hybrid


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.
2016_Toyota_Prius_Four_inter

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.

Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

Last Year for Prius Plug-In; Hopefully not Forever
by
The Car Family

Good-Bye Old Friend

Good-Bye Old Friend

Toyota is making some bold moves lately, and we aren’t talking about pulling up stakes in California and moving to Texas, but it ending production of its much loved, but pricey, Prius Plug-In. The 2015 will be the last year for this model as Toyota looks to rethink, redesign, and reimagine what The Car Family believes was the best commuter car you could buy. Period.

To give you an example of what the model provided, it got a real world, daily use, mixed driving use, multiple driver use, 67 mpg average. The electric bill was only $4 extra a month using the off-peak hours feature. And, in some states the Plug-In was eligible for the coveted high occupancy permit saving an average of ten to twenty minutes of travel time on a typical commute. Add to that the high resale value, about 60 percent after three years, the exceptional cargo capacity, ease of loading, and ability to be parked in the smallest of spaces and you have a winner.

That being said, Toyota is facing more competition and is apparently rethinking the extra engineering and cost of a plug-in version to the insanely popular Prius. The cost of this option has already placed the plug-in over $5000 of the price of a Camry hybrid, although the Camry didn’t have the plug-in feature.

We shall miss what Plug-in owners affectionately call the PIP, and wonder how many potential buyers were opt for a non-Toyota product to replace it. One thing for sure, Toyota has weighed that decision well and is apparently willing to gamble that a new, improved version may attract PIP owners back into the fold in a few years. Stay tuned.

Lexus CT 200h: Thrifty, Nimble, and Stylish
For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

An inexpensive Lexus might sound like an oxymoron, but that is what the Lexus CT 200 h is and with it comes the attributes the marque has brought to buyers including vehicle quality and buyer satisfaction ratings that top the charts, as well as a frugality usually associated with the ubiquitous Toyota Prius. Of course, there are some caveats with this Lexus and they are in it diminutive size and it performance. Nevertheless, if you want a good looking hatchback that can get you a combined 42 mpg with the Lexus treatment the CT is your only choice. Helping make it an interesting choice is the utility of its four-door hatchback body style that make it an ideal choice for commuting, runs to the vet, or a weekend escape. 2014_Lexus_CT_200h_020

The CT 200h is very athletic and trim making it capable of being piloted through crowded mall parking lots as well as canyon runs with equal aplomb. Don’t expect exuberant response because the 134 horsepower engine is designed with economy in mind. The good news is that the pricing of this Lexus is exceptional. Indeed, you can acquire this Lexus for less money a well equipped Prius, although the latter may have more interior space and better fuel ratings. The Lexus comes standard with alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors and puddle lamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free technology that connects to select smartphones and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. Options include a Seat Comfort, and Premium, Leather, Navigation package features a rearview camera, voice-controlled navigation system, Display Audio and F Sport package for those who want the go fast look.

Mom’s view: The CT is an interesting four passenger hatchback that has a cool, almost retro look. Very intuitive and its hybrid feature makes commuting effortless. Although the ride height is quite low, the visibility is good and the turning radius tight enough to make U-turns effortless. Safetywise, the Lexus has antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, and airbags everywhere. Lexus’ telematics system automatically provides collision notification, stolen-vehicle location and emergency assistance. Most importantly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CT 200h its highest rating of “Good” in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength, and for whiplash protection. Overall, you get a Lexus that does most everything well at a bargain price.

Dad’s view: Power for the 2015 Lexus CT 200h hybrid isn’t overwhelming, but when the electric motors and gasoline engine are united freeway merging and passing aren’t a concern. The CVT is excellent and keeps the 98-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine on task. Handling is a good as most hybrids, especially the good feel of the steering and brakes. Very competent for what it is. The ride is compliant, but don’t expect the same level of quietness that is in the more expensive Lexus models. Still, it is enjoyable to drive and grows on you. The CT is like a secret that more people should know about as it provides a fun ride with frugality, exceptional suspension, comfort and quality of the Lexus brand without the big bottom line.

