This sector could have a half million job openings and opportunities for older workers


Although the coronavirus continues to rattle global markets and industries, some analysts expect to see greater demand for advanced manufacturing talent in the U.S. as the pandemic diminishes. That could create opportunities for older men and women, including white-collar professionals struggling to find jobs.

Before COVID-19, there were 500,000 manufacturing jobs open in the U.S., according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). “We’re going to have a need very quickly to ramp up on hiring in those facilities that may have been shut down during the crisis or that need to expand operations,” said NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons in a recent press conference.


“The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”


— Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP

As manufacturers frantically try to keep up again with demand for essentials and lifesaving PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for health care workers as cases rise across the country, their innovation and high-tech problem-solving could help dispel misconceptions that all manufacturing jobs are dirty and physically demanding, said Sara Tracey, project manager of workforce services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association in Akron, Ohio.

Manufacturing jobs and what they pay

Entry-level manufacturing jobs in industries such as aerospace, technology and defense include CNC operators, set-up technicians and programmers, as well as inspectors, higher-end assembly technicians and quality assurance.

The pay typically ranges between $35,000 and $65,000, including overtime and benefits, said Richard DuPont, director of community and campus relations for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Conn. More experienced professionals can earn upward of $95,000.

80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

In Ohio, manufacturers have been training and moving some workers into higher positions so the companies can hire and train new candidates for vacated ones, Tracey noted. Resources such as the Making Ohio website let people explore careers in manufacturing, including robotics, automation and 3-D printing.

Industrial maintenance is an important career pathway these days, as well, Tracey said. This sector is expecting more retirements in the near future, which will create jobs from “traditional machine mechanics to troubleshooting state-of-the-art electronic or robotic processes,” Tracey noted.

Also see: Cannabis, whiskey, and mobile bike repair: These entrepreneurs are thriving in the pandemic

Connecticut, among other states, now offers training programs with community colleges, state manufacturers and other organizations.

From banking to precision tools

This kind of training helped Allison Clemens-Roberts, who is over 50, find work after losing her clerical job in the pensions department of a Connecticut bank in 2017. A severance package gave her time to look for work, but she couldn’t find even temporary employment. She blames age discrimination by white-collar employers.

“There’s no way to hide how old you are. They can ask when you graduated from school,” Clemens-Roberts said.

But while she was out of work, Clemens-Roberts received a postcard from AARP offering a 25% tuition scholarship on advanced manufacturing programs at Goodwin University, a career-focused school in East Hartford, Conn.

She wasn’t interested until her husband Frank saw a TV commercial touting the benefits of Goodwin’s manufacturing and other programs.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you think about changing careers?’” Clemens-Roberts recalled.

So, with several months left on her severance, she enrolled in a full-time, six-month CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining, Metrology and Manufacturing Technology certification program. It would prepare her for a job working with automated machine tools which requires mathematical skills, attention to detail and critical thinking.

SectorWatch: 80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

Scholarships cut Clemens-Roberts’ tuition bill from $7,000 to $3,200. After a two-month paid internship at TOMZ, a manufacturer of precision components for major medical devices in Berlin, Conn., she was hired in April 2019. Six months later, TOMZ reimbursed Clemens-Roberts $1,500 for her education tab.

Clemens-Roberts said her family is now in a better financial position than when she was working in a bank, living paycheck-to-paycheck. Considered an essential worker, she has kept her full-time job through the pandemic, except for three days in March.

“I never thought I would go to college and participate in a graduation — in cap and gown,” Clemens-Roberts said. “That was a big surprise. And [actor] Danny Glover was the speaker. A bucket-list experience.”

There’s “obviously age discrimination, among other things, at play” for job seekers over 50, said Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP. “The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”

While AARP helped Clemens-Roberts pay for the tuition initially, the internship helped her get hired as a machine operator.

Older and younger manufacturing workers helping each other

The search for skilled manufacturing labor across the country is creating opportunities for workers of all ages, said DuPont. And older and younger generations working together are assisting each other.

