Posts Tagged ‘AAA Auto Buying’

Ginnie PritchettAAA’s top vehicles list for growing families driven by space, comfort and dependability

ORLANDO, Fla., (September 4, 2013) – AAA has released its latest list of top vehicles, targeting expanding families needing more room, easy handling and dependability in their next vehicle.  Whether looking for the practicality of a minivan to carry more cargo, or the sportier side of an SUV to take the team to soccer games, AAA’s list highlights a variety of vehicles growing families should consider during a new car search.

“There are many options available for families needing extra cargo space or room for additional passengers,” says David Bennett, manager, AAA Auto Buying Programs. “A new vehicle is a major financial investment for many families. By taking steps to be an educated and informed buyer, you can avoid having to replace your vehicle sooner than expected.”

Crossover or Sport Utility Vehicles

Toyota Highlander: Available in various drivetrains that include a four-cylinder, V-6, and gasoline-electric hybrid, the Highlander delivers a large interior with a tight yet child-friendly, third row. The ride is quiet and comfortable and fuel economy with either the four-cylinder or hybrid drivetrain is very good for the class. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Highlander is $34,955, 6.15 percent less than the MSRP*.

Subaru Outback: Standard all-wheel drive and a capable four-cylinder engine working through a continuously variable automatic transmission set the Outback apart from its competition. In this case, the differences add to the Outback’s appeal. Performance is good, while fuel economy can be very good for the class. Although seating is limited to five, the back seat passengers enjoy a roomy interior while the cargo area easily stores the items growing families often carry. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Subaru Outback is $28,021, 7.87 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chevrolet Equinox: A family crossover that rides nicely, handles well and has a generous rear seat that is perfect for growing teens and young adults. The four-cylinder engine is adequate; the V-6 is livelier but is nearly 20 percent less fuel efficient in AAA testing. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox is $27,793, 1.78 percent less than the MSRP*.

Mazda5: Mirroring a compact wagon rather than a true crossover, the Mazda5 packs a great deal of practicality into a small footprint. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is not the most powerful and that can be apparent in hilly terrain or when carrying a heavy load but, it is surprisingly economical and its around town performance is more than adequate. Handling is very good; the Mazda5 is fun to drive, though noise levels are higher than average. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Mazda5 is $22,047, 2.38 percent less than the MSRP*.

Honda CR-V: “Practical” and “levelheaded” easily describe this crossover utility vehicle. The four-cylinder engine delivers more than enough power, along with respectable fuel economy. The passenger cabin is roomy for the compact crossover field and the cargo area in the five-passenger CR-V can hold a wide range of family items. The ride is comfortable. Rear visibility is aided by the standard backup camera. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda CR-V is $26,340, 3.12 percent less than the MSRP*.

Dodge Durango: Offered with either a V-6 or V-8, the Durango has more room than the Jeep Grand Cherokee on which it is based. The stretch in both wheelbase and overall length have not diminished this vehicle’s ride, its silence on the highway or towing capacity. Third-row seating has plenty of room. While the price can quickly rise, opting for the lower, yet still well-equipped SXT or Crew trim lines will help keep the price in line. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Dodge Durango is $36,567, 4.37 percent less than the MSRP*.

Sedans

Honda Accord: This mid-size sedan has long been a favorite of families. Its four-cylinder engine is powerful and economical, the handling is very good and fuel economy could encourage longer family road trips. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Accord is $25,322, 5.21 percent less than the MSRP*.

Ford Taurus: A smooth and quiet highway ride, roomy passenger cabin and impressive trunk room all suggest the Taurus was designed with family use in mind. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Taurus is $33,098, 4.90 percent less than the MSRP*.

Hyundai Sonata: A low price in no way diminishes this model’s performance. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power and very good fuel economy. The ride is pleasing and handling is good. The warranty is generous, too. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata is $24,023, 4.09 percent less than the MSRP*.

Minivans

Honda Odyssey: The Odyssey is roomy, rides comfortably, features supportive seats and has a first-class drivetrain. Child entertainment options include an optional built-in DVD system. Handling is good and maneuvering this relatively large minivan in tight parking lots is easier than one might imagine. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Odyssey is $32,447, 11.44 percent less than the MSRP*.

