GMC’s rear seat reminder addresses tragic mistake of leaving children in cars

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GMC has announced a new vehicle feature to help prevent caregivers from accidentally leaving children in cars, which can be a fatal mistake in hot weather. GMC’s “Rear Seat Reminder” is an industry-first technology intended to help remind the driver to look in the rear seat before exiting the vehicle under certain circumstances.

GMC’s protective feature will be standard in the new 2018 GMC Terrain.  The technology does not actually detect objects or people in the rear seat but monitors rear door usage for up to 10 minutes before or during a trip, and when the driver turns off the vehicle.  An alarm sounds five chimes and displays a warning on the driver information center screen, prompting a second look in the back seat. A GMC staff engineer and mother of two, Tricia Morrow, led the development of the technology.

It is as tragic statistic that about half of the heatstroke deaths of children under age 14 occur because caregivers mistakenly leave children in cars. Since 1998, more than 660 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. During September’s back-to-school season and Baby Safety Month, Safe Kids Worldwide warns that changes in caregivers’ routines can lead to children being forgotten in cars.

Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.  When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization of 400 coalitions across the U.S. and funded by General Motors, developed a system called ACT to help remind caregivers not to leave children in cars.  The acronym focuses on avoiding heatstroke by never leaving a child in a car, creating reminders that a child is riding in the car, and taking action by calling 911 if a child is left alone in a car.

Safe Kids warns that children get left behind by loving, caring parents simply because they become distracted, and that these accidences are more common with new parents who are sleep-deprived or when a parent’s routine is disrupted.

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Cool cruising in the 2017 Cadillac CT6

1467229383047Our family recently had the opportunity to cruise in style in the 2017 CT6 on trip to Buena Park, California.  If you know anything about Buena Park, you know that like Texas, everything around those parts is big.  There’s a lot more land and space compared to neighboring Los Angeles, and wisely developers have built enormous entertainment complexes there to attract people who want to get out of the city for some fun. So it was fitting that we made our road trip to this sunny SoCal vacation destination in this spacious and grand high-end Cadillac car.

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For starters, with two kids along, an awesome entertainment system is essential. The CT6’s backseat is the ultimate modern kid play pen.  Not only is it huge, with rear-seat legroom of 40.4 inches, it is fully equipped with a comprehensive infotainment system with dual adjustable 10-inch HD-Blu-Ray compatible diagonal screens that retract into the front seatbacks, along with wireless phone charging and connectivity for surfing and streaming on smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices.

But it’s not all about the kids. This is a grown-up car packed with pleasures for adults. Audiophiles will delight in the dynamic range and clarity of the 34-speaker Bose Panaray audio system, designed specifically for the CT6 and inspired by the technology in professional concert halls and high-end home audio systems.  It’s basically a concert on wheels.

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Aside from the incredible entertainment technology, the CT6 is loaded with high performance technology to make driving and riding in it an absolute power trip. Some highlights of the Premium Luxury 3.6L CT6 are the 335-hp 3.6L V6 engine with auto stop/start and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), active chassis controls with V-Series-derived Magnetic Ride Control, active rear steering, driver assist package with night vision, rear camera mirror, automatic front and rear braking, and adaptive cruise control.

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With these features, the Cadillac CT6 takes drivers to a higher threshold of involvement, with technologies that make them more aware of their surroundings, chassis systems – including active technologies – that make the most of control in all conditions.

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One great new feature we loved was the Auto Vehicle Hold, a feature that prevents forward or backward vehicle creep when the driver’s foot is off the brake. For long drives and city drives, this is great for reducing fatigue during heavy stop-and-go traffic, and it improves vehicle control on steep grades. Another handy feature was the True 360-degree camera that can see and record video all around the vehicle, which provides security when you are exiting your car, and it also reduces blind spots around the vehicle, so you can spot the kids and their scooters before backing over them.

With all of this assistive technology, it’s like having a backseat driver that sees everything and reacts instantaneously without being annoying.

As far as large luxury cars go, this is one of the lightest on the road, thanks to its aluminum-intensive architecture that incorporates 11 different materials to give it strength, performance and efficiency thresholds that put it in the top class of the world’s elite luxury performance sedans.

And forget all that stuff about luxury cars being built for comfort not for speed.  This sedate sedan can peel out when needed.  Under the hood it features the new Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 engine that provides an estimated 400 horsepower (298 kW) and 400 lb-ft of torque (543 Nm) that provides race car power on demand.

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Cadillac lives up to its brand with the CT6 with ahead-of-its-time creature comforts including a Quadzone climate system, which employs a secondary full-HVAC system that allows passengers to personalize temperature and airflow for each seating position, along with ionizing air purification.

