50 years and still a winner; 2014 Toyota Corolla


It’s the celebration of the 11th generation Toyota Corolla.  Celebrate I did in San Diego, California at the Broadway Pier overlooking  San Diego Bay, complete with clear skies, cool breezes, sail boats gliding by and lunch with the VP of Toyota.



The venue was stunning as Toyota introduced to the press the new and exciting Corolla for 2014.  Some of the other journalists would never use the adjectives new and exciting in the same sentence to describe a 47 year old brand, but it depends on one’s perspective.



Toyota-Corolla-Event-050When my kids got their licenses and were ready for a new or used car, the choices were rather simple, a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.  The cars were a safe first car, required little maintenance, was reliable and reasonably priced.  True, they didn’t have all the bells and whistles the kids of the 90’s wanted, like the Mustangs or Eclipses. It wasn’t sexy or necessarily fast but it was, and still is a standard for a family to own, drive or rent at some point in their life.

Toyota has spent a significant amount of money on their recent TV commercials (estimated at $175 million), depicting almost 50 years of changes both in cars, clothing and music.  The Toyota may not be your top choice in the $16,800 to $20,000 range, but it should be a consideration especially the 42 mpg LE Eco version.

Rochester-NY-Corolla-002At first glance you can see how the designers changed the Corolla to give it a sleeker and new auto trendy look.   The upper front grille is a skinny black band of Spiderman mesh that appears to be the connection between two fashioned headlamps that pointed inward.  Under that is a wide trapezoidal air intake, giving the Corolla a look that is more assertive than before.  The LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard, which typically in other vehicles in its class are not.  See, there are some things that are new and exciting.

I was most impressed with the interior increase in space.  The wheelbase and total length of the car has grown nearly four inches compared to the other generations, with front and rear overhangs shorter, giving the new Corolla a tighter, more buff look.   The inside has been redesigned, giving the front seats a greater range of adjustability.  Believe it or not, the front seatbacks are also thinner, resulting in more rear legroom. When evaluating cars I’ll look at them from the lifestyle perspective; can safety car seats fit in the rear seats easily, and will I still have room to get my “Rubenesque” body inside between the front seat and a toddler’s kicking feet?  The Corolla has that added space.

It appears they put the Corolla on Weight Watchers (I should have joined with them)  as this generation Corolla lost some pounds. Toyota claims the Corolla’s new curb weight is less than 2,900 pounds.  This is a big deal as it would make the 2014 Corolla the lightest car in the compact sedan class.  As we know, less weight means better fuel economy.  The estimated fuel economy for the 2014 Corolla is 29/37 mpg.

There are four trim levels available; L, LE, S and the new LE Eco.  I test drove them all and really enjoyed the LE Eco as it had all the extras and saved on gas.   I drove all the models around downtown San Diego as well as out to Coronado to drool over homes there, and then hit the freeways for over an hour.  While taking my last drive of the day I was interested in the new technology that was on the Corolla.  I grabbed the product communications person from headquarters and asked her to go with me.  Here is what I learned.

The Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite is user friendly and perfect for a generation of technology driven and social media junkies.  Included in the Entune Premium package is a multimedia bundle with a touch-screen, split-screen display, AM/FM CD player, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth.  It also includes HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM cache radio, and the Sirius XM Radio option for 90 days.  This is more than I need or am capable of utilizing, but when speaking to women under 40 they express the importance of all this technology.  The other factors that were so important to our ladies were the 8 airbags , 60/40 pass through, trunk space for sport’s equipment, child accessories and use of the cup holders for sunglasses, i-phone, sippy cups, latte pick me ups and loose change.

I recommend you take a look at the new and exciting Toyota Corolla, and you decide.  Toyota’s slogan  for Corolla is “Elevate Your Style”  and Toyota knows that down the road you will “elevate your style” and your budget and be driving a Lexus.


