Say Hello to the Eco-Dynamic Kia Car Line #TheNewKia

Say Hello to the Eco-Dynamic Kia Car Line

Last week I was in San Diego for the first time being treated like a rock star. It was my very first press event with a car company and Kia Motors of America welcomed me along with 50 plus influencers into their family for a fun filled event. I arrived pretty early in San Diego for the event so I had the chance to see the fleet of cars awaiting our arrival.

Photo Credit: Cielo Roth Photography

Let me tell you that Kia has done a lot over the year to improve their brand image with the consumer. They have worked hard to achieve all their awards and ratings. I got a small taste of #TheNewKia by previewing their Eco-Dynamic Line of cars.

Photo Credit: Cielo Roth Photography
Photo Credit: Cielo Roth Photography

The line includes the Kia Optima Hybrid & Optima Plug-In Hybrid, the Kia Soul EV, and the Kia Niro. My family and I had the Kia Optima out for a spin before but none of the cars in the eco line. I was excited about getting out and try these cars with my teammate Jay of Jay’s Sweet and Sour Life.

We started our second day in the city learning about the Kia Brand and all the cars that we were going to be driving and exploring with. Each one offered unique features that make them worth considering. Driver living in California receive an extra tax credit of $1500 along with the $4545 credit drivers receive from the federal government. Additional perks include HOV lane access, saving on travel, and more.

The Niro is classified as an Urban Crossover Hybrid Vehicle, that employs an evolved hybrid system which contributes to a dynamic driving experience, while also providing superior utility and eye-catching looks.  The Niro offers bold, crossover style and utility while providing exceptional fuel economy –up to 50 mpg combined. The Niro has all the perks of being a hybrid without the look. It’s smaller battery design means there’s more space in the cargo area to hold groceries, luggage, golf clubs, or whatever you’re planning to carry. Additional features include Standard UVO3 with Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and a 7-inch touchscreen and available Smart Cruise Control, Navigation and a Harman Kardon® premium audio system. This car also hold the Guinness Record for doing 76.6 MPG, the lowest fuel-consumption by a hybrid vehicle driving coast-to-coast.  While you may not got those results you can expect about 50 MPG with this car. The Niro is priced starting at $22,890 standard and varies in ranges up to $29,650 depending on model and additional features.

Jay and I spent the most time in the Kia Optima Hybrid. It was the first car we took out that day and we choose it for our scenic tour of San Diego. I really liked this car, although it wouldn’t fit my large family of six, I think it would be a great car for hubby to use for work.

The Kia Optima Hybrid was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year. The battery was also repackaged allowing more cargo room in the trunk and has a 60/40 rear seat split. If you’re using this for a family car the Optima Hybrid brings convenience offerings such as the Hands-free Trunk Open feature with Smart Key, a Wireless Phone Charger and Surround View Monitoring (SVM) to aid parking maneuvers. The Optima Hybrid ranges in price from $25,995 – $30,990 and it averages 39 MPG city/46 MPG highway (42 MPG combined).

Photo Credit: Cielo Roth Photography

The last car available for the Ride and Drive event was the Kia Soul EV. We didn’t spend much time in this car but from the short time we did spend in the car, I could tell it was another great car. The Soul EV is Kia’s first mass-market zero emissions, battery electric vehicle and, for 2017, it’s better than ever. Offered in three trims – Soul EV-e, Soul EV, Soul EV+ (plus), it includes a long list of standard equipment at affordable price points. The Soul EV has a fast charge feature that allows you to charge up to 94 percent of the battery in under one hour. That’s perfect for people that are on the go with limited time. UVO eco is the new connectivity and control app system (only on Soul EV and EV+) that offers more features than ever before, including: immediate HVAC control; on-demand vehicle diagnosis, Speed Alert; Curfew Alert; Geo-Fence Alert; Location POI; Google local search; and Trip Info for app and MyUVO.com. The Soul EV ranges in price from $32,950 – $35,950.

Photo Credit: Cielo Roth Photography

To learn more about the new Kia and all their cars visit their website. If you were ever thinking about getting a hybrid check out these cars and learn why they are definately a smart buy.

