Let's Talk Wheels

Mike Herzing shares his top tips for spring break driving

Remember to buckle up. Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Spring break is only a couple of weeks away, and if you're heading out to your favorite vacation spot with friends, roommates, or family, please take a minute to think about making your trip a safe one.

Here are Mike Herzing's top tips for having a fun, safe time on the road:

Don't drink and drive
This one should go without saying, and yet every day almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving-related crashes (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). And be a pal: don't let others drink and drive either.

Take breaks
Half the fun of a road trip is alternating who drives, who navigates, who's doling out the snacks, and who's in charge of the music. So switch up who's behind the wheel when you need to — remember that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Know your route
Smartphone technology has nearly made paper maps obsolete (though it doesn't hurt to keep one in the car in case of emergencies) Apps like Google Maps and Waze can also alert you to any upcoming traffic problems, potentially shaving time off your trip.

Buckle up
Besides being the law, wearing seatbelts can save your life if you're in an accident. Every person in the cars needs to be strapped in at all times, and tell your front-seat passenger to keep their feet off the dash. An airbag going off under their legs can do some serious physical damage.

Get a tune-up
Be sure to have your car checked for a trip before you head out. Nothing ruins the happy mood of a road trip like a breakdown, so do upkeep on your tires, oil, engine, and fluids before you hit the road.

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new Let's Talk Wheels podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.

The 2020 Santa Fe is just one of the SUV offerings Hyundai sells in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In recent years, Hyundai has added three SUVs to its lineup and is currently developing their next utility vehicle. They've also refreshed the Tucson, modified the Santa Fe to become a strictly two-row SUV, and began selling the Nexo hydrogen-fuel cell vehicle in the U.S. Hyundai is now selling the Kona in an electric vehicle format as the Kona EV.

Scroll down to see them all.

2020 Hyundai Venue

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Venue is the smallest SUV in the automaker's lineup. It fits below the Palisade, Nexo, Santa Fe, Tucson and Kona. The Venue is considered a subcompact SUV.

The Venue comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Denim. The Venue SE starts at $16,350 and Venue SEL starts at $18,250. Hyundai's top-tier Venue Denim model goes for $21,050.

It is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. The engine comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard and a continuously variable automatic transmission is available. Models with the CVT are the most fuel efficient.

Hyundai does not offer the Venue with front-wheel drive.

The interior of the Venue focuses on passenger space rather than cargo space. It comfortably seats two adults up front but legroom is a little short in the back seat.

Cloth upholstery, an 8-inch touch screen, four speakers, HD Radio, a USB port, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard. Buyers can add a sunroof, automatic climate control, push-button start, satellite radio, a second USB port, more speakers, and navigation for an added fee.

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is on sale now.

2020 Hyundai Kona

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The subcompact Hyundai Kona was much heralded when it debuted in 2018 as a desirable combination of the features and equipment buyers are looking for at the right price. Three model years in, the comments hold up.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona fits above the Venue and below the Tucson, Santa Fe, NEXO, and Palisade in the automaker's lineup. It is sold in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate. The Kona SE starts at $20,300 and the Kona Ultimate starts at $27,950.

It comes standard with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A more powerful 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is available. That engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Both engines achieve 30 mpg combined.

Hyundai offers the Kona with all-wheel drive (front-wheel drive is standard) and a Sport mode, which adds a noticeable amount of spunk to the car's acceleration.

The five-seater Kona has standard cloth upholstery. There's more second-row legroom in the Kona than in the Venue, but it's still short on cargo space, which is common in its segment.

The SUV comes standard with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and remote keyless entry. The long list of available features includes an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, satellite radio, wireless device charging, a head-up display, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, a sunroof, and an eight-speaker sound system.

Each Kona comes standard with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and a driver attention monitor. Available upgrades to that list include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

2020 Hyundai Kona EV

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Kona EV was only introduced for the 2019 model year. It has many pluses, but it is pricey, like many other electric vehicles.

Hyundai offers the Kona EV in three trim levels: SEL, Limited, and Ultimate. Pricing on the Kona EV SEL starts at $37,190 and the top-tier Kona EV Ultimate goes for $45,400. Buyers may qualify for a tax credit.

The SUV has a 258-mile range. It is powered by a 201-horsepower electric motor that is paired with a single-speed transmission. The model gets 132 MPGe in the city and 108 MPGe on the highway.

The battery takes 9.5 hours to charge using a 240-volt/Level II outlet. Using a DC fast charger, the SUV can get up to 80 percent of its range back in 50 minutes.

Hyundai has equipped the model with a list of standard equipment that is typical of a mid-grade or higher subcompact SUV including automatic climate control, a 7-inch touch screen, satellite radio, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button start, keyless entry, a six-speaker stereo, and navigation.

