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Saturday, 20 May 2006
Wal-Mart & CarMax Make Good Business
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

If you want to buy a luxury car, you must to Palm Bluffs which has become one of the fastest-growing commercial developments in the Fresno area. Do you want a BMW? How about a Mercedes-Benz? How about this great Acurat TL or RL? Well, you may want the Acura MDX. But you may find what you are looking right at Lexus next door after stopping by the Starbucks.

Now, CarMax is coming to town. It is a publicly held company that specializes in the used car market. Industry insiders say that CarMax is in a growth mode. One of its representatives said that the company likes being close to Wal-Mart and Lowe's. In fact, right next to what will be CarMax is a booming hot Wal-Mart store. It is a great way for cottong cooperative, Calcot, to develop the land. I personally thought that this land was very precious. It is a gold mine due to its prime location. The same goes for Wal-Mart that is blanketing the Valley with supercenters. It wa sa few weeks ago that a new supercenter was open in Dinuba. This week, Wal-Mart opened a new supercenter in Handord, CA. Supersized Wal-Marts are here to stay. More are on the way. Maybe CarMax also has a plan to build more in the Valley. At least for now, CarMax and Wal-Mart appear to be bed fellows. It remains to be seen what the local businesspeople will do in terms of competition. Who can compete with the low prices offered by Wal-Mart?

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 7:08 AM PDT
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Sunday, 16 April 2006
High Gas Prices Force Consumers to Get Creative
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

Summer has not arrived yet, but a gallon of gas at any local gas station is already sky high. Many families will probably not take this annual trip to see the country. Many employers are taking measures to limit their driving. But goods have to be delivered. Parents have to go shopping, take their kids to school and practice. We have been conditioned to buy gas no matter how high it is. What if there was an alternative to gas?

Well, Brazil is way ahead with its sugar cane-based fuel. People may be laughing about eating a piece of cane while feeding the rest to their cars. In the case of misbehaving cars, drivers can blame it on the high content of alcohol that is in the reservoir or tank. What is clear is that Brasil is way ahead of many countries with gasoline problems. Instead of relying on the pricey gas from the Middle East, Venezuela and other petroleum-rich countries, Brasilian government has taken matters into their own hands. At one point, they subsidized farmers who planted huge sugar cane fields. Now, they are harvesting enough cane to produce the much needed fuel that is in most flexible vehicles. Flex cars are common over there.




Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 7:31 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 April 2006 8:02 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Nissan Murano
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

Nissan has a way of giving the American consumers what they want. The automotive company's engineers have hit it big with this year's Nissan Murano. On the freeways as well as in cities all over America, the SUV is a real head-turner. I can clearly remember the winks and hellos that were coming from other drivers in a hip section of the Central Valley where I took it for my test driving. This crossover SUV is a giant beast on the road. In fact, it is a much superior vehicle that is enhanced in all ways possible. The Murano was introduced in 2003 to great consumer reviews. The 2004 Murano comes with a 245-hp, 3.5-liter, dohc V6 which allows great acceleration. This SUV is also the first North American application of Nissan's advanced Xtronic continuously Variable Transmission.

During my test-driving, the SUV responded to all my commands with great satisfaction. In fact, it is what I have come to expect from it. It was not only responsive, but also quiet, functional and comfortable. As a parent, I was looking at the space that it comes with. Parents always need to either shop or carry strollers and you name it. It provides a smooth drive on the freeway. What I like about the vehicle is its distinction. It does not resemble any of the clones that have been rolling out of manufacturing companies lately. If Nissan wanted to make an impression on the psyche of the American buyer, I can say that the company has greatly succeeded.

What are some of the key features of this SUV?

Great acceleration and handling

Let's look at what hits your eyes first. There is no doubt that this vehicle has the best sculpted exterior I have ever seen. It goes well with the Nissan's "sculpture in motion" theme. Looking at the SUV leads you to realize its three-dimensional fee. But wait until you get inside to see the equipment it sports. In addition, it's worth noting that the Murano has borrowed a few things from the very popular Nissan Altima. Think about the FF-L, front engine, front-drive, platform. What the FF-L does is that it pushes the wheels out to the corners. This results in a much longer wheelbase. Take a look at its grille and D-pillar and you'll feel that you are standing in front of a car that conjures high quality and value.

