January 2008

rogue_4.jpgNissan Rogue: Honey, I Shrunk the Murano

By The Car Family

For more vehicle reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/gmc-acadia-saturn-outlook-buick-enclave-best-gm-suv/

Our first reaction was decidedly mixed. Did they shrink the Murano? It has the same futuristic look and is even more attractive in darker colors. What it didn’t take us long to discover was the quiet ride, spunky engine, firm ride, and the fact that it didn’t have a spare tire hanging off the rear hatch making it difficult to open and expensive to repair.

The interior has a youthful look with a few helpful twists such as an auxiliary jack for iPods and large HUVA controls. The instrument panel is trendy, but the bright orange light from the gas gauge and the small fonts make them very difficult to read quickly. The tachometer and speedometer are about six inches and the fuel and temperature gauges two inches in diameter and reside in the middle of the instrument cluster and has a strange orange illumination. The seats are firm and need more lumbar and maybe a touch more padding, but overall they felt good to the tush.

The engine is very responsive with its 2.5-liter four-cylinder powerplant producing 170 horses and 175 lb-ft of torque providing a good average of 23 mpg with a 15.9-gallon tank. Only the Honda, Subaru, and Toyota were able to match that and they weren’t as much fun to drive even though they had more usable room inside. It comes with four-wheel anti-lock braking, Electronic Brake force Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control to help control your emotional outbursts.

The CVT works well, but would really just like to accelerate. When it senses you want more power it reacts aggressively, but that is better than some of the Lexus transmissions where they appear to be second guessing your desires even with their seven and eight speed gearing.

We had the optional all wheel drive feature and it worked very well. The Rogue starts in all wheel drive and switches to front wheel drive until future notice. You don’t have to ask, the Rogue takes command of the situation.

There is plenty of competition in this price range and they all offer a lot for similar money in the from of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV, Subaru Forester, and overpriced and premium fuel devouring BMW X3 being among them. So why consider the Rogue? Well, it is more fun to drive, has excellent visibility, and just begs to be toyed with. And, it is filled with little surprises like a huge glove compartment, a lot of little storage areas, and a

On the negative side is has less cargo space and probably won’t retain its value as well. However, we think you are probably going to get a great deal on these as Nissan strives promote its Rogue.

Mom’s view: I like the seating position and the front and side visibility. On all SUVs and minivans I want a rear view camera option, but there wasn’t one on this model. As such rear visibility is very limited. The seats were firm and there needs to be both a tilt and telescoping option on the steering column as I could not find an accommodating position as the steering wheel has a very bus like angle. The brakes were very good, the acceleration sprightly and well mannered, and the rear hatch easy to open. The interior lighting was great, but the front headlights were dismal and there needs to be better lighting in the rear cargo area where there is none.

Interior materials are bleak and I expect that the seat fabric, as that on the Versa, is going to harvest dog hair at a terrific rate. The controls are easy to reach, but the Nissan radio with its unique FM/AM push button selection needs to be mastered before setting out. The heater and air-conditioning is average in quickness to change the cabin’s temperature and the horn is well below average in sound level. There is plenty of storage with a large and well thought out glove compartment.

This is a crossover vehicle that is related to the Sentra sedan. We like the Sentra, but we like the Rogue more. The electric steering is very good in town and the Rogue, contrary to its name, always feels domesticated. The ride is remarkable for such a short wheelbase vehicle. It is the among the best of all compact SUVs, although it does not handle real offroading the way a Subaru Forester does and can’t perform up to those with six cylinder engines.

With pricing starting in the $20,000 range you need to take a look at the new Saturn Vue, the Mazda CX-7, the Ford Edge, and the Honda and Toyota products. All of the competitors offer more room, but only the Acura RDX is friskier. Indeed, if you want to save considerably and don’t need the room the Suzuki SX4 is priced around $15,000 a truly cute ute.

Safety wise the Nissan Rogue comes with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.

I found myself liking the Rogue more each day I drove it. The 37.4 ft. turning radius is fine, the 3300 pounder felt trim and eager to please with good brakes. Only the sometimes confused CV transmission would jar my concentration, but it was worth it when it came to fill the tank. I was able to better 25 mpg easily on the highway. Maybe I bit youthful in the looks department, but in the top category of crossover utes moving in with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V while patiently awaiting the residing king/queen of this segment, the Subaru Forester which has undergone a makeover. Nevertheless, the Rogue is good value.

