Used is in the Eye of the Beholder

My car has died.  2001 Honda Accord (purchased new by Kathy) with 160,000 miles led a good life and may possibly be revived by someone with more money and patience than I am willing to give.  Godspeed.

I BOUGHT A NEW CAR!

Ok, technically it isn’t new.  It is a 2014 Chevy Captiva Sport LTX with 9,000 miles.  Since they are fleet and rental cars you can only buy them used.  So for the price of a “new” Basic model car I bought a slightly used LUXURY model.  Yup, this car has the works; Leather Heated seats, rain sense wipers, navigation system, reclinging rear seats (I KNOW!) etc.

I have been car shopping for a while and had planned on making a purchase decision after the Los Angeles Auto Show at the end of this month.  But the death of the Accord pushed everything up.  I started vigorously looking for a used car and ended up finding a Tiguan at CarMax in San Diego.  With the clikc of a computer mouse and a reassurance from the sales rep Jenny, the Tiguan was on it’s way to me.  When the Accord died I had to rent a car.  I rented a Captiva and fell in love.  When I test drove the Tiguan it just didn’t fit.  I wasn’t as comfortable in it as I was in the Captiva and I knew I had to change my mind.  Feeling relaxed with Jenn, we talked about the beauty of St.Petersburg (she is from Moscow) and even though she had the Tiguan brought up from San Diego to Burbank for me to test drive, she in no way pressured me or made me feel bad for not choosing to buy it.

Both Marisa and Adam purchased cars from CarMax before but this was my first experience.  If I find myself in need again I will be sure to go back.  From the ease of browsing their lot (all cars are unlocked so you can climb in and around) without someone following you around or hounding you to take a test drive made this experience a smooth one for me.

Below is a slideshow of my new car.  Note the liscense plate.  Anyone recognize the letters?  Caitlyn did right away!

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A Powerful Concept – Ford C-Max Solar Energi

Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept

Ford Motor Company announced back in January, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, a first-of-its-kind sun-powered vehicle with the potential to deliver the best of what a plug-in hybrid offers – without depending on the electric grid for fuel.

Instead of powering its battery from an electrical outlet, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to solar panels on the vehicle roof. 

The result is a concept vehicle that takes a day’s worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance as the conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, which draws its power from the electric grid. Ford C-MAX Energi gets a combined best miles per gallon equivalent in its class, with EPA-estimated 108 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway, for a combined 100 MPGe. By using renewable power, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is estimated to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions a typical owner would produce by four metric tons.

“Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept shines a new light on electric transportation and renewable energy,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure. “As an innovation leader, we want to further the public dialog about the art of the possible in moving the world toward a cleaner future.” 

C-MAX Solar Energi Concept, which will be shown at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, is a collaborative project of Ford, San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. and Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology.

Strong electrified vehicle sales

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept debuts as Ford caps a record year of electrified vehicle sales.

Ford expects to sell 85,000 hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles for 2013 – the first full year its six new electrified vehicles were available in dealer showrooms.

C-MAX Energi is Ford’s plug-in sales leader, with sales of more than 6,300 through November. Ford sold more plug-in vehicles in October and November than both Toyota and Tesla, and it outsold Toyota through the first 11 months of 2013. Plug-in hybrids continue to grow in sales as more customers discover the benefits of using electricity to extend their driving range. 

C-MAX Hybrid over the last year has been a key driver in helping Ford sell more hybrids than any other automaker in the United States, second only to Toyota. C-MAX Hybrid continues to bring new customers to the Ford brand, with a conquest rate of 64 percent and drawing nearly half of its sales from import brands. Conquest rates are even higher in key hybrid growth markets like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. 

Breakthrough clean technology

SunPower, which has been Ford’s solar technology partner since 2011, is providing high-efficiency solar cells for the roof of Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept. Because of the extended time it takes to absorb enough energy to fully charge the vehicle, Ford turned to Georgia Institute of Technology for a way to amplify the sunlight in order to make a solar-powered hybrid feasible for daily use.

Researchers developed an off-vehicle solar concentrator that uses a special Fresnel lens to direct sunlight to the solar cells while boosting the impact of the sunlight by a factor of eight. Fresnel is a compact lens originally developed for use in lighthouses. Similar in concept to a magnifying glass, the patent-pending system tracks the sun as it moves from east to west, drawing enough power from the sun through the concentrator each day to equal a four-hour battery charge (8 kWh).

