Monthly Archives: February 2012

Testimonial by Marge S

I really appreciated Susan’s guidance when thinking about making a new car purchase. To navigate this maze was a nightmare, but she made it look so easy. Accompanying me to the dealership made it all the more possible. I highly recommend a no-nonsense “partner” when trying to make such a huge purchase as a new set of wheels. Marge S

Testimonial by Arlene T.

“Women with Wheels” I love the name. How fun. I am enjoying your website and find it very helpful. I know we can pretty much find what we need on line, but having a site that caters to us is great. Arlene T.

Testimonial by Noreen K

Dr. Susan We so enjoyed your class and were amazed how varied the ages and backgrounds were of the participants. This is a great “service,” and every woman should take advantage of it. Please keep me informed about when the next class is! Thanks again. Noreene K Enjoyed the class

NHTSA & Chuggington Team up to teach Children how to be Safe in and around Cars

By: Diana Duel

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)has teamed up with the popular animated tv series Chuggington to teach children how to be safe in and around cars. The nationwide traffic safety campaign is geared specifically towards children from the ages of 2 to 7 and includes a public service announcement featuring characters from the show, a kid-focused safety pledge and downloadable tips and activities for parents and caregivers to use with children.

“This exciting partnership with Chuggington will help us bring our traffic safety message to young children and parents alike,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Educating children at an early age bout the importance of wearing bicycle helmets, looking both ways when crossing the street and buckling up leads to a lifetime of good traffic safety habits.”

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children, with 1,314 fatalities and 179,000 injuries to those 14 and younger in 2009. In 2007, an estimated 262 fatalities and 115,000 injuries to children 14 and younger occurred from pedestrian incidents involving children playing in or around motor vehicles.

The new partnership  combines NHTSA’s safety guidelines for pedestrians, school buses, bikes and car seat use with Chuggington’s characters to reach parents and children.

“Chuggington’s characters learn important life lessons in every episode of the show and often earn badges as rewards for appropriate behavior,” said Dick Rothkopf, chairman of Ludorum, the creators of the show. “The ‘Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!’ traffic safety pledge and badge is based on this concept. We hope that children will be excited to learn the rules of the road while they interact with Chuggington’s characters and earn their ‘official’ Chuggington Traffic Safety badges.”

Parents and educators can access the Chuggington kids pledge and online tools by going to

Auto Trivia

*Since 2008, several vehicles have experienced a jump in mpg as they strive to keep ahead of rising gas prices and meet their fleet’s fuel economy requirements. The biggest strides go to the Audi A3, which climbed 38.5 percent and is at 29.1 mpg for 2012. An example:

Rank/Make/Model MPG 2008 MPG 2012
1. Audi A3 21.0 29.1
2. Chevy Equinox 19.0 25.1
3. Kia Sorento 17.0 22.2
4. Dodge Challenger 15.0 19.5
5. Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class 17.9 23.0
6. Ford Explorer 15.4 19.5
7. Hyundai Sonata 22.0 27.7
8. Porsche Cayenne 14.7 18.3
9. Buick LaCrosse 20.9 26.0
10. VW Passat 21.8 27.0
(Chicago Tribune, 3/18/2012)

*Long-time automotive journalist for Autoweek Patrick C. Paternie died March 10 at the age of 65. Though tragic, and too soon, Paternie suffered a heart attack while finishing a race at Willow Springs in his Porsche 911. As he pulled into the pit area, he succombed and medical crew at the track tried to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Writing for Autoweek since 2000, Paternie covered a wide variety of subjects, from concours to Corvettes, driving Mustangs and motorcycles. His whole career was spent writing about and enjoying cars. RIP Patrick.

