Say Hello to the 2018 Buick Enclave

One by one, each General Motors crossover vehicle is getting a full redesign. The latest on the list is the Buick Enclave. While the new vehicle won’t officially be revealed until April at the New York Auto Show, teaser photos are giving customers something to be excited about.

From the looks of the teaser photos, the Enclave is getting a major stylistic upgrade. In line with other reboots, Buick’s new, more aggressive design language will be present. This includes tapered headlights and a more upright grille with the new “wing” motif.

Expected to be the first of the new models in Buick’s Avenir premium sub-brand, it is the last of General Motors’ three-row crossover lineup to be redesigned. With its debut in the Avenir sub division, drivers can expect ritzier styling touches and a few additional technological features, as well.

While not yet confirmed, some vehicle experts are also guessing that the new Enclave will be offered with standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive and will use a 3.6-liter V-6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

The original Buick Enclave model was introduced to consumers 10 years ago, and has been a popular choice among buyers ever since. While the made over model will include a swankier look and better technology, it is expected that the starting price will remain the same as the price of the ongoing model— $40,000.

Those who are fans of the current model need not worry. While the new Enclave will have a sportier, lighter look and feel, it will still have the same conservative styling as the current model. With brimming sales of the current Enclave model, these styling overlaps are likely intentional by Buick to maintain current buyers and appeal to new buyers, as well.

Both the Enclave and the 2018 Buick Regal have been seen testing as a pair with typical Michigan manufacturer plates ahead of the New York Auto Show. Both will be debuted there on April 11, and we know many consumers will be anxiously waiting for the grand reveal.

When It Comes to Ride Sharing Apps, You Have More Options

When Uber hit the scene in 2009, they had truly created an innovative, one-of-a-kind product. With over 40 million riders in 528 cities around the world using the app monthly, it wouldn’t be long before competitors entered the picture.

Lyft made their grand debut in 2012, and quickly became Uber’s biggest competitor. Valued at $5.5 billion, they not only transport riders from point A to B, but have also joined Uber in services such as delivering food, and ordering puppies to your office to give employees a needed break.

While the two companies easily dominate the game, others have begun to pop up to make a name for themselves. So if you’re someone who doesn’t like the mainstream option, read on to find other ride sharing options in your neighborhood:

1. Flywheel

If you think taxis are dead, think again. Flywheel has created the disruptive technology that allows the taxi industry to compete. By replacing the outdated hardware in a cab, Flywheel allows riders to hail a cab using an app on their iPhone, and track where the cab is.

Flywheel has also replaced the outdated pricing approach most taxis use, and even avoids surge pricing often found with Uber and Lyft. With Flywheel, passengers get the same low rate every hour, every day.

2. Ruby Ride

Founded in Phoenix, AZ by architect Jeff Ericson, Ruby Ride allows you to schedule rides in advance—even recurring trips! Going beyond the typical personal travel plans, Ruby Ride targets individuals who need assistance with medical transportation, such as going to and from doctor’s appointments.

They also focus on business plans, which allow business owners to arrange rides for out-of-town guests, and even reduce crowding in company parking lots by organizing carpools. Ruby Ride solely serves the Phoenix metropolitan area, and meets the requirements of Maricopa County’s Travel Reduction Program, adding a green flare to your transportation needs.

3. Blacklane

Looking for a more luxurious way to get around? Then Blacklane is for you. Unlike other ride sharing companies, all of Blacklane’s employees are professional drivers who are licensed, insured, and regulated by the company. Drivers do not provide their own vehicles, but drive cars provided by local partners.

Offering Business Class, Business Van, and First Class service options, Blacklane includes 60 minutes of free wait time when picking up from the airport, and 15 minutes of free wait time for all other rides, adding another layer of relaxation to your trip.

While Uber and Lyft continue to dominate in the ride sharing space, it’s important for riders to know that other options are available. Find the company that fits best with your transportation needs, and sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Goodbye Driverless Cars, Hello Flying Cars

Imagine taking a trip to see the spectacular views around the United States and not worrying about fighting traffic? Or what about seeing the same sites you’ve seen hundreds of times, but from a viewpoint you’ve never been able to look from before. Sounds like a fantasy, right? Well, not anymore.

