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Our suggestions for a last-minute Labor Day road trip

Couple driving in convertible under sunny sky
  • Image Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images

Labor Day

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Labor Day, the unofficial start of the fall season, is today, September 4th, 2017. That means time is running out on all those ambitious plans for barbecues, lounging at the beach and road trips.

On that last matter, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve left your planning to the last minute or are fresh out of ideas for your Labor Day road trip, let us propose five great scenic routes out there waiting for you. We recommend not merely driving them, but enjoying them in a convertible, the classic summer car.

Check out our look at five classic American roads that you need to see this Labor Day:

Route 1, Key Largo, Fla. to Key West Fla.
  • Image Credit: cupprof

Route 1, Key Largo, Fla. to Key West Fla.

Distance: 127 miles.

Key West is one of America’s most notorious party towns, but in this case, getting there can be as much fun as the destination.

The most well-known site along the 127-drive from the greater Miami area is Seven Mile Bridge, which stands as one of the iconic American crossings. It greets drivers west of Marathon, Fla., and continues over a seven-mile stretch in which drivers can see a beautiful blue horizon much more easily than land at the far end.

If checking out Key West, the one-time pirate cove and home to Hemingway, sounds a little too touristy, there’s plenty of out-of-the-way stops along the drive to make the trip one for the ages. There are mangrove swamps, crocodiles, pelicans and even the rare wild orchid found along the route, as well as a fisherman’s paradise and several state parks.

Route 2, M-22 in Northern Michigan
  • Image Credit: jimflix!

Route 2, M-22 in Northern Michigan

Distance: 117 miles

OK, so the Sleeping Bear Dunes garnered a bit of national attention this past year when Good Morning America named the national lakeshore the most beautiful place in the country. But Michiganders know that the road to get there, M-22, is just as picturesque as the towering sand dunes.

Starting on the north end in Traverse City, the curvy route showcases quiet lakes, cozy vacation towns and the sand dunes, all while following Lake Michigan’s shoreline south. Much like our first selection of U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys, this route in northern Michigan also traverses some classic Hemingway country.

Need a break? At Pyramid Point, hikers can enjoy a tree-lined three-mile trail to a lookout that offers a spectacular view of the Manitou Islands, a few miles offshore. But those wishing to stay in the car will get spectacular views throughout the drive south to Manistee.

Route 3, Aloha Loop
  • Image Credit: jshyun

Route 3, Aloha Loop

Distance: 266 miles

This one may require some degree of advanced planning. But we couldn’t think of a road that better captures the spirit of the MX-5. If you can make it over to the Big Island of Hawaii, this would be a road trip worthy of any bucket list.

After ostensibly renting your ragtop at Kona International Airport head down Route 11 to Captain Cook, where you can stop off at Hookena Beach Park and do some snorkeling. Make your way around the southern tip of the island and spend ample time at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Let’s be honest: There are majestic views from just about anywhere along this road. For more points of interest, stop at Akaka Falls State Park as you make your way around the island in a counterclockwise direction and check out verdant rainforests and sugarcane fields, from which you can view Mauna Kea, one of the tallest mountains in the Pacific. (And for the adventurous, you can ski in February and March).

Jeep Wrangler
  • Image Credit: Jeep

Jeep Wrangler

The perfect road-trip vehicle – if your plans involve going off road. The Wrangler may be one of the most capable Jeeps ever made, and the standard soft top can be folded down or the hard top removed for trips along mountain trails.

The two-door Wrangler comes with four-wheel drive standard and a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine. For those headed off road, it’s important to note that electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist and hill-hold control also come standard.

Research the 2017 Jeep Wrangler

Route 4, Monument Valley, Arizona
  • Image Credit: mosoltysik

Route 4, Monument Valley, Arizona

Distance: Approximately 208 miles.

Skip the crowds at the Grand Canyon during the peak summer season and head toward the northeast corner of Arizona and into Monument Valley Tribal Park. Long before John Ford’s classic westerns made the area famous, the Navajos knew it well. Indian artifacts and history abound here.

There’s a 17-mile route inside the park that curls around some of the sandstone towers perfect for new offroaders. It’s unpaved, rocky and rutted. And it’s the only way to access some of the best parts of the park. Merrick Butte and Mitchell Mesa, named after two prospectors killed by Ute Indians, are two of the more spectacular monuments, as is Bird Spring, from which visitors can look out over vistas and sand dunes.

Route 5, Death Valley, Calif.
  • Image Credit: Frank Kehren

Route 5, Death Valley, Calif.

Distance: 310 miles

To see the Corvette at its best, you need a flat, open expanse to test its capabilities. No better place than the arid desert of Death Valley National Park.

Start off your journey near the Panamint Springs entrance to the park – and with plenty of gas. There’s plenty of dunes to see along the way, as well as remnants of lava flows, distant peaks and overlooks across the desert.

