Food Fun and Facts Article about the Family Car

Parents Are the Key

(Family Features) - Every day, eight U.S. teens die in car crashes, the number one killer of teens in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is helping parents learn how to play a key role in keeping their young drivers safe on the road through its "Parents Are the Key" campaign. CDC offers parents safe driving resources-including fact sheets, tips and tools, flyers, a parent-teen driving agreement and more-for free at

Experts agree that parents can help reduce the risk of a crash involving their teen driver. Take the following simple, lifesaving steps:

Extend your teen's supervised driving period. Practice driving as often as you can with your teen. The more experience he or she has behind the wheel, the safer they'll drive.

Set the rules of the road to reduce the chance of injury or death:

1) Make sure your teen always wears a seat belt.
2) Limit your teen's nighttime driving.
3) Restrict the number of teen passengers allowed in the car.
4) Prohibit cell phones and texting while driving.

Enforce your rules of the road with a parent-teen driving agreement. Work with your teen to draft and sign the agreement. Include clearly written rules, as well as consequences for breaking the rules.

Set a good example behind the wheel. Kids learn about road safety from a young age. Don't wait until your teen is old enough to drive to start modeling good driving behaviors.

"All beginner drivers, even straight-A students and 'good kids', are more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal crash-it's a fact," said Dr. Grant Baldwin, director of the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

To help spread the word about safe teen driving, start by sharing the materials available with other parents through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Reach out to folks at work, PTA meetings or other groups you belong to where you can reach other parents of young drivers.

"Car crashes do not have to be the number one killer of teens, and parents can make a difference. Take action yourself, and spread the word to others. Working together, we can help teens stay safe from motor vehicle crashes and live to their full potential," said Baldwin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The Car Family-Older Article about the Saturn Ion

The family car(s) is one of a parent's biggest expenses. Make an informed buying decision with these reviews of the latest automotive models from the viewpoint of a mom, dad and teenage drivers.

courtesy of
the Family-Content Syndicate
Saturn Ion Coupe

Good points: Ride, performance, roominess, optional satellite radio, dealer satisfaction scores, rear access doors, storage space, entry level pricing.

Needs improvement: Gas mileage, horn, expensive options, pricing.

Saturn's Ion sedan is one of our favorite vehicles. If you watch your options, you can get one for under $15,000. On the other hand, the four-door coupe has much to be desired. The reason is simple. We just think four doors are more useful in the sedan format. We found ourselves only using the coupe's suicide opening rear doors to retrieve items. It was certainly easier for a rear passenger to get out of the small seating area, but why bother when the sedan costs the same and looks nearly the same, too. In fact, they both handle the same. So, for us, the question was, why a coupe with rear access doors that costs the same as a larger, equally powerful, Saturn L300 sedan that comes with more standard equipment and the same engine?

That is not too say that the Ion coupe was not enjoyable to drive with its 140hp 4-cylinder engine that can get you to 100K in a little over 10 seconds. We quickly learned to be careful on rainy days when opening the backdoors, as the curve of the top and the lack of a gutter made for an unexpected entry of a waterfall. Other than that, the Ion was a nice transportation backed by the reassurance of a good dealer service reputation and dent resistant side panels.

Mom's view: With small cars, safety is always a concern. The problem here is that unlike the Saturn L series, where most safety features are standard, on the Ion antilock brakes with traction control are optional, as well as head the curtain side airbag system that unfolds from the roof rail to provide coverage for both front and rear outboard occupants. Standard equipment includes the front depowered airbags. Thus the Ion did very well in the government front crash tests, but not so well in side impact testing. OnStar is available as an option and is a nice feature is a car in this price category.

Gas mileage was never above 30 mpg even with the five speed manual transmission we were using. We tried to get the 33 the US government says is possible, but failed, probably due to the more sport oriented tires on our Ion. With the 13.5-gallon fuel tank you could go 300 plus miles before refueling on regular gasoline, but the pessimistic gas gauge kept us from testing this goal.

The center-mounted gauge cluster inside the coupe is its only novel feature. It is easy to get used to looking for the speedometer in this location and is easier to drive a night without the glare. The materials are what you would expect of a car in his price range, but what I didn't like was the horn. It was feeble, difficult to use, and ugly.

On the other hand, the 60/40 split folding rear seats, easy to master HVAC controls, and dual power outlets were nice. The interior should wear well and the seats were comfortable, although I wouldn't mind some extra padding.

Price wise, our coupe was very expensive because it had so many options. Take a long look at the Saturn option list and try each one out before you decide to buy. We have found Saturn dealers very patient in this regard and the result has been wide praise for the buying experience.

In terms of safety features you get daytime running lamps, child safety rear doors, child seat automatic locking retractors, load limiting retractors with pretensioners, dual front airbags, and available options such as side airbags, ABS brakes and traction control.

Dad's view: There is a lot of competition in this price range and that includes both the usual Ford, Toyota, Honda sub compacts and, if you watch your options carefully, even the MINI Cooper. Look for a nice Ion in the $14,000 bracket and you are going to be pleased. It is fairly frisky, certainly roomy, and easy to maintain.

It is not particularly quiet and the ride can be bouncy over poorly maintained roads---are there any other kinds after a hard winter? Some people are not going to like the rather vague feel of the electric steering, but I found it fine for this type of vehicle which is going to spend more of its life fitting into tight mall parking spots rather than hitting the apexes of tight turns. The front suspension has struts while the rear uses a torsion-beam with both getting stabilizer bars. With more power, and Saturn is bringing out a 200 horsepower version soon, this could be a real sporty car with the right tires and a better shock package.

Young working woman's view: I came within a gnat hair of buying an Ion sedan so I liked that car. I didn't care for the coupe. I think it was the way it looked, or perhaps the fact that the rear made the car look choppy. There is an abundance of room inside. If you fold the rear seats down it is easy to get a four-foot object in without much of a problem. The pricing strategy for the Ion is of note. The Ion 2 and Ion 3 are priced $1000 apart, with the former running about $15,000. However, the Ion 3 has a lot more than a grand in extra features.

Young working male's view: The twin-cam 2.2-liter engine is gruff, but provides enough puff to be pleasing in one's daily travels. The five-speed automatic was a real surprise in a car in this price category, but the five-speed manual transmission would still be my choice. The brakes are disc in front and drum in back and we had ABS and dynamic rear proportioning on our test car and also fairly large P205/55R16 tires. This was an effective combination and one could certainly hold your own with any other car in this price category for all around usefulness, driving enjoyment, and insurance costs.

Performance wise, it is very good for what it is. You are not going to have any trouble passing over merging with traffic if you shift properly. The stereo reception is sub par, but the unit is easy to operate and does give an average performance when a CD is used. It was a car my friends were interested in finding out more about, but once they saw it thought differently. I think Saturn needs some young people on their design staff.

Family conference: We like the Ion sedan. We feel the Ion coupe is just not family oriented enough. Perhaps for a young family or a single person who likes the Saturn buying experience and economic operation costs, the coupe would be acceptable. You get the standard three-year, 36,000-mile warranty, a car that gets most of its acceleration above 5000 rpm, and a lot of interior room with the Ion. But, with the optional automatic transmission adding $900, the leather seats, shift knob, and steering wheel adding another $700, and the base price quickly exceeds $18,000. For that money we would rather have the larger Saturn and get the benefit of a better ride and more standard features. You might want to check this site out if you are interested in an Ion coupe because it contains a lot of insights from owners.

The Car Family reviews the latest automotive models from the viewpoint of mom, dad and teenage drivers. Catch more of their reviews at The Car Place.

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