Posts Tagged ‘cars’

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.

 

Ginnie PritchettFrom a full electric vehicle to a spacious minivan AAA top picks driven by fuel efficiency and comfort

ORLANDO, Fla., (March 26, 2013) – Most Americans (86 percent) rely on their vehicle to get them to and from work every day. With an average commute of 25 minutes each way and gas prices hovering about $3.50 per gallon since February, selecting the right vehicle can make a commute more enjoyable and lower expenses.  For motorists in the market for a new car AAA Auto Buying experts have selected vehicles that go the distance with comfort and performance.

“Many Americans are spending several hours every week in their vehicle to get to and from work,” says John Nielsen, director, AAA Automotive Engineering & Repair. “Having a vehicle that is reliable, fuel-efficient and comfortable can really make a difference in your everyday routine.”

AAA’s top vehicle picks are selected by AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year.  Fuel efficiency, comfort and overall performance helped create this top list of vehicles for commuters.

Additional Resources

Compact Vehicles

Chevrolet Volt: This four-passenger, plug-in electric vehicle, sidesteps range anxiety with a gasoline engine on board to run a generator. The newest versions of the Volt allow a driver to force operation of the gasoline engine, ideal for a commute that starts on a highway, where gasoline power is more efficient, and ends in a city, where battery power is more cost effective. The car is exceptionally quiet, handles well and boasts great acceleration but rear seat room is tight if you plan to carpool. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt five-door hatchback is $38,871, 2.8 percent less than the MSRP*.

Toyota Prius or Prius V: These gasoline-electric hybrids set the standard for fuel efficiency in a gasoline-powered vehicle. The Prius seats five in reasonable comfort and is exceptionally efficient for urban commutes where regenerative braking and the ability to turn the gasoline engine off while the car is stopped enhances fuel efficiency.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Prius door hatchback is $24,066, 3.7 percent less than the MSRP, and the Prius V five door wagon is $26,350, four percent less than MSRP*.

Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI: The SportWagen is a wagon style model that uses a diesel engine to deliver smooth acceleration with strong fuel economy. Handling is also precise and predictable. With the option of manual or automatic transmission, these cars are fun to drive, making the longer commutes seem less daunting. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen four-door manual hatchback TDI is $23,894, 9.2 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Sedans

Audi A4: Beautifully finished and very comfortable in front, the A4 can make light work of any commute. Front-wheel drive is standard, but the option for Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is available. The ride is firm but compliant and the handling is tops. The body structure feels exceptionally solid, even when facing rough urban pavement. Driving pleasure earns a very high grade, although the rear seat room earns a much lower score. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Audi A4 four-door Sedan CVT FrontTrak 2.0T is $31,697, 5.1 percent less than the MSRP*.

Buick LaCrosse: A steady ride, comfortable seating, responsive handling and an excellent V-6-based drivetrain make this car an ideal choice for commuting in a carpool. Performance is excellent. For buyers seeking the room and comfort of the LaCrosse with more fuel efficiency, a four-cylinder eAssist drivetrain is offered. Consider it a mild hybrid. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Buick LaCrosse four-door sedan base is $30,727, 5.6 percent less than the MSRP*.

Ford Fusion: Ford’s entry in the affordably-priced family sedan arena has been completely redesigned for 2013. The new model features a sleek exterior, an upgraded interior and new drivetrains. The Fusion is now offered with three engines, a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two optional turbocharged four cylinder engines, either 1.6- or 2.0-liters. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 240 horsepower, matching the output of many V-6s. This Fusion could easily have passed for a luxury car not too many years ago. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is an option. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Fusion four door S is $20,038, 10.9 percent less than the MSRP*.

Hyundai Genesis: This V-6-powered sedan is refined, powerful and roomy. The V-6 engine turns in an exemplary performance and the new 8-speed automatic transmission raises the performance level to the point that the optional V-8 is unnecessary. While handling is predictable, the ride does fall a little short of full luxury sedan status. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Hyundai Genesis four door sedan V6 3.8 liter is $33,358, 4.9 percent less than the MSRP*.