KFC releases Go-Cup; promotes safer alternatives for eating & driving

I, along with the rest of the American population, often observe people eating, dancing, singing, changing clothes, doing makeup and even taking selfies while driving. And though it is quite amusing, it is also extremely dangerous. But the sad thing is that we are all guilty of doing it. kfc-go-cup-for-your-face

So, when KFC launched their Go-Cup campaign, I thought I’d push their message along to help people make safer choices behind the wheel. 69 % of Americans eat in their car. 35 % describe themselves as “One Hander” eaters in the car, meaning one hand stays on the wheel while the other rests comfortably on their french fries.

kfc-go-cup-2.pngTo adapt to America’s fast living and fast-food eating culture, KFC invented a cup that holds both chicken and potato wedges, conveniently separated by a divider. The Go-Cup is also sized perfectly to fit in the standard car cup holders.

With their campaign, KFC also launched the #GoCup Instagram photo contest, as fans are encouraged to submit photos of themselves with their Go-Cups. Every week for five weeks, five winners will receive gift checks and unique KFC items. Grand prizes include a Polaroid Z2300 camera and $250 worth of iPhone photography accessories.

Hopefully this campaign will lead to other inventions that will help keep Americans safer while doing various things while driving. Perhaps a campaign that stops us from constantly taking pictures of ourselves on the highway will be even better.

High Heel Shifting

Just when I thought I had driven a cool FIAT, and established the Italians and every other country was coming in the 500L, I discovered another FIAT 500 in my driveway to test for a week. Fiat Turbo Full ViewNot a problem I thought, I am getting used to a smaller car and really liking the FIAT lineup.  I grabbed my purse, camera and a friend and headed to a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Equipped with high heels and fake spray tan on my legs I proceeded to pull out of my driveway in reverse… hum where is reverse? Low and behold this is a stick shift 5-speed car.  Not only 5-speed but turbo (there was no indication on the exterior) so when I did shift in to” R” the FIAT took off like a rocket.  I pulled over and took off my heels replacing them with slippers I keep in my purse.  When you drive a clutch and brake and accelerator pedal it does havoc with your heels and your calf portion spray tan disappears (don’t ask).

FIAT 500 HeelsThe Fiat 500 lineup has been expanding since the day it was born, now offering a convertible, sport Abarth version and the new 2013 500 Turbo which is the best of both the standard car and the sizzling hatchback.  So I say this 500 T is for the person who wants something a little faster than the regular 500 but doesn’t want to spend the $22,000 for the Abarth.  The Fiat 500 Turbo has a MSRP is $19,500.  Let’s just say the guys will change their mind about 500’s are for “girls”.  The 500 T has low front fenders, 16-inch aluminum wheels complete with red brake calipers, blacked out headlight with black bezels and a spoiler that gave the 500 Turbo and edgier look compared to its sisters.

I am not in to the exhaust notes or tunes my male counterparts love to talk about but I have to admit I liked pulling away from a light next to a guy driving an Infiniti who look down his nose at me and not for the distance between him and me but the expectations of my racing ability.  Wow was he shocked because once you get the groove of shifting you can leave em in the dust.

The 500T is equipped with a Beats by Dre 368-watt audio system which made listening to my music a complete experience that kept me driving to make sure I heard the end of each song.  Of course if I didn’t listen to any music I could start to like the exhaust “tunes”.

My fuel economy registered at 27 City and 33 highway which is less than the regular 500 gets but about the same as the Abarth.

I say this Fiat T would make a good commuter car and a fun vehicle to take anywhere.  I was driving so smoothly that I put my high  heels back on and was thrilled to see I didn’t lose a bit of my spray tan. For all these reasons I would say this was a car worth shifting for.


Vehicle Tested:  $24,500


A similar article was posted in smartfem.com. Check it out! http://www.smartfem.com/automotive/fiat-500-turbo-hatchback-worth-shifting-for/



The Italians are here! 2014 FIAT 500L A Car for All Countries

You have to love the FIAT vehicle branding, you know the commercials with beautiful Italian women seducing nerdy guys in front of a Fiat 500 Abarth,  to the recent ads with a scene from the days of Paul Revere yelling “the Italians are coming” featuring the 2014 FIAT 500L in full color.

2014-fiat-500l-trekking-laDoes it make you want to rip off the bottom of your matronly dress, cut your hair and date an Italian star like Peter Facinelli ? Does it actually make you want to buy a FIAT ? Yep!