Chrysler Town & Country: This minivan offers a quiet and composed ride and a smooth and powerful V-6 engine. It stands out for its interior flexibility. The “Stow-n-Go” package allows quick and easy conversion from passenger to cargo hauling duties as both second and third row seats stow easily into wells located in the floor. When the seats are raised and in use, those wells provide additional storage. Unfortunately, these folding seats fall short on comfort. Nonetheless, this flexibility and frequent retail discounts make the Town & Country attractive. Adding to its appeal are the many safety features that are available. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chrysler Town & Country is $32,925, 4.11 percent less than the MSRP*.

AAA Auto Buying experts test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.  The AAA Auto Buying Tools App is available here to access information on the go.

TrueCar, Inc. is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing information for the motor club. TrueCar is an online automotive information and communications platform focused on creating a better car buying experience for dealers and consumers. Consumers want a hassle-free car buying experience and dealers want high-quality sales velocity. TrueCar helps achieve these goals by providing unbiased market information on new and used car transactions and by supplying an online communications platform through which dealers and consumers can communicate with each other. TrueCar’s market-based information provides both consumers and dealers with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what others actually paid recently for similar vehicles, both locally and nationally.  If you are in the market for a new vehicle, you can configure a virtual vehicle with the specifications you want, see the Estimated or Target Price for that vehicle in your area, and then connect directly with local TrueCar Certified Dealers at AAA.com/AutoMaker.  Once you submit a request, TrueCar Certified Dealer representatives will get in touch with you to discuss vehicles in their inventory.

*The Average Paid price is a proprietary mathematical calculation based on actual recent anonymized transaction information in your regional area, and includes destination and delivery charges after incentives that are subject to change, but does not include tax, title, licensing, documentation or processing fees, other state and governmental charges and/or fees, or any other charges or fees allowed by law. Your actual savings may vary based on multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, and applicable manufacturer incentives. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is determined by the manufacturer, and may not reflect the price at which vehicles are generally sold in the dealer¹s trade area as not all vehicles are sold at MSRP. Each dealer sets its own pricing. Your actual purchase price is negotiated between you and the dealer.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

With thirty percent of used vehicles sold by car owners directly, AAA Auto Buying experts provide tips for selling your car yourself 

ORLANDO,Fla., (September 26, 2012) – There are many different ways to buy and sell a vehicle.

With approximately 33 million used vehicles sold annually, people planning to upgrade their vehicle have many options for getting rid of the old one– trade in, sell it to a dealer, give it to a family member, donate it to a charity or sell it directly. And while selling a vehicle independently may seem like more work, 30 percent of used vehicles in 2011 were sold by car owners directly says AAA.

“Selling a vehicle yourself is not difficult, but it does take time and effort,” says John Nielsen, AAA director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Pricing the vehicle properly and preparing it for sale are keys to quickly selling the vehicle for a reasonable amount.”

When selling your vehicle yourself, AAA recommends the following:

  • Prepare Your Vehicle for Sale. Prepare your vehicle for a buyer by having it professionally detailed. Remove any personal items from your vehicle, including any stickers you have placed on the exterior. Have your vehicle inspected by a repair shop prior to the sale and ask for a detailed report, which can be shared with perspective buyers. AAA Approved Auto Repair shops can complete this task and can be located by searching online at AAA.com/Repair. 
  • Determine a Price.  Determining the appropriate selling price is a critical step to selling your vehicle independently. Be realistic in the condition of your vehicle, very few vehicles are in “excellent” condition. Do your homework and keep a list of comparable prices from various vehicle pricing sources for any potential buyers to take with them.
  • Spread the Word. Marketing your vehicle for sale is another important step to successfully selling your vehicle independently. Use today’s social media technology and online websites to let others know you are selling your vehicle. Facebook, Twitter, AutoTrader.com, Cars.com and eBay Motors are all great examples of electronic resources. Colorful photos and diverse images can help support the description and features of the vehicle. Be sure to include contact information and any other important details pertaining to the sale.
  • Showing Perspective Buyers the Vehicle: Once you prepare, price and market your vehicle for sale, you should receive inquiries from potential buyers. Use common sense and caution when showing your vehicle. Meet potential buyers in a public location and do not let them test drive the vehicle by themselves. Be ready for questions, have detailed information readily available, include a CARFAX vehicle history report and keep repair and maintenance documents compiled and organized.
  • Securing a Payment. Once you have found a buyer for your vehicle, AAA recommends creating a bill of sale that both parties can sign and have it notarized. Notaries can be located at a bank or any AAA office. Always secure payment before you transfer ownership. Options for payment include certified checks, cash or money order. AAA suggests completing a transaction at a bank to verify the payment is legitimate.  If a buyer is uncomfortable with any part of the agreement, be cautious and use good judgment to avoid the possibility of being scammed.