Young working woman’s view: The controls are fairly easy to master, but the control for the info-entertainment entries takes a while to learn as it uses a unique mouse-like interface and a joystick to move the cursor on the screen. It provides excellent feel, though. Interestingly, despite its size, the backseat has an amazing amount of leg and head room. The doors, however, are a bit slim so entry wearing a dress requires some practice. The glovebox and door pockets are diminutive, but the backseats can be folded down to provide access to nearly 35 cubic feet of cargo area. I really liked the smoothness of the CT as it switched between electric and gas modes and auto stop-start functions smoothly. BMW and Porsche could learn from Lexus in this regard. You can select three different driving modes from normal for day to day outings, Eco for crowded commuting, and Sport for a more aggressive feel.
2014_Lexus_CT_200h_040

Young married man’s view: Finally got hitched and this would make a fine addition to the family. The CT has several features I admire such where Lexus claimed to use bamboo speaker frames and trim items made from plant materials. Although it looks small, once inside it does not feel that way. With the requirement that all news cars have backup cameras next year I was surprised that this was still part of an option package on the CT. That aside, I found the optional voice-command HDD tilt-screen navigation system with remote controller, the Enform emergency notification system, NavTraffic to be easy to use and quick to respond. The joystick control actually provides feel as you move it about. Very cool.

Family conference: The 2015 Lexus CT 200h is the most affordable Lexus with a starting around $33,000 and we have seen some models well loaded for this price. For that you get a handy little rig that enjoys pleasing its owner whether it is sipping fuel, parking in the smallest of spaces, or just making you proud every time you enjoy the many luxury features. A great way to reduce your carbon footprint, too.

Priusization of the Nation: How Toyota Changed the World

by The Car Family

for more car reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

It started fairly innocuous with Toyota’s introduction of the Prius in 2000. It was ugly, underpowered and cramped, but the technology and fuel mileage were stunning for the price. The word was that Toyota was losing money on each sale and still many took one look and walked away from the nearly $20,000 pricing. After all gas was $1,40. The Prius was ignored by the major publications because it was slow, fairly plain looking and, let’s face it, Toyota wasn’t backing it with much advertising.   Since we test vehicles from a family viewpoint we immediately made it our car of the year and sent Toyota our award, the only automobile journalists that did so.

Unsure of the potential of the Prius, Toyota only ordered 1000 units per month for the first two years and this gave wings to the company’s planners and so  in 2004 they introduced the much sleeker, for  Prius. This second generation and model was again a sales success and today the Prius is the number one seller in the number one market in the United States, California. As Sam Butto of Toyota pointed out, ” I think the name Prius was, and is, perfect for the vehicle as Prius in Latin means to go forward, suggesting it is a predecessor of cars to come. And indeed it was a fortuitous choice.
 

1998001_2001_Prius_color-prv

Prius becomes a Household Name

 Today, nearly 15 years later, the term Prius and the idea of the Prius has enveloped the nation. Jokes such as the movement of the space shuttle Discovery through the streets of Los Angeles at Prius speeds are understood, something that was unheard of before Toyota took the bold leap to bring mass produced family hybrids to the world.

Ferdinand Porsche, yes that Porsche, developed the first gasoline-electric hybrid in the early 1900s and diesel electric hybrid locomotives have been around for generations, but it took Toyota to take the risk of bringing to market a vehicle that by all standards was a money loser and no one outside of the Sierra Club and Greenpeace were worried too much about the environment at the time.

Perhaps an even greater hurdle was the demise of General Motors’ all electric EV-1. It had a short driving range and a shorter lifespan. The Car Family thought the EV-1 was a stellar idea with regenerative braking, a quiet ride, and about 70 miles of power if you weren’t using the fast lane. The problem for the Prius was that people assumed future vehicles that used battery power were all plug-ins with a short range because of the EV1 legacy. This range worry was carried over to the Prius by the uniformed and thus Toyota’s product languished for a while. Honda sold a few of its sleek Insights, a two-seater hybrid, but despite their excellent fuel economy, the lack of storage and comfort rendered it ineffective in cultivating consumer interest.

006_2010ft_Prius-thmb

In 2000, Toyota only sold around six thousand Prius sedans, but the word was getting out that the Prius was a money saver and kind to the environment. Slowly sales increased driven largely by word of mouth and gas prices increasing to over $3.50. The result was sales of over 100,000. Today, Toyota is selling that many in six months and the demand is staggering even, with steady price increases. You can still buy a standard liftback Prius for just over $22,000, but many buyers are moving upscale to the solar roof paneled 5 model and even to the fully loaded Advanced Plug-in that list for around $40,000. The hot selling base Plug-In with the optional white paint, is the most coveted of all bringing premium pricing and why not with real world gas mileage figures easily topping 65 mpg.

Other Manufacturers Motivated to Join

 What is even more dramatic is that this Priusization of the nation has yielded to the public a choice of over 60 hybrid vehicles now and they include everything from a Porsche SUV to a Honda sports coupe. Toyota is upping the ante with the possibility of making all of their vehicles available with a hybrid option. This is not only driven by consumer demand, but by pending corporate fuel economy standards that will force automobile companies to have cars averaging over 50 mpg in the near future. That reality is augmented by the fact the steady surge in demand has carved out a lucrative consumer  niche for hybrids that can’t be ignored.  That belief is cemented by the fact that over five million hybrids have been sold around the world with Toyota earned profits on four million of those. And Americans buy the most.

