Top-Ten Tuesday

Shipping a Car Overseas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

A few years ago my other half and I were almost relocated from California to England. As part of the process, we investigated the cost of shipping our Subaru Forester across the pond. We learned that if you live near a major port, it’s not that expensive, and that you’re actually allowed to pack the vehicle full (since it’s going in a container, anyway).

For this week’s Top-Ten Tuesday, I’m referring you all to

CanuckAbroad’s Article on Shipping Cars Overseas because it covers pretty much every point I’d planned to discuss.

In the end, we declined the relocation, because we had pets we didn’t want to quarantine, and because we didn’t really want to be that far apart for six months to a year, but the information was still valuable.

Safety First!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Read any auto review, and safety features will be given almost as much attention as engine specs. Either the array of safety systems is lauded, or the lack thereof is denigrated, and sometimes mocked. In either case, the message is clear: driving fast is cool, but getting there in one piece is cooler.

This, then, is a list of ten features or systems that protect us as we’re zooming from point a to point b, or beyond:

  1. AirbagsThey prevent you from crashing into the steering wheel (and impaling yourself on the steering column) and also prevent severe cranial injuries. The newest versions are set to “depower” themselves - reduce power after they’re activated - to keep them from causing injuries while preventing fatalaties.
  2. Computers Whether they’re the powerful type of computer that aid in the design and manufacture of our cars, or the mini-processors on board, without which many other safety features wouldn’t work, computers are a crucial component of safe driving.
  3. Deformable Structure We’re past the days, for the most part, when a survivable crash ended in fatality because the hood of the car ripped off and cut through the windshield, or any other such grisly results, and this is largely because deformable structure allows the car itself to absorb the energy of impact, and not pass it on to the driver.
  4. Disc Brakes Not only do they allow cars to make 60 - 0mph stops, something old-school drum brakes couldn’t always do more than a couple times in a row without over heating, disc brakes also allow us to have anti-lock braking systems, and are a vital component of stability and traction control.
  5. Divided Highways Driving is simply safer with divided highways, and statistics support this - comparisons based on total numbers of traveled miles show that there are 70% fewer fatalities on divided roads than on old two-lane bidirectional ones.
  6. DUI Laws While drunk or (otherwise chemically) altered drivers still account for about a third of fatal driving accidents, that’s down from a 50% statistic from 1982. Across the country, DUI laws have been getting tougher - but critics think they’re still not strict enough.
  7. Quick Emergency Response Skilled rescue workers arriving on-scene quickly may not be something drivers can control, but because of EMTs and fast-response teams, less than one percent of the 6 million or so traffic accidents that occur annually end in death.
  8. Stability Control Electronic Stability Control, whether it’s known by a set of initials (ESC, DSC, etc.) or a fancy name (”Stabilitrak”) is what helps keep all four tires touching the pavement. It’s controlled by computers, not drivers, so it can’t make panic and make a wrong decision, which is always a plus.
  9. Seatbelts When I was a kid, my mother had a rule that the car didn’t move until everyone was buckled in. Thankfully, I’m an only child, so this didn’t take long. The point however is that all the cool technology in the world cannot keep you alive if you’re flying through the windshield. Buckle up!
  10. Tires Good quality, well-maintained, pneumatic steel-belted radial tires may well be the most important safety feature there is. Why? Because at any given moment it’s a patch of rubber about the size of an adult hand that is actually in contact with the road. Without tires, disc brakes are useless, and stability control non-existent. Also, keeping the pressure correct helps maximize fuel economy.
  11. Your Turn: My list comes from a week of research, and years of riding in, driving, and owning cars. What would you add to this list? What would you remove?

Top Ten Most Fuel Efficient Cars

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

With May 2007 sales numbers showing 21% of auto purchases being for compact cars, and the Toyota Prius being the best-selling car in San Jose, California last month, it is obvious that more and more consumers are looking at fuel economy as a primary factor when choosing a car.

It’s helpful, then, that the Environmental Protection Agency puts out a list of the most fuel-efficient cars each year. The list for the 2007 model year isn’t new - it came out last October - but it bears repeating.

Ranked in order from highest fuel efficiency to lowest, here is the 2007 list:

  1. Toyota Prius (60 city/51 highway): It’s not surprising that this is the front runner, with it’s hybrid-electric engine, as it’s still the poster-child of hybrids. What surprised me was the greater difference between the city and highway numbers. (It’s normal for hybrids to do better in stop-and-go driving, however.)
  2. Honda Civic Hybrid (49/51): The Civic has long been Honda’s best seller, and the hybrid version is living up to the name.
  3. Toyota Camry Hybrid (40/38): It comes in three different trim levels, but the EPA list doesn’t specify which one they’re referring to.
  4. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD (36/31): Proof that a car doesn’t have to be a small sedan, or carry a Japanese label, to be fuel efficient. This is the hybrid version of Ford’s popular compact SUV.
  5. Toyota Yaris (34/40): The Yaris is actually listed twice, these numbers are for the manual transmission, while the automatic comes in just a bit less efficient in freeway driving. See below.
  6. Toyota Yaris (34/39): And here we have the numbers for the automatic transmission version.
  7. Honda Fit (33/38): These numbers are for the manual transmission version of the Fit. The automatic transmission model didn’t make the 2007 top-ten list.
  8. Toyota Corolla (32/41): Again, the manual version of a car makes the list while the automatic version does not.
  9. Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio(32/35): The manual version of Hyundai’s Accent actually tied with the Kia Rio (also manual), which isn’t surprising at all since they’re twin cars. We listed Hyundai first just to keep them in alphabetical order.
  10. Mercury Mariner Hybrid (also the Ford Escape Hybrid, again) (32/29): These are essentially the same vehicle with different badging, and as such share one entry. Numbers are for the 4WD versions.

While reviews and pricing for 2008 model year cars are making appearances on manufacturer websites, and elsewhere on the ‘net, the EPA will not be releasing their top ten for that year until October 2007. When that comes out, be prepared for numbers that may be lower than this year’s. Why? Because the EPA has also revised the way they compute fuel efficiency, making the numbers more reflective of real-world conditions.

About Automotive Blogger

Some people use their automobiles only to get from Point A to Point B. You know there's more than that. You get mad when someone makes a remark about your car that's less than flattering. You get riled when a cool car is destroyed in a straight-to-video movie. You realize when a new car doesn't deserve it's name of a great car of the past. When you see someone driving a boring vehicle, you feel sorry for them. You know it's not the destination that counts - it's the journey. Welcome home gearheads. Welcome home, car freaks. Welcome to the site that fuels your automotive obsession - AutomotiveBlogger.net

Automotive Blogger Author(s)
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