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“If you are not learning, you are dying.”
Albert Einstein

10 Crucial Errors: A Retired Teacher’s Guide for Retiring Teachers
by Alan Haskvitz, retired

I am not a financial expert or psychologist. What I am is a retired teacher and so the information that I am presenting is advice that I have learned from the often times wondrous and sometimes daunting task of retiring from a profession that, until recently, was my life.

Do Not Look Back

The first rule is do not lament. Yes, you may miss the students and the identity, but saying to yourself I could go one more year solves nothing. When someone asks what you do take pride in telling them you are retired. It is a noble task. You have done your best and time to take a brief rest. A brief rest. And, by the way, you are not alone. Every year there are about 75,000 teachers retiring for one reason or another. To help you avoid living in the past, you should take all those letters from students, awards, photos, and the like and give yourself one day a year to look them over. Just one day. After a few years it won’t take that long.

However, all those lesson plans you have created could be worth gold. There are sites where you can offer them for sale such as http://teacherlingo.com/. Here is an article on how to do it https://edsource.org/2015/teachers-become-entrepreneurs-by-selling-classroom-materials-online/86500

Every time you go by a school you may look at and wonder if they need help. The answer is probably yes. However, be aware that you are no longer going to be in charge of the situation and you may not like what you see. So, if you have time consider volunteering there are several sites that offer such opportunities, but I have found that those in need of tutoring are usually the most rewarding based on my skills.

So, to summarize, living in the past is a hobby that does not bode well for your future. You were a good teacher and had a long run, now is the time to capitalize on your investment in education and spend some time developing new interests and refilling your bucket list.

Build a New Life

That leads us to the second rule, your social life. Females don’t seem to have as much of a problem as males in making new friends, but regardless it is best to start cultivating new acquaintances. Expanding your social realm helps you gain new insights into what is happening and new opportunities to share. I participate in the Senior Olympics program that is offered in most states. You can participate in a variety of sports and doing so helps you meet new people and set fresh goals. No matter how uncoordinated you are or how long is has been since you have been in a sporting activity, here is your chance. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Read the newspaper looking for new clubs or social events. Go to city council meetings and look into becoming involved in organizations. These can result in opportunities to meet others. There may even be retired teacher groups in your area. There are senior centers in most communities where you can meet and greet a variety of people as well as participate in activities. The point is your social life is important because it provides you with an outlet, a place to learn and share, that keeps you in balance and provides that push you may need to get off the couch and away from the television. The most dangerous thing you can do is to become withdrawn and spend too much time thinking of what was instead of what could be. Remember that a successful retirement requires two main ingredients, patience and the desire to develop new habits knowing it takes 66 days to change a habit.

Ban the Nap

The third rule is your health. Go to a doctor and get a complete physical. Ask the doctor what you can do to improve your health and abide by that advise. I have high blood pressure. I joined a running club and found my blood pressure was back to normal after just a few months of walking and jogging. Do I run, barely, but I enter the frequent 5K runs knowing I can write-off the entry fee on my taxes. I am not competitive, but I set a goal for myself and try to get better little by very little. And, you don’t have to run. You can walk in these events and some even allow you to take a well behaved dog There are friends to be made and your health is going to improve if you pace yourself. Another item to be aware of is eating too much. While at school you had to eat when the students did. Now you can raid the refrigerator whenever you want. The result can be bad for your wardrobe and health. Set yourself some goals about what you are going to eat. I have found that a walk around the block or longer is excellent after eating. Perhaps the most dangerous thing you can do for your health, outside of eating too much, is watching television or spending too much time in front of a computer. Sitting too long can even contribute to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. So keep a record of when you started working on a computer or watching television and when you stopped. You are probably going to be shocked at how easy it is to waste away hours without challenging yourself.

Another aspect of health is your health coverage. Make a list of any medications you need and take it to the pharmacy. Ask them what company offers the best coverage for those drugs. By the way, remembering to take your drugs can be a real problem. I would buy one of those plastic containers with each day of the week on individual compartments and put your daily doses in them every Sunday. It is so easy to get busy and forget them and this method helps contradict that concern. Match that with your medical conditions and you can have a better way to shop the various health plans. Some medical plans also offer free health club memberships. Take it. Another important element of health care is too keep track of your body. Keep a log of your weight and check for new skin moles that might be cancerous. If you are brave, try doing the Five Tibetans. This is a series of exercises you can do every day that limber up your body. However, they aren’t easy so at first instead of doing the recommended 21 try just doing a couple.

Take a hard look at the weight scale. As you get older it becomes much harder to control your weight. There are two ways to lose weight. First, eat better and, secondly, exercise more. The first is totally a personal choice and may require some sacrifices such as your favorite ice cream. The exercise part is the hardest because it means you have to do something whereas eating less is not doing something.

With your doctor’s permission consider taking vitamins. Vitamin B12 is important for creating red blood cells and DNA, and for maintaining healthy nerve function. Also check your intake of calcium vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and omega-3 fats. There is evidence that omega-3s may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keeps the brain sharper.

