Author: Linda Steil

Does ‘home for the holidays’ mean you’re traveling this year?

Most schools officially got out for the holiday break yesterday. College students are home. Many who put in for holiday vacation time have logged out and won’t step back in their office until next year. Now what? Are you headed somewhere for the holidays or are family and friends coming your way? What does “home for the holidays” look like to you? According to AAA’s holiday travel forecast, you are likely traveling, as they suggest 107.3 million people will be journeying to their holiday destination this year. Whether it be by plane, train, automobile (or whatever other means of transportation is available), that’s a lot of people out and about during the last two weeks of this calendar year. As usual, the overwhelming majority will be driving, with an estimated 97.4 million people taking to the roads. “More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.” So, what can you do to make your holiday travel plans roll a … Read More

Test driving Jeep® brand SUVs – my favorite may surprise you

We’re in the market to replace our small SUV. It’s a great car, it handles well in the snow and it gets good gas mileage. But, while it checks off many of the boxes, it’s just a little too small for some of the trips we take. Since I’ve been a fan of the Jeep® Cherokee pretty much since it was reintroduced, that was my first suggestion. My husband leans more toward a Grand Cherokee (an SRT® if he truly had his say in the matter). So, our Sunday afternoon was spent test driving Jeep brand vehicles. I admit, while I knew it wasn’t going to be large enough to suit our needs, I really wanted to drive a Jeep Compass. Why? Because it’s NEW! Mid-2017, the Jeep Compass was completely updated. It now looks like a mini-Grand Cherokee. Our sales associate was gracious enough to indulge us (me) and handed over the keys to a 2018 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4. She was a beauty. After checking out the cargo space (mostly to verify it was about the same size as our current vehicle and, indeed, too small for our needs), I jumped in the driver’s seat. My first impression – the interior is quite spacious for a small SUV. It handled well, taking turns like a champ, and I … Read More

A day in the life of an auto writer

The other day I was explaining what I do to someone I had recently met. I could tell by the look on their face that they thought I had the most boring job on earth. They didn’t actually say the words, but they were wondering what there could possibly be going on in auto finance to write about on a daily basis. Later, I was driving home, thinking about the conversation and I laughed a little. If only they knew … You see, I’ve played a lot of different roles during my 17+ years in the auto industry. It’s been a long road and every path I’ve taken has lead me to new and different experiences. I’ve been the one to hand someone the keys to their very first car, watch as they slid behind the wheel and started it for the first time and they slowly, nervously and excitedly pulled away from the dealership. I’ve signed the paperwork with someone who had saved, shopped, researched and was finally buying their dream car. It hadn’t been an easy road, but they did it and that special day had, at long last, arrived. I’ve been on the other end of a phone conversation as a couple, badly in need of reliable transportation, yet sure they would not be able to get … Read More

Holiday gift-wrapping hacks that anyone can handle

Are you among the many who have your holiday shopping complete? Congratulations. I am not. And no, I’m not jealous. Not even a little. Nope, not one teeny, tiny, itty, little bit. If you have your shopping complete AND you have everything wrapped, however … now I might be a bit envious of your efficiency. It is quite likely I will be pulling out the gift wrap, tape and bows to get all mine done just hours before the UNwrapping begins. Luckily, I have run across a gift-wrapping hack or two in my day to make things easier. If you’re looking for some tips of your own, try some of these! Do you love to give the gift of homemade treats during the holidays? I learned a sweet trick awhile back from AuntPeaches.com. Make it easier to transport your delicious delights by using an empty aluminum foil (plastic wrap, wax paper … you see where I’m going here) box. Paint the exterior a festive color, line the inside with wax paper, place your tasty treats inside and tie it closed with a piece of ribbon. Giving the gift of cash this year? Make it more interesting by rolling up the dough and placing it inside a festive, transparent balloon. Add some holiday confetti, blow up the balloon, knot it and … Read More

Dodge Charger is one of America’s most loved vehicles

The results of Strategic Vision’s Most Loved Vehicles in America survey were recently announced and new Dodge Charger owners have named the Charger one of America’s most loved vehicles. “Dodge Charger exemplifies the energy, design, performance and quality cues that exemplify passion,” said Christopher Chaney, senior vice president – Strategic Vision. “This is what the ‘Most Loved Vehicle’ award represents, and why Charger is the segment leader.” But how do you measure the love an owner has for his or her vehicle? What makes a vehicle one of America’s most loved? What drives the passion of Dodge Charger owners to speak loud and proud about how much they love their new Chargers? Good questions. These are not things the folks at Strategic Vision take lightly. In fact, they have spent the last 40 years developing a way to quantify the way people feel when they get behind the wheel of their new vehicle. Strategic Vision starts by surveying new vehicle owners who had surpassed their first 90 days of ownership. Grading on a curve ranging from “I hate it” to “I love it,” the new owners respond to 120 different aspects of their experience with their new vehicle. From the data collected within those 120 questions, Strategic Vision’s Customer Love Index (CLI) is created. Results of this year’s survey were … Read More

