2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk hits the road

We took the 2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk edition onto the wild streets of suburban Sacramento to check out all the cool features of this rugged and very colorful Jeep.

We loved the heated seats and steering wheel.

And what’s not to love about the MySky roof system, which can be totally removed to give front and backseat passengers a view of the trees.

MSRP base price of $26,895

Our tested model topped out at $33,185.

Also, see our vehicle reviews at www.GreenFamilyCar.com

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February 14, 2018 at 11:26 pm Leave a comment

Detroit, Detroit: Motor City Auto Show 2018 Reveals

It took them a while getting around to it, but Nissan’s dancers finally revealed the maker’s future SUV crossover concept, the Xmotion (pronounced “cross motion”) which has no street date.

Nissan’s reveal was one of the few concept cars in Motown when we visited to get a glimpse of the automotive future at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

Staying with vehicles whose names begin with X for a moment, BMW showed off its upcoming X2, an SUV crossover, a limited number of which will begin becoming available on the automaker’s lots this Spring.

 

This year’s NAIAS simplified:

2018 featured auto makers pushing the newest flavors of their existing, or retro vehicles.

VW widened its Jetta.

Kia redesigned its Forte.

Ford resurrected its Ranger.

Ford has also brought out a new Mustang inspired by the classic mid-60’s design seen in the movie Bullitt.

Certainly there was a sprinkling of new electric and electrified vehicle, largely from international makers, such as Mercedes’ C350e plug-in hybrid.

Honda’s prototype for a new Insight, a bigger version of the world’s first hybrid car, was a welcome sight.

And from GM’s Super Cruise, to small start-up autonomous player May Mobility EV, the future self-driving vehicle was peeking into our era from the wings, revealing what is ahead.

NAIAS in short. A holding pattern. Cool muscle vehicles. Minuscule forward momentum.

Nissan_Xmotion_Concept___Photo_29

The interior of Nissan’s future SUV crossover concept, the Xmotion revealed recently at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

February 6, 2018 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Pile in for a quick ride…

SuperCruisingGMbroll

Read a book while driving? Sure, Cadillac’s hands-free driving system “Super Cruise” is already in cars on our highways. Just look up often while using it, because the system is watching you, and it will warn you if you don’t. Your steering wheel will flash.

Where are we going? Just around our block. In our time neighborhood. Talk about cars today. Right, what’s going on? We’ve been to LA. Seen the show. Shot the video. See it below. (The video’s just 4:40 in length, not 9:12. New editing program error.)

Gems from the auto industry? Here’s a handful, the sustainable options from Hyundai, including hydrogen and plug-in hybrid versions of their Ioniq and Santa Fe models.

New choices in family cars abound — with the newest kids on the block Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Kona — targeting young buyers.

Tons of PHEV, right? Right, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles abounded. And just over the holidays we test drove a fun one, the PHEV Mini Countryman that drives up to 28 miles in electric-only mode.

The Mini full electric version is also available, and the word from corporate is that all the BMW and Mini vehicles will be electric within seven years.

The Renault Mitsubishi Infiniti alliance will have 12 all electric vehicles within five years.

Volvo has committed to all electric vehicle power trains within a similar time frame.

What, we’re done with the LA show already? Yep, time flies in autonomous vehicles. It’ll be cold when you get out. We’ve arrived in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show.

Cool. So cool its freezing. There’s that. And there’s the fantastic cars to come.

 

January 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Designed for Adventure

All-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek 

By Keith Turner

We trekked down and up California, from Sacramento to Venice and back, to test out the all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek in real-life active family situations, like taking our bikes to the beach.

We discovered that the Crosstrek, which is built on Subaru’s all-new global platform, offers plenty of room for passengers and cargo with seats for five that fold flat, yet rides quick and smooth like a sedan.

Subaru’s famous all-wheel drive and vehicle stability control make this small SUV a champ in sand or snow and the electric power-assist steering keeps the wheels on track in tight turns.

Negotiating the freeways of Southern California was made easier with the help of the EyeSight Driver Assist technology that keeps the Crosstrek at a safe (adjustable) distance behind the vehicle in front of you. The lane-keeping assist nudges the Crosstrek back into its lane, if it senses you drifting into a neighboring lane.

Combined, these additional safety technologies provided us with the feeling we were in a near self-driving experience.

Fuel mileage is a reasonable 26 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway, and the base MSRP of $26,295 makes this new Subaru a bargain to own.

November 27, 2017 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

The Boss: Ford’s Super Duty F-250 for 2017


The Boss: Ford’s Super Duty F-250 is tough, and a comfortable ride.

By Carguy Keith Turner

As a longtime Ford truck owner and amateur mechanic, my son Lawren took a close look at the 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty and found many things that impressed him. Like the chrome grill work that looks heavy, but is actually made of lightweight, high-strength aluminum.