The older students help younger classmates with life skills, while younger students can help with technology,” said DuPont. “Together, they make excellent teams.”

Don’t miss: How will the robots see you through the pandemic?

Just ask Fernando Vega, 62, who is now a quality inspector at Forrest Machine, in Berlin, Conn. It makes precision-machined parts and other components for the aerospace and commercial industries. In the 1990s, he was a quality inspector before recessions and outsourcing forced him to consider other careers.

He tried working for a nonprofit and though Vega found the work rewarding, it wasn’t financially sustainable.

So, Vega went back to school in spring 2018 to study advanced manufacturing at Goodwin.

“I was in a class of 18, and at first everyone kept to themselves. But when it came time to read blueprints, there was some panic and I said, ‘Don’t panic, I’ll show you.’ The [younger] students helped me with trigonometry, and then we started to work together.”

Vega has worked at his manufacturing job throughout the pandemic. At one point, he was putting in 50 hours a week, but that was reduced to 40 hours plus overtime.

Vega recalled promising his mother that he would go to college. “But that was a long time ago,” he said. His mother never got to see him graduate but Vega feels he’s fulfilled his promise — not only to her, but also to himself. “I love my job,” he said.



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The Kia K5 review: It’s roomy, attractive and quick


The all-new 2021 Kia K5 is a 2021 Kia Optima by any other name. The K5 replaces that highly successful midsize sedan, which spearheaded Kia’s U.S. success for nearly a decade and was also available as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.

While we at Autotrader like the Optima name, we can understand why Kia gave its mainstream midsize sedan a new name. With its fastback roofline, its added length and its lower and wider stance, the K5 represents a very different type of midsize sedan, one that’s loaded with standard safety equipment and goes on sale this summer. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, Kia has used the name K5, K7 and other similar combinations in its home country of Korea for many years. Even though Kia is a Korean company, the K5 is built in the U.S. in the state of Georgia.

For the record, the Kia K5 is 2 inches longer than the Optima, and its wheelbase is up by 1.8 inches. It’s also an inch wider while having a roof that’s nearly an inch lower.

The Kia K5


Kia

Two engines are available. The first, a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, puts out 290 horsepower and a substantial 311 lb-ft of torque. It teams with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The second, a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, makes 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It bolts to a new 8-speed conventional automatic transmission.

An all-wheel-drive K5 arrives late this year. Its electrohydraulic coupling distributes torque fore and aft as needed.

Four trim levels will be available initially: LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX. A sporty K5 GT arrives later this fall.

K5 competitors include the Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota
TM,
+1.88%

Camry, Honda
HMC,
+1.51%

Accord, Hyundai
HYMTF,

Sonata, Mazda 6
MZDAY,
+3.47%

, Nissan
NSANY,
+3.64%

Altima, Subaru
FUJHY,
+1.14%

Legacy and Volkswagen
VWAGY,
+1.03%

Passat.

Also see: 8 affordable new cars priced well below $20k

What’s new for 2021?

The 2021 Kia K5 is an all-new vehicle based on the company’s third-generation N3 platform. It’s longer, lower and wider than the current Optima, and has been tuned for sportier driving dynamics. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine also is new, along with the two respective automatic transmissions. 

What we like
  • Dramatic fastback styling
  • Roomier interior
  • Optional AWD
  • Turbo engines
  • Wireless Apple
    AAPL,
    +2.37%

    CarPay

What we don’t
  • No hybrid or PHEV yet
  • AWD model arrives in late 2020
  • Wireless Apple Carplay not available with the larger infotainment screen
How much?

