Month: March 2017

Life is better in a convertible

My dad once told me that everyone should own a convertible at least once in their lifetime. Why? Because life is better in a convertible. Let’s think about that. First, when was the last time you ever saw an unhappy person driving a convertible. That’s right. Never. Next, consider your daily/weekly routine. How much fun are the errands you run each week? While necessary, running by the post office, bank and dry cleaner are certainly not in anyone’s top 10 list of favorite things to do. But try driving to and fro with the top down, enjoying the sunshine and maybe even getting a jump start on your golden, summer tan. Talk about multi-tasking at its finest! Imagine tossing your grocery bags filled with ground turkey, Greek yogurt and frozen pizza (hey, you have to offset all that healthy stuff with something) into the trunk of a new FIAT® 124 Spider. Suddenly even grocery shopping doesn’t seem so bad. Dash to the gym in your FIAT 500c and somehow you find yourself looking forward to a formidable workout. Have you been putting off making a doctor or dentist appointment? The carefree feeling of driving to your appointment with the wind in your hair may help you more easily get through the drudgery of things like annual exams. Head out to … Read More

707 HP in a convertible? You must be plum crazy.

We all have dreams. For some, it’s the perfect (for them) house. For others, it’s THE car. For Jay Campana, dealer principal for Vero Beach Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, in Vero Beach, Florida, it was a 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT® Hellcat convertible. That’s right – I said a Challenger SRT Hellcat convertible. A vehicle that, for all practical purposes, does not exist, as Dodge does not make any version of the Hellcat in a convertible. Why chop the top off a perfectly good great Plum Crazy Purple 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat? No, Campana is not plumb crazy. But he wanted a Hellcat that, for all intents and purposes, was reminiscent of the Plymouth Barracuda convertibles of the early 1970s. So, what do you do when the car you want more than any other doesn’t exist? You commission a well-known, award-winning custom shop to produce the car of your dreams. Thanks to Drop Top Customs, in High Springs, Florida, Campana’s purple Hellcat now comes with a fully retractable soft top and, in true 70s style, a white leather interior modernized with purple-stitched Hellcat emblems. But this wasn’t the first time a Challenger Hellcat was transformed into a convertible. Last spring, Iverson Dodge in Mitchell, South Dakota, sent the first, ever Challenger Hellcat to Drop Top Customs with the blessing of … Read More

The DFW Auto Show is going on now!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m not going to the Dallas Auto Show. The 1,800-mile commute is a bit too far, but others who have not had the opportunity to go, I know exactly what I’m missing – it’s an auto show like none other I’ve ever attended. First, it’s huge. There are hundreds of vehicles to peruse. In previous years, I’ve made my way there at least twice during the five-day event, in an attempt to see everything I wanted to see. “Auto shows have been around for almost 120 years and they continue to be one of the most effective ways to reach consumers who are in the market for new vehicles,” said Don Herring Jr., DFW Auto Show chairman. “Where else can you find more than 650 trucks, SUVs, sedans, sports cars and energy-efficient vehicles representing nearly all major manufacturers, all in one easily ‘walkable’ venue? It’s like a giant showroom; look under a hood, pop a trunk and check out the legroom of hundreds of new vehicles in just a few short hours.” And after checking out all the vehicles you want to see from the inside, you can head outside to visit the Ride & Drive area. If you’ve ever wanted to test drive and compare different makes and models back-to-back this … Read More

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass hits the mark with a whole new direction

When someone mentions the Jeep® brand, the first image to come to mind is, naturally, the Jeep Wrangler. After all, it’s the original wind-in-your-hair, sun-on-your-face, go-everywhere vehicle that oozes iconic American history. As the most awarded SUV brand ever (per Jeep.com) the Jeep lineup has many more options for Jeep lovers, young and old alike. Of course, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has great family appeal. And the baby Jeep Renegade is a great “starter” as younger Jeep fans enter the driving realm. But when was the last time you considered the Jeep Compass? If it’s been awhile, you may want to take a second (maybe even a third) look. Let’s start with affordability. With an MSRP of just $20,995, plus the $1,095 destination fee, the all-new 2017 Jeep Compass is affordable while retaining Jeep authenticity. Even the top-of-the-line Compass Limited comes in under the $30,000 mark with an MSRP of $28,995. The editors at MotorTrend agree it’s a good choice for the budget-conscious. “Fuel economy is near the top of the segment, with all-wheel-drive automatic models such as the Trailhawk netting an EPA-estimated 22/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined. Pricing is reasonable too, with the Compass Trailhawk starting at $29,690 [including destination fee].” And it’s not just the price that hits the mark with critics. According to Kelley Blue Book’s Keith Buglewicz, “The … Read More