•For the seventh straight year, consumer voters proclaimed their favorites in five categories in the Chicago Auto Show’s “Best of Show” balloting. In voting conducted over the 10-day public run of the nation’s biggest auto show, winners in the contest’s five categories were:
Best All-New Production Vehicle: Ford Shelby GT500
• Best Concept Vehicle: Lexus LF-LC
• Best Green Vehicle: Chevrolet Volt
• Best Exhibit: Jeep
• Vehicle I’d most like to have in my driveway: Ford Shelby GT500

According to LoJack’s 2011 Vehicle Theft Recovery Report:

2011 Ranking                                                                   2010 Ranking

1. Honda Accord                                                                1

2. Toyota Camry                                                                3

3. Honda Civic                                                                    2

4. Acura Integra                                                                 4

5. Toyota Corolla                                                                6

6.  Nissan Altima                                                                8

7.  Nissan Maxima                                                              9

8. Cadillac Escalade                                                            5

9. Chevrolet Tahoe                                                             10

10. Ford F250 Pick Up                                                       (new)

LoJack’s Most Stolen and Recovered Vehicles by Year, Make, Model (Less than 5 yrs. old):

2011                                                                                      2010

1. 2007 Toyota Camry                                                         1

2. 2010 Toyota Corolla                                                      (new)

3. 2007 Cadillac Escalade                                                   4

4. 2009 Toyota Camry                                                         2

5. 2007 Toyota Corolla                                                      (new)

Most Stolen and Recovered 2011 Models:

1. Toyota Camry

2. Mercedes-Benz C300

3. Ford F-350 Series

4. Honda Civic

5. Toyota Corolla

States with Most Stolen and Recovered Vehicles:

2011 Ranking                                                 2010 Ranking

1. California                                                         1

2. Texas                                                                2

3. Florida                                                             3

4. New York                                                        4

5. New Jersey                                                      6

6. Massachussetts                                               5

7. Maryland                                                          8

8. Arizona                                                             7

9. Georgia                                                             9

10. Nevada                                                           10

Interesting Recovery Factoids:

Oldest Stolen Vehicle Recovered: 1948 Chevy Fleetline

Most Expensive Stolen Vehicle Recovered: 2010 Mercedes-Benz S63 AM, worth approx. $116,825

First Recovery of the Year: 2008 Nissan Altima on Jan. 1st at 2:20 am

Last Recovery of the Year: 1995 Honda Accord on Dec 31st at 11:19 pm

Percentage Increase of Stolen Hybrids Recovered in 2011 vs. 2010: 19 percent

Average NADA Value of Stolen and Recovered Vehicles: $11,850

Most common colors: White, Silver, Black, Gray and Blue

*The Top 10 Ugly Cars (

*Toyota Tercel Wagon, 1983-1987                          *Honda Accord Crosstour, 2010-present

*Ford Mustang SVO, 1984-1986                              *Lincoln MKT, 2010-present

*Ford Probe, 1989-1992                                            *Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, 2011-present

*Chevy Lumina APV, 1990-1993

*Ford Taurus, 1996-1999

*Subaru B9 Tribeca, 2006-2007

*BMW 5-Series GT, 2010-present


*What are the differences in gender between men and women drivers? Author Tom Vanderbilt (Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do) thinks he knows:

*Eighty-one percent of men wore seatbelts in 2009;      *Eighty-seven percent of women wore seatbelts in 2009;      *Male drivers drink more often when driving and were involved        in 25 percent of fatal crashes in 2008;      *Thirteen percent of female drivers were involved in fatal car crashes        in 2008. Because women are driving more, says Vanderbilt, more speeding and aggressive behaviors are noted in female drivers. Driving behavior and driving performance are two different things. Although in studies male drivers performed better statistically, during actual driving experiences, males are involved in more serious crashes. (AAA Living, March/April 2011)

*How Do Men and Women Compare when Car Shopping?

The Top 10 models with the highest percentage of male buyers in 2010:      *Porsche 911      *GMC Sierra      *Chevrolet Corvette      *Chevrolet Silverado      *Ford F-Series      *BMW M3      *Ford Ranger      *Toyota Tundra      *Dodge Ram      *Audi S5

The Top 10 models with the highest percentage of female buyersin 2010:      *VW New Beetle      *Kia Spectra      *Nissan Rogue      *VW EOS      *Hyundai Entourage      *Volvo S40      *Jeep Compass      *Honda CR-V      *Nissan Sentra      *Hyundai Tucson

*According to the American Automobile Association, in 2010 it cost more than $8,500 to drive a midsize sedan 15,000 miles, factoring in gasoline, maintenance, insurance and depreciation.

