Author: Centennial Leasing & Sales (page 1 of 3)

YOUR CAR’S KEY FOB MAY HAVE HIDDEN FEATURES

Here’s what these extras are and how you can find and use them

Tesla and BMW key fobs
Today’s new cars pack in more high-tech electronic features than ever before, and that includes in the key fob. The device has gone far beyond simply locking or unlocking doors, starting a car remotely, or making chirping sounds to help you find your car in a parking lot. Some have so many features built in that owners may not even be aware of them all.

“Manufacturers are tasking key fobs with a multitude of functions that make the car—and the key fob—more useful than ever,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “These features can be fantastic if the owner understands the sequence of key-fob button pushes to access them, but they can also be frustrating or even harmful if these features are triggered accidentally.”

Here are a few examples of hidden key-fob features, some of which could be on the device for your car.

Lower All Windows Instantly: One of the more common hidden functions on many of today’s key fobs is the ability to roll down all the windows and open the sunroof at the same time by pressing a single button. It’s handy, and it helps cool off the car on a hot summer day. It’s not often labeled on the fob, though, so the owner needs to know the button sequence.

On most cars that have the feature, it’s accomplished by pressing the unlock button on the key fob once, then pressing it again (within 10 seconds) and holding it down until all the windows are opened.

Remote Start: On most key fobs, the remote engine start button is labeled with a circular arrow (but often not the words “remote start”). Typically, the owner first hits the lock button, followed by a press of the remote-start button. On other remotes, drivers must press the circular arrow button twice (indicated by a “2x” or “x2”).

But on some new BMWs, the optional remote-start function is completely hidden. Owners can launch the engine for a limited time by pressing the lock button on the key fob three times within one second.

Mirror Folding: Some cars automatically fold in the side mirrors as part of the door-locking process. With others, this feature is optional, and the owner needs to know how to use it.

For example, on newer Chevrolet and GMC pickups equipped with remote mirror folding, the owner holds the key-fob lock button for a full second to make the mirrors fold in. This is a handy feature when parking on city streets or in a narrow alley, given how large pickup-truck side mirrors are.

Vehicle Summon: The  Tesla Model S and Model X key fobs—which look like a miniature car—don’t have any labels, belying their many uses. One of those is the Tesla Summon function, which moves the car in and out of tight parking spaces while the driver stands outside the car.

Before using Summon, owners must first enable the system using the vehicle’s center screen. This needs to be done only once.

To activate Summon, press the button in the center of the fob—or roof of the mini-car—until the hazard lights flash. Then, if you want the car to pull forward, press the button on the front of the fob (it looks like the hood of the mini-car). To stop its progress, press that same button again. The car can also go backward by following a similar procedure. Press the roof of the car, and once the hazard lights have flashed, press the button on the back of the fob (or where the trunk would be in the mini-car). Again, once it has gone far enough, press that button a second time to stop the car’s motion.

Tesla Model X owners also might not realize that pressing the top of the key fob closes any opened doors—front, rear, or liftgate—all at once.

Mechanical Key: Owners of cars with push-button start systems might not be aware that a mechanical key resides inside the key fob. This is so that owners can still unlock the driver’s door in cases when the car’s battery or the key fob’s battery runs out of juice, or the fob malfunctions. The key is typically accessed by pushing a button on the key fob and pulling the key out, although on some remotes, the release isn’t obvious.

Some cars have an obvious key slot on the door handle; on others, it’s hidden behind the door handle (visible when you pull the door handle out). Still others require removing a plastic cap next to the door handle to reveal the key slot underneath.

The Downside of Key-Fob Secrets

The presence of hidden buttons and functions means that owners need to be aware in order to avoid problems.

For example, while it’s cool to be able to lower all the windows via the key fob, it’s not funny when this happens accidentally—especially during a rainstorm or when a car is covered in snow. This can happen if the key fob is activated accidentally while at the bottom of a purse or sitting in a pants pocket.

This happened to a CR auto editor who walked out to our Honda Accord test car one morning and found all the windows down and the sunroof wide open. Fortunately, it had been a dry night and nothing had been stolen from the car.

A Honda spokesman, Chris Naughton, told us that “unintentional activation is very uncommon, but would be equally possible with other functions, like remote start, or the panic alarm.”

One of CR’s testers was recently surprised to return from an errand to find to our 2019  BMW X5’s engine running. In making sure that the car was locked as he walked away, he evidently hit the lock button on the key fob three times quickly, not realizing that this specific sequence would activate the BMW’s remote-start system. That’s a potentially dangerous situation. Carbon monoxide could have built up if this happened in a closed garage.

But the X5’s remote-start system is designed to shut the engine off after about 15 minutes of running while parked, according to the automaker.

“The recommended way of operating the remote-start system is via the BMW ConnectedDrive smartphone app, which can be performed from any range as long as the phone has reception,” said Oleg Satanovsky, BMW’s product and technology spokesman.

The difference between BMW’s key-fob deployment vs. most other carmakers’, though, is that the X5 doesn’t have a specific button for the remote-start system. It’s a matter of space, according to Satanovsky. The limited surface area of a remote key precludes an additional engine remote-start button, he said.

Still, the automaker should do more to make owners aware, says Kelly Funkhouser, CR’s vehicle usability program manager.

“If BMW didn’t want to put a dedicated button on the key fobs of vehicles equipped with the optional remote start like most car makers do,” she says, “then there should be an indication on the lock button that it has remote-start capability.”

Automakers try to make fobs useful and unobtrusive, and that contributes to the problem, says Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst at the automotive research firm Navigant.

“The fundamental problem here is that the key fob is, ideally, reasonably small,” he says. “Unfortunately, like other small devices such as smartwatches, that means you have limited space for both controls and labels.”

Abuelsamid says that it’s a challenge for automakers to get owners to study up on what their fobs can do.

“Personalization of some manufacturers’ key fobs is another area that many customers may not realize they have,” he says. “If there are multiple users of a vehicle in a household, each [driver] can have their own fob, and once they set things like seat and mirror positions, the car will automatically adjust those as you approach the vehicle. For homes with young drivers, this can be used to limit certain functionality, such as top speed and preventing the disabling of driver assist features.”

