Choosing a first car is a right of passage. While the top two criteria for most parents are safety and affordability, teenagers on the other hand, are more focused on what’s cool. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) recently published a list of safe and affordable used vehicles for teenagers and we’ve taken it up a notch.
A first car should be safe above all, but it needn’t be boring. Grandma’s cast-off Buick LaCrosse may be safe and priced right, but it lacks a certain cache. That’s why we’ve poured through the list to find the ten most affordable and most appealing of the IIHS’ picks. Our criteria focused on affordability, with all models starting under $10,000, in addition to a preference for manual transmissions and all-wheel-drive. If you’re driving a manual, you’re not holding a cell-phone.
Our top eleven list (yes, our list goes to eleven!) includes imports, domestics, sedans, wagons and SUVs, but no small cars. The IIHS does not recommend any small cars for teenagers. Big is better when it comes to safety. We’ve included links to MPG reviews and fuel economy ratings in the list. Continue reading →
I had the opportunity to put a 4WD 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk to the test a few weeks back at a Chrysler track day event at the Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. It was a rainy day at the track, as the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin moved up the eastern seaboard. The persistent precipitation turned the off-road test track into a marvelously mess … which is exactly what you hope for when you’re testing 4x4s. I hopped into a brand new trail-rated 2016 Renegade Trailhawk with BeCarChic.com’s Melanie Batenchuk and Jim Morrison, Director of Jeep Product Marketing.
Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect of the Renegade Trailhawk off-road. I’d only had the opportunity to drive one briefly before, and that was a half hour drive on two-lane blacktops and highway. I was skeptical, despite the Trail Rating. A nice sloppy jaunt through the mud and my opinion changed. Watch this video and yours may change, as well. It’s an eye-opener (and a fun ride).
The Ford Escape was introduced in 2001 as Ford’s entry into the two-row mid-size SUV segment. The original model was designed in conjunction with Mazda, and shared many components with the Mazda Tribute, as well as with the Mercury Mariner.
At the time it was introduced, the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid (shown below) was billed as the most fuel efficient SUV sold in the United States, with the front wheel drive version delivering 34 city and 30 highway miles per gallon, while the four wheel drive version hauled down 29 city and 27 highway. (The non-hybrid 2008-2012 Escape was offered with either a 2.4 liter four cylinder or a 3.0 liter six.) The Escape Hybrid was offered through the 2012 model year.
The Escape is all new for 2013, with a sleek new crossover design and a choice of three different engines. Continue reading →
First introduced in 1998, the Honda CR-V has become one of America’s most popular compact crossover SUVs. The CR-V was redesigned in 2007 and again in 2012, with fuel-efficiency a key consideration. Solid gas mileage figures have been one of the CR-V’s key selling points over the years, with the 2WD CR-V’s gas mileage ratings flirting with the 30 miles per gallon (MPG) mark on the highway. Today’s sleek CRV bears little resemblance to the earliest models (where aerodynamics and exterior design were not a priority).
The 2013 CR-V’s 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine produces 185 horsepower (up from 156) and continues to be equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. (2006 was the last year for the manual transmission in America.) The CR-V diesel’s 2.2 liter i-CTDi turbo diesel engine would a game-changer for the US market, with remarkable fuel mileage ratings.
While it’s slow going, the revival of the American economy can be clearly linked to the renewed strength of our domestic automobile industry. At a rally yesterday at Cuyahoga County Community College in Ohio supporting President Obama, Bruce Springsteen gave thanks that General Motors is still making cars, remarking ”What else would I write about?”
That quote got me thinking about the wealth of automotive imagery in Bruce’s songs over the years, dating all the way back to his very first album, Greetings From Asbury Park. There’s The Angel’s mention of VW – “The interstate’s choked with nomadic hordes in Volkswagen vans with full running boards dragging great anchors,” and the pure American brother in Lost in the Flood, “dull-eyed and empty-faced, race(ing) Sundays in Jersey in a Chevy stock super eight.” Continue reading →