Pothole problems are a positively unpleasant part of spring

According to the calendar, spring is here. Some of the best parts about spring include blossoming trees, longer, warmer days, the start of the professional baseball season and, of course, who could forget spring break? But, along with the good comes the bad – allergies, bugs, the never-ending mud you get when the snow melts and spring rains begin and, of course, the dreaded spring cleaning. As representations of spring go, these really aren’t so bad and can easily be outweighed by fun, better weather and the promise of summer just around the corner. And then there’s the ugly. Namely, potholes. When we lived in Dallas, we used to joke that a small vehicle could easily get lost in the potholes that riddled I-35. Driving on it was offensive driving at its finest. Not only were you doing your best to avoid the worst potholes, you also had to keep a keen eye out for everyone else who was doing the same and, as a result, crossing over into neighboring lanes. Mostly, we tried very hard to avoid it at all costs. At the time, I didn’t think there could possibly be a worse road, but where we live now, while not worse, is definitely a close second on the list. Lots of snow, paired with rain and winter road … Read More

The making of a motor head

  I’m pretty sure every child goes through a fascinated-with-motorized-things phase. Even if it’s just the color of cars and trucks they see on the road, there is some level of interest. Our daughter went through a yellow-vehicle phase where we found ourselves trying to be the first to call one out by yelling, “Skittle!” (Her game, her rules.) This happened every time we were driving somewhere. I’m not sure where this game came from, but still today I occasionally find myself saying “Skittle!” when I see a yellow vehicle. (It’s a little embarrassing when you have co-workers in the vehicle with you.) This vehicle fascination, if properly honed, could lead to our next generation of motor heads. For those kids whose interest goes beyond the exterior hue of vehicles on the road, there are several books available to delight and entertain. Here are a just a few that your son or daughter might enjoy.       If I Built a Car, by Chris Van Dusen Jack is making plans for a car like no other. His extensive imagination lets him create a vehicle that includes a snack bar, swimming pool and fireplace, for starters. And his robotic driver will drive you wherever you’d like to go, even if that destination is under water. When it comes to the … Read More

Meet Foley – a pint-sized future superdog

This is Foley.     He’s cute, right? As a growing puppy, Foley is very busy these days. But not for the reasons you might expect. You see, Foley is part of the Give a Dog a Job campaign. So, besides eating and playing as all puppies do, Foley is hard at work each day, learning how he can one day help his human. Who is his lucky human, you ask? That is yet to be determined. Currently, Foley is a Canine Companions for Independence puppy. As he grows, he will learn approximately 40 commands that will eventually help his human experience independence on a level he or she may have never thought possible. Canine Companions dogs are professionally trained to assist people with disabilities, helping with things like opening doors, turning off lights and even pulling manual wheelchairs.     The Chrysler brand is partnering with Canine Companions for Independence to help bring more awareness to the Give a Dog a Job campaign. “Through our partnership with Canine Companions for Independence, the Chrysler brand is able to help bring awareness to its Give a Dog a Job program through our new online social initiative,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge, SRT®, Chrysler and FIAT®, FCA North America. “As we follow Foley through his journey, fans will get … Read More

Enjoy a spring break that doesn’t break the bank

Spring break is right around the bend. While enjoying the sand and sun at an exotic beach location or hitting the slopes at a popular ski resort may sound appealing, such options are not financially feasible for everyone. Especially if you happen to be broke (or simply thrifty) and on a budget. Being on a budget, however, does not mean that a memorable spring break is not possible. Sometimes it just requires a bit more creativity. I have two friends who are experts at vacations on a budget. With a goal of visiting (or at least setting foot in) every state, they carefully watch for travel deals and take advantage of the best ones they find. Traveling with them, I’ve enjoyed the benefit of their bargain-shopping expertise while seeing parts of Colorado, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. At last check, they only had a handful of states left to see. This led them to add destinations outside the country, which is more challenging. Yet they’ve managed to visit Ireland, Greenland and a few Caribbean islands for a fraction of what others pay. Inspired, I took some notes and, while I’m nowhere near the experts they are, here’s how they got me started: Choose a comfortable spending limit. This gives you parameters to stay within as you plan and will (hopefully) … Read More

Is 200,000 the new 100,000?

Vehicles are lasting longer these days. How much longer? Well, that depends on a variety of factors, but in 2016, the average age of light vehicles in operation on the roads increased to 11.6 years, according to IHS Markit. When I bought my Ram 1500 a few months back, I did so with the intention of driving it “until the wheels fall off,” as the old saying goes, and knowing it will outlast even our daughter learning to drive. I expect to easily see the 200,000-mile mark sometime in the distant future. How can I be so sure? In part, it’s the confidence I have in the brand. It’s also because we take very good care of our vehicles. They are regularly maintained, kept clean (for the most part), and when something does happen with one of them, we address it immediately. Finally, vehicles today are simply lasting longer than they once did. It used to be that, once you hit 100,000 miles, you automatically became a member of the car shopping crowd. These days, though, some buyers seek out used vehicles with in excess of 100,000 miles, confident that a high-mileage, used vehicle will carry them for another 100,000, or more, miles. Of course, the key to saving money by owning and driving a high-mileage vehicle is not replacing … Read More