Water is literally life. My wife is always telling me to hydrate. Constipated, hydrate. Dizzy, hydrate. Dehydration can cause a headache, dryness in the mouth, lips, tongue, and skin, fatigue, dark urine confusion, and chest pain. It helps regulate your body temperature, improves providing organs with sufficient oxygen, and bone and joint lubrication. It also affects the balance of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to function, including brain signaling. Dehydration can cause both internal and external aging especially in the condition of your skin. So drink water frequently and make sure to tell my wife she is right.
Finally, work on your balance. Here are some statistics that should get your attention from the National Council on Aging: One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/

You should dedicate five to ten minutes every day on balance exercises. They can be as easy as you want, but they need to be tried with your doctor’s permission. Here are some examples, stand on one foot for ten seconds and switch to other foot. You can hold on to a chair if you wish. Walk heel to toe for several steps. Raise one leg towards the back and see if you can hold this position for a few seconds. Always use a chair to hold onto when you are just getting the hang of it. You can also raise your leg to the side or back. Slow and steady is the key. As you get better you can invent ways to improve your balance such as walking on a plank. Of note, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of falling.

Fight Forgetfulness

The fourth area to improve is your scheduling. All that time you used to work needs to be accounted for in a positive way. You need to keep a calendar of events and make sure there is something recorded every day for you to do. It can be as simple as walking the dog, washing the car, going to the library, shopping, or even writing letters. Now scheduling requires due diligence so don’t just write it down, do it. And, spending time on social media is not a scheduling inclusion. Scheduling is not keeping a diary, that is past tense. You want to be pushing forward in your planing and thinking. For example, tomorrow is Monday. What do I have planned. Nothing. Well, what could I do? Organize the photo books, weed the flower bed, wash the windows, write letters to the children, make a list of local organizations where I could donate my old books? Something often forgotten in scheduling is to take time every day to ponder, think, let your mind wander. Make it a habit. Just do it.
Take the time to write
The fifth area to work on is writing. It cost nothing to start a blog and they are easy to start and update. You can use a blog to post your thoughts, add photos, and create. We all have funny stories about incidents we survived while teaching and you can put them in writing. Make time daily or weekly to add something. It could be a poem, or your thoughts on investing, or a joke you heard or made up. Write a book about the story of your life and add to it on a regular basis. Regardless, writing is very therapeutic for your mind. In order to write you have to observe, restate what you are thinking, select the words that you want to use to communicate, and finally, after the work is written, to evaluate it. Here is a free site that I use: https://wordpress.com/ Above all don’t say you can’t do it. Remember that you may be helping others as well as yourself by sharing.

Let Your Mind Loose
The fifth area, and probably the most overlooked, is to work on your fantasies. I am not writing about those fantasies, but possible ones. Fantasies are important to the growing mind and provides you room to roam and let your thinking loose on the universe. Spending a dollar on a lottery ticket is essentially money thrown away from a practical standpoint. But in the days or weeks before the numbers are released you can spend hours of time planning how the money is to be used. As well, go to the library and read magazines that feature travel or science, or whatever. The point is it keeps your mind active and leads to the one item that every retiree should have, a bucket list. This acculturation of dreams and wants and perhaps a need or two can constantly be updated. The list does not have to make sense, it could include being the first person on Mars. Who knows when NASA is going to look for a well educated older person to help a young team solve problems.

