Hit of the Party: 2017 Dodge Durango R/T RWD

– By Melanie Droz Shawcroftmelaniedroz_headshot4

My oldest son just turned six, and this year marks his final overindulgent, overcrowded and over budget birthday bash. From now on, I will take five friends on an understated adventure. One thing that was definitely not over embellished at the party was the 2017 Dodge Durango we were able to test drive while preparing for the shindig.

The Durango is the perfect mix of luxury, convenience and performance — similar to the perfect mix of water slide, snow cone and hot dog at Berrett’s party. The power liftgate made it easy to get all the party supplies in the Durango. With the third-row down and the second-row fold and tumble seats, we were able to create 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Enough room for 80 hotdogs, 80 buns, 10 bags of chips, two giant watermelons and a giant, inflatable water slide we borrowed from a wonderful friend.

The luxury offered by the 2017 Durango almost kept me from getting to the party on time. With 112-degree heat outside, I remained cool in the Durango with the Three-zone automatic temperature control, which kept me comfortable in the driver’s seat and all my cargo cool in the back. I was able to use the Remote Start System before getting in the SUV after each stop and the black/red luxury leather was also kept cool throughout the day. The red is definitely hot in the Durango and so is the power sunroof, rear DVD entertainment center, and 20-inch and 88-inch low gloss granite crystal wheels.

As I realized I was running late and still had to inflate this ginormous water slide, I put the Durango to the test. The 5.7-liter V8 Hemi MDS VVT engine is no joke. You can hear the Durango coming. Even though I hustled to get home, I felt safe with the numerous airbags, anti-lock 4-wheel disc heavy duty brakes and sport suspension. With all the party necessities within just miles of our home, I thought the average 17 mpg city/highway wasn’t too bad. I also think the cost of the 2017 Dodge Durango isn’t much more than what we have spent on birthday parties over the last six years. I would be happy to pay $49,670 for an SUV that comes with SIRIUS XM, blind spot and cross path detection and Uconnect navigation versus the amount I have paid for snow cone trucks, a visit from Captain America and pizza and hot dogs over the past six years.

The party was a big hit — we definitely overdid it, but there is nothing like the smile on your baby’s face and the hugs, kisses and thank you’s he gives you all day long. Well, the 2017 Dodge Durango may be something like that — that gloss black crosshair grille set off by LED daytime running lamps looks a bit like a glowing smile.


The “ALTIMAte” CEO & The 2016 Altima 2.5 SL


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– By Cathy Droz & Melanie Droz Shawcroft

I often wonder when reviewing a vehicle who makes all the decisions other than designers, marketing and engineering? Who is the CEO of the company?  Why were they chosen?  You hear a lot about Mary Barra and former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, but what about some of the other brands, like Nissan?  When reviewing the 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL, my daughter Melanie and I decided we needed to know five solid reasons why Carlos Ghosn was the chosen one for Nissan.  What we didn’t realize was there must be 100 reasons why.  We’ll give just a few and then we’ll give you five reasons why you should add the 2016 Nissan Altima on to your car shopping list this year.

Carlos Ghosn is CEO of Nissan…Did you Know?carlos-nissan-with-leaf

  1. Forbes Magazine called him “the hardest-working man in the brutally competitive global car business”.  He splits his time between Paris and Tokyo and logs in over 150,000 miles in airplanes per year. Japanese media have called him “Seven-Eleven” (works hard from morning till night”)
  2. He holds both Brazilian and French citizenship.  He speaks four languages fluently: French, Portuguese, English, and Arabic and has studied Japanese.  He also maintains ties to Lebanon, where he lived for 10 years. In fact he has been hailed as a potential presidential candidate in Lebanon.  He has declined all political overtures.
  3. Beginning in 2001, Ghosn’s life story was turned into a superhero comic book series in Japan, titled The true story of Carlos Ghosn, in the manga comic book Big Comic Superior.  In some Tokyo Restaurants he has a bento box named after him. (Bento box is a businessman’s lunch.)
  4. Carlos has been the subject of a number of books in English, Japanese and French.  Some of them are:  Shift: Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival, Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan, The Ghosn Factor: 24 Inspiring Lessons from Carlos Ghosn, the Most Successful Transnational CEO.
  5. Ghosn’s quest for the development of Nissan’s line of zero-emission electric cars.  The Nissan Leaf, is the world’s first mass-produced zero-emission electric vehicle.  Ghosn authorized more than $5 billion to bring the Leaf and other derivative electric cars to market.

 nissan-altima-2016The 2016 Altima 2.5 SL – Did you Know?