The 2017 Mazda 6 GT: Stopping Traffic and Getting Attention #DriveMazda #DriveShop

The 2017 Mazda 6 GT: Stopping Traffic and Getting Attention

So it was a very nice day for February day in Maryland, considering that around this time of the year we are normally buried in 20 plus inches of snow. It was a normal day in the Stephens home the kids were playing, the wife was cooking and I was relaxing, that translates to watching sports or reading.

My wife asked me to run to the grocery store to grab a few things for what she was cooking and of course, I was like sure, can’t refuse to go to the store knowing the rewards that would await when my wife finished cooking. So I throw on my shoes, grab my coat, and go to the bookshelf to get my keys; instead of grabbing my keys a little voice said: “take the Mazda”. I put my keys down a grabbed the keys to Mazda 6.

The 2017 Mazda 6 is the swiss army knife of sedans, what you could call a crossover vehicle. On the outside, the 6 is a stylish sedan that can compete with a Mercedes C-Class or BMW 5 series. The lines on the car are clean yet trendy and the front grill is aggressive but classic, picture a Mustang and Audi having a baby.

Inside your have supple white leather with black piping, a white headliner accompanied with a sunroof, a leather-wrapped dash, and touchscreen media center with a seven-inch display screen. From a person that has driven some nice cars for the price point, Mazda 6 always exceeds my expectations.

So we have it established you get the style of a mid-series luxury sedan in this car but what about the what’s the under the hood? Here Mazda comprises and gives you an eco-friendly 2.5 liter 4 cylinder with sky-active technology, so you won’t get a robust V6 here but the 4 cylinder pushes out 184 horsepower and with 6-speed sport mode, the Mazda 6 changes gears smoothly and accelerates like a sports car. The front wheel drive is great for getting the car up steep hills and hatchback makes for extra space giving the 6 an SUV type of feel.

Photo Credit: Mazda USA

So back to my story, I grab the 6 keys head downstairs and get in the car. Turn up the music and head to the grocery store. I pull up the grocery store and park in the loading zone (my wife hates that by the way) because I’m only to grab a few items. One of the store workers walks outside sees me getting out of the car and says “whew! What year is that it looks like a spaceship!” I say “it’s a 2017, pretty nice right?” He said “Nice? That car is beautiful I have to have one of those!” I said thanks clicked the alarm and walk inside leaving him outside admiring the car.

Taking the road less traveled is a breeze with the @mazdausa CX6 Grand Touring. #drivemazda #driveshop

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Everywhere we went from taking my son to a birthday to going to my in-laws for Sunday fellowship people stopped and looked. The Mazda 6 is aging like fine wine, getting better each year.

We enjoyed riding around in the car for the week we had it. Although it’s too small for our family of six, it’s a great car. It would make a perfect work vehicle, first car for a teen, college-aged student, or recent college graduate. It’s also a perfect ride for seniors with ample trunk space for anything you plan to carry around with you.

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We celebrated my wife’s birthday in February, and she snapped a few shots with the car sporting her new haircut and color. She was impressed with the cupholders and charging ports since she likes being connected to her social media channels for her blog. Even the kids when around bragging (sharing) about the new ride to their friends. They even brought a few of the neighborhood kids around to sit in the car and get a spin around the parking lot.

It was hard giving back this ride after our week was up since I was the carpool king at work that week. If you’re in the market for a new car be sure to visit the Mazda website to learn more about the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring. The car has an MSRP of $30,695 standard, and the top of the line model which we reviewed has an MSRP of $34,530.

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Review – Perfect for College Students and Young Professionals

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Review – Perfect for College Students and Young Professionals

For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure to review vehicles for Drive Shop, and the Mitsubishi 2017 Mirage G4 SE sedan is definitely a vehicle that stands out. A well-priced economy car that is minimal on features but great on gas mileage. The car starts at just under 17k, and looking at it, you see a small yet trendy automobile that does what Mitsubishi is known for, handle wear and tear all maintaining the high of mechanical performance that company with the 3 diamonds in their logo stands by.

When I first saw the Mirage I remembered the earlier version of the car from my youth, a stylish mid-sized car that would be akin today’s Nissan Altima. However, the new Mirage is a lot smaller, more like a compact car. Being a bigger guy the ride was not that comfortable, but the stylish touchscreen media outlet which served as the focal point of the convenience features of this car which was pretty cool. So after settling in for the first time and finding my favorite radio station, I was ready to ride.

