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Vehicles Archive

The All-New 2013 Lexus ES 350/ES 300H Review

The Lexus ES introduced luxury and top safety features to mid-size car buyers in 1989. This August, Lexus will release the all-new 2013 Lexus ES 350, a sixth-generation version of the workhorse that started out with 156 hp and now has 268 hp @6200 rpm. For the first time, a hybrid version of the ES, the 300H, will also be released. Vroom vroom!

Sleek new styling includes a spindle grille that gives the ES a lean, mean look that the younger crowd will like yet won’t turn off those of us with more gray than brown. The ES 350 also has sporty dual exhaust pipes and flared fenders for a bolder appearance. Some of the design features are made for aerodynamics and sound reduction: the side mirrors are set off of the windows just a bit to reduce wind noise and it works. The windshield is acoustic glass, which has a plastic film compressed between two layers of glass that helps reduce sound (ok, does anyone else cringe at the thought of replacing that?).

Crazy Woman With Carseats (& large blond doll) Invades Serious Automotive Event!

Last week I had a date with some guy that I met on the internet. It was pretty awesome as far as first dates go. We met at Bear Mountain State Park, took a few nice rides together and got all sweaty in the backseat of a vehicle!  Then we had lunch, hung out in a $400,000 Rolls-Royce and had some fun with my BubbleBum. Seriously, how can you top that?

Okay, since we’re both married I guess I should elaborate before someone winds up served with divorce papers. The guy is new CPS Tech “Nopanegain” (aka Brett) and we met online at car-seat.org. Since we’re both New Yorkers, we struck up a little conversation and found out that we share many of the same interests.  Brett has been a serious automotive journalist for more years than I’ve been alive (haha – just kidding, Brett!) and he’s got a lot of connections. He gets invited to cool automotive events that I don’t even realize exist.  Since this particular event (where they allow the select group of invited journalists to drive all the vehicles present) was going on in my neck of the woods, he invited me to join him.  I was lured by the eloquence of this one particular line in his invitation:  “If you are a car person, you’ll basically crap your pants.”  ROFL!  I’m sold, dude!!

Here’s a peek at how we spent our grueling day at the International Motor Press “Spring Brake”. I hope all our readers will appreciate the sacrifices that we made and the hardships that we endured to bring you this very important information. Unlike the rest of the attendees, we were more interested in exploring the backseat than we were in zipping around on the park’s back roads. I know that sounds so lame but that’s how true CPS geeks roll!

2012 Jaguar XK Coupe in Crystal Blue: Beautiful luxury vehicle. Not sure why they bothered to make it a 4-seater, though. I guess the backseat is really meant for your briefcase/handbag/miniature purebred in a puppy tote. My head hit the roof back there! But we were determined to find a functional cps solution for that seating position. BubbleBum and Huggable Images to the rescue!  

            

 

2012 Fiat 500 Arbarth: Considerably less luxurious but cool nonetheless. Rear seat only accommodates two but is surprisingly roomy for a vehicle so compact. Rear-facing seats will be a very big challenge. We installed a Chicco KeyFit30 and rear-facing Britax Roundabout 55 but that left no room for anyone taller than 5′ in the front seat. I’m 5’4″ and my knees were crammed painfully into the door of the glovebox with the RA55 installed behind me. On the flip side, due to the contour of the back of the front seats – I had enough leg room to sit comfortably in back so forward-facing carseats and kids in boosters may not be a problem.  

          

 

2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II saloon: Hands-down the most awesome vehicle I’ve ever sat in. I’m totally sold. Now I just need to come up with about $420, 000 plus taxes, title and fees. The optional $4k sheepskin floor mats are not optional at all. Those are a necessity – trust me. I have no desire to actually drive the vehicle myself. I just want to sit in the back seat, drink Champagne in excess and eat Grey Poupon straight from the jar. As for kids and carseats – even though the backseat is wide enough to easily fit any combination of CRs, I wouldn’t dream of allowing children or carseats in this vehicle. Not even a Foonf (sorry, Clek). Hey, that’s what the Au Pair’s Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon is for!  Hence the lack of carseat pictures in the Rolls-Royce. Even *I* would not defame and disrespect this vehicle in that way.