Prius

Prius

The Prius has also established itself as a vehicle to be owned by environmental leaders and this clout puts pressure on other manufactures to keep pace. It also helped  prompt the government to give federal tax breaks. Progressive states also  adopted this policy and even offer owners the privilege of driving in the high occupancy lanes.

The Priusization has brought energy patriotism into vogue by reducing the United State’s dependence on imported oil. In 2012, 12,778,885 vehicles were sold and the average fuel economy was around 23 mpg. If even about 25 percent of these were a Prius the total gas burned would be reduced by over 40 percent. Of course, that is unrealistic, but it does show the potential that Priusization offers. And, just as importantly, the pressure it puts on other manufactures to compete by producing more efficient engines. Indeed, almost very hybrid now offered uses some of the basic ideas that Toyota helped bring to the public.

Finally, the Prius has become a cult favorite for both movie stars and those that want to fly their We Care colors. And today that cult is expanding as more families are tempted to test drive these sedans and find there is plenty of room, good performance–thanks to the Power button, and the ability to take 450 mile journeys without refueling. It is when they refuel the the real magic occurs as the Prius only uses about nine gallons of gas to  travel 450 or more miles. This creates expectations for other manufacturers to meet. In 2010 there was only one non-diesel, non-hybrid car that could get over 40 mpg on the highway. Today there are seven non-hybrids, 21 hybrids, and three plug-in cars that better that mark and there is little doubt that the Prius pushed these manufacturers into spending the funds to meet the competition and even tickled the German companies to expand their diesel powered line-ups.

The Real Meaning of Prius

The world Prius has also entered the media with terms such as Prius Progressives, and Prius Politics gaining immediate understanding. As well, the idea of the Prius as an environmental statement has now been somewhat overwhelmed by its practicality and utility appeal. Driving a Prius is no longer just seen as being caring, but pragmatic as well. Cities, such as Rancho Cucamonga are placing electric plug-in outlets at parks and businesses are buying Prius in fleet quantities. The reason is simple, the government is allowing 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, When you consider that the Prius can cost well under ten cents a mile and has very high resale you have an exceptional, and legal, tax benefit. And if you own a plug-in and use your business to charge the batteries the energy used is a business expense, too. Makes one wonder how long it will take before the government makes a Prius regulation for tax allowances.

In America only a few words have gone from proper noun to noun or genericized trademarks. “Crescent wrench, Kleenex, Xerox, Q-tip, Coke, and Jello to name a few. In the automobile world,this list includes brands such as Cadillac for quality, Rolls Royce for wealth, Jeep for off-roadability, and Edsel for poor value are some.  Joining this list now is Prius, the only vehicle in the modern era that has not only created an image, but a car whose name has joined popular lexicon for frugality, environmental concern, and yes, even slow moving.

For a list of all manufacture websites go to

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Best 2013 SUVs for Gas Mileage

by The Car Family

For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

 First, SUVs by their nature are not fuel frugal. They are heavy and have a significant wind drag. Some manufacturers have even gone so far as to put larger gas tanks in them to provide the illusion that you are getting better mileage because the fuel gauge is slower to move. However, fuel weighs 8.6 pounds per gallon and thus the added weight diminishes mileage as well.

 Furthermore, SUVs are not as safe as minivans in most cases due to their height. Indeed SUVs are involved in more single vehicle accidents. That being said, If you really need a SUV there are some that get reasonable mileage.

 Our strongest recommendation is for what is called a crossover, which means it was built on a passenger car frame. Next, unless you travel frequently in inclement weather, two wheel drive provides better mileage and less maintenance. If you may need to carry six or eight passengers the three row SUVs are obviously your choice, but take the time to see how difficult it is to get into that third row.

 Combining price, mileage and family friendlessness we have come up with our top 15. This is the list of the best SUVs under $50,000 and almost all of them run on regular fuel.

 BMW X1 is a good handling, handy sized SUV that gets 24 mpg city / 33 mpg hwy and has a MSRP of $30,650. If it fits, a best buy for those who want a bit of fun in their daily treks.

 The Buick Encore is a good value, with lots of standard features, this Buick is a quiet ride, very sedate, and offers a rating of 25 mpg city / 33 mpg hwy for a MSRP: $25,010.

The Chevrolet Equinox/ GMC Terrain have excellent cargo space and a host of available safety features. Plenty of poke for a MSRP: $25,800 and 22 mpg city / 32 mpg hwy.