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My only consideration about driving a big luxury sedan like this was that the kids wouldn’t think it was cool. But that theory was shot full of holes when we emerged from the trampoline park and the kids took dibs on who got the key fob to run up to the car so they could trigger the welcoming lights outside the car when we approached; and then they scrambled to get in and plug in.  It was like their own private crib, gansta style.  No worries here about not being cool.

10 Take-Alongs for Your Labor Day Road Trip

The last days of summer are here, so get on the road for a family final farewell to warm weather.  Stock up for your road trip with these 10 take-alongs for comfort and fun.

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Little ones may chill on the “are we there yet” mantra if they are sitting high and comfy on a rad booster, like the Olli in tokidoki pattern ($99). The award-winning cool seat is designed for kids 40 to 120 lbs and built with a comfort cube to eliminate “numb bumb.”  Its cover is removable and washable and it features a quick-release strap and carrying strap plus a cup holder.  It clicks in to vehicles’ anchor latch system for extra stay-put security.  Available in several kid-friendly patterns at major retailers or shop.clekinc.com.olli-tokidoi-all-over

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Your Entertainment Pleasure

Even if you’ve sworn never to make electronics your babysitter, long trips with kids in the car were made for headphones and tablets. The Note Galaxy Note 8  ($349 at Best Buy) is your portal for games, movies, music and ebooks which can be stored on its 16GB internal drive plus it can expand up to 64GB with a microSD card.  It comes with a stylus for writing, drawing and doodling on the HD touch screen.

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Protect your tablet with an Otterbox case like the Defender Series ($69.95) with an armor-like shell that shields against drops and dust and features an integrated screen cover that guards against scratches and smudges.

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Sharing is caring with the Wicked Audio Splitter ($9.99) which allows a second person to to plug in and share music with any pair of headphones or earphones and raise and lower their volumes independently.

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Tech for the Trip

For the armchair tourist in all of us, hook up SlingTV ($299) on your home entertainment system before you leave so you can tune into whatever is playing on your home TV from a laptop, tablet or phone.  Placeshift your TV and launch the Slingplayer app on your device and control your TV like you were sitting in your living room at home, no additional subscriptions required.  It even works internationally and anywhere there is an Internet connection.  Available at slingbox.com.

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Work, Synch, Play

Even if you must take your work along, you don’t have to lug a laptop.  Tote the slim Nokia Lumina 2520 ($499, or $299 with AT&T contract) and its companion keyboard ($149) which features two USB ports and adds up to five hours extra battery life.  This quick-charging tablet powers up 80 percent in one hour and then is ready to create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on the go. Synch your email and calendars with Outlook. And with up to 64GB of expandable memory and OneDrive, you can save your documents and pick up where you left off whenever you want. And with 4G LTE connectivity for a super-fast experience, you can spend more time out and about.Nokia-Lumia-2520-jpg

Here Comes the Sun

Don’t let sunburn ruin your last days of summer.  Cover up with sun protection that won’t wear off, because you are wearing it.  UV Skinz UPF 50+ sunwear for the whole family is fashionable and comfortable in dozens of styles for everyone from baby to mom and dad.  Whether snorkeling or surfing, UV Skinz has an outfit for that, from hoodies to aloha print shirts and bucket hats.  Available at uvskinz.com.

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Bee Prepared

If anyone along on the trip has allergies or special medial needs, pack along needed supplies, like an EpiPen or inhaler, in cute cases by AllerMates  ($17.99) that kids don’t mind carrying along.  The cool and colorful cartoon designs suit kids tastes, and the insulated cases are free of BPA, phthalates, nickel and latex and contain an emergency contact and medications info card.  Available nationwide at CVS, Kmart, Walgreens and allermates.com.

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One for the Road

Avoid traffic and hit the road when the roosters crow, but don’t skip the day’s most important meal.  Take along liquid breakfast to-go, Naked Juice Protein Zone, a satisfying smoothie that serves up plenty of protein and fiber.  Stopping for meal breaks can slow you down, so pack along refreshing nutrition you can drink down, like loaded-with-veggies Naked Juice Green Machine.  Take in a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and your energy levels soaring, and stay hydrated naturally with Naked Juice Coconut Water, straight from Mother Nature and chock full of electrolytes and available in flavors like pineapple, mango or peach.  Available at grocery stores nationwide.

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Naturally Refreshing

Stock your cooler for the car or beach and keep that bikini bod year round with stevia-sweetened Zevia, the all-natural alternative to fattening sugary carbonated drinks.  Available in 15 flavors, these sparkling refreshers have zero calories and no artificial sweeteners. Available in grocery stores nationwide including Whole Foods, Kroger, Safeway and Target.