Dad’s view: Nissan has the strangest collection of vehicles of any manufacture and can’t seem to get its styling department to concentrate while the engineers produce one of the best six cylinder engines anywhere. They have some of the worst vehicles for gas mileage from the god awful gas swilling Titan pick-up and Armanda SUV that can both deliver single digit fuel mileage in traffic, to the Xterra and Pathfinder which seem to contradict each other as they offer nearly the same power and utility while the Xterra is priced over $6000 less and has just has a tad less room and luxury. Than there is the new 2009 Murano that has been rendered nearly obsolete at birth by the Rogue unless you need more of everything for several thousand dollars more. To this strange mix add the really terrific Versa, Sentra, and 350Z and the underrated Maxima and Quest minivan and useful Frontier pick-up all of which get exemplary fuel mileage and are user friendly and well priced.

That being said, the Rogue is clearly to be placed in the latter category. It is a winner, but as the Versa, may have a tough time catching the eye of the public. And, unlike the Versa, it needs to have a sharper price point to be competitive. As it now stands the Rogue is in the base Honda CR-V’s cost range and, although it is much more responsive and fun, doesn’t have the proven resale or room of the Honda. If Nissan priced its entry level price $17,500 it would be unbeatable.

The four cylinder 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine has plenty of spunk and offsets its sometimes noisy behavior by providing excellent fuel mileage. The CVT gets your attention and is not as smooth behaving at the one in the Versa or the Altima. Nevertheless, the fuel mileage and passing ability are very good. We had the all wheel drive model that might be needed if you’re driving experience is marred by frequently snow, but we feel that the front wheel drive model is the better performer. As might be expected, the all wheel drive gets slightly less fuel mileage at 21/26 mpg and 0 to 60 times reside just south of ten seconds.

Car like is the best way to describe the feel of the Rogue on the road. The electric steering is well muted and the suspension levels most all road surfaces without a disruption. The seating position feels very high due to the fast sloping hood and low dash. The seat adjustments aren’t that easy to reach, but the electric side mirror knob is as are the window controls. There is a fair amount of noise in the cockpit, especially in windy and rainy weather. The wipers aren’t large enough to clear the top and side of the windshield and the defrost could be quicker to heat. The tailgate is very, very easy to lift. The best in the business. However, the liftover is high, probably due to the eight inches plus road clearance that the Rogue has to accommodate those determined to go offroad or traverse unplowed roads. It does not corner as well as the very snappy Acura RDX, but it costs a lot less. Overall, this is an ideal combination of commuter car and adventure mobile.

Young working male’s view: This is perhaps the best SUV that Nissan has ever produced. It gets good gas mileage, has a nice ride, can hold four adults in comfort, and is nimble. The rear seats are fixed, which does not allow them to be slid back for more legroom and there isn’t much cargo room with less than 30 cubic feet behind the back seat. The headlights are average, I would go with SL model and the Premium package with its optional xenon units and you can utilize your SmartKey with keyless entry, upscale sound system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth and an auxiliary port for iPods.

Frankly, the looks of the Rogue attract a lot of female interest. In fact, none of my male friends found it appealing at all. Call them the Xterra crowd, unruly and always short of gas money. I didn’t mind the Rogue’s road abilities, but the backseat is strictly for two adults and the steering needs a bit more heft at speed. This Nissan wouldn’t be my first choice in a crossover, the Subaru holds my attention better, but it is a good one.

Young working woman’s view: Looking like a shrunk Murano, the Rogue is one of the more poorly named vehicles this side of the Ford Taurus. You can order it as a S with or without all wheel drive and the SL with the same drivertrain choices. Standard equipment is what you would expect with 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, power mirrors and doors, and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. I recommend this model. If you want to upgrade harvest yourself a SL with larger tires, alloy wheels, tinted windows and various doodads.

There is plenty to appreciate here, but there are some areas that need to be addressed. For example, how about good rear seat cupholders, a padded area for your sunglasses, a place to put your purse, and a rear cargo light? I also have no idea why they don’t place the gas filler door on the driver’s side. It is so much easier to park near the “pump” and who wants to have to walk around a car to fill in cold weather?

There could be a better use of the space in the spare tire area, a better jack, a longer slide for the front seats for those that are tall, side molding to protect from the SUV drivers and passengers who are so upset about their plummeting resale rates that they slam their doors open, and the reflective glare in the side view mirrors from the interior bright pieces in sunny weather. On the plus, but easily missed side, are the red night lighting, including the overhead console, the perfect rear seat height for placing a baby in its seat, the cargo organizer, the hidden middle rear seat safety belt that doesn’t hang down like on some models, a keyless entry system that saves hunting for keys (By the way, there is a key in the unit should the battery die.) and a rear hatch that practically opens and closes itself.

