Posts Tagged ‘Top Vehicle Picks’

ORLANDO, Fla., June 16, 2011

As the summer travel season ramps up, AAA releases top cars for all types of drivers who love taking to the open road

Christie HydeAmerican drivers love to spend their vacations hitting the open road. AAA anticipated nine out of 10 travelers over the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend took a road trip as opposed to traveling by plane, train or other mode of transportation. For those in the market for a new vehicle that they hope to log plenty of miles in while traveling, AAA has released its top vehicle picks for road trips.

“Since the invention of the automobile, Americans have enjoyed taking road trips. From wood-paneled station wagons to oversized conversion vans, most Americans have grown up taking road trips with their family and friends,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

“Today’s American road trips come in many different forms: family vacations, mancations, girlfriend getaways, romantic excursions and more. And the ideal vehicle for a road trip can come in as many different forms depending on where you want the road to take you and who will be joining you for the ride,” said Nielsen.

To assist travelers seeking the ideal vehicle for their road trip, AAA Auto Buying experts developed a list of its top picks for road trips taking into consideration a wide variety of factors such as interior comfort, cargo size, passenger room and comfort, fuel economy, safety, vehicle performance and handling as well as other factors.

AAA’s top vehicle picks for road trips highlights vehicles in six categories to offer options for a variety of consumers at every price point. The 2011 top vehicle picks for road trips include:

Small Cars

Chevrolet Cruze Eco – From the Cavalier to the Cobalt to the Cruze, each generation of compact Chevrolet vehicles has been an improvement from the previous, and the Cruze is no exception. AAA Auto Buying experts tested the “Eco” version with a six-speed manual transmission, which is the non-hybrid gasoline fuel economy leader in its size category. It also received a five-star overall rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) more stringent new crash test program. AAA found the Cruze Eco to be a good value with impressive fuel economy, making it a smart pick for road trip lovers on a budget. For those looking to take more than two on their road trip, the Cruze lacks rear cup holders and a center armrest, and the rear seat may be cramped for tall passengers. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Chevrolet Cruze “Eco” is $18,837, 1.8 percent (or $338) less than the MSRP.

Other Recent AAA Auto Buying Top Picks List:

Ford Focus – A definite improvement over the previous version, the new 2012 Ford Focus drives very nicely with above average ride and handling. Fuel economy and engine performance also are very good and highway cruising is impressively quiet for the small car field, making it a top pick for road trips. As with other cars in the category, its ideal for two travelers as the backseat can be a bit cramped. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2012 Ford Focus is $16,896, 2.3 percent (or $399) less than the MSRP.

Kia Soul – For those looking to express themselves a bit more while on the road, AAA Auto Buying experts like the funky looks of the Kia Soul and its practicality, as well. Reviewers found little to fault with the Soul, which offers a 10-year/100,000 mile warranty, 30-mpg fuel economy and is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Soul also received a five-star crash test rating from NHTSA. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Kia Soul is $16,759, 2.5 percent (or $431) less than the MSRP.

Medium Cars

Ford Fusion – The Ford Fusion is a well-rounded vehicle. Its engine performance, ride and handling are all very good, and the hybrid version can produce exceptional fuel economy. As an added bonus, all-wheel drive is an option, which should make the car more appealing for those who enjoy winter-time road trips in certain parts of the country. The downside found by AAA Auto Buying experts is the four-cylinder engine could be more refined. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Ford Fusion is $18,821, currently selling for 8.8 percent (or $1,824) less than the MSRP.

Toyota Prius – The Toyota Prius is a road trip top pick because it’s roomy, comfortable and economical. The hatchback design makes for exceptional flexibility, as well. The hybrid drivetrain sips fuel, and with careful driving, it can push fuel economy well past 50 mpg. However, for those who love engaging and sporty vehicles for their road trips, the Prius may not be the right choice. It’s a secure and predictable ride, but not engaging to drive. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Prius is $24,876, which is 2.5 percent (or $596) above the MSRP. Increase demand due to higher gas prices and lowered supply of the Prius make it the only vehicle on AAA’s list currently to be selling for more than its MSRP, according to TrueCar pricing information.

