Best Cars, Trucks and SUVs of 2016

Find out about this year's hottest models

If you are in the market for one of the top choice vehicles of 2016, you may be interested in new cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and hybrids. Each year cars are rated in terms of their functionality, performance, speed, aesthetics and much more. Here are some of the hottest cars of the year that you might want to consider as you car shop.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

A sleek performance roadster, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata is “class and steel turned into adrenaline and emotion.” The sport version starts at $24,915, the club is $28,600 and the grand touring is $30,065. The club version has a torque LB-FT of 148 and runs on 36 mpg. Its curb weight is 2,332 pounds. It’s lightweight, features rear-wheel drive and a smooth, agile performance.

2016 Honda Pilot

Receiving a 10 on reliability and design quality, the 2016 Honda Pilot has five different models ranging from $30,145 (the LX) to $46,570 (the Elite). Some fun features include a panoramic roof and sophisticated styling that is “redefining the modern family SUV.” It seats up to 8 and has premium features including creature comforts that make it a pleasure to take to the road.

2016 Ford F-150

Starting at $26,540 for a regular cab and running up to $33,055 for a SuperCrew cab, the 2016 Ford F-150 runs on 19 mpg in the city or 26 on the highway and has a curb weight of 4,049 to 5,236 pounds. It is able to tow 5,000 to 10,400 pounds and has 282 to 385 horsepower. Makers call it a “wakeup call for every full-size truck out there,” allowing you to “work like never before.”

2016 Chevy Camaro

Rating 4.6/5 at Edmunds as well as The Car Connection, the 2016 Chevy Camaro starts at $25,700 and features 275 to 455 horse power. Its curb weight is 3,339 to 3,685, depending upon make. It has a gas mileage of up to 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. It is available as a coupe or convertible and highly customizable, with several thousand options to choose from, including stripes, body style, color and much more.

2016 Land Rover Ranger

It’s “the only vehicle you’ll ever need.” The luxury 2016 Land Rover Ranger comes in a wide variety of styles, from the standard Ranger to the Sport, the Evoque to the LR4. Prices start at $84,950 and the Ranger gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Its curb weight ranges from 4,918 to 5,320 and it pulls 254 to 550 horsepower.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

2012 Rally Fighter

What a beast!

Have you ever wanted to build your own car?  OK, maybe it’s not really building a car, maybe we should call it an experience.  Then again, the 2012 Rally Fighter isn’t just a car.  It looks more like a post apocalyptic zombie fighting and/or evading machine. The appropriate question is:  How would you like to have a life-changing experience?  You will also come out on the other side with a really sweet vehicle.

For a mere $74,900, the experience (and vehicle) of a lifetime can be yours.  This price tag includes six days in factory with a friend and an expert Builder Trainer building your own Rally Fighter.  You will have all of the tools and build space available to you.  Also included in the package are a catered lunch with snacks and drinks.  You will have snacks and drinks supplied to you.  You’ll stay at a local hotel with airport pick-up and drop-off.  You will also be trained on how to drive your new beast.

Let’s talk about the car.  Calling it a car seems like the understatement of the century.  The tubular steel frame is hand built by Local Motors, the manufacturer of the Rally Fighter.  The engine is a 6.2 liter V-8 supplying 430 horsepower and 424 foot lbs. of torque.  All of that power is transferred to the wheels by an automatic transmission.  The front suspension has 18” of travel and the rear suspension has a whopping 20” of travel.

To add to the uniqueness of the Rally Fighter, only 2,000 of them are available.  Look for the Rally Fighter on the American version of Top Gear.  One word can sum it up:  impressive.

Why don't my vehicle's turn signals work?

Here are a few things to look for.

Sometimes the turn signals or hazard flashers in your car may quit working.  You have a few different places you can look to see if you can find the problem.  Be sure to disable the airbag in your vehicle, if it is equipped with one, before you start doing any work around the steering column so that you can avoid any accidents from the airbag inadvertently deploying.  Here are a few things you will want to check.

Bulbs:  This would be ideal if the bulb is just burned out. 

Fuse:  Hopefully the problem is as simple as a blown fuse.  Follow your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find where the fuse for the flashers is located.  A blown fuse can be recognized by discoloration or the element inside of the fuse being broken.

Wiring:  Follow the wiring from the turn signal arm and make sure that there is no broken or disconnected wiring.

Flasher switch module:  This is probably the next logical progression in your search.  Again, consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out where this is located.  In some vehicles, one module controls both the turn signals and hazards.

Turn signal arm:  Hopefully you’ve found the problem by this time.  If not then you may have to replace the entire control arm switch at the steering column.  This may be a bit pricey.

