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Archive for December, 2017

Have you ever used your smartphone to order takeout from your vehicle? Apps like GrubHub and Seamless make ordering from local restaurants easy but it isn’t safe to use such apps while driving. GM and other manufacturers are trying to make it easier by integrating partner restaurants’ menus into apps that run in vehicle infotainment systems. GM Marketplace can order from Dunkin Donuts, Exxon, Starbucks, Priceline and other retailers from GM infotainment systems. More partners are expected. Currently, GM Marketplace does not have voice recognition capability. Distraction has become a concern that is frequently cited by commentators, which is why some smartphone takeout apps have voice ordering features. You’ll have to have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to use them in your car, though. On the upside, those two softwares are becoming more and more standard. Another concern is hacking. Adage says about 80 million vehicles will be online by 2022, increasing the potential for hacking. Since e-commerce will become a big part of vehicle infotainment, identity theft will be a problem. But that problem is nothing compared to concerns about hacking vehicle’s autopilot systems and causing accidents. We have plenty of work ahead to prevent these offenses. The question about in-car e-commerce is whether an established e-commerce app, such as Seamless, will create something that works better than automakers’ apps, giving drivers an effective way to order using only their voices. You might be asking yourself why GM would even worry about making their own e-commerce apps when Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are likely to take over that space. It’s because the future will be increasingly car-share and autopilot friendly. Passengers will be the market for a range of advertising and shopping in vehicles, starting in large cities. It will be more profitable if automakers use their own software and their own partners to offer these services, instead of leaving it all to smartphone companies. Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Is the risk of hacking too great? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. Want free, no-obligation quotes from local dealers? Get them from the comfort of your home. Click here.

2018 Nissan Kicks (Insert Pun Here)

It’s yet another small SUV on the market! The Nissan Kicks. We’re not kidding. With a name like that, Nissan has to be trying to give the brand a happy, even carefree feel. The Kicks’ captivating tri-color exteriors portray that feel. We all know, however, that vehicles are never carefree. They have to serve their purpose and they have to be reliable. You can have fun in any car but can the Kicks carry out its duties day after day while keeping the driver happy? Can it replace the discontinued Nissan Juke, an obviously fun kind of vehicle, and still take care of the mundane stuff? The 2018 Kicks starts at $19,000, within a grand of the Hyundai Kona, the Honda HR-V and a few other subcompact SUVs. Considering the price, your money should probably go towards another brand if what you want is performance. The only engine available for the Kicks is a 125-hp 4-cylinder that Nissan has paired with a CVT transmission. The Kicks’ horsepower is about 20 less than competitors like the Mazda CX-3 have, and the competing vehicles often have more horsepower at higher trim levels. The Kicks lacks…..kick. Sorry. Hyundai offers its Kona SUV with a 1.6L, 175-hp turbocharged engine and plenty of technology for under $28,000, as a next-step option. So how does the Kicks make up for this performance mismatch? It has 25 cubic feet of rear cargo room, compared to Kona’s 19 cubic feet and HR-V’s 24 cubic feet. The Kicks’ interior has some unique flavor, with a leather-padded dash, a 7″ touchscreen and dual climate control. However, not all of those features are available in the base “S” trim. What does come with that trim is a backup camera, automated emergency braking, Bluetooth, and three USB ports. The Hyundai Kona doesn’t have any semi-autopilot features at the base trim but offers plenty at the next trim up, the SEL. The HR-V’s semi-autopilot safety tech begins for $21,000 at the EX trim. After thinking it over, you start to realize that the question isn’t whether the Kicks can do its job. It’s whether you can get your kicks driving the Kicks. It’s just not as cool or as eccentric as the peppy Juke, its defunct cousin. On the other hand, it’s not completely without attitude. It is a nice-looking vehicle. It has tready door jams with the Kicks logo on them, a steering wheel and instrument panel that make you want to grab on, and a design that’s much nicer than that of the average small SUV. While the Kicks isn’t the Juke, it’s something more drivers will be comfortable purchasing. Perhaps Hyundai offers a replacement for the Juke with the turbocharged version of the Kona. For those of us who don’t need that, the Kicks will serve us just fine. Click here to get free, no-obligation, online quotes from each local dealer. Save time and money! Click here.

3 Steps to Improve Credit Score

Found out your credit score is not so good? It’s OK. You’re not the only one who would like a better one. It will take some time but you can bring it back up. After you do, you’ll save money by qualifying for lower interest rates at the dealership. Plus, you might be offered extra incentives and save even more. Here are three simple steps to improve credit score.

