Drive or ﬂy? Go for the rental car or take your own?
Those are just two of the many questions New Englanders face when contemplating a winter getaway to someplace warm.
For many, someplace means Florida. In the past, we’ve ﬂown because of time constraints. This year, we decided to drive, taking the snowbird’s ﬂyway, er highway: Rte. 95.
Over the years, I’ve driven most of Rte. 95, starting with trips to New York and continuing with taking kids to college in Virginia and North Carolina. Vacations in Wilmington, NC; North Myrtle Beach, SC, and Savannah, GA, ﬁlled in the middle. Work and vacations covered all of Florida.
Putting it all together in one trip, however, was something different.
Doing the roughly 24-hour drive in in one fell swoop wasn’t an option. Mrs. G exercised her veto power on that one. Ditto for the two-long-days approach. I knew from past experiences that the recovery time would be equal to the driving time.
In the end, we settled on the “America’s guests” approach, staying several days each with friends in Connecticut, South Carolina, and Florida before landing in Naples, FL.
“The drive wasn’t as bad as I anticipated,” says Mrs. G of our nineday trip.
Her travel tips:
1. Stop often and stretch. Aim for a stop every two hours and don’t go past three.
2. Bring water and some healthy food. Eat lightly because a big meal can leave you drowsy.
3. Bring an audio book. You ﬁnd yourself getting into a book you’d never otherwise read.
We decided to take her car, a ’04 Toyota Solara with low mileage, on the trip for two reasons: It gets good mileage (we averaged just under 31 mpg) and she’s comfortable driving it.
A routine servicing and checkup before we left—oil change, tire rotation, new wiper blades—revealed that the alloy wheels had corrosion and several had small rim leaks. The solution: remount and rebalance all tires and clean all rims.
Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but we had a smooth passage. My lessons learned included:
1. Try to pass through NewYork andWashington on the weekend.
2. Update your GPS. A Garmin update guided us correctly on temporary approach ramps to the GeorgeWashington Bridge and had the latest new highway interchanges.
3. Use cruise control whenever possible. It saves foot, ankle, and calf aches and also helps avoid speedometer creep, ﬁnding yourself well over the speed limit without realizing it.
4. Take the time to really tweak side mirror adjustments, especially if you don’t have a blind spot warning system. It’s reassuring to know what’s around you at all times.
5. Try to enjoy the drive instead of enduring it. If you plan your route online, give yourself an extra hour to the GPS’ scheduled arrival time and avoid deadline stress.”
Super Bowl Auto Ads
Over the years, I’ve covered the Super Bowl, watching from the Globe’s Sports department, or relaxed in front of theTV with family and friends at various parties. This year, we watched as guests at an outdoor condo association party in Florida.
VW’s “Get in, get happy” ad for theVW Beetle got the biggest response from the males in our group, delivering the car’s fun-to-drive personality. Overall, however, the auto spots were disappointing, with lots of stretches into pop culture that were mystifying to many viewers.
One exception: Chrysler. The company that gave us “Made in Detroit” two years ago hit two home runs this year with its two-minute tributes to returning soldiers (Jeep) and the American farmer (Ram). You had major star power with Oprah narrating the Jeep/USO ad. Even those who were too young to have heard the legendary voice of Paul Harvey knew they were listening to someone special (farmers/ Ram). A long-term tie-in: Both Jeep and the USO were 1941 startups.
GM’s presence was missed and here’s a guess that the company will be back in a big way next year. Hyundai produced my all-time favorite Super Bowl auto ad, the one showing the reaction in German and Japanese boardrooms after the Genesis was named North American Car ofYear.This year, Hyundai made three good tries with its anti-bullying and play-date spots for Santa Fe and the“It’s better to be in front” Sonata turbo commercial that showed some unattractive human and automotive rearends as incentives to move to the passing lane.
The trend has been for manufacturers to use the Super Bowl as the kickoff (pun intended) to a longer ad campaigns, starting with online previews of the Super Bowl spots.
We’ll see—do we have a choice?—what the future brings.
With industry forecasts calling for a 50 percent increase in highly proﬁtable truck sales this year, Ford, Chevy, and Ram seem poised for great years. January sales were up signiﬁcantly for each with Ford’s F-Series in its accustomed No. 1 spot followed by Chevrolet’s Silverado (No. 2) and Ram (No. 9).Toyota will continue its quest for a larger share of the truck market with the redesigned Tundra, introduced in Chicago this past week. …Volkswagen continues its quest to be No. 1 in global auto sales, but last year belonged to Toyota, which reclaimed the top spot with GM second andVW third. … Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says Alfa Romeo vehicles will return to this country by the end of the year. He says that Chrysler’s Super Bowl ads, in addition to promoting vehicles, were to reinforce the brand’s American identity.Bill Grifﬁth can be reached at WGrifﬁth@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrAutoWriter