Auto News and Information

At The Road Best Traveled, we navigate your way to the most interesting and relevant auto news and information.

The good, the bad and the read 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, CNTraveler.com, 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 Cars.com “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, Cars.com 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, Cars.com’s executive editor. “In Cars.com’s 2017 American Made Index, the Wrangler’s American roots prove as deep as its image. The SUV has long been a Cars.com 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

FCA US scores high in initial quality

Improvement. Something we all strive for and work hard to attain. According to the results of J.D. Power’s most recent Initial Quality Study (IQS), FCA US vehicles are making strides in improving initial quality. In fact, for the second year in a row, FCA US has improved initial quality at a rate that exceeds the industry average. Ram Truck, alone, made a monumental 24 percent improvement over last year’s study. Overall customer satisfaction grew 8 percent over results from the 2016 study. “We’re pleased to see that all FCA US brands have made improvements in initial quality, especially Ram Truck with its big step up this year,” said Scott Garberding, Head of Quality, FCA – Global. “My colleagues and I are focused on continuing to deliver quality new vehicles, like the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, as we continue to bring important new technologies into the market with an increasing number of exciting new vehicle launches in the coming years.” Joining in on the Ram Truck celebration is the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which was the highest-ranking minivan in the study during this, its maiden year. Over at Dodge, they are celebrating two top three finishes. The Dodge Grand Caravan took second place to its cousin, the Chrysler Pacifica, while the Challenger continued its more recent tradition of strong finishes. (Challenger received … Read More

Drive Toward a Cure plans southern adventure

Parkinson’s disease affects more than five million people worldwide. The likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox and others have brought the disease to the forefront of the American public, by educating and raising funds that allow researchers to continue the fight for a cure. A more recent, up and coming group is combining a love of cars and driving to raise awareness and money. Drive Toward a Cure has opened registration for their second event – a three-day southern adventure that kicks off in Asheville, North Carolina, and wraps up at the opening of the 2017 Atlanta Concours d’Elegance. Other highlights along the 600-mile path will include the beauty of the Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains as well as the infamous Tail of the Dragon. The inaugural event for Drive Toward a Cure took place in April 2016 and raised more than $26,000. But for founder Deb Pollack, it’s more than just a fundraising event. It’s a “passion with a meaningful cause [that] has taken on a whole new emotional meaning.” As someone who was personally affected by the disease, Pollack is riding on her love for all things automotive to build interest in battling Parkinson’s disease. “Through our inaugural ‘California Adventure’ drive, we learned that the friends that drive together, thrive together,” said Pollack. “We are looking to … Read More

From a dream to reality – the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all own a sexy, Italian sports car? What if our lives could fit into a sexy, Italian sports car? In just a few, short weeks, we can, in a matter of speaking. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio is scheduled to arrive on showroom floors across the United States later this summer. Developed and built off the Giulia platform, the Stelvio boasts 50/50 weight distribution, lightweight carbon fiber driveshaft and a low center of gravity that, when combined with its independent suspension, provide sports-carlike handling. All this and room to comfortably seat five. “The all-new Stelvio, named after one of the greatest driving roads in the world—the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps—sets a new benchmark for the segment,” said Reid Bigland, head of Alfa Romeo. “Stelvio is uniquely engineered to challenge 2-door sports cars on the track, without sacrificing any of the characteristics you would expect from a premium SUV, resulting in the perfect mix of high performance, capability and Italian design.” Included in the list of standard features across the entire Stelvio lineup are: All-wheel drive Alfa DNA drive mode selector 18-inch aluminum wheels Leather seating backup camera with rear park sensors Remote start Passive entry with Keyless Go Power liftgate All of this at a starting MSRP of $41,995 (plus $995 destination … Read More