Although it seems the entire automotive universe is enthralled with the concept of developing self-driving cars, there are other engineers who have dedicated quite a lot of time working on flying cars. And while most people keep talking about the ‘Flying Cars of the Future’, they’ve never really seen the possibility.

Thanks to Dutch developer PAL-V International, drivers now have access to flying cars. The company and manufacturer has officially begun taking orders for its products, the Liberty Sport and Liberty Pioneer.

The Airbus group has stated that they’re developing a self-piloted flying car in order to ease congestion in busy urban areas. Their model is a flying taxi that passengers could summon, simply with the help of their smartphone.

Although they are taking the development seriously, and even accepting orders, the Airbus company is still in the experimentation phase.

Meanwhile, the PAL-V International is a two-seater hybrid craft which, according to the reports, currently costs $400,000. The three-wheeled vehicle is also reported to have the comfort of a car and the agility of a motorcycle on the road, with a cutting-edge, ‘tilting’ system. It can hit 100mph while on the road or up to 112mph in the air where its maximum operational altitude is about 11,480 feet.

One of the most amazing features and sights to be seen is the transformation from a running car to a flying vehicle—all of which takes only five to 10 minutes. Most of this conversion process is done by the vehicle’s Semi-Automatic Conversion System, and the driver/pilot is left with simply unfolding the Liberty’s rotor blade, propeller, and tail manually.

While the company attested to all these facts, they also stated that the Liberty’s operator must have both a driver’s and pilot’s license to make full use of the two forms of the vehicle. This is because the craft uses existing aviation technology, and as such, anyone legally allowed to fly can jump into the cockpit. Additionally, a 10-to-15-minute pre-flight inspection should be carried out before entering any airspace.

PAL-V International’s hard work seems to have paid off as the company is said to have received interest from hospitals, government institutions, and the tourism sector.

They also believe these vehicles could free up some of our government’s budget. With flying, the U.S. won’t need to pour billions of dollars into concrete bridges and roads.

With these new flying vehicles, travelers will be able to cross peninsulas, lakes, and rivers to explore new destinations, and take sightseeing to a whole new level. This project seems to be something that touches both everyday drivers, as well as larger corporations that would benefit from a flying vehicle.

We’ll all continue to watch as this unfolds, and begins to take some of the attention away from the self-driving vehicle phenomenon.

U.S. Drivers Lack Trust in Auto Shops

Bad news for auto repair and collision centers around the U.S.—it seems most U.S. drivers don’t trust you. According to a study done by AAA in late 2016, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general.

While the study was focusing specifically on the auto repair industry, industry experts were quick to point out that the majority of drivers don’t know the difference between auto repair and auto body, and the statistic could be applying to both.

While insurers reimburse at least 70 percent of auto body business, general mechanical labor is predominantly out-of-pocket by the motorist. This could be why AAA focused its study on the auto repair side of the industry specifically, versus both auto repair and auto body.

AAA said the reasons for the mistrust broke down like this:

  • 76 percent: recommending unnecessary service
  • 73 percent- overcharging
  • 63 percent- negative past experiences
  • 49 percent- concerns that the work will not be done correctly

Despite those negative statistics, the study also found that 64 percent of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop they actually do trust. So what can repair shop owners do to change that relationship? Below we’ve listed out a few ways to begin rebuilding trust:

  1. Know your current customers and where to find new ones.
    According to AAA, baby boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust the industry.” When you break it down statistically, 76 percent of Baby Boomers have selected an auto repair shop they trust, versus just 55 percent of Millennials and 56 percent of Gen-Xers.

    It’s crucial for shop owners to continue to invest in their older, loyal customer base. However, they must also be willing to branch out into social media and review-based platforms to connect with younger customers. Word of mouth is no longer enough. Millennials and Gen-Xers want to find their businesses where they spend most of their time—on the Internet.

