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17 posts from December 2012

December 10, 2012

No Barking While Driving!

Driving_Dogs-TrueCar_PricingSo, there's an animal charity in New Zealand that taught three rescue dogs how to drive cars in an attempt to show potential pet adopters how smart these driving dogs could be. Go ahead, watch the video. It's adorable.



Continue reading "No Barking While Driving!" »

This New Buick is an Encore Performance: the 2013 Buick Encore

Atlanta, Georgia: I thought I knew a lot about Buick and its changes. I know this General Motors brand has been busy putting the mojo on a cadre of new or updated models, building a stunning stable of quiet, beautifully-appointed, and fine-driving vehicles. But, I didn’t know that Buick is attracting younger buyers and attracting some new buyers from others brands. Nor did I know that Buick sales are up close to 25 percent this year and this luxury brand is outselling Acura, Audi, Infiniti and Lincoln.

2013-Buick-Encore-020I just drove the all-new 2013 Buick Encore, an addition to the marque’s crossover SUV stable. It lets you ride high while keeping a low profile, thanks to its elevated driving position along with its compact character. It has room for five and a bunch of techno-luxe features befitting GM’s marquee brand, it’s available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions--and priced starting at $24,950, including destination. Come along on our test drive! Buick brought a group of automotive evaluators to Atlanta for the first drive of the new model. Our venue included an overnight at Atlanta’s Twelve Hotel, located in the upscale section of the city known as Atlantic Station, a live-work-play community.

2013-Buick-Encore-011And, just like Buick’s customer program that offers a drive and fine dining experience, we were treated to a cooking demonstration at the trendy restaurant Empire State South, co-owned by Top Chef Hugh Acheson. Buick has invited some 10,000 potential buyers to this program that has different venues across the country, using this same theme.


IMG_0324It’s a statement about the brand! Encore doesn’t look like a typical luxury SUV – its wedge-like doorstop shape, contrast-color bumpers and scooped out sides evoke the aggressively sporty Nissan Juke, the Toyota RAV4 or even the before-its-time outdoorsy angles of the late Pontiac Aztek. But a closer look shows the same chrome accents and wide grille with signature vertical slats that adorn the Enclave, Encore’s larger, seven-passenger stablemate. Extending back from that grille, which is set high in the snubbed nose and capped by trapezoidal blue-accented halogen headlamps, is a roofline that rises high before sloping steeply back toward the rear end. A relatively narrow-looking rear windshield sits high up in the liftgate, and a contrasting bumper with metallic inset rests above a stainless exhaust tip. Standard wheels are 18-inch, five-spoke aluminum, with seven-spoke chrome wheels available. Inside, the massive front windows and windshield provide a nearly panoramic view of the road and the scenery. The dash and instrument panels seem to integrate almost seamlessly with the doors on each side, giving a wraparound effect to the front of the cabin.

The driver’s seat has a six-way power adjustment with lumbar support; all seats are covered in a cloth/faux leather trim, although leather is available as an option. Storage abounds in Encore, which includes eight beverage holders, storage in all four doors, four bins in the dash, a double glovebox, pockets in the seatbacks, an optional bin beneath the passenger seat and bins under the rear load floor around the spare tire. With the rear seats in place, there’s room for all the groceries to feed a houseful of holiday guests; rear seats also fold flat for additional storage.

IMG_0327A standard 7-inch color screen in the center stack provided controls for infotainment systems, from the Sirius XM audio system to the rearview camera; GPS navigation is available as an option. The AM/FE/Siruis/CD stereo includes six speakers and an auxiliary jack for iPod and other devices; Bluetooth is standard. Under the hood is a 138-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder motor delivering 148 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; drivetrain is either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. EPA gas mileage estimates are 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models, 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway for those with all-wheel drive.

We drove both the front-wheel-drive and the Active On-Demand all-wheel-drive models of the new Encore over a course of some 150 miles out of Atlanta. While the drive included a variety of roads, there was no opportunity to try out the traction-enhancing capabilities of the AWD system that sends torque to the rear for every launch and redirects torque only when the wheels are slipping. When there is no slippage, the vehicle is a front-driver, just like its bigger sibling the Enclave. The benefit is increased fuel economy (23 city/30 highway), which compares with only two others the Mazda CX-5 (31 highway) and the Ford Escape (30 hgwy). Macpherson struts with coil-over springs are the backbone of the front suspension, while compound crank and coil springs hold up the rear. Steering is power-assisted rack-and-pinion. Both stability and traction control are standard handling technologies for Encore, as is “QuietTuning,” which uses Bose noise cancelling technology to quiet the cabin. Brakes are four-wheel discs with ABS (vented discs in front, solid discs in rear); ten airbags including knee and side curtain bags are standard. Things that stood out for us during the drive were the well-appointed cabins in each trim, great steering, comfortable and quiet ride.

