Online UPDATE

March 18, 2005



Drive very carefully if you own this car

The Kia Spectra got the first "poor" rating in a frontal crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety since 2001. In a 40-mph, front-crash test, the head of a crash dummy in the small Korean-made sedan went out the open side window and struck the doorframe. A driver could sustain possible injuries to the neck, chest, and legs.

The Mazda3 and the Hyundai Elantra got top ratings in the same crash test, which means that a driver wearing a seat belt would most likely be able to walk away with only minor injuries.

Funds have poor voting record on global warming

Only three of the 28 companies controlling the 100 largest mutual funds voted last year in support of climate change proxy resolutions, says a study authored by the Investor Responsibility Research Center, a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC. American Century Investments, Columbia Funds, and the Janus Funds voted in favor of some shareholder proposals calling for more corporate disclosures about the financial impacts of global warming. Yet even those firms cast most of their votes to either oppose or abstain on climate change proposals.

Airfares: Snooze, you lose

Don't procrastinate about buying airline tickets. Waiting until six days before departure will cost you an average of 152 percent more than if you bought the ticket a day earlier, says Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm. Finalizing your plans more than two weeks ahead of time has an even bigger payback: You'll avoid paying nearly three times more compared to what you'd pay if you booked less than seven days before departure.