Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Vehicles of 2014

Atlanta Auto Beat is proud to present the 2014 edition of its annual list of top-ranked vehicles. Rankings are based on vehicles tested by The Beat, and measure traits such as affordability, fuel economy, functionality, looks and predicted reliability.

We hope you enjoy this list, and as always, feel free to comment.

No. 10 Volkswagen Jetta

If you're talking fantastic fuel economy in a fun-to-drive package, you're talking the VW Jetta. This little machine makes it fun to zip through city streets or get out on the open highway and cruise to your heart's delight.

No. 9 Honda Pilot

You want rugged? The Pilot can be that. You want refined? Yep, it does that too. This versatile SUV is great for families and has a number of really neat features that make it a great choice.

No. 8 Toyota RAV 4

After many years on the market, this small crossover SUV has been through a lot of changes. But it has consistently remained a good choice for those who want practicality and reliability.

No. 7 Lexus LS 460

When it's time for a luxury sedan that lets you step out in style, it's time for the LS 460. This roomy car is full of creature comforts and provides the typically smooth Lexus ride.

No. 6 Nissan Altima

This is just one of those all-around good, solid sedans that you would recommend to almost anyone who's shopping for a car. It has a sporty look inside and out, and is also practical.

No. 5 Toyota Avalon

The Avalon has always been a pleasant sedan, but forgive us if we viewed it as a car for the more mature set. Well, this Avalon is not ready for anyone's retirement home. We were impressed by its looks, but even more so by its spunky driving dynamics.

No. 4 Toyota Prius v

The regular Prius has long been a favorite among the green crowd, but for those who needed a little more room, the Prius v has come along and filled the void beautifully.

No. 3 Honda Fit

A subcompact does not have to feel like you're riding in a phone booth, and the Honda Fit surely is much more comfortable than that. Add in its great fuel efficiency, and you've got a wonderful car.

No. 2 Honda Accord Hybrid

What's not to love here? Great fuel efficiency, a consistently reliable record and a roomy interior make this hybrid a top choice among those who want a sedan that will fit all of their needs.

No. 1 Acura TLX

This brand new sedan replaced the TSX and TL in the Acura lineup, both of which were pretty good cars in their own rights. But the TLX managed to take the best from both and add a little extra appeal, putting it at the top or our list.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Volkswagen Tiguan: A Solid Choice in Small SUVs

Looking for a compact SUV? The Volkswagen Tiguan might fit the build. It has a roomy interior, good driving dynamics and distinctive styling.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Acura TLX: A Great New Sedan

Over the past few years, some car industry observers, including this one, have surmised that Honda has been somewhat neglectful of its luxury brand, Acura. Recent offerings from the higher end of the Japanese automaker have been greeted less than enthusiastically.
So, enter a brand new sedan.
The TLX replaces the TSX and TL, both of which had their own merits, but neither of which made enough of an impact on the market to survive.
The 2015 TLX doesn't take a radical departure, appearance-wise, from recent Acura styling conventions.
But it has its own brand of attractiveness, which is to say that it's neat without being gaudy.
It assumes a role in the Acura lineup smack between the ILX, an entry level sedan, and the RLX, which has become the big Kahuna for Acura in cars.
It's a bit shorter than the outgoing TL, and its reduced size is most noticeable on the interior.
Not to say that the TLX is cramped, though, because front passengers can be seated reasonably comfortably and rear passengers will be alright if they aren't above average size.
The TLX has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine that makes 206 horsepower and is linked to an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
If you choose to upgrade, you get a 3.5-liter V-6 with a nine-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city and 35 highway for the four cylinder and 21 and 31 for the six-banger.
All models get the all-wheel steering system, which Acura introduced on the RLX. Acura touts its benefits as gaining improved handling in corners by moving the rear wheels counter to the front, but letting the rear wheels pivot just a tad on high speed lane changes, allowing for smoother movement.
On the V-6 models, all-wheel drive is optional.
The interior design of the TLX is understated, but pleasant. You won't find anything that will make you oooohhh and aaaahhh, but neither will you find anything that will make you wretch.
Enjoy the mellowness.
Standard technology includes Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, USB/iPod port, Pandora Internet radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Siri Eyes Free technology which combines with an iPhone to give the driver command over certain functions via voice commands. If you choose, a navigation system with Zagat restaurant review, real-time traffic and rerouting and GPS-linked climate control are optional.
The TLX doesn't radically change the luxury sedan market. But it adds an intriguing element of wonder to it. So check it out.
It starts at around $32,000 and ranges to around $45,000.
For a nice, practical midsize sedan, the TLX is worthy of much consideration.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2015 Honda Fit: A Great Thing in a Small Package