$23,490 – $30,490 (Destination fee is $965.00)

Fuel economy
  • Kia says the LX 1.6T gets 29 mpg city / 38 highway / 32 combined. The LXS, GT-Line, and EX come in slightly lower with 27 mpg city / 37 highway / 31 combined.
  • GT 2.5T fuel economy is still TBD
Standard features and options

The 2021 Kia K5 is available with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine or a turbo 2.5-liter engine, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and a large selection of standard safety equipment. This includes automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist protection), a driver-attention warning, and lane-keep assist. A blind-spot system and rear-cross-traffic alert aren’t standard on this new midsize Kia sedan, but we think they should be.

Most versions of the K5 have the 1.6-liter engine including the LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX. The GT gets a 2.5-liter engine.

The K5’s 1.6-liter engine makes 180 hp in all versions. The GT’s 2.5-liter engine makes 290 hp.

Besides all-wheel drive, the 2021 Kia K5 can be ordered with various parking aids and Highway Driving Assistant, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to the posted limits. It’s also available with smart cruise control that uses map data to learn the road and slow the K5 before curves if necessary. The K5 also can be ordered with a system that will apply the brakes automatically if it senses oncoming traffic when you are turning across oncoming traffic.

Also see: The 10 best new car models of 2020

Active Sound Design provides, according to Kia,  “…a dynamic auditory experience by enhancing the sound of engine acceleration and gear shifts according to the selected drive mode.” This is included in some of the K5’s option packages:

The GT-Line Special Edition Package ($800) is available only on GT-Line K5’s with all-wheel drive. It includes advanced smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and forward collision avoidance, navigation-based “control-curve,” LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting, gloss-black exterior trim, wireless phone charging, Wolf Gray exterior paint, red leatherette seating, 10.25-inch touch-screen, Highway Driving Assistant.

The GT-Line Premium Package ($1,600) is available only on the GT-Line front-wheel-drive model. It includes advanced smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and forward collision avoidance, LED headlights, Panoramic sunroof, gloss-black exterior trim, wireless phone charging.

The EX Premium Package ($3,400) adds a heated steering wheel, 10-way power memory seats, Safe Exit Assist, power child-lock, 10.25-inch touchscreen, Bose premium audio, active noise canceling/Active Sound Design technology, advanced driver-assist features, and smart cruise control, outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, collision avoidance in reverse.

The GT1 Package ($4,000) includes 2-position memory driver’s seat, power child locks, Safe Exit Assist, 10-way power front seats, heated steering wheel, advanced smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and forward collision avoidance, navigation-based “control-curve,” leather-wrapped shift knob, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, rear parking collision avoidance, Bose audio, active noise canceling/Active Sound Design, ventilated front seats.

Safety

In addition to automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist protection), a driver-attention warning, and lane-keep assist, the 2021 Kia K5 is available with Highway Driving Assist, which uses information from the navigation system to adjust the K5’s speed based on posted limits.

Included in several K5 option packages is a feature called Safe Exit Assist. The feature uses sensors and power child safety locks to “see” if traffic is approaching from behind and will prevent a rear seat occupant from opening the door into oncoming traffic.

Behind the wheel

This new Kia K5 is an excellent car in several ways. It’s roomy, attractive and quick. Our preference is the EX with the noise-canceling feature. It makes the car feel calm and quiet. Yes, that requires a pricey option package but it does change the car’s character noticeably. Executive Editor, Brian Moody says “The EX is the best combination of comfort and performance. The EX has nicer details inside and using the available ‘Sport’ driving mode makes it a lot of fun on the road. For the money, the EX is a really great car.”

That $3,400 option package also includes a Bose audio system. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine makes more than enough power, the combination of powerful and quiet give the K5 a luxury sedan vibe while still delivering excellent handling and braking. The K5 has four driving modes – eco, normal, sport, and custom. Each changes the calibration of the drivetrain and steering just enough to get a slightly different experience. Sport delivers the most immediate responses, eco gets you the best mpg by encouraging sedate acceleration.

Related: How to choose trim levels and options when buying a new car

The GT-Line looks sportier. Also, the GT-Line K5 we drove did not have the Bose audio system – this is a noticeable step-down. That Bose Premium sound system has available with 12 high-performance speakers, Centerpoint surround sound, and speed compensating volume.