  1. Similar to the legend who runs the Nissan operation, the 2016 Altima works extremely hard to beat the competition in its class. With a 2.5-liter 4-cyliner engine, Xtronic continuously variable transmission and active understeer control, this vehicle has the ability to travel many miles on the 17” machined aluminum-alloy wheels without breaking the gasoline bank. With an average of 31 miles per gallon, it would be easy to log 150,000 miles a year, just like the workhorse Ghosn.
  2. This 2016 Nissan Altima is also very worldly, like the CEO.  Hailing from Japan, the Altima also has the ability to speak English, French or Spanish through the NissanConnect Navigation system available with the optional technology package. This features the 7”touch-screen color display with Nissan voice recognition, Sirius XM, Intelligent cruise control, remote start via Smartphone and stolen vehicle locator (just to name a few). With qualities like this, the Altima may be a legitimate presidential candidate as well.
  3. The Altima, despite not having its own comic book like Ghosn, has superhero safety nissanaltimaconnectfeatures that make this sedan feel secure. With driver and front passenger, side-impact and curtain airbags along with the traction control system and electronic brake force distribution, I am sure Nissan would encourage their fearless leader, their most precious cargo (Ghosn) to drive the streets in the Altima. He could even keep his Bento Box lunch warm on the Heated Zero Gravity front seats.
  4. A passenger can definitely enjoy reading one of Carlos’ books in the comfort and convenience of the Altima. One can stay cool with the dual zone automatic temperature control and rear A/C vents in the leather appointed seats or keep relaxed in the 4-way power front-passenger’s seat. Both front and back passengers can enjoy the optional power sliding moonroof with tilt while catching up on Nissan’s Historic Revival.
  5. Although Ghosn has authorized more than $5 billion towards electric cars, one can get in the 2016 Nissan Altima for an MSRP of just $28,570 and with a few of the options I mentioned $32,510. Just like there may be more than 100 reasons Ghosn was selected as the CEO of Nissan, the Altima must have more than 100 features that make it a viable choice on your car shopping list.

For more on the Nissan Altima and other Nissan products go to www.nissanusa.com


2016 Toyota Avalon: Is It A City Or A Car?


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– By Cathy Droz 

The name Avalon was not familiar to me until I moved to the West coast and had a chance to visit beautiful Catalina Island. As you arrive into Avalon Harbor, via high-speed passenger boat, you are immediately impressed with the picturesque setting including lush trees and endless mountains. I wanted to know more about Avalon, both the city and the car.

Five Interesting facts about Avalon the city:Avalon for Auto Review

  • It is the only incorporated city on Santa Catalina Island of the California Channel Islands, and the southernmost city in Los Angeles County.
  • Avalon was first settled in pre-modern times by members of the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe. From the late 19th century to the early 20th, several different developers tried to grow Avalon into a resort destination community, but most went bankrupt.
  • In 1919, William Wrigley Jr. (of chewing gum fame and fortune) gained control of Avalon. Wrigley oversaw must of the development of Avalon including the landmark of the Casino. Wrigley is buried on the island. I know because I went to see his grave.Avalon - Wrigley Photo
  • The main method of transportation within the city is by small gasoline or electric powered motorcars referred to as “autoettes”. It is very hard for a citizen of Avalon to get a permit for a full size car. (I guess Toyota didn’t name their vehicle after this City)
  • Extending out into the center of the harbor is the green Pleasure Pier. At the north end of the harbor is the Catalina Casino. The very distinct style is described as a cross between Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival, the Casino serves as Avalon’s most distinctive landmark.