The lighter body combines with a 6.7-Liter V8 Turbo Diesel gave the truck plenty of throw-back-into-your seat power.

Lawren also liked the kid-friendly Tough Bed® spray-in bedliner and handy tailgate stair case that folds away when not in use.

The huge cab is quite comfortable with lots of leather-appointed storage space, including a hidden toolbox that we discovered under the back seats.

The bird’s-eye view, front and back-up cameras make it easy to maneuver and park the F-250 in and out of tight spaces.

Perfect for contractors, the F-250 is what Lawren calls the “the bosses’ truck” because it’s so clean and luxurious. You won’t get your hands dirty driving this rig.

Towing capacity is 11,400 pounds and the two camera towing system makes it easy to hook up to your boat or trailer and hit the road.

Lawren said that after driving that 2017 F-250 he can clearly see that Ford’s engineers listened to feedback from current truck owners to improve their Ford truck experience.

Mission accomplished!

 

October 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm Leave a comment

The Family Car Best of 2017

2018HondaOdysseyWyattRubberneck

Parent-worthy picks for the best family cars of 2017

By Keith Turner

The automotive industry today features a smorgasbord of model designs, offering an impressive array of choices to help keep up with a family’s action-packed transportation needs.

With all these choices in make, shape, price and color, how is a parent to sort out the perfect ride for their growing clan? Here’s a look at The Family Car’s top picks for 2017.

Trucks

Ford F-150 – The best-selling vehicle in the nation, the 2017 F-150 features lighter, aluminum construction and a new V-6 turbo engine. The F-150 satisfies several parenting priorities. It is safe, capable and economical.
(MSRP: $27,110 / MPG: 19 city/26 highway).

Nissan Titan Pro – This aptly named truck features four-wheel-drive, high viewpoint, and near-cavernous passenger seat — this truck is a beast. Safety features include a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area, lane changing alerts and back-up sensors to help avoid fender benders. There’s even a pop-out step in the back corner to ease access to the truck bed.  (MSRP: $43,290 / MPG: 15 city/20 highway).

SUVs

Honda Pilot – A third-row capable of seating grown-ups comfortably is what makes the Honda Pilot the perfect SUV for families. Underfloor “cubby” storage areas help keep toys and valuables hidden from prying eyes. High-end extras include a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats. (MSRP: $30,745 / MPG: 20 city/27 highway).

Jeep Cherokee – Just the dynamic headlight design of the new Jeep Cherokee is enough to favor this rugged and feature-packed SUV. Featuring legendary Jeep 4X4 capability, the Cherokee handles roads like a pro and is loaded with family-friendly safety and comfort features. (MSRP: $23,695 / MPG: 21 city/30 highway).

Crossovers

Mazda CX-5 – With a new, sporty and stylish design, the Mazda CX-5 is more than just a pretty face. The mid-size crossover is loaded with parent-pleasing features, like a heated steering wheel, as well as heated front and second row seats, power liftgate, radar cruise control and active windshield driving display. (MSRP: $22,890 / MPG: 52 city/49 highway/50 combined).

 17_Ford EDGE_.JPG

Ford Edge (above) – Ford clearly is on the cutting “Edge” of safety and self-driving technology with this crossover, which features high-tech systems for adaptive steering, cruise control for traffic jams and active parking assist for parallel and perpendicular parking. Plus, you’ve got to love a model with color names such as Canyon Ridge, Blue Jeans and, seen above, Burgundy Velvet. (MSRP: $28,950 / MPG: 21 city/29 highway).

Minivans

Chrysler Pacifica hybrid – This fantastic family hauler could easily top the hybrid list because it can run on electric-only power for up to 33 miles per charge – easily enough to cover a parent’s carpool patrols. The Pacifica is packed with family-friendly features, such as a three-piece panoramic sunroof and a powerful vacuum to keep cookie crumbs at bay. (MSRP: $28,995 / MPG: 32 combined/ 84 mpg-e).

Honda Odyssey – The 2018 edition of this popular maxi/minivan is loaded with family friendly features that cater directly to a parent’s primary needs. The second-row seats slide together or apart to allow easy access back-seaters, or for separating the rowdy ones. There’s a special camera that keeps an eye on the kiddo, and an in-car public address system lets the driver to talk to all passengers. (MSRP: $35,675 / MPG: 16 city/25 highway/19 combined).

Hybrid

Kia Niro – There are many hybrids on the market to choose from, but this year’s launch of the Kia Niro Hybrid stands out for one reason: the big 50! The Niro crosses that magic threshold of averaging more than 50 miles per gallon combined in daily driving.  It also has plenty of power to back up that great mileage. (MSRP: $22,890 / MPG: 52 city/49 highway/50 combined).

