to escape reality for a few days, so set your phone to go to voicemail and check your messages periodically like you would on a traditional vacation.


3) Travel the World in a Week – invite friends to your staycation and pick destination theme nights for everyday of the week. Themes could range from "a night in Paris" to "a luau in Hawaii." 

4) Family Adventure Week - spend your staycation as a family. Plan a fun adventure for the week like building a tree house, having a family talent show contest or even creating a time capsule and filling it with great memories. 

For more travel ideas from RTM, visit our Travel Channel.

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November 06, 2009

New Car Review: 2009 Toyota Venza

By Thom Blackett

2009_Toyota_Venza_exterior_roadandtravel We may be facing shortages across the board these days (jobs, 401k earnings, etc.), but there’s one area that continues to see unhampered growth: automotive categories. Where once we saw pickups, wagons and sedans now reside crossovers, SUTs, CUVs, four-door coupes, and every other variant under the sun. If you think it’s confusing for the consumer, consider that Toyota and the EPA can’t even agree on how to classify the new 2009 Venza. Toyota calls it’s Ford Edge-fighter a car, whereas the government deems the five-passenger rig an SUV. Whatever it is, buyers of the Venza will enjoy its versatility, comfort, affordability, and perhaps even its arguably attractive styling.

Prices for the 2009 Toyota Venza start at about $26,000, which delivers a front-wheel-drive version fitted with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine that delivers an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Toyota also offers the Venza with all-wheel-drive capability and a 268-horsepower V-6 that cuts highway fuel economy by about seven miles-per-gallon. We tested the less powerful Venza and discovered adequate oomph for the daily slog, though by no means does the four-cylinder Venza feel quick. The standard six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts. Our only gripe centered on as-tested fuel economy, which came in at 23.5 mpg, a bit lower than we expected given how many miles were logged at steady speeds on the highway.

Move inside the Venza and you’ll find spacious and supportive front buckets backed up by a rear seat offering a bounty of leg room. In addition to comfort, the 2009 Toyota Venza boasts an ample cargo area (with integrated levers to quickly release the second-row seatbacks), a compliant and composed ride, decent outward visibility, and an interior that would be admirably quiet if not for wind noise seeping in around the front doors. Materials are better than we’ve seen in recent Toyotas, though the cheap headliner needs to go, as do many of the remaining hard-touch surfaces.

Despite a few nitpick details, the all-new Venza is a solid effort by Toyota to meet the needs of buyers seeking the comfort of a sedan with the utility of an SUV. How you classify it is up to you.

Test Vehicle:
2009 Toyota Venza FWD 4-cyl.
Base Price:
Price as Tested:
2.7-liter four-cylinder
Six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy:
21 mpg city/29 mpg highway
Road & Travel’s Observed Fuel Economy:
23.5 mpg
/IIHS Frontal Crash Ratings:
5 stars / Good
/IIHS Side Impact Ratings:
5 stars / Good
Also Consider:
Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, Volkswagen Tiguan

For more information see Road & Travel’s Toyota Buyer’s Guide or visit

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November 04, 2009

Check Your Lights: Daylight Savings Time

Trafficheadlights The end of Daylight Savings Time occurred in most parts of the United States on October 31st (Halloween), creating different driving conditions that can be hazardous without proper vehicle lighting. The Car Care Council recommends vehicle lights be checked before the clocks “fall back” to help ensure safe driving, especially during dusk and peak evening traffic hours. But if you hadn’t thought of it until now, there’s no time like the present.


A vehicle’s lighting system includes headlights (high and low beam), parking lights, turn signals/emergency flashers, brake lights, tail and marker lights, backup lights, interior lights and instrumentation lighting. Some vehicles are also equipped with fog lights. Headlights should also be periodically cleaned of mud and muck, and properly aimed according to procedures outlined in the owner’s manual. Headlights can be knocked out of alignment by rough driving, and if not properly aimed, can be distracting to other drivers.


Vehicle inspections during National Car Care Month in the United States have shown lighting to be an often neglected maintenance item. It may be hard to notice if the headlights are dimming, so letting someone else drive your car could enlighten you.


For more information or to receive a copy of The Car Care Council’s new Car Care Guide for motorists, visit  


For more vehicle safety & maintenance information, visit Road & Travel Magazine’s Auto Channel.


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