Hyundai Sonata – AAA Auto Buying experts found the Hyundai Sonata to be an excellent performer from any perspective. The ride is comfortable and controlled, the handling is highly predictable and the four-cylinder engine delivers both good performance and good fuel economy. For those planning a road trip with taller passengers in the back seat, the swooping roof cuts into the rear seat head room as well as rear visibility. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Hyundai Sonata is $20,572, 2.7 percent (or $573) less than the MSRP.

Large Cars

Toyota Camry/Avalon – These cars share a platform and a V-6 engine. The Camry also offers four-cylinder power, which should be sufficient for most drivers. The cabins are roomy with the Avalon offering exceptional rear seat comfort, good for those taking multiple passengers on a road trip. Fuel economy with the V-6 when on the open road is surprisingly good. While both have solid handling, neither car is engaging to drive for travelers seeking a little extra from their driving experience. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Camry is $20,668, 6.1 percent (or $1,337) less than the MSRP.

Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger – Much improved for 2011, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger (built on the same platform) offer a surprising amount of room, a comfortable and well-controlled ride and good handling. Interior treatments are noticeably upgraded, as well. The new 3.6-liter V-6 engine provides adequate power and reasonable fuel economy. However, AAA Auto Buying experts report rear visibility is still an issue though forward visibility for overhead traffic lights has been improved from previous model years. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Dodge Charger is $24,803, 5.4 percent (or $1,417) less than the MSRP.

Infiniti G37 – AAA Auto Buying Experts agree the Infinity G37 is one of the most engaging driving experiences with sharp handling and a powerful 328-horsepower V-6. It also comes loaded with standard features and excellent safety ratings. For road trippers, the interior is a bit snug and the ride might be too firm for some depending on their personal preference and road surface conditions. The TrueCar national average selling price of the Infiniti G37 is $33,894, which is 7.6 percent (or $2,801) less than the MSRP.


Honda Odyssey The Honda Odyssey is big, but the driver does not have to put up with an unwieldy vehicle as its handling is surprisingly good. As for space, this minivan can carry a large family with ease. Optional split-screen entertainment also can keep rear seat passengers entertained during long trips. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Honda Odyssey is $30,777, three percent (or $953) less than MSRP.

Toyota Sienna – Big, comfortable and inviting, the Toyota Sienna has many features to put it on the top picks for road trips list. The ride is comfortable and quiet while the V-6 engine performs impressively. AAA Auto Buying experts reported that the Sienna’s handling is not the best in the class and the interior is not as polished as some road trip fans may prefer. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota Sienna is $24,209, 6.4 percent (or $1,661) less than MSRP.

Chrysler Town & Country Much improved with a mid-cycle freshening, the Chrysler Town & Country comes with a standard array of useful safety features including a backup camera and cross traffic and blind spot alerts. The Stow ‘n’ Go seats are unparalleled for convenience and the ride and handling are quite good in the new model. The Town & Country can be a great pick for those traveling with children, however the second row seats still are not very adult friendly. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Town & Country is $28,696, 7.7 percent (or $2,399) less than the MSRP.


Dodge Durango – The new platform for the Dodge Durango, which it shares with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, is very good. Its ride and handling are well above average, and the new 3.6-liter V-6 is more than capable of delivering power when needed. Rear seat room is up to the challenge of handling six-foot passengers. The main drawback to the Durango is its below-class-average fuel economy. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Dodge Durango is $27,347, nine percent (or $2,698) less than MSRP.

Subaru Forester Easy to drive, comfortable and budget friendly (at least in its basic, though still well-equipped trim levels) the Forester is ideal for longer trips. Its ride and handling are good, and the base engine performance is more than sufficient for family use. The only downside is its fuel economy is average for the vehicle category. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Subaru Forester is $21,513, 5.3 percent (or $1,207) less than MSRP.

Toyota RAV4 – Good ride, good handling and good room make the Toyota RAV4 an excellent extended drive vehicle. The V-6 is much more powerful than the four-cylinder motor, yet fuel economy seems not to suffer much with the upgrade. One downside noted by AAA Auto Buying experts is the location of the rear door hinge at the side, rather than the top, which can complicate access to the cargo area. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Toyota RAV4 is $22,150, 4.9 percent (or $1,135) less than MSRP.