Five interesting facts about Avalon the 2016 Toyota sedan:

  • Toyota Avalon 2016Similar to the city of Avalon, the 2016 Toyota Avalon 4-Door Touring is picturesque and one of a kind. With its redesigned exterior, the Avalon impresses with a bold, new front grille, 18-inch dark gray painted alloy wheels and dual-wing LED running lamps. These standout features make it similar to the southernmost city in LA County.
  • The interior of the Toyota Avalon achieves the high-end resort look that was long strived for in the city of Avalon. Leather can be found wrapped around the steering wheel, paddle shifters and seats. The power tilt/slide moonroof and Eutune Premium Audio system with navigation and 7-inch touchscreen and 9 speakers offer luxuries that the city struggled to provide in the beginning.Toyota Avalon Full Shot Red
  • Just like Wrigley developed the majority of the city, Toyota manufactured a high-performing sedan with a 3.5L 268 HP V8 DOHC 24V engine. Along with the power-assisted front/solid rear disc brakes, the 2016 Toyota Avalon could easily take on the windy roads of the city with its same name. You also can chew gum and enjoy the sights at the same time.
  • It is a shame that the city of Avalon does not permit full-size sedans – they are missing out on the Toyota Avalon, which gets an average of 24 mpg. It is also made available as a hybrid in the XLE Plus, XLE Premium and Limited forms. Not to mention all of the acronyms available with the Star Safety System: VSC, TRAC, ABS, EBD, and BA. This would be a safe ride on the Island.
  • Both the city of Avalon and the Toyota Avalon are distinct in many ways. The color alone makes this Avalon unique – OOH LA LA ROGUE MICA. On top of that, the $37,050.00-priced Avalon stands out with its chrome touches and sleek look.

No matter which Avalon you choose, you will be in for a great experience. I guess that is why Toyota’s tagline is “let’s go places”. For more information on the Toyota Avalon go to www.toyota.com.

Starting at $32,650 – Model tested $37,050

Estimated 21/31 MPG

It’s All About The Journey: 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD

melaniedroz_headshot3By Melanie Droz Shawcraft –

My 4-year-old son graduated from preschool a few weeks ago, and I still cannot believe I now have a kindergartener. He is just beginning his journey; all he really needs to know, he is going to learn in this next year. The 2016 Dodge Journey shares some of the same experience that is taught to kindergartners, so it was fitting we got to test drive this SUV during such an important transition.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten Applies to the Dodge Journey.

Share everything – The Journey can be shared with everyone because of how spacious it is. The second row 40/60 seat with fore/aft adjust with rear reclining and the third row 50/50-fold reclining seats allowed me to fit many little graduates comfortably as we headed to Peter Piper Pizza to celebrate.

Dodge Journey 2016Play fair – The 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD is priced fairly at $29,595. With the 3.6-liter V6 24-valve VVT engine and the average 19mpg, the Journey is priced well amongst its competitors and is playing fair, unlike the recent preschool graduates who kept fighting over the Sirius XM radio station – Radio Disney or KIDZ Bop Radio. Little kids, big decisions.

Don’t hit people – Even if the Journey were to hit something, the safety features will keep everyone secure. All the graduates’ parents felt comfortable with their children riding in the Journey because of the advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental side curtain airbags in all rows and traction control.

Put things back where you found them – There were several things we were able to leave in the Journey while celebrating with pizza. In order to keep things clean and remember what cap, gown and diploma cover belonged to which kid, we used the second row in-floor storage bins, optional cargo net and passenger in-seat cushion storage.

CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS – The sleek exterior of the Journey is kept clean, especially since the kids remembered to wash their hands. The 19-inch black aluminum wheels, gloss black grill and dual bright exhaust tips stay shiny on the Journey.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours – The optional security alarm and remote starter system keep the Journey from people who do not own it and allows for the convenience of cooling down or heating up the car before getting in without unlocking the doors. After all, the Journey will be very inviting to outsiders, unless they see the six soon-to-be kindergarteners in the second and third rows.

