HER Certified Auto Review: Hanging Out at the Hangar — 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio AWD

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By Cathy Droz –

I fell in love with this vehicle the first time I drove it. There is something about the style, the grille, the serpent and cross emblem that makes you feel like you are driving through the Italian mountains of Lake Como.

To my surprise, while visiting North Scottsdale Alfa Romeo, I watched Alice Cooper sign over 100 Guitars for the dealership’s annual giveaway, buy a CAR get a GUITAR.  As if that wasn’t enough, I went on to visit Nelson and Mitch at their Helicopter Hangar to get a beautiful shot of the Stelvio.

It was a great week of test driving this sports car but the question most people asked was, “Why is there a four-leaf clover on an Italian car?” (Maybe it was why I had such a “lucky” week.) If you too were wondering here is the why.

When Alfa Romeo has a four-leaf clover on their cars, it’s on their Quadrifoglio (performance cars) and it has more meaning than a leprechaun might imagine.

The four-leaf clover logo denoting the Quadrifoglio designation was originally used by Ugo Sivocci, a friend of Enzo Ferrari, as a good luck charm. He painted it on the grille of his Alfa Romeo RL and won the 1923 Targa Florio. Alfa Romeo began using it on all its race cars after Sivocci died in a crash a few months later.


  • Alfa DNA Pro Drive Mode System with Race Mode
  • Engine Cover with “Quadrifolglio” Badge
  • Blind-Spot and Cross-Path Detection
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Carbon Fiber Drive Shaft
  • Torque Vectoring Differential


  • 8.8-inch AM/FM/HD Radio with Navigation
  • Harman Kardon Premium Audio
  • Quadrifoglio Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Steering Column-Mounted Aluminum Paddle Shifters


  • Pirelli Brand Tires


  • Trofeo White Tri-Coat Exterior Paint
  • Driver Assistance Dynamic Package includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control, Infrared Windshield
  • Dynamic Dual Mode Exhaust
  • Colored Brake Calipers

For more information, visit www.alfaromeousa.com.

MPG: 17, City; 23, Highway

MSRP: Base Price for Vehicle, $80,245

Price of Vehicle Tested: $88,540

For additional HER Certified Auto Reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.

Photos courtesy of Alfa Romeo

HER Certified Auto Review: 2019 Camry TRD 4-Door V6 Sedan

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By Cathy Droz –

When your bestie turns 70, you take a girl’s weekend to celebrate.  We didn’t go very far, the Boulders resort in Carefree, but we needed a few drivers with cargo space or in my case, a cool car to drive around in.  You also offer to drive because everyone wanted to take a spin in my red Camry TRD, thanks to Toyota.

The Camry was introduced in 1982… and as we all said this weekend… This is not your “Mother’s Camry.” Still a leading model for the Toyota brand, this TRD was taken to a whole new level. In fact, I challenged one of the ladies to a short race against her Targa, Porsche. At one point she got behind the wheel so she could see and feel for herself the power and tenacity of the Camry.  She was impressed.

Maybe we’re turning 70 but we haven’t lost our love of cars, speed and luxury and of course the color red.  Check out the video to see just what went on that weekend.


Standard and Performance

  • 5L V6 Engine, 301 hp @6600 rpm/287 lb-ft @ 4700rpm
  • 8-speed transmission w/ paddle shifters
  • TRD tuned Front and Rear Suspension

Safety and Convenience

  • Pre collision w/pedestrian detection, lane departure alert
  • Backup Camera

Exterior and Interior

  • Audio – 7-inch Screen 6 speakers
  • Android Auto & Apple CarPlay Compatible
  • Display with TRD start up display
  • Aero Kit with Red Pin Striping, Red TRD Badge
  • Red Seatbelts
  • TRD Rear Spoiler
  • TRD Logo Headrest

For more go to www.toyota.com and www.hercertified.com for more Toyota reviews.

MSRP:  $31,040

As Tested: $32,920

The special color red is optional @ $425.00

For additional HER Certified Auto Reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.

HER Certified Auto Review: 2019 Acura ILX

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By Cathy Droz –

The 2019 Acura ILX has delivered a great deal of design and content changes. In the past, I’ve heard “enthusiasts” say that this ILX is just a Honda Civic on Steroids… Well I’m not sure what’s wrong with that.

The changes for 2019 both exterior and interior have made this sedan an under $35,000 contender.  In terms of the exterior, the most outstanding features include the addition of Acura’s signature Diamond Pentagon Grille and new 7-element Jewel Eye LED headlights, along with a new hood and front fascia. The rear sports a new deck lid, lower diffuser, exhaust outlet and LED taillights. New 17-inch wheel designs and color options. Normally a white car is too vanilla for me, but the red and black accent interior make this sharp, sexy and so HER Certified.

Interior changes include new front and rear sport seats, two-way power lumbar control on the driver’s seat, silver-finished dash trim with chrome insert, machine-finished ignition button, dual-screen infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

For more about the Acura ILX go to www.acura.com to check out the tech package = A-Spec.

