Vehicles Archive

Ford Explorer Limited with Inflatable Seatbelt Technology – the kids, carseats & boosters review

Beginning with the 2011 model year, Ford began offering their rear seat Inflatable Seatbelt Technology as an option on their popular Explorer midsize SUV. We were intrigued from the moment we became aware of Ford’s intention to incorporate airbag technology into backseat seatbelts. Sure, it sounded like an impressive and innovative way to help manage and better distribute energy in a crash. And the benefits for kids and the elderly (who are the most vulnerable occupants wearing an adult seatbelt) were obvious. But we had tons of questions, as did everyone else in the field of child passenger safety field.

The best way for us to try to answer them was to get our hands on a vehicle with this technology. Thanks to our friends at Ford, I had a week to try to figure it all out. This review is specific to the 7-passenger 2012 Explorer Limited model with the inflatable seatbelt technology.

The model I drove had a 3.5L V6 TIV CT Engine with 6 speed selectshift transmission. Estimated MPG is 17 City / 23 HW. The exterior color was a gorgeous “Red Candy” and the interior was Charcoal Black perforated leather. In addition to everything that comes standard with the Limited trim model (too much to list), this particular vehicle was also equipped with a voice activated nav system, luxury seating package, powerfold 3rd row seats, power liftgate, blind spot monitoring system, rear inflatable belts, active park assist, adaptive cruise/collision warning, rain sensing wipers and HID projector headlamps. And as if that wasn’t enough, it also had the optional trailer tow package and 20″ aluminum rims.  :)


Chicago Auto Show: What’s New?

Darren and I recently spent a day hard at work at the Chicago Auto Show. We had hoped to discover a lot of new, innovative designs for families, especially in the mid-size SUV or minivan range. Sadly, there isn’t really much to report.

We thought Kia might have a prototype of the rumored new Sedona, but alas, there were no minivans in their showing.

I really looked forward to seeing the passenger version of Ford’s Transit Connect Wagon. Until now, the Transit Connect van and wagon have been geared toward cargo-hauling businesses, but Ford is now going to market a version for families. It will come in a two-row model (to seat five) and a three-row model (to seat seven). Unfortunately, they only had the two-row passenger version on display, and I wasn’t very impressed.

First, there was very little cargo room behind the back seat. Second…it’s not attractive. It’s a minivan with the looks of a slightly more modern cargo van. Not very aesthetically pleasing.

Before I saw it, I thought it might serve as competition for the large Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Nissan NV, but it likely won’t. Those two dwarf the Transit Connect in size and passenger capacity. There might be some benefits, though. The seats fold flat for great cargo room (if you don’t need them for passengers), and it will come with Ford’s Ecoboost engine, which should result in great gas mileage.

Beyond that… I found a couch I’d really love to have.

Also, Darren did a great job pretending to be scared by the zombies at Hyundai’s display.

So, those are my observations from the Auto Show. Just between us, I think the Transit Connect would be a way better choice than the Elantra during a zombie apocalypse.

Showdown: Darren vs. Jennie at the Chicago Auto Show


Yes, it turns out women are better drivers!


Toyota Prius V: Kids, Carseats & Safety Review. Which Hybrid for Your Family?

I reviewed the third generation 2010 Toyota Prius a few years ago.  Starting with model year 2012, Toyota gives those seeking great fuel economy a roomier version for both passengers and cargo.  The standard Prius hatchback has a lot of compromises for fitting carseats in back, so I’ll take a closer look at seating for both kids and adults in back.

The driving experience of the Prius V wagon is actually a lot like the typical Prius.  It’s not sporty, it’s not particularly quiet, and the ride isn’t the smoothest.  Still, you’re not buying it for luxury, you’re buying it for the 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, which I pretty easily topped in warm weather conditions around town.  Make no mistake, the “V” isn’t for “Van”.  The Prius V simply isn’t an alternative to a minivan or midsize SUV, as some other reviews might suggest.  In terms of size, it’s a nice alternative to a compact SUV or a midsize wagon.


Tesla S Review: The Electric Car You’ll Want to Buy

Over a year ago, my dh let me know that a new electric car company, Tesla, was taking pre-orders for their cars. The Tesla was going to be an all-electric plug-in car, just what he wanted. Matt had looked at the Prius, and we had the Lexus CT 200h for a while (and his mom even has one!), but they just weren’t what he was looking for. This new Tesla Model S had the perfect combination of geek: lots of electronics, lots of batteries, lots of flash. Could he please, please, please buy this new car? Please? How could I disappoint him? Besides, when one back is scratched . . .

Anyway, the kids had a day off school early in November so we decided to maximize the fun by taking a trip to Disneyland. We’ve been there many, many times and were season pass holders at one point, so we were looking forward to the trip. But this trip was different because Tesla Motors recently opened a small showroom in the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach, and that was the real point of the trip, right? Even the kids were excited to take a test drive in daddy’s new car because after all, we’ve heard about this car every day, several times a day—many times a day. For.The.Past.Year. Matt has even already wired an outlet in the garage in anticipation of plugging in his new car, even though its arrival isn’t expected until probably February. I really wanted to see the car to make sure the company that’s had our money for over a year is living up to its promises.

So let’s talk about driving Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year, shall we? It was made Car of the Year for a reason, right? Yup.