The subcompact car market used to seem as if the automakers were sending buyers to the penalty box, making really small cars that didn't have much to offer in the way of comfort or style.
Those days seem to be over, thankfully, and it may be due in large part to the Honda Fit.

When the Fit made its debut a few years ago, it seemed to boldly state that it wanted subcompact drivers to have some practicality, and a little bit of fun, with their cars.

Since then, the Fit has only gotten better.

For the 2015 model year, it gets a full makeover, most notably with its new styling. The Fit now has a much more aggressive and sporty exterior appearance.

In fact, during our weeklong test drive, we noticed a few folks turning their heads to check out the car.

There are sharp, curving lines at the car's rear and a black grille and more pointed headlights in the front. There's also a more aerodynamic shape to the car, which aids fuel efficiency.

It's a nice move by Honda's designers, who have developed a reputation for being rather conservative. Or, who knows, maybe the designers have been coming up with cool stuff like this all along, but the Honda honchos have quashed their efforts at creativity.

The body of the new Fit is shorter, but the wheelbase has actually been extended and widened, with the end result being an increase in overall passenger room. Honda says the new Fit includes an added five inches of rear passenger leg room. That change might have shaved a bit of space from the front passenger area, and it did rob a little from the rear cargo area, but those decreases are minimal and not detrimental.
Plus, for more cargo space, you can fold the back seats up to carry taller items. When the seats are folded, the Fit has 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is grand.

A backup camera is standard in the Fit, and optional is the LaneWatch system, which gives the driver a dashboard screen view of what's going on in the right lane when the driver turns on the signal to make a right.

Honda has what it calls its Earth Dreams engines, which are aimed squarely at touting their strong fuel efficiency. The Fit has one of these, a 1.5-liter four cylinder that makes 130 horsepower and comes with a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.
The manual model gets 29 mpg city, 37 highway and the CVT gets 32 and 38. The LX trim model, thanks to some engineering tweaks, gets 33 and 41 with the CVT.

One minor issue we had with the Fit is that it's a bit noisy. Sonically, it reminds you a bit of driving in a jeep or a small truck. And truthfully, the ride is not the smoothest you'll find.

But if you're looking for an economical car that also is practical, do not let those issues dissuade you from looking at the Fit.

The Fit starts at around $16,000 and ranges to around $21,000.

This car proves that in some cases, you really don't have to pay a lot to get a lot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Honda Accord: Hard to Beat this Sedan

The Honda Accord is among the most popular sedans of all time, and the 2015 model year version gives no indication that the car will lose that status anytime soon.

With solid fuel economy, a roomy interior and a great range of safety features, there is a lot to like about the Accord.

There aren't many changes for this model year, after the big overhaul the Accord got for the 2013 version.

The exterior of the Accord retains its understated styling, avoiding the bolder, more sweeping lines of some of its sedan competitors. But that's not to say the Accord is unattractive. It has a neat, simple style that has its own appeal.

The Accord comes with standard 16-inch wheels, or you can opt for 17- or 18-inch alloys.

The interior is where the Accord really scores some points. It is roomy and comfortable for passengers in front and rear. 