Multi-View Rear camera
USB Audio Interface
Driver’s 10-way Power Seat
Heated front seats
Dual-Zone automatic Climate Control

Power Moonroof with tilt feature
Heated Power Door Mirrors
Tire Sealant and Inflator Kit
Keyless Access with Smart Entry
MSRP: $31,550
As Tested: $32,545
24 MPG City, 34 MPG Highway
Color:  Platinum White
Interior: Red

For additional HER Certified Auto Reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.

Women Love Jeeps and Trucks

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By Cathy Droz –

RAM and Jeep brands both set full-year sales records in 2018. Jeep sales were up 17 percent and RAM sales were up 7 percent. RAM gets an all-new Heavy Duty and the Jeep brand returns to the pick-up truck market with the Gladiator.

I was privileged to get a first-hand look and test drive in the new RAM and Gladiator from FIAT Chrysler Automobiles. A special treat was the Jeep Gladiator set up for camping, or in my case glamping. I had just tested the RAM 1500 Longhorn and found it easy to drive. The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty handled with the same ease and comfort. I would think adding a horse trailer would be a piece of cake.

Facts: The 2019 Ram Heavy Duty is the most powerful, most capable pickup in the segment with a towing capacity of 35,100 lbs. and payload capacity of 7,680 lbs. There is torque rating of 1,000 lb.-ft from the Cummins i-6 Turbo Diesel engine. So, if you need to tow a boat, horse trailer, RV or a small motor home, this is your truck. It also is so luxurious you can pull up to the Ritz and get out in your heels.

The all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator — claiming to be the most capable midsize truck ever. This jeep has a combination of rugged utility, authentic Jeep design, open-air freedom, clever functionality and versatility, best in class towing and 4X4 payload, advance fuel-efficient powertrains, superior on and off-road dynamics and a host of innovative safety and advanced technology features. The Jeep Gladiator can turn in to a sleeping, driving, off-road, campfire party vehicle.

Pricing was not available to us but check with your local RAM and Jeep dealer. For more information go to www.ramtrucks.com and www.jeep.com.

For additional HER Certified reviews, visit www.hercertified.com.

Car Or Boat — Lexus Wins: 2017 Lexus GS 350 F Sport

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By Cathy Droz –

It is no secret that I like the Lexus brand. I actually have a HER Certified studio inside Superstition Springs Lexus in Arizona and I’ve test driven more Lexus products than other makes or models.

The Lexus brand, which has been accused of being stagnate, has made some visible changes over the years. The most noticeable and dramatic was the front grille. I get asked all the time, why did they change it? I heard that a certain “gender” felt it wasn’t aggressive enough looking on the road. Well they got their snarl and whole lot more.

Planning a weekend in California, Lexus suggested we take the F sport. That was fine with me because I think the 2017, Lexus GS 350 F Sport is very special and not just because it is “fast.” I’ve tested this vehicle before on the track, so I can attest to performance of the 350F. It includes a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Match this to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option. I did get to test the manufacturer’s claim of “0-to-60” in 5.7 seconds; not on the way to San Diego, but on the track. The F Sport package includes special wheels, adaptive suspension, and variable gear ratio steering with a sport plus mode, larger brakes, special badging and interior trim. I’m not done yet… Mark Levinson audio system, intuitive park assist, black brake calipers, four-wheel steering, leather steering wheel and a few more things. The base price of the GS350 is $54,810 and the car I tested GS350 F was about $5,000 more and I believe worth it.

We had many things on our to-do list that weekend but number one was to look at a few motor yachts for our friends in New York. They are planning to retire in California and live on a boat in San Diego. Now this was a request we had no problem accepting. After all, shopping for a boat is no different than a car (my next book). For instance, the exterior of a boat or car must be appealing to the driver or captain as well as the interior, which I was in charge of. The Lexus is known for its superior craftsmanship and quiet, elegant style. The power tilt-and-telescoping steering column was perfect for me at 5’2; I wasn’t in danger from the airbag exploding and had a clear view of all the Marinas.

Speaking of safety, Lexus Enform adds an app suite as well as safety connect that automatically notifies police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious crash and it also comes with 10 airbags.

We stayed at a boutique hotel in Downtown San Diego where we practically had the parking garage to ourselves. So, when a woman approached us one evening, she wanting to tell us that she loved the headlamps of the Lexus, I was pleased. At first, I thought she was kidding until I got out and looked…there you go, another detail that a woman noticed that made a difference. In fact, they are referred to as “intelligent high beam headlamps.”

Whether it is a boat, car or RV, you must test drive them to make sure they meet your needs and or wants. I drove the Lexus GS350 F through its paces while in San Diego, but we didn’t take out any of the motor yachts, we’ll leave that to our friends.

For more on the Lexus GS350 F, go to www.lexus.com.

