safety


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.

Fire Safety and Bulletin Boards: What is the Law?
By Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame
For more free education news go to http://reacheverychild.com/blog/2014/not-so-secret-formula-improves-writing

Sadly, one of the great traditions of most classrooms are paper decorations. Sometimes, these are even hung from the ceilings as well as available walls. The reason that it is sad is for two reasons. First, it is probably against the law. Secondly, teachers have probably spent a great deal of their time and own money to decorate the bulletin boards. Making the classroom meet fire regulations does not mean it has to be without decoration if the teacher uses fire retardant materials that meet the fire code. With the emphasis on quality the postings l should relate to the current topic or items used throughout the year such as steps to writing an essay, classroom rules, or how to solve an equation postings. Again, unless the student has done the work on fire resistant paper it must fall within the fire regulations in terms of space allowed for such postings.

Another area of concern is upholstered furniture in the classroom. It is not recommended unless it has been treated. Open flames are also a concern. I have seen many classrooms where the teacher has tried ot make the room more user friendly and placed sofas so that the students could have a more home-like atmosphere to read or work. Unless these have been teated these may be illegal, according to the fire code.

One of my most popular blogs was a listing of how to decorate bulletin boards with photos from teachers around the country. You can still see many teachers who have posted them on sites such as Instagram or Pinterest. Take a long look at these and you can see how talented teachers, but also remind yourself that a bulletin board must be legal. I am not telling you to tear down your bulletin boards, I am providing you with the law and you need to check with your administrator to see if it is the same in your community.

I don’t want to be a kill-joy about this issue and some teachers have voiced their concerns:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2003/09/04/new_fire_codes_dampen_classroom_decor/
But the reality is that safety is the overriding concern and there is still space allowed for decorations. This district uses 20 percent as a legal figure http://www.kimberly.edu/index.php/staff-resources/161-classroom-safety.html

Here are some sites that I recommend you or your administrator check. Please note this posting:
“Flammable material coverage. No more than 25% of any wall in a classroom shall be covered with a flammable material. In a corridor there may be only a 4 foot by 8 foot section of a corridor wall covered, with a 50 foot separation of wall space between each section.”

Making it Acceptable

Despite this there may be a way to make your classroom acceptable to the Fire Marshall. It is called fire-retardant chemicals or paper. Of course, you need to check with an administrator who needs to check with the fire officials, but it could make your bulletin boards compliant. Naturally there is a cost which, hopefully, the district should absorb. There are also variety of fire retardant paper that can be used.
http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/teachers-14291-chemicals-victorville.htm

Or you can try and make fire resistant paper yourself.I have not done this so you are on your own.
http://makezine.com/2012/11/12/how-to-fireproof-paper/

Fire Restrictions on Classrooms

A school district site with a listing of fire rules
http://www.grand.k12.ut.us/district/fire.htm

This is a listing of rules for various states and includes rules on door locking.
Most of these links are printable.
http://www.ncef.org/rl/fire_safety.cfm

Warnings about upholstered furniture in classrooms and more
http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/insurance/faq/riskcontrol/

From North Carolina
http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/insurance/faq/riskcontrol/

Here is a list of ways to get most out of legal bulletin board space
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/733

Listen to Your Dog: Safety and Travel Ideas

by The Car Family

For more reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/carfamily

dog1

Diary Entry 21000.7

I have asked my care giver for a walk or ride every day this week without luck. I have tried to remind him that the new Persian carpet is tempting, but he has ignored my threats. I have developed new plan: guilt.

Dairy Entry 210001.8

After reading about the Jewish Guilt Syndrome I have decided to give it a try. I think it has a good chance since Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide this year, probably for the last time in a million dog years. I have practiced my beaten dog look in front of the floor length mirror. I just have to remember not to be saucy.

Diary Entry 21000.9

It almost worked. He fetched my leash, checked two websites for good places to walk when suddenly the plan fell apart. Apparently, the Center for Pet Safety researched dog restraints and only one model they tested passed and I didn’t have it. On the other hand, the big guy did promise he would buy one. In the meantime, he grabbed a handful of his fast depleting cache of plastic grocery bags and took me for a walk around the neighborhood.  It felt good to make my marks in and proud to be a quadruped.

latkahask

Diary Entry 21001.0

Life is good. I saw the big guy looking for ideas where to take me. I decided to help out and suggested he use the Yelp website. I love that name. He typed in the name of our city and asked for dog walks and out came the results with reviews and even photos.