There are four models under the 500L, and even those names are unique; Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge.  I drove the lounge model and I can see how it got its name.  The seats were comfortable, with leather trimmed interior and heated, which I tried out, but did not use in 112 degree days. The Lounge model has Euro Twin Clutch, 6-speed automatic transmission, dual zone automatic temperature control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear seat armrest with cup holder, Sirius XM Satellite Radio for the first year free and 16” aluminum wheels with all-season tires. What no Panini’s in the glove box?

The front of the FIAT 500L has additional width compared to its FIAT little sisters, a more athletic stance with some very cool color choices and combinations. The rear has very distinct looking tail lamps with chrome exhaust and the liftgate badge with the backup camera right in the middle of the center numeral “0”. I was pleasantly surprised with the width and depth of the front windows that extended to the side view mirrors.  There were no blind spot problems considering the span of the windows and the sunroof (optional). I felt that between the glass and the sunroof; if the British or the Italians were coming, they couldn’t miss me.

Fiat 500L InteriorWhen you are in a small vehicle you worry about safety, so I was very pleased with their seven standard airbags. made me feel safe when transporting people, especially children. The knee airbags are so important, especially for boomer athletes. The other standard feature I like is the ParkSense and ParkView giving you a wide-angle view of the area behind the vehicle when backing up. 

The dynamo 500L has the 60/40 split so you can still make trips to your local lumber store, or take your ski’s with your vertically and safely. There is a turbo-charged powertrain engine that packs 160 horsepower and gives you an outstanding 33 highway and 25 city driving. 

A photo of Naples, Italy - the birthplace of Fiat

A photo of Naples, Italy – the birthplace of Fiat

Since I test drive all makes and models I would say this new 500L is comparable to the Kia Soul, MINI Countryman, Nissan cubeS and the Scion XB Base model.  The L stretches 27.7 inches longer than its own brand siblings and is 5.7 inches wider and stands 5.9 inches taller. I don’t know about you but the FIAT 500L is in an affordable price range starting at about $19,100 to $27,000.

All this talk about features and increase in size, let us not forget this car is fun, easy to drive, gets stares from all age groups and fits in to parking spots I normally pass by.  Weather you are in Naples, Italy or Naples, Florida… The Fiat 500 L is a car for all cities, states and countries.

A similar Fiat article was also posted in smartfem.com, Check it out! http://www.smartfem.com/automotive/fiat-500-turbo-hatchback-worth-shifting-for/

SRP takes Green to a whole new level

As SRP continues, its “green fleet,” it is increasing its line of new-technology vehicles with the addition of five new Ford plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – three Fusion Energi and two C-MAX Energi – which are scheduled to arrive in October. Currently, SRP has five Chevy Volts.  A total of 15 green vehicles will be leased by 2014.

*courtesy of srp.net

*courtesy of srp.net

As the products are still in the demonstration process, employees have the opportunity to test the vehicles first and then vote on the best “green” models. The top five employee-voted designs will be announced Nov. 7.

Accompanied with this new launch is Ford’s MyFord Mobile app, which will collect new data for the company on employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance. The MyFord ® Mobile app also provides drivers and fleet managers with real-time battery charge status, a vehicle locator and value charging, which allows a car to automatically recharge during lower-cost, off-peak electricity rates, when there is less strain on the electrical grid.

If your shopping for an eco-friendly car, check these models out at the Salt River Project’s headquarters in Tempe. Tweet me @cargalinphx and let me know what you think. #GoGreen #ElectricalCars

To view SRP’s press release visit: http://www.srpnet.com/newsroom/releases/100813.aspx

Kia’s got some social swag; sponsors Inaugural Youtube Music Awards

Kia makes history by partnering with the world’s most popular online video community, none other then the billion viewing video host Youtube.

YouTube-Music-Awards-608x340Kia will be sponsoring the first annual Youtube Music Awards, which will feature Lady Gaga, Eminem and Arcade Fire.

Though Kia is a 67-year-old brand, it’s proving that it has some swag, living up to its slogan “the power to surprise.” The Youtube Music Awards will begin on Nov. 3 with live streamed concerts all over the world, including Moscow, London, Brazil and concluding with the main awards show at Pier 36 in New York.