  1. Join a review platform and urge customers to leave feedback.
    With the level of mistrust found in relationships between driver and auto repair shops, it’s imperative that shops have a presence on a review platform. With com, each review is validated with a repair order, making it impossible for fake reviews to spam your account.

    These validated reviews give peace of mind to both the business owner and the driver. They know they are reading real reviews from real people, and can then make an educated decision on where to take their vehicle. With 78 percent of customers turning to a review site to find a business, this is a step that cannot be overlooked.

  1. Be mindful of your digital presence throughout the Web.
    While managing your reputation by joining a review platform is a great first step, your reputation can be made or broken in other areas of the web, too. Making sure you’re aware of what is being said about your business all over the Internet is a must.

    Take Yelp, for example. A recent poll on Repairer Driven News found that most auto body shop owners either looked at their Yelp page just “once in a while” or never at all. Whether you’re allowing positive feedback to go unnoticed, or negative feedback, whether true or false, to start gaining traction, you’re only hurting your business by not paying attention to what’s being said about you online.

With so much information at customers’ fingertips, it is easier than ever for them to decide what shops can and cannot be trusted, and where to take their business. In order to begin repairing the relationship between customer and shop owners, the industry leaders must begin to invest in their online reputation, and provide peace of mind to their current and potential customer base.

Buick Hits a Home Run with the 2017 Buick Envision

When searching for the perfect compact SUV, buyers are usually looking to be blown away in three categories: space, size, and speed. The reports are in for the 2017 Buick Envision, and all signs point to a home run in each of those areas.

Road Show may have said it best when they described the Envision as “existing in a space that is neither mainstream nor luxury. Its middle-of-the-road pricing slots it into what can best be described as a near-premium segment, where everything gets a bit fancier without commanding huge prices.” With prices starting at $34,990, they appear to be right.

General Motors initially debuted the Envision in China back in 2014, and since then, it’s been selling like hotcakes. Now bringing it over to the U.S., they expect the response to be the same here. (Fun fact: Buick is the first domestic automaker to import a vehicle from China. Did you know that?)

So what is it about the 2017 Envision that has everyone drooling at the mouth?

As a compact crossover SUV with luxury leanings, the Envision is available in Standard, Preferred, Essence, Premium, and Premium II-trim levels. Depending on which version is selected by the buyer, they then have a choice between a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine.

The performance of the vehicle goes beyond the engine. This Buick is crafted to an exceptional degree of refinement, with a bold grille and jewel-like LED-accented headlamps.

On the interior, the front seats are firm and supportive, and provide a wide range of power adjustment, heating, and ventilation. To top it off, the steering wheel is also heated. With plenty of legroom for second-row passengers, and the ability to slide seats to create additional cargo space, the inside of the Envision doesn’t disappoint.

When it comes to controls, displays, and instrumentation, this Buick aims to impress. Items are placed where you expect to find them, and operate in an intuitive fashion. The vehicle is also equipped with Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment system, which many believe to be among the best on the market. Simple, sensible, and quick to respond to input, the Envision’s 8-inch touchscreen displays logical menu selections and clean, modern graphics.

Finally, to top it all off, Buick ensures that safety comes first. Safety features and driver convenience alerts available in the 2017 Envision include: Forward Collision Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Front and Rear Park Assist and a Safety Alert Seat, while 10 air bags and a Rear Vision Camera are standard.

As 2017 is just kicking off, it appears that Buick already has a head start on some of the competition. To test-drive an Envision, head over to Quebedeaux Buick GMC Dealership.

Car Insurance Premiums on the Rise in 2017

If you’ve purchased car insurance in the last few years, then you’ve likely noticed increasing rates that don’t match inflation. Unfortunately, this is likely to remain the same in 2017.