And thanks to the remodeling of a couple of years ago, the quality of materials on the dash and on trim areas is better than ever. 

Cargo space is also plentiful, at 15.1 cubic feet.

Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod port, an 8-inch color touchscreen, Pandora Internet radio compatibility and dual zone climate control. Navigation system, leather seats and heated front seats are optional.

 The Accord is a big winner in the safety department, being named a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and getting five stars, the most, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It's top safety feature, in our opinion, is LaneWatch, which is making its way through the Honda lineup. When you put on your turn signal to make a right turn, the dashboard screen shows what's coming from behind on the right side, thus eliminating the blind spot problem there. 
There is also a standard backup camera. Options include lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems.

The Accord's base engine is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that makes 185 horsepower (189 in the Sport Sedan model) and is linked to a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. A 3.5-liter V-6 is also available; it makes 278 ponies and has a six-speed automatic. 
Fuel economy is solid, with the four-cylinder with the CVT getting 27 mpg city, 36 highway. 

The Accord starts at a little under $23,000 and ranges to about $34,000.

For a reliable, safe and fuel efficient sedan, the Accord is a splendid choice.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Test the New Ford F-150 this Weekend

Ford is giving the public a sneak peek at its newly refreshed F-150 pickup at venues across the country. Ford is calling the truck the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever.

The F-150 has a military-grade aluminum alloy body construction with a lighter frame that includes a greater amount of high-strength steel.

The truck offers four engine choices, including a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6.

There is also a BoxLink system that lets users secure ramps, storage bins and bed dividers that they are hauling.

The tailgate remote lets users lock and unlock the gate by pressing a button on the key.

Ford says the truck has a best-in-class 3,300-pound payload capacity and 12,200-pound towing capacity.

If you want to check out the F-150 this weekend visit this site to find an event near you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prepare Your Car for Winter

When it's freezing outside, a breakdown could become far worse than a mere inconvenience. To help prevent car trouble, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests you or your mechanic follow these 12 checkpoints to winterize your vehicle:
  1. Engine antifreeze. Check levels and add more, if necessary.
  2. Battery. When starting the car, pay attention to see if it starts without hesitation. Check positive and negative terminals for corrosion and powdery buildup. The terminals may need to be cleaned, or it could be time to replace the battery.
  3. Brakes. Check for excessive wear and add brake fluid, if necessary.
  4. Exhaust system. Repair or replace any leaks or crimped pipes.
  5. Fuel and air filters. Replace them according to your vehicle's maintenance schedule.
  6. Fuel. Always keep plenty of gas in the tank, both to avoid running out and to prevent fuel lines from freezing.
  7. Heater and defroster. Test both systems to make sure they blow warm air. Testing an electric defroster (found in many rear windshields) might require the help of a mechanic, or you could simply wait for the next time the windshield fogs up.
  8. Lights and flashing hazard lights. Check and replace any that are dim, fogged or not working.
  9. Oil. Check the level and add oil, if necessary. You can find the recommended level in your owner's manual.
  10. Thermostat. Watch the temperature gauge on your dashboard; it should stay near the center line under normal driving conditions. If the needle goes much higher or lower, it could be a sign of a faulty thermostat, which could lead to engine trouble.
  11. Windshield wiper equipment. Repair any problems and maintain the proper level of washer fluid. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with a solution for cold weather, which can be purchased at most auto parts stores.
  12. Tires. Replace them if they are excessively worn. All-weather radials are usually adequate for winter conditions, though some especially inclement regions have laws requiring vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires.