              

 

2012 Bentley Supersports Convertible: Another outrageous luxury convertible that costs more than many average American homes. I would have loved to try some real installs in this vehicle but we only had a few minutes with it. Just enough time to grab the BubbleBum and the 6 year old Huggable Images doll again! The looks we got walking around with these things were priceless!  

      

 

It was a fun and fantastic day and I’m greatly indebted to my new friend Brett for the experience!  I do have more to share but it’s boring stuff that might actually be useful to our readers so that’s going to wait for another day. Stay tuned!

 

The UN-Minivan: 2012 Dodge Durango Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

Looking to drop the minivan mom (or dad) image?  This is your baby.  It’s the 2012 Dodge Durango R/T AWD.  Sure, it’s nicely styled looking from the back or side, especially with the 20-inch Aluminum wheels standard on R/T trim, but one look from the front lets you know that this is no glorified station wagon.  A look under the hood at the 360 horsepower, 5.7 liter HEMI V8 confirms it. There’s icing on this cake, too.  It’s got enough room to make the third row usable and leave some cargo space behind it as well. Plus, it’s a superb highway cruiser, as I learned on a last-minute road trip.

Living an Authentic Life – with a Hybrid

There is a saying that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Actually, it’s a nice book you can buy here.  I mentioned that here in this blog last September. Back then, I was in a writing frenzy, and actually penned a second piece – but alas, it wasn’t published by the overlording editors who run this site.   Perhaps I was too critical of a certain webmaster that I happen to be married to…

But redemption has come, and I’ve been invited back.

The premise of the book is that the essence of your unique individual soul can’t help but show up in absolutely everything you do. It will always bleed through.  So, just in the first 113 words of this essay, you might guess that I mildly enjoy challenging the status quo, sharing my insights to inspire others, and often relish in borderline exhibitionist “look at me, I’m the good one” – or as some prefer to  call it, self-righteousness. And honestly, you wouldn’t be wrong. I do my best to contain it, but there is so much vitality and juiciness there, it is lifegiving and fun to play with it on occasion.  Living an authentic life and loving (or simply un-exiling) your authentic self has a habit of doing that.

How many of you pretend to be other? How much fun are you having being that?  How many shades of grey would you trade for a single burst of color? Serious questions to ponder. When you are done with this blog, take a 6 minute soul break and watch this video -  http://soulbiographies.com/an-uncontained-life/ . I subscribe to this series and get an inspiring short film in my inbox every Monday morning. It helps start the week in a nice way.

And now for the segue – what in the world does that have to do with cars, namely hybrids?

2012 Mazda CX-9 Quick Review and Video: Kids, Carseats & Safety

Here is a quick video review of the midsize crossover SUV offering from Mazda. The CX-9 is well-balanced and very nice overall. Among other SUVs in its class, I find that it ranks above average in most every category, though perhaps standing out in no particular category. There’s simply aren’t any major things most people will find objectionable about it, though I did manage to come up with my usual list of minor annoyances, if only for the sake of completeness. It’s among the larger midsize models, similar to the Honda Pilot and Buick Enclave we have reviewed. It handles pretty well for such a large vehicle, while at the same time having decent road noise and ride comfort qualities. That’s a trade-off some manufacturers never seem to balance well. The styling, both interior and exterior, are quite nice as well.

In terms of child passenger seating, the second row is just wide enough to fit three-across with careful selection of carseats.  The middle seat isn’t quite as functional as the one in the Honda Pilot, but certainly more useful than the handy removable seat in the Toyota Highlander.  The second row moves back far enough to allow for installation of a rear-facing seat and still leave some legroom in the front seats.  The only issue I had in the second row was that the seatbelt buckle stalk for the passenger side seemed to get lost easily, making it hard for my son to find in order to buckle himself in a booster.  The LATCH anchors are somewhat recessed and angled downward a bit, but shouldn’t be a problem for most carseats.  That did make installation of the rigid LATCH Clek Oobr take a few extra seconds to install!  Here’s an overview video; apologies for the windy Chicago weather on the audio!