Kid In A Candy Store: 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite

– By Melanie Droz Shawcroft


One would think it would be difficult to bounce back to 6th-grade teacher, wife and mom of two boys after a weekend with the girls, and one would be right! However, driving the 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite made it a smooth, exciting transition.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to stay home with the baby a couple of days this week, but we were still responsible for bringing his big brother to school. Each morning, we jumped in the Odyssey using the remote engine start, dual power sliding doors and hands-free access power tailgate. I was literally able to carry the baby, a stroller and Berrett’s backpack because my hands were completely free. Since the mornings are chilly, we were able to warm up with the tri-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats. The 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite can make any mom’s morning routine easier and more comfortable — there are also more than enough cup holders for coffee.

My 6-year-old was like a kid in a candy store all week when he got to take a ride in the Odyssey. He wanted to put the second- and third-row sunshades up and down; he would go from sitting in the 60/40-fold-down third row to the magic slide second-row seats, and he especially enjoyed the Blu-ray/DVD rear entertainment system with wireless headsets. He could drown out the noise of his little brother and watch PBS Kids, even if we were just driving a mile to his school. He definitely didn’t want to drown us out when we brought him Barro’s Pizza for lunch one day. He was showing off his brother just like I was showing off the Odyssey to all the other moms. The power moonroof with tilt feature, 19” alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and power folding door mirrors were enough to impress.

I was also impressed with the performance and safety of the 2018 Odyssey. With my normal weekend rituals of picking up the boys, quickly running into the store for a birthday gift and attending a 7-year-old’s birthday party, the Odyssey’s 280hp, 3.5-liter VTEC V8 engine got me where I needed to go quickly. With 19/28 mpg, we had plenty of fuel for our typical errands and with the 10-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters and electric power steering, we felt a bit like a racecar at times. Even though I felt unstoppable, Honda knows better which is why the Odyssey is packed with safety features. The Collision Mitigation braking system with forward collision warning kept me from landing in someone’s backseat while getting on the freeway headed to the Science Center. With LATCH, VSA, ABS, EBD, FCW, LDW and LKAS, there is no science equation that can compete with the plethora of safety acronyms in the Odyssey.

It wasn’t all about the kids with the Odyssey this weekend. My husband and I enjoyed taking it to his work holiday party Saturday night. Although we didn’t walk away winning one of the enormous gift bags that were raffled off at the party, there were plenty of features in the minivan to be grateful for — premium audio system with 11 speakers, display audio with Honda Navigation, multiview rear camera and illuminated visor vanity mirrors — just to name a few. With an MSRP $46,670, the 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite is a perfect vehicle for this wife, mom and 6th-grade teacher.

Escape The Room…Embrace The Genesis: 2017 Hyundai Genesis G-90

– By Melanie Droz Shawcroft

In order to celebrate summer birthdays this year, my girlfriends and I signed up for the 1980s-themed Escape the Room. Although the majority of us were born in the ’80s, we barely made it out in the 60 minutes allotted. Something we did not want to escape during our ladies’ Saturday was the 2017 Hyundai Genesis G-90.

Since I’ve never experienced an Escape the Room, I was just as bewildered when I entered the room as I was when I opened the door to the Genesis — who knew Hyundai could be so luxurious with its large grille and sleek exterior lines? I was unaware that this parent company (Hyundai) had branched off to create a new brand* (Genesis). Similar to how oblivious I was looking for clues in the ’80s room.

I was shocked at how ill-prepared we were, especially since we blasted ’80s on “8” on the SIRIUS XM radio through the 17-speaker Lexicon audio and Quantum Logic Surround System on our way to the venue. Ninety-nine red balloons and 867-5309 had to mean something, and we definitely attempted to open all locks using these numbers with little success. One winning number resulting from this ladies’ day (definitely not the ages we were celebrating) was the $70,000 price tag of the 2017 Genesis — over $10,000 less than major competitors.

The performance of some of my experienced Escape the Room friends was impressive. They were turning through book pages, goggling popular trends in the ’80s and riding on outdated exercise bikes. It was quite the scene; however, it didn’t outdo the performance of the Genesis. The 3.3L 6-cylinder turbo engine with 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque would have gotten us out of this room in seconds. We experienced the quiet, smooth ride of the Genesis on our way to brunch and it felt like we were floating — that feeling could have also been our boasting after the ladies working there told us only 20 percent of groups successfully escape the room.

The ’80s room was filled with games — an air hockey table, foosball table, old Nintendo and a raggedy Suns’ jersey. The old television projecting the ancient video game was nothing in comparison to the 12.3-inch touchscreen in the Genesis. In fact, the Genesis plays no games when it comes to its safety features. Receiving IIHS’ highest honor of Safety Pick for 2017, this 4-door sedan with AWD earned the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention due to the braking system feature. Other safety features include standard automatic emergency braking, braking and pedestrian detection alert, blind spot protection, nine airbags and a pre-active seatbelt system. Being locked in a room with posters of Ghostbusters and Michael Jackson for almost an hour made me crave the safety of the Genesis.