The Mirage G4 rides smooth considering its a smaller car Mitsubishi’s 12-valve 3 cylinder engine. Acceleration is mostly smooth and the car shifts well between gears. For a smaller car, it has good trunk space and seats 4 average sized people comfortably. Of course, the gas mileage in the Mirage is phenomenal. The convenience features such as the 6.5” display media screen equipped with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, push button start, and Bluetooth hands-free phone.

This Mirage G4 sedan priced at $16,995 new off the showroom floor represents a car that matches several groups of people.  Group one the kid in high school who gets good grades and you want to reward them with a brand new car for all of their hard work and efforts. Group two the young professional fresh out of college and looking to change the world but wants to make economically sound decisions. Group three the senior citizen that is looking for a nice looking compact option that is dependable and can get them from point A to point B with no worry.

All and all the Mirage G4 is not high on the bells and whistles but was created to do what a car is supposed to do. Get you where you need to be safe, on time and efficiently.

To learn more about the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 visit their website for additional features, safety specs, and more.

Disclosure: Thanks to Mitsubishi and Drive Shop for providing the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 on loaner to facilitate this review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – PART TWO

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – PART TWO

After getting a fresh haircut by my fraternity  brother Jamaal we headed to another frat brother’s house, he hosted several brothers during homecoming weekend. When Ryan and I arrived we were greeted by Ken, his wife Sabrina, and a host of fraternity brothers.  In an instant it started to feel like old times.

Conversations started about our time on the yard (campus), our achievements, our brawls, but most importantly our epic parties. African-American fraternities and sororities pride themselves on serving their community through volunteerism, partnering with other community organizations, along with assisting with projects and youth mentoring, but we still are still fraternities so we love to party. So many of our stories included talks about late nights and early mornings. It was truly great to see so many of my frat brothers and catch up on how their families are doing, their career aspirations, and their plans for the future.

So after laughing about stories our and fraternity, university, and friends; we drove down to LU for the Step-Show.  Step-Shows are competitions of rhythmic dance and synchronized foot movements normally set around a theme (see Stomp the Yard or School Daze). Amongst greeks they are very serious competitions and the winners earn bragging rights until homecoming the next year.  My fraternity went first and the steps are stellar, which is to expected from my fraternity (Phi Beta Sigma) as we are known for a high level and complex stepping.

The chapter step team does a Scooby Doo theme which was quite entertaining. In the end my chapter won for the best fraternity so it was good night. Afterward we planned on going out to an after party, but we got back from the step show and started talking and reminiscing  and realized it was 1AM in the morning. We all decided to just keep talking and enjoying each others company until we got sleepy.

I woke around 9AM, grabbed some leftover barbecue for breakfast, and started talking again. Nothing like great conversation and that was the theme for the weekend. My other frat brothers Ryan, Alfred, and Keith joined in discussing everything from jobs, kids, to our faith. After breakfast we got dressed and headed to the yard for the homecoming festivities.

Normally homecoming day looks like this; the homecoming Parade, the pregame battle of the Bands, food vendors, live music, and a lot of conversation! Now mind you it’s been a long time since I’ve gone to homecoming so it really felt good. I immediately noticed all the changes to campus, I had seen a lot of them on videos and social media but to see them in person those videos and pictures didn’t do them justice. First I noticed the Student Center had been expanded to two levels, a new Physical therapy building had been added, and numerous other projects I saw during my time there.


We parked and I immediately ran into old classmates, teammates, fellow greeks, and student leaders that I had not seen in years. I took me an extra hour to make a 15 minute walk because of being stopped for conversation, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Made it to our fraternity bench and caught up with more fraternity brothers, sorority sisters (Zeta Phi Beta) and numerous friends, wives, husbands, and children. The day was just underway, had a chance to speak with a university president Dr. Kent Smith we had a great conversation about his vision for the university and the new changes that were underway. I even saw my advisor from my term as Freshman Class President Mr. Lawrence, had a great conversation about books to read and stories from my freshmen year.

Headed to the game and saw my Lions play. I admit I was worried at first but in the 4th quarter the pulled out the win in true Langston Lion fashion!