If the Rogue had a larger rear storage area I would consider it, as this is one useful Nissan. But with two large dogs to tote around and a high jump up level it isn’t right. On the other hand, my friends treated it with affection once they rode in it.

Is it better than the competition? Well, not having driven the new Subaru Forester, I would say that it is as good as the rest save the RAV4 with the V6 which gets nearly the same fuel mileage with an engine that produces almost 100 more horsepower. On the down side the RAV has the rear mounted spare tire I deplore.

Family conference: Having a Versa and Rogue in your garage would be a swell pair for a family into utility and saving money. They are perfectly matched and the Rogue is as much SUV as you are ever going to need unless you are into towing or need a third seat. We enjoyed our time with this Nissan, but are worried that many potential buyers are going to ignore it because of the cargo space and pricing. Nevertheless, this is among the very best crossover utes and Rogue in name only.

For a list of more vehicle websites go to


Resources to help a student adjust to high school


Timeline for preparing for college



How to prepare for college and more


Where to get your work published


Homework help sites


Scholarships, grants, awards





College search and grants


How to find the best college.


Learn to email yourself future reminders.

A great way to stay reminded of long term assignment dates.



How to improve your test scores.

Sample tests, too.



Practice SAT tests



How to get aid money


Keys to high school success



Teenage guide to the real world


Mapping your future

How to plan for college and beyond



High school practice test sites and more



Color blindness test


How to do citations




Study skills, essay writing help sites


Federal grants


What is a college degree worth


Student aid on the web; how to select a college, and more


Practice SAT questions


See actual FBI files.

See how they do primary research.



College scholarships and online courses



Large funding site



Hispanic scholarships



Various types of aid



Online thesaurus to improve your vocabulary



Why ninth grade is so important


Effective study skills



When you have nothing to do


President’s Day lessons and activities.

A great variety for all levels. Lots of fun ideas, too.






Lincoln and Washington and more


2009 Honda Accord: Bigger, but Better?

For free educational materials go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/index.html

Do no harm must have been the instructions for the development team at Honda as the 2008/09 version offers many changes, but remains essentially the same sedan in every aspect except looks and size. Indeed, the new Accord now has enough interior room to be listed by the government as a large sedan in the same category as the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Chrysler 300. In comparison, the Toyota Camry, Buick Lucerne, Cadillac STS, and BMW 5 Series are all midsize sedans.

The Accord’s pricing and performance places it in direct competition with the best cars in any segment with the underrated Ford Fusion, the best selling Toyota Camry, the sporty Nissan Altima, the sportier Mazda 6, the new Chevrolet Malibu, the stunning Saturn Aura, and even the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat begging for attention. None of these can match the interior spaciousness of the new Accord thanks to the fact that the wheelbase on the new model is over two inches longer than the previous model at 110.2 inches.

There is an abundance of room most everywhere in the Accord with more space for legs, heads, shoulders, and hips not to mention a large, but not wide trunk. The interior materials aren’t going to win any awards, but the instruments are easy to read and reach. If you opt for the more expensive models you can get a lot of features from heated seats to a very expensive navigation system and Bluetooth compatibility.

For 2008, the Accord we tested came with a 177-hp 2.4-liter DOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder engine that had plenty of pep providing about 25 mpg in mixed driving. Previously, we had tested a 2006 Accord with that year’s less powerful four cylinder engine and a five speed manual transmissions and were always able to get nearly 30 mpg on regular fuel. The new car doesn’t seem to have that potential, probably due to its extra weight, but the government states that both models should have gotten similar fuel mileage. You can also order Honda’s 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with i-VTEC variable valve timing and the ability to run on six-, four-, or three-cylinder mode. Look for real life fuel mileage in the 23-mpg range. You can also get a super-sized four-cylinder engine that gives you 190 horsepower as an upgrade in some models.

Mom’s view: Frankly, it doesn’t look like a Honda. It resembles a BMW and this is reflected in its improved coefficient of drag rating of 0.31and sharper handling, too. The new shape also makes it quieter and sleeker, but not necessarily better looking. However, this new Honda really makes its independence known with its practical side. Safety features abound. There is an abundance of high strength steel, a frame rail that adds support to the sides and floor, and a stiffer body. There are two-stage front airbags, dual-chamber front side airbags, and side curtain airbags to go with active front head restraints. Add to that the electronic stability control, four wheel disc antilock brakes with electronic force distribution and brake assist and you have about as much safety equipment as possible to stuff into a $20,000 sedan. On the downside is less than terrific headlights and interior lighting that could be improved with more floor lighting.