Organize your affairs
The sixth area is legal in nature. If you don’t have a trust create one now. It will help your survivors when you die, prevent legal and financial headaches, and you can even do it yourself. This is a site that explains why and how it can be done. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/making-living-trust-yourself-29736.html While you are working in the legal area you might want to take a look at how your investments, if any, are doing. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this basically because I don’t know a hill of beans about it. Here is what I know. I have a pension and a small 401k and a saving account. I am making zilch on the savings, not much on the 401k, and the pension is static and thus fixed so if inflation rises I am a sitting duck. I am sure others know more, but I can offer you one suggestion, don’t let this area go without tending to it on a regular basis. Ask questions, search for better rates, and try to have enough for emergencies. Emergencies are real and expensive and can remove you from a life of leisure to one fraught with constant worry. You must have a good health insurance plan. Period. If you are young enough to qualify for a long term care plan that also would be advisable. But beware that these plans are very limited so you may need help. Here is a good site for that data: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/08/long-term-care-insurance/index.htm
If you are too old or do not qualify for this insurance, I highly advocate you start a saving or other type of account to cover assisted living costs for at least a year between in excess of $40,000 and nursing home care is about $75,000 a year. You might want to examine all your insurance policies and see if they cover what you want. The rates might have even gone down so check it out and get the policies organized.
Polish Your Knowledge
The seventh area is to become an expert at something. If you have enough room plant some milk weed plants and watch the Monarch butterflies appear as they journey from Mexico and back taking five generations to make the trip. Or start a vegetable garden even if you have to use large patio type containers. Learn about astronomy and buy a telescope or become an expert on geology. There are countless areas that you can study and, in doing so, strengthen your mind and body. I recommend auditing college classes in various subjects to expand your knowledge base. Online cases are another way to acquire new knowledge.
Simplify
The eighth area to consider is downsizing. Selling your house for a smaller one or condo or even moving into an apartment are considerations. However, most retirees are comfortable where they are especially if they have a one story home. Besides why move from what you know? There are also tax considerations if you own an expensive home and move to a less costly one you may need to pay a gains tax. There are a great many lists of what states have better tax advantages for retired people. However, if you are on a teachers retirement plan and, perhaps, Social Security, you may not find the saving enough of a motivation to move. While downsizing also consider your accumulated clutter. Many charitable groups can take that outfit you have owned for three decades and sell it to someone who actually feels it is stylish. The same goes for those student gifts and left over dog toys. Walk around your home and if you have not used something in a year make a decision as to whether to hold a garage or yard sale or get the tax deduction receipt for the donation. Something that is often forgotten when moving is to look for a place where the sun can shine in the windows or at least make it easy for you to go out into the sun. Research has shown that vitamin D, made when your skin is exposed to sunlight, plays a role in activating white blood cells and help protect you from flu, food poisoning and even cancer.
Expand your vision
The ninth area is travel. You may consider retirement as your time to see the world, or at least get those good off-season rates. Be warned that traveling may not be as glamorous as it seemed on a rainy day in the classroom. For example, if you are taking a tour that means you may be with people you just do not like. So what I recommend is what Larry Martz in his book, Making Schools Better, coined; the small bites approach. Start small. A day or week long trip and see how that goes. However, whatever you do don’t write off traveling. It is stretching your mind making you figure out everything from exchange rates to communicating in a different language to remembering where you are going on how to get back. If you enjoy driving and have the funds, you may want to check out a later model car that features a great many safety items such as blind spot warnings, automatic emergency autonomous braking, stability control, even adaptive cruise control. All these updates can save your life and those of others. Seniors have the highest death rate in vehicle accidents outside of teenagers so consider a safer car a good investment regardless of its residual rate. Here is the site with great reviews: https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
A final area to help you with retirement is to reconstruct your work space. Take an inventory of what you have, what you want to keep, and what might be discarded or donated. Give your work area a fresh look and you can always do some research on Feng Shui decorating to give it more energy. Perhaps a new plant or reworking your file cabinets could be a start. You may also want to take an inventory of what is in each room of your dwelling including a garage if one available. Taking pictures or a video of the items would help as well. Replacing fire alarms, lubricating hinges and locks are all jobs that can help you assess what you have, need, and could sell or donate.
In conclusion, you want to avoid becoming lazy. Thinking, “I did my time, now I can relax, “is okay for a day or two, but what about the coming years? Take control of your free time and use it to your advantage. You do not want to be a would have, could have, should have type of retiree.

What would the person you were think about the person you are now.
As a 75-year-old retired educator I have a life expectancy of about 10 more years and women have close to 13 more years of life on average. With that in mind your motto and mine from here on in should be that retirement isn’t how long you live, but how well you live.
About the author: Alan Haskvitz is a National Hall of Fame educator who has received over 30 state, national and international teaching awards including being selected as a Reader’s Digest Hero in Education. Haskvitz worked in education for 45 years and is now a writer, athlete, and speaker.

Mazda’s CX-9: Seating for Seven
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Mazda, perhaps most renowned for building smaller, agile vehicles, is starting to expand its appeal by offering a new flagship, the seven passenger CX-9. The result is encouraging for SUV buyers as it combines a refined interior, good fuel mileage, and an abundance of safety features. Perhaps the most notable feature is that this well loaded, family oriented vehicle places the emphasis on utility and enhances it with the interior of a luxury vehicle. In fact, if you opt for the Signature edition no one is ever going to know you are not driving around in an upscale European model.

cx9_014-1

Adding to the uniqueness of the CX-9 is the fact it has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine while most competitors offer a six cylinder alternative. Don’t fret, the Mazda is plenty potent for two lane road passing or freeway merging thanks to its SkyActiv technology and smooth six-speed automatic transmission that keeps everything at peak efficiency. Even better our mpg average was 24 in mixed driving with 27 mpg on a quick trip to San Diego. As an aside, four cylinder engines are becoming the engine of choice as manufactures work to meet ever increasing environmental standards as such lxuru brands as Audi, Lexus, and Cadillac now offer these hard working units to consumers.

Mom’s view: If looks matter, Mazda is going to sell a lot of Mazda CX-9s and the good news is that the beauty of this SUV goes beyond appearances. You can get it with a full range of safety options including blind-spot monitoring, radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning that activate the adjustable collision-warning system and uses the automatic emergency braking system to avoid problems. The interior is splendid and feels scrumptious using real rose wood and aluminum accents as well as leather seats, and the exterior is snappy looking as well. This is not your typical SUV appliance. The ergonomics are easy to master and visibility is good, the automatic rear hatch gentle to use, and interior lighting is excellent. Even with the base Sport model you get three zone climate control, rear view camera, and seven-inch monitor with Mazda Connect, Bluetooth, and inputs. The CX-9 height helps eliminate worry when entering or leaving the vehicle and the ancillary controls on the steering wheel can be used easily even with long nails. It took me a while to get used to the accelerator’s need for a gentle touch as I am a bit of a lead foot, but once mastered it was pleasant to drive at any speed.