AAA’s tips for selling your vehicle independently are provided by AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.  You can also download the AAA Auto Buying Tools App here and through the Apple app store and access information on the go.

 As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA prepares drivers for what to do when new vehicles don’t include a spare tire.

ORLANDO, Fla., (January 25, 2012) – Buying a car can be a stressful experience. One thing buyers could depend upon was that the new vehicle they were about to purchase included a spare tire. That may not always be the case. To meet new government fuel efficiency standards some vehicle manufactures are omitting heavy spare tires and equipping new vehicles with an emergency sealant and inflator kit or tires that if damaged can run reasonable distances without air.

In 2010, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency established new corporate average fuel economy standards for vehicle model years 2012 to 2016. The new standards are set at a combined 29.7 mpg for the 2012 model year, increasing to 34.1 mpg by 2016.

Achieving these standards will require many changes to the vehicles we drive.  One area of focus is to reduce the weight of vehicles without compromising occupant safety.  A spare tire, related tools and a jack can weigh more than 40 pounds. That may seem like a small amount but every little bit helps and unlike other weight saving changes, it doesn’t add cost to the vehicle.  

“Unfortunately many vehicle owners may be unaware that their vehicle has no spare tire until they experience a flat tire.” says John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Buying, and Consumer Information. “Consumers should review their owner’s manual and emergency maintenance supplies they have in the vehicle and be informed about alternatives to a spare to prevent panic or a delay when encountering a flat tire.”

AAA recommends the following to ensure you are informed and prepared:

  • Inspect the car and consult your owner’s manual. If the vehicle has a spare, be sure it is properly inflated and stowed. If you cannot locate a spare tire, ensure your vehicle has an alternate solution. Options include the run-flat tires that allow the car to be driven to a safe location or an emergency sealant and inflator kit.  
  • If you carry a sealant, AAA recommends that you check the date and replace it every five years or after its use. Sealant can become less effective with age.

AAA members needing assistance with a flat tire can request roadside rescue at (800) AAA-HELP or by downloading the smartphone app, AAA Roadside. AAA members can also eliminate the stress of buying a new car by using the AAA Auto Buying Tools App. Build the car you want, including color and trim level, and the AAA app will give you information on available options, available incentives, crash safety ratings, AAA reviews, images and more.  

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla.,  August 30, 2011

Christie HydeAAA Auto Buying experts release list with variety of tailgating vehicle options from traditional trucks to hybrids to crossovers 
College football season kicks off this week and the NFL regular season will soon follow. For many Americans, that means it’s time to load up their car or truck for tailgating prior to the game. AAA Auto Buying experts are kicking off football season by releasing their list of top vehicle picks for tailgating.

“Tailgate parties are synonymous with football season. While some diehard fans will purchase an older vehicle and deck it out with their team colors and features specifically for tailgating, most fans head to the stadium in the vehicles they use every day,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

Additional AAA Top Picks Lists:

“If you’re an avid tailgater and in the market for a new vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have compiled a list of vehicles you should check out before the big game.”

Tailgating vehicles are traditionally thought of as trucks and SUVs. For those football fans seeking a more traditional vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have three top picks:

Ford F-150 EcoBoost: For fans who like their tailgating vehicles to actually have a tailgate, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford F-150 EcoBoost. It’s a pickup truck with V-8 power and six-cylinder fuel economy. The extended and crew cabs make it easy to carry friends and family to the game in surprising comfort while the cargo box easily accommodates everything necessary for a great tailgating experience. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford F-150 SuperCab XLT is $32,245, 6.8 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid: Fans seeking a slightly ‘greener’ vehicle for tailgating that still provides them with all the room they need for a good tailgating party should consider the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. The cavernous interior provides ample room to carry fans and supplies to the big game. But for those who want a deluxe tailgating experience, the Tahoe’s generous towing rating makes it easy to haul a separate trailer filled with the ultimate tailgating supplies. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is $46,073, which is 11.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Avalanche: The Chevrolet Avalanche allows fans to enjoy an actual tailgate at their tailgating party while also being able to securely lock away their supplies when they head inside the stadium. The Avalanche has a unique combination of a crew cab pickup truck passenger cabin with a cargo box that can be locked and kept weather-tight. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche is $31,780, 14.7 percent less than MSRP

