Road trip plans!

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In our new and exclusive ratings, you'l l find Road-Trip-Worthy Scores for the best SUVs,
trucks, and cars for any vacation or journey. Plus, follow our strategies for how to prep
and pack, how to pay less for gas, and how to keep everyone healthy, safe, and sane.
by Mikemonticello cr consumer reports
THERE'S A SPECIAL ROMANCE attached
to hitting the open road with loved
ones onboard, carrying high hopes
for ajourney rich with vivid sights.
great food, bonding with friends, and
hiking, fishing, or sightseeing. In fact,
nearly two-thirds of American families
planning to travel this year- more than
56 million individuals- are expected
to take a road trip, according to the
American Automobile Association.
Choosing the perfect vehicle for
this adventure is perhaps your most
important decision, which is why
Consumer Reports has dug into our
proprietary vehicle testing data and
reliability and satisfaction surveys to craft
28 CA.OAG
our first-ever Road-Trip-Worthy Score for
50 vehicles across six categories. We
factored in safety, comfort, fuel efficiency,
and more. (See ratings on page 40.)
No two road trips are the same. For
some. it's a couple of hours to a cozy
bed and breakfast. For others, it's a
multiday cross-country trek to visit
grandparents. For the omdoorsy. it
could involve camping. "Theme parks.
beaches. and state or national parks are
consistently some of the most popular
road-trip destinations," says Julie Hall,
public relations manager at AAA.
That's why our list of vehicles includes
everything from sedans to trucks.
Lisa Seethaler, a 51-year-old mother
JULY 2016
oftwo from Marlborough, Conn., is a
fan of this vacation approach. "Road
trips are the best way to soak up local
culture, flavors. scenery, architecture,
and nature," she says. "My Toyota Sienna
minivan isn't glamorous. but it has a
sunroof, great storage, and comfortable
seats. The kids are happy in the backseat
with a DVD player, and we often have our
little dog in the third row."
No matter what your destination,
smart planning can increase your
odds of avoiding mishaps, saving
money, and arriving home with happy
memories. In this package. we've
thought of everything you'll need
to make that happen.
BARREL GRilLS
~ 1 Dyna-Glo DGNS76DNG-O 1:1 $205
2 Kingsfo rd BC222 ij $100
3 Expe rt Grill 24- XG1709603411 U $90 , Char-B roil 16302044 ij $130
5 Char-Griller Pro Deluxe 2828 $100
6 Royal Gourmet CD1824A iN $150
7 Nexgrill 810-0025 $90
8 KitchenAid 810-0021 $200
KETTLE GRILLS
~ Weber 22 " 14402001 I! $150
2 Weber 18" 441001 $80
3 Char-Broil Kettleman 16301878 $100
HOW WE TEST; Overall Score combines
results from our tests for convenience,
cleaning, indirect cooking, and
evenness performance. Convenience
refers to ease of use, including adding
and arranging briquettes. Cleaning
indicates how easy it is to clean the
grill, remove spent charcoal, and
FACE-OFF: CHARCOAL
Which is better: Lump or briquette?

POOR EXCELLENT RECOMMEND
51x61x25 Powder-cooted steel Coated cast iron
42x45x27 Pointed steel Cast iron
42x45x27 Powder-coated steel Cost iron
44x48x28 Pointed steel Coated steel
SOx42x26 Powder-cooted steel Cast iron
48xSOx24 Painted steel Coated steel
46x37x29 Painted steel Coated cast iron
51x60x29 Pointed steel Coated cast iron
39x23x30 Porcelain-coated steel Plated steel
36x18x21 Porcelain-coated steel Plated steel
39x28x29 Porcelain-coated steel Coated steel
access the catch tray. Indirect cooking
indicates how well the gri ll will slowcook
food when it's not placed
directly over the charcoal. Evenness
performance reflects te~~~~
uniformity across the cooking surface
with a single layer of charcoal
briquettes. Price is approximate retail.
Lump charcoal, the
favored fuel of many
grilling purists, promises
hotter, longer burn times
than standard charcoal
briquettes. Some people
also prefer lump cool's
more natural composition:
Though briquettes are
made p rimarily of sawdust,
lump charcoal is simply
charred wood.
But is lump charcoal
rea lly worth its premium
price? To fi nd out. we tested
Kingsford Briquets
($0.54 per pound) and
Big Green Egg hardwood
charcoal ($1.25 per pound)
in two types of grills-a
traditional Weber Kettle
and a Big Green Egg
Kamado-style.
In both grills, the lump
charcoal did burn slightly
hotter (40 to 50 degrees).