Dad’s view: The big news is how responsive the new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is thanks to some creative engineering to combat turbo lag. Mazda uses three values in the intake manifold that can close to force more pressure into the system creating more power at low rpms. The engineers have also devised a better way to harvest gases from the exhaust to keep the turbo on task consistently. The result is an engine that thrives while producing 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The result is plenty of pep, even for mountain driving. You can order an optional all wheel drive, but it was standard on our Signature model. The ride was similar to a much more expensive luxury vehicle and acceleration to 60 mph took around eight second seconds. Touch the accelerator and the CX-9 is ready to play right now with no noticeable turbo lag to hamper its class leading mpg rating. Steering is a bit light, but perfect for tight parking spots, and the overall feel is of a much smaller, lighter on its feet, SUV especially when in sport mode. The CX-9 is impressive, especially when given its pricing and features.

Young working male’s view: There is plenty of standard equipment, but Mazda does offer some interesting options. My suggestion is to go for the loaded versions such as the Signature or Grand Touring models, which feature a power front seat, power liftgate, eight inch monitor, navigation, 12 speaker Bose system, heated front seats and all types of safety equipment. The dash has a variety of analog dials that work well, but when is the most startling is that one of them carries a color LCD screen that can display trip-computer information and a compass. The eight-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard was a long reach, but what I liked was the fact you didn’t have to use it to control functions as there was a large knob located near the console mounted gear shift that helped with imputing data. Mazda isn’t at the cutting edge of electronics, but its meat and potatoes approach should appease all but the most dedicated gadget break.

cx9-16-g-us-w1-011int

Young working woman’s view: There are several models of the CX-9 to choice from, but the Grand Touring and Signature are worth the extra cost because of the added features. Mazda’s price range is from just over $32,000 to around $45,000 so do your homework. Inside, the second row has ample room and the seats slide and are foldable so there is easy access to the third row of seats, which are best used for children. Cargo space varies from 14 cubic feet of space to 38 to 71 depending on which seats are folded down. I greatly love the Mazda 6 and find it better looking, better handling then the competition. The same goes for this Mazda.

Family conference: The Mazda CX-9 is enjoyable, useful, and well priced being a significant value over the more expensive seven seat models from Honda and Ford, among others. Just a fun family vehicle with a heaping helping of value over a topping of exceptional styling. It may not go Zoom Zoom so Mazda might change its theme to Room Room.

Fiat’s Playful Pair
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

When you think Italian you think chic, voguish, trendy and all those words rightly describe Fiat’s retro styled vehicles, including the station-wagonish L and the cuddly C convertible models. Both are loaded with a plethora of goodies to entice those searching for value and utility. We tested the Fiat L Trekking and Fiat C convertible and found them fun and frugal. Base prices start in the teens and low $20,000 range. Add to that good safety scores and exceptional fuel mileage and you have vehicles that just don’t appeal to the daring, but to those who looking to make a change from the same old to the playful new.

Fiat offers a plethora of other model as well with the daddy sized, SUVish X, zippy Abarth 500, battery powered E model, and new 124 Spyder. All of them have a few things in common besides being cute and that is a vibrant color palette and playful attitude.

Mom’s view: The Fiat L’s interior design is excellent with ancillary controls on the steering wheel and air, heat and radio controls where you can easily reach them. The standard five-inch monitor does not bleach out when the sun shines in as happens in most of the competition. Everything is easy to use, although the emergency brake location is difficult to reach when wearing a bracelet unless the slim center console is raised. The L has a heavy rear hatch and opens very high so be warned, especially if you are wearing a short dress. The side doors swing wide and you simply slide into the comfortable seats. Attaching a child’s seat is easy thanks the height of the L. Outward visibility in all directions is unmatched in the L. The dual glove boxes are handy and the rear seats are cleverly positioned even higher than the fronts. Fiat states that there are over 1000 possible seating combinations, including sliding the front passenger side forward to be used as a picnic table, and over 20 cubbyholes for storage. You really have to spend some time in one to appreciate its usefulness.

2016 Fiat 500L

2016 Fiat 500L

Dad’s view: Fiat’s C is one of the most fun cars you can have for trips to the mountains or sea-shore thanks to its nifty handling, spunky driveability, and feisty attitude. It is perfect for wamt the benefit of an easy to park vehicle, over 30 mpg, and the ability to go topless in seconds. If it rains, it could happen, the top is a snap to raise. The C handles like a go-cart with good brakes and sharp, if a bit heavy, steering. A manual transmission is available, but we much prefer the new six-speed automatic when coupled to the base 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with its 101 horsepower. There is also a 135 horsepower Turbo model.

