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February 2010

February 26, 2010

New Car Review: 2010 Kia Forte

By Bob Plunkett

KiaKia, the inventive automaker out of South Korea, uses this word as the label on the shapely new four-door 2010 Kia Forte sedan, noteworthy for its safety systems as standard equipment and value-packed price points honed to a competitive edge.

The 2010 Kia Forte in notchback sedan configuration calibrates to a generous scale in a stylish and sleek package with surprising space in the five-seat cabin and plenty of spark stemming from a sophisticated four-pack engine.

Each Forte model looks downright handsome with a prominent face, chiseled contours on the body and wheelwell flares that turn into sculpted shoulders. The shapely design will no doubt provoke a second peek, should you find a Forte on the street.

Measures for passenger safety in the cabin extend from the sturdy safety-cage construction to front seatbelts with load-limiting and pretensioning apparatus, backseat restraints with anchors to mount a child's seat, smart multi-stage frontal air bags and side air bags for the front seats along with curtain-style air bags tucked in the ceiling for outboard seats on two rows.

Then the manufacturer supports this product with an impressive warranty program which extends well beyond protection for most other vehicles -- the powertrain is insured for ten years or 100,000 miles and there's a five-year or 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper shield against defects plus unlimited mileage for a five-year roadside assistance program with emergency towing and even lockout service.

And Kia racks the MSRP chart quite low for Forte -- down to $13,695 for Forte LX with a manual shifter.


Click here for more information about Kia vehicles.


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February 25, 2010

The Top 5 Most Romantic Scenic Drives

A romantic drive around some of the country’s most scenic settings is a great way to rev the engines of romance. Many states have designated stretches of road that have been deemed scenic, but these are the best of the best. Known for their striking beauty, these top five romantic drives are a great way to bring some romance to the road trip!   


CA-Highway1Sign-XL1. The Pacific Coast Highway- Known for its graceful turns, seaside views and quirky small towns, driving along the edge of California is known to be one of the most beautiful drives in America.


2. Berkshires Foliage Drive-In the heart of Massachusetts, this drive is known not only for its gorgeous colors in the fall, but for the quaint New England towns it runs through.


3. Dutch Country- Wind along with Pennsylvania’s hills and dales as you explore a land populated by Amish crafts and homemade foods. Stop by the nation’s oldest continuously operating farmer’s market, and be sure to watch out for horse and buggies!


4. Southern Blue Ridge Parkway- This drive goes from the charming town of Asheville N.C. to deep within Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains. Here you’ll find breathtaking vistas, thick forests, and small towns filled with Appalachian handicrafts.  


5. Big Island Belt Road-If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Hawaii, add this drive to create a unique romantic experience. Stop by one of the many black sand beaches to see rare green sea turtles and other aquatic life. Finish the trip with a bang, stopping by Volcanoes National Park to see active volcanoes oozing magma.  




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New Car Review: 2010 Jeep Compass Sport

By Bob Plunkett

The 2010 Compass Sport is Jeep's economy-minded crossover utility vehicle for the compact class. The Compass offers fun-to-drive handling traits with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction options, but the issues of 2010 add a new powertrain option from a fuel-sipping 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine oriented with FWD traction and a five-speed manual transmission to deliver up to 29 mpg for cruising down the highway.

Jeep Fuel economy ratings for the larger engine in Compass range from 23/28 mpg (city/highway) with FWD and the manual stick to 21/24 mpg (city/highway) with AWD and the CVT.

With the car-like suspension and a quick-to-respond rack and pinion steering system aboard, Compass seems to eliminate all of the effort required to drive a SUV. It's easy to maneuver in city traffic, as we discover when threading through congested downtown streets in Portland, Ore., at the outset of a day of driving tests. And it looks sharp too -- so sleek in a taut package dressed with progressive shapes.


Clever concepts make life comfortable inside Compass:

    * A self-recharging lamp in the headliner of the cargo bay snaps out of its housing for flashlight duty.

    * Right front seatback folds down to fashion a flat table-top surface.

    * Sliding armrest -- to fit a petite driver.

    * 115-volt power outlet -- to juice electronic gear.

    * Cradle -- for your iPod or cell phone in a flip-open pocket of the center armrest.

 Jeep brings the 2010 Compass to market with low price points which begin below $19,000.




Click here for more information about Jeep vehicles


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February 24, 2010

New Car Review: 2010 Honda Odyssey

By Bob Plunkett


    Minivan Inside Honda's 2010 Odyssey minivan’s spacious cabin there are up to three tiers of seats with options for folding or removing second-row seats and a "Magic Seat" in back which folds into the floor for a slick disappearing act.