I was pushing for the Cold Creek Trail and he caught my drift and agreed. Better yet, he ordered me the highly rated harness that The Center for Pet Safety mentioned. All I can say is that after looking at the restraint he bought me I was glad to be color blind. Oh, he did mention that since I was pushing a (muscular) 60 pounds that if I was not correctly fastened I could become a 2700 pound projectile if the car was in a crash doing 35 mph. I could have lived without that image. No wonder a thrash my legs when I nap.

Best Dog Friendly Cars

Diary Entry 21011.2

A new scent in the garage. I had noticed that the recycle bin had been especially full of colorful brochures of late and I can recognize images of cars. Good grief, I chased my share of them before I was picked-up by animal control and neutralized. Luckily, my new caretakers rescued me before long and here I am writing this post, which in my case, is a very clever title from a dog’s standpoint. Anyway, he narrowed the decision to three. The Mazda 5 is fairly inexpensive with easy to open slider doors and a low hop over entry height. I also liked the air outlets for the second row and the gas mileage was exceptional. The Mitsubishi Outlander has a third row of seats that can be folded down to provide ample storage space for a dog crate. This bargain priced SUV was another finalist until I advised the big guy that being in a crate wasn’t such a good idea as I could still be tossed around during an accident despite the 30 plus miles per gallon rating and noteworthy pricing. The same could be seen for the underrated Dodge Journey. Great value, plenty of features and room, and surprisingly easy to buckle-up in.  The finalist, much to my delight, was a Subaru Forester. Coincidentally, Subaru has several dog friendly options and sponsors The Center for Pet Safety. The Forester was fun to ride in and the all wheel drive opened up the possibility of reaching more adventurous trails. It also carried a 22/29 mpg rating. The elevated seating made it easier for me to check on what other dogs were cruising. And trust me, there were a lot of dogs, if you get my scent. My keeper loved the hill holder feature that held the car motionless on grades even with a stick shift, enabling the Subaru to start jerk free. And being jerk free is always a good thing. By the way, the local Ontario Subaru dealer refused to let me have my picture taken in at the dealership. We walked around the block and the Mazda dealership was happy to let us there. Thank you Romero Mazda and move Mazda into the top spot for dealer friendliness.

Best People Gift

Diary : Today

I decided to splurge on a gift for my keepers and pointed out the MapMyDogWalk free app to them. It tracks the distance I drag them, locates dog parks and they can even share my deeds with others. In the meantime, I think I’ll go outside and sniff around for Tribbles.

For free teaching materials go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/

outlanderside                                             2013 Mazda5

Mitsubishi Outlander                                                         Mazda 5

029_2014ForesterXT

2013 Dodge Journey

Subaru Forester                                                    Dodge Journey

Traffic Laws that Need to Be Enforced: Large SUVs are illegal on residential streets.

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

There are a variety of driving laws that were written, passed, and need to be enforced as per the State Constitution. As such, all Hummer H2s, Ford Excursions, Lincoln Navigators and other large SUVs are illegal to drive on the streets of most communities who limit the amount a vehicle can weigh to use such roads to 6000 pounds. In addition, those vehicles and others that weigh over 6000 pounds are illegal to drive on the Pasadena Freeway, according to Cal Trans. That’s right; no large SUV can use the Pasadena Freeway legally. And we are talking about the Gross vehicle weight rating which means that almost all large SUVs are not allowed on residential streets pretty much everywhere.

Too Heavy for Residential Streets


Get these top heavy, polluting, parking lot hogs out of residential areas and into the commercial zones where they belong. It also makes you wonder why these rapidly depreciating SUVs shouldn’t be considered trucks due to their weight and size and have their freeway speeds reduced. This would make it safer for all concerned.

Driving with fog or driving lights on is against the law except during inclement weather. The police need to stop and ticket those drivers as per the law. A vehicle may be equipped with not more than two fog lamps mounted on the front which may be used in addition to the headlights only when there is fog, rain, snow, smoke, or dust, reduce the daytime or nighttime visibility of other vehicles to less than 500 feet. It is not legal to drive with driving lights or fog lights on at any other time. Driving with more than your headlights on is against the law and shows disrespect for others who may be blinded by these lights

When two auxiliary lights are installed, one shall be mounted at the left side and one at the right side at the same level and as close as practical to the sides. When one lamp is installed, it shall be mounted as close as practical to the left side or on the center of the vehicle.

