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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jan 29, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Traffic continues to worsen and the commute takes longer each year. How can we survive the drive? The answer may have fallen from the sky! I recently hit the road in a shiny new GMC Yukon Denali. Sure, the Yukon is a huge SUV and, needless to say, sitting in something that big tends to give you a feeling of highway ownership. But as I look down on the traffic on the 405 Freeway, I quickly realize that the $50,000 SUV I'm driving isn't going to get anywhere any faster than the primer gray Geo Metro in front of me. I have an advantage over many other drivers on the road, however, and that is the equipment loaded into the Yukon providing two services that will make the drive more pleasant and my life a little easier: XM Satellite Radio and OnStar. When I first heard about satellite radio, I couldn't help but think...nice idea, but who will pay a monthly fee to listen to music they can already hear for free? Well, while experiencing XM, the answer to that question is as clear as the sound quality of the music blasting from the speakers. At the push of a button I am able to listen to whatever I like whenever I want. 68 commercial-free music channels offering everything from classic rock and Christian pop to - hold on to your leisure suit - disco! Want to know what's going on in the world? There are 33 channels devoted to news, sports, talk and entertainment, while 21 channels are dedicated to instant traffic and weather reports. The sound of XM Radio is crisp and clear and, while you may miss a second or two of your favorite song as you pass under a bridge, XM provides an exceptional listening experience. XM radio currently has over three million subscribers. And getting XM Radio couldn't be any easier. Many new cars come equipped with it and for the rest of us, there are small, stylish receivers that can be discreetly installed in your car that utilize your existing stereo. If you're planning to buy a new stereo for your car, many stereos now come satellite radio-ready. All you have to do is activate the service and you're ready to rock 'n roll. XM has even come out with a portable hand-held receiver you can listen to with headphones. While XM Radio is keeping me entertained, the OnStar system gives me a feeling of safety and security. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar will dispatch roadside assistance and will provide other helpful services and information in a hands-free, voice-activated manner. There are three levels of service, each with a monthly fee. Safe & Sound ($16.95 per month) includes a number of helpful services including Remote Door Unlock, Stolen Vehicle Location and Remote Vehicle Diagnostics. Pay a little more and you can move up to the next level, Directions & Connections ($34.95 per month), which sounds a little like a dating service, but actually at this level of service your OnStar advisor will assist you with restaurant suggestions and hotel reservations. If you become incapable of driving (that was a polite way of saying you drank too much), you can take advantage of Ride Assist and your OnStar advisor will call a cab or will notify a friend or relative. Hard to believe it could get any better, but for just $69.95, you can show everyone on the road that you're a big spender by moving up to the Luxury & Leisure Plan. Personally, I don't really think anyone needs to be pampered to this extent while driving, but at this level of service, the OnStar advisor now becomes your personal concierge...they make restaurant reservations for you, help you locate tickets and will even help you plan a vacation. Another outstanding service provided by OnStar is Automatic Air Bag Deployment Notification. After an air bag deploys, an emergency signal is sent to the OnStar center. An OnStar advisor will attempt to communicate with the vehicle's occupants and if there is no response, an emergency services provider will be notified. Many new vehicles are equipped with the OnStar system including GM, Hummer, Saab, Audi, Isuzu, Acura and Volkswagen. For more information about XM Radio, go to For more information about OnStar, go to

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