Dad’s view: Honda’s suspension has more stiffness and tighter damper rates for the front and in the rear there is a new multilink design which makes the Accord corner better with two tubular lower links, and a toe-control link. This provides superior handling when this Honda is loaded over the previous suspension. The car rises slightly lower, too, but the real clue to its newfound handling prowess is the wider tires and rims. It is a better handler than the Toyota and does not ride as stiff as the Mazda or Nissan, but don’t look for BMWish cornering. I don’t know how people are going to respond to this new feel in the ride department, but I liked it except over unkempt roads.

As usual the Accord is available both as a sedan and coupe and catches its buyer prey just south of its sister Acura with more practicality and less spottiness. I like it better than the Acura for a family. The model I prefer is the entry level LX with the 177-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that starts around $20,000 with a lot of standard features such as air conditioning, power mirrors and door locks, folding rear seats, and a MP3/WMA compatible stereo system. It is good basic transportation. You can spend another grand or so and get the P version with alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat, power windows, and an alarm system. In either version add $800 for the automatic transmission and its five speeds. The EX has a more potent four-cylinder engine in the form of a 190-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. And, you can also order the V6. More money moves you into the EX with a quieter ride, in-dash CD changer, power moon roof, heated mirrors, power windows, driver power lumbar, and 17-inch alloy wheels. You can add leather and dual zone climate control, a more powerful stereo, heated sets, and an automatic dimming rear mirror in the EX-L, but it is about $5000 more than the base model. If you opt for the EX-L V6 sedan look for prices about $28,000 and if you want Honda’s GPS and its required voice-activation, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, and XM satellite radio you could be pushing $30,000. Remember, this is a Honda Accord and so I recommend you either get the base model or take a long test drive to see what options you really need.

Driving the new Accord is comfortable with exceptional visibility in all directions. The engine, although a bit noisy under acceleration, is non-offensive as a whole and will probable be the strong point for buyers. The headlights need improvement, as they don’t offer enough illumination despite their size. The way the headlights are squared off they almost invite a parking lot incident with the drive until you hit something SUV crowd. I’m sure they are going to cost a bundle to replace as well. The squared off front end was intended for pedestrian safety and this concern extends even to the wiper arm mounts that are designed to break when hit. Good news for pedestrians and wiper arm makers.

The tilt-and-telescoping steering column and the easily positioned seats are Honda traits, but what is even more unique is the fact that you can see the gauges when wearing polarized sunglasses. Honda has the best navigation system, but the screen could be larger as well as the fonts. There could be more brightness, too. The mirrors were easy to adjust and the center armrest wide enough for to share with the passenger side rider.

Performance is what you would expect from a four-cylinder engine, but the automatic transmission does a fine job of keeping it on task so passing isn’t a problem. Handling is darn good, considering that 60 percent of the weight is on the front wheels. The Honda Accord quickly starts to feel like an old friend. It is accommodating and pleasing for those who like the middle lane. The gas mileage is good for such a car, but we did get better in the much more powerful Toyota Avalon on the highway and the Ford Taurus as well and both had larger engines. Around town the Accord was better, but still 21 mpg isn’t really the stuff of legends.

Overall the Honda Accord is not the breathtaking advance that the Honda Civic was a few years ago. And, despite its added size, the competition has closed the gap considerable, especially those from Saturn and Ford.

Young working man’s view: Still building USA servers and computers at http://www.eracks.com to pay my way through college and be able to afford, well, not a Honda Accord, that’s for sure. Why? It is too big. And, you’d have to order the expensive navigation system to get some of the electronic doodads I love.

I remember many moons ago when I was trying to get a 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan into gear and I kept slipping by it because there wasn’t an indentation. Well, Honda really hasn’t done much to alleviate the problem. Drive and third gear are very close together and if you don’t look at the indicator light you could waste some gas driving in the lower gear because the Accord is that quiet.

The back seat is very comfortable as long as you are not assigned to the middle one. It is simply too hard. The rear seat does fold down and there is a pass through. As can be expected there are no reading lights in back, but the rear doors do open wide making getting in and out easy.

I got a kick out of the wiper controls. Honda uses raindrop icons to show the speeds available. The more drops the more wiping. As well, the shifter and parking brake were easy to use, unlike the strange placement on the new Subaru Impreza I tested where it resided near the clutch pedal. Some reviewers have complained that the line of control knobs for the climate and stereo are confusing, but I really found them easy to master.