You must have your headlights on when you have your windshield wipers on. That is the law and it is a good one. Using a vehicle’s headlights increases visibility during inclement weather. Low beam headlamps shall be used when following another vehicle within 300 feet. In addition, you must turn on your headlights no later then 30 minutes after sunset and keep them on until 30 minutes after sunrise.

A license plate must be on the front and back of every vehicle. Period. And you can’t cover the license plate with a devise intended to obstruct or impede the reading of the plate.

A driver may not stop in a crosswalk for a red light.
 
On one-lane roads the vehicle going downhill must yield 
to the vehicle going uphill while the ascending vehicle is on a grade.
 
U-turns are prohibited in a business district
except at intersections or through openings
in a divided roadway. 
 
Turn signals are required 100 feet turning. 
 
Vehicles shall be stopped or parked, where
permitted, with the right-hand wheels
within 18 inches of the right-hand curb.
 
The operator of a private motor vehicle is
responsible for the use of seat belts or
child’s seats for all passengers.

You cannot smoke while driving with anyone under the
age of 17 in the vehicle.
 
It is not legal to display, install, or attach
anything to a windshield or rear windows
except for the 7-inch square in the lower corner
of the windshield or rear window
or a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the
windshield nearest the driver.
 
It is against the law to use a cell phone that does
not have hands free operation. It is also dangerous
to use cell phones at any time as they distract and
are a leading cause of accidents. Those under
18 cannot use cell phones regardless.

It is illegal to drive too slowly and block traffic or create a road hazard.

At night all bicycles must have a front and rear light as well as reflectors on the pedals or on the riders shoes or ankles.

Finally, in California if you see a gasoline powered vehicle that is smoking you can report it to the South Coast Air Quality Control Board and the owner will receive a notice of the incident by calling 1-800-CUT-SMOG. This is a very valuable tool, as sometimes the owner may not know the vehicle needs repair.

For a list of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business

Most Reliable Vehicles

By The Car Family

 

For more reviews go to

http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/best-new-cars-for-2008/

For free educational materials go to

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

For a list of all vehicle websites go to

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

Gas mileage drastically improves if you are being towed. Other than that there is very little to recommend a vehicle that gets great fuel figures but costs you money at resale due to buyer worries about reliability. Add to that fact that just one problem could erase all the savings in gas over the lifetime of the car. Thus Consumer Reports has supplied their list of the most dependable vehicles. I have never been a fan of Consumer Reports since we followed their ratings for buying several household appliances only to have them require sufficient work. That might not be the fault of Consumer Reports. What might be the problem is that once a company gets a high rating and sales increase they start cutting corners on the tested products.

Here are Consumer Reports top picks and our assessment based on models up to 2007.

Mercedes continues to battle with quality problems in some models as their M Class ranks as the most unreliable vehicle. We find that the best Mercedes product is the E Class, especially with the diesel or Bluetec engine. We also feel that they have made considerable progress the last two years.

Price appears to have little relevance to quality and old myths are shattered when you look at the data that reveals that the Lincoln Zephyr was nearly as reliable as the always reliable ES 350. In fact, if you want to buy a good used car a 1995 Lexus ES is the one to have. Outstanding gas mileage and exceptional reliability. They have oil leaks and thin leather seats but for under $3000 you are probably going to get 300,000 miles.

Ford continues to improve with good rankings for its Fusion and Milan. Indeed, these vehicles performed at the same level as the pricier Camry and Accord. General Motors also did well with good rating for its Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS.

One of our frequent best vehicles is the Subaru line and Consumer Reports agreed. All their models did well, but we don’t recommend the racy WRX STi due to its hot rod engine and stiff legged ride. A great car, just not a family car. Outside of the Versa and Sentra we don’t really feel that Nissan has that many quality products and some, such as their large SUVs, gets astonishing low gas mileage and quality marks.

Porsche continues to suffer, according to owners

Porsche continues to have reliability issues. Since this is the only company that refuses to allow us to test its vehicles we have no reason to disagree with the Consumer Reports information. If you buy a Porsche you are buying a possible source of problems that the company’s short warranty may not help you cover.