After the game my frat brother Keith and I went to visit Dr. and Mr. Clark. Dr. Joann Clark was the Dean of our honor’s program at Langston and probably one of the sweetest women I have ever met in my life. Her husband Mr. Lester Clark who was also a professor at LU, have lived in small town of Langston for years, so whenever I am in town I always go by their home. After spending time with them and grabbing some great food we headed back to campus for couple of minutes and then went back to Ken’s house in OKC. Once we got back we ate and then got ready to go out. Some good friends of mine Marc and Kerry were throwing an afterparty and some of fraternity brothers and I brought a table. Enjoyed the music, had some great drinks, and got to talk more classmates and friends I had not seen in years.

 

The next day Ryan and I hoped in the CX-3 drove about an hour and a half northeast to my hometown of Tulsa so I could see my friends and family there. Got there around noon and started the rounds around town to see some of my neighborhood landmarks including my grandfather’s park, Langston’s Tulsa campus, my childhood home, and the historic Greenwood Ave also known as “Black Wall Street” because it produced more African-American millionaires than any other neighborhood in the country.

Then went by one of my best friends Devin’s home. He and my other longtime best friend Marco were there. We watched football, listened to music, talked about music, and enjoyed the day.

Later on that day my mother Janice, brother Jeremy, nephew Jeremiah, and my brother’s girlfriend Diamond all drove in from Omaha to catch up with me. I was very happy to see them all. I did not know it would be my last time seeing my little brother Jeremy alive. Last Friday (12/09/2016) he passed away in his sleep due to health complications.

So I am very thankful for my time home also thankful Mazda and Drive shop for providing my the Mazda CX-3 as a great car to get us around Texas and Oklahoma for a great weekend.  I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I did without having the Mazda CX-3 to drive around and spend time with friends and family.  It was an amazing road trip.  

The CX-3 has a starting price of $19,660 for the sport model and increase depending on upgrade or model choices.  It’s a compact ride that’s perfect for teens, college students, young professionals, newlyweds, and even small families or retirees.  To learn more about the Mazda CX-3 visit their website, and be sure to connect with them on Facebook & Twitter.

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – Part One

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP

This is Part One in a two-part series documenting my trip home for Homecoming this year at my alma mater Langston University.

Anybody that knows me, knows that I am very proud of everything that has had a hand in making me the person I am. Being born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, spending time with my family in Tampa Florida and Atlanta Georgia, and traveling and living in numerous cities across the country. However the one the thing that ranks high atop that list is my Alma Mater John Mercer Langston University. Named for the 1st elected U.S. congressman in post civil war history from the state of Virginia, and the great uncle of the legendary Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (whom many confuse the name of my university for) Langston is a gem in the state of Oklahoma.

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Founded 1897 through the United States 1890 Land Grant Act Langston was 1 of 19 Historically Black College and Universities founded during that period. HBCUs are institutions of higher education that were either founded for or by African-Americans during a time of segregation when “separate by equal” was standard. Many of these university now flourish with diverse student enrollment population of people of all races and religious affiliation. Langston means so much to me because it represents a time in my life where I came into my own as a young man, learned who I was, who I wanted to become, and most of all learned from the people at L.U. who saw potential and cared enough to develop it.

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To say this trip home was big for me would be an understatement, I hadn’t been back to Langston since 2006 Homecoming and I had not been back home to Tulsa since my grandmother’s funeral in 2012.  So to touch Oklahoma’s red dirt felt wonderful!

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I flew into Dallas so I could pick up my Fraternity Brother Ryan. Ryan and I came in together playing football at LU he was from Oakland and I was a local boy from Tulsa. We didn’t talk much until we both decide to join Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity Inc. at the same time then we became the best of friends. Ryan and I were roommates at LU and I am Godfather to oldest son.

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Landing in Dallas I went to the parking spot to pick up my car and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Mazda CX-3 in a brilliant royal blue (One of my frat colors).   I put his address in the GPS and cruised to his apartment in Fort Worth. The ride was smooth and I enjoyed listening to local Dallas radio station 97.9, after making it to his apartment I went to Jack in the Box (another Texas favorite) to grab a burger and went in and laid it down for the night. Next day Ryan made breakfast and we hit the road.