What I enjoyed most about the new Accord is the attention to detail even in the entry level LX model. You get a sunglass holder, seatback storage, lockable glove box, sliding center armrest, illuminated steering wheel cruise control and audio functions, filtered air conditioning, 160-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with 6 speakers, tachometer, coin box, two 12-volt power outlets, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a tire pressure monitoring system, automatic off headlights, engines that meet some of the nation’s toughest emissions standards, a vehicle stability assist, a fairly tight 37.7 turning radius, and a qualified 100,000 miles of travel before a scheduled tune-up. The Accord may not spark my interest, but it certainly is practical and, in its way, family friendly.

Young working woman’s view: Well, this Honda is notable in its love it or what is it exterior treatment. Although not as loathsome to me as the new BMW sedan with its dragging rear-end design, the Accord does take a while to learn to love. I walked by it many a time because it is so different than the previous Accords.

Looks aside, the LX is mildly entertaining to drive, far more than the base Camry, and doesn’t seem to mind a little frisky behavior now and then when the roadway permits. I found the electronic stability control very well mannered letting you stay out late, but not too late, before intervening. The steering is quite light, but it makes mall parking easier, especially with the smaller 16 inch tires that are standard on this model.

Although I have my heart set on a Honda Element, the Accord would be a good choice if I didn’t have two Mastiffs to transport. It is gentle on the environment, has a lot of standard features, and thankfully goes about its job unobtrusively.

Family conference: There is room for improvement as the seats could use more padding, the lift over for the trunk is a bit high, and the sides need more protection from door dings. Outside of that the Accord is among the best of the large sized sedans, but it isn’t as large a step forward as we were hoping that Honda would make. The interior is efficient and user friendly for the most part, but the fit and feel needs to be moved up to play with the vastly improved Saturn Aura. The engine is a bit noisy and the ride a touch stiff legged, but overall if you can watch your options this is the car to own for a family on the go. The new Honda is bigger and better, but so is the competition. It was our number one car in the middle range, but now that the Accord has moved up into the heavy weight division there might be a need for it to be more than dependable transportation.

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/auto/index.html



For Arbor Day

Forest lesson links


2008 Arbor Day Poster Contest


Major Arbor Day site


Kraft sites


State trees


Lesson plan sites


Elementary short stories, poems


Lorax save the tree game


Great resource for types of trees.

Photos and essential information


General lessons for elementary students


The importance of trees to the environment

For older students.


Basic tree coloring book pages


Large link site


Lesson plans including Johnny Appleseed and The Great Kapok Tree


Coupons for teachers/parents

by Alan Haskvitz


There are several sites that offer free coupons and other significant items for parents and/or teachers. Of course, many large stores offer coupons in the local newspaper, but many educators don’t realize that these same companies offer special online promotions. Simply do a web search for the company involved and its website can quickly be viewed for savings. This does include airlines and vacation related companies, too.

Remember that to use some sites you may need to register. I recommend you create an email address just for such online registrations. It makes it easier to check and separates your personal mail from other mail.

There are two types of coupons. The direct link site takes you to the manufacturer’s coupons and the coupon code site where you go through a “third party” to get the coupon. Some coupons are printable and some can be mailed to you. As always read the regulations carefully and take care before entering into any transaction.

History of coupons and related statistics


Boxtops for education

You need to check this site every so often to see if a manufacturer is paying schools for box tops.


Here is a list of some of the larger coupon related only sites

This is a great site that features a variety of ways to search for coupons.


Large site with blog

http://www.couponmountain.com is one of the larger sites

This site also offers cash back coupons on some items and is easy to use and timely


Coupons by product and expiration dates


This site even includes strange deals. Nice selection of coupons.


Wow coupons

Travel and much more.


A large forum about using and where to find coupons.


As it sounds


A diverse variety


This site is very extensive and offers a variety of ways to search for coupons


You need to register, but this site has wide variety of coupons


For groceries












Betty Crocker


Nestle Site


Coupons by zip code


For many more free educational materials go to


Pets and animals

Alan Haskvitz


The study of animals is a great way to get students interested in reading as well as opening the door for research in social studies, science, and art among others. Here are some good links to get students involved.

Using pets in the classroom


Animal lifespans


Zoology links




Butterflies and bugs


The Discovery Channel

Lessons on all types of animals by grade level




Large link site

Uneven quality



How to teach the humane treatment of animals.


Animal adaptions

Great printables


How to draw simple cartoon animals


Animal diaries


Dog crafts




American Kennel Club


ESL pet lessons


Animal classification link


Farm animals

Primary coloring site




History of domesticated animals


Zoo lessons


What pet is best for you test


Animal cameras

Always carefully check these cameras sites first. Some have ads and some may not be working or may take you to another location.


Live animal cams


Zoo cameras


Critter cam


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