The Porsche 911 and Carrera, Pontiac Solstice, Mercedes SL and CLK, and V6 powered Ford Mustang all did poorly and the Porsche is easily the most expensive of this list. We feel Mercedes is improving and that the Solstice is very new and probably going through growing pains. The Mustang is priced under $20,000 and we don’t feel its quality is as good as it should be. As for the Porsche, how could a company that has been building essentially the same car for decades continue to have problems? We feel it is the fact that they are profitable and have a loyal following even though there are several cars that costs tens of thousands of dollars less that can perform equally.

Small Cars

As expected the best small cars are the Honda Fit and Civic Hybrid as well as the Toyota Corolla. What we didn’t expect was the high rating of the Toyota Yaris, which we did not like and found very uncomfortable and lacking a quality feel. However, we love the Fit and the Corolla. In this category the Chevrolet Cobalt and Aveo, Nissan Sentra, and Volkswagen Jetta did poorly. The Sentra has been redone and is much better. The Cobalt’s rating surprised us as we found it was a great compact with a spirited ride and spacious interior. Volkswagens continue to be suspect, although we have placed an order for the new Jetta wagon and have our fingers crossed.

The important family sedan segment had the Accord, Fusion, Milan, and Toyota Prius in the top positions. The Accord four cylinder was our choice. We have no idea why anyone orders the V6 version when the four is so frugal and energetic. The Volkswagen Passat didn’t fare well and we don’t recommend it either.

As noted the Lexus ES does well, as did the Zephyr. Add to that the surprising Hyundai Azera and the Acura TSX and TL and you have some great vehicles although the Azera is very softly sprung. However, it is loaded with equipment and looks far more expensive than the Lexus. The Jaguar X Type, Chrysler 300 V8 and Saab 9-3 rated at the bottom. Our experience with the Saab is that the older ones do better than the new ones. After 2002 they seemed to lose their composure. Still, they handle, accelerate, and feel as solid as any sporty sedan. We like them. The large Chrysler has visibility issues and the V8 isn’t needed as the large six does just as well for the family. The Jaguar is an old design and isn’t going to age well anyhow. Nice looking, though.

Luxury Cars

In the luxury field the older Cadillac STS, Mercedes S and CLS and E and the BMW 7 Series and Jaguar S should be avoided. The new models of these are far better, but we always have doubt about BMW products outside of the 3 Series due to the complexity of their electronics and poor fuel mileage. The Jaguar S is another old design and the new Jaguar FX promises to be much better. Winners include the always terrific Lexus LS and Infiniti M. We noticed tire wear problems with the big Infiniti, but the Lexus is perhaps the best luxury family sedan ever made. We bought one of the first ones brought to the US in 1989 and it was a dream. They still are, but beware of the costly prices to replace such items as oxygen sensors. You pay for the Lexus name. We actually bought the same anti-freeze solution at the Toyota dealership for nearly 30 percent less than the Lexus dealer wanted.

If you want sportiness the Lexus SC isn’t the answer, but it has exceptional reliability as does the Toyota Solara. We found the chassis on the Solara was too flexible, especially in the convertible, but that was the previous model. The Subaru Impreza WRX is fun and highly rated as is the Honda S2000, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, and the fun MINI Cooper. There is quite a price range here, but if you don’t need the room the MINI is excellent with gas mileage over 30 mpg. Get the Clubman if you have a family for the extra cargo space. The Subaru is the most fun for the buck, though, just make sure it has been maintained. Subarus are expensive to buy parts for and we don’t like their automatic transmission.

In terms of people movers the Nissan Quest fared poorly as did the General Motors trio of the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander, and Saturn Relay. We were shocked at the General Motors listings as we tested them and found them tight and well made. Perhaps it was too much to try and make a SUV look like a minivan. On the plus side the gas sipping Pontiac Vibe/ Toyota Matrix were superb and so was the Toyota Sienna. A used Sienna is worth considering. We got great gas mileage. The Honda Odyssey van, everyone’s first choice, finished in the middle. The complex engine management program may have been the problem. If you need less room, the cute Scion xB finished among the elite, too. Very economical and a hoot to drive.

SUV Rankings

Crossover SUVs did well as a group with only the very inexpensive Kia Sportage reporting poor ratings. It was also among the least costly in this grouping. Favored crossovers were the Toyota FJ Cruiser and RAV4 as well as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outland, and versatile Subaru Forester. The FJ has so little side and rear visibility and poor fuel mileage we can’t recommend it. The Outlander is okay, but not the best choice. The RAV4’s gas mileage when tested was over 25 mpg and the all-new Honda CR-V had a great interior. We like the RAV4 and the Subaru Forester. In fact, we like the old Forester better than the new one. They get the best fuel mileage of any all wheel drive family crossover.

