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USA Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

Albert Monument Valley 1Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie.

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we now drive north on US 163 to reach the legendary set of so many Hollywood western movies, located across the Arizona/Utah state line. The vehicle landscape analysis, official sales data, a special feature on the most popular rental cars in the country, and update on how my valiant Ram 1500 ecoDiesel (Albert) is behaving and a healthy amount of spectacular and oh-so American pictures are below.

Gallup Las VegasToday’s New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Nevada stretch, courtesy of Google Maps.

Ford F-150 ArizonaFord F-150 in Arizona

Crossing Arizona on the way to Monument Valley, the ratio of pickup trucks in the traffic goes up to 70% compared to around 60% in New Mexico before crossing the Arizona state line, logically as this is one of the most remote and desolate part of Arizona. The new generation GMC Sierra is stronger than usual, Ram pickups are now almost exclusively the Tradesman base model identical to the one I am driving (Albert) and there is a strong heritage of previous generation Chrysler 200 but no new gen yet. The Ford F-150 2-door base model like the one pictured above rules Arizona roads as it does in the majority of U.S. states.

Nissan Altima Monument ValleyNissan Altima in Monument Valley AZ

The most recent Arizona sales data I managed to get my hands on dates back from the first half of 2012, courtesy of MSN Autos. I will update this article if/when JATO Dynamics communicates more recent data. At the time, the Ford F-150 logically topped the sales charts with 5,839 sales, but the two other nameplates on the podium are a bit of a surprise: the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance that high in a sales ranking so far in this Coast to Coast trip, and the Nissan Altima ranks third, confirming the trend that dictates U.S. states close to the Mexican border to particularly favour Nissans.

Dodge Ram Monument ValleyDodge Ram 1500 in Monument Valley AZ

Even though we only crossed the Utah state line to enter the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with the valley drive located entirely in Arizona, I thought it’d still be worthwhile sharing some official Utah models sales data, as this is what BSCB does after all! Here too most recent is H1 2012 until a different source comes forward, and based on these figures (surprise surprise) the Ford F-150 once again tops the charts thanks to 1,662 units sold. And once again the two other nameplates on the podium are a surprise: the Ram 2500 (not 1500) takes 2nd place ahead of the Hyundai Sonata!

Monument Valley 1Monument Valley AZ

From halfway between Gallup and Monument Valley onwards, the majority of the traffic is composed of rental vehicles as this is among the most touristic areas in the country. Most popular are the Chevrolet Captiva, Equinox and the ever-present Impala, Nissan Versa, Sentra and Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer seems to be the only legit Arizona success on our journey. Not long ago, The Truth About Cars published info about America’s top rental cars and this confirms my observations in and around Monument Valley.

America Top rentals. Picture courtesy of Polk Automotive

In 2013, almost all Chevy Captivas (now discontinued) went to rental fleet and nearly 75% of GMC Yukon XL also did. This is indeed a model I have encountered at a very high rate since the start of this Coast to Coast trip, along with the GMC Yukon coming at #7 and a bit above 40% and the Chevrolet Suburban at #8 and 40%. Unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Impala is 4th in the list of cars with the highest sales ratio to rental fleets at just under 60% and the Chrysler 200 ranks 6th, while 3 Dodge close the Top 16: the Avenger, Caravan/Grand Caravan and Charger.

Monument Valley 2Monument Valley AZ

Now that we have cleared the sales aspects of both Arizona and Utah, let’s get into some Monument Valley trivia. This is the second time I visit this breathtakingly beautiful region, the first time was exactly 20 years ago. I will never forget how shocked I was that the area was actually so small, with in fact only a handful of these striking-looking buttes. These have featured in so many movies, ads and TV shows that if you have never visited the area it is easy to imagine that the entire country looks like this. In the words of movie critic Keith Phipps: “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Stagecoach. Picture courtesy nytimes.comA scene of Hollywood movie Stagecoach set in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been featured in at least 50 Hollywood movies. The first one, John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, has had an enduring influence in making the Valley famous. John Ford shot a whopping nine additional Westerns in the Valley, including My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and How The West Was Won (1962).

Albert Monument Valley 3Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Other notable Hollywood movies featuring Monument Valley include Billy the Kid (1941), Angel and the Badman (1947), Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Thelma & Louise (1991)Forrest Gump (1994) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Most recently, in 2014’s most popular movie at the worldwide box-office Transformers: Age of Extinctionthe scene in which the surviving Autobots reunite was shot in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley 3Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley pickup trucksMonument Valley pickup trucks

The implied association with John Wayne’s tough, macho character also made the Monument Valley buttes a natural choice as the background for the Marlboro Man from the 1950s onwards. Finally, the rugged desert scenery for the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons takes much of its inspiration from Monument Valley.