When trying to research the problem, your owner’s manual that came with your vehicle probably won’t help too much.  Try getting a Hayne’s or Chilton technical manual for your vehicle.  You can purchase them online, at some big box retail stores, or at your local auto parts store.  You don’t have to purchase one, however.  Check the reference section of your local library.  Good luck!


Look after your car this summer

Well, with record high or near record high temperatures upon us, many people are just starting to remember the auto maintenance they were going to perform in the spring but forgot.  Hopefully you haven’t been left stranded on the side of the road in 90 degree temperatures.  Here are a few things you may want to take a look at before you’re left in a hot spot. 

Cooling system:  Have you checked your coolant level recently?  You don’t want to be left on the side of the road because your car overheats.  When you check the level, make sure you check it when the engine is cool. 

Check your oil level:   Check it while you can before the light comes on and you’re miles away from anywhere that sells motor oil.

Air Conditioning:  Is the air conditioning system properly charged?  You don’t want to go for a drive and find out that the air conditioning isn’t working.  Rolling the windows down sometimes just helps to swirl around the hot air.

Check the tire pressure:  When the air is hot, air expands.  This goes for the air in your tires as well.  Over-inflated tires may cause excessive tire wear or, worse yet, a blowout.  There’s nothing worse than having to change a tire on the side of the road in the high heat and humidity.

Inspect the belts:  Throwing a belt can seriously ruin your day.  Make sure the belts aren’t worn.  Listen for abnormal squeals and find out what’s causing the noise.

A few minutes looking after your car could save you money, not to mention time spent on the side of the road if something goes wrong. 


Fuel efficiency of windows down vs. air conditiong

Which is better?

With the heat of summer definitely upon us, it’s time to think about fuel efficiency as far as how it relates to driving with the windows down or turning on the air conditioning in your car.  Well as it turns out, that question has two answers.  The bottom line is that it relates to how fast you are driving. 

It is true that running the air conditioning in your vehicle does decrease fuel mileage.  It is also true that driving with the windows down increases drag on your vehicle, which decreases fuel mileage. 

The Mythbusters on the Discovery channel tested this myth; twice as a matter of fact.  The Mythbusters are Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. The pair was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from The University of Twente for their research on the “windows down vs. AC on” myth.  Their aim is to confirm or debunk various theories or urban legends.

 The first time they tested the theory that driving with the windows down is more fuel efficient than driving with the air conditioning on they were criticized for not exploring the point at which the speed of the vehicle with the windows down can cause the drag to be powerful enough to offset the fuel consumption caused by the air conditioning. The ultimate findings were that when driving at less than 50 mph, it is more fuel efficient to drive with the windows down.  If driving more than 50 mph, it is more fuel efficient to roll up the windows and turn up the air conditioning.


Traction control, ABS and emergency brake lights are on

What could cause that?

The traction control, ABS, and emergency lights have shown up on your car’s dashboard and you can’t figure out what the cause is.  Unfortunately, the cause may be any one of a number of issues or a combination of issues.  This may turn into a big game of hide and seek between you and your vehicle.  Here are a few issues you may want to consider looking into.

Emergency brake calipers:  Take a look at your emergency brake calipers typically located on the rear wheels under and behind the rotor.  They are in a horseshoe type shape and are engaged by a piston that presses the open ends out against the rotor.  Sometimes the emergency brake calipers slip off of the piston and off center.  This could cause the emergency brake light to come on or the traction control, ABS and emergency brake lights to come on.

ABS sensor and wires:  Behind each rotor on each wheel you’ll notice a wiring harness and a wire trailing back toward the center of the vehicle.  Check to see if the harness is connected securely.  Inspect the wires to see that they aren’t pinched or kinked in any way.  Follow the wire to the center of the vehicle and ensure the wires remain un-kinked and un-pinched throughout.  This quick inspection, hopefully, may solve the issues on the dashboard.

Get the vehicle’s alignment checked:  Maybe the alignment of the wheels on the vehicle is off.  The best way to fix this issue is to take the vehicle to a shop and get the vehicle aligned.  One indication that this may be the case is you may see un-even tire wear.

Hopefully, these simple checks help you to find and fix the issue with your vehicle.  Happy hunting!

2013 Ford Series F-100

New truck with great new feature
So, after posting an image of an old advertisement for the Ford Series F-100 Pickup, I find out that Ford has been busy introducing a new pickup truck. No. It's not green. It's not based on the roundness and beauty of the F-100. This new truck is the 2013 F-150. Like the F-100 of yesteryear, the 2013 F-150 is sure to be a hit among farmers, building contractors and, well, me.