As has always been the case, drivers can expect their costs to rise due to how old they are, what kind of car they drive, where they live, and their driving record. However, there are now factors completely out of a driver’s control that will skyrocket premiums, as well.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, the number of fatal traffic accidents rose by nearly 10 percent, the greatest year over year increase in the last 50 years. While that proves to be a devastating statistic, it is also a costly one for car insurance companies.

As medical costs in the U.S. are continuing to rise, car insurance companies find themselves footing much heftier hospital bills than ever before. Additionally, technology found in newer vehicles has proven to be more costly to repair and replace, further hiking the costs paid by the insurance companies.

In fact, the largest U.S. auto insurers have suffered from years of higher-than-expected claims. Industry wide, companies are paying $1.05 in costs for every $1 in premium revenue. Compare that to a decade ago when insurance companies were paying just 95 centers for every dollar in premium revenue.

“Where a normal repair 10 or 15 years ago from an accident cost $1,500, now that same bumper with all the technology is $3,500,” President of Kulchin Ross Insurance Services Derek Ross said.

Ironically, the technology often most expensive to replace is the technology meant to minimize accidents, such as driver-assistance technology and cameras.

Another reason for rising costs has to do with distracted driving, specifically as it relates to drivers and smartphones. According to Allstate’s chief executive officer Tom Wilson, there is a “striking correlation” between the rise in smartphone use and crashes.

The pace of premium increases has hit a 13-year high, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s consumer price index. While insurance companies feel the hikes are necessary, many drivers are seeking out insurance options in other areas, especially when they feel they are being penalized for issues out of their control—which they are.

New research released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found that safe drivers who are in accidents caused by others often see auto insurance rate hikes.

“Penalizing safe drivers hit by another car is not only very unfair; it also discourages them from filing legitimate claims. Lawmakers and regulators need to protect consumers from being punished when they’ve done nothing more than use the policy they have already paid for,” CFA’s Director of Insurance Robert Hunter said.

While CFA is urging lawmakers around the country to prohibit such penalties for innocent drivers, drivers can use third-party sites such as Zebra and CoverHound to compare quotes from different insurance companies.

Drivers may also look into Metromile, a company backed by billionaire Mark Cuban that has raised over $192 million to take on car insurance companies. Metromile allows motorists to pay for coverage based on how much they drive. Typically charging a flat fee of $35 a month and then five cents per mile, Metromile is setting out to be a cheaper option than traditional car insurance companies.

Regardless of the type of driver you are, it’s important to be aware of the rising car insurance premiums and ensure that you are receiving fair pricing to accurately reflect your level of safety on the road.

ADOT: Taking Highway Traffic Signs to the Next Level

It may be biased to say, but when it comes to Arizona, we seem to do everything better than the rest. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is no exception, and their handiwork on freeway signs throughout the Valley is proof of that.

One of the most important things to know about the Arizona traffic safety sign rules is that they are more permissive than most. And there is a reason behind that; regular traffic signs just don’t catch the driver’s attention. Without a little creativity, and in most cases, a whole lot of humor, most signs go unnoticed by those driving by.

It is because of this reason that ADOT started an exciting campaign designed to boost traffic safety. Rather than the boring “Stay safe and buckle up” phrases, they are utilizing references to many items in pop culture that are trending at the time.

If you’ve been on an Arizona freeway recently, you’ve likely seen references to Adele, Star Wars, Pokémon Go!, and even guacamole. With creativity like that, it’s safe to say that the entire experience is designed to catch the driver’s attention, as well as stress the importance of staying safe on the road, which is the goal ADOT has set out to reach. They stress that the signs are meant to be both serious and fun.

According to ADOT, the signs help reinforce the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which aims to cut down on DUIs, speeding, aggressive driving, distracted driving, failure to use seatbelts, and other bad driving behaviors.

With a few jokes and simple messages, each Arizona traffic sign will be able to save lives more efficiently. As safe as we may try to be on the road, and on the freeway specifically, it’s all too easy to get distracted. With an eye-catching sign, drivers are reminded to focus on the road, all while enjoying their commute a little more.

