Untitled Document Home
Chef & Hotel Profile
Publisher's Page
Gift Guide
Travel Adventures
Epicurean Events
Health Minded
Spa Baby Secrets
Book Bites
Culinary Coup
Sense of Style
Kids Kaleidoscope
Tinsletown Tidbits
Radio Show & Links
Contact Us


The Car Industry Post-GM & Chrysler

By Laurence Vittes


It remains to be seen to be seen how and whether GM and Chrysler recover, and hats off to Ford for bravely surviving with some outstanding cars. For the time being, however, it makes sense to look very carefully at what the foreign manufacturers have to offer. Last month I drove three new dreamboats that could be your perfect fit and last for years and years.


Green comes to BMW

One of the most sensational new cars to come along in years is BMW's 3 series diesel. It's the 335d and it is extremely hot. It looks just like any other 3 series 4-door sedan, and it handles like every other BMW (that is, to say, marvelous, safe and comfortable, plus loads of creature comforts and technological wizardry).


But with 265 horsepower and an astounding 425 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm, 36 mpg on the highway, this is not your grandfather's diesel. In fact, it shows us what the rest of the world has been enjoying for years: performance equivalent to and surpassing gas engines with much better mileage and lower maintenance bills. The extraordinary amount of torque means you never to be bashful taking off from a boulevard stop, while this beautiful automobile cruises effortlessly on the highway.


And still, it also delivers an impressively clean, fuel-efficient drive. So now, you can drive a BMW and be really green!


Prius gets a facelift

If you'd like to spend less money and still get a technologically great car, check out Toyota's Prius, entirely new for 2010. Like the former model, it's like driving a minibus, but without the mini. It's chock full of room, with a very practical hatchback design, gets incredible mileage even if you step on the gas from time to time, and it makes traversing the West Side during rush hour (which seems to 24/7 these days) a piece of automotive cake.


The exterior changes are not dramatic but there are important improvements inside and out. It's a bit of a better looker, with a lovely rear taillight configuration. It's also more powerful while delivering an EPA-rated 51/48 mpg City/Highway, up by 3 miles per gallon. The CVT, or continuously variable transmission, is a delight.


There are three driving modes: EV, ECO and Power. EV is all electric, for very short distances at speeds under 25 mph; ECO provides the best fuel mileage, without noticeably compromising performance. Power, the default mode, provides surprisingly brisk acceleration when needed.


Standard Toyota magic includes Touch Tracer Display, projecting info before your eyes, so you can keep them on the road. Options include such technological tricks as a moonroof and solar-powered ventilation system; remote pre-air conditioning to cool the car down to ambient temperature before you climb in on a hot day; a warning beep when you wandering in your lane; radar cruise control; Intelligent Parking Assist that will parallel park the Prius with no steering or throttle input from the driver; and pre-collision emergency braking to slightly reduce the impact when you don't see an accident coming but the car's radar does.


All this and you get to join the sister or brotherhhod or Prius ownbers who in Southern California, are legion, and very happily so.


Zoom zoom zoom

Years ago, I leased a Saab 9.3 when I could have leased a Mazda 6. While Saab is struggling to find a buyer in the wake of GM's problems, Mazda keeps on raising the stakes on the 6, which for 2009 is all-new, more spacious, more refined, and more powerful. I drove one for a week and felt like I had hit the jackpot. Equipped with a stick shift, the way I like to drive, and a sporty, purposeful personality, it was a pleasure to drive whether I was confronted with traffic closing in on all sides or just cruising up the coast to Malibu.


There's no shortage of competition in the midsize sedan sector, including comfort food models like Toyota's Camry, Honda's Accord, Chevrolet's Malibu and Hyundai's Sonata on the one hand, and sportier models like Nissan's Maxima and Volkswagen's Passat on the other. But the Mazda 6 is in a class of its own which cries out for an extended test drive before you make your final decision.


Before you buy or lease anything automotive, visit Michael Karesh's invaluable TrueDelta.com website for current information, reviews and insights about what constitutes value these days, and which manufacturers offer it.