Check out: A first look at Toyota’s new RAV4 plug-in hybrid

We like the K5’s center-console integrated wireless phone charger is the best we’ve seen. It’s easy to use, isn’t awkward to reach or use, and has a cool little “trap door” that lets the driver use valuable interior space in whatever manner suits their needs.

Other cars to consider

2020 Honda Accord – Fun to drive and ever so practical, the Accord makes a compelling argument for the value of a good midsize sedan.

2020 Toyota Camry – The Camry went the lower and wider route long before Kia did with its Optima and K5. Still the benchmark in dependability. There’s an AWD version, too.

2020 Mazda 6 – Don’t want to see yourself coming and going, but like a midsize sedan with sporty manners? The 6 is for you.

2020 Hyundai Sonata – The K5’s corporate cousin is an impressive machine in just about every way. Also available as a hybrid. Not as attractive as the new Kia K5.

Used BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe – If you’re smitten by swoopy rooflines on a sedan body, consider one that’s especially rewarding to drive – a used BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Go through BMW’s certified preowned (CPO) program.

Questions you may ask

Is the new Kia K5 larger than the Optima?

It is. The K5 is 2 inches longer than the Optima, and its wheelbase is up by 1.8 inches. Also, the K5 is an inch wider than the Optima, with a roof height that has been lowered by 0.8 inches.

Where does Kia build the new K5 sedan?

The brand-new Kia K5 sedan is made in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Telluride SUV.

When does the 2021 Kia K5 go on sale?

The new midsize Kia K5 sedan goes on sale this summer as a 2022 model.

Does the Kia K5 have a smaller engine than the turbocharged 2.5-liter four with 290 horsepower?

It does. The 2021 Kia K5 also is available with a direct-injected 1.6-liter inline-4 with 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It mates to an 8-speed automatic.

Autotrader’s advice

We’re happy to see that Kia still believes in the sedan market. It also helps that this is a really good sedan – it’s attractive, roomy and quick. We’d get the EX. It has a roomy, comfortable interior, and allows many compelling options if that’s what you want. At just under $30,000 it’s K5 that best balances, fun, practicality, and value. 

Also see: These 3 EVs are the lowest cost to own over 5 years



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The 10 coolest things about the new Ford Bronco


After years of speculation, numerous leaks, and an original launch date pushed back by the ongoing pandemic, Ford
F,
-1.43%

finally pulled the wraps off the revived Bronco.  And right away it’s looking like it’s going to turn the adventure vehicle segment on its head. A dedicated off-roader with heaps configurability and new features, the Bronco brings loads of excitement to an already red-hot off-road space, and here we’ll highlight 10 of our favorite things about it.

The original Ford Bronco made its debut back in 1966 as a competitor to the Jeep CJ-5. With its simplistic design, removable roof, and go-anywhere capability, it achieved an iconic status over the years, and the new one looks to pick up where that original Bronco left off. The design of the 2021 model is heavily influenced by the original, with a flat hood, flat doors, and an overall boxy shape, but with modern accouterments, like LED lighting, active safety tech, beadlock capable wheels, available 35-in off-road tires, and much, much more.

There’s a two-door version

The Ford Bronco 2-door.


Ford

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but don’t take a two-door SUV for granted here in 2020. These truncated off-roaders offer a better breakover angle and are considerably more maneuverable on the trail, making them the bodystyle of choice for serious off-road enthusiasts. While they were popular decades ago, two-door off-road vehicles are a rarity today, and virtually every one that has been attempted recently, outside of the venerable Jeep Wrangler of course, has been quietly discontinued within a few years. If any vehicle can buck the trend, it’s the Bronco. No pun intended, of course.