Volvo key fob

WHAT YOU CAN DO

When you get a new car, read the specific sections of the owner’s manual that cover the fob. If it’s possible to do so, configure the settings on your remote to lock out any features you don’t want to accidentally set off.

Owners should also read the car’s quick reference guide, which covers highlights from the owner’s manual. Many new cars have them. Sometimes the basic features of the key fob are covered here, and it’s usually a much shorter read than the owner’s manual.

What Car makers Can Do

Keyless entry systems allow owners to almost ignore their key fob when it’s in a pocket or purse. Doors automatically unlock when the driver approaches or grabs a handle, and the car starts with the push of a button. No fob interaction is needed.

But there are still times when people have to press buttons on the key fob, such as when they’re searching for their car in a crowded parking lot. Other people just simply prefer to use the key fob out of habit.

“Key fobs need to be labeled more clearly, regardless of whether they have hidden tricks or not,” says CR’s Fisher. “It’s hard to even tell the difference between ‘lock’ and ‘unlock’ on some key fobs, especially at night.”

Our testers have found that key fobs in newer Kia and Volvo models in particular suffer from this problem because of their small, hard-to-decipher buttons placed along the side of the key fob.

When asked about Volvo’s key-fob design, a company spokesman, Russell Datz, told us that the buttons were placed on the side “to reduce the possibility of unintended activation, such as when they’re in a pocket or purse.” But aesthetics were also a factor, Datz said. “There is some Scandinavian design influence to give the fob a clean and simple appearance.”

Abuelsamid admits that automakers are in a tough spot attempting to please everybody, but says “designers and engineers should worry less about the key fob doing everything and focus more on a consistent and easy user experience without any surprises.”

In the future, the point may become moot as smartphones take over these fob functions, Naughton says.

“As the industry moves toward smartphone app-based vehicle controls such as AcuraLink, some of these functions will move into those rather than existing through the key fob,” he says. “For now, though, we cannot make it too difficult to activate the functionality or no one will likely use it or even be able to figure it out. Automotive design is about balancing potential misuse with ease of use.”

 Credit to: https://www.consumerreports.org/cars-driving/your-cars-key-fob-may-have-hidden-features/?fbclid=IwAR2Xj48nhwy4Cmkf9zYljifYTbvQtY0XDhlzGij2E-byMpqoeO4jazkZapc   By: Mike Monticello
April 08, 2019

8 BEST WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM DENVER

Escape the busy city life of Denver, Colorado by taking a weekend getaway at one of these great Colorado towns. No matter if you’re looking for a destination near the “Mile High City” or a road trip across the state, these 8 destinations are sure to please. From ski towns to charming cities, make the best of your weekend when you visit one of these 8 best weekend getaways from Denver, Colorado.

Estes Park

Estes Park

Home to one of the most famous national parks in the country, Estes Park is a great place to visit no matter what time of year. Since Estes Park is only an hour and a half drive from Denver, this small mountain town is ideal for a short weekend getaway. While you’re here, you must visit Rocky Mountain National Park, which has hiking trails, scenic picnic areas, and a scenic byway known as Trail Ridge Road. After enjoying the park, make sure to hit up the Estes Park attractions like the downtown shopping area and Stanley Hotel.

 

hot air ballooning, Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs

The three-hour drive from Denver is well worth a weekend spent in Steamboat Springs. Perfect for skiers and snowboarders, this mountain town during the winter comes alive as tourists flock to Steamboat Ski Resort. However, this town has plenty to offer in the summer too, like hiking, biking, and horseback riding. After a long day on the trail or the slopes, you’ll want to visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a natural hot springs pool that is arguably the best in the state.

 

Fort Collins

Fort Collins

Visit the fourth largest city in Colorado for your next weekend getaway. Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University, is a biking town that is filled with craft breweries. Commonly referred to as “Colorado’s Craft Beer Capital,” popular breweries like New Belgium Brewing Company and Odell Brewing Company are based here. Old Town, the downtown area of Fort Collins, is so cute that even Walt Disney himself based Disneyland Main Street USA off of it. Apart from the town, however, Fort Collins is also a great place for outdoor recreation. Hike Horsetooth Mountain or take a boat out on Horsetooth Reservoir.

 

Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs is one of the closest destinations to Denver on this list. Only a 40-minute drive outside of the city, Idaho Springs is just far enough away to forget all about city life. There are two draws to Idaho Springs: Indian Hot Springs and Smokin’ Yards BBQ. After soaking in the mineral hot springs, make sure to grab some well-made barbecue from this family-owned restaurant. The town also has a number of hiking trails in the area too.

 

Palisade, Colorado

Palisade

Wine lovers should head to Palisade for the weekend. This town found in the western slope of Colorado is set right in the middle of wine country. The drive here is longer than others on this list at nearly four hours, but tasting Colorado’s best wines is well worth the wait. The Palisade Fruit and Wine Byway is not only scenic but also offers stops to over a dozen wineries.

 

Georgetown Colorado

Georgetown

With just under an hour drive outside of Denver, you’ll find yourself in the quaint mining town of Georgetown. This town is home to a number of small museums that will make any history buff happy. Take a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, which once serviced the silver mines in the area. A drive through Guanella Pass isn’t a bad idea either, as there are a number of scenic stops along the way. Hotel Chateau Chamonix is one of the most popular and most charming hotels in the area that will make your stay in Georgetown unforgettable.

Image result for maroon bells

Aspen

For a luxurious weekend getaway, look no further than Aspen, Colorado. This mountain town is known for its skiing and luxury lodging options. However, this ski town is not just for skiers and snowboarders. Foodies will also enjoy the top-notch restaurants here. If you’re visiting here during the summer or fall, make sure to check out the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed spots in Colorado.