Wash your hands before you eat – Definitely after you eat too, and especially when you are getting back in the glossy Dodge Journey. The black interior with leather seats and the leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob need to be kept clean with washed hands. It is also important to have clean hands while using the 4.3-inch touchscreen display.

Take a nap every afternoon – Make sure to avoid doing this while driving, but the Journey is a great car to take camping or to the drive-in or even the parking lot of Peter Piper Pizza since the second and third row seat fold down. The air conditioning with three-zone temperature control will keep all nappers cool too.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together – The Journey makes it easy to watch out for traffic with the ParkView rear back-up camera. Leaving the school after graduation was a bit hectic, but the camera made it easy to see the graduates holding hands with their balloons and flowers while I carefully exited the school.

I don’t think there is anything in the world that can make you cry harder than you ever have or have more pride rushing through your body than watching your child grow up and move through the stages of life. There is no journey like it – except maybe the 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD.

Starting at: $29,595

Cost of vehicle tested: $34,360

1 Year of Pre-K @ Hearn Academy – $8,000


CarCorner Review: The Guy Magnet Car – 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C


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By Cathy Droz –

We’ve all heard the term “Girl Magnet” right?  It might be in reference to guys who drive their red Corvette or Ferrari at high speeds when passing a group of women… maybe it’s the guy who flashes his bank roll at the bar or talks about his boat in Newport Beach and his ranch in Montana.  Sometimes it’s just a guy with a charismatic personality, great sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. You might remember or know that guy from High School, College or the workplace.  Heck you may be that guy.

Well finally, even at my age, I’ve found the perfect answer to attracting men of all ages… I doesn’t matter if you are married, single, tall, short, have the body of Megan Fox or the face of Jennifer Lopez…The answer is DRIVE an Alfa Romeo. Throw out those 5 ways to meet a man touted on twitter, and instead I suggest you take an Alfa out for the day and hope you can handle all the attention.

I can’t remember the last time  I was honked  at so much, received “thumbs up” from all ages and genders, or had  cars pulling next to me begging me to roll down my window so they could say something.  But the best were the videos men and women were taking down Scottsdale Road, on their phones, as I drove by them.  Every time I left a light, stop sign, or pulled out of a parking space the exhaust sound made everyone look… but most of all it made me feel extraordinary, it made me feel like my hard work had paid off and I deserved this Italian stallion of a machine.

Five Reasons a woman should own an Alfa Romeo

  1. Getting in and out of the car will shorten the number of squats you do at the gym
  2. The roar of the exhaust enhances your confidence level
  3. It’s an automatic so shifting in heels is not an issue
  4. Parking is easy, and for backing up, any man will help wave you in to your spot
  5. You can afford it…starting at $55,000

After driving the white Alfa through town, getting whistles and high fives from men and women alike, I stopped at a luxurious resort in Scottsdale Arizona. The out of town guests, employees and valets starting asking a million questions, all wanting to sit inside or have their photos taken with me, my friend Cathy B. and the car.  We finally settled in to have dinner at Pasta Brioni (Italian of course) in downtown Scottsdale.  Dinner was great but the Italian waiters kept looking out the window at the Alfa Romeo and complimenting us on our fine taste. As you can see by the photo, it didn’t take them long to adorn the car like a piece of jewelry on the neck of a beautiful woman.

All you really need to know about the Alfa Romeo 4C is it can go 0-60 in 4.1 seconds and reach 237 mph.  If you are looking to be economical, it gets 34 miles per gallon.  You can also save money when shopping for yourself or your home, as the “trunk” barely holds a tote for an overnight stay or in my case just my hair blower, makeup and two pair of red heels. This may seem funny, but the whole time I was driving the Alfa I felt I was living the dream, I felt a little Italian, very confident and very rich. When I returned the car I started to imagine how Cinderella must have felt when her coach turned back in to a pumpkin. The exact next day driving down the same road, no one gave me a second look, beeped their horn or wanted a photo with me. Unlike Cinderella, no prince charming will search to find the auto journalist who lost their Alfa Romeo.  That’s Okay; I experienced more than most, I had 48 hours of driving a “Guy Magnet.”