The roof and doors come off, but the mirrors stay on


Ford

Clearly targeted at the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco features a removable roof and doors, just like its Toledo-built rival. Unlike Jeep though, Ford has gone to lengths to make the Bronco’s roof and doors easier to handle. Like the Wrangler, both two- and four-door Broncos are available with a three-piece hardtop with two removable panels over the driver’s and passenger’s seats.

But the Bronco also offers an optional four-piece hardtop that adds an additional removable panel over the second row, allowing for an open-top experience for all passengers without requiring the removal of the bulky rear piece.

Additionally, unlike the Wrangler which has a cross beam located just above the second row, the Bronco’s rear crossbeam is located over the cargo area, leaving nothing but open sky over the heads of second row passengers. As for the Bronco’s doors, they come without window frames, making them lighter, easier to carry, and perhaps most important of all, capable of being stored in the cargo area, which allows for impromptu door removal.

Also on MarketWatch: American muscle: We compare a Chevy Camaro to Dodge Challenger

Additionally, unlike the Wrangler, which sees its mirrors located on the front doors themselves, the Bronco’s mirrors come affixed to the A-pillars, meaning that you don’t lose them when you remove the doors

You can get it with a seven-speed manual transmission

The Bronco will launch with two available engines. The entry-level engine is the same 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the Ranger, and makes the same 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque it does in Ford’s midsize pickup. This engine comes paired to either a ten-speed automatic, or a clever seven-speed manual, the lowest gear of which is a special ultralow crawler gear, meant for technical off-roading. Upper-level models get Ford’s 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, which will make 310 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired exclusively with the ten-speed auto.

It’ll launch with loads of accessories

Given the Bronco’s customizability, Ford has made it known that they’ll be introducing a whole line of accessories for the Bronco prior to it going on sale. Think lighting, wheels, tow hooks, winch mounts, roof racks, limb risers (those wires that run from the front corners up to a roof rack), doors with cutouts, fenders, lift kits, rock sliders, bumpers, and more. On top of that, the aftermarket is champing at the bit, with companies from Hennessey Performance to ARB certain to introduce a full line of Bronco products. Rest assured that there’ll be plenty of options for customization.

Base and Black Diamond trims come with steel wheels


Ford

Another seemingly minor point, but in the era of bigger and bigger wheel diameters, it’s nice to see an automaker embracing simplicity, especially in the form of subtle, utilitarian wheel designs. In the off-road space, it’s not uncommon to replace factory rims with smaller, more durable wheels, so it’s great to see Ford offering a set of simple, timeless steel wheels from the factory (for what it’s worth, Land Rover is doing something similar with the new Defender as well). Additionally, the Bronco is said to accept wheels as small as 16-in, which allows for more sidewall, and sidewall is your friend when venturing off-road.

There’s more off-road tech than you could dream of


Ford

In its most capable form, the Bronco will pack an unprecedented array of off-road tech; more than you can get on the Jeep Wrangler. Four-wheel drive is standard, and in addition to two-high, four-high, and four-low modes, the Bronco’s four-wheel drive system will come with an auto mode, capable of switching from two- to four-wheel drive on the fly whenever the system senses slippage.

The Bronco will be available with locking front and rear differentials, making it just one of three vehicles offered with independent front suspension and a front locker, the other two being the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Read: The best SUVs for less than $40k

Like it’s rival from Jeep, the Bronco will also offer an available disconnecting front sway bar, but the Bronco uses a much more sophisticated design than the Wrangler in that it can disconnect under full load. Additionally, the Bronco has an edge on the Wrangler when it comes to breakover and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability (the Wrangler barely beats it out on approach angle). The Bronco is also said to have greater wheel travel than its chief rival, despite its use of an independent front suspension.

Finally, the Bronco will offer a ‘Trail Turn’ assist mode, and up to seven different traction modes, including Sand, Rock, and our favorite from the F-150 Raptor, Baja.