 

Glenwood Hot Springs pools and amusement park

Glenwood Springs

Come to Glenwood Springs and leave your worries behind while you rest in the world’s largest hot springs pool. This little mountain town is a three-hour drive from the Mile High City. Consider staying at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge, which is a hotel home to the largest hot spring-fed pool. You don’t have to stay at the lodge to gain access to the pool. Another hot spot to consider in Glenwood Springs is Yampah Spa & Salon, where you can get a massage and enjoy the natural vapor caves here. Before you leave, you may also want to hike the Hanging Lake Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the state.

 

Credit to: https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-weekend-getaways-from-denver-co/   By: Madison Dragna

10 CRUCIAL STEPS TO GET YOUR CAR READY FOR SPRING

A bit of maintenance now can save you from costly repairs and safety hazards down the road.

Even if you’re ready for spring, your car probably isn’t.

Before winter hits, many people get the oil changed, tires checked and other pre-winter maintenance completed. But winter takes a heavy toll on cars, often causing hidden damage that could be costly or dangerous.

Now is the time to make sure your car is road ready for spring. Here are 10 must-do checks that car experts recommend so you can drive safely into the season:

1. Take your car for a tire check

Almost all cars in the U.S. are fitted with all-season tires. While these tires are safe and reliable in most climates, they aren’t as flexible as traditional snow tires. All-season tires stiffen in the cold, especially when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That can cause cracks and other damage.

You can take your car to many national auto service retailers for a free tire inspection. While you’re there, have your tires rotated and the air pressure checked. Doing these things will make the tires last longer and ensure they’ll grip on rain-slicked roads.

2. Replace your wiper blades

Anyone who has had a windshield wiper peel off during a heavy spring rain knows that winter can be hard on blades. Even if your blades look OK, replace them if they start to leave streaks on your windshield.

An auto technician can change them, or you can easily replace them yourself. Just check the owner’s manual for your car to find the correct size.

3. Ensure your car’s brakes are checked

Do you hear a grinding sound when you step on the brakes? If so, the brakes may need to be replaced. Even if you don’t think there’s a problem, it’s never a bad idea to have an auto technician check them. National retailers offer free brake inspections.

4. Clean the underbody

Most of us take great pride in washing and waxing our cars so they gleam in the spring sunshine. But don’t forget to have the underbody sprayed, too. Salt builds up in crevices and hidden areas underneath, including under the bumpers.

You can spray water under your car. However, a better option is to go to an automatic car wash. Most spray the undersides of cars as they clean the topsides.

5. Change the oil

Many cars use thinner oil during the winter than in the summer. Thin oil flows more easily during cold weather and ensures that your car starts more easily. When warmer spring weather arrives, it’s wise to have an oil change and use thicker oil.

Even if your car uses multi-viscosity oil, as many do, spring is a great time to change it. Winter is hard on engines, and the oil and filter become dirty. Changing the oil will ensure your engine performs well and lasts longer. That means less chance of a breakdown in steaming hot weather of summer.

6. Request checks of other fluids

Multiple fluids are needed for your car to function properly. Many people don’t find out that fluids are low or dirty until the fluids fail and the car is damaged. There usually aren’t many obvious warning signs. When your car is serviced, ask the technicians to check the following fluids:

  • Power steering
  • Brake
  • Transmission
  • Windshield washer solvent
  • Antifreeze/coolant

The technician should also check belts and wires. Many of those crack or become loose during the winter months, especially if rodents and other small animals crawl into engines to stay warm.

7. Check your air conditioner

Test your air conditioner by running it for about 15 minutes once a month, even in winter.

No, it won’t hurt it. In fact, it might make it last longer. Running the air conditioner ensures the system stays fresh and active. Plus, you’ll find out if the air conditioner doesn’t work before the blazing hot days of summer.

Your car technician can also check the system’s pressure readings and other elements.

8. Schedule a wheel alignment

Of course, cars hit potholes and other dips and bumps that crop up on roads during the winter. That can throw your wheels out of alignment and cause a host of problems, including stress on your car’s suspension, uneven tire wear and other potentially dangerous issues. Stop by a car care center and have your car’s tires aligned.

9. Change your cabin air filter

Does your car smell funny? Many car owners don’t know that there is an air filter in the car’s cabin. The filter is easy to locate and change yourself. NAPA gives a step-by-step guide. If you’re not handy, just ask your car technician to change it.

10. Check the battery

Car owners always think batteries die during the winter. Of course they do, but they also die in summer. Many national auto care chains offer free battery testing, so you can find out whether you need a new one before the battery fails.

Credits to:  By: “https://www.moneytalksnews.com/slideshows/get-your-car-ready-and-reliable-for-spring-in-10-easy-steps/?all”  Nancy Dunham February 5, 2019 

2019 SUPER BOWL CAR COMMERCIALS

Audi

Audi used its 60-second spot during the second quarter of the big game to showcase its electronic car range E-Tron.

The spot, produced by the agency Venables Bell & Partners, marked the automaker’s 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Here’s the full ad:

Hyundai

Hyundai aired a 60-second spot produced by its agency of record, Innocean, during the first quarter.

The ad starred actor Jason Bateman and feature the model 2020 Palisade SUV.

Here’s the full ad:

Kia

The automaker made its 11th appearance at the big game this year, in a spot developed by its agency David&Goliath.

At 90 seconds, the spot “Give It Everything” was its longest ever. It aired during the third quarter.

Here’s the full ad:

Mercedes-Benz

After sitting out last year, the luxury-car maker returned to the Super Bowl this year.

The brand showcased its brand-new A-Class vehicle with a guest appearance by the Atlanta-based musician Ludacris, who is now an ambassador for the brand.

It is fitting, as the game was played at the home of its US headquarters.

Here’s the ad:

Toyota

Toyota made its seventh appearance in eight years at the Super Bowl, this time with two spots. The first 60-second ad focused on the RAV4 and featured the athlete Antoinette “Toni” Harris and was directed by Joe Pytka, who is behind more than 80 Super Bowl commercials for brands like Budweiser, Pepsi, and Nike. The creative was led by Burrell, while media was led by Saatchi & Saatchi.