Alfa Romeo 4c and Spider Convertible – Starting at $55,000 Vehicle tested $72,295.00

I Might Suggest: Purchase a backup camera after market and if taking a trip with a friend, send your luggage ahead and carry a small purse.  Other than that ladies, go test drive one at your local Alfa Romeo dealership then buckle up for safety and lots of dates.

CarCorner Review: Super – Hero – Status…2015 Lexus NX 200t


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By Cathy Droz –

Have you noticed lately that we seem to be inundated with Superheroes? They seem to come from every angle including comics, movies, television – and have you ever been to Comic-Con? They generate millions of dollars for movie producers, toy makers and event planners. More importantly, they give each generation of youngsters and the “kid” in adults a hero they can fantasize about. I’m a Captain America fan whose character originated in 1941 with Marvel comics. It seems that every several years our superheroes are “re-invented” with up-to-date powers, and arch villains.Lexus NX - Super Hero Girl

I look at the Lexus brand to have the same rebirth; getting its start in 1989 with two stylish sedans and with every year thereafter, they grew and grew in size, style, and tantalizing details one generation after the other. The Avengers have numerous superheroes and Lexus now offers 19 different models. As Captain America is a stand out for me, so is the 2015 Lexus NX 200t, and by adding the F sport it truly goes in to Superhero, superpower mode.

I test drove the NX in Seattle a year ago, when it wasn’t even available at Lexus dealerships. I knew after testing those models around the busy streets of Seattle that they had a hit on their hands. The 2015 Lexus 200t starts under $35,000, while the F Sport that I test drove runs about $43,000. The pricing is comparable to other models in their class, much like the 2015 Audi Q3.

Lexus NX - Cargo AreaFrom the first time Lexus introduced the spindle grille I was a fan. You have to admit the aggressive bold look takes the Lexus models to another level of sporty and sexy. All superheroes wear very form-fitting attire; where you can see every move they make not to mention their muscles. The maneuverability of the Lexus NX was tight and precise, much like the spandex uniforms our heroes wear. I felt while driving the NX that every turn I took, every traffic light I stopped for, and every parking space I encountered, I was in control. I was one with the steering wheel, brakes and technology, a sort of Wonder Woman.

I also tested the super powers of the NX on the highway, the streets of downtown Phoenix and the underground parking garage of a Chandler law office. I used it for picking up kids from camp and dinner for two at the trendy Joyride restaurant; where the valets were fighting over who got to park the F Sport. I was excited to have the Lexus for my grandson’s superhero birthday party, not just for the bright blue color to match Captain America’s uniform, but I was able to get Captain America to sit inside for a quick look around, anxiously awaiting his reaction.

My impression of the interior of the 200t was “super,” much like the exterior. The race car look continues with its cockpit-like seating. Many crossovers sit high and straight while the NX seats surround the driver in a lower position, like a hug from Captain America when you need it the most. The instrument panel was a cluster of modern technology and safety features; easy to understand even without super powers.

Lexus NX ChargerThe technology delivers the standard Lexus Premium Audio system and its eight channel amplifier. Bluetooth is seamless and the Qi wireless charging tray was so futuristic even Captain America was awed. There is an integration of remote touch interface in the center console which is a first for the Lexus system replacing the old joystick type instrument, which had its haters. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it but so did learning to use a stick shift. I did “punch” in BARROS Pizza to the navigation system to get directions and it was easy to do. I arrived with the decorations, grandson and attitude in my Wonder Woman T-Shirt an hour before the 50 plus parents, kids and friends arrived.

Lexus NX Full Shot Car and KidsAs I noted earlier, I let Captain America (wink) sit inside the vehicle. He was fascinated with the mirror that appears when you flip over one of the space savers as he adjusted his mask. There are cup holders that secure the water bottle so well you can unscrew the top with one hand. He liked that because his shield is in the other hand at all times. His only complaint was he felt Lexus was missing a compartment for his shield when he wasn’t working. I thought he was always working to save people and work for the good of mankind? However, I told him I would bring it up at the next Lexus meeting and get back to him.