The power of the Camaro can be harnessed as motorists make their way from the lowest elevation in the United States in Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, to one of the highest in the park, at Dantes View, at more than 5,000 feet.

Along the way, you can stop and see abandoned mines, rattlesnakes, fringe-toed lizards and hikeable canyons. One thing you will not see a lot of is water, so bring plenty for everyone.

Google Maps will help you park in 25 more cities

For a few months now, drivers in 25 U.S. cities have had access to a Google Maps “Parking Difficulty” rating on their smartphones. As of today, the feature has been expanded to an additional 25 major cities in other countries — Canadian cities being the most useful among them for American drivers.

If you haven’t seen this feature, it’s pretty simple: Plot a route, and at the bottom of your screen, you’ll see a rating, as shown above. The ratings are “limited,” “medium” or “easy.” The message is simple: If you draw a “limited” rating, you’d better leave early and allow more time to find a spot.

The rating is determined through historical data and the usual unnamed Google juice. (Though in Google’s example above, anyone who has ever driven in gridlocked downtown Seattle knows from personal historical data that parking around Westlake Center is “limited” to put it mildly.)

The task of finding a spot is made easier by another feature out today, Google’s new “Find Parking” feature. It lets you browse streets, lots and garages near your destination, on a map that shows estimated walking time from them to where you’re going. You can choose a location and plot a course, then the directions will switch to walking mode to get you the rest of the way.

The “Find Parking” feature is only offered in these cities: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, DC, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa.

The Parking Difficulty rating is available on Android and Apple. Find Parking is, for now, only available on Android.

Here are the added cities for the Parking Difficulty rating:

Alicante, Spain
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Copenhagen, Denmark
Barcelona, Spain
Cologne, Germany
Darmstadt, Germany
Dusseldorf, Germany
London, England
Madrid, Spain
Malaga, Spain
Manchester, England
Milan, Italy
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Moscow, Russia
Munich, Germany
Paris, France
Prague, Czech Republic
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rome, Italy
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Stockholm, Sweden
Stuttgart, Germany
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Valencia, Spain
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Related Video:

GMC Strengthens Professional Grade “Like A Pro”

060217_Like A Pro image

New “Like A Pro” ad campaign personifies what it means to be Professional Grade

Originally published by GMC 2017-06-06

DETROIT — Today, GMC debuts “Like A Pro,” a new campaign evolving its “We Are Professional Grade” positioning. “Like A Pro” celebrates GMC vehicles and customers — people who passionately live life to a higher standard. The “Like A Pro” campaign illustrates the core values of “We Are Professional Grade” and shows the emotional connection customers have with their GMC trucks and SUV models.

GMC owners demand vehicles that are designed, engineered and built to a higher standard. For nearly 20 years, GMC has established a strong reputation with “We Are Professional Grade.”

“Our owners are dedicated individuals, respected by their peers, whose passion and abilities set them apart,” said Rich Latek, GMC marketing director. “Their values reflect our ‘Professional Grade’ spirit and we look forward to bringing that emotional connection to life. And we’re excited to show how we think our customers live their lives like pros.”

The new ads feature GMC Denali trucks and SUVs — the pinnacle of Professional Grade. Earlier this year, GMC Denali models passed the 1 million sales milestone and represent nearly 30 percent of GMC retail sales. The campaign also debuts the all-new GMC Terrain, which launches later this summer. Terrain joins the hot-selling, recently redesigned GMC Acadia in the GMC SUV lineup. GMC Acadia sales have increased more than 50 percent calendar year to date.

The lead ad, “How Do You Want To Live — Anthem,” will air in 30- and 60-second executions. This new work showcases those who reach higher in everything they do. On Father’s Day, GMC will debut “Dad Like A Pro” in select media, including the final round of a major golf tournament. The 60-second spot gives an inside look at the relationship between a father and his son. The emotional connection in the spot is further enhanced by the casting of a real-life father and son. In July, a new Acadia spot called “Third Row Like A Pro” will be added. This spot showcases a parent maximizing the versatility and capability of the GMC Acadia. In unique time-lapsed editing, you see the driver manage three rows, three sports … no problem.

The campaign will showcase the GMC brand across media channels and consumer touchpoints from broadcast television to the showroom floor. Join the conversation on social media using #LikeAPro.

GMC has manufactured trucks since 1902, with innovation and engineering excellence built into all GMC vehicles. The brand is evolving to offer more fuel-efficient trucks and crossovers, including the Terrain small SUV and Acadia crossover. GMC’s highest-volume vehicle, the Sierra pickup, is the most powerful light-duty pickup on the market, and the first full-size pickup to receive the highest-possible five-star Overall Vehicle Score for safety since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed its New Car Assessment Program for the 2011 model year. Details on all GMC models are available at http://www.gmc.com/, on Twitter at @thisisgmc or at http://www.facebook.com/gmc.