Good scores for large SUVs was dominated by the Japanese automakers with the Toyota Highlander, 4Runner, Lexus RX 400 h, Acura MDX, and Honda Pilot all ranking on top. The Lexus is much more expensive than the others and we would recommend the RX 350 instead and save thousands. The Highlander and Pilot are both very good. The fuel mileage on the MDX causes us to place it much lower, although it handles better than the others.

As expected the worst of the SUVs are some of the vehicles we never recommend such as the Land Rover LR3 with the V8, the horrible Hummer H3—all Hummer models are horrible, the lumbering Volkswagen Touareg, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes R and M Class, Volvo XC 90, Ford Explorer, and Mercury Mountaineer. If there ever was a grouping of vehicles to avoid as lacking any quality traits this is it. Why anyone would consider one is beyond our grasp as they get stinky fuel mileage, handle poorly, and every one has a better choice from the same manufacture.

Hummer Owners Rank them Lowest

Large SUVs, and why anyone in their right mind would need one of these top-heavy burdens on renewable resources escapes us, are lead by the Toyota Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Lexus LX, Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The god-awful Hummer H2 performed as expected, at the bottom of the list. We don’t’ think it would matter to a perspective buyer anyhow. Buying one of these Hummers, which are illegal to drive on most residential roads as they exceed the three-ton limit, is for those who need attention and are willing to pay for it. The same can be said for the Ford Excursion and Lincoln Navigator. The Lincoln only beat the Hummer in the race to the bottom of the reliability chart. Of course with all that weight going to the bottom is easy. Think 10 to 12 miles per gallon and a resale value that rivals current presidential approval ratings when you buy in this segment.

Consumer Reports final ratings were for pick-up trucks. These are the cash cows of the industry and their success is important. The Subaru Baja, which is really too small to carry much more than a six foot long rope, the Toyota’s Tundra and Tacoma were joined by the Nissan Frontier V6 as having superior quality ratings. The Baja is handy, but clearly does not belong in this group. The worst were the Nissan Titan, horrible gas mileage, too, and the Ford F-250 diesel, Dodge Dakota, and the wallowing Cadillac Escalade EXT. The latter model drives like a boat with little road feel and a tendency to absorb gasoline faster than the Saudis can produce it.

Two elements emerge from the Consumer Reports study. First, only Toyota has a vehicle line-up that excels in quality and Honda is close behind. Thus the higher resale for these two brands. Secondly, the cost of the vehicle is not indicative of its quality. The Ford Fusion is about $20,000 and does well while the Porsche and Hummer H2 are complained about by their owners who shelled out those big bucks the most per dollar.

Family conference: Our favorites by category are the Honda Fit and Toyota Corolla in the compact class; family sedan class winners are the Toyota Prius, Accord and Ford Fusion; larger sedans would find the Lexus LS in our garage; the MINI Clubman would be our fun to drive vehicle; the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe would be the handiest to own; and the Lexus 400h and Subaru Forester can carry our family anytime. We don’t recommend large SUVs and feel that pick-ups are not family vehicles and can be very unsafe.

Live Healthier: Buy a Safer Vehicle

The Car Family

For more vehicle reviews go to

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

For the website of all vehicle manufacturers go to

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

Want to live longer? Don’t buy a large SUV or pick-up truck or used vehicle without a full compliment of safety features. Buy a new family sedan which weighs at least 3000 pounds. You don’t have to shy away from high performance machinery, but at the very least take a professional driving course with it. Finally, do your homework. In other words, this article could be the most important reading you do short of a pre-nuptial agreement or that Nigerian email offering to share the wealth.

The crash statistics are overwhelming. In 2005 there were nearly 45,000 people killed in vehicle accidents or about one every 12 minutes in 2005. The majority of these accidents occurred within ten miles of the home and driver negligence was the cause. The most dangerous accident is a side impact one, which is the most common cause of injury. Side airbags are a must. You might try to lobby for all vehicles to have bumpers the same height so in side crashes the bumper does not override the steel beams in the door. Data reveals that driving while using a cell phone is more dangerous than driving drunk so get a hands free unit. In addition, remember that large Hummers, Lincoln Navigators, and Ford Excursions all weigh over 6000 pounds and are illegal to drive on many residential streets and some older highways so owning one could be safer because they might not legally be able to leave the owner’s garage.