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I think the drive to Oklahoma City was one of my favorite parts of the road trip, we talk about life, our kids, our careers, our faith, and of course our time in college! The classes, the parties, football, the frat, and just college life overall.

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As soon as we got to OKC I ran to see my other frat Jamaal another teammate of ours at LU who is now a barber that runs local barbershop called Dixon’s. I didn’t get my hair cut on purpose because barbers back home take their time on a haircut and make you look and feel like a million bucks. Jamal had me fresh and ready to hit the yard (campus)…

Be sure to come back for the second part of my series about my time at Homecoming.  Thanks to Mazda and DriveShop for providing the Mazda CX-3 for my epic road trip from Dallas to Oklahoma City.  The CX-3 has a starting price of $19,660 for the sport model and increase depending on upgrade or model choices.  It’s a compact ride that’s perfect for teens, college students, young professionals, newlyweds, and even small families or retirees.  To learn more about the Mazda CX-3 visit their website, and be sure to connect with them on Facebook & Twitter.

The 2016 Mazda 3: All of the Places We Will Go! #DriveMazda #DriveShop #ad

The 2016 Mazda 3: All of the Places We Will Go!

nickisrandommusings.com

Over the past week I had the chance to drive the 2016 Mazda 3 and I can say I was pleasantly surprised with many aspects of the car. First I will start with size, I am about 6 feet and 300 pounds and I normally do not like driving smaller or compact cars but the room inside of the 3 was deceivingly large. The cabin was large enough for myself and 3 of my co-workers to head to lunch and all ride in comfort.

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Mazda 3 (15)

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Secondly I love the handling and the sport feature. I normally drive SUV’s or mini vans so I don’t get to open up the gas and push the pedal, but on my rides to work let’s get just say I enjoyed driving it a lot! Anybody in the greater Baltimore area is familiar with the 695 beltway around the city. When traffic is light the expressway is quite open, and I really had fun popping open the sunroof and turning up the Bose sound system and taking the drive. I liked driving it so much that we took it to a couple of other places…

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2016 Mazda 3 (7)

2016 Mazda 3 (4)

Every year with head to the beach to celebrate my summer children’s (Kennedi, Trey, and J.B.) birthdays as they all are in May and June. So this year instead of taking our normal mini van we took the Mazda 3 out to the beach and the kids loved it. I loved the blue tooth music feature it let me access song files from my phone and play them in the car. My wife is now a fan of Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul album because this.  The touch screen navigation was flawless and the Sirius XM radio kept us all entertained on every ride.

2016 Mazda 3 (3)

2016 Mazda 3 (1)

When the cold weather breaks we make a drive to the Loch Raven reservoir about once a month, it’s a beautiful hidden gem in the Parkville/ Towson area. We take a private one way road to get there but it is filled with scenery of rushing streams, lush greenery, and amazing views. Once we arrive, we drive through the reservoir gate and then some times we park and go for a walk, or sometimes we just keep driving and take in the beautiful views along the ride. The 3 was great for the trip it handled the sharp turns, mini dips and drops like a pro.

Overall I was supremely satisfied with the Mazda 3, after looking at the size I was  not pleased but after I drove it I fell in love.  A great driving car with many cool features and great safety features also. I didn’t think I would want to drive a small car but the Mazda 3 definitely has me rethinking that…

This 2016 Mazda 3 in Soul Red Metallic has a top of the line package.  This model has a MSRP of $30,270, the starting price of the Mazda 3 is $26,495.  To learn more visit MazdaUSA.com

We received the 2016 Mazda 3 in Soul Red Metallic for a week-long review from Drive Shop and Mazda.  Any opinions expressed are our own.

The 2016 Kia Optima SXL: A Driver’s Delight #DriveKia #DriveShop #ad

The 2016 Kia Optima SXL: A Driver’s Delight

Over the past year of my wife receiving cars to review KIA has done nothing but change my perception of the quality of automobiles it produces and shows that they are serious about being one the flagship car companies of the future. In the early 2000’s I saw KIA as a cost-effective car that offered little to no frills in exchange for a car that ran forever. The early KIA cars were built for substance but not style in my opinion. Fast forward 15 plus years and KIA is progressing towards being one of the best cars for the value on the market. The 2016 KIA Optima SXL is one of the most fun cars I’ve even had the pleasure to drive.