Friday, November 7, 2014

2015 Honda Crosstour: A Roomy, Functional Sedan

The Honda Crosstour is a midsize hatchback sedan that is roomy, powerful and functional.
For the 2015 model year, not much changes with the Crosstour. It still comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 193 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 278 horsepower. The four-banger comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 has a six-speed automatic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Electric Vehicle Sales Surging in Georgia

Electric vehicle sales have risen rapidly in the past couple of years in Georgia, thanks to tax incentives and the money that is saved from not having to visit the gas pump.
In the first six months of 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for one out of every 60 vehicles sold in the state, according to Solar Energy USA.
The group cited the increasing number of electric vehicles on the market (think Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in), the ability to drive in HOV lanes regardless of how many passengers you have, an increase in the number of charging stations and a $5,000 state tax credit that, when combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit, makes electric vehicles very affordable.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Keep Your Old Car or Buy a New One?

Most of us find ourselves in a losing battle at some point trying to keep an old car on the road, even with the most conscientious maintenance and determined repairs. But the decision to put down the wrench and put your money into a more reliable vehicle can be agonizing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to patch things up instead of starting monthly car loan payments again? How do you know when the time is right?
Figuring out when to give Old Nellie the heave-ho is a highly personal decision. You may have a strong sentimental attachment to your car. You know its history and how it’s been maintained, and you know what costs and maintenance to expect in the months ahead. Still, most of us justifiably lose patience in the face of repeated breakdowns and bills. Consider these objective factors to help you see more clearly into a decision to repair or replace your old car.
It’s probably time to replace your old car when:
  1. Your maintenance costs are higher than 50 percent of your car’s value. If you’re essentially re-buying your car every other month, you’re pouring money down the drain. Time to shore things up.
  2. You’re due for a big repair or major maintenance. If your car’s value has shrunk and you know you have a major outlay coming up, trade up now. Don’t hope against hope that a big infusion of cash will solve your issues. Again, consider whether the money you’re about to spend on your car represents more than half of its current value. If so, it’s time to go.
  3. Your car has become unsafe or unreliable. When getting from Point A to Point B has become a roll of the dice, it’s time to get a new vehicle. If your car can’t pass a safety inspection or run reliably, that’s a no-go. Even intermittent mechanical issues can become liabilities if they risk stranding you or your loved ones in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  4. You can afford to upgrade. Use a car financing calculator to run the numbers on how much your payments might be. Does that fit into your monthly budget? Put a pencil and some thought to the figures to help decide how much car you can actually afford.
Replacing your old beater with a brand new vehicle is the ideal fix for a never-ending stream of breakdowns and repairs. If payments for a new car loan don’t fit into your budget, consider the alternatives instead, including buying a more affordable used car.
Still, the value of a new car drops by 20 percent the moment you drive it off the car lot, according to That means buying a used car sometimes makes more sense. Because you don’t want to trade one set of mechanical troubles for another, look for a certified pre-owned car from a dealer. You’ll get a warranty that gives you peace of mind and protection for your wallet.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tips for Passing the Vehicle Emissions Test

Each year in Atlanta’s 13-county metro region, more than 2.5 million cars are tested for emissions. Georgia’s Clean Air Force (GCAF), a partnership with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), offers five key tips for motorists to help them ace their next emissions test.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Get A Sneak Peek at Kia's New All-Electric Vehicle

Kia has turned heads with its Soul five-door small wagon since its introduction a few years ago, both because of the way the vehicle looks and the cute TV ads with the hamsters.
But now, the Korean automaker wants to get a little more serious with the Soul by introducing the Soul EV, an all-electricvehicle that gives Kia some serious green credentials.
As Kia rolls out its Soul EV, it can continue to boast of the affordability of the vehicle. Compared with a number of other all-electrics, the Soul EV is much more within reach of those with modest incomes who want to be green on wheels.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2015 Volkswagen Passat: Practical Sedan with some Driving Fun