But for evenness, briquettes
were the clear winner. If we
scored this test the same
way we measure evenness
performance on gas grills,
the lump charcoal would
have earned a score of
Fair in the kettle and Very
Good in the Kamado grill;
the briquettes would have
earned Excellent scores in
both grill types.
We think briquettes a re
better suited than lump
charcoal to most grilling
tasks. They're also easier
ta stack, control, and fight,
which 0 lot of backyard
chefs will appreciate.
We suggest that you save
lump charcoal for the
times you need to sear
a thin steak or pork chop
without overcooking.
CR.ORG 27
BEST ROAD TRIP EVER!
6 Tech Checks
to Smooth
Your Travels
Look Int o unlimited probably the spot where
Unlimited doesn't make you'll be driving (say,
Cell-Phone Data sense jf you need Livingston, Mont.,
A rood trip might only 1GB or 2GB on the outskirts
be the perfect per phone. of Yellowstone
time for families Notional Pork), then
to switch to an Dow nload tap the name of the
unlimited data plan. Google Maps location. Next, top
After all, a minivan's Navigation apps More, and click the
passengers usually have transformed Download button.
don't have access travel, making it
to free WiFi to almost impossible Buya
look up directions, to get lost. That is, Multip hone
stream music, unless you're out of Charger
Of share photos cell range when you Many drivers use a
with friends back try to get directions, cable to charge a
home-activities which can easily phone on their daily
thot con burn happen in rural or drive, but that's not
through monthly hilly regions. The enough for a family.
doto plans. Pricing problem isn't the Avoid squabbles by
varies widely. At GPS signal coming getting a charger
press time, AT&T, from satellites, which wi th multiple USB
for example, hod an the phone can read ports. CR doesn't
unlimited monthly neorly anywhere; test cor chargers,
plan for four it's the access to but as an example,
phones starting at mop and direction the Anker 4BW
$1BO- the company information via 4-Port USB Car
charged $190 for cellular. The Charg er, $16 at
20 gigabytes of solution? Download Amazon, can
shared data. On maps before you handle four phones
the other hand, set out. Search for at once, and it's
Ways to Keep GOOD
Unplug window units, or turn the
Your Home thermostat up to between 85° F
Safe While
and 900 F to lower A/C costs.
BETTER
You're Away Install smart thermostats with
vacation scheduling, such as
the Honeywell Lyric T5, $100, a
CR Best Buy.
Android- and iOS- your movie. click coption, -Just
compatible. open the description arrived! Can't wait
window, and tap for tomorrow's
Downlo ad the Download hike! - is a pretty
Movies icon. It looks like good indication to
Bef ore You Go an arrow pointing a crook that your
Even if you've downward. Once house is empty. We
signed up for an the movie or TV recommend waiting
unlimited data plan, episode is on your (if you can) or
that doesn't mean mobile device, you'll tightening up your
you'll have great have anywhere sharing options.
service along every from 48 hours to On Facebook, for
stretch of road. more than a week to example, choose
Before you leave watch it-the time a photo and write
your home WiFi frame varies by title. your post, then top
network, you can (For more details on on the Friends tob.
pay to download downloading videos, That opens a dropmovies
and TV see the March 2018 down menu where
episodes through Consumer Reports you can indicate
Amazon, iTunes, and magazine, page 15.) who sees the post.
other services. And Options range
Amazon Prime Don't from everyone to
and Netflix allow Overshare on exclusive list
subscribers to Sure, you might you've creoted- or
download many want to post even just a handful
titles ot no extra vacation photos of individuals.
cost. To download online for friends Your close friends
a Netflix title to a and family to see'. can see your
phone or tablet, for But sharing your trip of a lifetime,
instance, open the Grand Canyon and your other
Netflix app, find photos with the Facebook friends,
GOOD GOOD
Monitor your home remotely Use timers on a few interior
for leaks and flooding by and exterior lights to mimic
installing a smort water- your daily routine.
shutoff valve and/or
leak detectors. BETTER
Swap out a few bulbs with
BETTER smort lightbulbs that can
Turn off your home's main mimic your routine but also
water line before you leave. randomize it a bit.
32 CR.ORG JULY 2018
stobilize a jacl mud. Many newer cars
don't have spare t ires, so
familiarize yourself with
your cor's -mobility k i t. ~
Know how to reach roadside
assistance in case the tire
can't be easily replaced.
FlASHLIGHT
This or a head-mounted light
can be especially helpful
during nighttime breakdowns
or tire changes.
JUMPER CABLES
OR A JUMP-STARTER
Cables can be handy, but
Tires
Check the pressure
on all tires, including
the spare, before
starting the trip.
Use the pressure
recommended
by the vehicle's
manufacturer, which
usually can be found
on Q front doorjamb
and in the owner's
manual. Inspect
tires for abnormal
or uneven wear,
crocks, cuts, and
any sidewall bulges.
