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That New Car Smell 

by Clint Burgess

The fact is that it's impossible to maintain that new car smell in your car after a certain number of years. Odors take over, spills happen, and there's always something that makes its way down between the seats that can contribute to some funk in your ride. But all is not lost. Technology exists that can take the stank out of your car. That's right,

I'm talking about the often-overlooked phenomenon known as car air fresheners.

This portion of the automotive accessory world is sometimes forgotten. Recently, the buzz in toys for your car have been about DVD players and satellite radio. But forget getting a datable member of the opposite sex in your vehicle if the stench is too much to handle. This week, I'll rate just a few of what the air freshener market has to offer and possibly save some reputations in the process.

The first freshener is the ever-popular leaf model. This particular leaf is yellow, which is a bit on the loud side to have hanging from your rear-view mirror. But the aroma -- a smooth vanilla -- makes up for that. The styling in the leaf gives a classic look as far as fresheners go, and it also gives a Northwest feel to your cockpit.

Next up is the always cool Hawaiian shirt print air freshener. The unit is actually shaped like a shirt, and you can't wrong with the Hawaiian print these days. "Ocean Surf" is the official title of the fragrance, but this aroma could rival any of the strongest men's deodorants on the market. It is almost too much on the nasal passages -- but if you like your man in cologne, this is the freshener for you. As the package says, it can last as long as seven weeks. Combine that with the fact that there are three of these bad boys in one package, and this is the most effective buy for your buck.

Air fresheners can be fun, too. Take the SpongeBob SquarePants, for example. Classically styled in a square shape to give that authentic SquarePants feel, this is my pick for the most stylish of the fresheners reviewed here. The bright yellow SpongeBob face is there glaring back at you from the rear-view, helping you calm down after getting cut off trying to merge onto I-90. As if it really matters what this bold freshener smells like, it does give off a pleasant, almost woodsy smell that the manufacturer categorizes as "Outdoor Breeze."

Perhaps the holy grail of car freshness, that beloved "New Car Scent" is the smell that triggers memories of the day we drove our new car off the lot and the accompanying odor that made the purchase that much more exciting. This is why the air freshener shaped as a tree that smells like the interior of that new car just pulled off the lot gets my vote for best freshener of all. It blends the perfect amount of perfumed fragrances with spices and just a touch of some mystery ingredient to combine for the perfect aroma.

Publication date: 12/02/04

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