The 2015 Volkswagen Passat comes with impressive driving dynamics, a few engine choices and a roomy interior.
You won’t be blown away by the Passat’s looks. It has understated styling, on the outside and inside. But in that sense, it sets itself a bit apart from other midsize sedans, which in recent years have rushed to embrace the sweeping, slanting body style that has become so popular.
The Passat’s base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. Another choice is the 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower. And there’s a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo diesel that makes 150 horsepower.
The base engine gets a very solid 24 mpg city, 36 highway, with its six speed automatic transmission. But if you want really great efficiency, get the diesel and its 30 mpg city, 44 highway with a six-speed manual or 30 and 42 with the automatic.
Clearly, Volkswagen continues to demonstrate a penchant for fuel economy.
Safety ratings favor the Passat as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it a five star rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a top safety pick plus award.
On the outside, you’ll find 16-inch wheels standard, with 17 and 18-inchers optional.
The headlights and tail lights get a nice bit of angular styling, but other than that, there are just clean lines and no dramatic slopes to the Passat’s body style.
On the inside, the roomy Passat seats five comfortably. Optional amenities include push-button start, dual zone climate control and navigation.
The Passat starts at around $22,000 and ranges to about $37,000.

If you’re looking for a midsize sedan that’s fun to drive yet practical, the Passat is worth a look.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 Infiniti QX60: Safety, Technology and Luxury

If you’re looking to carry your crew or your cargo in style, the seven-seat Infiniti QX60 is a good choice.
This crossover SUV made its debut in 2013, when it was called the JX35.
But as Infiniti made the questionable move to identify each of its vehicles with the letter Q, this one gets the new moniker.
What remains is a choice of front or all-wheel drive, a number of technology features and distinctive styling.
The QX60 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 248 pounds-feet of torque. That is mated to a continuously variable transmission, with front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel optional.
Front-wheel models get 20 mpg city, 26 highway and all wheels get 19 and 25.
The safety technology of the QX60 is outstanding. There is a backup collision intervention system that senses objects that are sitting low behind the vehicle or other vehicles that may be crossing the rear path and warns the driver or applies the brakes when needed.
There’s also an around view monitor that gives an overhead view of the vehicle to reveal any objects that may be to the sides or in the blind spots of the driver.
And as you might expect there is blind spot warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, which slows the vehicle when it closely approaches a vehicle ahead of it.
·         For exterior styling, the contoured rear window is a nice touch, giving it an imaginative design feature that goes a step beyond the usual SUV look.
·         A power liftgate and moonroof are standard.
·         The interior is comfortable and nicely appointed. Front and second row passengers get a decent amount of head- and leg room, while the third row is a bit more snug, but not bad for children.
·         The rear cargo area has 15.8 feet of space, which isn’t huge, but is certainly serviceable.
·         Three zone climate control, heated front seats and leather seating are standard features.
·         Available options include cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and second-row seats, a navigation system and two-screen rear entertainment system.
·         The QX60 starts at around $43,000 and ranges to about $45,000.

·         For great safety technology, distinctive styling and nice amenities, the QX60 is worth a look.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Extended Warranties: To Buy or Not To Buy

Car buyers face the decision of whether it’s worth it to purchase an extended vehicle warranty. Some say the prolonged protection is worth it, but others say that it often does not pay off.
If you’re facing this choice, there are a few factors you should keep in mind.
Some extended warranties are better than others. Factors such as who is selling the warranty, when you purchase it and its particular terms can make a big difference.
Beat The Press
When you’re signing all that paperwork at the dealership, don’t be pressured to buy the warranty at that moment. You might do better to find a third party, or after-market, seller. That’s because dealerships frequently
substantially mark up the cost of their warranties.
Try To Anticipate
If you think there’s a good chance that the car you’ll buying will have a problem that will cause a major repair bill, and that you’ll have difficulty handling that bill, an extended warranty might be a good idea. Of course, it’s very difficult to predict such occurrences.
If you’re buying a new car, which typically is covered by a three year/ 36,000 mile warranty, think about your plans for after that period. If you think you’ll be getting rid of the car at about that time, don’t buy an extended warranty. If you might hold onto it for a long time, the warranty might be worth it.
Shop Smartly
A major auto maker or a highly regarded financial services company are probably the best places to buy warranties, if you choose to do so. Local dealers and other third parties might not be as reputable.
Know The Terms
It’s important to get a full accounting of what’s covered and what’s not, and to know the payment terms and conditions.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lexus RX 450h: One Fine Hybrid