Most young guys enjoy the contemporary looks

Nissan zones in on this important feature by equipping the Murano with standard 18-inch wheels and tires, advanced vertical stack headlights with xenon bulbs. So much more can be written about the exterior of this superb SUV. Just like most parents and buyers, I was more interested in its interior. I have enjoyed the clear visibility and storage compartments that most Nissan vehicles are equipped with. The Murano is not an exception to the rules. It has great storage and cargo capacity while allowing first class seating from two to 5 passengers. Yes, it does have great luggage space too. The rear cargo area has enough space to accommodate suitcases and other cargo.

Safety features

Having been an owner of the Nissan Quest for sometime, I can share with you that the company places neat safety features in its vehicles. The Murano has a two-tiered lockable center console storage box with room to hold a purse, a laptop computer and other materials. It comes fully loaded with many safety gadgets such as the dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt sensors, front-seat side-impact supplemental airbags and fron and rear seat curtain side-impact supplemental airbags, Zone Body Construction with front and rear crumple zones that throw away the crash energy from the passenger compartment. Now all of thse nifty features are designed to protect you.

My final words

The Murano is a great vehicle it price is not an issue. If you intend to spend a major part of your time behind the wheels, they'd better be the Murano's. Everything on the vehicle appears to be effortless. A smooth ride is a guarantee.




Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 11:26 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 11:34 PM PST
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2004, 2005, 2006 Nissan Titan: Nissan Armada Platform
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

Do you want to go for the XE, SE or LE? Whichever type you choose, you can only be a happy truck owner. Consider the following: Four (4) real doors in a car-like truck which comes with all the sturdiness and roughness of any truck on the road!

Are you wondering about whether you should trade in your current vehicle to be able to afford this new Nissan Titan Crew? Are you on the market for a new vehicle? Whatever your reasons to look at this great truck, once you've read this review, you may not hesitate to purchase one. I have long been a fan of the Nissan vehicles. Part of my loyalty to this brand comes from my childhood years. The Datsun brand was folded into Nissan. And I continue to like Nissan cars. When my wife bought her van a few years ago, I was there to cheer her on. If we could wait a few years, I would be more than willing to put that money toward a this all-new V-8 engine Titan. While we are still satisfied with the performance of our Nissan Quest, we may be asking whether the time to trade it in is just around the corner. So, it did not bother me to go car-testing this past week-end. My eyes converged on gray 2004 Titan parked right in front of the local dealership. After doing the essential walking around and asking a few questions, it was time for my wife, kids and me to explore the secrets of this great piece of moving technology.

What are some of the features that attracted me to this workhorse truck?

Specs and Features: This 4-door 4WD full-size crew cab can seat 6 passengers easily. It can tow 9,400 pounds, way more than most half-ton extended or crew cab can. (The competitors can't stand this heat right here!) It can haul up to 1,850 pounds. this 5-foot, 7-inch truck bed has a to-die-for tie-down system that provides comfort, flexibility as well as convenience in hauling cargo. You don't have to worry about your products, cargo being squeezed to the point of destruction.

This crew cab has an all-new V-8 engine with aluminum cylinder heads and block. Keep in mind that it's a 5.6 liter engine which can produce 305 horsepower and 379 lbs.-ft of torque. The truck sits high above the ground. Take it off-road and you will realize how easy it is on practically all types of terrain. What else does it come equipped with? Its five-speed automatic transmission is geared toward heavy-duty truck use and towing.

Gas-guzzler or what?

One of my main concerns had to do with its fuel economy. It's always the issue with a V-8 engine. I was somewhat relieved to find out that the crew cab does 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway. Actually, this is better than I expected for such a powerful truck. Who does not feel concerned by the recent high costs of gas. It's unfortunate that these vehicles are known to be gas-guzzlers. More and more, such vehicle types as the GMC Yukon XL, Yukon XI Denali and Chevrolet Suburban, F 150 are becoming very common on the road. We have to tell the truth about this vehicle here.

All throughout my testing, what I enjoyed the most was the smoothness and acceleration of the truck. The handling and performance were what I expected. As I am keen on safety features, I quickly checked them out in the booklet. The list of safety features is pretty long. It has front seat side-impact and curtain supplemental airbags with adjustable upper anchors. My wife quickly pointed to the LATCH child seat anchor system. My kids were kept busy by the movie they wanted to watch on the DVD Mobile Theatre System with fold-down 7-inch monitor and 350-watt 10-speaker Rockford Fosgage-powered sound system.

What else should be noted in the truck?

Remote keyless entry, remote down windows, tilt steering column, speed-sensitive wipers, front captain chair, six cup holders and bottle holders.

It's a great truck that you'll be proud to show to your friends. -----------------------------------------

http://shopnowshop.tripod.com/shoppingblog is where you can read my journal or weblog updated daily!

Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 11:09 PM PST
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Costco Tire Center
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

I had been shopping around for a new car. I thought it would be a good idea to check the Costco Auto program. My wife concurred. After all, her sister and in-laws, their friends and she have been members of this organization for a very long time. Why not trust a firm that makes shopping so easy for one's family? We do receive the Costco Auto magazine every month. We keep looking for the best deals we can find. After various contacts with the local dealerships, we decided to compare their offerings with the price offered by the Costco program. In the meantime, we continued to do our homework. That's a recommendation that nobody should take lightly. We found out that the Costco price is summarized as the dealer invoice plus $500. Now, if you are dealing with a crooked dealer, you may expect some other fees. We were interested in a 2004 Nissan Maxima SE. After using the Nissan Quest without any problems, we became stuck on the brand. Why not buy another Nissan after all? However, even with the Costco's reputation of valuing its customers, a shopper should always be on his/her guard. The following is my experience with the Costco Auto shop and tire and service department.

After deciding to postpone the purchase of the car, we decided to change all four tires on the Honda. The store was running a deal on the Michelin, BF Goodrich and Bridgestone tires. We bought the 4 new tires for close to $400.00, signed the papers, turned in our keys and waited about 3 hours before returning to the store to pick up the car. As we were leaving the car, there were no mentions of dings, scratches and dents on the car. In fact, we left the car with any of the dents and scratches we later found. Beware of the following: Whether you agree there are dents on your car or not, you'd have to agree with their observation to start with. When and if they do it in your absence, that's like a shot in the back. Costco is more interested in covering their back than providing you with satisfaction and customer care. That I'll find out later.

Before going back to the Costco Tire section, we called them to make sure that the installation was complete. We were thinking that a two-hour timeframe was enough time for them to mount the tire. We were wrong. It was a Saturday after a major holiday. Every Costco member showed up to get their work done. We had to wait 1 more hour. When it was time to retrieve the car, my wife dropped me off. I waited a few minutes before the employee could print the paperwork and hand me my keys. While I was talking to him, my wife waited for me by my Honda. That's when she discovered the fresh dents, scratches and dings on the rear of the car. I informed the employee of my wife's findings. He accompanied me to the parking lot where the car was parked. My wife, the employee and I noticed that the car was not properly parked (meaning between the lot). The employee who completed the installation of the tires did not park the car properly. That opened the door to anybody who wanted to park close to my car to put the dents, dings and scratches there. Bear in my mind up to this point, Costco was supposed to be responsible for my car. For up to 4 hours, they were in complete possession of the vehicle!

Costco is not willing to take responsibility for the damage What can a small guy do to a giant we can't live without?

The Costco clerk asked me whether I wanted to file a claim. I followed him to the Tire section. He asked me for a copy of my receipt which did not have any mentions of dents, scratches and dings. He disappeared for what seemed to be a good 15 minutes to make copies of my receipt. When he came back, I noticed the presence of dents, dings and scratches on the form. The words must have been typewritten because some of the letters were on top of the remark words in the pre-existing empty box. When the clerk finally said that these dings were observed by the tire-mounting employee, I said I did not believe him. I expressed to him my dissatisfaction. I bid him farewell knowing that he did his best to protect his company. After all, the damage was caused during his shift. By the time I made it back to my car, my wife had already gone home to get our camera. She took some shots of the car in the position it was parked by the Costco employee.

The clerk gave me a claim form to fill out. When I was close to completing it, he realized it was the wrong form. He apologized and gave me the right one. Here I was filling out a new form. Unwilling to give me the name of the "Costco Wholesale Liability Insurance," he told me somebody would call me. An employee from the insurance company did give me a call and left me this 1-800-409-1099 ext. 15 . After a few days later, I called Josh Judge back at the same number. He was all defensive. He was covering the back of his company. He wanted to have proof. I could either e-mail him some pictures or send him the film pics via snail mail. Once the pictures were developed, we mailed them to him. In the meantime, we were communicating via e-mail. For a few weeks, I did not hear anything from Josh Judge. So I sent an e-mail to JJudge@costco.com to find out what was up. In case I was not available, I gave him my wife's number. For a number of days, neither my wife nor I heard from him. I told my wife to call him. All I wanted was for them to accept responsibility for the damage their employee caused to my car. They could pay to have it painted!

Costco only cares about its own profits, sends customers to hell! It offers customer service to get into our pockets

The company's reps will chase you around to get you to sign up with them. They'll give you incentives until they get you. Once that happens, they forget about you. If you think I didn't like the company all along, please read my other review. The company's practices tend to wake us up, consumers. How many of us are in the same situation? Yes, you can return any merchandise with no hassle. You can shop as much as you can pay. But the way its reps are treating the small guys likes us, consumers is not right.