While ADOT has done an excellent job with the content they’ve come up with so far, they’re looking for a little help from Arizona locals. Drivers in the area can share their submissions with ADOT until February 19, and the best 15 messages will advance to the next round. In March, the public can then vote on which signs should be showcased on the road starting in April. To submit your own idea, just visit: http://azdot.gov/about/transportation-safety/safety-message-contest

Regardless of the messages picked, one thing is for certain; Arizona drivers can admire the commitment shown by ADOT for road safety, and we can all look forward to the creative signs in April!

Big Changes Expected on Interstate 10

The cities of Phoenix, Casa Grande, and Tucson make up what’s known as the ‘growing southwest megaregion’ in Arizona. Cities within a megaregion are tied together by strong links and can influence one another, even if they’re hundreds of miles apart.

For this megaregion in Arizona, Interstate 10 serves as a conduit between the cities, and is heavily trafficked by freight vehicles. Carrying everything from avocados to medical supplies, the freight traffic is both necessary and taxing on I-10.

From wear and tear of the road itself to placement of rest stops and fuel stations, all of this has begun to affect driver safety. Thanks to students at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, a new study is being done to plan for the future of freight traffic on the I-10 with a focus on efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

“Hopefully, in the long run, this research will help shorten commutes, save lives, create more breathable air and find a way to pay for all of it,” Michael Kuby, a professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said.

This study will focus on topics such as reaping more benefits from pass-through traffic, emerging technology called connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), and identifying threats posed to transportation infrastructure by natural and man-made hazards, to name a few.

Students at the three major in-state universities aren’t the only ones taking a look at the I-10 and devising strategies to improve it. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) launched their own study back in 2014.

Their study focuses on the 31-mile freeway corridor beginning at the I-17/Loop 101 North Stack interchange in the north Valley and travels south and east to the Interchange I-10/Loop 202 Pecos Stack. This area has been dubbed the “Spine” because it is the transportation backbone of Maricopa County. In fact, more than 40 percent of all freeway traffic in the area travels over the Spine.

Drivers in that area have been pressing for solutions due to a high volume of accidents, closures, and gridlocks. According to Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, “the goal is to make our most heavily traveled freeway safer and more efficient for commuters, residents, and pedestrians.”

With MAG, ADOT, and FHA completing their study, they now have recommendations including upgrading 24 of 31 traffic interchanges to widen roads and improve cross-freeway traffic, provide better technology to help communicate travel information to drivers, and improving availability and reliability for transit and carpooling, among other things.

Arizona locals are urged to give their feedback on these proposed changes, and have until February 17th to do so. Simply click here for a chance to give your feedback and have it included in the study record.

Beyond the major improvements happening on the I-10, the local universities are excited about the opportunity to be working alongside one another.

“This is the first time we have a project between all of us, and you can see relationships and partnerships develop as we work through this. It’s going to be very exciting and very fruitful as we move into the future,” Edward Smaglik, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering at NAU said.

So whether you’re a Sun Devil, Wildcat, or Lumberjack fan, this I-10 project is something we can all be rooting for.

Buick, GMC Feeling Good About 2017

Whether you were aware of it or not, few auto brands had a better 2016 than Buick did. In fact, according to Robert Morris III, chairman of the Buick-GMC National Dealer Council, the accolades that GMC is racking up, in addition to the new customers they are attracting, has completely changed the company from just a few years ago.

A few highlights from the previous year include Buick becoming the first Detroit 3 brand to rank in the top three on Consumer Reports‘ vehicle-reliability survey. Buick also ranked number one among mass-market brands on J.D. Power’s 2016 sales-satisfaction study.

Additionally, as the auto industry has experienced a push toward crossovers, SUVs, and pickups, Buick and GMC are taking full advantage of the shift. In fact, Buick alone has added three crossovers to their vehicle lineup, and GMC has overhauled the Acadia to be smaller, lighter, and more agile.

The Acadia isn’t the only vehicle model getting a makeover in 2017, though. Dealers can also expect momentum when it comes to the redesigns of the Buick Enclave and GMC Terrain.