There’s something called the Sasquatch package

It’s fair to say that the most drool-worthy Bronco is any one that’s riding on 35-in tires. To get these, you’ll have to opt for what Ford is referring to as the ‘Sasquatch Package’, and it’s available on all trim levels. In addition to 35-in tires, the ’Squatch Pack gets you 17-in beadlock-capable wheels, Bilstein position-sensitive monotube shocks, a 4.7 final drive ratio, high-clearance fender flares, and every off-roader’s favorite – locking front and rear differentials. We can’t help but wonder if the name of this package isn’t a subtle reference to the legendary Ford F-150-based monster truck known as Bigfoot.

The software is as cool as the hardware

In addition to its killer mechanical features, the Bronco will pack a new fourth-generation version of Ford’s Sync infotainment system, which will include mainstream features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a unique trail mapping feature that allows drivers to plan, program, and follow off-road trail itineraries, and then share them via an integrated social feature. Through the system, you can also access a number of different mapping services, including Trails Offroad, AccuTerra, and FunTreks. Additionally, the Bronco is available with a massive 12-in infotainment screen, and a 360-degree camera system, great for everything from tight parking spots to navigating Hell’s Revenge in Moab.

There’s a crossover version

The Ford Bronco Sport


Ford

Ford seems to be setting up the Bronco nameplate to become its own subbrand of off-roaders within the company’s greater lineup, and has thus introduced a small crossover dubbed the Bronco Sport alongside the primary Bronco. While the flagship Bronco comes with a body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle, the Bronco Sport rides on the same unibody platform as the Escape, and features a fully-independent suspension. Its closest rivals are the Jeep Compass and Cherokee.

Also see: Ford promises you can return your car within the first year if you lose your job—here’s how it works

While it won’t offer the configurability of the main Bronco, expect the Bronco Sport to offer decent fuel economy, more comfortable on-road driving manners, and a lower price, while being about the most capable body-on-frame crossover there is when it comes to venturing off-road.



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These are the most popular cars this summer


With over 3 million cars, trucks and SUVs listed for sale, Autotrader has a firm grasp on the popular cars this summer. Every summer, we publish our list of the most-searched-for cars, trucks and SUVs on Autotrader – it’s a list of 10 vehicles that users are searching for most often. Is there safety in numbers? Yes. Well, usually. If you like to shop for the most popular cars, then this is the list. It could also be that these are the best cars regardless, because people keep returning to them year after year.

In the past, we’ve used the same data but added rules to reduce redundancy – rules like “No more than one of any brand” or “having a mix of body styles.” Not this year. This time we just took the top 10 most-searched-for cars on Autotrader, only consolidating two models since they are variations of the same model. The Ford F-Series pickup includes the F-150 and F-250, and the Silverado includes both 1500 and 2500 series trucks. We also combined search data from new, used and certified preowned vehicles.

Want to know what the hottest cars are for the summer of 2020? Here’s the list:

1. Ford F-150/250

The Ford F150


Ford

New or used, the Ford
F,
+2.04%

F-Series pickup is popular. It’s been the bestselling new vehicle for decades and continues to impress buyers with a variety of engine choices, off-road-ready models, budget-friendly basic models, and high-end, tech-heavy luxury versions. We’re not saying the F-150 is perfect, but it’s such a consistent bestseller we can’t see how so many people can be wrong. We’re also looking forward to an all-new F-150 for 2021.  

2. Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler.


Jeep

If you’re looking for a quintessential American vehicle, it’s got to be the Jeep Wrangler. But the Wrangler’s popularity isn’t surprising – Americans love to get out and have fun, away from the confines of city life and the Wrangler is the just the thing to get them there. Most people will find the Wrangler Unlimited handles both off-road and family duty best but the two-door Wrangler is still a lot of fun. 