2020 Hyundai Tucson

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Tucson is a more premium take on the Hyundai Santa Fe in its top-tier trim levels. Since the reconfiguration of the Santa Fe, the two are both two-row SUVs. The Tucson is larger than the Venue and Kona but smaller than the Palisade.

For the 2020 model year, Hyundai sells the Tucson in six trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Sport, Limited, and Ultimate. The Tucson SE starts at $23,550 and the top-tier Tucson Ultimate starts at $31,900.

It comes standard with a 161-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder power plant is available. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available. Neither engine is particular fuel efficient when compared to others in the class.

The five-seater Tucson has more room for adults in the second row than the Venue and Kona and significantly more cargo space. The compact SUV comes standard with cloth upholstery but finer materials are available in higher trim levels.

Hyundai has given the Tucson the same list of standard equipment as the Kona: a 7-inch infotainment touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, USB ports, and a six-speaker audio system. The available features list is similar too with a panoramic sunroof replacing the Kona's standard size one and dual-zone automatic climate control replacing single-zone automatic climate control.

The Tucson has a longer list of standard safety technology than the Kona and Venue, befitting its higher price tag.

2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Santa Fe is now a two-row SUV that offers a lot of bang for the buck. The five-passenger SUV is sold in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL 2.0T, Limited, and Limited 2.0T. Hyundai prices the base model Santa Fe SE at $21,125. The highest grade Santa Fe goes for $36,475.

The base model is powered by a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers can opt for a 235-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder power plant. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engines get 23 and 25 mpg combined, respectively.

Hyundai has given the Santa Fe a good list of standard features (keyless entry, 7-inch infotainment system, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto) and a list of options that includes an 8-inch infotainment system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-speaker sound system, navigation, wireless device charging, satellite radio, keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof.

The model offers competitive passenger and cargo space, as well as an extended warranty for every grade.

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Nexo is the automaker's hydrogen fuel-cell SUV. It is about the same size as the Santa Fe and Tucson and has two rows of passenger space. Hyundai sells the model in two trim levels: Blue and Limited.

The SUV uses a hydrogen fuel cell, lithium-ion battery, and electric motor to propel the vehicle down the road. Its powertrain delivers 161 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque, which helps move the heavy model down the road with ease.

The front-wheel drive model has three drive modes: Comfort, Eco, and Eco+. It gets 57-61 MPGe depending on the trim level and has a maximum driving range of 380 miles.

Like other Hyundais, the SUV has a long list of standard equipment including heated outside mirrors, privacy glass, leatherette upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen, navigation, satellite radio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, USB ports, wireless device charging, automatic climate control, leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, and a luggage screen.

The 2020 Hyundai Nexo starts at $58,735 but it is only available in select states.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The three-row Hyundai Palisade is a new SUV for the 2020 model year. It has much of the same equipment as the 2020 Kia Telluride, but it's looks are a completely different experience.

Hyundai sells the model in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Limited.

The Palisade is a front-wheel drive SUV that is powered by a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is available in all-wheel drive and has five drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Snow (AWD only), and Smart. It has average fuel efficiency.

Hyundai has given the Palisade standard cloth upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, an 8-inch infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and five USB ports. Dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a sunroof, 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, and additional USB ports are among the available features.

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade starts at $31,775.

Make sure your filters are keeping the bad stuff out.

Photo by Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

Your car's filters play a big role in the life and performance of your engine — and your comfort. There are two you'll want to pay attention to: the air filter and the cabin filter.

Air filters
For performance and economy, you want a filter that will allow enough clean air for the engine to run well while still protecting it.

Did you know a quality air filter can help keep your oil cleaner? Inferior-quality filters allow fine sand and dirt to enter the engine, which dirties the oil and causes extra wear.

If you are driving a diesel, your engine uses twice as much air as a gas engine — that means your air filter gets dirty twice as fast.

You should get a quality air filter and replace it at least every 15-20,000 miles. Do it even sooner if you drive in a dusty area.

Remember that the original equipment filter is always a safe bet.

Cabin filters
Spring is here, and that means that everything is blooming. Here in Texas, the pine trees cover our cars with yellow pollen that drives allergy sufferers crazy. Spring also brings high levels of mold and ragweed.

The problem? You're likely driving around with the AC blowing it all right in your face.

But all is not lost if your vehicle is less than 10 years old, because it should have a cabin filter. Your cabin filter works just like the filter on your home's HVAC system, cleaning the air before it gets to you.

Of course, it can only help when you change it at least once a year. You can get cabin filters at your big box store or auto parts, and best of all, they are easy to replace.

For more tips from Mike, visit LetsTalkWheels.com. Be sure to subscribe to the new Let's Talk Wheels podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play.