With a full charge, Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is estimated to have the same total range as a conventional C-MAX Energi of up to 620 miles, including up to 21 electric-only miles. Additionally, the vehicle still has a charge port, and can be charged by connecting to a charging station via cord and plug so that drivers retain the option to power up via the grid, if desired. 

After C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is shown at CES, Ford and Georgia Tech will begin testing the vehicle in numerous real-world scenarios. The outcome of those tests will help to determine if the concept is feasible as a production car.  

Off-the-grid car 

By tapping renewable solar energy with a rooftop solar panel system, C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is not dependent on the traditional electric grid for its battery power. Internal Ford data suggest the sun could power up to 75 percent of all trips made by an average driver in a solar hybrid vehicle. This could be especially important in places where the electric grid is underdeveloped, unreliable or expensive to use.

The vehicle also reinforces MyEnergi Lifestyle, a concept revealed by Ford and several partners at 2013 CES. MyEnergi Lifestyle uses math, science and computer modeling to help homeowners understand how they can take advantage of energy-efficient home appliances, solar power systems and plug-in hybrid vehicles to significantly reduce monthly expenses while also reducing their overall carbon footprint.

The positive environmental impact from Ford C-MAX Solar Energi could be significant. It would reduce yearly CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from the average U.S. car owner by as much as four metric tons – the equivalent of what a U.S. house produces in four months.

If all light-duty vehicles in the United States were to adopt Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept technology, annual greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by approximately 1 billion metric tons.

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C-MAX Solar Energi Concept

I am excited to go check out a new Ford Concept car next week.  The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car looks very intriguing:

  • C-MAX Solar Energi Concept eliminates the need to plug in and charge a hybrid vehicle altogether. It harnesses the power of the sun by using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass, directing intense rays to the panels on the vehicle’s roof
  • C-MAX Solar Energi Concept represents an exciting possibility for the future of mobility. This prototype is part of Ford’s vision for imagining what sustainable transportation will look like in 2024 and beyond and the near-, mid- and long-term steps we must take to get there
  • Internal Ford data suggest the sun could power up to 75 percent of all trips made in a solar hybrid vehicle. That means a typical owner can avoid sending more than four metric tons of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere ever year.
  • According to our climate scientists, if all light duty vehicles (cars and trucks) in the US adopted this approach, we’d reduce greenhouse gas emission (GHG) by more than 1 billion metrics tons per year.

Ford-C-Max-Solar-Energi-Concept-Car

Friends on face book were lamenting on being able to find “free” places to plug in their electric vehicles.  Hopefully this will be more than a “concept” soon!

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Zubie Zubie Zoo!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Zubie for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am all about practical gifts.  I have received a dishwasher for my birthday (and was estatic about it), a blanket for Christmas (by far my favorite gift Taj has ever given me in over 25 years!) and even tires for my car for an anniversary gift.

So when Social Spark contacted me about writing about the Zubie as a Valentine’s gift, I thought sure why not?!

I don’t drive as much as I used to.  My work is less than 2 miles from my house now and the grand kids live within 10 miles.  So since I take fewer long distance trips I tend to slack off on the car care.  I forget to get the oil changed until the SERVICE light comes.  I think the last tune up done on the car was done by ME back when my hands still could turn a socket wrench.

Zubie combines a smart device (about the size of a matchbox) that plugs into a standard port in almost every car (after 1996) along with a smartphone app that help you get the most from your car.

Features include:

  • Location tracking and alerts when family members arrive at home, work or school.
  • Be alerted to car problems before they leave you stranded, such as a Check Engine light or a dying battery.
  • Track and improve your driving, and connect and compete with friends. Monitor and coach teen drivers.
  • Connect with friends to share locations and simplify coordinaton on short trips or car-pools

 

Now you can hit the road with Zubie! Order today with code SAVE20FEB and SAVE 20% off your Zubie Key plus one year of service.  Offer good through March 31, 2014.  SHipping charges will apply.

Go, like Zubie on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

 

You can thank me later.

Tire Tips

A Nokian Hakkapeliitta R winter tire.

A Nokian Hakkapeliitta R winter tire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you going on a road trip this summer?  Have you packed all your sun screen and critical items?  What about the critical items for your car?

Tires are a critical and vulnerable part of a vehicles infrastructure. As a vehicle’s only point of contact with the road, something as simple as improper inflation or worn tread can have seriously negative consequences on ride quality, fuel efficiency and also road safety. By following these five tips below, a driver can help minimize the risks of tire failure while on the road.