The second 60-second ad featured its Supra car. The spot,”Wizard,” displayed the car “as it conquers the obstacles of a life-sized pinball machine,” according to the brand. Creative was led by Saatchi & Saatchi and media was handled by Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith Media.

Watch it here:

 Credits to: “https://www.businessinsider.com/super-bowl-commercials-2019-list-2019-1” By: Tanya Dua February 4, 2019

NEW CAR MODELS FOR 2019 ARE HITTING DEALERSHIPS NOW (OR ARRIVING SOON)

Looking to buy a new car?
Take a test drive of one of these 19 new vehicles.

2019 Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger returns after an 8-year hiatus. –Ford

 

If you follow the automotive industry — or if you’re thinking about buying a new vehicle anytime soon — this is one of the best times of year to follow the latest releases and developments as automakers turn their attention to 2019 and 2020.

To keep tabs on them all, we’ve compiled a list of the new 2019 model year vehicles … so far. Keep checking in, as we’ll add new cars as they debut.

Audi A7
The 2019 Audi A7 takes inspiration from the A8 flagship luxury sedan. —Audi

2019 Audi A7

The Audi A7 was one of the early arrivals to the “four-door coupe” segment back in 2012. In its first major redesign, the 2019 A7 pulls styling cues from the A8 flagship sedan, including the front fascia design and interior layout. The cabin swaps out the MMI dial of previous models for a dial-screen layout, including a 10.1-inch upper screen and an 8.6-inch lower screen.

The A7 now comes as a mild hybrid, working with the 3.0-liter V6 to produce 340 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque.

The A7 will start at $68,000, which is actually $1,700 less than the outgoing model. Availability has not been announced.

By making the E-Tron a crossover, Audi can harness the popularity of the SUV market. —Audi

2019 Audi E-Tron

Audi is making a smallish SUV as its first mass-produced electric vehicle. It features two electric motors, one at the front wheels and one at the rear. They make 168 horsepower (182 pound-feet of torque) and 188 horsepower (232 pound-feet), respectively. Sport mode instantly increases output by 13 horsepower (46 pound-feet) and 33 horsepower (30 pound-feet). Power is stored in a 95 kWh battery pack and will have an estimated range of around 210 miles.

The E-Tron starts at $74,800 for the Premium Plus trim and $81,800 for the Prestige trim, placing it near Tesla Model S and Model X entry-level range.

 

BMW evolves the styling of the 3 Series while outfitting it with innovative technology. —BMW

2019 BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series is the cornerstone of the BMW lineup; over 15 million have been sold since 1975. This popular luxury sedan has been redesigned for 2019 with many innovations including Reversing Assistant, which records the last 50 meters of forward motion and reverses the vehicle along the same path. The 3 Series also features Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is like Siri for a car.

The 3 Series will be initially offered as the 330i, equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It will be joined by the M340i in 2019 and 330e plug-in hybrid in 2020.

Base MSRP for the 2019 BMW 330i is $41,195, while the all-wheel drive 330i xDrive costs $43,245. The new 3 Series is expected to hit dealers in March 2019.

 

The new 8 Series is a stunning luxury coupe and convertible, with the performance to back it up. —BMW

2019 BMW 8 Series

The BMW M850i features a long hood, and underneath is a twin-turbocharged V8 making 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. It sends power to standard xDrive all-wheel drive. The convertible variant’s roof opens or closes in 15 seconds at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.

Inside, the 8 Series features a 12.3-inch touchscreen. It runs the latest version of BMW’s iDrive, and it integrates Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business. Other features include a digital display key fob, Bowers & Wilkins stereo, and an available M Sport Package.

Base MSRP for the Coupe is $111,895, while the convertible will cost $9,500 more, coming in at $121,395. The BMW 8 Series is expected to go on sale in fall 2019.

 

The X7 has a noticeable grille that looks better in person than in press images. —BMW

2019 BMW X7

You’ll instantly recognize the BMW X7 not only for its size, but the size of its grille. Inside, you’ll find three rows and seating for up to seven, or six if you opt for second-row captain’s chairs. Engine choices include a 335-horsepower twin-turbo inline-six (xDrive40i), or a twin-turbo V8 (xDrive50i) making 456 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

As the names suggest, power is routed to xDrive all-wheel drive, and the whole thing rides on an air suspension that can lower for easier access. Other neat tricks include rear-wheel steering and an adaptive suspension system with a camera scanning the road conditions ahead.

Base MSRP for the xDrive40i is $73,900, while the V8-powered xDrive50i starts at $92,600. BMW is taking orders now.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is an evolution of the current design. —Chevrolet

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

The 2019 Silverado will weigh 450 pounds less than the outgoing model, thanks to the use of aluminum for the doors, hood, and tailgate. The bed and other major components will still be high-strength steel. A power tailgate will be available, too. The new Silverado will also be available with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine in addition to the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 gas engines. Power is routed through a new 10-speed automatic transmission. The Silverado will also offer dynamic fuel management to shut down individual cylinders and save fuel.

Base MSRP for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is $28,300. Some vehicles are trickling into dealerships, so you might be able to find one now. For everyone else, it’s still coming soon.

 

2019 Ford Ranger
The 2019 Ford Ranger returns after an eight-year hiatus. —Ford

2019 Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger has been absent from the American truck market since 2011. The Ranger is based on Ford’s T6 global pickup, but when it arrives in the U.S. early next year, it will come with features like SYNC 3 infotainment and Wi-Fi that can connect up to 10 devices up to 50 feet from the vehicle. The standard engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder making 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.

Ford is already taking orders for the 2019 Ranger, which has a starting price of $24,000 and is expected to hit dealerships in early 2019.

 

The 2019 Mazda3 has the look and feel of a more expensive car. —Mazda

2019 Mazda 3

The Mazda3 is the automaker’s global sales leader, so a redesign gets practically as much fanfare as a sports car. The new 2019 Mazda3 takes a more upscale approach. It’s 3.2 inches longer and less than an inch lower, giving it a more dramatic stance.