Base Price: $54,810

As Tested: $60,305

Fuel Economy: 19/27 mpg city/highway

Motor Yacht: $850,000

Dingy: $29,000


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.


Honesty, Excellence, Respect — Lexus: 2017 Lexus ES300h

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By Cathy Droz –

In today’s environment and across the various generations, a key to any successful enterprise is delivering on their philosophy and values, regarding their customers’ experience. The following information compares two diverse organizations, but with similar approaches to that experience.

There is nothing like test driving a Lexus; I haven’t driven one I wouldn’t want to own. While I am certainly appreciative of the craftsmanship and functionality of these cars, what I am most impressed with are the values the Lexus brand has for its employees, dealers and community. If you are not familiar with the Lexus philosophy, below is an example of their beliefs, which is very consistent with my views on customer service.

“The host anticipates the needs of the guest in advance and offers a service that guests don’t expect. They should not wait for instructions.”

Recently, I drove the Lexus ES300h to a meeting that took place at a Changing Hands book store in Phoenix. Changing Hands is a well-known, nonfranchised book store that houses thousands of new books, and hosts book signings for authors on The New York Times best-seller’s list, as well as local writers. Within the walls of this vintage brick building existed an environment that promoted rapport among and between customers, as well as the attentive staff. There is a hip coffee shop, with real coffee cups, clean bathrooms and great lighting.

Additionally, outside the Changing Hands building is a refreshment stand for dogs. It’s a cute A-frame roof constructed with a shade allowing for the hot Phoenix sun, and three water bowls set at differing heights to accommodate all sizes of dogs. Now they could have had one big bowl and no shade, or no water at all for pets, like other establishments.

Since customer service is number one with Lexus, I was happy to see that Changing Hands has a similar approach. To reiterate, the goal of successful businesses is to provide a customer experience that addresses a wide spectrum of customers while simultaneously dealing with the specific requirements of groups within your customer base, ( such as women) resulting in increased sales and return customers.

Lexus makes many models of gas fueled and hybrid vehicles for all needs and wants or customers… one size doesn’t fit all in water bowels and cars… Lexus knows that.

As does Lexus and Changing Hands, I want to provide women a great customer experience when walking into a car dealership. So I developed the HER Certified program and Studio. The premise of the studio is based on my book and my certification program through HER Academy. Besides a spot on your showroom floor, there should be a proportionate percentage of females employed in key positions that will uphold the HER Certified Philosophy…much like that of Lexus and Changing Hands.

“HER Certified Dealerships are dedicated to meeting and exceeding the expectations of women when buying or servicing a car.”

It seems only natural that the first HER Certified Studio has been designed and established inside the Superstition Springs Lexus in Mesa, Arizona. The general manager, Brent Adkisson reflects my values and approach to customer service, as well as having at imperative to have women represented in sales, finance, technology and service. He is the perfect dealership model in many ways, including programs to giving back to the community. This is what women want from a dealership customer experience.

And speaking of a great customer experience… The Lexus ES300h is truly worth an outing to your local dealer for a test drive. Until you take it for a spin, it’s difficult to imagine how well it drives, the luxurious appointments, and the potential savings to be realized. Just like Superstition Springs Lexus, Changing Hands and HER Certified… The host anticipates the needs of the guest in advance and offers a service that guests don’t expect.


The 2017 Lexus ES 300h Sedan has all the bells and whistles and then gets 40 MPG city and 39 highway with an estimated annual fuel cost of $900.00. Here are a few of the standard features and some options.

  • There are 12 Performance features — My favorite: Rear Spoiler
  • There are 22 Safety Features — My most important: PCS with Pedestrian detection
  • There are 19 Luxury and Convenience Features — My favorite: Lexus Premium Audio System
  • There are 9 Luxury Options — My favorite: Intuitive Parking Assist

FUN FACT: The ES300h is built on the Toyota Avalon platform.

HOW HYBRIDS WORK: Hybrid cars feature advanced technologies that traditional cars don’t have. Regenerative braking reduces brake friction by using the electric motor to assist in stopping the car. This process generates electricity that’s stored in the chemical battery for later use during high-speed travel. The power assist ability gives extra power to the engine to aid in accelerating, passing or traversing hills. Power assist also makes it possible for the car to house a smaller and more effective gas engine. The automatic start and shut-off system turns the engine off when the car stops and reengages it when the driver pushes the accelerator. This prevents wasted energy and provides better fuel economy.

DID YOU KNOW: The idea of the hybrid car has existed since the early 1900s. Ferdinand Porsche presented a car at the Paris Exposition of 1900 that was able to run solely on electricity for 38 miles. He later included an internal combustion engine to power a generator to charge batteries. The car could only go 35 miles per hour, but it was the first protohybrid.

MSRP: $41,820

Vehicle tested: $50,750

Book: $19.95 on Amazon

For more go to www.lexus.com

www.sslexus.com Mesa, Arizona – 480.269.9631



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


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