Albert ArizonaAlbert getting some Love’s after being pushed hard.

This is also the part of the trip where we pushed Albert a little more than before: the Monument Valley drive is 100% unsealed and at time rather abrupt climbs or drops. For the first time in this trip I was glad to be driving a pickup truck with a 4WD option rather than a standard sedan rattling its bumpers on scorched rocks. The way to and from Monument Valley had very little traffic so we pushed Albert to 100mph and he seemed to enjoy this newfound freedom to its fullest. The result upon arrival in Las Vegas NV: a fuel economy shooting back up to 28.8mpg average! Well done Albert.

Albert mpg Vegas NVAlbert’s fuel economy after a day at high(er) speeds.

Toyota Camry Ford Escape Monument ValleyFord Escape, Toyota Camry and Albert at John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley AZ

A more detailed description of Monument Valley will be added to this post shortly.

The Full Photo Report (26 pictures) is below.

Read more…

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Media post: Unleash the full potential of your engine

November 15th, 2014 No comments

Total 2

TOTAL just unveiled its new Robot Quartz Campaign that promotes its TOTAL Quartz range of products. Total first used its iconic robot in 2010, but we can now see it perform in real, urban and natural places. The new campaign makes us discover how the robot took life in the first place and acquired its strengths, all thanks to Total Quartz lubricants, thus conveying the message that Total Quartz does more than just protect or clear engines: it brings out the engine’s full potential and improves its performance and yield.

Total is using the Total Robot to continue building consumer awareness in emerging countries in Asia, Middle East, South American and Eastern Europe. In fact, Total Quartz is offered by a joint venture between TOTAL Middle East FZE and Zahid Group Holding Company Ltd for manufacturing and marketing lubricants & specialty products within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This way, Saudi TOTAL marks the entry of TOTAL in the largest lubricants market in the Arabian Peninsula.

Total 1

Saudi TOTAL Lubricants offer products such as Engine oils, Hydraulic oils, Gear oils, Transmission Fluids, Turbine oils and Specialty oils. The “Quartz” range is Total’s flagship brand for passenger cars. The TOTAL QUARTZ ranges of engine lubricants are designed based on the wide technical expertise and the most developed technology used in racing to provide your engine with optimal lubrication and to ensure that it stays in good condition and operates smoothly, all while:

  • Protecting it against all the causes of wear by reducing friction and corrosion
  • Preventing your engine from overheating
  • Ensuring good cylinder compression and maximum engine efficiency
  • Ensuring that your engine is clean by preventing the deposit of various impurities.

Some lubricants in the total quartz range go further than this, helping you to save on fuel consumption and protect the post-treatment systems fitted to the most recent engine systems. Saudi Total has a large lubricants mixing and filling plant at the Industrial Valley in King Abdullah Economic City, which was built on an area of 65 thousand square meters with an annual capacity of 25 thousand metric tons of highly stranded products.

Within the TOTAL QUARTZ range, the TOTAL QUARTZ 9000 and TOTAL QUARTZ INEO products are the most modern, innovative and high performance oils available. They are formulated using new-generation synthetic components. Using synthetic technology oils is the right choice for your engine based on the following reasons:

  1. The highest level of protection for engines: TOTAL QUARTZ synthetic technology oils provide 60% more protection than semi-synthetic or mineral oils
  2. Provide a maximum engine compression ratio, thus delivering optimum power
  3. Generate fuel saving by reducing the amount of friction inside the engine. Fuel consumption decreases without users having to change their driving habits!
  4. Make engine starts easier, even in extreme weather conditions.
  5. The only engine oils capable of simultaneously protection engines and pollution control systems against wear and deposits, while eliminating the need to prematurely replace expensive components.
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Media Post: Two signs that your car doesn’t have the best protection

November 7th, 2014 No comments

Car insurance. Picture courtesy of moneymax.com

The general consensus of imposing mandatory car insurance has many benefits when it comes to motoring; unbiased examination and legislation of accidents, responsibility and payments etc. In recent years, the need for protection against the unexpected problems of the road has become more and more necessary but having insurance doesn’t always mean you are covered – if only legislation was that clear-cut.

Because of this, one may find that the day insurance is needed, you may not actually be covered and it is therefore essential to get the right balance between getting the right amount of cover for when something does go wrong and making sure you don’t pay too much. No one wants to be in a position of paying more than they should but nobody wants a policy which doesn’t cover their vehicle for the majority of accidents.

In short, there’s a lot to think about.

Protecting others

The main reason behind making some types of insurance compulsory is to ensure that even if it is too expensive to pay outright, every driver on the road can produce the basic financial ability to pay for any damages or injuries caused towards others.

Vehicle repair and health costs can prove critical to the wallet at best but what becomes more apparent is the fact that this would greatly outweigh the costs of insurance if you were liable. The only problem with a cover such as third party is that one person’s welfare is not included here – yours.

Protecting yourself

With a more comprehensive cover you could ensure everyone affected by an incident is covered if one was to occur. The option to include more requirements in your cover such as vehicle repairs, medical expenses, property damage just goes to show anything can happen, to anyone, at any time. Remember the saying, ‘failure to prepare is preparation to fail?’

So don’t wait for something to go wrong, use cheap car insurance from More Than and tailor a policy that is right for in order to guarantee peace of mind!

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Media Post: How to improve the resale value of your car

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

Picture courtesy of newcarsplus.com.au

You’ve already gone through the stress of buying a car and now when it comes to selling it, you’ve realised there are more new headaches coming down the road. Everyone loves a good bargain and they will be on the hunt when looking to buy a car themselves. On the flipside, you as the seller want to get the absolute best bang for your buck. There are a couple tips and tricks to help you along the way that will help increase the value of your car.

Four Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive Repairs:
There are some very simple fixes you can make to your car before listing it to sell. The buyer will look for any excuse to decrease the value of your car so take these easy steps recommended from Kelly Blue Book itself in order to get the most of your car. These 4 simple fixes are fairly cheap, take little time, and will prevent the buyer from having any minor reason to haggle with you:

1. Replace your lights: If you have a broken head or tail light it’s a very simple fix and will improve the value of your car to the buyer. It takes only a few minutes to replace and you just need the replacement bulb and a screwdriver to fix.

2. Fix any chips or cracks in your windshield: Any chips or cracks in your windshield will equate to major money to the buyer of your car. In reality, getting these little dings in the glass will be fairly cheap to fix.

3. Replace your breaks and tires: When a buyer checks out your car, they will look at the wear and tear on your breaks and tires. This is typically a general reflection on the overall wear on your car. If your car has high mileage on top of worn out tires, expect them to ask for a fairly hefty reduction in price.

4. Repair major dents and scratches: Most used cars will have minor dents and scratches but if your car has anything that stands out significantly, expect to get those repaired yourself to save money. Getting dents out and scratches hidden is typically an inexpensive fix but will greatly improve the appearance of your car to the buyer. Installing a vinyl wrap may help reduce scratches and damage to paint as well.

Keep Records and Reports
Every car needs standard maintenance and keeping records of these can help show the buyer that you’ve been taking care of your car properly. Typically a buyer will bring a mechanic to check your car for glaring issues and to check that the car has been properly maintained so it’s better to be prepared with your records if an issue is brought up.

Just like your credit score, your vehicle identification number (VIN) report is important. This report includes the history of your car such as owners, accidents, and servicing. Every buyer typically looks at this before purchasing and if there is a discrepancy in the VIN it’s easier to contact the company to change the error opposed to trying to persuade the buyer that it’s a mistake in the system

Upsell Money Boosting Options
Although you can’t change many of your options already included in your car, you can upsell these options to the buyer in order to increase the value of your car. The Chicago Tribune has a comprehensive list of options that can help or hurt the value of your car when reselling. If your car has the following options be sure to mention them as they persuade buyers to pay a bit more for your car versus the same one without these options:

  1. Premium tires
  2. Better upholstery (Such as leather)
  3. Convenience items in trucks

If your car has fairly standard but optional features such as remote keyless entry, power locks, power windows, and tilt steering wheels it most likely won’t bump your car up too much in price but may still be worth mentioning.

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Media post: Promoting hybrid cars at auto dealerships

October 15th, 2014 No comments

Toyota Prius. Picture courtesy of Motortrend.comToyota Prius

Car dealerships often come up with innovative marketing campaigns in order to attract local customers who are interested in buying or leasing new vehicles. Creating special promotions during the holidays has been a traditional advertising practice in the auto industry for decades. However, some car dealers extend such marketing practices to include relatively unknown celebrations and special events. For example, there are some days in the United States that are dedicated towards raising awareness about the environment and the earth.