*According to the the Manheim used-car price index, compact used cars sell for almost 17 percent more than they did in the summer of 2010

The Chicago Automotive Media Kicks Off the 104th Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place

Wednesday, February 8: 104th Chicago Auto Show. The first of two days at the Chicago Auto Show began today with the annual MAMA breakfast, with guest speaker John Maloney, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs-Morton Grove-Maloney brought the media up to speed on the latest Volvo products and progress. “Everyone has a car story to tell,” Maloney noted, and indeed, growing up in the 1950s–60s, during the greatest decades in automotive history, many of us do have great memories.

Volvo is on the move, stated Maloney, with cooler and more stylish vehicles to offer. Offering up its “Concept You” for the auto show, Volvo has given us some idea of where they are going in the future. For sure, changes will include fewer engines, fewer parts, better fuel efficiency and more alternative methods. If anyone knows anything about the Volvo brand it’s that safety is at its core. Making that evident this morning, Maloney boasted that by the year 2020 Volvo will make an automobile that will guarantee that no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of their vehicles.

With lots of new and innovative technology in store-such as animal detection systems, car train improvements and the continued creation of a global brand, Volvo is on an upward trend. Volvo predicts they will sell 800,000 cars in 2020. Soon to build a plant in China to serve the Chinese auto market, Volvo will tweak their vehicles sold there: Some with longer wheelbases. Projected to sell 13.7 million cars in 2012,  Volvo sold 14.1 million in 2011, up from 11.5 million in 2010. Their vision is not to take driving away from the driver, says Maloney. Rather, they will continue to strive to add more of those last minute safety interventions.

On a local note, VP of Membership for MAMA (Midwest Automotive Media Association’s) Kirk Bell announced to the group MAMA’s annual award for Family Vehicle of the Year. The nonprofit group of automotive journalists and public relations professionals developed the award to help the consumer make a wise buy when it’s time. Criteria includes a vehicle that sells for less than $50,000, either new or significantly redesigned/updated, have been present at both MAMA rallys within a year: Out of a list of 11 contenders, the winner: 2012 VW Passat.

GMC’s presentation included a look at the new 2013 GMC Acadia Denali. With the focus on trucks and SUV’s, GMC is making headway with its newer CUV models (Terrain), with an increase in sales. Sales of the 2011 Acadia were up 16 percent in 2011, with 52 percent of buyers new to the brand. Sporting a new grille and face, Acadia also shows off some fancy LED lights, upgraded interior and red ambient lighting. Improved handling, ride and driveability are also features of the new and improved 2012 Acadia.

Hyundai’s CEO and President John Krafcik announced an uptake in sales for 2011; a very good increase at 29 percent retail growth.  Rated number one in Dealer Attitude Surveys, Hyundai has come a very long way. A year of lots of awards, Hyundai’s Elantra was recently named The North American Car of the Year, and in the effort to end recent consumer controversy about miles-per-gallon, Popular Mechanics confirmed that Elantra, indeed, can achieve the mileage it says it can: 40 mpg and more. Neck and neck with Ford Focus (avg. 47.5 mpg.), Elantra hit a high of 47.6 mpg. Two new 2013 Elantra models were announced for 2012: Coupe, GT. The only compact car to offer three models, Elantra can’t seem to keep up with the demand. First to be offered in Spring 2012 will be the 2013 Coupe, decked out with 17-inch alloy wheels and a sport suspension. Appealing to younger buyers, the Elantra Coupe will have  1.8-liter engine, with the manual delivering 40 mpg., and have more space than the Honda Civic. Early summer will bring the European-inspired GT model, complete with a long list of standard equipment, such as a cooled glove box. At 151 pounds lighter than the Mazda3, the new Elantra GT will be the lightest vehicle in its class, but with a 37 percent increase in body stiffness and comprised of 57 percent high tension steel. Three steering modes will also be available, and fuel economy will be upwards of 39 mpg./highway. One very cool feature will be the badge-concealed, flip-up lid rear camera. Cool!