AAA Auto Buying experts recognize not all football fans may want a large truck or SUV for their everyday driving, and therefore named three less traditional tailgating vehicles to the top picks list, as well:

Ford Flex: For fans looking for tons of room without getting an SUV, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford Flex. Its boxy styling delivers an exceptionally roomy interior that is perfect for passengers, coolers, grills and folding furniture. The EcoBoost engine, with its improved performance and better fuel economy (over the standard V-6), makes the Flex even more attractive as a spacious SUV alternative for tailgating. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford Flex with Ecoboost is $34,169, which is 9.8 percent less than the MSRP

Subaru Forester: For diehard fans that tailgate in any weather — be it rain, sleet or snow — they want a vehicle like the all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester that can get them through any conditions to the game. In addition to delivering exceptional value, this crossover utility vehicle offers lively engine response (in the turbo version), comfortable seating with room for four and above average ride and handling. In addition, the cargo area should be more than capable of handling the basic necessities for a good tailgating party. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Subaru Forrester is $20,537, 4.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Nissan Cube: The most untraditional pick by AAA Auto Buying experts for tailgating is the Nissan Cube. Its stylings may appeal more to college student or recent graduates, but it still provides amazing amounts of room for party food and tailgating gear. Additionally, the Cube has an exceptional turning radius and swing-out tailgate that will make maneuvering and setup in a crowded parking lot a breeze. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Nissan Cube is $14,697, which is 5.2 percent less than the MSRP.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

TrueCar is the AAA preferred supplier for new car pricing data for the motor club. TrueCar is a trusted source for car buyers and car dealers, providing what other people actually paid for a vehicle within the last 30 days, locally, regionally and nationally using multiple, and even duplicate sources to gather and authenticate their data. Those in the market for a new vehicle can configure the vehicle they want and get the TrueCar average selling price at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Vehicle pricing will vary based on trim packages, and prices included with the top picks are based upon specific trim.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, Fla., – April 13, 2011

From all electric to traditional internal combustion engines to lesser-known options, AAA Auto Buying experts provide insight for those looking to go ‘green’ with next vehicle purchase

Christie HydeIn honor of the upcoming Earth Day 2011, AAA announced its top picks for ‘green’ vehicles. As part of the list, the auto buying experts at the nation’s largest motor club explain the various ‘green’ technologies available to motorists and highlight some of the top vehicles in each category.

“There has been an influx of ‘green’ technologies by automakers into the market, which is great for consumers looking to make a more environmentally-conscious choice for their next vehicle purchase,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying and Consumer Information. “Increasing the efficiency of the cars we drive means that less fuel is burned for every mile driven. That’s great news for the environment and our pocketbooks.”

Some of the technologies AAA highlights as making these advances possible include:

Electric Power

The year 2011 ushers in the new generation of fully electric vehicles that do not use gasoline at all. The Nissan Leaf is the standout in this category. The car is comfortable and the driving experience is enjoyable. Depending on traffic, speed and temperature, owners can expect to travel 50 to 80 miles on a single charge. That’s well within the range of most daily commutes. Enhancing the Leaf’s appeal, charging stations are increasingly available in the cities where this car is sold.

Other AAA Top Pick Lists

With the average cost for a kilowatt hour of electrical energy at approximately 12 cents, a full charge in a Leaf would cost around $3.17. That works out to between 4 cents and 6.5 cents per mile for fuel. A comparable compact car would burn nearly 11 cents worth of gasoline for every mile traveled. Making the Leaf even more appealing and green, there will be no need for oil changes, ignition system maintenance, fuel system service or exhaust pipe and muffler replacements.