You will have to visit the Ford site to judge for yourself, but my favorite feature--by far--is the voice activated driver controls feature. A close second favorite feature is the addition of "ruby red clearcoat metallic" as a color choice. Ruby red. Now that's a pickup truck color we girls like!

Ford Series F-100 Pickup

A truck girls like!


Hello Ford? Could you take a look at this advertisement? I believe you may have produced this wonderful green beauty some time ago.

I was just writing in the hopes that you might consider producing this sweet truck again. You see, when I'm out on the highway the Ford trucks I see today are just not what they used to be. They're all bland and boring now. 

The trucks girls like are cute. They have character. Their tires are bubbly. Their lines are round. Their bumpers are real and made of steel. They come in all sorts of colors. Not just white, silver, black or that sparkly tan color.

If you could make just one eager, agile pickup in dark forest green with white trim. Don't fret about salability; you have a guaranteed buyer!


Another great Washington truck trip for your summer enjoyment

Dry out on a trip to the Umtanum Creek Recreation Area

It's been a little wet here in Seattle lately. The rain will fall. The sun will shine. The rain will fall. What we're left with is a soggy, just rained-on feeling with a little bit of warm-mugginess thrown in to bring energy levels to an all-time low. The remedy for this pre-summer malady? A truck trip to eastern Washington.

This time our destination of choice was the Umtanum Creek Recreation Area (Sometimes spelled "Umptanum" Creek Recreation Area) and a great 4x4 trip along Hansen Road to the top of Manashtash Ridge for great views of the valley.

Be warned, for parts of this trip you will want to engage your 4-wheel drive. At least, that is, if you want to make good time and reach the ultimate viewing point at the top of the ridge. Also, be sure to wear long pants and hiking boots. There are spots along the gravel and dirt road that will have you stopping and hopping out to get a better look at the wildlife and wildflowers. The long pants will keep you protected from the knarly, sharp pointed plant life AND keep you protected from the ticks, which are common in the grasses near watering holes in this area from April to July.

If you get out early enough, you'll arrive in time to spot mule deer, California Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Elk, coyote and families of quail. Unlike the evergreen forest mountain roads for 4x4'ing on the west side of the cascades, the roads here on the east side are diversely populated with wildlife. The wildflowers are amazing too. 

Here are some more pictures from our trip in mid-June. We hope they peak your interest. Seriously, now's the time to pack up the truck. Motivate the family for a road trip and get out to see the wild and beautiful Umtanum Creek Recreation Area.

Hope to see you there!

These are amazingly delicate flowers that grow in between the rocks and the grasses.


These mini lakes are beautful. Watch out though. The tall grasses and frequent visits by deer and wildlife make these spots the perfect habitat for ticks. Be sure to do a "tick check" before turning in for the night!

If you find a tick, it is important to remove it carefully. Don't let it stay in. The longer it is attached, especially if attached more than 48 hours, the greater the chance that you or your family member will be exposed to tick borne diseases like Lyme disease.

To remove the tick you will need: tweezers, gloves or a tissue (you do not want to touch the tick), a small jar to keep the tick in (you may need the darn bug in the event you end up getting sick from the bite), an antiseptic to clean the area of the bite and your hands after removal, GRAB THE TICK with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible (do not squeeze too hard or the tick will "vomit" its grossness into your blood stream, then, GENTLY pull the tick STRAIGHT UP (don't jerk or twist the tick or you will break the head off--yes, we know GROSS! If this does happen, please visit your physician as soon as possible to get help removing it. It may seem like we're going into too much detail here, but, when we came back from our trip we counted four ticks between us. YUK!

Don't worry though. When we asked the kids if they'd like to do the trip again the answer was a unanimous YES!

Visit Umptanum Creek Recreation Area this Summer

The recreation area has a parking lot located just before the trail head. Stop here for a nice hike before getting in the truck and driving down Umtanum Road and then turning right on to Hansen Road about a mile west of the recreation area trail head which will take you on a nice gravel and dirt road until you reach the crest and the overlook on Manashtash Ridge for great views of the valley.

Be sure to stop off at the Valley Cafe in Ellensburg for quick bite before heading back over the pass.


Before there were trucks

There was Camlann Medieval Village



OK Western Washington truck lovers, it's time for a drive! Summer solstice and the corresponding festival season is almost upon us. Now is the time to head to Carnation, Washington to visit the Camlann Medieval Village. You'll have to park your truck and get out of the driver's seat to enjoy this beautiful spot in the forest just a stones throw away from Seattle, Bellevue or Everett.

Call ahead to confirm the summer festival's happenings for the day. The village is open on Saturdays and Sundays. On-site, there is a quaint eatery where you can enjoy food and spirits in perfect recreation from the medieval period.

For more information, visit

The summer festivals start soon. Plan your truck trip today!