A Platter of Thoughts · Travel

2018 Toyota Avalon


I’ll keep this little review short and sweet. The new 2018 Toyota Avalon had great comfort, quality and impressive fuel economy. We drove all around and had a little mini getaway a couple of weeks ago in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania, and the fuel mileage was great.

The kids loved that they had enough leg room to stretch out in the back seat. This has now become one of my favorite sedans. It also had great speed and performance on all those windy mountain roads. A pleasantly surprising feature was the automatic high beams that came in handy on dark roads.

I think this is the perfect car for parents with grown kids or even a family just starting out. Also there are an abundance of airbags, five-star crash-test ratings, and advanced active safety tech. Which to me is super important when traveling with a family. Visit https://www.toyota.com for more information.



2017 AMG C43 Cabriolet Mercedes Benz


Mercedes Benz has been on the top of my list of cars to try.  It met all of my expectations from the sleek exterior look to the stylish interior.  I have been reviewing different car brands now for a couple of years, and some brands I feel spend more time on making the exterior eye catching, but not focusing on the interior.  Mercedes Benz has exceeded on both. 

The 2017 C43 Cabriolet isn’t your typical sporty car.  It also has a luxury feel to it.  While I had the vehicle, the family and I took on a trip up to the mountains.  This is about a two hour drive from where we live.  Now mind you my kids are 7 and 8.  The backseat of the C43 had the perfect amount of space for a comfortable cruise.  The ride was absolutely smooth on those twists and turns up the mountain.  The C43 will do 0-60 in 4.6 seconds which is impressive.
Prior to the mountain venture, I headed into the city for a fantastic event with some great chefs and well known people.  As I pulled up to valet, heads turned to notice the convertible top returning to it’s closed position.  Another woman noticed and asked what model it was, because she was in the market for something sporty that exhibited class.  If you’re in the market for something like that, then this is the perfect vehicle. 
It is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbo engine that delivers 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque.  Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.  The C43 has five drive modes, and the AMG Ride Control sport suspension with adaptive variable damping offers three stages that can be selected via a button by the driver. All these features at the touch of your finger tips.  
  • First-ever C-Class convertible
  • C300 and Mercedes-AMG C43 variants
  • Fabric, multi-layer, acoustic, power soft top
  • Standard AirScarf neck-warming system
  • Standard heat-reflective leather seats
  • Climate system adjusts to top position
Also here are some features:
Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature
Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Jets And Reservoir
Chrome Grille
Power Convertible Top w/Lining, Glass Rear Window, Automatic Roll-Over Protection and Manual Wind Blocker
Radio: Audio 20 – Radio w/Single CD & Bluetooth -inc: two USB ports, Bluetooth technology for handsfree phone use and audio streaming and central controller w/7″ high-mounted tablet-style color display
8 Speakers
Heated Front Seats
Power Passenger Seat w/Memory -inc: adjustable thigh support
Collision Prevention Assist Plus Forward Collision
Blind Spot Assist Blind Spot Sensor
Back-Up Camera
Driver And Passenger Knee Airbag
These are just a few of the endless features the C43 has to offer. 
MPG is City 19 and highway 26. All in all I give the 2017 AMG C43 a 9.5 out of 10. For more information visit https://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/index
Checkout video below


2017 Hyundai Elantra

As I mentioned in my previous, post the family and I went away to the beautiful Kalahari.  This trip was about 2 hours from our house, and traveling with kids you want comfort in a vehicle.  I had the opportunity to take the 2017 Hyundai Elantra on the road for this trip. It’s a small compact car, but was actually comfortable. The passenger space in the back was small but comfortable and standard.  This car is perfect for a couple that is just starting out or maybe for a college graduate. 

  • Quiet, comfortable cabin, especially at highway speeds
  • Lots of available technology and safety features
  • Classy and thoughtfully laid-out interior design
  • Underwhelming performance from base engine
  • Dual-clutch transmission feels clunky during slow-speed acceleration 
  • More steering effort required than in most cars in this class
  • Limited cabin space 

Luxury car technology

Elantra is the compact sedan with just about every popular luxury and technology feature. Available features include: Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay™, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen with segment-first Clari-Fi™ Music Restoration Technology and rearview camera, plus Smart Cruise Control, just to name a few.

Safety is key, especially being a parent of 2 little ones. The Elantra has Seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. The list of advanced safety features is long and impressive, and includes available Blind Spot Detection and Automatic Emergency Braking with segment-first Pedestrian Detection—a feature not offered on most compact class sedans.

Thanks at Driveshop for providing me with the opportunity. Visit https://www.hyundaiusa.com/ for more information.  


2016 Mazda CX 5


The Mazda CX 5 is a perfect little crossover, offering a great drive and comfort.  Mazda CX 5 receives several improvements intended to refine its appearance, enhance its functionality, update its technology, and polish its driving dynamics.