The Mini E Electric and the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive are also available (for lease only) in very limited numbers. Ford is planning on producing an electric version of its promising new Focus in the near future.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Similar economy can be realized in the plug-in hybrid powertrains. These use a rechargeable battery pack that allows the car to travel up to 35 miles before the onboard gasoline engine starts. In some cars, this engine will provide power to the drive wheels. In other models this engine powers a generator that delivers power to the motor driving the vehicle while also recharging the batteries. Unlike fully electric vehicles, a plug-in hybrid is limited only by the range of its gas tank.

The Chevrolet Volt, which is available in selected regions of the country but should be available throughout the nation by the end of 2011, uses this technology. Owners can plug in the car for recharging overnight then drive 25 to 40 miles before the gasoline engine starts to recharge the batteries. For most drivers, this range covers the daily commute, suggesting that the gasoline engine will rarely be needed. However, when a longer trip is planned, even one that goes from coast to coast, the Chevrolet Volt will be able to use its gasoline engine much as a normal car would.

While the Chevrolet Volt is the only commercially available plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) now offered from a major automaker, watch for the Toyota Prius PHEV to arrive later this year.

Gasoline-Electric Hybrids

These cars and trucks use a gasoline engine and an electric motor. A full or parallel hybrid can run on either the gasoline or electric motor, or use both for maximum performance. A mild hybrid uses the electric motor to aid the gasoline engine, which must always be running when the car is moving. Full hybrids can travel on electric power alone. The Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids can hit speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and travel for more than two miles using only battery power.

Hybrids never need to be plugged into a wall outlet or external charging station to keep the batteries at full power. The gasoline engine that powers the car also handles the task of recharging the batteries.

For fuel economy and minimal environmental impact from its operation, the Toyota Prius is the hybrid to beat. Its fuel economy is outstanding, with many owners reporting 50-plus miles to the gallon in daily driving. Making the vehicle even more appealing is a surprisingly roomy and flexible interior.

The Ford Fusion also delivers impressive fuel economy, and its transitions from electric to gasoline power are exceptionally smooth. The new Hyundai Sonata hybrid is also impressive, with its roomy and family-friendly interior and good road manners.

Compressed Natural Gas

Vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) marry efficiency with markedly reduced tailpipe emissions. While many gasoline-powered vehicles have been converted to run on compressed natural gas, which is abundant and produced in the United States, the Honda Civic GX is the only sedan that comes from the factory with this ability. CNG vehicles use a standard piston engine.

Let Us Not Forget Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles

The regular internal combustion engine is also getting greener, too. An excellent example of an economical gasoline-powered vehicle is the new Chevy Cruz Eco. In AAA testing, this very attractive compact averaged 36 miles per gallon.

Diesels are not often thought of as being “green,” but the latest generation diesels produce fewer tailpipe emissions and significantly reduce carbon dioxide output. Today’s diesels are so clean they meet environmental standards in all states, including those that have adopted the more stringent California emissions rules. Among diesel powered cars, the Audi A3 is a standout.

A Hydrogen Future?

Hydrogen has been proclaimed as the fuel of the future. It can be stripped from natural gas or derived from water using electrolysis. It can then be used to produce electricity from a fuel cell. The byproducts from generating this electricity, which can be used to run an electric vehicle, are heat and water. Currently Honda has a fleet of FCX Clarity fuel cell sedans on lease to drivers in California.

There are hurdles to be overcome, including the cost of fuel cells and the development of a hydrogen infrastructure. There also are interesting alternative uses for these vehicles. One such application: A fuel cell powered car could easily provide electric power to an average home in the event of a power failure. What role hydrogen will play in the future is still to be decided. The performance of cars, such as the FCX Clarity, however, is not in doubt. It is a thoroughly credible vehicle.

AAA’s top picks for new vehicle technology are selected by AAA Auto Buying experts who review hundreds of vehicles each year. The list takes into consideration not only the first appearance of a new technology in vehicles, but also its availability to U.S. motorists in popular mainstream vehicles.

AAA’s top picks are selected by its auto buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year. AAA provides free vehicle reviews, localized pricing information and more for consumers online at AAA.com/AutoMaker. Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at AAA.com/AutoBuying.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, March 23, 2010

With commuters spending 41 minutes a day driving to/from work, having the right vehicle is key to saving money and providing comfort and safety on the road

Christie HydeAAA released its top vehicle picks for commuters today. Long commutes have become an increasingly common daily activity for many Americans, and having the right vehicle for those long drives is key not only to saving money and being environmentally-friendly, but also staying safe and comfortable during many hours on the road.