Inside, the vehicle features a clean, luxury-like aesthetic. The touchscreen atop the dash is now a large 8.8-inch unit that can be controlled via a joystick dial in the center console. It will be available with gas and diesel engine options, as well as Mazda’s new compression-ignition engine, combing the best attributes of both gas and diesel engines.

Pricing and availability have not been announced.

 

The Toyota Prius AWD-e will also feature an upgraded battery to perform better in colder climates.
The Toyota Prius AWD-e will also feature an upgraded battery to perform better in colder climates. —Toyota

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e

This all-wheel drive Prius retains the original drivetrain up front, but it adds an independent electric motor to the rear wheels. At speeds up to 6 miles per hour, the rear motor automatically engages — and will engage as needed — up to 43 miles per hour. Above that, it remains disengaged to conserve energy.

EPA estimates for the all-wheel drive Prius are 52/48/50 miles per gallon (city/highway/combined). Compare that with the FWD Prius, which is expected to return 58/53/56 for the LE Eco trim, and 54/50/52 for the rest of the trim lineup.

The Prius AWD-e will start at $27,300 for the LE Eco trim and $39,740 for the XLE. Availability has not been announced.

Acura RDX Prototype
The 2019 RDX has performance and technology, standard. —Acura

2019 Acura RDX

Behind the massive new grille of the 2019 RDX is a new direct-injected 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Inside, the RDX gets a new 10.2-inch display that’s operated via touchpad.

Pricing ranges from $37,300, up to $45,400 for an Advance Package model.

 

2019 Ford Edge
The 2019 Ford Edge has been refreshed, and it now includes the sporty ST. —Ford

2019 Ford Edge

The Ford Edge has been redesigned for 2019, and this spacious two-row crossover is loaded with refinements and features. The all-new Edge ST effectively replaces the Edge Sport, and it features performance-inspired styling backed by a 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 making 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Ford will also offer Titanium as a luxury-minded trim.

The Edge starts at $29,995, while the ST starts at $42,355.

 

2019 Honda Insight
The 2019 Honda Insight returns as an upscale replacement for the Civic Hybrid. —Honda

2019 Honda Insight

The 2019 Insight is the third Honda vehicle to wear the “Insight” name, and this time around, it’s positioned as a replacement for the Honda Civic Hybrid. It employs a two-motor full-hybrid system that’s capable of an impressive 55 miles per gallon in the city, 49 on the highway, and 52 combined. It also has Honda’s updated (and finallyeasy-to-use) infotainment system, as well as Honda Lane Watch and Honda Sensing safety technologies.

The 2019 Honda Insight starts at $22,830.

 

2019 Hyundai Veloster
The redesigned 2019 Hyundai Veloster now features the racy N variant. —Hyundai

2019 Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai’s quirky Veloster hatchback continues to offer its strange 1+2 door layout, which features one large door on the driver’s side and smaller front/rear doors on the passenger side. It’s all-new inside and out, and it continues to offer a very unique appearance. Inside, the Veloster gets a sharp interior with a large, floating touchscreen. Hyundai’s new N performance line now extends to the Veloster and boasts a turbocharged inline-four making 275 horsepower.

The 2019 Veloster starts at $18,500.

 

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and Jeep Cherokee Limited
The 2019 Jeep Cherokee features an updated front-end design. —Jeep

2019 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is one of the most capable small SUVs on the market. The one polarizing element to this SUV has been its futuristic-looking front end. Jeep heard the criticism, and so it debuted a more conventional front fascia with the 2019 edition. A new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four joins the lineup, putting out 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

The base Latitude comes in $300 less than the outgoing model, now priced at $25,190.

 

2019 Kia Forte
The redesigned 2019 Kia Forte takes inspiration from the sporty Kia Stinger GT. —Kia

2019 Kia Forte

The redesigned Kia Forte takes styling inspiration from the new Stinger GT performance sedan. It is now 3.2 inches longer, allowing for a more spacious interior. The interior is also more upscale and features a floating infotainment screen similar to its corporate cousin: the Hyundai Elantra GT.

Its 2.0-liter inline-four makes 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. This engine returns as much as 35 miles per gallon combined.

The 2019 Kia Forte has a base MSRP of $17,690.

 

The new 2019 Mini Hatch features the Union Jack in the taillights. —Mini

2019 Mini Cooper

Like the Jeep Wrangler or Porsche 911, the Mini Cooper thrives on the continual evolution of its iconic heritage design. Subtle updates to the two-door, five-door, and convertible variants include new headlight clusters, along with tail lights with the Union Jack integrated into their design. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard but can be updated to an 8.8-inch navigation system.

The 2019 Mini Cooper starts at $21,900.

 

2019 Ram 1500 Limited
The 2019 Ram keeps the big-rig styling, but loses the crosshair grille. —Ram

2019 Ram 1500

For 2019, the Ram loses its iconic “crosshair” grille, emphasizing variation in styling among its wide range of trims. Under the hood, the V6 and V8 gas engines now feature eTorque mild-hybrid integration for improved fuel efficiency. It adds up to 90 pound-feet of torque to the V6 and 130 pound-feet to the V8 engine. A 3.0-liter diesel V6 is also available.

The Ram 1500 is now available with a massive 12-inch touchscreen. This reconfigurable screen is arranged in portrait layout, much like the Tesla Model S. Out back, an available hydraulic tailgate lets you open and close it remotely.

The 2019 Ram 1500 starts at $31,795.

 

2019 Toyota Avalon
The 2019 Toyota Avalon has a sharp new look. —Toyota

2019 Toyota Avalon

Toyota is taking the generally staid Avalon in a more aggressive direction with its 2019 model. The sporty styling is backed by a 3.5-liter V6 making 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. A hybrid variant will also be available, and it should improve on the 2018 model’s fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon in the city and 39 on the highway.

The Avalon gets a spacious, well-equipped cabin, and it’s one of the first Toyota vehicles to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also available with a 1,200-watt JBL sound system and a color heads-up display.