Nissan Altima: The redesigned 2013 Altima continues to be a top choice for commuting. It is comfortable for all passengers, performs well and offers several unique safety features, including clever use of the backup camera to provide lane departure and blind spot warnings in some models. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Nissan Altima four door 2.5 liter is $21,706, 3.7 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Crossovers

Ford Flex:  This boxy crossover is hard to beat when looking for room in a vehicle. Buyers will find ample space for passengers or purchases. The ride is quiet and well controlled. The engines are V-6s, with the EcoBoost motor turning in a particularly good performance. Though costly, this EcoBoost engine not only outperforms the base V-6, in AAA testing it also delivered slightly better fuel economy.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Ford Flex SE is $26,803, 15.7 percent less than the MSRP*.

Toyota Highlander: In the crossover category, this vehicle features a comfortable ride and roomy interior. More impressive are its highway cruising manners and despite its size, ease of maneuvering in traffic. And while this vehicle’s size takes a minor toll in handling through sharp bends in the road, add a reputation for dependability and long life and you have a top choice for commuters needing size and passenger capacity.  TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Toyota Highlander four-door front wheel drive four cylinder is $27,978, 6.3 percent less than the MSRP*.

 

Minivan

Honda Odyssey: This roomy minivan is offered in a wide range of models, though even basic versions are well equipped and comfortable. Its size suggests that it is best suited to a less crowded commute venue, but even in an urban setting, the Odyssey is easy to drive. Front and second row seating comfort is quite good. The third row folds easily to from a flat load floor with ample space for a wide range of items. TrueCar reports that the Average Paid price of the 2013 Honda Odyssey LX is $27,801, 5.8 percent less than the MSRP*.

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 and used 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 (³MSRP²) 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.

 

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Renowned pet expert Cesar Millan offers tips on hotel pet etiquette

ORLANDO,Fla., (July 19, 2012) – For many Americans, taking pets along on vacation can make the experience more fun for the whole family. A full 51 percent of travelers with pets say they would bring their pets along on every vacation if they could, according to a recent AAA/Best Western survey of individuals who traveled with their pets in the last 12 months. What hinders them from doing so?

Finding Welcoming Accommodations

Among top considerations in whether to include pets in travel plans is the need to locate welcoming, appropriately matched pet-friendly accommodations, according to the study. Specific aspects of the search include: finding places that accept pets (95 percent), learning about pet policies such as size limits and fees (49 percent) and getting details about available pet services (22 percent). One-quarter of pet travelers who have skipped this important planning step admit to sneaking their pet into a hotel or motel at some point in the past, creating anxiety that can affect pet behavior.

Advance planning using a reliable resource like Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®, available in print and digital versions, can alleviate concerns related to accommodations and other pet-travel preparations. The listings for pet-friendly AAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings throughout the U.S. and Canada provide important details like fees, permitted pet sizes, conditions of stay and pet amenities. Listings also include more than 600 pet-friendly campgrounds plus dog parks and attractions and national public lands that allow pets. Best Western offers more than 1,600 pet-friendly properties worldwide.

Pet Etiquette Considerations

Respondents also identified observations about other pet travelers, pinpointing several behavioral considerations for owners as well as their pets:

  • Owners not cleaning up after pets (77 percent)
  • Dogs that bark constantly (57 percent)
  • Unleashed pets (49 percent)
  • Pets not obedience trained (43 percent)
  • Owners not notifying others that pet is aggressive toward people/other pets (41 percent)
  • Pets not trained to relieve themselves outside (29 percent)

“Traveling with your dog can be a wonderful experience. Remember, a balanced dog makes a better traveling companion. Always nurture a balanced state of mind,” says pet expert Cesar Millan.

“Plan your vacation with your dog in mind. Here are some tips to make travel more fun and less stressful for your dog,” says Millan:

  • Before you start your trip, take your dog for a walk.
  • Feeding your pet in the car is not a good idea.
  • As you head out on the road, make sure you crate or harness your dog for safety.
  • When stopping for a break, never leave your dog in the car, especially when it’s warm outside. Even if the window is cracked open, the car can still heat up and be dangerous to your dog.
  • Remember to bring your dog’s scent with you. Having a favorite toy will comfort and relax him.

Travelers can also find useful tips for preparing four-legged travelers for the road or air, plus handy information on pet etiquette, insurance and emergency animal clinics, in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook and on the AAA.com/PetBook website. The 14th edition publication is available at many AAA and CAA offices and select booksellers at a suggested retail price of $18.95. The digital edition is available at online booksellers at a suggested digital retail price of $9.99.

