Road Tripping in a 2013 Kia Sportage
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When Kia offered us the opportunity to test drive a 2013 Kia Sportage we were initially hesitant. Our blog, after all, is called Spot Cool Stuff. It’s not Spot Ordinary Stuff or Spot Reasonably-Well-Made-Low-End Stuff — “ordinary,” “reasonable” and “low end” all being terms we associated with Kia.

Yet the car company kept insisting that we give the Sportage a try (no strings attached). And, around this same time, it happened that we needed a larger vehicle for a family Spring Break trip we had planned to the Catskills region of New York state.

So that’s how it came to be that the editor of this website, his two children — an animal-loving 9-year-old girl and a studiously observant 7-month-old baby boy — together with their beautiful mother, piled into a Kia Sportage for an all-American family road trip.

What the whole group of us soon discovered is that the Kia Sportage is anything but ordinary. It certainly wasn’t low end. But it isn’t quite the perfect family road trip vehicle either. Our week-long test drive review:

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5 Cool Camping Trailers
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Spot Cool Stuff is a huge fan of glamping. The word is a conjunctive of “glamorous” and “camping” and can describe pretty much any travel experience that is more luxurious than staying in a typical tent but more outdoorsy than an ordinary hotel. A glamping experience might involve sleeping in a portable treehouse, staying in a human-sized bird nest, making an espresso in the middle of nowhere—or touring in a cool camping trailer.

The number of unusual, creatively-designed campers currently on the market is truly amazing. Clearly neither the upward trend in road traffic or fuel prices are deterring some people from taking a mini-home with them on an adventure. Here’s our rundown of five especially cool caravan camping trailers:

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The World’s Smallest Street-Legal Production Car
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“Compact cars” are not, technically, the smallest classification of automobile. Smaller than those are “city cars” — visit your local Smart Car dealer to take one of those for a test drive.

And then there’s a car size classification that’s even smaller: “microcars.” Microcars typically have three wheels, one or two doors and either an electric propulsion system or a petrol engine smaller than 700cc. Sometimes much smaller.

Back in the 1950s and ’60s, a variety of automobile companies — both established and start-ups — developed and manufactured these very small, personal vehicles. Many experts were predicting that microcars would be the wave of the future.

They predicted wrong. Or, at least it seemed so.

Virtually no new microcar models were produced in the 1970s or in the three decades that followed. But in 2012, the microcar had a tiny reemergence. That’s when one of the original microcar companies, UK-based Peel, began again making the Peel P50. The vehicle is today the world’s smallest street legal production car.

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Powers Your Gadgets, Looks Like a Coffee Cup
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The cup holder might be the greatest innovation in automobile design since the steering wheel. Not only can the cup holder power you through a late night caffeinated drive, it can also power a smartphone, a laptop and a coffee maker — all at the same time! At least it can when your cup holder is holding a PowerLine PowerCup Inverter.

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The Apple iCar and Dreams of What Could Be

If there’s one product outside of the computer and portable electronics markets we wish Apple would design, it’s a car.

Spot Cool Stuff is a big fan of nearly everything Apple. Yes, their products aren’t inexpensive. But they are almost universally well designed, well built and user friendly—not to mention cool-looking. If Apple were to bring their prowess an automobile design . . . well, we can only imagine.

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Top Down Review of
Nissan’s Murano CrossCabriolet

Wow! What kind of car is that?!

That was the question drivers rolled down their windows to ask us every few blocks as we were test driving the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet through downtown Dallas, Texas. On the highway, cars adjusted their speed so to drive alongside us for a closer look. When we stopped in a Starbucks, we overheard customers entering the coffee shop talking about what a sleek set of wheels we had.

Nissan flew Spot Cool Stuff to Dallas for their media unveiling of the world’s first all-wheel drive crossover convertible vehicle1 in advance of the vehicle’s April sales launch. From the moment we saw the Murano CrossCabriolet we knew it would be a head turner—it’s unlike any other vehicle on the market today. But is it worth its $46,390 price tag? Our review:

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Radar Detector? There’s an App For That.

Add yet another use for a smartphone: radar detector. That thanks to Cobra and its Cobra iRadar, the first radar detector with phone connectivity.

The way it works is: You mount the compact iRadar unit on the dashboard of your car and then pair it via Bluetooth to an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch running the iRadar app. The iPhone then works as the radar detector’s display.

So how well does this marriage between smartphone and radar detector work? Our overview of the pros and cons:

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The World’s Fastest All-Electric Car

Time was that electric cars were glorified golf carts. No longer Today’s all-battery-powered vehicles are larger, better looking—and faster. Exhibit #1: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-cell.

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