So what is the safest vehicle? There are four factors to consider. First, understand that the larger the vehicle that more difficult it is to control. Large SUVs and pick-up trucks may be safer in an accident with a smaller vehicle, but are much more likely to be involved in a single vehicle accident due to loss of control. SUVs and pickups have more than double the chance of rolling over, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, and have a higher fatality rate than cars in the same weight category. While large SUVs and pickups may be at an advantage in multi-vehicle accidents, they are involved in over 40 percent of all fatal single vehicle accidents. Putting an inexperienced driver in large SUV is an act of faith rather than logic.

Next, do your homework. There are crash test scores generated by the government and insurance industry that must be checked and are readily available online. Following that buy every safety related option. Saab and Volvos, for example, come with whiplash protection systems. Cadillac, for one, offers lane departure warnings and a system that warns the driver when a vehicle is in the vehicle’s blind spot. Mercedes and others offer knee airbags and several manufacturers offer side air bags for rear passengers. And make certain you order the electronic stability control that helps prevent rollovers.

Finally, look for the vehicle’s ability to avoid accidents. Good handling, braking, and visibility are vital. The latter should not be neglected as the rise in ownership of SUVs has resulted in over 2400 cases of children being run over or backed over.

With all that in mind here is a list of vehicles that offer excellent safety features, have good crash scores and good handling. Be advised that not all the 2007 vehicles have been evaluated and so this data is based on earlier models. Our recommendation for the “healthiest” cars in the large car category are the Acura RL Audi A6, Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300 C/Dodge Charger, Ford Taurus, Lexus ES 300, Lincoln Town Car and LS, and the Volvo S80, wagons and convertibles. The Lexus would be our choice here, but the Ford is a very good family vehicle. The Volvo wagons are ideal replacements for SUVs and are loaded with safety features.

For midsized cars the Audi again is a good choice as well as the Acura TL, Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Element, Subaru Legacy and the underrated Saab 9-3. The Saab convertible is as safe a drop top as they make. Subaru’s Impreza is also a good small car. Subaru’s Forester and Honda’s CR-V were also cited. The Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima also had high scores. Of these we like the Saab best with its perky performance and handling, but the gas mileage and roomy interior of the 2008 Accord make it attractive and the Malibu is a bargain.

Minivans from Honda, Kia, Toyota, Mazda, and Hyundai have earned top honors and there are a lot of midsized SUVs to consider. Those from Acura, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, Saturn, Subaru, Toyota, and Volvo are rated well. We always like the way the small BMW X3 handles, but the new Saturn and Ford Edge are excellent values and Kia minvan is a bargain. The Lexus RX would be the top pick in the SUV category.

Other vehicles that are worth a look are the Lexus IS, Volkswagen Jetta, Passat, and Rabbit/Golf, and the Honda Civic. The Honda is good, but if you can afford the IS go for it. On the other hand, we are thinking of ordering the Jetta diesel wagon for our fleet next year.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published its list of death rates by vehicles collected over four years. The safest were the Chevrolet Astro, Infiniti G35, BMW 7 Series, Toyota 4Runner, Audi A4, Mercedes E and M-Class, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Lexus ES 330, Lexus RX 330, Toyota Sequoia, Honda Pilot, and BMW X5. The highest death rates were recorded for those in a Chevrolet Blazer, Acura RSX, Nissan 350Z, Kia Spectra, Pontiac Sunfire, Kia Rio, Chevrolet Cavalier, and Mitsubishi Eclipse, among others. Note that all the latter models have been replaced or redone since this data was published.

Family conference: The top choices from The Car Family in selecting a safe family car would be the small Saab, large Volvo sedan and wagon, BMW, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru, Lexus RX and ES, Audi sedans, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry. We have high hopes that the new Volkswagens will soon be added to this mix.

A healthier life style could be as simple as exercising your credit line.

Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety

http://www.iihs.org/

National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/

The Sacramento Bee ran this story. Yet another danger of buying a Hummer H2

http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2006/07/hummer_wheels_f.html

For more about problems with Hummer H2 ownership go to

http://www.motorists.org/new/carreviews/index.html

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