Our L Trekking had a MultiAir turbocharged inline-4 providing 160 horsepower with an mpg overall rating of 25. Passing and on-ramps were no problem, but there is torque steer evident when accelerating hard from a stop, and the engine can sound gruff when pushed. The L isn’t a slouch, but Fiat really designed it for transporting the family. The rear seats can recline, there is an optional large sunroof that covers both front and rear passengers, and 22.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 68 cubic feet with them folded. Interior space is nearly identical with a Ford Escape. I enjoyed the L. It grew on me because it was so maneuverable and handy thanks to the Koni suspension components. However, I recommend you test the Fiat X with its all wheel drive capabilities and similar dimensions and stick with the convertible if you are a fashionista.

Young male’s view: The front-wheel-drive Fiat 500 C has a cute rump and comes in several flavors based on your option selections. They are babe magnets and economical as well. However, there isn’t much interior space. For that you need the L. Either way, Fiat offers a standard Uconnect infotainment system with a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect your phone to the system and reply to texts using voice commands. The fonts are easy to see and the system works as well as those on a Mercedes. The L offers a Beats audio system that I recommend. Other options include automatic climate control, rearview camera, rear parking sensors and 6.5-inch touch screen. My choice is the 500 C, but if you want something more wicked get the 500 Abarth.

2016 Fiat 500c Pop (left) with 1962 Fiat 500 (center) and 2016 Fiat 500c Lounge (right)

2016 Fiat 500c Pop (left) with 1962 Fiat 500 (center) and 2016 Fiat 500c Lounge (right)

Young working woman’s viewpoint: Fiat is for those brave enough to leave the safety of same-old for the challenges of change. To that end Fiat has priced their vehicles very aggressively. To assuage quality worries, Fiat Chrysler of America offers a 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 3-year/36,000-mile no-cost maintenance package. There are a variety of C models from the more basic Pop to the loaded Lounge. The L comes in several flavors as well with the Pop, Easy, Trekking, Urbana, and Lounge each adding new levels of considerations. Standard safety features include seven airbags and more, but be warned, ladies, that getting in and out of the C takes modesty practice.

Family conference: Fiats are unique and may not appeal to everyone, but they do offer consumers the safety of a good warranty, friendly ergonomics, and some exceptional lease deals and incentives. There is also an extensive option list to make them easy to individualize. Fiat also offers through its website a Mix and Mingle program that brings users together. In essence, owners have made Fiat a life-style choice and well worth a look for those seeking a little Italian to call their own. Ciao.

Toyota’s Top Hybrids: Prius and RAV4
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/
Toyota RAV 4 and the Prius have provided consumers with a nice combination of utility and frugality with both cars offering room for a young family and exceptional fuel mileage. Both vehicles have a lot in common from pricing, to Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrains to class leading fuel mileage in the over 50 mpg for the Prius and 30 for the RAV. Indeed, if you are after economical travel these two are tough to top.

Prius Tourning

Prius Tourning

RAV4 Hybrid

RAV4 Hybrid

Of course, the real reason hybrids are popular is their fuel mileage. However, buyers need to do some math homework with several important variables to consider. First, how much more is the hybrid going to cost over a similar vehicle. The government has a handy site that simplifies this math at fueleconomy.gov.
With that in mind we tested two of the best hybrids from the most successful hybrid company in the world, Toyota. We weren’t disappointed.
Mom’s view: The RAV4 hybrid is easy to drive, park, and use. It can seat five, but is only available in the more expensive trim models. I wasn’t impressed with the RAV’s interior as it just looks and feels dated. I did like the utility tray and storage areas and the easy to use automatic rear hatch. You loose a little cargo area with the hybrid, but still get between 35 to 70 cubic feet of room depending if the rear seat is lowered. Safety wise, the RAV4 top of the line Limited includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length airbags, a driver knee airbag, rearview camera, blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert. An optional Advanced Technology package that includes an 11-speaker JBL premium audio system with a top-down-view parking camera system is also worth considering. We tested the Prius Four Touring model that has a much improved electronics and is loaded with safety features, too, with a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and air-bags most everywhere. My only problem with the new Prius was the white, really white, center console, and losing some rear seat leg room due to the placement of the batteries. Otherwise a really great car. My opinion is that the RAV4 is an excellent all-around family vehicle and the Prius, and I hate to write this, a really fun sedan. Both cars have excellent quality scores.