More AAA/Best Western 2012 Pet Traveler Study Results

  • A full 93 percent said their pet makes a good travel companion, identifying these reasons:
    • Good cuddle buddy when away from home (27 percent)
    • Always lets the owner select the destination (18 percent)
    • Doesn’t hog the hotel remote (12 percent)
    • Snores less than owner’s significant other (7 percent)
    • Helps attract dates (1 percent)
  • More than eight in 10 (85 percent) of pet travelers travel with their dog, and two in 10 (21 percent) travel with a cat.
  • Top types of vacations enjoyed with pets:
    • Visiting friends and family (78 percent)
    • Road trips (50 percent)
    • Going to the beach (33 percent)
    • Camping (27 percent)
    • Visiting a city (23 percent)
    • Hiking (17 percent)

About AAA

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.

About Best Western International, Inc.

Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 66 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 14 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty program Best Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can redeem at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA, racecar driver Michael Waltrip, and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. Best Western in 2011 was named AAA’s and CAA’s Hotel Partner of the Year and bestwestern.com was named the 2011 Compuware Best of the Web Gold award winner.
*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

AAA provides tips for those looking to be more eco-friendly with their driving habits and next vehicle purchase.

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 8, 2012) – Hoping to decrease your carbon footprint and live a greener life? What and how you drive is a large part of your daily carbon footprint. Electric engines, several hybrid options and even traditional internal combustion engines have become more efficient and emit fewer greenhouse gasses.  Even if you’re not in the market for a new car, AAA has tips to help you get the best efficiency and minimize greenhouse gasses no matter what you drive.    

“There has been an influx of ‘green’ technologies by automakers into the market, which is great for consumers seeking a more environmentally-conscious choice for their next vehicle purchase,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Additionally, motorists not currently in the market for a new car can also make a difference by simply adjusting driving habits.”

Additional Resources

The market for green cars is strengthening. Below are technologies to keep a look out for when in the market for a ‘green’ vehicle:

Electric Power

2012 has been an exciting year for full-electric vehicles (EV). These vehicles do not use gasoline and rely solely on battery power. With the average cost for a kilowatt hour of electric energy at approximately 12 cents, to fully charge an EV with a 24KWh battery pack would cost around $2.88. That works out to between 3.0 cents and 4.4 cents per mile for fuel.  Making EV’s even more appealing and green; there is no need for oil changes, ignition system maintenance, fuel system service or exhaust pipe and muffler replacements. A stand out in this category is the Nissan Leaf.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Similar fuel economy can be realized in plug-in hybrid powertrains. These vehicles 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 Toyota Prius PHEV and 2013 Ford Fusion are great examples of plug-ins in the marketplace today.

Gasoline-Electric Hybrids

Hitting the market hard in 2012, gasoline-electric hybrids like the Nissan Altima Hybrid and Honda Civic Hybrid 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. 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.

Compressed Natural Gas/Diesel Vehicles

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 relatively 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.

Diesels are not often thought of as being “green,” but the latest generation of diesel vehicles 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.

Don’t forget More Efficient Gasoline Vehicles
Manufacturers are even updating or planning to update their current models to be environmentally friendly. Ford has launched their EcoBoost engines that use turbocharging technology, making it possible to use smaller, more fuel efficient engines that are still able to provide the levels of acceleration needed for safe merging and passing. The Chevrolet Cruze and new Dodge Dart will also offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines in place of larger and less economical engines.

For motorists that are not in the market for a new car, but want to decrease their carbon footprint, AAA suggests the following simple changes to lessen the impact of transportation on the environment:

    • Slow down. Decreasing vehicle speed by 10 mph can significantly increase fuel efficiency and decrease the associated carbon dioxide output.   
    • Drive at a steady pace and anticipate traffic patterns. Accelerating rapidly then having to brake, wastes fuel and causes brakes to wear more quickly.
    • Plan your route in advance. Consolidate trips whenever possible and plan to travel during lighter traffic times.
    • Remove unneeded items from the trunk and avoid using the roof rack. Added weight and air resistance will cause more fuel to burn.
    • If your car has an “ECO” setting, use it. It will smooth out your gas pedal inputs; optimize transmission shift points and decrease air conditioners impact on the engine.

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 or by downloading the mobile Auto Buying Tools App at aaa.com/mobile.

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.

To assist holiday shoppers looking for the perfect gift this season, AAA releases its top picks for automotive-related gifts.

(ORLANDO, FLA. – 12/4/2009) With nearly a quarter of a billion vehicles on the road in the U.S., a gift for the car is something just about everyone can use.