Whether you are a superhero or super parent, teacher, nurse, engineer or friend, you really should test drive the new Lexus NX 200t and F Sport. You just may turn in your old shield for new one.

Listed below are some superhero stats for the Lexus NX 200t and F Sport. For more information go to www.lexus.com and for additional certified reviews go to www.highheelscertified.com.

2015 Lexus NX 200t Starting at $34,480

  • 22 MPG City 28 MPG Highway
  • 2.0 Liter Turbo 16-valve
  • 235 HP, 258-lb-ft Torque
  • 6-speed Automatic Transmission
  • 8 Airbags – Driver, Front, Knee and Side – Passenger: Cushion and Side
  • Anti-Lock Braking system
  • Vehicle Theft-Deterrent System
  • Lexus Enform Safety Connect
  • Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location
  • Emergency Assist Button
  • Backup Camera
  • 8-speaker Lexus Display Audio System, HD Radio with iTunes
  • Auto Dual Zone Climate Control
  • 10-way Driver Seat – 8-way Passenger Seat, 4.2 Full Color Multi-information Display

CarCorner Review: A Day Out With The Outlander – 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

melaniedroz_headshot3By Melanie Droz Shawcroft –

When you have a three-year-old and your husband has been at Army basic training for nearly four months, relaxing, independent days are few and far between.  So when I finally had a day off work but was still able to drop Berrett off at school, I quickly decided that I, along with the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, would enjoy the day together.  It was easy to do with the Outlander’s touring package which included navigation, leather seating, premium sound system, power driver seat and panoramic glass roof and it doesn’t stop there!2015-Mitsubishi-Outlander

My first destination was a scheduled appointment at Massage Envy. I quickly gave Bear a hug and a kiss before I bolted towards pure serenity (the opposite of a room filled with 28 three year olds). The tranquility started once I got back in the Outlander with the premium fabric trimmed seating, heated driver and passenger seats and manually adjustable driver’s seat. The Outlander actually turned out to be more relaxing than the 60-minute massage – the masseuse was a bit rough and amazed at how many knots I had. However, I was able to fit my new, fuzzy white robe from Massage Envy, along with slippers and skin oils in the rear cargo compartment. That’s a win!

car-corner-massageClearly, the next luxury on the agenda was a pedicure. I have not associated Mitsubishi with luxury in the past, but the Outlander is loaded with amenities. Since I could hardly move my shoulders and arms after my massage, it was a treat to have a center slide-adjustable armrest, power windows with driver’s side auto up/down, cruise control and one-touch start/stop engine switch. My goal was to avoid lifting a finger on this day to myself, and the Outlander literally made that possible. I also felt safe in the Mitsubishi particularly since I knew my reaction time would be a bit slow after that massage. Anti-lock braking system, active stability control and traction control logic were just a few of the features keeping me safe.

Of course, shopping was on my list. Not grocery shopping or purchasing gifts for another three-year-old’s birthday party, but legitimate shopping for me. I hit a few stores, so it was great to have the real time traffic and 3D mapping on the high definition 7” touch screen navigation in order to find my way around town quickly. The Outlander also gets great gas mileage, so I was able to go a few places off the beaten path.  With an average of 27 mpg, my money was wisely spent on unnecessary new clothes and accessories. Though, $ 24,195.00 was the wisest price tag of the day, and with that MSRP, the Outlander is easily one of my new favorite SUVs with accessories even better than the eight pairs of earrings I bought.  Add to that the rearview camera system, steering wheel audio controls and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob I actually felt like a 35-year-old that didn’t work for a living.

car-corner-starbucksThe day would not be complete without a trip through the drive thru at Starbucks on my way to pick up Berrett. Although my drink looked slick and tasted just as good, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander was drawing all the attention from the baristas who were complimenting me on my ride as I found my way through the drive thru. They liked the 18-inch alloy tires, single exhaust outlet with chrome tip, rear privacy glass, chrome grille surround – instead of giving them a tip; I ended up with a free drink. Could this day get any better?