The Lexus RX 450h is a great crossover hybrid SUV that is roomy, luxurious and fuel efficient. If those are qualities you're seeking, it's hard to beat this model.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Quick Look at the Lexus IS 250 F- Sport

  • Lexus has a 2.5-liter V6 in the IS 250 F-Sport, producing 204 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque. The all-wheel-drive version will get to 60 mph in a reported 8.3 seconds.
  • The IS 250 AWD get fuel economy numbers of 20 mpg city /27 highway. 
  • Lexus is said to be developing a four-cylinder turbo engine, as it seeks to step up its competitiveness against other luxury sport sedans. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

2015 Acura TLX is on the Way

Acura is combining its midsize sedans, the TL and TSX, for the 2015 model year to create the new TLX sedan.
We got a look at the car that will be hitting showrooms shortly at an Atlanta event.
The new model has some of the features of the bigger RLX sedan, such as LED headlights and emphasized fenders with 20-inch wheels. The base model will have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and the higher model will have a 3.5-liter V-6.
We didn't get to drive this one, but we hope to soon so we can give the full rundown.


VW Beetle Convertible: Free-spirited fun

The Volkswagen Beetle convertible is fun to drive, fuel efficient and roomy inside. Read more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Buying Auto Insurance? Know These Terms

If you're buying a new car, you'll probably also be buying auto insurance, which protects you financially from physical damage or bodily injury in the event of a car accident, theft, or natural disaster and any liability that you may face as a result.
 There are lots of types of coverage, and sorting through them can be confusing. Do your research and consult with an agent to determine which type of plan is best for you.
Meanwhile, here are a few terms that will help you sort through the insurance buying process. 
1) Premium
A premium is a payment (typically monthly) made to an insurance company in return for insurance coverage.
2) Deductible
A deductible is the out-of-pocket amount you agree to pay for damages resulting from a car accident. Typically, the higher your monthly premium, the lower your deductible.
3) Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (BI)
If you cause an accident, bodily injury liability coverage pays the medical costs for injuries (including rehabilitation, pain and suffering) or death to people involved in the accident other than the insured driver. It also pays for legal costs.
4) Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car due to an event other than a collision, such as natural disasters, theft, and vandalism.
5) Collision Coverage
If your car overturns or is involved in a collision with another vehicle or object, Collision coverage pays for the damage to your vehicle, and can be extended to cover a non-owned vehicle or rental the insured is operating.
6) Loan/Lease Payoff Coverage (GAP Insurance)
If your car is declared a total loss (the insurance company determines that the cost to repair the car is more than the actual value of the car) as a result of an accident or is stolen, gap insurance pays the difference between what you still owe on your vehicle and what your insurance determines is the actual value of your vehicle, less your comprehensive or collision deductible.
7) Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Personal Injury Protection Coverage reimburses the insured driver, passengers, and any person struck by the insured vehicle (within the specified limits) for medical, hospital, in-home care, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
8) Property Damage Liability Coverage (PD)
Property damage coverage pays for damage to others' property resulting from an accident when an insured person is legally responsible for the accident. Property damage coverage may also pay for legal defense costs.
9) Uninsured/Underinsured Motor Vehicle Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage pays for medical bills, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and funeral costs for the insured driver and passengers in the car in the event of a hit-and-run or when an accident is caused by a driver without insurance or with insufficient policy limits to fully reimburse you for damages they caused.
10) Medical Payments Coverage (Med-Pay)
This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
According to Consumer Reports, bodily injury liability, property damage and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage are must-haves, while collision, comprehensive, personal-injury protection, and medical payments coverage are deemed as coverage you’ll probably need.

