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The Yankee Express

Today’s vehicles handle better but a soft ride is elusive

John Paul

Q. I have suffered with chronic pain since 2006. I am writing to ask if you know of any vehicles with an extremely smooth ride. I have tried Buick, Cadillac, Mercedes, Lexus, and most of the well-known makes and models that used to be known for their ride. I can actually feel the vibrations from asphalt line patches made to the road. Mercedes had an option called Active Body Control that also seems to be what I am seeking but they are extremely rare. Lexus has an option called active power stabilizer suspension system, but I have yet to find any used vehicle with this option. Do you have any recommendations for a new or pre-owned vehicle under $60,000 that has that true “riding on a cloud” feel?  It is also important that it has very comfortable seats.

A. Today vehicles handle better than ever. The combination of larger, wider tires and better suspension systems make even SUVs handle almost like a sports car. But what is missing is the floaty, soft ride of cars of the last decade. The active suspension helps but still it is as much about the handling as the soft ride. If I were looking, it would be for a Toyota Avalon, Lexus ES, Lexus LS, Genesis G90, Lincoln Continental. I would stay away from any car that had touring or sport suspension. These cars will handle better but ride firmer. 

Q. I have a 2021 Toyota RAV4 hybrid, with only 10,100 miles on it, and it is still under warranty. My radio all of a sudden will have no sound for about 20 seconds after driving about 1/4 mile when first starting the car from being parked overnight. If the car has sat all day at work, it will do the same thing. The sound does come back on after the 20 seconds wait or if I push the power button off and on. Any recalls or service bulletins?

A. I checked for technical service bulletins in the AllData database and found several software updates for the audio system. Although they do not exactly fit the issue you are having with your vehicle, in my opinion they are close enough to have the audio software update performed. 

Q. My Toyota Corolla has 110,000 miles on it, and I have been keeping up with regular maintenance. What should I be on the lookout for as far high mileage maintenance goes?

A. Keep doing exactly what you are doing. Check fluid levels regularly, have the oil and filter changed based on the type of driving you do. Check the cooling system for proper operation and overall condition. Carefully inspect drive belts, coolant hoses brakes and suspension. Periodically have a technician put the car on a lift and inspect for premature rust and look for driveline fluid leaks. With a little care your car should last many more miles. 

Q. I recently was changing the cabin air filter and the engine air filter on my car. I purchased name brand not factory filters. The cabin filter was a perfect match, the engine filter was close but not perfect. I ended up returning the air filter and went to the dealer and purchased the factory filter. Any thoughts on this, should I have used the aftermarket filter? 

A. I recently found the same thing on one of our cars. I was replacing the air filter and the aftermarket one was close, and I am sure would have worked, but I did not like the fit. I purchased the factory filter online and even with shipping was cheaper than the aftermarket filter from the auto parts store. When possible, I prefer to use factory filters and belts, I find the fitment better overall. 
Q. With all the talk of electric vehicles from vehicle manufactures who seem to not be able to make a profit, only some cars with really long range batteries to poor charging infrastructure and non-working charging stations, do you think electric cars are still the way to go?

A. I believe that electric cars are one of the choices, and not perfect for everyone. Currently this is the “golden-age” of the automobile. You can buy an electric car, hybrid, plug in hybrid or a gasoline car and even a diesel. The future will offer more choices on incredibly low emissions vehicles, with hydrogen powered electric cars and even hydrogen used as fuel. Toyota recently introduced a hydrogen internal combustion engine. Locally an old friend of mine just received a patent for an engine design that promises high efficiency, low emissions and can burn any fuel. To learn more about the Kimat Engine go to

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.