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Tempted by budget tires? Watch this video first

You know in your heart you should do your research and buy quality, highly rated tires, right? You know that. And yet, good tires are astonishingly expensive, and the screaming deals offered by no-name brands and tire discounters can be tempting. Do you really get what you pay for? Well, all-round tire fanatic Jonathan Benson from UK-based Tyre Reviews tackled the question. (You know Jonathan from his video series, including one we highlighted back in June that had some interesting insights about wheel sizes and tire sidewall height.)

This time around, he’s testing costly name-brand tires against budget tires, comparing a set of Continental Sport Contact 6s against what he calls a “good for the budget” set called a Rotalla RU01 S-Pace. (Rotalla also markets a tire called the Unicorn. We assume it is not imbued with magical powers.)

Benson finds drifting to be much tougher with the budget tires — easier to break loose, much harder to control. “They’re not as fun, they’re not as fast, they’re not as consistent,” and he mentions the small matter of feeling like he’s “on the edge of questionable death.”

Then there’s the braking comparison. We won’t all go drifting, but at some time or another we will all need every blessed inch of braking distance we can get. The test results have to be seen. But that poor foam dude never had a chance.

There’s also a comparison of dry handling, where Benson finds some kind things to say about the Rotallas, though a lack of controllability yields slightly slower lap times.

He does conclude that, objectively, the two sets of tires are less different than he would have thought, with test data showing a performance gap of perhaps 5 percent. But he rates the subjective gap in handling predictability at 50 percent.

The price difference between these tires? About 250 pounds, or $325. That’s real money — but the stakes are really high.

Related Video:

 

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Dallas Fort Worth Buick GMC: Keeping Your Car Cool In The Texas Heat

texas heat, keeping car cool, cool car summer, dallas forth worth buick gmc, freeman grapevine

Oh man, we already know this Summer is a hot one. With such a mild Winter, I’m sure we are in for a long stretch of triple digit weather. Such heat can wreak havoc on both your car’s interior and exterior not to mention YOU! So, what are the best ways of  not only keeping your car cool, but yourself as well? Lucky for you, there are simple things that you can do to help beat the heat.

In fact, Consumer Reports accumulated easy steps you can take to lower your car’s heat.

  1. Park in the shade. Yes, you risk tree pollen or even bird droppings on your car, but it will be much cooler. If there is no shade, then park with the sun beating down into the rear window rather than the front to avoid the steering wheel and front seats from getting hot.
  2. Use a sunshade. These windshield covers keep harmful rays out of your vehicle and while it will still be warm inside they do help keep the temperature down. In addition, sunshades will allow the car to cool faster reducing the time you need to use the air conditioning on high, which can save you some money in gas.
  3. Deploy window shades. Many baby stores sell these window shades that can be put up or down or taken off an on to keep the sun’s rays from beating down on the car seat and when your child is occupying the seat while driving. Some minivans and luxury cars have retractable shades for the second seating row.
  4. Keep leather cool. Leather seats and steering wheels can get so hot they can cause burns. To avoid a hot seat, you can sit on a towel or use a cloth seat cover for the summer months.
  5. Watch the buckles. Metal seat belt buckles can also get extremely hot in the sun. Use caution when buckling and try to avoid children handling the metal part of the buckles. Also, don’t be tempted to loosen car seat straps in the summer heat. Children need to be buckled up securely at all times to remain safe.
  6. Keep hydrated. Bring bottles of water and ice to help you hydrate on these hot days. Having an extra filled water bottle in the car can be a valued addition to an emergency kit, in case of a breakdown or other unforeseen complication.
  7. Don’t leave items in the car. We all know not to keep perishables in the car, but the sun can also affect CDs, DVDs, electronic devices, and toys. Put the items in the trunk or better yet, take them out if you won’t be using them regularly.

Simply opening your doors for a few minutes will dissipate the heat enough for you to stand getting in and cranking your A/C. Of course this is Texas, and we know what to expect from our summers.

Now the big question is: does your A/C cool your car enough? If you think you may need to have your A/C serviced on your Dallas Fort Worth Buick or GMC, now is the time do do it. Don’t wait until Summer is in full swing to have it looked at. Give Freeman Grapevine a call.

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Freeman Grapevine: No-Brainer Insurance

I’m always shocked when I hear about drivers who have no insurance. Let’s face it, if you drive you need insurance. There are no “if, and’s or but’s”At some point in your driving career, you are going to need it for a fender bender, cracked windshield or total car loss.

People spend a lot on new cars and they require proper care, maintenance and PROTECTION. Here is where new car insurance comes into play. New car insurance helps safeguard  you against costly vehicle repairs, most of which you probably never saw coming in the first place.