 How to Evaluate Your Tires in Just a Few Minutes:

 1.       Put an upside-down penny in the tire tread. If the tread touches or goes into Abraham Lincoln’s head, your tire is OK. If not, time to get a replacement.

2.       Check your tire pressure and make sure your tires are properly inflated. It saves gas and makes the car easier to drive.

 3.       You can learn a lot from a tire’s tread. If your tire is overly worn on the edges or in the center, it’s probably under-inflated.

 4.       Be sure to keep your spare tire properly inflated. You never know when you might need it.

 5.       High temperatures increase air pressure, so check your tires often this summer.

Pep Boys will check your tires and your air pressure as one of their many free services to their customers.  While you’re there get your coolant checked as well and you will be on your way for a safe trip anywhere.

Disclosure: Yes I was asked by Pep Boys to post this, no I wasn’t paid, no I haven’t checked my tires yet, yes I will go with you wherever you are going, what time should I be ready?

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Happy Birthday to ME!

Adrienne Birthday redeux

It Has Been COLD in California

Finding yourself stranded in your car due to treacherous conditions like snow, ice, poor visibility and slick roads only to discover you have junk in the trunk, rather than the necessary roadside emergency supplies, can place you and your family in jeopardy.

Pay attention to the end of the post to win these emergency materials!

 

According to a new survey by State Farm® and KRCResearch, more than 60 percent of drivers had some sort of “junk” (non-emergency supplies) in their trunk ranging from extra clothes and shoes to used food or drink containers. While 99 percent of drivers had at least one emergency supply in their vehicle, such as spare tire or jumper cables, a mere nine percent carried all the essential emergency roadside supplies, including:

 

 

  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire
  • Hazard triangle/road flares
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Blanket

“Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. From icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, it’s important to be prepared,” said Robert Medved, safety expert, State Farm. “These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so people can safely get back on the road faster.”

Medved also recommends drivers check at least twice a year to ensure the equipment is in working order. This means spare tires are properly inflated, first-aid supplies are current, all other supplies are fully stocked, and the cell phone charger is compatible with either a power outlet or an USB port in your car. Communication capability can be the number one lifeline in some roadside emergency cases.

How Your Junk Stacks Up:
New survey findings also revealed that sedan drivers (63 percent) are less likely to carry emergency supplies compared to SUV and truck owners (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). Also, only two in five drivers said they check that the emergency supplies in their vehicle are working at least twice a year, in line with what State Farm recommends.

Advice for Drivers:
State Farm encourages responsible driving every day of the year, and especially during cold weather months when inclement weather is more common. If you are stranded on the road, follow these tips:

  • Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and use a road flare or reflectors to signal attention.
  • If you have a cell phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.
  • Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.
  • Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.
  • Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t waste your vehicle’s battery power. Balance electrical energy needs – lights, heat and radio – with supply.
  • At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.
  • Keep emergency supplies like road flares, a flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk at all times.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least ½ full at all times during bad weather.
To put it simply:

I am completely guilty of having too much junk in my trunk

 

But somewhere under all that mess is an emergency kit – somewhere.

If you would like to win the emergency kit mentioned and pictured above just fill out the Rafflecopter form below

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For additional information and emergency roadside tips, visithttp://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/auto-2/worst-case-winter-driving-survival/

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Ford Drive Event

I have had to pass up some fun events now that I am working full time, but I try to find others to share the wealth with and also to help me share the events with you.  Pattie Cordova of Living Mi Vida Loca was kind enough to attend a local Ford Drive Event and share her thoughts with us.

I had the opportunity to experience a few popular Ford 2013 automobiles and I learned about some great new features in many of the new models. You know how sometimes you don’t know that you’re missing something until you see it? That’s exactly how I felt after driving the Ford vehicles.

I personally own a 2008 minivan, family stickers in the back and everything. Now, four years might not seem like a lot, but in car years – it might as well be a lifetime. The advances that have come to vehicles are nothing but forward thinking and really with the family in mind. My favorite feature of them all? The hands-free liftgate.

