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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.

Jaguar F-Pace vs. Porsche Macan S
by The Car Family
For more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

There are both essentially luxury oriented crossover SUVs with an attitude. Outside of gas mileage, all wheel drive, getting about 20 mpg on premium in mixed driving, and similar sized V6 engines there is little they have in common as small sport utility vehicles. The Macan is quieter, handles better, and its engine sounds more refined when challenged. The F-Pace has a better monitor, more interior room, a better spare tire set-up, and an appearance that is more appealing to some. The Macan is turbocharged and the Jaguar is supercharged

jag
Jaguar F-Pace

P16_0176_Macan
Porsche Macan S

Both vehicles have bigger brothers offering more horsepower, but at considerably more money and both have options that can add tens of thousands to the base price. We recommend the F-Pace Prestige model and the Macan S as best values. However, don’t even think about buying one without doing your homework as the option lists are extensive and expensive. For example, a high end Porsche audio Burmester High-End Surround Sound System costs $5700.

Where Jaguar has an advantage, and a huge one, is in pricing. You can get a base 340 horsepower F- Pace for $45,000 while Porsche only offers a four-cylinder Macan for around that amount. The Jaguar gives your 340 horsepower and the Macan 252. If you decide to get the Macan S, our choice, you get the same 340 horsepower as the F-Pace, but it could cost you around $7000 more. How much you get back of that difference is uncertain, but after three years Porsche indicates 61 percent. Jaguar has not released residual values, but usually 50 percent has been the average.

Jaguar provides a five-year, 60,000 mile warranty and Porsche a four year, 50,000 mile warranty. In either case it is whichever comes first, mileage or months.

The Jaguar interior is more traditional, but has a great monitor and some features that are exceptional such as a backup camera you can keep on even when driving on the road. The GPS is easy to use and, as the Macan, the map can be seen on the instrument panel. Albeit the F-Pace’s version is much larger and easier to read. There are more storage areas in the Jaguar, but the seats don’t hold you as firmly.
Road noise and engine noise on all but the smoothest roads are tiring in the Jaguar. The Macan is very quiet.

Both vehicles are fairly heavy despite Jaguar’s claim of an extensive use of aluminum. The Macan being slightly heaver by about 100 pounds with both tipping the scale just north of two tons. We didn’t test a Jaguar F-Pace diesel, but the starting price on this is listed at $40,000 which makes it for attractive. Another item we noticed is that Porsche dealers are starting to deal on Macans. Jaguar dealers have said, and we are waiting for more details, that there are doing to be some very attractive lease deals probably to make inroads in this lucrative segment.

2015 Porsche Macan _8_
Porsche Macan

Jag_side
Jaguar F-Pace

Acceleration is nearly the same with the supercharged Jaguar engine responded a bit quicker to input, but both can reach 60 mph in a little over five seconds. Be warned that the F-Pace acceleration in Dynamic Mode can be abrupt. The Porsche torque arrives earlier, around 1500 rpm compared to 4500 in the F-Pace. Jaguar uses an eight-speed sequential shifter and Porsche has the tired and proven seven speed PDK double-clutch unit. The F-Pace unit is more gentle when prodded, but the Macan is quicker, if a bit more abrupt. Jaguar continues to use a circular shift selector knob which takes time to master. It also has some small arrow buttons that allow you to pursue Dynamic, normal, or Eco modes. Porsche has a sport mode with an upgrade to sport plus for more thrust. In the real world we found both cars could accelerate instantly when asked, but if you like cornering, the trimmer Macan is easily the better choice.

Bottom line: Porsche has the edge in quality at this point, but Jaguar is improving. Jaguar has the edge in cost, interior room, monitor, and traditional styling appeal. The Macan S has the edge in driving feel, overall performance, and comfort. The Jaguar pricing is going to challenge the four-cylinder Macan for those looking to enter this segment of the market. We highly recommend you drive these cars back-to-back to develop an appreciation for their differences. Our choice is the Macan simply because it more fun to drive. The Macan is easier to park, nifter on its feet, not as large, and more muscular looking. On the other hand, the F-Pace provides a bit more panache and driving appeal for those coming out of American SUVs and is fairly close to the Infiniti QX70. It is more laid-back and relaxed. As close as the Macan and F-Pace are in many regards, one you drive them they are world’s apart. You just have to decide what world that is going to be.

