Month: July 2016

Summer sun heats up vehicle safety precautions

The dog days of summer are definitely upon us. Record heat in recent weeks has caused much of the nation to stay indoors with the air conditioner on high. Since not everyone can stay home when the sun is on full blast, now seems like a good time to review a few key points of vehicle safety and the summer heat. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that a vehicle sitting in the sun on an 80-100 degree day can reach internal temperatures of 130-172 degrees. People, pets and a variety of items should not be left in the car when summer temperatures are on the rise. It’s impossible to forget a chatty 10-year-old in the back seat, but such may not be the case for a sleeping baby or toddler. Unfortunately, I don’t have the end-all, be-all solution for this. I wish I did. Perhaps the best thing to do is simply get into the habit of scanning the entire car before opening your own door, no matter what the season. If you’re anything like me, you have a dog who’s at the door faster than a Hellcat in the quarter-mile at the mere mention of the word “go.” During cooler months, we go everywhere together, but during the summer months, that’s not always possible. So we … Read More

Investing in the future of FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recently announced a plan to invest $1.48 billion in the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP). The investment will retool the plant, preparing it to build the next generation of the Ram 1500. You may recall the “comeback” of SHAP just six years ago, when it was slated to close its doors. Chrysler Group stepped in to repurchase the plant after emerging from bankruptcy and announced it would remain open. A few years later, to prepare the plant for the production of the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200, $1 billion was spent updating the five-million-square-foot facility to make it the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant it is today. Slow sales of the Chrysler 200 have led FCA to announce their decision to stop manufacturing the vehicle. Production will end in December 2016 so that the facility can be transformed to produce the Ram 1500. Currently Ram 1500s are built just 10 miles away, at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan. The 3.31-million-square-foot facility employs more than 4,400 associates and has been making trucks since 1938. And they will continue to do so. After the current generation of the Ram 1500 is complete, the facility will be retooled to yield the long-awaited return of the Jeep® Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. This announcement comes on the heels of FCA declaring … Read More

What does your bumper sticker say about you?

Depending on who you ask, car bumpers were originally designed to either push in-the-way objects (such as farm animals) out of the way or to protect the vehicle in the case of front or rear impact. Either way, I’m quite certain they were never intended to profess a political affiliation, brag about how smart your kids are or provide any number of reasons to honk your horn. Yet, from the first motor vehicles that had metal and cardboard signs attached with wire, the bumper has been used for advertisements, political agendas, bragging rights, etc. Some are funny.             Some are really cute.         Some are sarcastic.       And         Some provide advice.           And         Some let your boss know exactly how your day is going. And               Some are literal.             Some give the world a fair warning.           And While most would consider the bumper sticker a simple (and sometimes funny) form of expression, it appears it’s not so simple after all. A 2008 study by psychologist William Szlemko and his colleagues at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, showed that those … Read More

The vehicles you want AND need

In an ideal world, a new vehicle would include everything you want and need in a car, truck or SUV. In the real world, that may seem impossible. However, recently released results of AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA) indicate owning a vehicle that does exactly that is indeed possible. Particularly if you own a 2015 Jeep® Grand Cherokee or a 2016 Dodge Challenger. For the sixth year in a row, Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled over the competition and took top honors in the Most Ideal Mid-Size SUV segment. “The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a consistent winner in AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award research. For the last six years, Grand Cherokee owners have rated the vehicle as the SUV best targeted to its owner’s wants and needs,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. “Grand Cherokee owners want very little changed. This is a testament to the excellence Jeep planners, designers and engineers have in understanding exactly what their customers want.” Winning the Sporty Car segment for the fourth year in a row, Dodge Challenger owners are equally enamored with their vehicles. What does it take to be named one of the best on AutoPacific’s IVA list? It’s not an easy task, for sure. Responses from over 65,000 people were reviewed and tallied. Each person surveyed was 90 days into their … Read More

Don’t ‘Dodge’ the truth – it’s time for more space

Summer is flying by. Summer road trips will soon be but a not-so-distant memory of everyone packed into the car like sardines and echoes of “are we there yet?” still ringing in your ears. If this describes your recent summer getaway, it sounds like the family road trip proved your current vehicle isn’t quite large enough to seat everyone comfortably. Whether on the hunt for a more roomy option due to a recent road trip experience or because you want to avoid such drama on an upcoming family adventure, look no further than your local Dodge dealer. That’s right, I said Dodge. The mere mention of the name Dodge may conjure up images of muscle cars with powerful engines that, while fun to drive, do not offer nearly enough seating capacity to suit your needs. But there is more to Dodge than the roar of an engine as it races down the quarter-mile. Three Dodge vehicles offer seven-passenger seating that is perfect for a family road trip. Probably the most obvious is the Dodge Grand Caravan. Ranked among the top 10 on both Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) Most Affordable 3-Row Vehicles and Autobytel.com’s 10 of the Best 7-Passenger Vehicles, the Grand Caravan can comfortably seat your entire family and still stow everyone’s gear. Standard Stow ‘n Go seating, seven passenger … Read More