I wish the outdated couch in the Escape the Room was as comfortable as the seats in the Genesis. The ’80s exercise bike seat wasn’t even a close second in comfort. My girlfriends raved about the lavish rear seat and got a kick out of using the fold-down armrest that had complete control over the multimedia system. With multiple cup holders and USB ports along with heated and cooled front and back seats, I am surprised we ever left the comfort of our sedan. Getting 17 city mpg and 24 highway, we got to our Escape the Room and Postinos for brunch with little fuel wasted — unlike the massive amount of time we wasted trying to figure out the significance of Pepsi Twist (ummmm, we actually had to twist the top of the can to find the clue inside). I’m telling you…it is no easy feat to Escape the Room.

After finishing our celebration of turning yet another year older, it was great to unite with treasured friends, locked in a room, trying to escape the ’80s yet again. Our final clue was to find something with two Rs and two Ds — my first instinct was to race out to the 2017 Genesis G-90 for the reliability, relaxation, drive and durability, but I could not get out of the room, so I quickly grabbed the stuffed R2D2 doll and threw it to my girlfriends who got us out with nearly five minutes to spare. Best 55 minutes of my 37th year of life (except for the time I got to drive my dear friends in the Genesis).

*Genesis is to Hyundai like Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti is to Nissan. A luxury brand of the same Manufacturer.

Starting at MSRP: $68,100

Vehicle Tested: $74,690

Girlfriend Approved: Priceless

Baby Giant In The Highlander: 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited PLT

– By Melanie Droz Shawcroftmelaniedroz_headshot4

There is a unique stress that comes with having a second child, especially when it is five years after your first son was born. Add to that, the doctor keeps telling you this is going to be a big baby (close to 10 pounds) so let’s schedule your induction. Luckily, during the week prior to induction day, I got to drive the stress-free 2016 Toyota Highlander.2016-toyota-highlander-mel

There is no anxiety when it comes to the safety of the Highlander. With a 5-star government safety rating, this SUV comes with a star safety system that includes smart stop technology. Having to make several bathroom stops at 39 weeks pregnant, I felt it was easy to stop quickly when the nearest bathroom appeared. We also tested out the LATCH anchors and tethers for two car seats in case the baby giant were to arrive prior to induction day (which he did). Other additional features that would be great for the kids in the back: child protector rear door locks and second row side-window sunshades.

There was also a calmness that came over me as I was driving the Highlander because of the comfortable interior. My baby belly wasn’t even scrunched by the steering wheel. The leather heated driver seat with six-way power memory with lumbar made the Highlander one of the most comfortable seats I could find at the end of my pregnancy. I actually found myself going for drives because I couldn’t get nearly as comfortable on my couch. With seating up to seven, I started calling my friends and family to see if they needed a ride anywhere.spencer-baby-giant-article

There is nothing more nerve-racking than the anticipation of what labor is going to be like. It is different with each child, so you never know. However, you definitely know what performance you are going to get from the Highlander. Its reliable 3.5L DOHC VT engine with front independent McPherson strut and rear double wishbone suspension are just a couple features that make this Toyota predictable, and there is definitely nothing wrong with being predictable when we have come to expect the best from Toyota. I may not have expected the Highlander’s towing capacity, but it was a pleasant surprise to learn it can lug up to 5,000 pounds. Baby giant was not predicted to be that big but glad to know we have options with the Highlander.

berrett-and-spencerNeedless to say, the week leading up to Baby Spencer’s arrival was filled with many nervous moments. The 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited had a plethora of features that practically acted as a stress ball – we got an average of 20mpg making us stress-free about the frequency and cost of filling up; the remote engine starter allowed us to get the AC going quickly (39 months pregnant feels like an oven); the backup camera and blind spot monitor made it easy to see what was around me since I could not adjust my position as easily; and, the entertainment of Entune Premium JBL with 8” Touchscreen navigation assisted me in enjoying my favorite tunes and locating my favorite ice cream shops (every night).

Spencer did arrive a few days before the induction was scheduled – my doctor thinks it is because I was so relaxed. Thank you, Highlander!  Spencer was only 8 pounds, 1 ounce – not the 10 pounds they anticipated. Either way, we got to take him home in the 2016 Toyota Highlander and that was a real treat. Even though it was brief, he got to experience the relaxation of the Highlander and for that short period of time, he was calm and stress-free. As we approach a few weeks old, it is easy for me to say he has never felt that peaceful – he has cried ever since, probably missing the comfort of the Highlander. (wink wink).


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