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.

In Loving Memory of Our Point Guard, Brenda Bedard
brenda
http://necrologie.genealogiequebec.com/avis-de-deces/544834-BEDARD-Brenda

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Please let me know if you have others you would like published here.
Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Hyundai Sonata Eco: The 38 MPG Family Sedan
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to
https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

A family sedan that is enjoyable to drive, gets exceptional fuel mileage, and has ample cargo space with a sticker under $24,000 and you have one of the great automobile bargains today. This is an exceptional commuter vehicle as well as a family trip partner. Don’t get confused as Hyundai is offering several forms of Sonata’s. This is the Eco with a turbocharged 1.6 liter engine that produces 178 horsepower turning a slick seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The result is a government average of 28/32/38. We averaged 34 mpg in daily use making it one of the most efficient family sedans we have tested.

2016 Sonata

2016 Sonata

Mom’s view: This is one of the most unobtrusive vehicles on the market. The interior and exterior don’t ruffle any feathers and keep that proximity key handy because the Eco’s exterior blends in with the Toyota, Chevrolet, and Buick sedans in mall parking lots. The interior has an abundance of storage areas, an easy to use communication/stereo system using a seven-inch, touch monitor, and visibility is excellent in all directions. The trunk is large and the low lift over height makes it is easy to use. The 60/40-split-folding rear seat even adds to the Eco’s usefulness. An optional automatic trunk opener is highly unusual and worth considering. If you stand behind the Eco for more than three seconds the trunk opens automatically. This alone is worth a trip to the dealer to experience. Safety wise the Sonata has antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag all standard. It earned good scores in crash tests. Overall, a competent and compelling family vehicle ideal for 909 readers who have some of the longest commutes in the nation.

Dad’s View: Call the Eco an oxymoron, a fun to drive family sedan. It is nimble and the power comes on at only 1500 rpm making it eager to help when freeway merging or passing on those trips to Arrowhead. This is the Sonata to own if you enjoy driving as the steering is well weighted and ride is firm, but won’t loosen your filling over unkempt roads. Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission works well for a vehicle in this price range, but it can be jerky when just starting out. The benefit is exceptional mileage and the ability to keep the four cylinder engine on task. The 1.6 liter engine is very smooth and responsive, although a little noisy. The electric steering is very quick, but lacks feel. It provides a fairly tight turning radius taking the worry out of tight parking situations. The tires were apparently chosen for fuel mileage and so handling does suffer. We found the brakes worked very well. All in all a pleasant vehicle with an abundance of standard features. With lawful driving 500 miles is possible on a tank of gas and the seats are so comfortable that you won’t mind the journey.

2016 Sonata Eco

2016 Sonata Eco

Young working woman’s view: The warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles and 10 years/100,000 miles on the drivetrain helps reassure those who want to stray from the usual marques. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.
I would recommend considering the Tech option, although at over $4000 it does seem counter intuitive to those looking to buy a budget conscious family sedan. The option gives you an 8.0-inch center-dash display, premium audio, leather seats, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind-spot warning, navigation, a proximity key, and premium sound and more. Probably the best economical car you can get for the money and you have to move into hybrid territory to get better fuel economy. I think a lot of people have underestimated this Sonata.

2016 Sonata Eco

2016 Sonata Eco

Young male’s view: Hyundai offers as standard a Bluetooth, satellite and HD radio, a USB port, a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto and a rearview camera. The Blue Link telematics system allows you to lock and unlock your car using your smartphone. The Hyundai entertainment and information system, is called Android Auto. What it does is integrate your Android based cell phone with the vehicle’s communication system. An interesting feature is that Hyundai’s emergency telematics system includes a monitoring feature for parents that can track teenage driver’s speed among other things. There is also Apple CarPlay available. This Sonata really is impressive when it comes to electronics.

