Minivan Features For Families
Growing families everywhere choose minivans as the way to hit the pavement. However, some minivans are more practical than others. One feature you may not have thought of is adjustable pedals. Everyone comes in different sizes, so wouldn't it be nice to drive comfortably without sitting so close to the wheel? Vehicles like Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest, and Hyundai Entourage have this option.
While you're driving with the children in tow sometimes you need to see exactly what's going on in the back seats. The solution: conversation mirror. It's an overhead convex mirror so you can avoid the danger of turning around to see what kind of trouble those kids are getting into. The Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, and Honda Odyssey all carry this feature. But what about storing all those toys, sports equipment or groceries? Honda, Chrysler, and Dodge have the answer: in-floor storage.
Another important feature is a tire-pressure warning system. With such a hectic lifestyle who has time to deal with a sudden flat tire? The system warns you that a tire is low and you should have it checked before disaster strikes. All of the minivans mentioned previously have this time saving feature.
Another option that is crucial to have is side curtain airbags for all three rows. Make sure you ask the salesperson for this feature. It can be found in the Toyota Sienna, Mazda5, Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest, and Hyundai Entourage.
Do you faint every time you watch the numbers roll higher and higher at the gas pump? Is your credit card bill skyrocketing from the cost of fuel? Or, are you concerned about the environment? If you answered yes to any of these questions then purchasing one of the many hybrid vehicles is a wise choice.
Many of the manufacturers are coming out with hybrid SUVs and hybrid sedans. The top hybrid cars are the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Ford Escape, and the Lexus LS, GS, and RX. Let's start with the Toyota Prius Hybrid. It gets 55 mpg and is loved by celebrities. You can also get upgrades like leather interior and blue tooth technology.
The Honda Civic Hybrid, however, gets 50 mpg but has more horsepower than the Prius. Another Toyota hybrid is the Camry. While this vehicle only gets 39 mpg, it is still one of the most popular sedans sold in the US.
Unlike the Prius, the hybrid Camry offers a range of engine options from 2.4-liter 158 horsepower to 3.5-liter 268 horsepower.
For those of you in need of more space, the Ford Escape Hybrid is perfect. This vehicle gets 34 mpg, which is not too shabby.
On the other hand, if you want a luxury SUV hybrid look no further than the Lexus RX. This car boasts a V6 268 horsepower engine and gets 27 mpg. The Lexus Hybrid sedans (LS and GS) have V8 and V6 engines respectively. These two cars are the premium luxury hybrid sedans of the year.
Whether you're looking for an affordable hybrid vehicle or an ultra-luxurious hybrid they all save the earth, precious oil, and you even get a tax break!
How to Optimize Your Mileage
Here are some quick facts on how to make sure you get the best mileage per gallon. First of all, know that when the EPA tests a vehicle for its mpg they assume that the average speed is 20mph in the city, and 48mph on the highway. They also have slow acceleration on a level road without the air conditioner on.
Therefore, in order to keep your mpg as close to the estimate as possible try and follow these guidelines:
- Do not accelerate quickly or brake heavily. This can reduce mileage up to 33% on the highway and 5% in the city.
- Try not to drive faster than 60mph.
- Living in hilly areas and driving on unpaved roads will increase your gas mileage usage.
- Don't carry more than 300lbs. The more weight you carry the more fuel you will use.
- Walk instead of driving short distances.
- Cargo racks increase wind resistance, which in turn increases the mpg.
- Always keep your car in top form. Get regular oil changes and maintenance repair.
- Check the air in your tires. If they are too low you will use more gas.
- If you have cruise control use it.
- Avoid excess idling.
Buying Used vs. New
No matter how many people I talk to, everyone has a different opinion as to what is better to buy: new or used. When I bought my Nissan Sentra in Silver Spring, Maryland I knew it would depreciate as soon as it left the lot. After four years, I was ready to buy another car. This time I needed something with 4WD or AWD.
One friend of mine said I should get a used Jeep Grand Cherokee. Another friend suggested I get the AWD Subaru Legacy. If we looked at depreciation alone, buying a used vehicle was the better choice. Someone else took the hit instead of you. However, how could I know if the used car would be reliable? Going to dealerships that offer certified used vehicles is a good option. Honda, for example, sells certified used cars. The Civic and Accord are highly rated both new and used.
On the other hand, if I bought the car new I'd know exactly how the car had been treated. Another option was to look for cars that have won awards and are rated high in crash test ratings as well as consumer satisfaction. The Audi A6 and A8 are great cars for any kind of weather. Unfortunately, my price range didn't go that high.
Instead I decided to test drive the new Saturn Vue. It's AWD and comes in a V6. I loved how it handled and there was plenty of space in the trunk for lots of shopping! Next I test drove a 2004 Mazda Tribute. This also cam in a V6 with lots of space. While the interior wasn't as new looking, it still drove well and had a much lower price tag.
As you look for your next purchase make sure you know your budget, research the vehicles, ask about extended warranties, and above all find a car that fits you. It doesn't always have to be brand new for it to be a good vehicle.
As the weather changes and the snow starts settling in, making sure your vehicle is winter ready is important. First, get an oil change. Then have your tires rotated and new winter wiper blades put on. Get your tire pressure checked. This helps not only with getting the best gas mileage possible, but you won't get stranded with a flat tire in the middle of a snow storm.
Depending on your car, have snow tires put on. The BMW 3-series as well as most sports cars benefit greatly from snow tires. If your car has AWD or 4WD understand that it helps in the snow, but it does not mean you can fly past other vehicles and still be safe. I know from my experience driving in upstate New York and through the mountains of Pennsylvania that it's more than likely the Jeep Grand Cherokees, Ford Explorers, and Toyota Highlanders are found on the side of the road. When coming to a stop, leave plenty of room in front of you and the car ahead of you in case someone in the back can't stop.
Also, when driving on any roadway keep a distance of about 2-3 cars in front of you. That way of you hit a piece of ice or a snow drift you have more time to stop.
With the invention of the popular iPod and satellite radio, we tend to multitask while driving. Not a good idea when the weather is bad.
Lastly, always carry emergency supplies. Some stores offer kits that include a flashlight, heat pads, blankets, road flares, etc.
Car Seat Friendly Vehicles
Whether you are expecting your first child or your eighth, finding the right vehicle for a car seat is important. Before you go to the dealership, bring your car seat(s) with you so you can try it in the vehicle. The first thing to look for is deep, flat seat cushions. That way the seat will be stable.
Next latch the car seat into the back seat. The anchors should be placed so that it is easy to cinch the car seat straps and make it secure.
Third, make sure you can get the car seat in and out through the door easily. The door should swing open wide enough for the ease of access.
Lastly, you want to see that there is automatic locking retractor (ALR) seatbelts. You can test this by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and feeling it lock and retract. It ensures a tighter and safer fit.
Some vehicles that have one or more of these features are: Chevy Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Magnum, Honda Accord, Ford Freestyle, Honda Odyssey, Scion xB, Toyota Camry, Toyota Sienna, and Ford Five Hundred.