IMG_0328We also noted the fold-flat front passenger seat, enhancing bigger utility in Encore’s small package. Buick Encore comes in four trim levels: standard, convenience, leather and premium. The base Encore (1SB – starting at $24,950) includes the seven-inch infotainment screen with six-speaker stereo, Sirius XM and Bluetooth; rearview camera; cruise control; manual air conditioning; cloth and faux-leather seats; heated outside rearview mirrors; power driver’s seat adjustments, door locks and windows; leather-wrapped steering; rear cargo cover; roof-mounted luggage rails; dual gloveboxes; 18-inch aluminum wheels; and compact spare tire with mechanical jack. Encore Convenience (1SD – starting at $25,760) versions add an electrochromic inside rearview mirror, remote start, dual automatic climate control, 120V outlet and fog lamps. Up another level, Encore Leather (1SL -- $27,460) models include leather-appointed seating, heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, heated seats and a driver memory package that includes driver presets for seat position, outside mirrors and climate control. Encore Premium (1SN -- $28,940) adds rain-sensing wipers, Bose seven-speaker audio system, front and rear park assist, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, cargo net and cargo mat. Options include the premium Bose audio system (Encore Convenience and Leather); GPS-enabled navigation (Encore Convenience, Leather and Premium); 18-inch chromed aluminum wheels (Encore Convenience, Leather and Premium); sunroof (Encore Convenience, Leather and Premium); and an oil pan heater. All-wheel drive on all models is a $1,500 option.

December 07, 2012 Holiday Gift Garage: Week Three - Gifts for the Grown-Ups

We've shared our favorite things, and we've helped you deck your ride our for the holidays, now let's talk presents.  If you, or your significant other, or both, have a passion for all things automotive here are some holiday gift ideas that are sure to please.

211Tc8m8bPL._SL500_AA300_Drive in Luxury with these Audi Winter Driving Gloves - Nothing says driving in style like these Audi Leather TouchTec Winter Gloves. TouchTec is a patented, breakthrough technology that allows you to keep these unisex winter gloves on while using any of your touch-screen devices like your phones or navigation systems. These gloves offer total comfort and warmth as well as maximum dexterity. Genuine leather with cashmere lining, featuring an ebossed Audi rings logo, in a sweet Audi gift box.

51UBPBtiRvL._SL500_AA300_Stay safe with this Winter Weather Travel Kit - You never know where the road may lead or what may happen, so don't be caught unprepared. LifeLine First Aid--a leader in the field of first-aid and disaster readiness products--has teamed up with AAA to bring you a line of high quality Road Assistance Kits. Featuring both first-aid and automotive emergency items, these practical all-in-one kits can help protect you in the event of an automobile breakdown or personal injury.

31rULzJOk8L._SL500_AA300_Turn up the tunes with a Kenwood HD Radio - Crank up the volume in HD with this awesome new Kenwood HD radio. With features like Pandora support, USB connectivity for your iPod or iPhone, and even realtime controls via the Kenwood Android App or the included remote, this CD receiver and radio will take your in-car listening experience to the next level. Plus – Kenwood receivers are also available with Bluetooth, so you can get the same hands-free technology of the speakerphone right in your dash.

51iKkr1sp0L._SL500_AA300_Shine on with this Armor All Gift Set - Take some pride in your ride with this ultimate Car Lover's Gift Pack from Armor All.  It included everything you'll need to get your shine on:  Ultra Shine Butter Smooth Wax, Ultra Shine Tire Foam Protectant, Ultra Shine Wash & Wax, Armor All Original Protectant, Cleaning Wipes, and even an air freshener for when you're done.  If you're a perfectionist when it comes to a sparkling finish, this set is the gift for you.

41GUXnibyBL._SL500_AA300_Giving the big ticket gift?  Don't forget the bow -Is this the year you go all-out and buy your special someone a new car?  Don't forget to dress it up in style.  This big red bow will give your gift that finishing touch.

Come back next week for our Kids Gift Garage, and until then, have a great weekend and stay safe out there, Ask Patty Nation!

December 06, 2012

Join us next week for the SYLVANIA #HolidayDriving Twitter Party!


Sylvania Lights Up Your Holidays!

Winter driving can be hazardous, and there's a lot to think about. Tires - brakes - fluids - but have you thought about your headlights? Here to share some Holiday Lights, the team at Sylvania will be illuminating your December with winter driving tips, tricks, and trivia, while giving you the chance to win some great swag for your sleigh ride, including new headlights, restoration kits, and more!

