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Smart Drives for Summer.

By Sue Mead.

We’ve been busy trying out a collection of new car and truck models and selected a quartet to highlight that range from Kia’s compact hybrid crossover utility vehicle that carries five and their gear to a full-sized truck-available in gas or diesel- that is perfect for jobs that require hauling loads or pulling trailers; do you have an RV, a boat or horses to carry? The Titan might just have your name on it! In between are the perennially-popular mid-sized Accord with hybrid power and the new Pacifica minivan loaded with innovations and a hybrid offering, too. Can you catch the theme? Choices that meet your needs, but save you money at the pump; now, that’s smart thinking!

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

The mid-sized Accord was updated in 2016 with small but obvious body changes; both the sedan and coupe got a sportier, edgier look, plus new exterior colors and new wheels; inside changes brought updated styling, added technology for infotainment, plus new safety and driver-assist features.

Newly available is the more powerful and fuel-efficient Hybrid version that is motivated by a 2-liter engine and electric motors. It gets 212 hp. with a CVT transmission and achieves 49 city/47 highway fuel economy. The Base starts at $29,605; EX-L at $32,905; and Touring at $32,995.

Standard on Base are 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, eight-way power seats, a 7.7-inch central dashboard infotainment display, active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, and six-speaker sound system with USB media interface, Pandora integration, and auxiliary audio jack.

All trims get antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags, rearview camera, and passenger-side blind-spot monitoring; hybrids come with Honda Sensing driver assistance features like lane departure intervention and automatic emergency braking. The restyled exterior is sleek and attractive, while inside the roomy cabin are high-quality materials with finishes and features that vary by trim; EX-L adds auto-dimming rearview mirror, sunroof, driver memory settings, heated front seats and leather upholstery, plus 7-inch touchscreen smartphone integration (via Honda Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and an upgraded sound system.

For more information visit: http://automobiles.honda.com/accord-hybrid

2017 Kia Niro

Kia’s first dedicated hybrid is designed for five with great room for gear in the back. It blends impressive fuel economy (up to 50 mpg) with compact crossover utility and comes in five well-equipped trims.

Designers created a unique look, using wide and low proportions with a long wheelbase and short overhangs that give it an athletic stance that is enhanced by strong shoulders, defined wheel arches, rocker-panel cladding and roof rails. Aggressively-shaped headlights frame a new interpretation of Kia’s tiger nose grille and in back is a wide stance, rear skid plate, and multi-element horizontal LED tail lamp graphics to complete a sporty look.

A gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain combines to produce 139 hp. and 195 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a new six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The fuel-efficient crossover has a driving range of up to 595 miles.

Trim levels are FE ($22,890); LX ($23,300); EX; Touring ($29,650) and the special-edition Niro Launch Edition ($28,000). There are a number of special packages that add a higher level of safety, technology and audio upgrades.

For more information visit: http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/niro/2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

This new seven or eight-passenger multipurpose vehicle brings stylish design, cutting-edge technology, and a top-notch collection of comfort and convenience features. With its long wheelbase, wide track, low ground clearance, and sculpted exterior, it looks athletic and planted. Inside, high-tech elements combine for a sculpted, muscular feel.

Thoughtful stowage includes a large center console that can hold an iPad; an available tri-pane panoramic sunroof adds to the feeling of interior spaciousness. Under its hood is a new V-6 engine that produces 287 hp. and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to a nine-speed automatic, it gets up to 22 mpg.

A hybrid gets an estimated range of 30 miles solely on zero-emissions electric power and is rated up to rating of 80 miles per gallon equivalent. In addition to keyless Enter ‘n Go, remote start, and heated and ventilated seats, is Stow ‘n Go seating with Stow ‘n Go assist that make easy tilt-access to the third row.

Standard and available safety and security includes electronic stability control; 360-degree surround-view camera; ParkSense rear parking assist with stop, parallel and perpendicular park assist; blind-spot monitoring; adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality; forward collision alert with automatic braking; plus lane departure warning and keep-assist.

Trims include LX ($28,595), Touring ($30,495), Touring-L ($34,495), Touring-L Plus ($37,895), and Limited ($42,495). Hybrid buyers can choose between Touring and Limited Platinum.

For more information visit: https://www.chrysler.com/pacifica.html

2017 Nissan Titan XD

The 2016 Titan created an all-new segment for light-duty trucks, combining the towing and hauling of larger, pricier heavy-dutys with the fuel-efficiency and affordability of half-tons.

The Titan line is available in gasoline and diesel-powered versions, rear-drive or all-wheel drive, with King, Single and Crew Cab models, two frame sizes, three bed lengths and five grades. It’s both a work truck and, in some versions and trims, a luxury-appointed pickup.

The all-steel truck is sleek with contours that convey a bold, tough demeanor. Features such as LED Bed Rail Lighting, tailgate illumination, spray-on bedliner and a two-way tailgate help loading and unloading. Front and rear Zero Gravity seats, inspired by NASA, blend luxury and durability are available in leather or water-repellant fabric and can be heated and cooled.

A seven-inch NissanConnectSM screen displays navigation, and integrated mobile apps. Onboard are dual-zone climate control, an additional cabin heater, and remote start. A 12 speaker audio system by Rockford Fosgate is standard or available, plus 12- and 120-volt power outlets and a 150/400-watt built-in inverter. Utility and convenience aids include RearView Monitor with Trailer Guides, Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD) and a Trailer Light Check system. Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and a Front and Rear Sonar System.

The V8 diesel engine produces 310 hp. and 555 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a six-speed heavy-duty transmission, the truck has a maximum towing capacity of more than 12,000 lbs. and a maximum payload of more than 2,000 pounds. It starts at $29,580.

For more information visit: https://www.nissanusa.com/trucks/titan-xd

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