Josh Judge examined the pictures and called my wife. "I will not pay you anything," he said to her.

The car you buy from them may be damaged during service! You're on your own! At your own RISK!

David went against Goliath. This small fish that I am can't go against Costco! I need help from you, readers and consumers!

Let's band together, Costco consumers, so that arrogance does not triumph. Let's get together to make Costco do the right thing! Paying for my car to get a fresh layer of paint would not put a dent into their coffers.

Please e-mail or call Josh Judge to help a small guy like me! I only have the morale of my story and my words to correct a wrong.

Just ask me for help the next time you get wronged! I'll be there for you!

Please help, help, help! A Big Fish Wants To Swallow Me! That's a rip-off! ========================================================

PSST! I don't like this specific experience with Costco Tire Center. I do like Costco as a shopping experience.


Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 11:02 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 11:04 PM PST
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2005 Toyota Avalon
Topic: Hot Car & Autorecalls

One of the pillars of Toyota's success has been to respond to the needs of the market. When Toyota fans and owners make suggestions in the surveys, Toyota engineers listen and take their advice into the drawing board. Based on the 2004 Toyota Avalon, one could say that one of the company's flagship cars needed some redesigning touches. That's what you are going to find in the 2005 Toyota Avalon.

2005 Toyota Avalon is a great car to drive

I spent about 3 hours with a Toyota Avalon, the Touring model a few days. The following review is the fruit of my observation. What I found out was a four-door sedan that will turn heads on the freeway. Here's a list of things you should remember when you venture out into this car lot to take a spin:

1. The 2005 Toyota Avalon is very powerful: Toyota has greatly improved the sedan's engine. Instead of equipping it with a Camry engine, the new Avalon spots a brand new 3.5-liter V-6 engine which is actually used in the latest Toyota 4Runner SUV, Tacoma and Tundra pickups. On the highway, I had a quick response. It sounded like a car that young car enthusiasts (guys who like to tweak their car) would want to drive and cruise in. There's no doubt that it will appeal greatly to the leading young professionals and even the younger crowd.

2. The 2005 Avalon is sportier: It has the first dual-exhaust system on any U.S. Toyota sedan. Well, let's just clarify for our readers that there's one pipe that runs back most of the way. Then, it splits into two pipes close to the rear of the car, giving you the impression that it is a dual pipe. Gee, how many people will take the time to look under the car? Toyota will get away with this with many consumers. No wonder that the car comes in four models. It has the Touring model, XL, XLS and Limited. The Touring model is step up the base model. That's why we said earlier that most young guys and gals will be attracted to the sportier models.

The Touring model has fake aluminum instead of fake wood trim inside. It has fake texture too. If you want to spend on a model with lots of bells and whistles, you may want to consider the Limited. It's very elegant and fancy. It is a luxury car with perforated leather upholstery and seat-ventilation fans. It comes with a smart key that lets you unlock and start the car if you are carrying the key fob. In terms of security, you will be able to rest in peace. Considering that thieves usually target Toyotas, this one will be a definite no-touch car. The thieves will have to pass on this one.

2005 Avalon: Bigger, bolder and longer There's no doubt that you will first notice the length of the Avalon. The 2005 sedan is 5 inches longer than the 2004 it replaces. Some industry insiders and car fans are taking to calling the ordinary person's limo. It offers 41 inches of rear legroom. That's enough legroom to accommodate any 6 or 7 footer. If you take into account what most mid-size sedans are giving out, 36 to 38 inches, you'll soon realize that the 2005 Avalon is in a league of its own. Small cars like the Civic offer 32 inches. Talking about space, you can slide the front seats of the Avalon all the way back. You won't have to feel sorry for the passengers sitting right behind you. Toyota has done a good job of starting with larger foundation on which to put the latest Avalon. It offers lots of interior space.

Other details to keep in mind:

The Touring model starts at $29,140. The Limited starts at $34,080. In terms of safety, it has bags and bets, front-seat, side-impact bags; side-curtain air bags for front and back seats; driver's knee air bag; anti-lock brakes with brake-force distribution. This Avalon was manufactured at Georgetown, Ky.

Sources:

Here are two sources that are worth mentioning below:

To get more info, visit www.toyota.com. You don't have to take my words for it. Toyota is the source and ultimate authority in terms of information on all its vehicles.


Posted by Fashionista Shopping Analyst at 10:54 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 10:56 PM PST
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