To celebrate its 25th birthday, Gatwick Express, the non-stop rail air
link between London's Victoria station and Gatwick Airport, is offering
travellers tea and coffee at 1984 prices - just 26 pence - on 14 May

Catering has always been popular on the 30 minute journey between London
and the airport. By offering hot drinks at 25 year old prices, customers
will be reminded of the long established customer service ethos which
Gatwick Express still delivers after a quarter of a century of

Chris Burchell, managing director at Gatwick Express said: "Until 1984,
the train link to Gatwick Airport was limited, using dedicated carriages
from part of another rail service. The British Rail Board, wanted to
provide a dedicated air link to the airport in order to counter the
perceived distance from the capital both to the UK market and more
especially to potential passengers overseas. Converted rolling stock
from Midland Mainline was used and in 1984 the Gatwick Express was
launched sporting full InterCity colours and the ability to reach speeds
of 90 miles per hour.

14th May is a landmark birthday for Gatwick Express. In the past 25
years, over 125 million people, including British Royalty and heads of
states from all around the world, have travelled on our trains."

Gatwick Express is the fastest, most comfortable way to travel between
London and Gatwick Airport. For more information visit


Readerís Digest, the highest circulated global magazine, offers its readers additional content on its website: www.readersdigest.com, and this month the website provides a variety of affordable summer trips that hit all 50 states.

 Readerís Digest has divided the U.S. into four regions: Western States, Rocky Mountain States, Central States and Eastern States for possible family travel options. Below are a couple of hidden gems from each region.

Western States:

         Oregon: Smith Rock State Park: Smith Rock is known as one of the world's most popular rock-climbing destinations.

         Alaska: Kotzebue: See native Inupiat Eskimos nurture and raise wildlife in their natural habitat. 

Rocky Mountain States:

         Colorado: Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls: Discover this remote mountain region featuring two state parks.

         Idaho: Snake River Valley Wine Country: Tour Idahoís wine country which is the perfect climate for growing grapes.

Central States:

         Wisconsin: Villa Louis: Visit one of the most beautifully restored Victorian homes in the United States.

         Oklahoma: Washita Battlefield National Historic Site: See the location of the battle that killed Cheyenne chief Black Kettle in the surprise attack led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

Eastern States:

         Connecticut: The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art: Discover major trends in todayís art scene at this Ridgefield, CT museum.

         Florida: Amelia Island: Visit this beautiful quaint and authentic Victorian seaport island for a quick trip back in time.

March 08 | April 08 | May 08 | June 08 | July 08 | August 08 | September 08 | October 08 | November 08 | December 08 | January 09 | March 09 | February 09 | April 09 | May 09 | June 09 | July 09 | August 09 | September 09 | October 09 | October 10 | November 09 | December 09 | January 10 | February 10 | March 10 | April 10 | May 10 | June 10 | July 10 | August 10 | September 10 | November 10 | December 10 | January 11 | February 11 | March 11 | April 11 | May 11 | June 11 | July 11 | August 11 | September 11 | October 11 | November 11 | December 11 | January 12 | February 12 | March 12 | March 12 | April 12 | May 12 | June 12 | July 12 | August 12 | September 12 | October 12 | November 12 | December 12 | January 13 | February 13 | March 13 | April 13 | May 13 | June 13 | July 13 | August 13 | September 13 | October 13 | October | November 13 | December 13 | January 14 | February 14 | July 14 | March 14 | April 14 | May 14 | June 14 | August 14 | September 14 | October 14 | November 14 | December 14 | January 15 | February 15 | March 15 | April 15 | May 15 | June 15 | July 15 | August 15 | September 15 | October 15 | November 15 | December 15 | January 16 | February 16 | March 16 | April 16 | May 16 | June 16 | July 16 | August 16 | September 16 | October 16 | November 16 | December 16 | January 17 | February 17 | March 17 | April 17 | May 17 | June 17 | July 17 | August 17 | September 17 | October 17 | December 17 | January 18 | September 18 | February 18 | March 18 | April 18 | May 18 | June 18 | July 18 | August 18 | October 18 | November 18 | December 18 | January 19 | February 19 | July 20 | February 19 | March 19 | March | April 19 | May 19 | June 19 | July 19 | August 19 | September 19 | October 19 | November 19 | December 19 | January 20 | February 20 | March 20 | April 20 | May 20 | June 20 | August 20 | February 08

© 2008 Bonnie Carroll, All Rights Reserved