SUVs have gone way beyond the stage of being the no-frill vehicle moms and dads used to load up hockey equipment to schlep kids to their games. The more expensive ones now come with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, wood or metal interior trim, upsized alloy wheels, the latest safety equipment and many electronics options. With gas being cheaper and the SUVs getting more mileage per gallon, they are attracting a whole new group of buyers. Among the ones that they’re looking at are Mercedes-Benz GL-Classic, Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, Lexus GX 460, Infiniti FX, Acura RDX, and the Range Rover Evoque.

Also for a mere $100,000 plus there’s the Levante 2017 model, crafted by Maserati that they claim is an SUV like no other, embodying the passion, the sophisticated engineering and exclusivity that distinguish every one of their vehicles.

Your car can be hacked

Cars are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack. New cars are now being connected to the Internet and mobile devices. You are also able to use your phone to remotely start a car or get engine diagnostics. These features are meant to add convenience for you as a driver but they also give hackers more opportunities to take control of your vehicle systems.

Last year, Fiat Chrysler recalled over a million cars when it was discovered their remote controls could be hacked into. In the last few months, General Motors and BMW have issued important security updates for some of their cars. Nissan suspended their Connect EV smartphone app over serious hacking concerns. In a vehicle traveling at low speeds (5-10 mph), hackers can shutdown an engine as well as disable brakes and steering. In a vehicle travelling at any speed, hackers are able to control door locks, radio, GPS and the turn signals.

To make sure your car is safe you should take the following precautions: Follow up on any recall notices affecting your car. Check that your vehicle software is up to date. Be careful when making any modifications to your car’s software. Exercise discretion when connecting third-party devices, like smartphones or tablets, to your car. And keep control on who has physical access to your vehicle.

Dog hanging out the window

Spring has arrived and what gives a dog more pleasure than hanging its head out of a car window — smelling and inhaling the fresh air. But be aware that according to the Highway Safety Code, you can be ticketed if a police officer decides the dog interferes with your view. An unsecured animal can become a projectile in the event of an accident and injure or even kill the occupants of the vehicle.

Bertha the backseat driver says:

My friend showed up at traffic court to fight an expensive parking ticket. He told the judge that a policeman had given him permission to park there.

“Would you recognize the policeman if you ever saw him again?” the judge asked my friend.

“Of course!” he replied.

“Good,” answered the judge. “When you see the policeman again, tell him he owes you $186.”

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