The average motorist spends about 41 minutes a day traveling about 22.5 miles roundtrip to/from work in personal vehicles, according to the National Household Travel Survey.

AAA Auto Buying’s team of experts, who test drove and reviewed hundreds of vehicles for the AAA AutoMaker vehicle research web site (AAA.com/AutoMaker), have compiled a list of their top vehicles picks for commuters based upon practicality, safety, comfort, fuel efficiency and affordability.

AAA’s Top Picks for Commuter Vehicles

Honda Insight: This car is among the ultimate in gasoline fuel economy while being reasonably comfortable for the driver and front-seat passenger. It’s also less costly and more fun to drive than some of its hybrid competitors.

Ford Fusion: Four-cylinder versions offer an appealing combination of power, riding comfort and handling competence. The Hybrid offers even more economy, but the fuel savings come with a major bump in the purchase price.

Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Everything that you ever hated about diesels has been exorcised in this latest version of the Volkswagen diesel engine. It is quiet, with just a trace of diesel clatter at idle; peppy, especially when underway; and every bit as economical as the most miserly hybrids. It also is great fun to drive. Comfortable front seats are a plus.

Hyundai Elantra: The new Blue edition is good for 35 miles per gallon. This fourth generation Elantra also is reasonably accommodating for a driver and three passengers with the interior nicely done. The 10-year/100,000-mile warranty suggests that you could keep this car in the daily commuting grind for years.

Subaru Legacy/Outback: These new models with their horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engines perform very well, and with their redesign for 2010, they now offer much better fuel economy and enhanced rear seat leg room. And for commuters facing snowy rides to work, the all-wheel drive helps ensure they will make it to work every time.

Honda Civic: Affordable, dependable, economical and comfortable, the Civic is one of the better performing compacts for a wide range of uses, including commuting. For drivers who want to enjoy the trip even more, the 197 horsepower Si sedan deserves a careful look.

Chevrolet Malibu: Stylish inside and out, the Malibu also is a competent performer on the road. Four-cylinder models offer more than enough power for the daily commute and promise decent fuel economy. The passenger cabin is nicely finished and roomy, both in the front and rear, making it a good choice for carpooling.

Honda Accord: Good for the commute and good for family transportation, the Accord is roomy, solid and economical when equipped with the four-cylinder engine. It also offers road manners that are beyond reproach.

Mazda3: The body for 2010 may not be to everyone’s taste, but there is no arguing with its crisp handling and above average power for the compact field. Fuel economy also is good. The ride can be a little flinty, so commuters facing long stretches of neglected urban highways may want to look elsewhere. However, for people who enjoy driving, the handling will more than make up for a few abrupt ride motions.

Commuters Vehicles Offering Efficiency and More

Practicality is an important factor that many commuters look for when seeking the ideal vehicle for long commutes. However, AAA Auto Buying experts understand that some want a vehicle that can serve dual purposes such as an efficient commuter vehicle that addresses needs for family or recreation or desires for luxury or fun. Because of this, AAA offers their picks for vehicles that can help address consumers’ secondary needs while still providing a smart choice for long commutes.

Mini Cooper: A premium subcompact, the Mini is both sporty and economical with fuel. Few cars are as much fun to drive. Commuters will be able to take one passenger only and the purchase price is higher than you might expect, based on size alone. However, few cars are as enjoyable on the road or offer as many safety features. Commuters might even choose to take the long way home.

Chevrolet Corvette: Who says the drive to work has to be boring? The Corvette is anything but, and when driven appropriately, it can even return near-compact car fuel economy of around 26 mpg on the highway.

Buick Enclave: Handling the commute for up to eight people, the Enclave combines an exceptionally quiet ride with competent handling and surprising room in all three rows. It makes for a smart choice for those seeking a large family vehicle on the weekends.

Mercedes-Benz GL: Roomy seating for seven, unexcelled refinement, all-wheel drive and the option of a surprisingly economical (for the vehicle size) diesel engine make this a highly desirable commuter for multi-adult carpools.