Up next was KIA, also with bragging rights about its increase in sales in 2011. Introducing nine new models in three years, KIA has been on a roll. Living their dream, KIA was the fastest growing car brand in the U.S. in 2011. With all-time best sales in 2011 of 485,000 units, KIA has experienced 78 percent growth in volume since the introduction of the KIA Soul. One can’t help but assume much of KIA’s success can be attributed to their clever advertisements. Especially the hamsters. Come on, who among us cannot connect with those rapping hamsters?  (the hamsters, by the way, have won two Nielsen awards and their latest ad has become the number 1 most-shared video in the world on UTube). “Doers,” KIA hasn’t been sitting around. The Sorento, built in Georgia will soon be joined by the building of various iterations of the Optima. Attempting to bring more affluent, stylish-conscious consumers into the brand, KIA will introduce the 2012 KIA Optima Ltd next month. Complete with all premium technology and features, the new Optima adds elegant touches, including a turbo. With an MSRP under $35,000 new Limited Optima will be another hit for KIA, along with two turbo-charged models. Partnering with Kinetic Motor Sports, KIA will offer a serious racing-style, yet street legal, Optioma. KIA will continue to provide the lowest cost of ownership in the industry over a 5 year period, as it offers up new and innovative features, such as UVO eServices, an enabled free Smartphone app.  Also news at KIA is their reach into the world of racing. KIA’s gone racing with its Forte coupes and Optima sedan in the ST series. Tom Kearns of the design department introduced the KIA Track’ster concept. A high-performance, 2-liter turbo with 250 horse, this KIA based on the Soul, will be a hit if it ever hits the showroom. Sporting three doors, the Track’ster has massive rear tires (285/35-19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 high-performance), a widened body and stretched wheelbase (101.2 in.), large 14-inch vented and cross-drilled disc Brembo brakes and modified cockpit. While there are no plans to produce the Track’ster yet, its appeal is obvious.

Introducing the 2012 Ford Fusion in Detroit was some of Ford’s big news for 2012. This spring will bring a refreshed Escape SUV, Flex and Taurus.The Focus ST will appear in summer 2012, with the EcoBoost engine. A screamer at 250 horse and 250 ft. lb. torque, the ST will be the first vehicle from Ford’s global one approach. Ford folks also celebrated Ford’s 20-year relationship with SVT. Still popular, the SVT-equipped Mustang began its tenure in 1993, along with the F-150 Lightning truck. Producing a limited run, the SVT race-tuned Cobra R Mustangs are a niche vehicle, of course, but very sought after by some.  First look for media included the Shelby GT500 Convertible, each with a commemorative lit sill plate and optional track package.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Chicago was President and COO of Toyota Motor North America, Yoshimi Inaba, recollecting his days as a Kellog School of Business in the 1970s when Toyota began to step up their pace for selling cars worldwide. Part of the Toyota team here to lead those efforts, Inaba spoke well of the U.S. and the generosity of Americans when earthquakes hit Japan. Focusing on the imortance of the automotive industry, Inaba quoted interesting facts: Over the next four years, 150,000 jobs in the industry will be created. The public may not realize that six million American jobs are in the automotive industry; it is the largest manufacturing sector, with a $500 billion payroll; second only to the Defense Dept and Social Security. Inaba shared with the audience Toyota’s launch of 19 new or updated products of late. Between their three iconic brands: Lexus, Scion and Toyota, Toyota has adopted a “wide portfolio approach” to selling cars. As the Prius “goes plural,” additional versions of the popular hybrid have gone on sale, including the soon-to-be introduced PriusC which arrives this coming spring. A plug-in seating five, the PriusC boasts 50 mpg. in hybrid mode and 95 mpg. combined. Seven in 10 hybrids on the road, noted Inaba, are Toyota, Lexus or Scion models. Since its introduction in 2000, the Prius has saved 1.1 billion gallons of gas and 16 million tons of Co2.  With the RAV4EV coming, Toyota is also toying with concept sporty vehicles such as the LF-LC Concept introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. And the plug-in hybrid, the N54 sports car. Inaba also shared with the group that Toyota employs more than 30,000 people in the U.S., and operates 10 U.S. plants. One-thousand engineers are employed in Michigan, and the new Highlander Hybrid will be built in Princeton, IN. Toyota will spend $400 million to expand the Princeton plant, projecting to build 50,000 more Highlander vehicles, and adding 400 jobs. Every automotive job, noted Inaba, creates three spin-off jobs.

