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May 2010

May 28, 2010

New GMC Terrain Eats Treacherous Weather for Lunch

Gmc by Martha Hindes

The clouds were foreboding, the sky had turned dark. A long distance drive? Not a walk in the park.

As if on cue, rain came down in sheets as we started the ignition and headed toward the interstate. Foolish in monsoon weather? No way. We were testing the all-new 2010 GMC Terrain for five, the smaller crossover from General Motors' "professional grade" division. Four-wheel drive gave us confidence. No skidding. No kidding. It gripped like glue. Top safety pick status made us feel secure. Our hunky carbon black metallic SLT-1 version lapped up miles like a pro, earning 20/29 MPG with fuel stingy "eco" mode in play.

Inside  was cozy, with 8-way, power, heated leather seats. Pioneer premium sound fended off the ding of raindrops. Our tilt and slide sunroof wouldn't be needed. The power, programmable liftgate would, to quickly stash items. New Ecotec four-liter power was surprisingly punchy, merging nicely with agile ability in a $32K package.

With handsome styling inside and out, and power to tow, we think Terrain fills the bill when driving demands make one "boldly go" -- in spite of hazards ahead.

To read more new car reviews on RTM, click here.

May 27, 2010

A Guide to Lightweight Luggage by Denise McCluggage

Luggage In the days of steamer trunks, grand tours by rail and an abundance of porters, nobody cared about the weight of the luggage (except perhaps the porters). Rugged durability and good looks were what counted in those days. That meant sturdy leather, brass fittings and locks worthy of a bank vault.

With the norm now being air travel and do-it-yourself toting, weight ranks high on the list of considerations when choosing luggage. Covering long gate-to-gate dashes with your bags is relatively painless when they are on wheels, but lifting is involved when you encounter stairs, a common occurrence if a commuter flight or international travel is involved. And even if you roll your bag directly on board there's that lifting it into the overhead.

What is lightweight?
Don't just see the word in the blurb and believe it; look for the actual weight. I put the top limit to qualify as lightweight at nine or ten pounds for a maximum-sized carry-on (21- 22 inches long).

Although leather is still a favorite for good looks, long life and resistance to damage, we are dealing here with weight. Leather is heavy. So are hard-sided bags whether ABS, aluminum or other material. If you seek lightweight look to nylon and its various manifestations. Nylon and honeycomb frames have helped lean out luggage while retaining ample strength and resiliency for long use.

Lightweight luggage is available in many configurations and means of transporting it from point A to B such as top and/or side handles; over-the-shoulder strap; backpack straps; built-in wheels, and slip back (a wide belt that allows a smaller bag to slip over the pull handle of a larger wheeled bag.) Most bags have a combination of these. (I'm partial to backpacks with a grip handle at least on top that also have a telescoping handle and wheels.)

To meet today's travel needs with its strict limitations I suggest a baggage wardrobe built around a core of two pieces with maybe two others added for those who do a lot of varied traveling. All the pieces are ideally lightweight, expandable and have wheels. (Their pull handles, by the way, should require only one hand to open or close them and should be adjustable in length to accommodate users from short to tall.)

To find out more about lightweight luggae, carry on here.

May 26, 2010

Ford Commits to Water Usage Transparency

Ford Waste Water Last month, Ford Motor Company became the first automaker to officially commit to total transparency about their water usage. The CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Water Disclosureinitiative is a move toward managing our shrinking H2O resources, and Ford is joining them in hopes to raise awareness on water conservation and eco-responsibility for their own company, the rest of the auto industry and corporations around the world.

“Water scarcity is quickly becoming a critical global issue with significant social and environmental implications and all of us need to be part of the solution,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “For the past decade, Ford has made it a priority to conserve water and joining CDP Water Disclosure is another important step in our commitment to this issue.”

According to the CDP, it is through water that the impacts of climate change are most likely to be felt, with changing patterns of precipitation and water runoff affecting the supply of this critical resource. At the same time, population growth, urbanization and rising per capita consumption are expected to result in rapidly increasing demands for water. Ford is one company who has taken action, and since the year 2000, has reduced its global water consumption by 62 percent, saving an estimated 10.5 billion gallons from manufacturing operations.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that 47 percent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030 unless new policies are introduced.

