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Vehicles Archive

RAV4 Review: Rev Me Up!

Way back in 1996, when Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was arrested and Braveheart won the Academy Award, we bought our RAV4. We were so excited about the new model coming out that dh and I actually had to go to a city 9 hours away to get it and drive it home because it wasn’t available yet in our city and surrounding area. When the opportunity came about for me to review a 2011 RAV4, I jumped on it. Even though I just bought another SUV in January, would I want to trade it in for a new RAV?

OK, I just can’t wait to tell you about it. I had so much fun driving the RAV while I had it! It’s small enough that you can park it in tight spots, yet has enough cargo space to really carry the stuff you need to haul. I had a V-6 and it had so much pickup at red lights that I was leaving others in the dust without realizing it (and yes, I did enjoy being the butthead who zoomed past you ;) ). Hey, I had to test the engine!

Cheers for Toyota! (But Jeers for Some Dealers)

The new 2011 NHTSA crash testing program hasn’t been favorable to a number of vehicles.  In general, that’s a good thing.  Tougher testing not only means more distinction among vehicles, but also gives manufacturers incentive to make cars even safer.  In 2010 and earlier, most cars received only 4-star and 5-star ratings.  With the new tests, some popular models are getting worse overall results than before, especially in one or more of the five individual crash tests (two frontal impact, three side impact) that go into the overall rating.

We purchased a 2010 Toyota Prius before this crash testing had been completed.  While the 2010 Prius was a “Top Safety Pick” according to the IIHS and it also did fairly well in the 2010 NHTSA crash tests, Toyota’s track record so far hadn’t been all that great for the 2011 NHTSA testing.  Most notably, the popular Camry and RAV4 received very mediocre “3-star” overall ratings.  While the all new Sienna minivan received a “4-star” overall rating, its 3-star rating for the frontal tests (due to only 2-stars for the female passenger dummy test) was not particularly good for a model designed with these new tests in mind.

Sporty Kid Hauler: Is it Possible? Acura TSX Wagon Kids, Carseats & Safety Review

They’re some of the safest vehicles on the road.  They haul a lot of kids.  The seating and cargo space is uber flexible.  They generally get better mileage than sport utes.  Some of them even get going pretty quick from a stop sign.  But, let’s face it, they still don’t handle like a car and even the coolest vans have a soccer mom stigma they can’t escape.  So, what about the trendy mom or dad that wants something sporty enough to be the envy of all the minivan drivers in the school pickup line?  Something a little smaller to get into that parking space and gets better fuel economy than a typical midsize SUV?

Look no further than the Acura TSX Sport Wagon.  It seats five in a perfect combination of performance and refinement.  At an estimated 22mpg city and 30mpg highway (25mpg overall), it even gets better fuel economy than compact SUVs like Honda’s CRV.  That’s even a hair higher than that ubiquitous all-wheel drive wagon that I see everywhere around Chicago (we used to own one of those ourselves).  The 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine has a very nicely tuned growl during acceleration.  With 201 horses, the TSX wagon gets moving quick enough if you floor it, and more importantly, it also stops quick and handles those corners far better than your average minivan or SUV.  After all, crash avoidance is a key to overall safety, something that will be the emphasis of this review!

2011 Toyota Venza Review–What Is It?

The vehicle world is full of SUVs and SUV wannabes. It seems like the family car is a thing of the past and if you actually drive a station wagon, you’re a relic doomed to wear flowy flowery shirts with bell bottom pants. So, what does all this have to do with the sharp-looking Toyota Venza? The Venza is a cross between all of them: a mid-size SUV/car/station wagon family haul-it-all. Will it overcome its identity crisis during my week with it to land itself in a particular category? I like categories—neat and clean. Read and find out!

Have You Read Your Vehicle Manual Today? You Might Be Pleasantly Surprised :)

When was the last time you got truly excited reading an owner’s manual?  It should be par for the course when we get a new item, but dang, some of those manuals are so dry.  Some are just plain hilarious depending on how the translation went (our stereo manual had a one word sentence of “However.” just nonsensically stuck in the middle of two other sentences).  And some pull you in so you read them cover to cover like they are the best non-fiction book you’ve ever read.  That’s how I felt when I got my new Acura MDX and started reading the manual.  I still haven’t finished reading the manual.  Heck, I still don’t know how to operate my iPhone when it’s plugged in because I haven’t gotten past the passenger safety section of the book.  What I found was so exciting to me that if it hadn’t been nearly midnight when I first read it, I would have gotten past my phone phobia and called my fellow bloggers to share the news. o_O