Dad’s view: The RAV 4 hybrid is all wheel drive and is the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class. The ride is excellent and, best of all, aggressive pricing makes it difficult to pass by for bargain hunters. The brakes take a bit to get used to as they are regenerative, but almost all hybrids have a similar feel. The RAV4 has the same system as Lexus NX uses and it shows. This is the best hybrid in its class for cargo and mileage. The ride is smooth and fairly quiet, but can be rough over tax-money deprived roads Driving the hybrid is enjoyable once you get used to the thrust the electric motors provide. All in all the RAV4 is a tidy SUV with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motors front and rear and a continuously variable transmission. The result is 194 horsepower SUV that uses front-wheel drive in normal operation, but automatically engages the electrically driven rear wheels when needed. In other words, a perfect vehicle for readers who want to be prepared for whatever nature throws at them while still being fuel frugal. The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine aided by a pair of electric motor/generators. Using the console mounted power button maximizes thrust making it easier to pass and merge. In fact, it is addicting. However, the best feature in this new Prius is its improved brakes, suspension and driving dynamics. My choice would be the Prius because it is fun to drive and consistently get 50 plus mpg. With its 11 gallon gas tank full of unleaded a 500 mile trip will cost under $25 and no TSA waiting line.

Young working girls’ view: Neither car is beautiful, but both have an inner beauty and that is reliability. The RAV4 is spacious and honest and doesn’t try to fool you into thinking you are driving a luxury car. I found the Prius too difficult to get into with its lower entry and the unique center gauge placement wasn’t to my taste. The RAV4 hybrid was much easier and, with certain options, was a breeze to park. I would definitely get Toyota Safety Sense that includes collision alert, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, radar cruise control and more. I really liked the intelligent park assist that can be used for both perpendicular and parallel parking especially living in a parking challenged city. The cargo space is very generous and rear seat room was ample. A perfect SUV for a single or young family who love to travel winter or summer.
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Young working male’s view: Both hybrids are loaded with electronic choices that make option selections difficult. For example, one package includes larger wheels, parking senors, and heated seats. No substitutions allowed. One thing I would get is Toyota’s Entune with the bigger 7-inch screen, smartphone-connected services,and a navigation. Not the best, but much improved, and make sure you get help with the set-up and tie-in with your cell phone. As much as I liked the vastly improved Prius driveability, the RAV just appealed to me more for its usefulness.

RAV4 Interior

RAV4 Interior

Family conference: Loaded with safety features, both priced similarly, the choice between the RAV 4 and Prius Touring hybrids is basically perception. Are you bold enough to make the Prius your daily driver or does the utility of the RAV4 hold sway. Either way they are unique and family friendly.

Audi A7 vs. Lexus LS 460
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Two expensive luxury vehicles with quiet energy, amply girth, and the newest in electronic aids offer buyers a radically different choice in sedans in the upper $70,000 range. For as much as the basics are the same, the manufacturers clearly have two different buyers in mind. The Lexus LS is lush with comfort and effortless performance in mind. The Audi A7 is ready to play and offers passengers a stunning interior and an exterior that are contemporary and eye-catching. The Audi is sleek with substance and style the Lexus LS is conservative with comfort and solitude in mind. So we have two exceedingly contrasting tacts on luxury sedans that offer consumers a rich choice.

Lexus LS

Lexus LS

Audi A7

Performance
We tested the Audi A7’s 333 horsepower, supercharged, V6 engine and it was very responsive, nearly turbine like in feel. The Audi came with with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission. Acceleration to 60 mph came in under six seconds and delivered well over 25 mpg in mixed driving. Our rear-drive Lexus LS was powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 386 horsepower, although all-wheel drive is an option. An eight-speed transmission is standard. The Lexus is a little slower and gets about 21 mpg in mixed driving. Both engines are serene and smooth. Advantage Audi 7 based on its better fuel mileage and quicker performance.

Interior
Audi has a knack for creating beautiful interiors and its infotainment system is easy to master with
a dash-mounted pop-up screen as well as knob and buttons on the center console and a touchpad that enables you to use handwriting. Not the easiest system, but works quickly. Audi Connect offers mobile WiFi for several devices. The best feature is a navigation system that uses Google Earth data. The GPS is fairly easy to operate. The slope of the sedan’s roof does limit rear headroom some, but legroom is generous. The trunk is large and the rear seats fold down. There are lots of storage areas and the interior is understated and useful without being garish. Audi has standard quad-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, an 8-inch display screen, navigation, and two USB ports. The Lexus is quietly elegant with exceptional materials and fit. A computer mouselike devise controls a variety of functions displayed on the giant 12.3-inch monitor. It is a little complicated, but can be mastered easily with practice. Trunk space is a bit shy of the Audi’s but quite ample. The Lexus rear seats do not fold down. Advantage Lexus based on monitor size and improved electronics.
Safety features
We always recommend getting every safety feature you can afford and the Audi offers a plethora of items including adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, a night vision camera, a corner-view camera, forward collision warning with automatic braking, antilock disc brakes, stability control, a blind-spot warning system, front and rear parking sensors, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags, rear side airbags, and a Pre-Sense Plus system that can tighten the seatbelts and apply the brakes in an impending crash. Good brakes just add to the secure feeling the A7 offers. Not to be outdone, the Lexus LS offers nearly identical safety features with rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control which can also prepare the vehicle for potential crashes. Good brakes and crash scores and even top scores for rear passenger whiplash protection are Lexus attributes Advantage: tie.
Driving
The Audi is very much a driver’s car with your choose of Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual settings. The A7 has a great feel to it, handles well, and has enough grunt to make passing less stressful. Add to this its exceptional fuel mileage, ample trunk, and good looks makes it a top luxury car sedan pick. The Lexus LS is quiet, reassuring, and has an huge centrally located monitor. It isn’t as quick as the Audi, but plenty fast overall. The build quality, exceptional customer reviews and top ranking for Lexus owners make it a safe bet. If you want more “feel” just use the Drive Mode Select knob that can alter engine, suspension and steering settings to your mood or you can opt for the F model which offers a sportier feel. Advantage Audi.
Family conference: Comparing the Lexus to the Audi put us in a quandary because they are so different and yet appeal to the same socioeconomic luxury sedan buyer. The Lexus is quiet, spacious, and gentle. You want to sit back and relax during your travels, the LS can do that with ease. And with dealer service ratings at the top of the grid, it means ownership can be even more relaxing. If you want a bit more attention and a bit more sport in your daily drives, the Audi A7 can provide that dish and throw in some great gas mileage as well. Some notable differences are that the Lexus has a tidier turning radius making parking easier in tight situations. Audi has a shorter powertrain warranty, 50,000/4years to the Lexus 70,000/6years and the fuel tank is larger. The Audi’s hatchback design makes it easier to haul larger items and the variety of engines the A7 comes with can also alter its personality with your mood from the base 333 V6 to the optional Audi RS 7 that generates upwards of 560 horsepower, but that’s another story. Bottom line: The Audi A7 is trendy, exciting, and tempting. The Lexus LS 460 is old school, but not old. It does everything well and doesn’t make a fuss. Advantage consumer.