May 25, 2010

Kelley Blue Book Names Coolest Cars Under $18K

Fordfiesta Even when the economy is in the doldrums the ever-present beat of inflation seems to tick-tick-tick in the background, so each year’s Coolest Cars Under $18,000 threshold becomes harder to meet. While there was talk of possibly raising the limit to $20,000 this year, the editors decided to see what $18,000 would buy new-car shoppers in the current economy, ultimately coming to the conclusion that there are still some very cool rides to be had for less than $18,000. (The new Ford Fiesta top left)

Certainly, there are many good cars available for less than $18,000 that will get you from point A to point Z with a minimum of fuss. However, many of them also will do it with a minimum of fun, which is something the editors feel is “just plain wrong” for their coolest cars list. With that in mind, while the editors use the same set of criteria that consumers use in examining vehicles they might purchase — safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort and technology — they also factor in that certain something extra, that ‘je ne sais quoi,’ that separates the dullards from the brilliant. The twin factors of fun-to-drive and fun-to-own are important considerations, as is the decidedly subjective “cool factor.”

“Every year, automakers step up their game in the sub-$18,000 category, and this year is no different from the rest,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s “The marketplace for ‘cool,’ versatile, affordable cars, bursting with personality and boasting the same (if not better) technology as some luxury cars with triple their price tags, is only getting more crowded. This signals a great time for car buyers, especially younger first-time buyers or those just looking to save some cash, as steep competition in the under-$18,000 range will inevitably lead to great deals.”

The editors compiled the list of qualifying vehicles using Kelley Blue Book’s New Car Blue Book® Values, which reflect real-world transaction prices and provide a more useful comparison point than Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Every vehicle on the list can be purchased for less than $18,000.

Select Choices from’s 2010 Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 List

2011 Ford Fiesta
2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring
2010 Mitsubishi Lancer
2010 Suzuki SX4
2010 Honda Fit

For the remaining Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 choices, including full editorial commentary and reasoning behind each of the editors’ picks, visit the Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 story in’s Latest News section at

For additional automotive news and new car reviews, visit

May 24, 2010

Summer Road Trip Tips - Get Your Motor Running

May 21, 2010

Safe Driving Tips for Older Adults

The good news is that people who keep track of changes in their eyesight, physical fitness and reflexes may be able to adjust their driving habits so they stay safe on the road.

The following questions will help you decide if physical changes have affected your driving skills. Helpful tips about coping with these changes are also provided so that you can remain a safe driver for as long as possible.

1. How is your eyesight?
2. Do you have control of your vehicle?
3. Does driving make you feel nervous, scared or overwhelmed?
4. Are loved ones concerned?
5. Do you drive with children or young adults?

For answers to these questions, visit tips for older drivers on the website.

For more great articles on family driving safety tips, visit Family Focus.

Also visit Road & Travel Magazine's Safety & Security channel.

When is too old to drive?

May 20, 2010

The History of Nudism and Nude Travel

Nudetravel Early New England settlers -- 16th century Puritans -- with their non-pleasure, morality-enforcing ways were so afraid of nudity, and the lust it could foster, that they refrained from bathing. Long forgotten were the robust ways of the ancient Greeks, who performed feats of strength and skill during the first Olympics, which of course was the earliest documented form of nude recreation.

However, as the colonial era gave way to a free and independent United States of America, "radical thinkers," including Benjamin Franklin and Henry David Thoreau, publicity lauded the benefits in daily naked walks, or as they were called, "air baths." Other nudists of note included President John Quncy Adams, who regularly bathed nude in the Potomac, as did the much beloved fictional characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn who skinny dipped with joy and abandon.

But these so-called radicals continued to remain a very small minority of the population until the dawn of the 20th century brought more formal nudism to America.

Kurt Barthel, acknowledged as the founder of American nudism, was acquainted with other German nudists late in the 1920s and had allowed his name to be used as a local New York contact. On Labor Day of 1929, Kurt led a small group of individuals to a picnic in the buff in the Hudson Mountains near Peekskill, New York, and organized nude recreation in America was born with his dues-paying club, called the “American League for Physical Culture” (ALPC). For the full story, click here.

For more information on nude travel and beaches, visit RTM's Adventure Travel channel.

May 19, 2010

Free Gas for Summer from Suzuki

Suzukifreegas American Suzuki has announced its nationwide  “Free Gas for Summer” sales promotion, offering car buyers three months of free gasoline on retail purchases of any new 2010 Suzuki model, including the all-new Kizashi, SX4 SportBack, SX4 Sport sedan, SX4 Crossover, Grand Vitara and Equator. Already recognized as the second most fuel-efficient automaker in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) with 29.7 mpg, as reported in the EPA 2009 Light-Duty Automotive Technology and Fuel Economy Trends Report, Suzuki offers motorists at the pump even more savings this summer driving season. The Suzuki “Free Gas for Summer” sales program kicks off May 1 and runs through Aug. 31. 