After a week of running around to taking my kids to school and to after school activities I can see why Mazda is popular with families.  It’s convenient interior space, and comfortable seating alone makes it worth while, but the overall package is amazing as well. 
The interior of the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is designed for both functionality and modern style. Front seats are roomy enough to make any driving position easy to settle into with plenty of support. The backseat is spacious for passengers. On models equipped with a folding seatback, the mechanism lowers the seat bottom before the seat itself folds to provide a floor that is as near to flat as possible for your cargo needs.
Available features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, a Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, satellite radio, navigation, a power moonroof, a rearview camera, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and low-speed automatic braking with forward collision warning.
Gas mileage manages 24 mpg city, 30 highway with all-wheel drive.
All in all this is a great crossover.  I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
Visit Mazda for more information https://www.mazdausa.com/

2017 Mazda 6


Here’s another great car addition to my review list. When you have to be on the road for either work or pleasure, I think the 2017 Mazda 6 can provide that. Comfortable seating and roomie interior is key to an enjoyable drive. As a family of 4 we really enjoyed this sedan.
Mazda now offers SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS with G-Vectoring Control, to help achieve a smoother, less fatiguing drive. When cornering, on initial turn-in and throughout, the system works seamlessly by adjusting power delivery and shifting vehicle weight.

Its style gives it a sleek appearance and the strong engine gives a sporty feel. The 2017 Mazda 6 is a midsize sedan with seating for five.
Standard features for the Sport trim include: 17-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats with lumbar support for the driver, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a rearview camera, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with voice control, text messaging capabilities, a 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker CD player with auxiliary/USB input, HD radio and internet streaming radio.

The EPA estimates fuel economy at 28 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway) for models with the manual transmission. The Mazda 6 has strong safety ratings in all forms. Making it a safe ride for the family.

All in all I give this an 8 out of 10. Visit https://www.mazdausa.com for more details.


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport


December has been such a busy month from holiday shopping to TV segments and events.  While doing all this running around, I had the opportunity to try out the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  My opinion on this car before I go into the break down, is it’s a great little inexpensive vehicle with many uses.

The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has a four-cylinder base engine, and a five-speed manual and automatic transmission is standard.  The acceleration on this is not on the strong side, and perhaps that’s my real complaint.  It’s a 24/31 mpg city/highway with the CVT. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. The Outlander Sport’s ride is smooth and comfortable.

The cabin design I thought could use some updating, but both rows of seats are supportive and somewhat roomy.   The infotainment system is generally easy to use, although the one I drove did not have navigation which made things a little harder.  The Outlander Sport has good cargo capacity for the class.

 Available features include push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a navigation system with a 7-inch touch screen and voice recognition.
The 2016 Outlander Sport has 21.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 49.5 with them folded. The available panoramic sunroof was pretty cool, and one of the biggest ones I have seen; although it does not open. The trunk was perfect for all the shopping or traveling that some of us have to do. 
All in all I give this a 6 out of 10.


Lincoln MKX


I have been wanting to try out a Lincoln car or SUV for a very long time.  They always looked like fine luxurious vehicles.  Boy was I right.  It has everything plus more.  I was part of the NYCWFF last week and I got to enjoy this beautiful ride as my main source of transportation. 


The 2016 Lincoln MKX is a larger, more sophisticated midsize luxury crossover, than its previous model.  It’s technology features, and a unique premium sound system, give the Lincoln an extra edge.  The MKX shares some similarities with its cousin the Ford Edge. 
Standard safety features on the Lincoln MKX include a rearview camera, multiple airbags, passive anti-theft system, post-crash alert system, tire pressure monitoring, child-safe rear door locks, perimeter alarm, and passive anti-theft system.
Several additional safety features are available individually on select trim levels.  This includes inflatable rear outboard safety belts, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, and the Enhanced Security Package which requires a valid coded key to avoid drive away theft and electronic lockable storage.
That touch screen controls most of the MKX’s technology, including the audio system, navigation, 360-degree camera system, climate control and 22-way power seats.

You put the MKX into gear with a row of buttons on the left side of the console’s 8-inch touch screen.
Front seats are plush with rich leather surfaces and an easy-chair feel that gives the driver and passenger a relaxing ride.  They’re easily adjustable for varying heights helping ensure good visibility.  Did I also mention that the seats give you a massage?  Yes a massage, just the right amount for a long road trip. 
Rear seats are equally comfortable, although the middle seat isn’t suited for long drives.  It is incredibly roomy with 39.2 inches of headroom and 39.6 inches of leg room
As most of Lincoln’s models, the exterior design of the 2016 MKX represents a significant departure from the previous model.  The newcomer now has the company’s corporate look with split-wing grille, elegant side profile, and new, blade-like headlights.  Those changes result in well-balanced proportions and give the vehicle a rather interesting and appealing look.
I give the Lincoln a 9 out of 10. For more information visit http://www.lincoln.com/crossovers/mkx/

2017 Ford Escape


I finally had the opportunity to try out the 2017 Ford Escape. This is the first time I was able to try out a ford and I have to say I was quiet pleased. The car has some great features.