Study Before You Buy 

When you're familiar with these terms, you can get the coverage you need and compare quotes from different insurers.Sites like compare premiums, so you can do much of the research online.

Monday, August 18, 2014

3 Good Back-To-School Vehicles

It's back to school time again, and if you or a loved one will be heading to a campus, you might be in need of some wheels.
The Beat has selected three good choices for heading back to school, based on affordability, fuel economy and reliability, key factors for students.
Take a look at our list, then make suggestions for your picks for back-to-school rides.

The Corolla got a nice style makeover for the 2014 model year, making it look sportier and more upscale. Yet it retained an affordable price tag, topping out at about $22,000. There's also a new continuously variable transmission and better fuel economy - up to 42 mpg highway.

The Jetta is available in a number of different trim levels, including a diesel model, a hybrid and a sport wagon. For this model year, it received a new engine - a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It also gets up to 42 mpg highway.

The Civic comes with a new continuously variable transmission, replacing the five-speed automatic. For this model year, the coupe model received a style refresh. It gets up to 41 mpg highway, and has long been known as one of the most reliable cars on the market.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Beat Went to Music City

The Beat recently traveled to Nashville to test drive the new Lexus NX (see review link below).
But we also got to do some great site seeing, such as our visit to the Hatch Show Print shop, which for many years has been printing terrific concert signs. We also ate well, at a marvelous restaurant called the Farm House. Music City is great. Check it out sometime.

First Look: Lexus NX

The Beat recently traveled to Nashville to get a look at the all new Lexus NX crossover.
It's got some pretty cool styling and technology, and is surprisingly comfortable.
Check out the full review here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Abundant Fun

Some things never get old, like the thrill of driving a fun, exhilarating roadster.
Such is the case with the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata, which this year is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its introduction.
There have been no radical changes to the Miata over the years, which is a good thing, because it has developed a legion of die-hard fans who appreciate everything it stands for.
What does it stand for?
Probably most essential is the fact that folks love it because it is a genuine sports car that presents some of the best driving dynamics in the business, and it gives you that without costing you an arm and a leg.
The Miata added the MX-5 designation to its moniker a few years ago, but lovers still just call it Miata.
It’s powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 158 horsepower when linked to the six-speed automatic transmission or 167 ponies with the five- or six-speed manual.
Those horsepower numbers aren’t off the charts, but be assured that you won’t feel any lack of power behind the wheel of the Miata.
Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 28 highway with the manual, and 22 and 28 with the automatic.
In the previous model year, a few changes were made to the front end, and fog lights became standard. Mazda also replaced the Touring version with something it calls the Club model. It features 17-inch dark finish alloy wheels, a new suspension for manual models and a front diffuser.
But the bottom line is, as in most Mazda models, the driving dynamics never disappoint.
Whether it’s sprinting down an interstate highway or taking some twisty rural roads, this machine is a box of thrills.
The handling is superb, thanks to its even weight distribution and tightly tuned suspension.
Acceleration is steady and smooth, and braking is precise and reliable.
Yes, you can get great driving dynamics in cars that cost a whole lot more, but why would you want to pay extra?
The Miata is like paying the cover charge at a bar that a local garage band plays, but getting a concert from the Rolling Stones.
It even has some nice touches, such as the standard leather wrapped steering wheel and the optional heated seats and automatic climate control.
Mind you, as a two-seater, it’s not always the most practical car. Don’t try to haul a bunch of cargo, either.
But that’s not what Miata is about.
It is about a free-spirited, pleasurable ride that makes you smile.
Speaking of which, enthusiasts are already eagerly anticipating the arrival of the ND Miata next year.
We certainly hope to get a peek (and a spin).
The Miata starts at around $23,000 and ranges to close to $33,000.
For big fun in a small package, it’s hard to beat the Miata.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Porsche Tops JD Power Survey For 10th Year in a Row