“Fun” Cars

Porsche Boxster/Cayman There are few cars that offer a better blend of handling and engine performance. The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are not the fastest, but they are quick enough to be thoroughly entertaining on a road trip—especially those that might include some winding roads. As with most the ‘fun’ picks, there is only room for two, and the Porsches’ split trunks limit packing options. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Porsche Boxster is $47,022, 4.1 percent (or $2,028) less than MSRP.

Chevrolet Corvette – Great handling and power are the highlights of the Chevrolet Corvette that can make it a fun car for a road trip. As with other sports cars, travelers will need to pack light and leave the kids at home for road trips in this American classic. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Chevrolet Corvette is $45,156, 9.7 percent (or $4,839) less than the MSRP.

Volkswagen GTI – The Volkswagen GTI may be the best overall compromise in the “fun-to-drive” category. It is roomy enough to be practical, while the ride is surprisingly supple considering its handling. The interior is nicely designed and put together. While a good compromise of room and fun, the back seat is still a tight fit for adults if taking a longer road trip. The TrueCar national average selling price for the Volkswagen GTI is $26,187, 5.3 percent (or $1,478) less than 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 Additional information on AAA Auto Buying is available at

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 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

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, August 18, 2010

AAA list includes vehicles for a variety of lifestyles that will keep drivers, passengers and canine companions safe and comfortable on the roadway

Christie HydeWith more than 80 percent of dog owners taking their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, many drivers are taking the

safety and comfort of man’s best friend into consideration when shopping for vehicles. To aid in motorists quest to find a vehicle that meets both their needs, as well as their dogs, AAA has released a list of its top vehicle picks for dog owners.

“More than 45 million households in the U.S. have a dog, and many are taking Fido along for the ride on a regular basis,” said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services. “There several vehicles with features that can help keep pets safe, comfortable and easy to clean-up after while also addressing other driver desires such as sportiness, adventure or luxury.”

AAA Auto Buying’s team of experts, who test drove and reviewed hundreds of vehicles for the AAA AutoMaker vehicle research web site (, have compiled a list of their top vehicles picks for dog owners based upon a wide variety of factors such as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of animal ingress and egress, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors.

The list is divided in six categories to help motorists with a variety of lifestyles identify a vehicle that best meets their needs.


BMW 3 Series Wagon – This wagon offers handling and agility that rival some sports cars along with a comfortable, if firm, ride and quiet cruising. Owners will find a wide range of accessories available to make the car more suitable for pet transport including rubber mats for the cargo area and sturdy dividers that can keep a dog comfortably confined to the cargo area and away from distracting the driver. Some available dividers even have an added division to transport two dogs while keeping them apart. The interior is cozy, so the BMW 3 Series wagons may be a better choice for medium to smaller breeds.

Volvo XC60 – In addition to refined and well-performing engines, this is the first vehicle in the U.S. with “City Safe,” a safety feature that will compensate for driver inattention by automatically applying the brakes in traffic situations at speeds up to nearly 20 mph in an effort to eliminate or mitigate a rear-end collision. The Volvo XC60 has a roomy cargo area ideal for transporting most canines in comfort and a nicely finished interior. Accessories include rubber mats for the cargo area and a pet barrier that fastens securely above the raised rear seats to keep pets from distracting the driver.

Active Lifestyle

Subaru Forester – This Forester offers roomy, comfortable accommodations for people and their pets. The ride is stable and comfortable, the handling is predictable, and the all-wheel drive delivers reassuring traction under all conditions. This wagon is even up for mild off-roading treks that can get the dogs into the country. The Forester’s cargo capacity with the rear seats folded is an impressive and inviting (for pets) 68 cubic feet. The floor, at just over 27 inches off the ground, also is lower than many sports utility vehicles making it easier for many dogs to get in and out. There are ample tie-down points to secure a kennel.

Hyundai Santa Fe – This SUV features a nicely finished interior, a choice of new engines for 2010 and competence both on and off road. The third row seat option is no longer available, but the cargo space is good for even some larger breed dogs. Buyers will find that both Hyundai and aftermarket suppliers offer many accessories to make rides with the family pet easier and more comfortable. These range from sturdy rubber mats for the cargo area to beds and pet dividers that will keep the dog in place. As an added the bonus, the ride and handling should be agreeable to both people and their canine passengers.