Replace tires that
are 10 years old or
overly worn. Once
underway, check
the pressure only
after the tires have
cooled for 3 hours
to get an accurate
measurement.
Brakes
You might need
a comprehensive
checkup if you apply
the brakes and
there are grinding
noises, or unusual
vibrations in the
broke pedal or
steering wheel, or
if the vehicle pulls
to one side.
Glove Box
Be sure you
have up-to-date
registration
and insurance
paperwork.
lights
Check exterior
lights, including
. taillights, brake
lights, turn signals,
and fog lamps.
Make sure lenses
are clean, so the
lights are as bright
as possible.
Infotainment
Reduce distmc.\:.\ol"l'S.
Pair your phones
and t ransfer your
contact lists ahead
of time. (Make
su re the roodsideassistance
number
is programmed.)
Confirm that any
subscriptions for
satellite radio, traffic
services, and
streaming music
are up-to-date. Add
radio presets and
program all destinations
before you
hit the rood.
-Jeff S. Bartlett
a paperback-sized jumpstarter
can get your motor
running on its own. Plus,
many can be used to charge
other portable devices.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Pock a com poet dry-powder
unit for fires fueled by solids
and combustible liquids and
gases (closs ABC). Of course,
the safest response may be to
get passengers for away from
the vehicle and call 911.
-JeffS. Bartlett
REFLECTIVE VEST
This safety measure will make
you more visible in the dark.
JULY 2018 CR.aRG 3'
The Pretrip
Checkup
Your vehicle will be be weakest from RADIATOR . Look
where you spend wear. Feel for soft through the grill and
the bulk of your or mushy spots. A be sure the rad ia tor
time during your good hose will be is cleor of any
journey, so make firm but bendoble. obstructions.
sure all its functions Look for parallel BATTERY, Make
are fine-tuned cracks around sure the terminals
and operating bends; a hardened, and cables are
at maximum glossy surface securely attached,
performance levels. (which indicates with no corrosion.
heat damage); or If the battery has
Under abrasive damage. removable caps,
the Hood Have damaged check its fluid
FlUIDS. Check hoses replaced. level-especially in
aI/levels: oil, BELTS. Heat. oil, warmer climates.
coolant, brake, and ozone, and abrasion Top off as needed
windshield-washer can take a toll on with distilled water.
fluids. Inspect belts. Look for
power-steering and crocks, fraying, Wipers
transmission fluid and spli ts, as well
levels, if applicable. as signs of glazing. Based on CR tests,
If you're taking a Replace worn belts. windshield wipers
long trip, schedule a AIR FILTER. Remove ~ last about six
service appointment the filter and hold months. If they're
to double-check it up to a strong a few months old,
these levels. light. If you don't consider replacing
HOSES. Squeeze see light, the filter them before a long
hoses with your is dirty enough trip. If the wipers
thumb and to need to be are newer, clean
forefinger near replaced. A clean the blades with
clamps-that's air filter helps the washer fluid or
where they can engine run better. glass cleaner.
Your Truly PHONE CHARGER
In addition to having on hand
Complete Car a charging cord and power
Emergency Kit adapter, carry a small batterybased
charger in case your
Prepare for breakdowns
car's battery dies.
and make sure you have
these items onboard.
BASIC TOOLS
Hove standard and Phillips
30 CR.ORG JULY 2018
screwdrivers, pliers, and a TIRE TOOLS
compact socket set. If you don't know how to
change a tire, consider
WARNING LIGHT, learning before the trip. You
HAZARD TRIANGLE. could pack on easier-to-use
AND/OR FLARES lug or torque wrench, as
These can alert motorists to well as work gloves. A short
your presence along the side wooden board (about a foot
of the rood. long) can be invaluable to
How-t:o Don't overlood your manufacturer Stow the heaviest into storage areas. stop or a crash.
car. Weight limits ore recommendotions, items low, particularly Strop lorger items You could opt for a
Pack listed on the driver's which vary widely. A in SUVs. This keeps down with corgo roof corgo corrier, but
LikeaPro doorjamb and in Chevrolet Equinox the center of gravity anchors. Don't place CR tests found that a
the owner's manual; has a 993-pound lower, reducing the heavier items on top cargo corrier atop a
the figure is for the limit; a Hondo Odys- chances of a rollover. of the cargo pile. midsized sedan con
combined weight sey, 1.340 pounds; Smaller items should because they can reduce fuel economy
of passengers and and a Buick Enclave, be pocked into duffel become dangerous by as much os 5 mpg.
corgo. Don't exceed 1,623 pounds. bags or safely tucked projectiles in 0 ponic -JeffS