Start Paying On Time

We realize this isn’t always easy. There are some things you can do to make it easier, though. First, if your finances are tight, cancel any monthly expenses you don’t need. That means cable TV, Spotify, and anything else you can do without. Next, set up payment reminders. Most of your utilities and services provide this feature but you can simply put the due dates of all your bills on your calendar, if you’d like. A calendar that sends you a text or email when a bill is almost due is the best kind. Lastly, use credit cards sparingly. You don’t want to end up with more bills than you can afford anymore. If you do these things, you’ll have a better shot at paying bills on time.

“Look” OK

Dave Jones, retired president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, says it’s a good idea to appear to be in good financial condition. There are different ways you can do that. Making partial payments or charging more for you services are things you should avoid. Credit agencies don’t like these things. Taking cash advances or even spending money at pawn shops or divorce attorneys’ offices are also hints that you’re becoming risky to creditors (companies that loan money to you). People who always pay on time rarely spend money at those places, Jones says.

Keep at It

We know. It’s a corny thing to say, but it’s important. Stay cool and persist. You got this! The improvements might not happen as quickly as you’d like but don’t get frustrated. Keep your head in the game. You can check your credit score up to three times per year without causing it to decrease. There’s no reason not to do that. Before you know it, your score will be rising and you’ll be on your way to the dealer to buy or lease your new vehicle. When it’s time to buy or lease a car, start by getting free quotes from local dealers. You’ll have a clear picture of the local market in minutes. Click here.

It’s time to rethink Buick. Yes, it’s still an “entry-level” luxury brand. The primary feel of every Buick is still rather soft and domesticated. There’s still no Buick you cannot imagine your grandma driving. But think about it. Unless you drive a Hellcat or a Rubicon, you’re not really driving anything your grandma wouldn’t drive anyway. And Buick has made huge strides to update its brand. The commercials may or may not be convincing but hear us out. The Buick Regal is top-notch even when compared to the Hyundai Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Jaguar XE. Here’s why.

Engine and Transmission

AWD Regal models come equipped with 8-speed transmissions whereas 9-speed transmission comes with front-wheel-drive variants. Both are twin clutch. By the way, the all-wheel drive we’re talking about is the real deal. None of that assistive braking stuff. This is actual torque vectoring all-wheel drive. The most basic Regal has 250 horsepower, as does the top-of-the-line model. There’s a lack of engine options here but 250 horsepower should work for most of us. We’ll explain how this power compares to the Buick Regal’s competitors later.


The most basic Regal comes with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, keyless entry, a seven-speaker audio system, LED daytime running lights, and a 7-inch touchscreen, says Motor Trend. You won’t have the typical luxury (now becoming standard across the board) safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist unless you purchase a driver confidence package that can be added onto the GS trim. The Regal’s exceptionalism isn’t due to technology, but it’s not behind the times.

Styles and Options

One of the most exciting new developments in the Buick repertoire are the new Sportback and TourX (wagon) styles. These designs are refreshing and attractive. They’re also practical and roomy, making both variants great family cars.

Options become available at the Preferred trim ($27K) and include Bose speakers, premium infotainment system, rear park assist, power moonroof, remote start, lane change alert, wireless charging, and a line of safety features such as lane keep assist.

Why Is it Worth the Price?

It may be true that manufacturers like Hyundai offer better warranties than Buick’s 4-year, 50,000 mile policy. And yes, the Buick starts at about $4,000 higher than the Hyundai Sonata. But does the base Sonata come with a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 250-hp turbocharged engine? Is the cabin as quiet as the Buick? Is it so efficient it can get 21 mph in the city and 29 on the highway? The answer to those questions is no. In fact, the Hyundai maxes out at 245 horsepower, with the 2.0T trim. As for the Jaguar XE, you have to pay just under $40,000 to get 247 horsepower. The next lowest option is only 180. Accord? $30,000 for their 2.0T, 252-horsepower trim. The Regal clearly has a power advantage and does not fall short in other categories. All things considered, the $26,000 starting price of the Regal is low and the more luxurious trims are also priced low. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay the MSRP. What you want to do is get quotes from all of your local dealers to ensure you take the lowest possible price, which could be a few thousand dollars less than the advertised price. Buicks still don’t sell as well as other brands. That means you might be able to get a discount just for being interested in one. Compare local quotes and choose where to do business. Click here to get free, no-obligation local quotes sent directly to your inbox. 

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