Kids, Dogs & Everything Else

Honda Element – Originally designed for males in their late teens and early 20s, the Element seems ready to handle anything. The interior features surfaces and upholstery that can be hosed out, if necessary. The clamshell side doors also can make getting pets in and out easier. The Element offers a pet lovers’ accessory group that includes a ramp, which is ideal for helping older dogs get in and out, second row seat covers that are even easier to clean than the standard upholstery and a soft-sided kennel that can be secured to the vehicle. It features a spill-resistant water dish and an electric ventilating fan. Debits include a busy, choppy ride and higher than average noise levels. Handling is good, however, and the utility factor, including the height of the cargo area, makes this relatively small car suitable for larger breeds, even those dogs that like to get muddy while romping in the wild.

Toyota Venza – Somewhere on the team that developed the Venza is at least one pet lover. Consider the long list of pet accessories that Toyota offers for this cross between a station wagon and a crossover utility vehicle. Among the items are a ramp to ease getting in and out through the rear tailgate, waterproof seat covers, an adjustable harness/booster seat pet restraint system, an adjustable pet barrier and a dog tether to keep canines from jumping into the passenger area.

For the driver, Toyota offers a choice of V-6 or 4-cylinder power and front- or all-wheel drive. Handling is predictable and cruising is quiet, though the ride can turn busy in the V-6 model with its 20-inch tires. Also, styling takes a toll on rear visibility. A backup camera is available and recommended.

Efficient and Fun

Mazda3 5-Door: Among compacts, the Mazda3 is a standout. Handling is sharp, the ride is very good and the interior, if on the small side, is very nicely done. The hatchback is exceptionally flexible, though its suitability for larger breeds is in doubt. Still, the wide opening rear doors, tailgate and robust interior makes this yet another vehicle that would be attractive to many pet owners. These buyers, however, will have to go to aftermarket suppliers for many pet accessories. Fortunately, there they will find a wide range of mats and kennels that both fit and enhance the Mazda3’s utility. The 2.0-liter engine is peppy and the 2.5-liter engine is even more powerful. The Mazdaspeed3, with its turbocharged motor, could well be a match for the fastest hound around, though the ride in this performance version is abrupt and noise levels are higher than average.

Mini Clubman – Consider this the Maxi of Minis, at least until the Countryman arrives. The longer body structure, foldable rear seat and rear barn doors all contribute to making it easy to get even a larger breed in and out of the vehicle. And once in, dogs will find more than 33 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded. Most kennels will fit with ease and, once in, can be secured using the factory-installed tie-down points. As for the driver, this maxi Mini is great fun to drive. Its handling is crisp and immediate, acceleration is brisk and braking secure.


Ford Escape Hybrid – The large and squared-off SUV cargo area is perfect for dogs of nearly all sizes, while the hybrid drivetrain delivers fuel efficiency that few SUVs are able to approach. Ford actually promotes the cargo area as being ideal for “…a big, wet dog…” and offer photographic evidence that even the largest canines fit here comfortably. The company goes on to note that the hybrid’s battery pack is completely sealed, so there is no need to worry about wet pets or wet cargo causing a problem. Accessories are available from many sources, including Ford. Floor mats and a pet divider head the list of items that make the Escape more “pet friendly.” The ride is a little choppy but, for overall practicality, the Escape Hybrid is hard to beat.


Kia Soul – It’s roomier than its exterior dimensions suggest, which makes the Soul a good choice for transporting smaller and mid-size breeds. Aftermarket accessories to make the trip easier on both the pet and its owner are also easily acquired. These include thick, heavy-duty mats and pet-resistant seat covers. Some owners also have gone for vehicle-specific pet cages and dividers, often imported from Europe. The ride is decidedly firm, but the handling is good and the engine is both reasonably responsive and economical. Noise levels are higher than average, but the larger than expected windows make for a good view to the sides.

Nissan Cube – This vehicle casts a small shadow at noon, but its height and boxy design more than compensate. The interior is surprisingly roomy and should be good, with the back seats down, for even larger breeds. Note, however, that when folded, the rear seat does not form a flat load floor, so owner supplied padding to level the cargo area would probably be necessary. Buyers will find many aftermarket accessories that can be used to enhance this car’s utility as a pet hauler. These range from cargo area mats to hair-shedding seat covers. As you would expect from an entry level vehicle, the ride and handling won’t equal true sports and luxury cars but , its ride is comfortable and secure.

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

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 (, 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


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