“Automotive gifts do not have to be limited to the gear head in your life. AAA’s picks include items for those who like to tinker under the hood or simply enjoy the ride as a passenger,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Buying Network.

AAA’s top picks for automotive-related gifts this holiday season include:

MagnoGrip Wristbands ($16) — For the person who is always tinkering with their vehicle, a magnetic wristband can make it easier to hold onto small bolts, fasteners and other pieces that can frequently get misplaced under the hood. The polyester wristband is embedded with a super strong magnet to hold metal parts in place until they are needed.

Magellan Roadmate GPS ($199) Just about any motorists will enjoy a Magellan Roadmate GPS navigation unit as a holiday gift. The latest model—the Magellan Roadmate 1445T—includes a 4.3-inch color touch screen and exclusive AAA TourBook information with ratings and descriptions on AAA approved places to stay, play, dine and save as well as AAA Approved Auto Repair locations. A highway lane assist function points users to the right exit, and Traffic Link provides subscription-free, live traffic updates. AAA members receive discounts and other benefits from Magellan on several units. Visit AAA.com/GPS for details.

Digital Tire Gauge ($10-$30) — Less than one in 10 vehicles has four properly inflated tires, making a digital tire gauge a gift any motorists can use. Improperly inflated tires wear out more quickly and can cause handling and braking problems that make vehicle operation less safe. AAA recommends motorists check the pressure in their tires at least once a month and inflate tires to the pressure levels posted on the driver’s door jamb—not on the tire sidewall. A digital tire gauge makes it easier to read the pressure level in a tire. A variety of models are available. Look for one with a backlit display for easier reading in low light conditions.

USB Car Charger ($14-$25) — Many gadgets these days come with USB charging cables, such as iPods and smart phones. Rather than purchasing a separate 12-volt adapter for each gadget, a USB car charger converts a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet into a USB charging outlet. With the growing number of gadgets using USB chargers, it’s smart to look for an adapter that provides more than one USB outlet.

Cordless LED Work Light ($26-$60) — A cordless LED work light can be a great addition to the garage and/or a vehicle’s emergency kit. Look for one that’s shatterproof, waterproof and comes equipped with a hook or stand to allow use of both hands while working on the car. A rechargeable unit will help save on replacement batteries, but make sure it comes with both a wall charger and 12-volt car charger—especially if planning to keep it in a vehicle.

AAA Battery Tender ($29-$59) — The AAA Battery Tender is a great gift for anyone who has a vehicle they do not use a full-time basis, such as a collectable vehicle, seasonal car, golf cart, ATV, RV or motorcycle. By keeping the battery charged when not in use, a Battery Tender extends battery life and ensures the vehicle will be ready to start the next time it is driven. Two units are available; the AAA Battery Tender Junior will maintain a battery’s charge, while the AAA Battery Tender Plus can also recharge a wide variety of lead-acid vehicle batteries. AAA members receive a discount on Battery Tender units purchased through select AAA clubs.

Heated 12V Blanket ($21-$35) — Many drivers and passengers battle over the car’s climate control settings during road trips. While dual climate control has resolved this issue for some, for those whose vehicles do not include that feature, a heated 12-volt blanket might be a good gift. Several styles and colors are available. Look for one with a long cord to provide access for backseat passengers, and a safety timer with automatic shut-off.

Remote Start System ($80-$600) — For those living in cold-weather environments, a remote start system can be a gift they will thank you for every cold morning. Systems vary greatly in features and pricing. Some features to look for include a visual confirmation that the remote start is engaged, such as flashing the headlights; a pin switch on the hood to prevent the vehicle from starting when the hood is up; transmission monitoring to ensure the vehicle is in park before it will start; the ability to manually shut down the engine via the remote transmitter; and a coolant temperature or oil pressure sensor to automatically shut down the engine if it starts to overheat or loses oil pressure. Also, make sure the system is compatible with any vehicle immobilizer system, which may require a key with an imbedded microchip to start the car. To ensure safe and proper operation, it’s best to have a remote start system installed by a reputable auto repair facility.

AAA Membership ($38-$80) — The gift of a AAA membership provides peace of mind that comes from knowing the nation’s oldest and largest motor club will come to the rescue in a time of need. AAA membership also provides the recipient with year-round discounts on a wide variety of products and services at retail stores, auto repair facilities, hotels, restaurants, attractions, prescriptions and much more. For information on memberships, visit AAA.com.

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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