Porsche is the highest-ranked brand in the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which was recently released. It was the 10th consecutive to finish for the German brand. Hyundai gained the top spot among non-premium brands and was the highest-ranked non-premium brand in the J.D. Power 2014 Initial Quality Study.  It's the first time a brand has ranked tops in APEAL and IQS in the same year.
Dodge and Porsche won three segment awards each: Dodge for the Challenger, Charger and Dart; and Porsche for the 911, Boxster and Cayenne.
Winners of two segment awards each are Audi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan. Audi won for the A8 (tie) and Q5; Ford for the F-150 LD and F-250/F-350 Super Duty; Mercedes-Benz for the CLS-Class and S-Class (tie); and Nissan for the Rogue and Quest.
Other winners included the BMW 4 Series; GMC Yukon; Honda Ridgeline; Hyundai Accent; Kia Soul; Land Rover Range Rover; Mazda MAZDA6; MINI Countryman; Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen GTI.
Mazda was the most improved non-premium brand, gaining the No. 9 spot after taking the No. 16 spot the prior year.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Toyota Tacoma: Works Hard, Plays Hard

The 2014 Toyota Tacoma is a versatile, rugged truck that lets you work and play in style.
This midsize pickup is perfect for those who want the utility of a truck, but also want something a little smaller and more fuel efficient than full-size models
The Tacoma comes in three cab styles: regular, Access and Double. With the regular and Access models, you get a six-foot bed, and the Double comes with a five- or six-foot bed.
The truck is powered by a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 159 horsepower. Optional is 4.0-liter V-6 that makes 236 horsepower. The four-cylinder models come with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, and the V-6 models have a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
In all models, automatic limited-slip differential is included.
Fuel economy is rated at 16 mpg city, 19 highway on the V-6 and 21 and 25 on the four-cylinder.
Safety features on the Tacoma include traction control, electronic stability system and side curtain airbags, all standard. A backup camera is optional.
For added functionality and convenience, the TRD models have a 115-volt power outlet in the cargo bed.
The interior is comfortable, with seating for up to five and optional heated front seats.
The Tacoma starts at around $19,000 and ranges to about $30,000.

For a fun, versatile, reliable midsize pickup, you won’t find many choices better than the Tacoma.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lexus IS 250c is a Fun Convertible

It’s hard to beat getting out on the open road and taking the top down. With the Lexus IS 250c or 350c, you can do just that, in style.
This convertible seats four and has a hardtop roof that opens or closes in 21 seconds.
Its styling is a bit different from its sedan sibling, with coupe-like looks when the top is up and a more snug interior.
Both the sedan and the convertible have a 2.5-liter V-6 that makes 204 horsepower. But the convertible’s gas mileage is a little lower, at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, because of the added weight of the convertible mechanism.
The IS 350c has a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 306 horsepower, with fuel economy of 19 and 27.
The interior is pleasantly appointed with features like dual-zone climate control, leather seating and USB/iPod connection. Add some options such as the Enform telematics system, voice-activated navigation system and Mark Levinson 14-speaker sound system  and you’ll really be riding in style.
However, unless you’re very tiny, make sure you’re riding up front; the back seats have almost no room.
One neat feature about the IS 250c is the anti-glare gauges that still allow you to see their information displays even when the top is down and direct sunlight is beaming down.
Also, the climate and audio systems adjust automatically when the top is down.
The IS 250c is priced at around $44,000.

For an enjoyable, top-down ride with nice luxury touches, the IS 250c is a fine choice.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Buick Announces Technology Features

Buick has announced that most of its 2015 models will come standard with a built in Wi-Fi hotspot, powered by its OnStar telematics system, with 4G LTE.
The move is a nod to the increasing levels of technology and connectivity found in automobiles today. 
Buick also said that each 2015 model will come standard with Apple Siri Eyes Free and text message alerts.