It makes perfect to sense to promote fuel efficient cars on days that celebrate the earth and inform consumers about environmental issues. Car dealers can create promotional sales events that have “green” themes. For instance, detailed brochures can be printed on 100 percent recycled paper and then given out to customers who are interested in exploring the benefits of hybrid or electric car models. Similarly, small gift bags could also be given out as promotional items at a car dealership. The bags should ideally be made of recycled plastic materials. Ultimately, the focus of such simple marketing campaigns is to get customers to test drive fuel efficient cars.

Video presentations about the latest hybrid and electric technology can be shown in the main lobby of a car dealership that offers special deals during days that raise environmental awareness. Customers should have access to comfortable seats and some refreshments while enjoying brief multimedia shows about the advantages of driving hybrid or electric vehicles.

During a test drive in a hybrid or electric car , customers actually get the chance to confirm the excellent fuel economy. An extra long trip could be taken to show customers how far the test vehicle goes off a single gallon of fuel or an equivalent electrical charge of a built in battery pack. A car such as Prius C and other hybrid vehicles are examples of affordable automobiles that offer excellent fuel economy. To confirm all claims made by auto dealers, customers can explore official fuel economy data that is generated by the EPA, which conducts rigorous testing on all vehicles in the North American auto market.

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Media post: The Legacy and the Road | Land Rover USA

October 2nd, 2014 No comments

Land Rover has always striven to thrive on the road and the trail. Recent design changes see Land Rover focusing even more on the latter. Their Legacy and the Road campaign accompanies changes made even to their smaller line offerings like the Range Rover Sport. The 2014 Rangie has had its old steel body swapped out for an aluminum frame – a loss of 800 pounds. This, and the sleeker design will surely please customers interested in both efficiency/performance and style.

Other design changes across the whole Land Rover line help the company continue to lay claim to the kind of road adventures it helped pioneer over the decades. Land Rover enables the driver to access rarely traveled roads. Land Rover can make a highway out of any wilderness, and an explorer out of any driver.

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Guest post: 2014 GMC Acadia: Refreshed Design and Enhanced Safety for a Faithful Companion

August 20th, 2014 No comments

GMC Acadia 2015

The 2014 GMC Acadia sports a freshened up exterior and interior design, and offers enhanced safety features this year to boost its reputation as a jack-of-all-trades, full size crossover SUV. Always a faithful companion since the 2007 model year, the Acadia has evolved into what is now a plush, comfortable SUV with seating for up to eight in three rows of seats and enough cargo space to carry just about whatever your family needs to be carried. Let’s take a look at what the Acadia offers.

Innovative Safety Features The latest Acadia has a remarkable new safety item pioneered by General Motors and available only on GM vehicles—the front center airbag. This airbag deploys from the driver’s seat as a secondary airbag between the front seats to cushion impact between the driver and passenger in side collisions.

Also new to the Acadia for 2014 are a forward collision alert system and a lane departure warning system. These advancements helped the Acadia to receive a five-star overall safety rating, the highest rating given, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as the highest safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Powerful Powertrain All Acadias have a 3.6-liter, V6 engine producing 288 horsepower coupled to a six-speed Hydra-Matic 6T75 transmission. Front wheel drive comes standard, with four-wheel drive as an option. The high tech engine has direct fuel injection, dual overhead camshafts, and variable valve timing to maximize fuel efficiency.

Spacious Luxury Interior The updated interior takes the luxury factor up a notch or two for 2014 with impressive build quality, an attractive layout and with most of the surfaces covered with soft, nice-to-the-touch materials. The standard seating holds up to eight people, but with the second row bench seat swapped out for two captain’s chairs, the seating is reduced to seven. Fold-flat second and third row seats give easy access to the cargo area. Speaking of the cargo area, there is 24.1 cu. ft. behind the third row of seats, 70.1 cu. ft. behind the second row, and a cavernous 116.1 cu. ft. behind the first row with the other rows folded flat

SUV Heritage The Acadia is a direct descendant of the original SUV created by General Motors in 1935 with the Chevrolet Suburban Carryall. GMC joined the party in 1937 with its own Carryall featuring an all-metal body, three rows of seats for eight people, and doors at the rear to provide easy access to the cargo storage area. GMC improved the Carryall over the years to include an automatic transmission, a V8 engine and four-wheel drive, eventually evolving it into to today’s SUVs.

Coolness Factor If you’re one of the many who would rather wear a paper bag over your head than be seen driving a minivan, the Acadia is for you. It will transport everything you could put in a minivan and you’ll be cool enough to actually roll down the windows and wave to all of your friends.