Base MSRP for the 2019 Toyota Avalon is $35,500.

 

2019 Volkswagen Jetta
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta features updated styling and more. —Volkswagen

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The completely redesigned 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is larger and more substantial than its predecessor. Its 1.4-liter turbocharged base engine makes just 147 horsepower, but with its new eight-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle returns fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway. The new-look Jetta gets a far more engaging interior, complete with a large touchscreen, ambient lighting, and the “Volkswagen Digital Cockpit.” This 10-inch digital display replaces the conventional instrument panel and has six information modes.

The 2019 Jetta starts at $18,545.

 

Credits to:  “https://www.boston.com/cars/car-guides/2018/12/14/2019-new-car-models” By: George Kennedy December 14, 2018

The Best Car Accessories for Holiday Gift Giving

The Best Car Accessories
A list of the most useful trinkets you can have in your car.

Image result for gift ideas for car enthusiasts

 

Valentine One Radar Detector

Valentine Oneamazon.com

$439.92

We don’t condone speeding, but for those wanting that extra layer of protection, the Valentine One radar detector remains the best at finding police speed radar signals. It may use the same housing as it did 20 years ago, but the software has been updated to remain one of the best in the business.

BESTEK 400W Power Inverter

BESTEKamazon.com
$39.98

If you need to run some serious electronics that require a household 110V plugin, you need an inverter in your car. This Bestek model can be powered via a 12V port or be connected directly to your car’s battery, and even features four USB ports.

PAPAGO Car Dash Camera

With all the crazy drivers out there these days, it can’t hurt to have a dash cam just in case something were to happen. This PAPAGO model is very high-res, which means you can zoom in on images later on.

PAPAGOamazon.com

$119.00

$89.00 (25% off)

 

High Carbon Steel Hard IPOW Car Safety Hammer Escape Tool

IPOWamazon.com

$12.99

This is one of those tools you hope to never need. With hardened steel points for smashing through safety glass and a recessed blade to cut off a stuck seatbelt, this handy device could make the difference in escaping a wrecked vehicle as quickly as possible.

RAM Mounts Suction Grip Mount

RAMamazon.com

$50.99

Ram Mounts makes some of the highest-quality phone holders out there, but we think the X-Grip model is the best. Not only does it hold your phone in place securely, it also doesn’t conform to one phone size. That means even if you get a new phone, the mount works just as well.

WizGear Universal Air Vent Magnetic Phone Holder

WizGearamazon.com

$6.69

If you’re not into the heavy-duty Ram Mount, this air-vent mounted magnetic phone holder might be more your style. All you need to do is have a metal plate inside your phone’s case, and you can stick it to this mount without any clamping or clipping.

Cassette to 3.5mm AUX Adapter

Instenamazon.com

$6.99

Maybe your car’s too old to have a proprietary AUX input. That’s no issue as long as you have a cassette player, with this device anyway. It’s an adapter that connects a 3.5mm jack to a makeshift tape, allowing you to play music from your modern device on your car’s original stereo.

CarPlay/Android Auto-Compatible Head Unit

Pioneeramazon.com

$263.00

Or, instead of using a cassette to link your phone to your car, why not change your stereo? Well, fear not, because aftermarket companies want you to be able to use your phone with your car. This is how you can get CarPlay or Android Auto into anything, even that rusty old Miata.

Garmin High Speed Multi-Charger

Garminamazon.com

$24.67

If you only have one 12V port, using multiple accessories at once can become an issue. That’s solved with Garmin’s clever multi-charger, which uses one 12V port and splits it into two USB ports and another 12V input.

Bestauto 4 Ton Inflatable Car Jack

Bestautoamazon.com

$99.99

This one is particularly useful for off-roaders, but we can see anyone finding use for a jack on uneven terrain. Inflated via a hose you slip over your car’s exhaust pipe, this huge, heavy-duty bag will easily lift your vehicle high enough to change a tire.

Escort Max ll HD Radar Detector

Escortamazon.com

$390.00

One feature that the Valentine One doesn’t have is the ability to detect and remember false alarms, like automatic doors, that can interfere with the radar detector’s accuracy. The Escort Max II has GPS to find and remember these, along with networking access to other Escort users to find out about nearby speed traps.

Zone Tech Recessed Folding Cup Drink Holder – Black Premium Quality Recessed Sturdy Black Folding Vehicle Adjustable Drink Cup Holder

Zonetechamazon.com

$11.99

This suction mount cup holder may seem a bit strange, but in reality, it’s actually very practical—even if you’re not holding drinks with it. The more storage, the better.

Charlemain 2-in-1 Lightning and Micro USB Cable

Charlemainamazon.com

$9.99

Of course, to charge all of your devices, you’ll need a cable that’ll get the job done. We recommend a three-pack of this two-in-one Lightning and Micro USB charger cable, this way you won’t have to carry two cables around in case you need to charge two different devices. It’s also convenient if a friend wants to charge their phone, but doesn’t have the same input as your phone.

Trademark Global Swivel Tray and Storage Bin

Trademark Globalamazon.com

$8.71

Have you struggled to comfortably eat food in your car due to space issues in the past? Well, this ingenious cup holder-mounted tray is a good solution. It’s height-adjustable, and features a non-slip surface. It also doubles as a useful storage tray.

Credits to:  “https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/car-accessories/g13515648/cool-car-accessories-gadgets/” By: R&T Staff

Top 10 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel

Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at the airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.

Antalya International Airport

1: Do your research.

Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but have less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.

2: Stay connected.

Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in security. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas and cleanest bathrooms on the road with GasBuddy and SitOrSquat.

3: Pack light.

Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in Logan Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications, important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your luggage gets lost.

4: Pack earplugs.

Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. And the easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Crying baby next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. And if you really want to check out for a bit? Bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving).

5: Don’t get hangry.

When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane, so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.

6: Ship gifts or give gift cards.

TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards to their favorite store or an Amazon card.