Family conference: Sonata’s come in several flavors with a Sonata 2.0T, Sonata Hybrid, Sonata Plug-In, and regular Sonata to go along with the Eco. Each has its own forte, but we quite liked the Eco’s versatitly and price. In essense the Eco is truly a family jewel. Great for daily commutes, excellent storage capacities and well above average fuel economy make this sedan a best choice for those who need an all-around vehicle that is value priced.

Free Day of the Dead Lesson Plans and Activities
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/h/alan-haskvitz.html

This holiday is an excellent way to expose students to culture using a variety of methods. Makes an excellent compare and contrast activity when you use a holiday from another culture. This site has some good ideas to use in that regard
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/lessonplans/programs/mexicanholidays/

Day of the Dead lesson plan
For elementary, a mini lesson
http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/Byrnes-celebrations/Day.html

Elaborate lesson plan for upper elementary and middle school
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=740

This is a download for primary, elementary. Very nice packet.
http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dead/teachers/teacherpacket_edited.pdf

Other Mexican Holidays
http://school.discoveryeducation.com/lessonplans/programs/mexicanholidays/
Link page
http://holidays.mrdonn.org/dayofthedead.html
Images, photos, art
http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/feature/daydeadindex.html
Videos
http://archive.azcentral.com/ent/dead/video/
Cinco de Mayo activities to compare
http://www.theteacherscorner.net/seasonal/cinco-de-mayo/index.htm
Cinco de Mayo resources
http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/lesson_plans/holidays/cincodemayo/

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/cinco-de-mayo/index.html

Large unit of study for elementary with word wall and more lessons. Cinco de Mayo oriented.
http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/Byrnes-celebrations/cincodemayo.html

Holiday Lessons
by Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/h/alan-haskvitz.html

It is difficult at best to keep students on task with the weather, holiday expectations, and even family trips diluting their concentration. As such, it is probably best to use teachable moments to help take those interests and prepare lessons that enable them to relate it to the Common Core expectations. It is also a great time of year to stress cultural differences and to use art and music to add depth to lessons.

A very important message that needs to be respected and that is the fact that public schools must be aware that celebrating a holiday MUST follow certain rules. The very best site for this is
http://archive.adl.org/religion_ps_2004/teaching.html

A nice sampling of lessons that cover a variety of subject areas and are of high interest
This includes having students taking part in giving activities, too.
http://www.educationworld.com/holidays/archives/december.shtml

A huge collection of lessons for all holidays and special days. Well worth checking.
http://www.mrdonn.org/holidays.html

ESL holiday lessons
http://www.eslholidaylessons.com/

Physical Education Lessons based on holidays
http://www.pecentral.org/lessonideas/searchresults.asp?category=59

December lessons
Covers major holidays.
http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/sites/sites013.shtml
And
http://www.educationworld.com/holidays/archives/december.shtml

Free printables for most holidays
http://www.schoolfamily.com/print-and-use-tools/category/76-holiday-worksheets

NEA
Lesson plans for major December holidays.
http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/december-holidays-k-5.html

Lesson plans by month and it includes weather related links
http://lessonplanspage.com/seasonalthemes-htm/#DEC

Cultural awareness lesson plans
For older students
http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-elementary-school/57301-teach-multiculturalism-and-diversity-during-the-holidays/

Christmas Around the World
Easy to follow and enables students to get a look at how this holiday is celebrated in various countries. A great art lesson can be developed from these lessons.
http://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/

Holiday songs
Fun and the students could even be encouraged to make their own
http://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/celebrating-holiday-traditions-with-song/

Songs for teaching the holidays
You don’t have to buy the songs, the lyrics are listed.
http://www.songsforteaching.com/holidays.htm

The story of Saint Nicholas
A high interest, easy to read story that includes links to related sources. Great for Common Core practice. This site has excellent, high interest stories that can motivate students.
http://awesomestories.com/flicks/santa-claus

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