Month: July 2017

Back-to-school shopping – great cars for students

If you’ve got kids headed off to college or new drivers that are ready for their own wheels, back-to-school shopping might mean more than backpacks and notebooks. No matter what the case, FCA US has a complete lineup of great vehicles to suit your needs. Check out these budget-friendly vehicles that would be a great addition to your family fleet. Jeep® Renegade The Renegade might be a small SUV, but it’s big on personality. With a rainbow of colors and plenty of options to choose from, your new driver will be able to select a vehicle as unique as he or she wants. Meanwhile, with a starting MSRP of $17,995, you can rest assured it won’t break the bank. FIAT® 500 If you have a teen who is always on the go, the FIAT® 500 is the ultimate get-up-and-go city car. You’ll get a starting MSRP of $14,995, plus up to 38-mpg highway which means fewer stops at the pump. Your teen driver will get a fun, stylish car with unique Italian flare. FIAT® 500X Like its smaller cousin, the 500X has plenty of personality and Italian flare. You’re teen driver will be happy with the look and feel of this fun-to-drive FIAT. On the other hand, the available AWD feature and knowing it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick will … Read More

Relieve some back-to-school stress when you let your teen driver help

Never mind the kids – are YOU ready for back to school? Alarm clocks, lunches, homework, after-school activities and the taxiing that goes along with that … it can be overwhelming. But if you have a new driver in the family that can help out with some of the shuttling, it can take some of the load off and ensure that everyone makes it to practice on time. Does the thought of your teen driver helping drive younger siblings to practice make you jump for joy or cringe at the thought? In either case, ensuring everyone is on the same page when it comes to your teen’s responsibilities behind the wheel is a good idea. Things like proper use of the turn signal, obeying traffic laws, etc. are all very important, but those are items you likely covered well before his or her license was actually issued. I’m referring to those driving habits that keep them on the right track not only with the law, but also with you. has six easy tips that can get you started down the right road together. Start with a contract. The editors at created a Teen Driving Contract that you can download, review and sign with your teen driver. It outlines some good-driver basics and leaves some space for you and … Read More

The good, the bad and the real deal of used car shopping

Let’s talk used car shopping. I know, I know. Yuck. But let’s do it anyway, just for a little while. Why? Because all good things must come to an end and as leases expire, quality used cars are hitting the market. According to Automotive Lease Guide, three million off-lease cars were returned last year and an estimated 3.5 million are expected this year. Have you added a driver to the family and are now looking to add a vehicle as well? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about getting something that gets better gas mileage to use for your daily commuter. If so, it’s a good time to get out there and start kicking some tires, even if that means kicking virtual tires by means of online research. So, that’s the good – now is a good time to buy a low-mileage used car because, well, they’re available! The bad part of today’s used car market, isn’t really so bad, depending on how you look at it. The bulk of the off-lease inventory, as stated above is car inventory. Given that the larger trucks and SUVs are some of today’s most popular vehicles, a car may not be exactly what you envisioned as your next vehicle. If that is the case, consider the purpose of your next purchase. Would a car … Read More

Road trip ideas for your bucket list – or this summer

I’ve traveled throughout much of the United States, but one place that I haven’t gone is Hawaii. It’s probably the place I most want to visit, but I have yet to plan a trip. So, if I’m doing research for a new post, a newsletter, or whatever other project I might be working on, and an article I open starts with “Snorkel Oahu,” you can bet it has my full-on attention. That’s exactly what happened today when I landed on Condé Nast Traveler’s website,, reading their summer bucket list for 2017. Reading the editor’s brief description only makes me want to visit the islands more. Alas, a trip to Hawaii is not on my family’s calendar for 2017. It will have to wait for another year. But many of the other recommendations are strong possibilities. If your family is like mine and jetting off to a tropical island either isn’t in the financial and/or timetable budget, the editors at Condé Nast Traveler (CNT) have a lot of other great suggestions for fun things to do this summer. Take, for instance, the many state fairs that take place across the country every year. CNT specifically calls out the Iowa State Fair (which I can tell you, first hand, is a lot of fun). But you also wouldn’t want to miss … Read More

Do as I say, not as I do – teaching our daughter good driving habits

Habits, especially bad habits, are hard to break. I frequently tell my daughter, “It takes 21 days to break a habit.” Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know, but it sounds good and it gives her a goal to work toward. Particularly when it comes to creating good habits that will make her a responsible and productive adult. As she nears the age of learning how to drive, I have started evaluating both my husband’s and my own driving habits. In many ways, I feel like she’s in good hands. In others, I cringe at the thought. It’s not safety concerns that worry me most. Yes, we need to ensure she leaves her phone in her purse or puts it in the glove box while driving. Driving while sleepy is something we have discussed, and will continue to discuss, with her, because like all kids, she thinks she’s invincible. And she’s already expressed her own concerns about driving in difficult weather conditions, so whether she chooses to stay home or uses extreme caution in doing so, I think she’ll be fine. Instead, it is some of our less-than-stellar habits that, while not unsafe, can cause needless wear on a vehicle, that I’m concerned we will pass on to her. Why does this concern me? Because like all good daughters … Read More