Volkswagen GTI: Sporty, fun to drive and able to return mid- to upper-20 mile per gallon fuel economy results with the 200-hp turbocharged engine, the GTI is full of surprises. Even the rear seat is good for two adults and the cargo area is surprisingly roomy. Four workers can easily store large laptop carrying briefcases in the rear and then be quite comfortable for the ride to and from work.

BMW 3-Series: The first sports sedan remains the best by many measures. What more enjoyable way to get to work and then return home? The engines are impressive for their power and refinement, the handling is top notch and the build quality is excellent, as would be expected for the price.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

As part of AAA Car Care Month, the motor club offers tips for vehicle upkeep that improve appearance and resale value

(Orlando, Fla. – 10/13/2009) When many motorists think of vehicle maintenance, the first things that comes to mind are oil changes and other engine upkeep. However, the steps to maintaining a vehicle, and its resale value, extend beyond what is under the hood.

“Motorists can extend the life of their vehicle’s interior and exterior the same way they take care of its mechanical parts—through proper maintenance,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Services. “Forms of vehicle upkeep that are frequently thought of as cosmetic care can reduce wear and tear and help maintain a higher resale value.”

AAA recommends motorists perform the following maintenance tasks:

Vehicle Interior

  • Vacuum regularly and lightly shampoo the carpets as needed. Dirt remaining in the carpet greatly accelerates wear, but be careful not to soak carpets with too much moisture.
  • Use floor mats to protect carpet. Carpeted floor mats will collect dust and dirt and are best for dry climates, while protective vinyl floor mats are recommended in wet and snowy areas.
  • Wipe down dusty or soiled surfaces with a damp cloth. Follow with a UV-protective coating on vinyl and rubber surfaces. A solution with a matte or semi-gloss finish is preferred on the dashboard to reduce reflections in the windshield. Be careful not to apply petroleum-based products to plastic surfaces; especially clear ones. If the interior has leather, use products designed for cleaning and maintaining this material.
  • Clean stains from seats and other interior surfaces promptly to prevent them from becoming set. Use a cleaner recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer to prevent fabric, vinyl or leather damage. Test any non-approved product in an inconspicuous spot before use to make sure it is safe.
  • In hot and sunny climates, consider having the windows tinted to cut down on infrared rays that cause heat buildup and ultraviolet rays that fade and damage interior materials. Over-darkening windshields and front seat windows can compromise visibility and is frequently illegal, so use appropriate materials.
  • Use protective flooring and seat covers when transporting pets or items with sharp edges that could gouge upholstery or carpeting.

Vehicle Exterior

  • Wash the vehicle approximately every two weeks and wax it twice a year. More frequent washing and waxing could be advisable depending on climate and driving conditions. A good coat of wax looks great, protects the finish from contaminants it comes in contact with, and contains filtering chemicals that help reduce paint fading from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
  • When washing the vehicle, be sure to rinse out the wheel wells and accessible areas of the undercarriage. This is especially important where salt is used on roads in the winter as it will help prevent rust.
  • Use care when removing bugs and tar to avoid damaging the clear coat or paint. Auto parts stores, such as NAPA Auto Parts, carry specialty products that can ease removal without causing damage. AAA members qualify for discounts at all NAPA locations by showing their membership card.
  • Clean glass inside and out to ensure good vision. Use a product that does not leave streaks or cause glare.
  • Have small windshield chips repaired to prevent them from becoming cracks that require complete windshield replacement. Most such repairs can be made easily by an auto glass technician coming to the vehicle’s location.
  • Consider headlight restoration if the headlight lenses have developed a frosted yellow surface. This repair process restores a clear finish to the lens, which improves both vehicle appearance and nighttime vision. Do-it-yourselfers can purchase restoration kits at auto parts stores for approximately $20. Commercial services will typically do the job for between $50 and $100.

Another easy way to improve the resale value of a vehicle is by saving all of its maintenance records. Motorists can be as organized as keeping them in a file or just stuffing them the glove box. Either way, being able to produce a record of proper maintenance and repairs during ownership of the vehicle can add hundreds of dollars to a vehicle’s sales price. Also, most repairs come with some form of warranty, and documentation of the repair will be needed to support any warranty claim that might arise.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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