UnknownAs I am quite new to this social media revolution, I appreciate the auto industry for keeping up. Kia has more then 250 global and local social media profiles that reach 1.4 billion people. 300,000 people a day have Kia-related conversations.

It’s amazing to see an auto brand join the start of a social movement. And who knows what’s next to come. Instaparties, Twitter Awards, Facebook Feed Giveaways – I see a sparking social ball in the near future. I must say that even though I’m an old-school pen and paper type of gal, I’m enjoying this new social world and as long as it keeps going, I’m down for the ride.

To view the article, click here: http://www.kiamedia.com/us/en/media/pressreleases/7491/kia-to-be-presenting-sponsor-of-inaugural-youtube-music-awards

Don’t Text and Drive A Golf Cart

After a wonderful early morning golf game, with my husband and son, I couldn’t help but reflect on how relaxing and social the first 16 holes were. Golfer Texting Then all of a sudden, I hit a great long drive on 17 and no one said a word. My husband was busy washing his golf ball, and my 37-year old son was TEXTING.

Texting and talking on your cell phone should be prohibited on golf courses the same way texting while driving an automobile is. I understand having your phone on vibrate in case of an emergency or using it for an app you downloaded for the golf course, but it should be quiet or shut off. If you are playing with friends they might understand, but foursomes composed of strangers will take your behavior as rude. I don’t understand why people need to text when playing golf and especially while driving the cart.Taking a phone call or placing one is totally impolite and unless you are waiting for the birth of a child or the arrival time of your in-laws, don’t text and golf. I understand cigars, sun block and styrofoam beverage cups in your hands, but texting just to have something to keep your fingers busy – I say no!

Texting in CarNow I admit, it was my own social media twitch, on the hole 14, that had me taking a photo of ducks in a water hole to send to my daughter in New York. That made me see how it affects your game. I took the photo and started texting my daughter while getting some ice from the cart person. When I was done texting, I saw I was due on the ladies tee and I wasn’t ready. I had to look for the right club and fumble with my phone, not aware of my surroundings, thus using a four iron for a 356 yard hole instead of my Big Bertha.

What I think bothers me the most is that I need more than my set of eyes to see where the ball lands and suggest a stance change. Therefore, when I hit the ball and someone yells good shot, I know they are texting! My shots are never good, believe me, they hadn’t looked up. The other reason is that there is no communication with the folks that are present, in your cart or your foursome. You should be bonding with your golf group, not your iPhone. Trust me, the text can wait.

If you can’t live without Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for more than 18 holes of golf, and you desperately need to know where someone had breakfast or who was delayed on the space mountain line at Disneyland, then you should not be taking four hours out of your day. Golf is for outdoor exercise, breathing some fresh air and socializing with like-minded people. If you are addicted to social media and texting then stay home and make cupcakes. You can even post on Facebook after you’re done. I’ll be sure to like it after my golf game.

Ten Things For a WOMAN to Look For When Choosing a Repair Facility

Ladies, never forget the dollar and decision making power you have in the auto industry. Women spend over $200 billion on new cars and mechanical servicing of vehicles in the US each year. 65% of requested service at dealers is made by women. The best way to start on your search is to ask a friend or family member or even a co-worker where they bring their car. Decide ahead of time if you want to be close to your office or home. Once you have a few names, give them all a call and/or drop by.

*courtesy of Pinterest

*courtesy of Pinterest

Next look for these ten things:

1. How Are You Greeted – When you walk in are you greeted with a hello? Do you feel comfortable?

2. Is the waiting room clean and is wi-fi available? Keep in mind that you are going to be spending a great amount of time there.

3. Are there awards and certificates on the wall that are recent? Look for donations, sponsorships or pictures of volunteer work that the facility has on their walls.

4. Are their photos with the owners and the technicians with their certificates such as ASE certified under their photos? Are they approved by the reputable organizations such as the AAA of the Better Business Bureau? Do they have a website or an app?

5. Are the folks behind the counter courteous, respectful and willing to answer questions? We women don’t like to be talked down to or manipulated. Make sure they call you for approval before doing any additional work.

6. Find out what the turnover is in the shop. There are facilities that have employees for 25 to 30 years. Women like relationships and knowing they have history with someone.