7: Travel on off-peak days.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year and can also cause you the biggest meltdown of the year. A better option is to leave early on Thanksgiving Day and avoid the record traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: If you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hordes of travelers.

8: Travel early or late in the day.

Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. And if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day. Also, there will be fewer lines at security. Best time to hit the road? When everyone else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).

9: Plan for the unexpected.

Have only a half hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, N.Y., during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few bandages never hurt either.

10: Inhale. Exhale.

The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the cancelled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination. After all, holiday travel stress is just as much of a tradition as pumpkin pie and re-gifting.

 

Credits to:  “https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/holidays/articles/top-10-survival-tips-for-holiday-travel” By: Kathleen Rellihan

5 Ways To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Image result for prepare your car for winter

The winter season can be detrimental for cars, which is why it’s important drivers prepare well in advance of when the harshest conditions arrive.

Ed Gliss, a test driver and technical expert for Michelin, said the best time for car owners to begin preparing vehicles for cold weather is in the weeks leading up to winter.

Here are five ways to make sure your car is ready to withstand cold weather for a safe driving experience.

Monitor tire pressure

Gliss said it’s important to check your tire pressure once a month, especially during the winter, since a tire’s pressure can drop as the air becomes colder.

“An under-inflated tire underperforms and does not wear good for the consumer,” he said.

Tire pressure is measured by pounds per square inch (PSI). If uncertain about what level of PSI your tire should be, the proper inflation level can typically be found inside the driver’s door jam.

In addition, there are specific styles of tires that can help navigate wintry weather better than others. A good rule of thumb is to at least have an all-season tire when driving in conditions below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For those living in regions where temperatures may routinely approach zero, Gliss said it’s wise to look into winter tires, which are built for superior traction and handling on snowy or icy roads.

Have your battery tested

Battery capacity decreases significantly in cold weather, so it’s important to have a mechanic examine it to ensure it’s at peak performance, according to Michelin.

“It becomes increasingly important to have a well-performing battery in those cooler temperatures. It’s just harder on the cells and it robs their battery capacity,” Gliss said.

Parking a car in a garage, out of the freezing cold, is another way to protect the battery. Having jumper cables handy is also important, not only if your car breaks down, but also in case you come across another motorist in need of a jump start.

Look for cracks in windshields and make sure wiper blades are in working order

“If you have cracks or chips [on the windshield], they are likely to worsen in extreme cold temperatures. So I recommend getting those repaired or looked at by an expert,” Gliss said.

Gliss also recommended replacing wiper blades to ensure they can handle the various elements and keep the windshield clear. In addition, he said it’s important to use a washer fluid that’s rated for subfreezing temperatures.

Car owners should also make sure their defrosters are in proper working order to assist with maintaining visibility.

Add a coat of wax to your car

Michelin states that a fresh coat of wax before the snow starts falling can help protect a car against damage from salt and dirt on the roads.

Road salt, while an important factor to combat icy roads, can cause extensive damage to vehicles over time because it is corrosive.

Turtle Wax recommends using its product on the lower parts of the vehicle, including behind the wheels, quarter panels and front grille. This is because ice, snow and salt tend to build up and stay in these areas the longest.

Inspect headlights and brake lights

It’s vital to have fully functioning headlights and brake lights when dealing with thick winter fog or heavy snow.

“It’s going to help your own visibility while driving, but also make sure other drivers are able to see you,” Gliss said.

Gliss added that he notices plastic headlight covers with a haze on them or looking discolored. This can have a negative effect on the brightness of the headlights.

Plastic headlight lens repair kits can be found at various retailers if you choose not to have it serviced by a professional.

Credits to: “https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/5-ways-to-prepare-your-car-for-winter/70000108” by Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer

THE DANGERS OF FALL DRIVING

why driving in the fall can be dangerous

Weather conditions can be unpredictable in the fall. A bright, beautiful afternoon can turn rainy and cold in minutes. And with days getting shorter, you could find yourself commuting to or from work in darkness.

Back-to-school traffic

Fall means back to school for kids, which means more cars and buses on the roads. Drivers also need to watch out for increased pedestrian traffic in the morning and afternoon as children walk to and from school and their neighborhood bus stops.

Rain

The first rain in a few weeks can be particularly dangerous, as water pools on top of dust and oil that haven’t had a chance to wash away and makes the pavement extremely slippery.

Leaves (and leaf peepers)

Fall foliage is certainly beautiful, but as leaves begin to fall, they litter the roads, making streets slick while obscuring traffic lines and other pavement markings. They also hide potholes and other road hazards. And when it rains, it can make those wet leaves on the roadway as dangerous as ice.

And where there are turning leaves, there are leaf peepers. These leaf-peeping drivers tend to crawl along the roads and make unpredictable stops to admire the changing foliage. If you’re driving behind a car with out-of-state plates, give them a little extra space just in case they stop short for a photo.

Fog

Cold fall mornings often lead to fog, which can greatly limit your driving visibility and perception of distance. Fog tends to occur in low places or areas surrounded by hills, water, mountains, and trees. One common mistake drivers make during foggy conditions is putting on their high beams instead of staying with their low beams. This only makes visibility worse because your high beams will bounce off the fog and create glare.

When driving through fog, slow down and stay well behind the car in front of you so you’ll have adequate time to stop if you need to.

Frost

During the fall, temperatures tend to drop dramatically during the night, which can lead to morning frost and icy spots on the road. This is especially common on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas of the road.

Sun glare

Fall is also a bad time for sun glare on the roads. Sun glare can impact your sight for seconds after exposure, making it hard to see pedestrians, oncoming traffic, or the car in front of you. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers describe being “blinded” after exposure, and this sometimes leads to accidents or near misses.

Sun glare can also cause problems when the sun sets behind drivers. In this case, sunlight can bounce off your rearview mirror or reflect off traffic lights up ahead, and this can blind you for a split second while your eyes adjust. It can also make it hard (or impossible) to see traffic lights, which can prevent you from knowing if you’re supposed to stop or go.