Hands-Free Liftgate

Tested on the 2013 Escape 2.0L EcoBoost

This single new option is the main reason why I am looking to purchase a new vehicle. You know all those times you’ve walked to your vehicle with bags in your hands, maybe a kid on your hip? Yes, I know those times all too well myself. Well, the hands-free liftgate is an awesome new feature whereby with the key fob in your pocket you swipe your foot under the vehicle, where the sensor is located, and it magically opens up. Hands free! You throw the bags in the trunk and swipe your foot under the vehicle again to close it – or push the little button on the door to close now that you have your hands free of bags. It is absolutely amazing.

EcoBoost Engine

Tested on the 2013 Explorer Sport 3.5L EcoBoost

The EcoBoost Engine is an add-on that will propel Ford to the top of the automobile industry pyramid. The EcoBoost engine is a bit of a hybrid engine in that it runs on both gasoline and energy created by the vehicle itself. So what does this mean to you? Fewer runs to the gas station (and having to calm the kids down while the gas is being pumped) and not having to hook up the vehicle to a charging station. Win-win! Plus, the EcoBoost engine is also smaller and lighter than other engines. So theoretically, the vehicle should weigh less and waste less gas in the process.

Ford SYNC powered by Microsoft

Tested on the 2013 Focus ST

When you sit down in most of the 2013 Ford vehicles, you’ll see a huge dashboard in front of you equipped with Ford SYNC powered by Microsoft display. The abilities that this dashboard has is like a thing of the future. It does everything you could need to do while driving your vehicle (most of it hands-free), including weather conditions, 911 Assist, traffic, directions, news, etc. The display works double-time when Sirius radio is activated. My favorite part about SYNC is the fact that it’s upgradable, so information will always be new and should a new service be added down the line, you’ll have access to it as well. And lastly, the SYNC system helps you stay on top of things with its Vehicle Health Report for vehicle maintenance (available free of charge). This report will list any recalls that may be out there for the vehicle, scheduled maintenance and other useful information.

It became quite obvious to me that vehicles have come a long way – even from just four years ago. Though some people are still waiting for the flying automobiles, I would be more than happy to have a vehicle equipped with the hands-free liftgate instead – and the inflatable seatbelts that I also saw on the Ford Explorer. It’s a whole new world of vehicles and I cannot wait to get my next one.

This is not a sponsored post. I attended a Ford Drive Event as a member of the press. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.

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Green Car of the Year

Mazda CX-5 2.0 SKYACTIV-G AWD Sports-Line – Fr...

Mazda CX-5 2.0 SKYACTIV-G AWD Sports-Line (Photo credit: M 93)

Five exceptional vehicles have been named finalists for Green Car Journal’s 2013 Green Car of the Year®. For the eighth consecutive year, the Green Car of the Year will recognize and honor environmental leadership in the automotive field. The winner will be announced at a press conference during the LA Auto Show Press Days on Nov. 29. This year’s finalists include the Dodge Dart Aero, Ford C-MAX, Ford Fusion,  Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV and the Toyota Prius c.

“This is a very exciting time for the Green Car of the Year program,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and president of the Green Car Institute. “For two decades now, Green Car Journal has documented the ‘greening’ of the auto industry, from a time of mere concepts and demonstration programs to today, when the sheer number of environmentally positive production vehicles available to consumers is just eye-opening.”

Cogan points out that the shift toward ‘green’ vehicles is great for new car buyers who want to drive cleaner and more efficiently, while still experiencing the joy of driving. “What’s tougher these days is narrowing down the universe of great candidates to a field of five nominees, as we have today,” said Cogan.

This ‘greenest’ field-of-five – representing not only the five finalists for the 2013 Green Car of the Year award but also Green Car Journal’s distinguished ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2013′ – underscores the evolving auto industry’s increasing focus on efficiencies and tailpipe/CO2 emissions. The high mpg Dodge Dart Aero and Mazda CX-5 SkyACTIV show that conventionally-powered, internal combustion vehicles can indeed compete with the efficiencies of hybrids. Toyota’s Prius c continues this automaker’s tradition of offering all-new, high mpg hybrid models under the Prius name. The Ford C-MAX and Fusion illustrate how mainstream models can present drivers multiple high-efficiency choices – with the C-MAX offering both hybrid and plug-in hybrid iterations, and the Fusion offering these power options, plus fuel-efficient EcoBoost variants. Importantly, all are affordable mass-market products that provide drivers full functionality and mainstream appeal, paving the way for making a difference in fuel use and overall emissions in daily driving.

The winner will be selected by an esteemed jury comprised of the nation’s top environmental leaders, including Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, Ocean Futures Society president Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Global Green USA president Matt Petersen, plus Tonight Show host and auto enthusiast Jay Leno and Green Car Journalstaff.