FCA US LLC vehicles recently named 2018 Consumer Guide® Automotive Best Buys

Recently four 2018 FCA US LLC vehicles rolled away with five distinguished honors from the automotive editors at Consumer Guide® Automotive: 2018 Chrysler Pacifica – Minivan Best Buy Family Vehicle Best Buy 2018 Dodge Durango – Large SUV Best Buy 2018 Ram 1500 – Large Pickup Truck Best Buy 2018 FIAT 124 Spider – Sporty Performance Car Best Buy Now in its second production year, the Chrysler Pacifica continues to blow away the competition and has been named Minivan Best Buy and Family Vehicle Best Buy for the second year in a row. Why does the Pacifica continue to do so well? Because it does not compromise on providing what today’s families need and, according to Tom Appel, Publisher of Consumer Guide Automotive, the Pacifica is “simply one of the most thoughtfully designed family vehicles” the editors at Consumer Guide Automotive have ever evaluated. Also in its second year of production, the FIAT 124 Spider’s win as Sporty Performance Car Best Buy is also a repeat victory, proving that fun doesn’t have to come with a high price tag. According to Appel, “the tradition-bound 124 Spider delivers a considerable dose of driving pleasure for a very reasonable price.” When it comes to enduring the test of time, two FCA US LLC brand vehicles prove to be two of the best … Read More

Choosing the right car for a new driver

What happens when it comes time to purchase a vehicle for a new driver? Do you run out to buy the fanciest, most expensive vehicle on the lot? Probably not. Instead, hopefully, you’ve done research and have already taken into consideration things like the price, your budget and the cost-to-own. Once you get past that, though, it’s time for the fun part – shopping and test driving. Temptation may lead you down the path of getting something fun, but here’s where practicality is your pal. For the record, that doesn’t mean boring. It just means making the smart choice of something you can safely and comfortably drive. Here are a few additional things to consider when test driving your first vehicle. 1. Visibility Blind spots can cause accidents. When you sit in the vehicle, can you easily see in all directions? Does the vehicle offer blind-spot monitoring capability? If you have to crane your head in an awkward fashion to see the vehicle next to you, it is probably not the car for you. 2. Ride height You may, at first, think this sounds odd, but bear with me for a moment and take into consideration the majority of other vehicles you see on the road around you. Are you surrounded by large trucks and SUVs? Or are they mostly … Read More

Alfa Romeo Giulia wins 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year®

What test drive includes more than 7,000 miles of driving, potholes, jagged pavement, steep grades, misaligned railroad crossings and avoidance maneuvers? The one that wins you Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. This year, 26 contenders were assessed. The field was narrowed to the top eight “Of the Year” finalists who were evaluated against six criteria: advancement in design, engineering excellence, safety, efficiency, value and performance of intended function. From there, the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia rose to the top. But it wasn’t just any win. It was the first Motor Trend Car of the Year Award for an Italian car. “Motor Trend’s judges agreed that the Alfa Romeo Giulia is the new ultimate driving machine,” said Ed Loh, Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief. “Alfa Romeo developed a car that is perhaps the finest handling sedan on the market.”  

What color is your truck?

It’s no secret that I love my truck. I write about it a lot. One of the things I like best about it is the color, because no one else has one like it. It’s Stinger Yellow. As you might imagine, not only does everyone see me coming, but they also definitely know it’s me because it is, in fact, the only yellow truck in town. Part of my disinterest in other truck colors, red and/or blue for instance, was the fact that I feel like I see them all too often. If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago, I would have guessed that red was among the most popular of truck colors, but that is not actually the case. Working in conjunction with Performance Truck Products and utilizing data available on Cars.com, Spork Marketing recently created and released the infographic below depicting the most popular truck colors of 2017. “If you’d have asked me before we collected this data, I’d have guessed that red, blue and green were all equally popular. However, as our chart shows, green is significantly less popular than red or blue,” said Nate Dwyer, director at Performance Truck Products. “The popularity of white, silver and black trucks is definitely a result of fleet and commercial sales, as at least one of these … Read More

Four tips to stay safe on the road this winter

Recently I was chatting with friends of mine who live in Manhattan and they were marveling at the fact that just a couple of weeks ago it was 80 degrees outside. In November. In New York City. Keep in mind we were having this conversation as snow was falling all around us and we were shivering in the cold. Fall of 2017 did have some unseasonably warm temperatures. But today is December 1 and I’m afraid it’s time to face the music – winter, and all its glory, is right around the corner. I drove in a lot of winter weather that day I spent with my friends from NYC. Freezing rain, sleet, snow and then finally clear skies and frigid temperatures – I covered it all in just a few short hours. And I have to be honest, my husband and I have been slow to put our winter tires on our vehicles because the temperatures have been so mild. Luckily, I have plenty of experience driving in winter weather. But that doesn’t mean that the first time out each season, I don’t need to jump start my brain. Just a quick reminder of the basics before Old Man Winter gets a chance to give me a swift kick in the rear and send me headed in a direction … Read More