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Dear Patty, I have a once in a lifetime opportunity and need direction. My ex-husband is buying me a new car(lucky me. ok, so I begged, pleaded, and said I would reveal some of his deepest darkest secrets to the world, but otherwisehe was ok with it. I would like a small S.U.V., V6, good/great gas mileage, low maintenance, heated leather seats, great stereo, great looking dash, easy to drive, great warrenty, good lines, no grandam looking thing, a price around 25,000, and able to last at least ten years. yes, i want all the bells and whistles. I think the Kia Sportage seemed really great, but my friends say, "but it's a Kia!". As if it has leporasy. I checked out the Chevy Equinox and it was kind of boring. I mean who needs On-star I've got a cell. The Nissan Versa also caught my glance but it was really small with little horse power and could be discribed as a little "plane jane". I haven't tried Toyota because i figured it was too expensive. So I tink I need your help. Can you help me? I may seem greedy but i so deserve it. Thank You in advance. Sincerely, Diana Barron

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Patty Streeter,  at Diana, That does sound like a great deal! The Kia is a viable option. Just because your friends tell you not to consider it doesn't mean it's not a good car. Here are some consumer reviews of the Sportage: The best thing to do is to look through that segment you prefer anddo a comparison on all of them to see which has what. Here is one I pulled up for you: The Versa is a great new offering from Nissan. Here is whatconsumers think: You'd be surprised that Toyota isn't too pricey. Be careful though, because it is the all the options you add in that will get you. And if you are concerned about safety, check out all the vehicles you mentioned here: Now just test drive test drive test drive! Let me give you some info on OnStar, because it is SO much more than just an on-board cell phone (I used to think of it as that as well and I was so wrong). It can be a life saver: Live From the Detroit Auto Show: Dinner With A Life Saver Last night I took a tour of the GM OnStar command center here in Michigan and had dinner with President Chet Huber and the executive team behind the OnStar success story. Chet and his team are passionate about their OnStar on board integrated wireless technology birthed well before popular in 1995 and has grown to 5 million subscribers. The dedication to continue to develop this technology to help save lives and assist GM OnStar customers with personalized live help is quite an impressive feat. OnStar subscribers not only get roadside assistance from the 1000 plus team of the live support team, the latest version with on board diagnostics can detect and relay what kind of problem has occured and speed the right services to the consumer, including better prepared emergency medical help. To learn more about their newest innovation on turn by turn directions read some info from this recent post on Ask Patty: "GPS, or Global Positioning System, was originally developed by the U.S. military and released to civilian use in 1996. 27 satellites orbit the earth and form their own constellation so that four satellites are always present or “visible”. That visibility’s important. Your GPS unit, or “receiver”, works by emitting a high-frequency, low-power radio signal to those satellites. By using triangulation of where—and when--the satellites are to each other and to the receiver, your location can then be determined. The location information is then combined with the almanac, or map, in your receiver to give you a visual representation to where you are. Location, atmospheric conditions, and incorrect almanac information can severely affect the GPS’ accuracy. Onstar, which is General Motor’s subscription tracking and monitoring system, uses this service to provide the most unique and simplest navigation system that I’ve ever encountered. Called “Turn By Turn”, the system directs you to your location by simple verbal directions. Herb Shuldiner of Newsday tested the system. He contacted the staff and, after giving his destination, they transmitted the information to his car’s Onstar unit. The unit told him what street to take, when to turn, and how many miles (or feet) for the next action. This is a lot easier than using my Accord’s navigation system: I not only spent a weekend studying the manual and learning the system, but I have to look away from the road to make sure I’m following directions. Onstar avoids both issues by being easy to operate (just press a button) and simple to follow." According to GM, having OnStar reduces the morbidity in accidents because their technology knows where you are, when it happened, and even how severe the accident might be. That kind of technology is incredible. Then check out this post:

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