Chrysler Pacifica hybrid (see above, Minivans)

Sedan

Chrysler 300S – Chrysler’s flagship is the lone sedan among the vast desert of slowly evaporating models on the market for families. They all great cars, but today’s active families tend to need more than four-doors and a trunk. The 300S is stylish and safe, and offers a 360-degree view that keeps mistakes to a minimum. The V-8 HEMI has power and a fuel-saver mode. (MSRP: $35,675 / MPG: 16 city/25 highway/19 combined).

Keith Turner is a professional auto reviewer for families. He can be reached at carguy@hotmail.com; his websites: thefamilycar.com and greenfamilycar.com, or on YouTube at The Family Car channel.

October 25, 2017 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment

On the Road to Autonomy at the 2016 LA Auto Show

 

By Dean Adams Curtis

In the field of psychology, there is a branch called “developmental psychology. This branch of psychological thought is interested in how our brains develop understandings about, and reasoning behind, what is right and what is good. One stem within this branch is focused on moral psychology, which is particularly interested in how we develop on our road to autonomy, to our fully self-guided, autonomous, thoughtful adult selves.

In the field of automobile technology, thoughtful beings are rapidly steering we thoughtful adults (many of us vocally not-on-board-yet with full-auto autos) on the road to autonomy within fully self-guided cars.

So, let’s dig into the terms autonomy and autonomous a moment. As autonomous auto CONSUMERS, you are in control of what happens next. Analysts have been reporting for several years that autonomous vehicle tech is accelerating so rapidly that the main limitation to them now is driver acceptance.

From the beginning, “auto”mobiles have never been autonomous. Nor have they been “auto”matic. They have, however, offered humans more autonomy of movement. Autos provided freedom to move about towns and then to cruise the inevitable suburban landscape that automobiles facilitated. Autos also provided the freedom for autonomous individuals to get out of town, often to preserve their autonomy.

Discussions and displays at the 2016 LA Auto Show, revealed to TheFamilyCar and GreenFamilyCar correspondents that the autonomous vehicle age has already dawned.

Stare into the light of this new age for a moment. Imagine yourself driven to wherever you would like to go by your autonomous vehicle in the style and comfort to which we have become accustomed, more safely, speedily, and sustainably. Imagine that’s how all the other folks around you are travelling also. Terrified by the concept? Excited by it?

As we all try to wrap our real-road conditioned, car driver brains around whether autonomous vehicles are good, or right, for us, and for our roads, two important technology clusters, autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle technologies, will continue developing in parallel. And smart charging of autonomous EVs will most likely happen while both while they’re underway, as well as between uses.

Currently makers of vehicles with autonomous systems advise keeping both hands on the steering wheel. But, if the autonomous vehicle age is going to be truly desirable for consumers, it will need to offer more than vehicles that’re going to be wrestling control, or beeping annoyingly. For example, in the Chrysler Pacifica minivan that we test drove to and from the LA Auto Show, the lane-assist feature kept moving the steering wheel, providing an odd sensation that could diminish a driver’s sense of their own autonomy-over, control-over, the vehicle. Of course, just a little effort on the driver’s part turned the wheel in whatever direction the driver decided to go. And in the new Honda CRV, the lane assist doesn’t budge the wheel, but appears as a blinking and beeping circular warning light at the center of the dashboard cluster.

Revealing that we’re already into an autonomous electrical vehicle age, those auto-buyers fortunate enough to afford new high-end luxury vehicles are already benefiting from enhanced safety and convenience provided by automatic lane-keeping and collision avoidance, early-stages of the future’s autonomous auto guidance. Tesla drivers today are sometimes folding their arms on the freeway as they watch their vehicle do its own steering. But they can’t yet do so on surface streets. And well-established technology, such as collision avoidance radar and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), are operating with all-around camera systems, combined with graphic-information-systems (GIS) programs, have all been integrated and are being observed in-action, in tests from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, PA being conducted by various entities such as Google and Uber.

Also revealing is the Obama administration’s recent requirement on automakers to implement additional cyber-security on vehicles connected to the internet. Good thing. If we’re going to take our hands off the wheel, we want to do so secure that someone who wishes us ill, or who is just plain malicious, doesn’t throw our steering wheel to or fro.

It’s a brave new world that has such features in it as autonomous electric vehicles. If, using our autonomous thoughtful minds, we chose to rely on self-driving EVs in the future, we will save astronomically on the energy expended to take us from point A to point B in style and comfort, in safety and at a desirable speed, sustainably and autonomously. And if you or I should suffer from a medical emergency in one of them, perhaps they’ll be able to drive us to the nearest hospital emergency room door.

November 23, 2016 at 6:53 pm Leave a comment

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