Redone for 2013, the Escape is listed with a MSRP: $22,470 and rated at 22 mpg city / 31 mpg hwy. Ford does not allow us to tests it vehicles so we can’t offer insights into its family usefulness. For the same money or less you can get a none hybrid SUV with better fuel figures.

Basically the same as last year, the 21 mpg city /30 mpg hwy rated Ford Edge is listed at a MSRP: $34,940 and is closely related to the Lincoln MKX. Again, Ford does not allow us to test its vehicles so we can’t offer any opinion. The pricing puts it in the near luxury category. Check Ford’s reliability record first.

The 2013 Honda CR-V has a MSRP: $24,795 and its four-cylinder engine yields a 23 mpg city / 31 mpg hwy average. Sadly, Honda, as Ford, does not allow us to test its products and so we can’t comment on this SUVs usefulness. However, in the past it has been a good value. We do know that the Toyota RAV has been redone and gets the same or better fuel mileage at a slightely lower suggested price.

 We love Hyundai vehicles for their value, warranty, and features and the Tucson is no exception. There are well thought out design ideas everywhere and the base price is $20,245. Be warned that you must come to the dealer having done your homework because there are several models and numerous features. Gas mileage ratings of 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy

The 2013 Kia Sorento is being built in the USA and is a big seller. Why? Lots of interior room, features, and a MSRP: $26,950 are some, but the 21 mpg city / 30 mpg hwy is just as important.

 Kia’s Sportage has a list price under $20,000 and a 20 mpg city / 27 mpg hwy rating. If you order the turbocharged engine expect less.

Here is a winner with a starting price in the low $20,000 range and the Mazda CX-5 compact crossover segment is rated between 31 – 35 mpg, bettering the hybrids. Lots of options so do your homework and don’t expect V8 performance or towing capability.

 We like the well priced Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with its 25 mpg city / 31 mpg hwy averages and a base price in the law $20,000s. This is an outstanding handling SUV and should be on your consideration list if there is a dealer in your area. Surprisingly nimble.

 Ford’s Escape Hybrid used to be among our favorites, but it is has a totally different feel and pricing from $30,570. For that you get a top ten fuel efficient SUV with a city average of up to 34 mpg and a highway rating about 31. There are a lot of non-hybrids that get have the same mileage rating and have a lower starting price. The Escape is bigger in every way.

 Lexus RX 450 is expensive, but worth it with high resale, excellent reliability and a tremendous number of luxury features for the $46,310 to $47,710 listed price. You can achieve about 32 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. Easily the best luxury SUV for gas mileage, features, and user ratings. If you want something less costly and with fewere fringes try the Toyota Highland Hybrid with an overall 28 mpg rating and a price range that starts around $39,000. Both of these SUVs come with less expensive non-hybrid versions that average about 22 mpg.

The Mini Countryman isn’t really a SUV in the traditional sense. It is smaller, lighter on its feed, and a lot more fun to drive and park. Prices range from $20,000 to $34,850 and you can easily achieve 30 mpg and more if you can restrain yourself. Yes, all wheel drive is available.
The Nissan Juke is a sporty crossover that looks a bit strange, but that is its charm. As well as a 29 mpg average and a starting price just under $20,000. Very fun to drive and no slouch in terms of performance.

Mazda’s CX-5 lists from $20,995 to $28,595 and you can average 30 mpg in mixed driving without much effort. A good handling machine, as are most Mazdas, this Mazda costs less, handles better and gets superior gas mileage to the Ford Escape hybrid. It does not have the same cargo space. If you are serious about gas mileage, this is the one.

Don’t underestimate the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and its that can get around 27 mpg in mixed driving. This SUV is both fuel efficient, enjoyable to drive, and a bargain with a starting price under $19,000. Great deals abound.

Also among the most efficient SUVs and another bargain, the Hyundai Tucson with its base engine and starting price of just over $19,000 can get you government gas mileage ratings of 23 City/31 Hwy. A tough crossover, this Hyundai has an excellent warranty and has plenty of features.

Subaru XV Crosstrek lists for $21,995–$24,495 and offers all wheel drive while still getting government ratings of 23 to 33 in city and highway driving. If you want more room and have a can spend a little more money try the Subaru Outback with a combined 26 mpg.

Toyota RAV4 24 miles per gallon city, and 31 mpg on the highway cycle with front-wheel-drive models and a starting price about $24,000. This is an all new vehicle and it is undercuts the Honda CR-V on pricing and beats it on gas mileage. If you don’t test these two back to back you are making a big mistake if you are in the market for a name brand crossover.