Kia Optima SX

KIA has spared nothing in this car, (which really has me excited to see their top car the K900) and it shows in the key areas it matters most.

Safety

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Easily access safety features on the driver's side panel
Easily access safety features on the driver’s side panel

Working to provide one of the safest cars on the road, KIA in putting their money where their mouth is in the 2016 Optima SXL Turbo. The 360 parking camera shows you every angle of the car during reverse parking, and keeps you from having to turn your head around to look out the window. The automatic braking feature is excellent and KIA also offers a drivers knee air bag to protect the knees and lower leg of the driver in case an accident occurs.  The traction control feature is excellent and alerts you when it has been disabled due to excessive rain.

I just loved how this blue jumped out at you.
I just loved how this blue jumped out at you.
The details on this car was incredible, like these door handles that match the exterior silver trim.
The details on this car was incredible, like these door handles, and the panel that matches the exterior
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The Kia Optima has lots of leg room.
Top quality speaker sound
Top quality speaker sound

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Kia Optima (11)

Wow factor

My co-workers marveled at the Optima SXL, I have never heard “That’s a KIA?!” so much in life! But it was well earned. The Optima in the beautiful electric blue pops out at you. Accented with those sexy red brake shoes it intrigues you and take your imagination with it. The interior makes you feel like you’re the pilor of a fighter jet, a very luxurious fight jet at that. With a full panoramic roof and Harman Kardon audio system the car sets the mood especially for night driving. The turbo has a nice kick but accelerate very smoothly, and highway driving is truly an adventure.

The trunk is very roomy and had enough space for our groceries for two weeks for a family of 6.
The trunk is very roomy and had enough space for our groceries for two weeks for a family of 6.
You can move your seat, forward, backward, up, down, and even adjust the seat back
You can move your seat, forward, backward, up, down, and even adjust the seat back
These quilted seats were the talk of the car.  Everyone loved them
These quilted seats were the talk of the car. Everyone loved them

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Overall opinion
The 2016 KIA Optima SXL is a car that rivals luxury sedans that not in it’s price range, and destroys everything in its
car class. The car has great safety and luxury features with an eco car price, and the performance under the hood with not disappoint. At 35,700.00 fully loaded this car will blow you away and with KIA’s top of the line warranty you won’t have to ever stress about repairs and maintenance. KIA is winning with the 2016 Optima SXL and you will love every minute of driving it.  To learn more about the 2016 Kia Optima SXL visit Kia’s website.

Hersheypark, Autism, and the 2016 Mazda CX-3 #DriveMazda #DriveShop

Hersheypark, Autism, and the 2016 Mazda CX-3

Hersheypark opened a few weeks ago for their Springtime in the Park preview and we just had to get up there for a visit.  Thanks to Drive Shop and Mazda we had a 2016 Mazda CX-3 to test drive that weekend so we figured we’d take the kids to the park for some springtime fun.

Mazda CX-3

We’ve been making the trip to Hersheypark so much lately, it’s second nature to us, so I was surprised when we were able to reach the park in an hour and twenty minutes, and that included a stop along the way.

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We stopped by Maple Donuts to give them a try, we’ve seen them on the road a dozen times in the past and never had the opportunity to stop so we decided it was worth trying out at least once.

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We ordered some donuts and sat down to eat before continuing with our journey.  It didn’t take us much longer to get to Hersheypark.  The Mazda CX-3 was very fast on the highway, and the ride was so smooth, it felt like we were sailing.  My husband and I couldn’t believe that we got to the park so fast, including the stop we made for donuts.

Thanks to Mazda and Drive Shop I received a Mazda Drive for Good Giving Card for $25 to donate to a charity of my choice.  When I received it I knew immediately where it was going. It was super easy to redeem the card as well.  I decided on giving ours to a local organization called Pathfinders for Autism that supports families like mines by providing valuable information about Autism, and offering events for families with autistic individuals.  We’ve participated in a few of their events including the annual Run Wild for Autism event, and their Downtown Sailing event.