Bruce Troxell

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Sponsored post: A new Michelin tire that prolong wet traction

July 17th, 2014 1 comment

I don’t know about you but even though I have been driving for the best part of two decades I always get a tiny bit nervous in heavy rain conditions. Aqua-planning is not a great experience and there is nothing worse than not trusting its car’s behaviour when driving under the rain. But it all comes to tires in the end, not so much the car itself. Michelin has been at the forefront of tyre technologies for decades and their latest invention could have the potential to make me feel much better about driving under heavy rain.

Unlike conventional tires, the Michelin Premier A/S tire uses a new design combined with a unique set of features to prolong wet traction even as the tire becomes worn. 3 main elements provide this traction over time: high-traction rubber compound, expanding rain grooves and emerging grooves. What does it all mean I hear you ask.

Well the technology behind long-term wet traction is actually rather interesting. The high-traction rubber compound is a proprietary rubber compound with extreme amounts of silica and sunflower oil. The silica provides the bonding strength and adherence to keep the treads on the road for high traction in wet conditions. The sunflower oil allows the tire to grip on wet roads at lower temperatures. The new tire also has rain grooves with a specific geometric shape that gets wider as the tread wears, helping maintain the amount of water that the tire can channel away. Finally this tire has another set of grooves that are initially hidden when new but then emerge to maintain wet traction in the long run.

This post has been sponsored by Michelin, but concerns our own opinion.
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Guest post: 6 ways to accessorise the car of the woman you love

June 27th, 2014 No comments

It is the one car I want! Beautiful young couple standing at the dealership choosing the car to buy

Whether your partner has been playing the ‘Soccer Mom” for years, or she has just recently learned how to drive, the least you can do as the man in her life is to acknowledge the hard work she has put in by accessorizing her car which makes for a perfect gift and also makes her time on the road a lot more beautiful and comfortable.

A Navigation System

While most women will argue that their sense of direction is impeccable, a reliable navigation system is always a boon to have in the car. Whether she is expected to drive long-distance for work, on a regular basis or transport your children around town all day, a good navigation system can help her beat the traffic and make it to places in time.

A portable navigation system can be rather convenient for her even when she rents out a vehicle on her travels.

MP3 player with AUX Connection

Make sure your partner stays entertained at all times by installing an AUX enabled music system in your car. Gift her a MP3 player on which she can upload all her favorite music and audio books to keep her entertained during her time on the road.

finger pointing at car GPS navigation system

Personalised Bumper Stickers

Nothing says ‘I Love You’ like a personalised bumper sticker. Customising a bumper sticker for her is a great way to let her feel some ownership for the family vehicle. The sticker could come with a funny one liner or a sweet quote that represents her unique personality.

Car Fragrance

Another great way to make her feel like the family car is hers to use is by installing a car fragrance with her favourite aromas.

Miscellaneous Accessories

In addition to these, you could also gift her a hamper of miscellaneous car accessories such as travel kits, Bluetooth wireless communication systems, a mixed CD with her favorite songs and car seat covers that enhance her on road comfort.

Special Lessons at the Driving School

Chances are that in spite of having driven around your neighborhood for years, your partner is still wary about venturing out on long distance drives on her own. Liberate her from this fear by gifting her driving lessons that help her build the courage of venturing into high speed roads all over the country. If your partner is a car enthusiast just like you, you may also be able to sign her up for adventure driving lessons for your next off road trip.

Finally, a highly impressive solution would be to surprise her with her very own car! Consider looking up Hertz Car Sales that offer a variety of well maintained used vehicles at highly affordable rates. By gifting her a car of her own, you can give your partner a sense of individuality and independence. Not only will you be able to make a great impression, but this can be an excellent way to show how you feel for her!

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Worldwide Photo Snapshot – June 2014

June 21st, 2014 No comments

Kabul Afghanistan June 2014. Picture courtesy of Paul LehmannKabul laughter. Picture courtesy of Paul Lehmann, Kabul Afghanistan June 2014

Just a quick Photo Snapshot from around the world today: 3 pictures taken this week at very different locations. It’s not all doom and gloom in Kabul, Afghanistan where 4 men somehow managing to fit on one motorbike can’t stop laughing. A delicious olive green Lotus Evora was snapped up by my friend Audrey in Paris, and I spotted my first Australian Jeep Cherokee today in Sydney, Australia. Click on the pictures to enlarge and enjoy!

Lotus Evora France June 2014. Picture courtesy Audrey FrancLotus Evora in Paris, France. Picture courtesy of Audrey Franc

Jeep Cherokee Sydney June 2014The all-new Jeep Cherokee has arrived in Australia! In Paddington, Sydney – June 2014 

 

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