FCA partners with hackers to build a better product

If you can’t beat them, join them. Or at least get them to join you. Just a year after software engineers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek hacked into the computer system of a Jeep Cherokee and took control of the vehicle, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is taking a bold step and encouraging such actions. Well, maybe not EXACTLY that. But close. Recently enlisting the help of Bugcrowd, a company that manages organized hacking (or research, as it’s referred to by CEO and founder Casey Ellis) and is located in the San Francisco area, FCA is challenging ethical hackers to discover vulnerabilities in the manufacturer’s software. The “bug bounty program,” as it’s called, could nab a successful participant up to $1,500 per flaw. “Successful,” you say? What exactly does successful mean regarding the program? First, it must be a previously unknown defect. So claiming the same issue discovered by Miller and Valasek last year doesn’t count. Also, the amount of the payout will vary (from $150 to $1,500) and be determined by both the severity of the discovery and the number of vehicles affected. Why would a major automobile manufacturer participate in a program such as this? It’s about making a better product. “From the first minute we started talking to FIAT Chrysler, we realized they were serious about doing this … Read More

Spiders are making their way to studios near you

It’s been more than 30 years since the FIAT® 124 Spider was sold in the United States. And 50 years since it was first introduced on American soil. Now, just in time for the best part of summer and leisurely Sunday drives with the top down, the FIAT 124 Spider is back. Initial shipments were received at the Port of Baltimore and the Port of San Diego and are beginning to make their appearance on studio floors across America. “After much anticipation, the all-new Fiat 124 Spider is here in the United States,” said Bob Broderdorf, Director of FIAT Brand North America. “Just in time for the prime convertible season, customers will now have the opportunity to experience our Italian-designed, fun-to-drive roadster for themselves.” What is so exciting about the all-new FIAT? For starters, the U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is just $24,995, making it the most affordable turbo-powered convertible in America. Second, the all-new design delivers both style and performance. The iconic design of the classic roadster can still be detected on today’s Spider. From a modernized version of the original grille and the placement of the headlights, to the trunk shape and horizontal tail lamps, hints of the original 124’s design can be detected coming and going. Under the hood, the 2017 FIAT Spider comes standard with … Read More

The Wonderful World of Woodie

The Woodie. A vehicle type that has stood out for decades and will be celebrated this weekend as several locations across the U.S. gather for the annual National Woodie Wagon Day. A few events of note include Woodies at the Beach, which takes place in Santa Cruz, California, while on the opposite coast in Hammondsport, New York, the 6th Annual Gathering of Wooden Cars will celebrate all things woodie-related.     “A woodie is a car body style with rear bodywork constructed of wood framework with infill wood panels,” says the official description from Wikipedia. As the story goes, the concept of meshing wood and steel to create unique body styles came about in the 1930s. The incorporation of wood grew in the 1940s as a way to save on steel to put toward military use during World War II. For many, the idea of the woodie conjures up scenes of surfers loading up their wagons with their boards sticking out the back in search of the perfect wave. These scenes occurred regularly in the 1960s to the fun-in-the-sun sounds of Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys, whose hit “Surfin’ Safari” included the lyrics, “We’re loading up our woody with our boards inside.” The Chrysler Corporation created many woodies over the years including the Town & Country in the … Read More

Patriotic places to celebrate this Independence Day

It seems that every year (for that matter, every major holiday) the projected number of people traveling makes for another “record year.” This year, AAA is crediting the lowest gas prices since 2005 as the No. 1 reason they expect more than 36 million people to hit the roads for Fourth of July plans this year. That’s nice. Where is everyone going? For Independence Day, it seems appropriate to visit one of our nation’s most patriotic cities. But which one? The most obvious destination is probably Washington, D.C. Packed with memorials, museums and monuments, our nation’s capital is the perfect place to celebrate one of the most important dates in U.S. history. Boston also comes to mind. It is, after all, known as the Birthplace of Liberty. Philadelphia and Gettysburg are high on the list and should include visits to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the site of the Gettysburg Address. To celebrate a few of the men who helped shape our country, a visit to Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota, may be your destination of choice. If a place closer to home (and less crowded) is more your style, we have a plethora of cities with patriotic names across our great nation. For instance, if you wish to visit the city of Liberty, you can do so in … Read More

I just bought my first Jeep® Wrangler!

Before we moved from the Dallas area to New Hampshire, we knew we would be living in a more rugged area. The house we ultimately chose is located on an unmaintained road in the Belknap Mountains. Our two-door sports car wasn’t going to cut it. Needless to say, we sold it. (Insert sad face here.) But that left us with one vehicle and my husband’s work truck that can barely navigate our road. (For the record, it is NOT a Ram truck.) So, what is a girl to do? In discussing which vehicles would be able to ascend the hill leading up to our tiny neighborhood, a Jeep® Wrangler was a no-brainer. Even though we talked about it, I never thought it would become a reality. Other vehicles, like a Ram 1500, just made more sense. Plus, any Jeep Wrangler that I might want would either be too expensive or an impossibility to find. After all, Wrangler owners don’t just part with their babies. Then, I went to Boston for a conference. While I was gone, unbeknownst to me, my husband started his search and found the needle in the haystack. After the standard what-happened-while-I-was-gone conversation, he tentatively broached the subject of this diamond in the rough that he had stumbled upon. It was a 1989 Jeep Wrangler YJ Sahara … Read More