Also see: These are the best cars for families in 2020

3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500/2500

The Chevrolet Silverado


Chevrolet

Americans love pickups. Also, Chevrolet pickups. Redesigned in 2019, the Silverado is nearly as popular with shoppers as Ford’s full-size pickup. The Silverado has typically had a nicer interior and a less utilitarian look outside. The Silverado is also offered in a variety of trim levels. Work Truck, Custom, LT, RST, Custom Trail Boss, LTZ, LT Trail Boss, and High Country are the current levels – then add bed length, two or four-wheel drive plus regular, double or crew cab and there are plenty of Silverados to pick from. 

4. Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang


Ford

Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Ford Mustang is just one of those purely American cars. It has a history, it’s fun, it’s affordable and it’s popular. You can find a high-mileage Mustang for a little as $2,000 or you can spend $100,000 on a high-performance Shelby GT500. The best compromise is probably a V8 powered GT 2015 or newer with average mileage for its age.

Also read: The pros and cons of buying a certified used car

5. Chevrolet Corvette

The Chevrolet Corvette.


Chevrolet

The C7 Chevrolet Corvette has turned out to be the swan song of the front-engine Corvette. The arrival of the C8 Corvette could mean some great deals on the previous model. Or, it could mean a lot of C7 owners believe they have some kind of rare instant classic and “won’t be tricked” into selling it for a reasonable price. Time will tell with this one. Either way, the C7 is an outstanding send-off to the ‘Vette’s front-engine layout. 

6. Ram 1500

The Ram 1500


Ram

With each passing model year, the Ram 1500 is becoming increasingly well-known for its plush interior, smooth ride and excellent towing capacity. The current Ram 1500 is the best one yet but even going back a few years will get you a nice truck. 

7. Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma


Toyota

For years, the Toyota Tacoma has been built in Texas. Maybe that’s why the Toyota
TM,
-0.31%

Tacoma feels as American as the Chevy Silverado or Ford Mustang. In every city, Tacomas are plentiful. The truck can do it all – daily driver, off-road, haul junk, last forever. The new 2020 Toyota Tacoma is a perfectly fine truck. However, be aware of used Tacoma prices because these things hold their value quite well. You might go looking for a lightly used Toyota pickup and end up with a new one for only a little extra money. 

Also see: 8 affordable new cars priced well below $20k

8. GMC Sierra

The GMC Sierra.


GMC

In the past, we lumped the Sierra in with the Silverado. However, the GMC Sierra has matured to the point where it’s tangibly different from the full-size Chevy. Many Sierras have unique features, trim and equipment. Fewer people are looking for a Sierra as compared with an F-150 or Silverado but not by much. One thing we like about the Sierra: It has fewer variations. That makes shopping a little easier. We like the SLE for a capable and affordable full-size truck. 

Also see: The 10 best new car models of 2020

9. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee


Jeep

Our theory is that all the interest in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is fueled by Wrangler research. We imagine these shoppers asking, “How can I have the authenticity of the Wrangler but with more interior space and comfort?” Jeep Grand Cherokee is the answer. 

Check out: A first look at Toyota’s new RAV4 plug-in hybrid

10. Toyota 4Runner

In a way, the 4Runner is kind of a throw-back to a simpler era. It is an SUV and those are wildly popular, but the 4Runner has been, essentially, the same for many years. Its tough construction is better for deep mud and rugged trails than it is for highway road trips. Like the Tacoma, don’t expect a lot of huge discounts on lightly used 4Runners. They hold their value quite well.

Also see: These 3 EVs are the lowest cost to own over 5 years



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Why college students shouldn’t miss the fall term


As colleges figure out how to structure classes this fall, many students are questioning whether to enroll at all. The idea of taking a gap year might sound enticing, but returning students should think twice.

Many colleges have official gap year or deferred enrollment policies for incoming freshmen. But returning students who choose to take time off and re-enroll once the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic have passed aren’t “gappers.” They’re “stopouts,” and they face risks that don’t come with a traditional gap year.

The president and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, Betsy Mayotte, explains that colleges have individual leave of absence and withdrawal policies for students who want to take time off. Students who don’t follow those rules might end up with unexpected debt and be blocked from accessing their academic transcripts.