BMW X1 vs Lexus NX Hybrid
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Family oriented compact utility vehicles are the hottest segment of the industry now with the emphasis on compact. The BMW X1 xDrive 28i and Lexus NX hybrid fit this description well with both falling in the $40,000 plus range when well equipped and offering seating for five. The main difference between the two in terms of driving is that the X1 has a sports car feel to it and the Lexus offers a more cushy ride. The NX gets superior fuel mileage the BMW offers more fun for those miles. One caveat and that the theses two are not as spacious as their big brothers, the BMW X3 and Lexus RX, but cost thousands less.
bmw

lexusnx

As vehicle manufactures move to find better ways to meet the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), four-cylinder are becoming more popular as they offer more efficiency with nearly the same performance. Both of these vehicles have these engines although our Lexus NX was a hybrid with additional electric power that adds nearly $5000 to the price, but has more features as well as averaging nearly 32 miles per gallon in daily driving. What sets them apart is everything else. The Lexus is more refined, quieter, and has a more upscale interior. The BMW is sportier, friskier, and handles better.

Mother’s view: The BMW X1 xDrive28i was more rough and ready. The interior noise was significant with the optional run-flat tires, but it was quite agile and simple to park. The Lexus was a bit more portly, but the interior was nicer. Both cars have nearly identical interior space with the X1 getting a slight nod for room. The BMW X1 comes standard with stability and traction control, airbags nearly everywhere, an emergency communication system and more. Make sure to order such options as frontal collision warning and lane departure warnings among other life saving devises. The Lexus offers similar safety features and has excellent crash safety ratings. My choice would be the NX for its nicer interior although the BMW’s navigation and axillary controls were easier for me to master.

Dad’s view: The BMW X1 comes with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 228 horsepower and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission with a standard all-wheel-drive system. The engine is noisy, but productive and I could get 30 mpg in highway driving. The Lexus hybrid gets even better mileage from its 2.5 liter engine with hybrid boost. There are enough option packages for both vehicles to muddle the differences between wants and needs. I would strongly suggest you do your homework once you have narrowed down your choice as options can quickly add $10,000 to the bottom line. My selection would be the Lexus NX hybrid for daily use, but if you enjoy a vehicle that handles the BMW ranks just below a Porsche in fun per mile.

Working woman’s view: The BMW has some nice standard features such as a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, driver memory settings, BMW’s iDrive interface with a touchpad controller, 6.5-inch screen, navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, HD radio, CD player and a USB input. The Premium package adds keyless ignition and entry, hands-free control for the power liftgate, adaptive LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, four-way power lumbar for the front seats and interior ambient lighting. The Technology package offers BMW’s integrated smartphone apps, navigation and an upgraded 8.8-inch display screen. The NX has similar standard features with a larger display screen and a rearview camera. Lexus options include wireless phone charging, navigation with a touchpad controller, voice recognition, a 10-speaker audio system, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning. You can also add the Lexus Enform Remote that allows you to control certain vehicle functions from your smartphone. My choice is the Lexus NX, but not the hybrid version. I don’t drive enough to justify the additional cost of the hybrid. One kudo for the BMW was its smaller turning radius making it easier to maneuver, a larger cargo area and its maintenance free four years or 50,000 mile program.