“Suzuki recognizes the economic challenges Americans continue to face and thought this promotion was a great way to provide relief for car buyers,” said Koichi Suzuki, executive vice president, American Suzuki Automotive Operations. “Working through our U.S. dealer network, we’re happy to extend this program to consumers across the country, providing potential buyers even more reason to consider purchasing a Suzuki during the summer shopping season.” 

Customers will receive a stored value debit card, ranging in value from $280 to $442, which can be used for fuel purchases. The amount of each stored value gas card is determined by several factors, including an assumed three-month timeframe for summer driving, the car’s EPA estimated highway mpg, the Federal Highway Administration’s estimated average of 1,000 miles driven per month and the U.S. national average price of one gallon of regular gasoline as determined by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

To learn more about Suzuki’s “Free Gas for Summer” sales promotion, or to locate the nearest Suzuki dealer, please visit In addition, Suzuki will celebrate the start of this summer’s sales promotion with giveaways on Facebook ( and Twitter (@SuzukiAuto).

May 18, 2010

2010 Mazda RX-8 Review by Martha Hindes

Mazda rx8 Each year, Road & Travel Magazine offers up its Annual 'Sexy Car' Buyer's Guide. Over the next two months, we'll introduce you to the hottest and sexiest sports cars and roadsters to race through the pages of RTM for 2010. Who doesn't love a sexy car? And even better, who wouldn't want to have a love affair with one?

Mazda's sporty four-seater has "live dangerously" flair.

Mazda's intense RX-8 gives new meaning to "hip huggers." Not the kind that barely cling to Britney Spears' infamous backside, but ones that tuck tightly around any tush seated inside thanks to high-rise seat bolsters. That's a talent of Mazda's sporty four-door coupe meant for those who dream of road racing while they battle rush hour.

If you doubt the high revving, 9K redline intent, check the race-style tachometer centered in the handsome dash (the speedometer is peripheral). The mighty 19-inch, pewter-toned wheels mask dirt from heavy duty braking. An aluminum-faced dead pedal promises control during white knuckle, six-speed manual rides. Visually, the front fenders have the flare of an arrowhead, with "aim, shoot, devour your opponent" cache. Its lanky, gorgeous appearance matches its ability to smoke almost anything we learned during testing. At $32K, with impressive -- but thirsty -- 1.3-iiter rotary engine power, it managed to match the attitude of a $60K competitor. A credit card keyfob and Bose sound signaled its electronic talents.

If "coupe" sounds confusing, rear seat "suicide" doors are designed to front-open to keep two-door styling intact -- and latched to keep those inside safe.

For more information on the Mazda RX8, click here

Visit RTM's New Car Review channel for additonal reviews on 2010 cars.

May 17, 2010

Mama Didn't Raise No Fool: 5 Mom Inspired Driving Tips

Teen driving In honor of mother's around the world, we gathered a list of the best driving advice mom ever doled out. The following tips are by no means new, but like most of mom's advice over the years, they're full of good, old-fashioned common sense.

Seems like a no-brainer nowadays. But according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, victims in more than half of all fatal car accidents weren't wearing seatbelts. And aside from the obvious safety risks, there's also the added risk of a traffic ticket.

This is a mom oldie and a mom goodie. Speed limits serve an important purpose. Not following them can get you in a heap of trouble with Johnny Law (no one likes traffic school)—not to mention increase the likelihood of an accident. Driving a little slower will also boost your car's fuel efficiency, saving you cash at the pump.

Rain, snow, and fog make it hard to see clearly. Plus, wet surfaces require 2 to 10 times more stopping distance than dry ones. Check out our Winter Driving post for more tips, and in extremely poor situations, don't drive if you don't have to.

Mama said you can't hurry love, and really, the same thing applies to the car in front of you. Tailgating (the driving kind) never made anyone drive faster, and it cuts down on your reaction time if you have to stop in a hurry. If you're looking for a way to measure your distance, there's a lot to be said for the 3-second rule. Use a tree or pole on the side of the road to gauge how closely you're following the car ahead. If there are less than 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you, slow down or switch lanes to pass.

Chances are you've picked up bad habits since you first got your license. A defensive driving course can help you brush up on the rules of the road, which in turn helps you avoid tickets and accidents, which in turn saves you money on car insurance (we should know).

This one's a staple of moms everywhere, and while it's not related to driving, our list wouldn't be complete without it.

Bottom line: Drive like your mom's in the car and chances are you'll be a slower, safer (and dare we say better?) driver. Like it or not, mom's advice could help you avoid tickets and accidents, which could end up saving you money on your auto insurance. And while not quite as tasty as mom's meatloaf, saving money's always a good thing.

Source: Esurance