Insurance is a no-brainer. Get it. Stay Protected…besides, it’s the Law. Swing by Freeman Grapevine and we can talk about how insurance can protect your Buick or GMC.

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How to get Rid of that Stinky Car Smell

Photo Courtesy of Discovery.com

There’s a reason they call it the ‘new car’ smell. Once it’s not new anymore, your car begins to emit a distinctive smell that mostly the contents of the car. Some cars fare better than others, depending on their owner’s cleaning habits. If you don’t take the time to clean out your car, yes, it will probably be an olfactory nightmare. Here are few tips to keep your car smelling just as good as it did the day it came off the lot.

Give it a good clean

I can’t stress this enough. Clean out your car! If you’re a smoker and you use the ashtray, there’s a high probability that it’s causing your passengers to hold their noses when they ride with you. Clean every part of the car. The seats that house all of the crumbs from you eating while driving, the floor mats that absorb whatever it is you stepped in, the steering wheel that gets covered in sweaty palms, all of it needs a good vacuuming or spray of cleaning solution. Check under the seats. I, personally, always find French fries under my seats and there’s really no telling how long they’ve been there.

Invest in a good smell neutralizer

Those trees you see hanging from the mirrors? The clip-on fragrances that you can put right on the air conditioner’s vent? Those just cover up the problem. For about $10 you can get a bag of odor absorbing materials that suck up whatever the smell is, be it cigarette smoke, mildew or month old French fries. I keep one under my seat at all times and I have yet to smell anything that makes me pinch my nose.

Check your in-cabin air conditioning filter

Those things are notorious for housing some of the worst smells of all mankind. If it’s been a few years since you’ve had it checked, bring it in to us and let us scope it out and see what’s causing that awful smell in your car.

What do you do to get rid of bad odors in your car?

 

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10 Most Stolen Vehicles In the United States

Although car thefts have seemingly gone down in recent years, the fact of the matter is that they are in a flux point in part due to modern security systems. Modern vehicles have seen an increase in the quality of security that is provided for them. Namely the keys themselves now have a chip in the key itself with a code that tells the car, “Yes. I am the correct key for this vehicle.” Sounds pretty fool-proof huh? well car thieves are now starting to find ways around this added precaution, which sometime requires the participation of a third party at a locksmith, or unsecured dealership. However, since the thieves tactics have gotten a little more complicated, the model years of the cars being stolen have been surprising older.

So, what do auto thieves like to steal? It seems the older the better. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released Hot Wheels, its list of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in the United States

I can only imagine that having your car stolen is an awful feeling. If you saw a car you own on the list in the video, just take extra precautions when parking it. Don’t leave anything of value in your car. Remember, older vehicles are the ones being stolen at the moment, so we ask that you be aware and lock your vehicle, always…Hey, maybe it’s time to break out The Club.

Do You Know How Your Engine Works?

Freeman Grapevine loves cars. Just like all of you, when we leave here we drive home and experience the same things your do. Sometimes it’s frustration from traffic, others it’s an exhilarating rush when we put the pedal to the metal to overtake a slower vehicle, but how does all of that work?

Most people only seem to know the essentials of their engines: it needs gas and oil changes. What else is gong on in there? How does it work? How is power generated. Well, here’s a good video. Your engine: 101.

Pretty cool, huh? If you think you are having any engine issues, feel free to swing into the service department at Freeman Grapevine.

Do Road Side Information Signs Really Help Find The Missing?

I recently saw a sign on 360 that said, “Missing Elderly, White GMC truck, License BS5 FTGX”. I instantly started scanning the cars around me simply out of curiosity. Then I thought to myself, “I wonder if this type of information on an electronic road sign really works”? I guess it does to an extent because it prompted me to look at the cars in my vicinity. However, 5 minutes down the road it was getting harder to remember what I read. Had I continued further down the road, I probably would have encountered another sign, and would probably have done the same simple search of my surroundings.

I guess I’m answering my question here. Do road side signs work? From my perspective, the answer is “Yes, they do work” to the extent of making drivers survey their immediate surroundings. Subsequently and hopefully, every driver in front and behind me did the same thing.

Here in the Dallas Fort Worth area, we have electronic roadside signs on almost every highway and loop and my question is, “Do they work in regards to finding missing persons”?

  • Do you do notice the signs?
  • Did you scan the area looking for the vehicle mentioned?
  • Was that person found as a result of an attentive driver?

I’m curious to know if other driver’s are as attentive as I apparently am in regards to noticing roadside information. I’m also really curious if anyone has been found as a direct result of a electronic roadside sign.

I can say without a doubt that me and everyone else at Freeman Grapevine would like to see more information sign systems in place in the future. The more signs that are up just means that many more drivers will notice them…or will they? Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think.