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KIA Sorento Makes an Impression in the Drop-Off Line

The 2014 Kia Sorento SX  is a whopper of an SUV that any parent would be proud to cruise up in at the drop-off line. Its roomy interior is full of creature comforts like front row heated seats, nappa leather trim, second-row window sunshades, dual climate controls, a heated steering wheel and a four-way adjustable passenger seat. For larger families, there’s an available third row that can be split and folded and can accommodate up to 7 passengers.
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There’s plenty of amenities for traveling families, like the kick-butt infinity audio system, hands-free Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones, media outlets for plug in devices, and voice-command navigation with an 8′ touch screen featuring real-time highway conditions from SiriusXM Traffic. Its 3.3 liter engine may not be the most gas efficient, burning 18-21 mpg, but the tradeoff is, well, everything else.

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Safety comes first with this vehicle, with a rear camera backup camera, blind spot detection and an advanced airbag system.

background_sorento_2014_safety_intro--kia-1920x-jpgPriced starting at $35,000 and up to $37,695 with upgrades and the third-row seat, it’s a steal for an urban assault vehicle packed with this much power.gallery_sorento_2014_interior_002--kia-320x-jpg

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Mazda 5 Grand Touring : The Minivan with a Superiority Complex

One of the best little minivans I have ever driven is the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring.  It is compact and sprightly enough that I did not feel like I was in a 6-seater minivan, yet with the third seating row put down its cargo area was large enough to fit all our family gear, including skis, boots, poles, puffy coats and everything we needed for a mountain vacation.  Priced at $22,270 for the basics, or $26,125 fully loaded, with a fuel-efficient 2.5L engine that gets 22-28 mpg, it’s a great economy family car. Image

The interior feels a little stripped down, but other features help make up for it, like the safety-first rear back up sensors, dual front and side–impact airbags and fast–inflating air curtains to protect all three rows of passengers, dynamic stability control and traction control to prevent wheelspin and increase traction during hard braking, acceleration and cornering, and available Xenon headlights and halogen fog lights for better vision for driving at night or in inclement weather. The standard tech package is a bit skimpy, though it does include Bluetooth hands-free phone and MP3 player input.

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Upgrades that I feel are essential for family trips included the overhead DVD entertainment system and Sirius XM satellite radio.  For the serious traveling family, the auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink is also a nice comfort.  If you want to get really fancy, other options include the remote engine start option, moon roof and premium audio system, a rear spoiler and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.  Overall, a great car, ahem, minivan for the money.

KIA Rio: Big Features in a Small Package

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The 2014 Kia Rio is a great small car for bouts around town, commuting or even a short vacation trip. Priced at $13,900 to $21,340, this mighty subcompact has an unbelievable package of standard features and an amazing premium package for a car in this price class.


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Standard features include Bluetooth and UVO infotainment system with satellite radio (subscription required).

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Options include navigation system with Sirius traffic, heated power mirrors, split folding rear seats, cruise control, rear camera display, full-length side airbags, tilt and slide sunroof, and a compass and HomeLink to dim the glare reflecting lights in the rear-view mirror. Not too shabby on gas either — at 33 mpg to 40 on the highway, and it comes with the very attractive Kia 10-year-10,000-miles warranty.

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KIA Sportage Puts the Sport in SUV

hero_sportage_2014--kia-1920xDriving the 2014 KIA Sportage, I knew right away where from it gets its name.   If I did not know I was driving a four-door SUV I could have imagined I was in a nimble sports car.  The feel of the road, the responsive handling and the dash loaded with lights, bells and whistles made me reminisce about the days of kid-lessness, when I cruised carefree in my old convertible.  And maybe as a 40-somethingmom I should not care about a kick-butt stereo, but this ride had an amazing audio system with great bass, and Sirius and a plug in an iPhone/MP3 to boot.

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The lively acceleration of the 2.4L Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) I4 engine and quick turning action was handy pulling out of parallel parking spots on busy LA streets, and the beeping three-tier back up warning system utilizing a rear mounted camera – with a green-, yellow- and red-zone visual grid to alert you to objects behind you, was very helpful for those same parallel parking challenges in reverse.

Maybe it’s trivial to note, but I loved the large, easy-to-find-in-the-dark ceiling map light, which is super nice and bright  so you can see and find things like a crying baby’s dropped binky, toll money or an elusive garage pass card. The interior was not top-grain kid leather, but that’s not a bad thing, as it was soft and pliable enough for comfort without being too delicate for installing children’s car seats or enduring the kind of constant in-and-out of the seat action most mommobiles-slash-kid-limos get.  My complaints about the KIA Sportage were small. gallery_sportage_2014_interior_001--kia-320x-jpg

 

The headrest could have used a few more adjustment options, though it was sufficiently comfortable, and the interior was more hard plastic than padded leather or pleather than some more luxurious SUVs – but then again, it wipes clean easier that those coverings.  For the money – starting at $21,600 and $29,000 loaded with tech features like voice-activated navigation, streaming audio entertainment system, HID headlights and LED rear lighting options, this was a solid choice for a family car that also was thoroughly enjoyable to drive and ride in.

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