“I see a lot of students that just stop going to school and don’t understand why they’re being charged,” says Mayotte.

Taking a break from college this fall could derail your overall educational and financial goals. Here’s why you should stay enrolled.

You might have to reapply to get back in

Unless the college makes concessions, students without an approved leave of absence are at the mercy of the readmission policy to determine whether they can return. Even with an approved leave of absence, you can miss only 180 days in a 12-month period, according to the Department of Education’s Code of Federal Regulations.

See: Harvard and other elite schools say classes will be mostly remote this fall

Schools also don’t have to readmit students who take time off unofficially. For example, University of Arizona’s Graduate college usually requires a new application, application fee and a minimum 3.0 GPA on all previous coursework at the university before readmission.

But University of Arizona Graduate College Dean, Andrew Carnie, says the college is making exceptions for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are being very flexible with students who want to take off the fall,” says Carnie. “Students can take a leave of absence and we are approving leaves of absence retroactively. These are extraordinary circumstances.”

Communicating with your college and knowing their COVID-19 plans and policies is key. “Students have to weigh their options and look at what’s going on with their university,” says Kenneth Stephens, director of the Department of Human Services for Florida’s Southeastern University. He notes that while his school has systems in place for students dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, others are still trying to figure it out.

Some colleges allow students without a leave of absence to re-enroll after two years off with no hassle. But others, like the University of Miami or East Carolina University, require students to submit an application for readmission and pay a fee after missing only one semester of school.

You might have to make student loan payments

If you have student loans, taking time off could trigger repayment to begin. Contact your student loan servicer or lender to find out their policy.

All federal student loans are in an administrative forbearance through Sept. 30, due to a provision in the federal government’s coronavirus relief package. So until then, you don’t have to worry about your loans gaining interest or going into repayment.

But if you plan on missing the school year, you will exhaust that window and payments will begin after your six-month grace period ends. While there is speculation that the forbearance could be extended, nothing has been announced.

Federal student loans only get one grace period, so if you use it now you won’t have it available after you graduate, says Mayotte.

Related: Should you attend college next fall? Before deciding, here are all the questions you should NOT be afraid to ask

The coronavirus relief package forbearance doesn’t apply to private student loans. If you decide to stopout due to COVID-19, your private loans might enter the grace period and then head into repayment. And not all private lenders allow academic deferments for students who return to school, so you could be on the hook for loan payments even when you return to full-time student status.

You might not find stable work

Students planning to work full time must contend with the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression. The coronavirus remains a threat, and a second wave could cause more shutdowns, which might make finding and keeping a job even harder.

“I’ve had students who mentioned stopping-out, and I told them they should really think about that,” says Sharon Taylor, director of academic advising and professional enhancement at Virginia State University. “The first thing they say is they will work, and I ask them to look at how many people are out of work right now.”

Taylor advises students to continue school if they can afford it and says, “It’s better to wait out the pandemic in school than out of school.”

If you want to minimize coronavirus-related uncertainties with your school, there are options other than withdrawing completely.

  • Take a half-time schedule: Students can take fewer classes and still maintain some of their financial aid benefits while making progress toward graduation. Not all students are comfortable with online learning. Taking fewer classes will give you more flexibility in case your school shuts down early to go online.
  • Take online classes at a community college: If you need to complete general education requirements, you may be able to do them online at a local community college. That way you can save money on tuition, avoid the unknowns with in-person classes and complete graduation requirements. Before taking community college classes, check with your school to make sure the classes will transfer and that you are in compliance with your school’s dual enrollment policies.
  • Take an official leave of absence: If you decide not to take classes this fall, work with your school to take an official leave of absence. Communicate with your college to let them know why you want to take time off and when you plan to return. Make sure you ask questions about financial aid implications and try to work out exceptions to get more favorable terms with your school and loan servicer. If you have private loans, contact your lender to discuss your leave of absence and ask questions about how it will affect your loan’s status.
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