7. Don’t hesitate to ask if you can walk in to the bay area to see how clean the floors are, the tools and the technicians. Do they have FREE pickup and deliver policy while your car is in the shop?

8. Many women bring their children with them while they wait for a repair or estimate. Is there a designated play area for children? Is there a TV?

9. Does the waiting room serve beverages? Some repair shops go all out with latte machines and fancy creamers for a nice cup of coffee served in a mug, not a Styrofoam cup.

10.  Last but not least, a clean bathroom is a must! And, I mean clean. Does it have liquid soap, toilet seat liners, liquid soap?

Repair facilities should welcome you in to their “home,” and treat you the way they would like their wife, mother or sister to be treated. You’re going to be spending a lot of time and money at a repair place. They least they can do is give a good coffee and a clean place to pee.


Has Volvo gone to the dogs?

photoWe all know that the Volvo is the safest car made, despite Tesla pushing for that title. However, let’s face it, Sweden gave us four things; IKEA, the Volvo, the meatballs sold in IKEA’s café, and the Volvo pet cage for the XC60.

Just look at what the XC60 has to offer; you can get front or all-wheel drive, dual zone electronic climate control, Bluetooth capability with streaming audio and, if desired, leather seating surfaces, panoramic roof, premium sound system and rear seat entertainment system with dual DVD players.  This is an SUV that will accommodate five adults on some of the most comfortable seats that car manufacturers install.

FNM100111_084There is another feature that I had installed for my test drive and that is the steel cargo Pet Cage. The pet cage has its own lock and latch and the pure steel cage is as sturdy as the Volvo SUV itself. Volvo tests its accessories the way they test their cars. This pet cage went through the same rigorous crash tests the cars do.  My yellow lab “Doc” was able to get in the SUV with just a tad of help but fit well inside the cage and enjoyed the ride.  I knew he was safe, just like the grandkids in the back seat.

Volvo InteriorCheck out the City Safety feature, which in itself is worth a test drive.  This is Volvo’s low speed collision avoidance system and is part of the Technology Package.  It has adaptive cruise Control with pedestrian detection and full auto brake, collision warning with full auto brake, distance alert, driver alert control and lane departure warning. Very cool, very safe.

I have found that baby boomers and empty nesters tend to bring their pets with them on long trips, or simple jaunts to the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts or to the dog parks in town.  Our pets deserve to be as safe as our passengers.  The Volvo pet cage is optional and can be set up on the left or right side of the cargo area. The all steel cage came in three pieces and I was able to install it myself with a little help.

Whether it’s the people you love or the pets you care about, the Volvo XC60 SUV, as well as their other models, takes care of the whole household including your dog, cat, pig or hamster.

Cost of Test Drive Vehicle:  $42,359.00

Pet Cage:  Approximately $900.00

Fuel Economy estimates are 17/23/20

Toyota Corolla – Bringing an original back beyond its years

 The 2014 Toyota Corolla is like a sexy young actor making his comeback as a sexy old actor, when Hollywood thought he was “done.” As some brands are getting boring beyond its years, the Toyota Corolla is getting even hotter and more efficient as the years keep going by.


The 2014 model has a trendy and sleeker look to it. The upper front grille is a skinny black band of Spiderman mesh, and underneath that is a wide trapezoid air intake, giving the Corolla a look that is more assertive.

The interior has an increase in space as the wheelbase and total length of the car has increased nearly four inches. The front seatbacks are thinner which results in more leg room.

The Corolla’s new curb weight is also less then 2,900 pounds, making it the lightest car in the compact sedan class. Less weight means better fuel economy, which means saving a few dollars in gas money.

The estimated fuel economy for the 2014 Corolla is 29/37 mpg.

Included in the Corolla’s Entune Premium package is a touch-screen, split screen display, AM/FM CD player, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth. This means that between your phone and this car, you have everything  you need – music, navigation, hands-free calling, and music streaming. With the USB port, you can even connect to Pandora or iTunes to play even more songs.

The Corolla is definitely keeping up with the Joneses as it has found a way to appeal to a new generation that wants to utilize all medium, yet be stylish and sophisticated. With 8 air bags, huge trunk space and an AM/FM cache radio, this brand is definitely elevating its style and adding some sexiness in the process.