The Chicago Auto Show opens this coming Friday, February 10 for the public, with lots to see and do..

A new feature will be Toyota’s Hybrid Monopoly Ride Experience, located in the South Hall. With more than 30,160 sq. ft. of space, Toyota will offer a closed course and show attendees will be able to experience the capabilities and advantages of the third generation Pruis, the all-new Prius V, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid. Professional drivers and product specialists will be on hand to offer fun and informational demonstrations. Hop a ride through Toyota’s eco-friendly course patterned after the Monopoly board game, while learning about all the features of the hybrid vehicles’ regenerative braking, multiple drive modes and fuel efficiency. Toyota teams up with Hasbro toy maker to present this unusual display.

Also be sure to stop by the Scion display, utilizing more than 30 percent more space at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. The display will feature a media theater called “Thunderdome,” to display products. No more Matchbox-style vehicle showcase introduced nearly five years ago. The Scion display will also feature15-foot tall overhead LED screens with action-packed videos and graphics. At the center of the exhibit will be the 2013 Scion FR-S compact car. A rear-wheel-drive sports car, the FR-S features 200 horsepower and goes on sale in the spring of 2012. Also available for review will be the Scion iQ micro sub-compact which appeared in showrooms fourth quarter of 2011. Scion’s award-winning sX guest experience featuring brand content, user participation and information sharing will also be available

Girls Go Racing!

Girls Go Racing:  The Art of Driving – Register For The Event! and Road America Inaugural Event – May 5-6, 2012 Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI

Selling Your Vehicle

By: Diana Duel

While there may be several advantages to trading in your old car when buying vehicle from a dealer, such as reducing the purchase price, and saving your self the hassle of selling the car yourself, anyone planning to do this should be sure not to bring up the fact to the dealer until you have negotiated the price for the new one.

On the other hand, a private sale will allow you to get more money for your used vehicle than a dealer would pay. A dealer will never give you the Blue Book value since he, in turn, would be looking to make his own profit on the resale of your old car. To find out just what the fair market price would be, you can look it up at your local library, or simply check it out online.

Advertising your car can be done in the classified section of any newspaper. Online sites such as CraigÂ’s List are also available, though you should be sure not to give too much personal information, such as your home address or phone number in the listing until you are sure that the potential customer is a legitimate one. CraigÂ’s List will allow you to list the car and have interested parties respond to it through their site. Buyers should let you call them first. Then, if you feel okay you can let them know where to come and see it.

Do not let strangers test-drive it alone. However, if you decide to let them, hold onto their driverÂ’s license or ask them to give you the keys to their car to hold until they come back as a safety precaution. If you do not have license plates on the car you are selling, tell the buyer in advance. Cars without plates cannot be driven on the street.

You will also need to find out how the buyer intends to pay for the car you are selling. Insist they give you cash or a certified check before they take possession of the vehicle. Remember, personal checks can bounce or even be stopped

2012 Chicago Auto Show – February 11-20.

Informational Links
Chicago Auto Show Tickets
About the Show
Directions & Parking
Weekday Discounts
Chicago Auto Show Meal Deals
First Look For Charity
First Look for Charity Tickets
Hi-Resolution Showfloor Map (Logos gallery)
Web Cams
Chicago Auto Show Blog
Special Appearances/Events
Chicago Auto Show History
Vehicles on Display

Best of Show Voting

As we have for nearly a decade, we are letting people select their favorites from the Chicago Auto Show. They can vote at the show, via SMS text, and online. This feature will be live from February 11-20. Click here for: Best of Show Interactive Online Voting