FIAT® 500 – where artistry and the automobile collide to become an icon

From 1965 to 1972, FIAT® manufactured the FIAT 500F series. The vehicle boasted 18 horsepower and a top speed of 59 miles per hour. The F series became a near-instant success and, to this day, holds the FIAT record for the highest number produced in the 500 lineup. But is it art? Some would argue that yes, it is. Which is why, as we celebrate 60 years of the FIAT 500, a 500F series has become part of the permanent collection on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. “The FIAT 500 is an icon of automotive history that fundamentally altered car design and production,” said Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA. “Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum.” But it’s more than just the story of a car. The FIAT 500 has been the source of inspiration for many. Like a few years ago when body artist Craig Tracy literally brought a FIAT 500 Abarth to life when he “built” one using performance artists. Or when commissioned artist Nicola Verlati turned the roof of a FIAT 500L into a tribute to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. “While the FIAT 500 has unquestionably left its mark … Read More

Honk if you … well, maybe not

Did you know that honking your horn in New York City can score you a traffic ticket with up to a $350 fine? It’s true. While not widely issued, as evident by the incessant and needless honking (really – do any of the people sitting in gridlock, honking their horns get to their destination any faster than those who don’t honk?), the law does exist. This got me to thinking about the dos and don’ts of using a car horn. When is it appropriate? When is it not? Is it offensive when used in what could be considered an inappropriate situation? Is there a way to make honking a better form of communication and therefore less offensive? The basic consensus is, using your horn as necessary to avoid a collision or other dangerous situation will keep you out of trouble. For example, on a multiple-lane highway, if another driver begins drifting into your lane, it would be appropriate to tap your horn to let them know you’re there. Or, if a pedestrian stepped into the road in front of you, using the car horn to let them know you’re there is fine. Did you know, in most states where vehicle safety inspections are performed, a working car horn is required to pass inspection? This, I guess, supports the idea that … Read More

Jeep® Wrangler and Cherokee top “Most American”

What do Crayola Crayons, Pyrex bake ware, Wilson footballs and the Jeep® Wrangler all have in common? Besides being American icons, they are all manufactured right here in the United States of America. Recently, in fact, named the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Cherokee the two “most American” vehicles on their American-made index. “As a descendant of the military Jeep that helped the Allies win World War II, the Jeep Wrangler already has strong American credentials,” said Joe Wiesenfelder,’s executive editor. “In’s 2017 American Made Index, the Wrangler’s American roots prove as deep as its image. The SUV has long been a favorite for off-roaders and sun-lovers.” Oddly, this marks the first time the Wrangler has topped the list. So, how does a vehicle earn this stamp of recognition? Today, as the global marketplace becomes ever more complex, it’s not easy. The first piece of criteria that must be met is that final assembly of the vehicle must be completed in a U.S. plant. From there, four additional criteria are reviewed: Domestic parts content Country of engine’s origin Country of transmission’s origin S. factory employment Assembled at the Toledo Assembly Complex, which employs approximately 5,000 people, the Wrangler Unlimited has an estimated 75 percent concentration of domestic parts. (The Wrangler is estimated at 74 percent.) Also … Read More

When the going gets tough, the tough drive Jeep®

Awhile back, I posted about members of the Chisholm Trail Jeep® Club who spent the better part of two days helping fellow Texans out of a jam when ice storms hit the Metroplex. Other Jeep owner’s groups, like the Paducah Jeep Owners Club (PJOC) Retrieval, in Paducah, Kentucky, are also fueled by the effort to help others. According to Chris Samples, one of the PJOC Retrieval leaders, “We are not going to sit around and let people be in harm’s way when we could help.” But it’s not always about pulling someone out of a ditch when weather conditions have caused things to go sideways. Sometimes, it’s simply about helping those in need safety get to work. “We’ve helped people get to their semi’s that had to get on the road,” said Sarah Mangino, an active member of the PJOC Retrieval. “We’ve helped nurses, doctors, we even help people get to their jobs at restaurants.” I frequently read about Jeep owners helping others in need, but until recently it had always been private individuals and or clubs helping or organizing to help.Until recently.     The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida recognized the benefits of those who are so willing to help and organized an all-volunteer Jeep Search and Rescue Unit. “The sheriffs recognize the need of the community … Read More