Young working man’s view: Both vehicles are loaded with electronic goodies such as the BMW iDrive with an integrated touchpad on the main control that lets you draw number inputs and has to be experienced. Lexus Enform remote is handy. The Lexus is fairly quick off the line when its two electric motors kick-in. Both the BMW’s and NX engines shut down at stop lights or when stuck in traffic to save fuel. The NX’s regenerative brakes can be a bit abrupt whereas the X1’s were excellent. The Lexus NX is very car and handles well and is comfortable. The BMW is just plain fun all the time.

Family conference: These two vehicles offer buyers an interesting choice based on their driving habits. The BMW is athletic and never lets you forget that. The optional run-flat tires provoke a lot of road noise and the energetic engine can be raucous. On the other hand the X1 gets excellent fuel mileage and has superior handling and braking. The NX has a distinctive exterior that may be off-putting and gets exceptional gas mileage and provides a cushy ride. With the new Porsche four-cylinder Macan coming to market priced nearly identical this is going to be an even tougher choice.

Hyundai Genesis: Glitz and Glamour
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Hyundai threw everything at their disposal at the Genesis from LED running lights to HID headlights in an effort to attract upscale buyers. The result is a large, smooth, and very quick sedan with a variety of features that are unique and useful. For example, when you enter the vehicle at night the ground outside of front passenger doors is illuminated with a light that reads, “Genesis” and prepares you for what is inside. And what’s inside is plenty good. A multimedia control system, eight-inch touch-screen with an optional 9.2-inch touch-screen, a multifunction display and, thankfully, real knobs that can be used to control functions. There is also a head-up reveal that offers drivers a variety of important data including your speed, a Blue Link communications system that has a voice-recognition program, and even an optional remote start feature.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

With a plethora of features the Genesis is designed to attract buyers who enjoy the idea of a large sedan with the latest in electronics and don’t want to pay for the more expensive competition and not nearly as spacious competition. The downside is that the V6 version only gets 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Handling is best when the Hyundai Sports Mode is activated. If you would rather have a more relaxed ride try Normal, and when stuck in commuter traffic selecting Eco can help ease your pain.

Young male’s view: Working on my degree in cybersecurity and its challenges is not unlike the challenges of the Genesis electronics. Optional systems such as Apple Siri integration that can be used for a variety of internet audio options such as Pandora, the latest traffic information, fuel prices, traffic data and more are nice, but there is also Bluetooth wireless connectivity, satellite radio, a USB, audio jacks, and the list goes on. For example, there is the Smart Trunk feature that automatically opens the trunk when you stand near it with the proximity key in your possession for a few seconds, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and a multi-speaker Lexicon audio system available. There is even a rear window power sunshade and heated steering wheel available. The option packages are the Ultimate, Signature and Technology packages and they can add over $10,000 to the base price to the $38,950 base price. Personally, I would get them all as they add considerably to the joy of owning a premium sedan.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

Dad’s view: We had the 3.8-liter, V6 engine with 311 hp, but you can order the 5.0-liter V8 rated at 420 horsepower and is very fast. There is also an all-wheel-drive option with a V-6. Our rear wheel drive 3.8 test car averaged around 20 mpg in mixed driving a 22 on long trips unburdened by heavy traffic. The EPA has estimates on the highway up to 29 mpg. It could happen. The ride can be best described as lush with little road feel and steering that was vague. The Genesis can be best described as a relaxed sedan that wants to coddle you.

2016 Genesis

2016 Genesis

Mom’s view: The 5.0 Genesis is more expensive, but I would opt for the 3.8. It has as much power as most people need and even in base trim you get heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, real-time traffic alerts, and more. Add to that the tight turning radius at about 38 feet that makes parking very easy and you have an upscale sedan with some remarkable features. For example there are nine air bags most everywhere, including overhead, and a Blue Link crash notification system that provides automatic emergency contact information to those selected by the owner. So very reassuring. The Genesis also has excellent crash scores with a forward-collision warning and autonomous braking set-up systems. Standard featured such as Electronic Stability Control, energy-absorbing front seats, anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution. Other safety options include blind spot warning, with an enhancement called Lane Change Assist that helps detect vehicles approaching towards its rear side at high speeds. The Genesis offers a Land Departure Warning that activates, the vibrates the steering wheel as well as warning lights when the transmission is noted. The Genesis is a sedan you can build to your needs with a strong emphasis on family safety.

Young working woman’s view: A large trunk with a low and wide lift over, a grocery bad holder that folds down, and there is an abundance of storage areas in the cabin and the seats can be heated. The doors are hefty and shut with a reassuring, bank vault sound. Parking is greatly eased with the rearview camera and warnings that abound. This car is a little too much car for me. I prefer the very nice Elantra. I have noticed that Hyundai is offering some excellent lease deals and, as usual, the warranties are exceptional with 10 years or 100,000 on the drivetrain and five years of free roadside assistance.

Family conference: When you think of a premium sedan Hyundai’s Genesis probably does not come to mind, but perhaps it should. It has plenty of pep, enough features to keep a pre-teen busy, and a comfortable and accommodating interior.

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