There you have it. Our recommendations are simple. The Chevrolet offers the best fuel mileage and interior room for the price. The Mazda products are fun and get excellent gas mileage, and the Lexus RX 450 is the Queen of this list. As for the new BMW X1, it could be your best bet if you watch your options and don’t need the interior space of the larger vehicles on this list. If you need all wheel drive the Subarus are a great choice.

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

Kia vs. Hyundai: Looks are Everything

by

The Car Family

for more reviews go to

http://blog.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

Forget what your mother told you, looks are everything. At least that is the case when it comes to comparing these two Korean built hybrids. Although there are small differences in features, interior appointments, and cost, they both have the same DNA. The result is a win-win for buyers who just might want to ignore outward appearances and go for the best deal. We liked the handling of the Kia and the ride of the Hyundai, but there were only minor differences.

As for real world driving, both cars have the same powertrain, the same hesitancy when shifting between electric and gasoline power, and abundance of standard features. These cars can easily take you to Las Vegas and back and still have enough fuel for a trip or two to Angel Stadium. They are rated at 40 mpg on the highway, but expect 35 mpg if you don’t stick to the posted speed limits.

The sedans use a 2.4-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine, complemented by an electric drive system using a 34-kilowatt lithium polymer battery pack that weighs just 96 pounds. The combined 204 horsepower is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The real surprise is that the Sonata’s battery pack has been given a lifetime warranty, according to Hyundai. That is remarkable as most battery packs cost several thousand dollars and another thousand to install.

As a full hybrids these cars can use either the gas engine, the electric motor, or both, and don’t require plug-in charging. They have a fairly tidy turning radius and visibility is good to the front and sides. The rear vision is more limited. There is an abundance of standard equipment, which has become the hallmark of this manufacture. Our test vehicle had the optional traffic data system that provides suggestions for detours when traffic is blocked. You can even get voice command. There is a lot of technology here that rivals the much more expensive Ford products, the these cars have superior warranties.

Mom’s view: I didn’t like the hick-up I felt when the computer software didn’t seem to know which gear and which mode, electric or gas or both, to use when freeway driving. It doesn’t take long to get become acclimatized to it, but the Toyota’s are smoother. Interestingly, the car could revert to electric only mode even when cruising on the freeway. The interiors are very different and I liked the Sonata’s better. However, it is a matter of taste and the fit and finish were excellent for the price for the Kia and the Hyundai. You lose some trunk room because of the battery placement,but that is the only negative (pun intended). Roomy, family friendly, and with an excellent warranty, it is difficult to resist especially with the Kia/Hyundai legendary warranty. A worthy effort.

Dad’s view: The Kia wants to play, the Hyundai would prefer you stayed on the freeway and enjoyed the ride. Simply pressing a button puts the car into “Blue Drive” which means the software is doing all it can to increase miles per gallon. The accelerator pedal felt a little softer in this mode, but I didn’t notice much difference other than that. Lithium polymer battery packs are expensive, we know, we have been into electric powered vehicles for nearly a decade now. That Hyundai warranty takes a lot of the fear out of hybrid ownership. Although we like Toyota’s hybrid line-up better, it does not offer the unique options these sedans offer or the trendy styling. These cars should be on test drive list if you need a one car does it all sedan.

 

Young working man’s view: The electronics are first rate and the Infiniti audio system and the Bluetooth capabilities are going to tax your teenager’s patience as they provide such an array of choices from phone to music to traffic. Now which one gets the priority? I think we know. I like the Kia best. The looks grab you, and the interior is a little, ah, more youthful. The 4.3-inch color LC D touch screen, rear view camera and voice recognition are all worthwhile. These are truly unique hybrids.

Working woman’s view: I like the ouch sensitive screen and the fact you can get five adults in without much hassle. The Eco scoring system must be seen. It sort of makes driving the car efficiently like a computer game. The seats are a bit thin on padding, but easy to adjust. The ergonomics are first rate. These cars made you feel comfortable when you are driving. Almost everywhere you look there are thoughtful touches such as an abundance of storage nooks. They even have an engine sound system that lets pedestrians know you are coming when the car is running in its siletn electric mode. I also liked the heated and cooled seats, excellent crash scores, and the many standard safety features. A feel good car.

Family conference: There are alternatives, such as the Toyota Prius and the newly redone Camry hybrid, but for fuel economy and standard features the Kia and Hyundia should be on anyone’s short list of family oriented hybrids. Before you drive on check out the manufacture websites so that you can see the option packages. However, in the end, as always, it will probably be the looks that seals the decision. Sorry, Mom.

For vehicle websites go to

http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

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