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Looking Forward to the LA Auto Show

2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid (Photo credit: mariordo59)

Green continues to be a dominant shade of innovation in the automotive sector as 2013 looks to be a banner year for vehicle efficiency. According to AutoTrader.com, total shopper interest for alternative fuel and highly fuel-efficient models is up 54 percent so far in 2012. This year’s LA Auto Show® reflects this trend and will host significant debuts across all green categories. There will be two dozen all-electric or plug-in electric models at the Show, at least a dozen clean-diesel vehicles and nearly 20 vehicles achieving 40-plus mpg with highly advanced four-cylinder gasoline engines.

Automakers are incorporating multiple approaches—-even within a single model line—-to reach new benchmarks, and all categories of vehicles are well represented. Everything from luxury performance models, such as the BMW i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid to the Chevrolet Spark micro car are trending green.

“The green technology innovations demonstrated by automakers around the world continue to attract the attention of the car-buying public,” said Andy Fuzesi, general manager of the LA Auto Show. “We’re excited to be able to provide one of the world’s best stages for manufacturers to display their very latest achievements that match virtually every budget.”

The race for the lowest-emission automobile is hottest in the electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid categories. During the first six months of 2012, U.S. hybrid car sales increased 63.5 percent, while the overall automobile market increased 14.9 percent.

This year’s Show will feature three electric vehicle debuts, including the all new Fiat 500e. However, it is the number of electric and plug-in vehicles available to the consumer that has grown most dramatically in the last few years. New releases at the Show from Ford alone include the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, the Fusion Energi plug-in and the Focus Electric. Honda will have its new Accord plug-in hybrid, which joins the ranks of existing electrics and plug-ins from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Coda, Fisker, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Smart.

Once shunned as a polluting underperformer, diesel is back in a big way. During the first six months of 2012, clean-diesel automobile sales in the United States increased 27.5 percent, outpacing the overall auto market by 12 percent. As clean-diesel technology continues to accelerate, bringing an increasing number of vehicles to market, particularly with European brands, clean-diesel will give hybrids a run for the money. Audi is a case in point. The company has expanded its focus on TDI vehicles and will make some specific news on that front at this year’s LA Auto Show.

Volkswagen shows equal enthusiasm for modern diesel technology, offering six turbocharged clean-diesel vehicles, which thanks to advanced engineering and “greener” fuels, routinely deliver EPA-rated mileage estimates of over 40 mpg on the highway. Volkswagen’s latest diesel entry slated to debut at the LA Auto Show includes the 2013 Beetle Cabriolet, which will be available in both diesel and gasoline engine configurations. Volkswagen is even testing renewable diesel from fuel maker Solazyme in some of its TDI products.

Mercedes-Benz B Class front

Mercedes-Benz B Class front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mercedes-Benz continues to expand its clean-diesel offerings in the U.S. with a plan to bring a total of eight clean-diesel models to the states by 2014, including the GLK250 BlueTEC, which will be on display at the Show and in showrooms by Spring 2013. Mercedes-Benz has also invested heavily in start-stop technology to further improve efficiency. Nearly 40 percent of its vehicles will have the fuel conserving feature, which is a 12 percent gain over last year.

Four-cylinder gasoline-powered models are also breaking stereotypes. A new generation of vehicles pairing performance and up-market styling with fuel-sipping EPA numbers near or over 40 mpg are becoming more prevalent. Four-cylinder cars once seen as under-powered and underwhelming in design, certainly do not fit that mold today. New nameplates such as the new Dodge Dart Aero, which delivers aggressive styling with a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission, returns 41 mpg on the highway. Ford’s new Fiesta, making its debut at the Show, also delivers sporty styling combined with excellent fuel economy. In fact, Ford is offering eight vehicles that deliver 40 mpg or better by year’s end, double the number in 2011. The automaker’s fuel-efficient EcoBoost powertrains have become a company mainstay and make appearances in vehicles such as the 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium.

More performance-oriented small cars that still deliver impressive fuel economy are on the rise including the Fiat 500 Abarth Cabriolet making its debut at the Show. Featuring aggressive rally styling and a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine producing 170 lb.-ft. of torque, the vehicle still manages an EPA rating of 34 mpg highway. Also, Mini will unveil its new Paceman also boasting both performance and excellent fuel economy.

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