AAA predicts holiday travel will increase 4.9% over the Fourth of July weekend, with 42.3 million Americans hitting the road — or airport, train station and the like — between Tuesday, July 3, and Sunday, July 8. That's up 42% over Independence Day travel in recession-strapped 2009. Lower gas prices play into the increase. A gallon of regular averages $3.50 nationally, down 19 cents from a month ago, leading 35.5 million of those travelers to plan on piling into their car for the long weekend. Even those who fly may drive more: Rental-car rates for the holiday weekend are down 9% from a year ago, AAA says. If you're planning to pile the family in for that trip to Walley World, Volvo's tips for safe road trips is a good primer.
In other news:
- Acura design chief Toshinobu Minami concedes the brand originally received "pretty bad feedback" on its trademark shield-like grille, but he says it's here to say, Automotive News reports.
- Benz Insider says Smart will offer an Iceshine edition of the ForTwo this fall, complete with black-and-white leather seats and unique white paint.
- Ford opened a new research facility in California's Silicon Valley to develop in-car electronics and research driver distraction, The Detroit Free Press reports.
- GM may revive the Buick Electra, a nameplate used in decades past. Automotive News reports the company applied to register the nameplate with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Automotive News also says a redesigned Porsche Cayman, with underpinnings and drivetrains tied to the recently redesigned Boxster, will debut at this fall's Los Angeles Auto Show.