I had not expected to leave Berrett at school for the full day but between my multiple stops and ease of being in the Outlander, I found myself rushing to get my son before school officially closed for the day. car-corner1With the 2.0L MIVEC DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine and Sportronic Steering with paddle shifters I got there just in the nick of time. And even though I enjoyed my day alone (technically my date was the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander), there is nothing like the smile on my son’s face when I am with him, especially when the sun is shining right behind him through the panoramic glass room in the Outlander*.

*Berrett standing up in the car, with his head above the glass roof was for the photo only and the car was in park.

CarCorner Review: Disneyland In 48 Hours – 2015 Infiniti QX70 RWD


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By Cathy Droz –

When you are still working, and most of your friends are retired, you seize every opportunity you can to take long weekend trips or quick visits to friends, family and especially time with grandchildren.

My middle daughter Julia, her husband and three little girls, (five, four and 15 months) live in Rochester, New York. If you keep track of national weather you know that February in Rochester is very cold and 15 feet of snow is normal. The only way you get out of your house is by shoveling the snow from your front door to the garage or get on a plane to a warm climate.

Needing a break, the crew from New York suggested a quick trip to Arizona and visit to Disneyland and the beach for Sofia’s fifth birthday. Julia asked her sister Melanie, who lives in Phoenix, to take time off from her job and bring her four-year old son. It sounded great, and I’m happy to see them no matter how long they stay or what they want to do. What I didn’t calculate in my mind was the six hour drive to Los Angeles, a day at Disneyland and six hours back the next day. Well, we are always up for an adventure so we left on Thursday at noon to return Saturday about 4pm.Infiniti QX70

Since I test drive cars and wanted to test the new Infiniti QX70 I was able to have one delivered to my door the night before the trip. At first, I thought, “How can I fit two car seats and three adults in the well-equipped SUV? After all it wasn’t the QX80 with a third row and much more cargo space.

CarCorner_Disney2Well, I was pleasantly surprised; the cargo area fit our luggage and all the extras that one might bring to and from Disneyland. We put in two child car seats with me in the middle, Melanie driving, and Julia in the passenger seat. Blissfully unaware of all the noise the two four year olds were making in the Infiniti, Grandpa chauffeured the others in a rented minivan. The temptation to take advantage of the 325 horsepower engine with 267 lbs of torque was always there, but we needed to stay close to the minivan with the rest of the family. At one point we left them in the dust just to see how fast we could go with the V6. The pick-up and speed was so great, we thought it was a V8!

Infiniti QX70 InteriorWhat we really liked about the Infiniti QX70 was the technology and safety features. A few of the items that stuck out were the leather seats (so easy to clean up the junk food the kids were eating and drinking), lane departure preventions and warning (how many times did the driver have to reach back to stop the fighting and swerve a little). We had a moonroof, which was awesome for the Rochester crew; they were actually able to see sunlight. The USB connection port for iPod and other devices (taking turns to plug in one or two at a time) was great. The tethers to get the child safety seats in and out were easy and secure and, last but not least, the sound system was so good we actually took turns choosing the music and singing at the top of our lungs. I must admit we did sing a lot of Disney tunes and if I hear the theme from Frozen one more time I might fly rather than drive next time.

The base price on a QX70 is about $45,650, but Infiniti gave me some extras like the technology, premium, and sport package which brought the price to $58,085.

The Technology package included the lane departure feature I described earlier, rain sensing windshield wipers and front pre-crash seat belts. The Premium package has Hard Drive Navigation, an 8-inch VGA color touch-screen display, voice recognition, Around View monitor with moving object detection, and CD/DVD player. The sport package includes the 21 inch, 6-spoke dark finish wheels and front grille, interior contrast stitching, paddle shifters and aluminum pedals. Very luxurious, yet sporty.

The bottom line was we all felt safe and in total luxury throughout our trip and the gas mileage was close to what they project. We got about 25 highway mph and 17 city mph with all the stop and go traffic in the Disneyland area of Los Angeles.CarCorner_Disney

We did get to the beach so the Rochester kids could feel the sand between their toes and soak up a few rays but that was about ten minutes and we were back on the road.