Your hosts for the #HolidayDriving Twitter Party

  • Auto Experts from Ask Patty
  • Jody DeVere, (@askpatty)
  • Kaeli Gardner, (@askpattykaeli)
  • SYLVANIA Automotive Experts (@SYLVANIA)
  • And others!
Connect to the party stream here

It's easy (and free!) - to be eligible to win prizes just complete all three steps listed below:


Connect with Sylvania on Facebook and Twitter

Connect with AskPatty on Facebook and Twitter

Click here to sign up!



Sylvania's Holiday Driving Prize Package Includes:
  • Sylvania Headlights
  • Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit
  • A $100 Amazon Gift Card
  • ...and more!
Other prizes include:
  • AutoTex PINK Wiper Blades
  • CarMD Vehicle Diagnostic System
  • ...and more!

    Join the Party!

    Log in to your Twitter Account and use hashtag #HolidayDriving

    Wednesday, December 12
    5 p.m. PST / 8p.m. EST


    December 05, 2012

    Turning Green at the LA Auto Show

    Not long ago, shopping for an environmentally friendly car was a no-brainer: You marched in to your local Toyota dealer, ordered a Prius (because that was basically your only choice), and -- if you were lucky -- you wouldn't have to wait too long for delivery (or pay too much of a premium for it). 

    Times have changed, and a visit to this year's LA Auto Show illustrates just how much variety there is for auto buyers who want to drive in the green lane. Los Angeles has long showcased carmakers' latest efforts in fuel efficient and sustainable models, and in 2012, there was a lot to choose from: hybrids, plug-ins, extended range electrics, Diesel, LNG, and eco-efficient traditional engines that squeeze more miles out of a gallon of gas: nearly three dozen total, ranging from small no-frills compacts on up to hybrid versions of luxury models from Audi, Lexus and BMW. 

    Continue reading "Turning Green at the LA Auto Show" »

    Crossovers Moms Love at the LA Auto Show

    The LA Auto Show is BIG. Each year, it fills nearly all 720,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Los Angeles Convention Center with flashy concept cars, shiny luxury vehicles, SUVs, convertibles, compacts and vans. There is literally something for everybody -- even busy moms.

    We want vehicles with room to hold all our precious passengers plus their gear -- not to mention the room we need to carry home the contents of a typical shopping trip to a warehouse store. We want technology that keeps us connected to our friends, our family, our music -- without getting lost. We want safety features. We want fuel economy. 

    And we want a vehicle that looks good, too. Because having a family doesn't mean we've lost our sense of style.

    Fortunately, this year's LA Auto Show marked the debut of several models that met those standards. Here are a few:

    Continue reading "Crossovers Moms Love at the LA Auto Show" »

    December 03, 2012

    The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Takes a New Road

    IMG_0010Calistoga, California: Nissan’s fourth-generation Pathfinder is completely new—and different in ways that will appeal to more women and families. The SUV weighs less, has more room and gets better fuel efficiency than the model it replaces. What’s also appealing is some clever cargo features and technology capabilities that you can’t find anywhere else in the mid-sized SUV segment. The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is available in 2WD and 4WD versions and starts at a base MSRP of $28,270, while top-of-the-line Platinum versions start at $40,770. Its competitors are the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot/Passport, Toyota Highlander/4Runner, and the Chevy Traverse/Trailblazer.

    IMG_0082 Nissan brought a group of automotive testers to the Solage Calistoga Hotel and Spa to cool our heels at night in quiet luxury, and spend our days motoring on the Calistoga Wine Trail, along twisty and scenic coastal routes. We also drove the 4WD version of the Pathfinder on the dirt track of a nearby ranch, and used the SUV to tow a trailer to assess its pulling prowess. Just as many modern SUVs have evolved, the Pathfinder’s looks have changed to give it a more car-like, crossover appearance. The new model is lighter by some 500 pounds, more aerodynamic, and has changed from body-on-frame architecture to a unibody build; this makes it ride less like a truck and more like a minivan. Pathfinder’s front end is distinguished by an attractive curved grille, dominated by a large Nissan badge and backed by a black honeycomb design; it stretches like a pair of wings across the entire front end. Large halogen headlamps wrap around to the sides. Optional fog lamps are mounted in the lower part of the grille. The roofline slants downward from the shoulders to the tail end, giving the Pathfinder a more coupe-like stature despite its longer, three-row size. Character lines scoop out the middle section like a waist, and the rear liftback has an integrated spoiler. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys, with bold 20-inch wheels available on the highest-end models. Inside, Pathfinder is bigger than the previous generation version by 8.4 cubic feet overall, and there is ample room for seven passengers in the three rows of seats.

    Continue reading "The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder Takes a New Road " »

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