Deer

The fall season brings an increase in deer activity because it’s their time for mating and migrating. If you live in a deer-heavy area, watch for darting deer, especially when driving at night.

fall driving tips

Being prepared for fall’s inclement weather and hazardous driving challenges is half the battle.

  • Watch your speed: Drive a bit slower when faced with fall driving hazards, especially if you’re driving around a school bus.
  • Keep your distance: Leave a little more space between you and the car in front on rainy or foggy days, during dawn or dusk, and in areas with wet leaves. This will give you more time to react.
  • Stick with low beams: Keep your headlights on low when driving in the fog (and rain). High beams will only cause glare.
  • Clear frost away from your windows: Frost can reduce visibility and response time on the road.
  • Approach traffic lights carefully: Sun glare can make it harder to see traffic lights change, so approach them with more than the normal care.
  • Avoid using products that increase gloss: Washing and waxing with these products can magnify the fall’s sunny glare and make it hard to see.
  • Clean your windshield, inside and out: When your windshield’s illuminated by sunlight, dust particles, streaks, and smudges become magnified, making it hard to see the road.
  • Watch for wildlife: especially in the early morning and evening hours.
  • Check your tire pressure: Since fall weather rapidly changes from warm to cold, your tires will often expand and contract. This can lead to a loss of pressure.

Knowing what to look for and using these tips can help you avoid weather-related car accidents in the fall.

credits to: https://www.esurance.com/info/car/dangers-of-fall-driving

Best used cars for college students

These are the best used cars for college students,
according to Edmunds

 

This photo provided by Honda shows the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, a fuel-sipping sedan that Edmunds considers one of the best midsize four-doors. –The Associated Press

It won’t be long before incoming freshmen head off to college. That means it’s prime time for students — and parents — to find suitable, affordable cars for the road ahead. Edmunds has compiled a list of used hybrid, compact and crossover SUV vehicles that best lend themselves to varied demands of college life.

We chose vehicles for their strong value, utility, fuel efficiency, performance and the availability of advanced safety features. We also offer some other alternatives in our picks’ respective classes. The prices shown are the average prices paid for the cars at a franchised car dealership, compiled by Edmunds.

2014 HONDA ACCORD HYBRID

Average used transaction price: $16,430

Estimated fuel economy: 47 mpg combined (49 city/45 highway)

Though Honda only sold the second-generation Accord Hybrid for the 2014 and 2015 model years, it holds up well, even when compared to new hybrid sedans. Its spacious cabin easily seats four adults. On the safety front, all models come with a rearview camera and an additional camera that displays what’s in the driver’s right-side blind spot. EX-L and Touring models further add lane departure and forward collision warning systems.

If the Accord Hybrid doesn’t appeal, several other worthy midsize hybrid sedans are worth a look. Chief among these is the Ford Fusion Hybrid, with a similarly roomy interior and excellent ride comfort. Maximum cargo capacity isn’t great in either car, but the Fusion’s rear seats fold down to accommodate larger items.

Overall, the Accord is more desirable for its superior fuel economy, quicker acceleration and more intuitive touchscreen system. It also holds its value better than the Fusion.

2013 VOLKSWAGEN GTI

Average used transaction price: $13,826

Estimated fuel economy (automatic): 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway)

Hybrids are great for saving on gas, but college-bound shoppers who want excitement will want to look elsewhere. Luckily, there are a handful of cars that are both fun and sensible. The standout in this group is the sixth-generation Volkswagen GTI, produced from 2010 to 2014. A sport-tuned suspension and turbocharged engine provide the thrills, while high-quality interior materials and eye-catching upholstery make the GTI feel more refined than its primary rivals.

We think the GTI offers the best blend of performance and comfort, but there are competitors also worth considering. The Ford Focus ST is notable for its bold styling cues, beefier engine and larger cargo area. The Ford’s stiffer ride, subpar infotainment system and lack of an automatic transmission option make the GTI a better choice for everyday driving.

Note that the sixth-generation GTI actually carried on until 2014, but the final model year offered fewer choices: It had a limited color palette, only two trim levels and ditched the available two-door body style.

2014 MAZDA 3

Average used transaction price: $12,770

Estimated fuel economy (automatic-equipped hatchback with 2.0L engine): 33 mpg combined (29 city/39 highway)

For those who like the GTI’s utility but need something more affordable, a standard compact car might be the best choice. The Mazda 3 is a good representative. The Mazda’s interior is one of the nicest in the segment, with plenty of soft-touch plastics. It’s a tech-rich car as well: There’s a dash-mounted screen with high-quality graphics, an available head-up display, and safety options such as blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera and forward collision warning. It’s also one of the most fun-to-drive compact cars on the road.

Popular rivals include the Honda Civic and the Ford Focus. But thanks to its many standard and optional features, excellent driving dynamics and nifty fold-flat seats, the Mazda 3 shines brighter.

2016 TOYOTA RAV4

Average used transaction price: $21,235

Estimated fuel economy (LE and XLE): 26 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway)

Though small cars and hybrids are useful and fuel-efficient, they can’t carry much. For students who are moving cross-country or who frequently transport large items, a crossover is the way to go. The Toyota RAV4 is a solid pick due to its comfortable ride, generous amount of interior space, and Toyota’s reputation for reliability. It’s also available with all-wheel drive, which can provide extra traction in snowy conditions.

While the fourth-generation RAV4 has been on sale since 2013, a handful of noteworthy additions make newer RAV4s more desirable. For 2015, Toyota revised the RAV4’s front structure to improve its crash scores, while 2016 brought a restyled front end and the introduction of a host of advanced safety features.

The RAV4 isn’t the most exciting vehicle in the class. The Ford Escape offers more powerful engines, and the Mazda CX-5 stands out for its impressive handling. But the RAV4’s all-around competence and widely available safety equipment make it a top choice.

EDMUNDS SAYS: A number of newer used cars provide good value for students heading off to college while offering the features and little luxuries that make a new life that much more fun.

____

This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Cameron Rogers is a staff writer at Edmunds. Twitter: @_crogers.

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