Our day at Disneyland was a full 9 hours and so much fun. Our trip home was long but the QX70 made it comfortable. We took turns taking naps, even the kids. I’m always happy to have time with family, even if only for 48 hours.

For more on the QX70 go to www.infiniti.com.

For more reviews go to www.highheelscertified.com.


CarCorner Review: Going Down Memory Lane – 2014 Infiniti Q60S Convertible


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By Melanie Droz –

It has been years since I owned a vehicle that was only two doors and even longer since I owned a convertible. In high school, I drove a convertible Ford Mustang and a Honda CRX, and I even got the pleasure of driving a two-door Chevy Lumina in a beautiful blue when I was in college. Needless to say, the stylish 2014 Infiniti Q60S convertible was a real treat to drive. It made me reminisce about my glory days and want to escape the reality of being an adult.2014-infiniti-q60

Of course, the first thing I did was get cozy in the 10-way power sport driver seat and with the push of a button, put down the hard top convertible. It was so simple. I recall, in the Ford Mustang, I had to pull a lever with all my might and wait approximately seven minutes before the soft top made its way into the trunk. Luckily, Phoenix has convertible weather in the middle of January and the Q60S has multi-level heating passenger and driver seats for the chill in the air, so I hit the road with a list of my favorite high school hangouts.

1998Of course, I had to start my venture by driving by the old stomping grounds. Thunderbird High School, Class of 1998, held some monumental years in my life. I remember getting to school early and backing up the convertible Mustang in a parking spot amongst my friends so that we could loiter for about 15-20 minutes before the first bell rang. It was much easier backing into a spot in the Infiniti with the rear parking sensors and rear view camera. Since school was not in session, I turned up the 13-speaker sound system, which includes speakers in the headrest. I remember listening to Power 92.3 back in the day, which played hip-hop, but now I was searching for 94.5 Cool FM, which is Phoenix’s fun oldies. Either way, I felt the bass in the two subwoofers and the quality of the Bose premium speakers and sound system. As I drove past the soccer field where I spent many of my afternoons, I blasted the satellite radio 90’s station, which was playing a little Spice Girls.

I wanted to hit a few of our favorite lunch spots and late-night eating hangouts, so I hit the gas of the 3.7L 325-horsepower V6 engine and sped my way around town like we used to do for our 30-minute lunch breaks. No wonder most campuses are closed for lunch now. I do wish I had the Q60S back in ’97 so I could have been to Barro’s Pizza in no time, going 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. I will admit that I received much more attention pulling up to Eriberto’s (our Friday-night gathering spot) in the Infiniti then I ever did in the Honda CRX or Chevy Lumina. It could have been the 19-inch alloy wheels or midnight black grille or the 35-year-old woman jamming out to R.E.M. ordering a bean and cheese burrito.

I decided on a final stop to Great Skate – more of a middle school hangout but definitely worth stopping by. I surely had to use navigation to find the place since it had been so many years since my last visit and I think it was a big, yellow school bus that took me there previously. I used the remote keyless power door locks as I left the Q60S in the parking lot and opened the door of Great Skate to find the same smell, music and lighting from years ago. It was a surreal trip down memory lane.

After driving all around town, the low fuel level warning lit up – with 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, I definitely got my mileage worth. You will certainly get your money’s worth as well if you purchase the 2014 Infiniti Q60S convertible for a base price of $50,850. Not only will you get to soak up the sun with the convertible, drive down memory lane through the satellite radio and surround system, but you will most positively feel safe doing it.

I did have an adventurous time test driving the 2014 Infiniti Q60S convertible pretending to be young and hip again, but I would safely put my husband, 3-year-old son and English Bulldog in this vehicle, if I can get them all to fit. With the height adjustable passenger seat, my 6’2” husband would fit snuggly in the passenger seat. With the power rear seat easy entry, we could easily use the child seat anchors to secure Berrett’s car seat in the back, and Slim could easily fit in the trunk. I am kidding – I would never put the dog in the trunk even though the Q60S has remote trunk release, a trunk light and an emergency interior trunk release. Kind of hard to pass up.

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