When it comes to safety, GM has hit the ground running in 2017. Announcing their new rear seat reminder technology at the beginning of the year, GMC is determined to put an end to children accidentally being left in the backseat of vehicles, often resulting in their deaths.

By winning awards not easily won, and putting safety and new marketing programs into place, Morris believes that GMC has become the crown jewel of General Motors.

“GMC is almost the crown jewel, so to speak, of General Motors. It certainly has one of the highest brand values within General Motors. The brand equity in GMC just dominates the [hot crossover and SUV market] segment,” he said.

One of those marketing programs Morris is referring to is the Essential Brand Elements program. You may have noticed your local dealers undergoing massive renovations over the last few years to fall in line with the latest protocols from the company.

In fact, the Essential Brand Elements program has funneled more than $5 billion to dealers nationwide since 2009. In 2017, GM has no intention of getting rid of this program. This program has become essential to many dealers to help finance renovations and improve business techniques, all adding to customer satisfaction inside the dealership.

A few new elements for individuals to look out for at their local dealership include a business development center, as well as new signs for service lanes and reception areas.

If you aren’t already on the GMC train, it looks like 2017 will be the year they make believers out of everyone.

SB 1054: Arizona Collision Law Moving to Senate

On June 17, 2016, recent Horizon High School graduate Joe Smith and three of his high school friends were driving back from a post-graduation trip to California. Upon nearing Quartzsite, Arizona on Interstate 10, the boys slowed down due to an accident, when an 18-wheeler barreled into them and another vehicle.

As a result of the impact, 18-year-old Joe was killed and the three other boys in his vehicle were seriously injured. In the other vehicle, 74-year-old Sun City resident Joseph Garcia was killed, and his wife Mary Lou was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Seven months later, and the truck driver has not been charged with any crime. As it stands currently, Arizona law does not require that drivers in deadly accidents be given a drug or alcohol test. Steve and Tana Smith, Joe’s parents, are on a mission to change that.

The Smith’s are lobbying a new bill in the Senate that would change the law in his name. SB 1054, known as “Joe’s Law” would require drug or alcohol testing for driver’s involved in crashes that cause serious injury or death.

According to records obtained from a Department of Public Safety trooper, the 42-year-old semi-truck driver seemed lethargic and tired after the accident, and when asked if he was tired, he responded “yes.” However, he was not tested for drugs or alcohol.

“If this bill passes, ‘Joe’s Law’ would help ensure that families who endure a tragedy like ours won’t have the added stress of forever wondering and never knowing if there were more factors that caused the crash, “ Tana Smith wrote in a post on Facebook.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Senator Judy Burges, and the co-sponsors are Senator Sylvia Allen, Senator David Farnsworth, Senator Steve Montenegro, and Senator Frank Pratt.

While not an official bill sponsor, Senator Lupe Contreras spoke emotionally in support of Joe’s Law. He lost his sister in a car accident when she was just 18 years old, as well.

“I know what that pain is cause here I am today and I’m able to sit up there and hopefully pass this law that will hopefully prevent another family from having to endure what we have endured for so many years,” Contreras said.

On January 26th, a Senate Panel approved SB 1054 on a 7 to 0 vote. The law will now move to the full Senate for action.

According to Joe’s dad, Steve, simply knowing whether the driver had been impaired would make the death of their son easier to manage.

“Had we known whether or not this driver was impaired, it would make this unbearable situation easier to cope with. The not knowing, because no test was done in our case, is agonizing,” Steve said.

A petition on Change.org has garnered more than 2,000 signatures in support of having the law passed, and will be delivered to Senator John McCain.

Tana believes that many individuals are unaware that the Arizona law does not require drug and alcohol testing after a deadly accident, and hopes that Joe’s Law will bring the flawed law to light, and ultimately change it.

“I’ll do whatever I can do to change this because this is something that can affect anybody at any time,” Tana said.

This will be an interesting story for the Arizona collision industry, as well as all Arizona residents, to follow in the coming months.