    Making a van more like a car has always been the big idea behind the minivan, of course, but until Honda's designs appeared no other automaker dared to structure and equip a minivan with so many car-like comforts.

    That overriding concept of making a minivan easy to drive and easy to use explains why Honda's minivan has been so successful in a market filled with keen competition.

    Honda equips the 2010 Odyssey with responsive handling systems and powerful V6 engine choices plus an extensive list of standard gear for safety.

    Base model Odyssey LX stocks seats for seven with cloth upholstery and manual sliding side doors, air conditioning, power controls for windows and door locks, a theft-deterrent system and cruise control. Top tier Odyssey Touring brings fancy features like leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, power for side slider doors and tailgate, and deluxe audio entertainment equipment.

Honda stretches MSRP figures for the 2010 Odyssey in a broad range from $26,805 to $40,755.


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February 21, 2010

New Car Review: 2010 Hyundai Accent Blue


By Bob Plunkett


OthercarWell past the morning rush, traffic flows at a brisk clip along the I-90 expressway as we head eastward out of Seattle.

The objective of this jaunt is to assess the poise and capability of updated and enhanced 2010 editions of Accent, the teensy-weensy economy car  by Hyundai of South Korea.

 Out of the box with no frills attached, the new Accent Blue coupe rigged with a five-speed manual transmission lists for about $10,000.

The top model -- Accent GLS the sedan -- costs more, but its sticker figure still won't break $17,000.

 Most teeny-weeny compact cars in the price-conscious economy club can be a pain to drive due to physical and fiscal restraints which typically override concerns for car performance and passenger comfort.

    But that's not the way it feels to drive the Accent.

 Those riding up front do not feel squeezed together in a tiny compartment like you might in some other economy compacts, due to a tall wrap of windows and larger seats. The driver sits in a form-fitting bucket which adjusts to fit even a large frame.

 This small car contains an impressive list of mechanical components, and, as our drive quickly proves, Accent can hold its own in freeway traffic or out on the open road.


 For the 2010 Accent Blue the fuel figures reach as high as 36 mpg for highway driving using the manual five-speed transmission, or 28 mpg for city driving.


Click here for more information about Hyundai vehicles


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February 19, 2010

New Car Review: 2010 Ford Expedition

  By Bob Plunkett  

Lincoln2 The pedal goes down and the power comes up quickly in a stretched edition of Expedition, the full-size sport-utility vehicle from Ford.

For the models of 2010, Ford has forged two versions -- a standard-length Expedition with 119-inch wheelbase and the stretched EL ("extended length") edition with a foot-long wheelbase extension and massive room in the seven-passenger cabin including 24 cubic feet of extra space in the cavernous cargo bay. The EL stretch not only brings more rear room but better backseat access with rear doors that swing out wider to open.

 It looks muscular in a tall stance with a squarish prow, curvy ripples on each side arching around wheelwells and large dual-beam headlamp clusters on front corners flanking a vast three-bar grille.Overall, it's an eye-catching design of crisp angles and complex curves blending to provide a unique statement for one big SUV.

 Despite the full-size girth and triple-ton weight, Ford's big wagon acts surprisingly nimble so it's easy to maneuver on pavement as well as dirt or snow and seems entirely pleasant to drive.


There's big-time muscle aboard every Expedition with Ford's 5.4-liter flex-fuel V8 engine. The flex-fuel designation means this engine burns gasoline or E85 ethanol.

Expect the MSRP figures for Ford's 2010 Expedition line to stretch from around $35,000 clear up to $51,000.


Click here for more information about Ford vehicles.


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2010 Top 10 Family Cars

Fordfusion2010 copy
If safe, roomy and affordable are the characteristics that qualify a vehicle as a family car, then the American family has never had so many choices. While a sea of options is ultimately a good thing, it can also make it more difficult for families to pick a winner. To help ease the pain, every year Kelley Blue Book's assembles a list of the Top 10 New Family Cars, evaluating an ever-lengthening list of eligible vehicles on such factors as resale value, fuel efficiency, capability and kid-friendliness. This year's list features vehicles in a range of sizes and prices, offering something for a wide variety of families – everything from an SUV that can comfortably accommodate nine passengers to a compact, fuel-efficient wagon capable of taking the road less traveled. 

"While the product landscape in the new-car world seems ever-changing, the vehicle needs of the typical American family remain fairly constant; capable versatility, value, safety and economical factors usually remain top-of-mind," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's "There are many competent choices available on the market today, but the editors chose a wide variety of what we feel are the Top 10 Family Cars that should be on every family's consideration list for 2010." For the complete list visit

The 2010 Ford Fusion at the top of this blog post won the 2010 Earth, Wind, & Power's Most Environmentally Progressive Car of the Year. Click here for more information.