Monthly Archive:: April 2011

2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety


When I graduated from college, it was also a time where tech jobs were not easy to find.  We were sending tons of them overseas, prompting something of a “Buy American” phase.  I bought American, in the form of a 1991 Saturn SL2 sedan.  It was the first competitive small car from the big three in a long time, in my opinion, and arguably even the last one, until recently.  Since then, imports like Civic, Corolla, 323 and Jetta have set the trend in compact sedans.  Sub-compacts were similarly dominated by European and Japanese auto makers.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much besides fuel economy and safety when Chevrolet provided a 2011 Cruze Eco sedan.  Suffice to say, my expectations were exceeded.  The Cruze is a very competent compact car overall; one very worthy of consideration for a small family looking for a smaller and more affordable new car.

I can’t say it was particularly fun to drive, had stellar performance or turned heads as I was driving around suburbia.  As a compact sedan it is stylish, but is not pretentious in any way.  I recently rented a Chrysler minivan for a road trip and thought to myself that it looked and felt like something from 1990, rather than 2010.  Even my wife had the same impression.  I can say, however, that the Cruze did not give me that dated impression at all. I can also say that unlike some previous generation small sedans, it looks classy, drives well and has the appearance and feel of greatly improved quality, both inside and out.   In fact, it seems quite on par in almost every regard with current offerings from the competition, rather than seeming like it was a generation or two behind the times (like the Chevy Cobalt and Cavalier that preceded it).  Even the fabric covered dash was a unique touch that was well done, as was the handy lift-up storage area that I used for my wallet and phone.

Installation Quiz. Good, or Not?



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!

What Is A Tether?


There are so many confusing things about carseats for parents and tethers rank right up there with “do I use LATCH and the seatbelt together?” (the answer to that one is a wishy-washy no). We have a tether use rate of less than 50% in the U.S., about the same as it was back in the mid-70s. Yes, you read that correctly! It’s gone up and down, but it’s still right around the same—pathetic. Even after teaching a child passenger safety technician class and going over tethers with them—when to use them, how important they are for safety—I still got the deer-in-headlights look from some of the new techs when I quizzed them about tether usage. So if my trained technicians are hesitant about when to use a top tether (how about all the time forward-facing!), I can only imagine the confusion parents are feeling. Without further ado, let’s get to it and learn about tethers.