The popular small crossover SUV has come a long way from its debut in 2001. It uses the latest update of Ford’s Sync voice-command system. It also gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integrated into the infotainment system. Which was a convenient feature. It was like having your iPhone right on the screen.
Ford Escape offers three engines: The 2.5L with independent variable cam design (iVCT). The available 1.5L EcoBoost® iVCT, the most fuel-efficient Escape engine.* And for more punch at the pedal, the available 2.0L EcoBoost with twin-scroll turbocharger. Both EcoBoost engines feature fuel-saving and emissions-conscious Auto Start-Stop Technology.
*EPA-estimated rating of 23 city/30 hwy/26 combined mpg.
2017 Escape is smarter than ever. Available technology can alert you to unintentional lane drift, warn you of a vehicle in your blind spot, auto-maneuver you into (or out of) a tight parking spot, or open the available hands-free, foot-operated liftgate with just a gentle kick under the rear bumper. And the EcoBoost® engines feature Auto Start-Stop Technology to help save fuel when you’re driving in the city.

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Additional technology making its first appearance in an Escape includes adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and brake pre-conditioning; lane-assist alert and active lane aid, which makes steering corrections; and enhanced parking assist (the driver operates the pedals and gearshift, the system controls the steering), which now performs in parallel and perpendicular parking situations.
Returning to the Escape for 2017 are blind-spot monitoring, hill-start assist, automatic high beams, and the vaunted foot-activated tailgate.
Escape Titanium with the most powerful engine, all the tech that matters and upgraded cabin materials and amenities, and the price climbs just above $38,000. That’s fairly pricey for this class, but Ford crams in a lot of features for the money.
A new Sport Appearance package equips the Escape SE or the Escape Titanium with blacked-out exterior trim, blacked-out 19-in. wheels, dark-tinted headlight bezels and taillights, partial-leather seats with a V-shaped pattern, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shiftier.
The 2017 Ford Escape has more padded materials giving a high-quality look. Ford also adjusted the design of the center console, moving the shiftier back to provide easier access to the climate controls and switching to an electronic parking brake to free up more space for storage. Improved sound insulation means the Escape is about as quiet as a luxury vehicle on the highway.
Escape’s front seats are comfortable and wide, though the back seats provide a pretty spacious back seat for the small SUV.The Escape shares a new 6-sided grille with the Edge and Fusion sedan. The bumper has been equipped with a huge center cut-out with two small hollows. Fog lights sit below the headlights.
All in all I give this an 8 out of 10. It’s an outstanding car with great features. Make sure to check out your local ford dealer for a test drive or visit http://www.ford.com/dealerships/locate

Volvo XC60 T6 AWD


I have been wanting to try a Volvo out for a while now. I have heard so many amazing things about them being top rated on safety, which to us having 2 littles ones is a must when reviewing cars. The XC60 received a top five-star rating in government crash tests for overall, frontal and side crash protection. It also received the best possible rating of “Good” in all of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash tests, which is a rare achievement. Finally, the 2016 XC60 received a rating of “Superior” for its frontal crash prevention technology. One of the greatest features as a parent other the safety is the car has built in carseats. It’s so convenient and from what I hear it’s so comfortable. 

The exterior of the XC60 T6 AWD is a small luxury crossover. It’s has a modern look with some sleek touches. I love the back of the car which offers a stylish look, but I think the front could be amped up a bit in terms of style. 
The interior offers seating for 5 along with the built in car seats.  XC60 cabin is a modern design. Volvo offers comfortable and supportive front seats, and is great for long road trips. The middle console is okay. I think that could be worked on. The screen is very tiny, which makes it hard to navigate at times.  I wasn’t a big fan of the middle console.  I think Volvo could change that up to make it more convenient for the driver and passenger. 
The drive is easily the highlight of this vehicle. The pick up on the car is amazing and provides you with great acceleration.  It also offers great fuel efficiency, better perhaps than any of the other vehicles I’ve had the pleasure of testing.  I could easily see myself driving one of these every day.
All in all I give this car an 8.5 out of 10 for me. Volvo has come a long way from its boxy look and is high on the scale of classy vehicles. Visit http://www.volvocars.com/us

2016 Nissan Murano Platinum

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I had the opportunity to try out a Nissan Murano for a week. This was the perfect week for it because we had plans to go up to the Pocono mountains. The Murano has to be one of my top 3 favorite cars that I have tried.
Murano has a sleek exterior and luxury interior. The comfort level of the seats were outstanding. Front & Rear Zero Gravity Seats developed to simulate the weightlessness of space, Murano’s zero gravity seats may help reduce fatigue. Then there is the Available Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. This clever system not only shows you a clear image of what’s directly behind you, it gives you a virtual 360° bird’s eye view of your surroundings, which helps make parking a whole lot easier. The competition offers backup and rearview cameras only.


I love how spacious this car was especially with 2 kids. It gave us lots of room for comfortable travel. The Murano delivered what is most important in comfort, style and safety. The Platinum, which is what I had, has features like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and power-folding rear seats. The interior had fancy marble/metallic trim; just beautiful. Also we were getting 27 mpg on the highway and 22 in the city.

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