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Donating was easy and while Pathfinders wasn’t listed originally I was able to add it and complete the donation process in about ten minutes.  I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity to give back and excited to see that a company like Mazda was doing something this amazing.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is an amazing car, it handled well on the highway and my husband got to work for an entire week without having to fill up at all.  He said it would be a great work car for him.  I loved the suede panels in the car on the door at on the seats.  It added to the style and decor of the car.  The trunk in this car was odd, there was a panel that kept it covered, and there was also a secret compartment.  Without the panel and compartment the trunk would be very deep and a nice size, those two things I felt limited the space in the trunk area.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 standard package costs $26,240 and the model we test drove costs $29,690, to learn more visit MazdaUSA.com.

Our Holidays with the Kia Sorento #DriveKia #DriveShop

Our Holidays with the Kia Sorento

After the week we spent riding around in the 2016 Kia Sorento, I do believe that if Santa’s sleigh was a car, it would surely be the 2016 Kia Sorento.  My family and I had the luxury of riding around in the Sorento for a week.  Thanks to Kia and DriveShop for the loaner for a week.  There are so many wonderful things I could say about this car, the most important one is how in one week our whole family became huge fans of Kia.

Kia Sorento Review

I’ve been sold on Kia since we had the opportunity to test drive the Kia Sedona last year.  It was an amazing car that was perfect for our family and I’ve shared with my husband on multiple occasions why I think it should be our next car purchase.  We were all excited about having the car for a week during the holidays, the weather was warm however it rained the entire time we had the car.  We were hoping to travel to Hershey but the constant rain made it impossible. That however didn’t stop us from enjoying the car.

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Lighted Foot Board

One cool feature of the car was the lighted foot board, once it got dark out, to help you see where you were getting into the car, the foot board turned red.  I never had to worry about where to step.

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Kia Sorento (7)

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The trunk was very roomy and held quite a few of our family’s Christmas gifts even when we were using one of the rear seats in the car.

There’s much more space when the rear seats are folded down.  When they are up there wasn’t much space, enough to hold a few items.  Our family of six needs as much space as possible so we prefer a bigger trunk.  Despite the trunk size all of us were able to ride comfortably in the car whenever we were traveling in it.

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Kia Sorento (5)

Kia Sorento (4)

Everyone were able to sit comfortably in the Sorento when we took it out around Baltimore.  When we needed more trunk space we folded down one of the rear seats and had one of the kids sit back there.  If we didn’t need trunk space we had two kids sit in the rear section and two in the middle row seats.

The interior of this car had a beautiful two-tone leather that made it look like a million bucks.  Personally we wouldn’t get the lighter cream color because, well kids are messy.  With the rain and mud I was constantly trying to wipe down seats.  If you don’t have kids or your kids are older this color combination may work great.  There were lots and lots of cup holders in the car.  This is another feature that may not seem like a big deal but trust me it really does make a big difference.

Technology was another big plus in this car, starting with ample usb ports for all your charging cables.  There were also quite a few car charger plugs as well as a center console that gave the driver ultimate control.  The parking assist on Kia is mind blowing and while it takes hubby a day or two to get accustomed to using, by the end of our week loan he’s a pro at trusting the car’s system.  It’s always hard to go back to our everyday car after we spend a week with the newest and best on the market.

I just love this moon roof in this @kiamotorsusa Sedona. #driveshop #drivekia

A photo posted by Nickida Stephens (@nostephens) on

We loved the moon roof in this car, it covered almost the entire length of the car.  The only downside was with all the rain we didn’t get to enjoy it on a sunny day.  I should also note that if you happen to be absent minded at times the Kia Sorento is here to help.  My husband had opened the roof one day when before it started raining.  Once he got home and parked, the car immediately alerted him the roof was opened and needed to be closed.

2016 Kia Sorento (22)

Privacy is key to anyone and the Kia Sorento has shades on the rear windows.  Use them to relax while riding in the car, to block out the sun or to just keep out the prying eyes.

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We haven’t had a Kia yet that people didn’t give us compliments on, and it was no different with the Kia Sorento.  Everywhere we went people complimented us on how nice the car was.  We had quite a few inquires from strangers about the car and what features we loved about it.  This is another great car from Kia and I personally can’t wait to see what else they come up with in the future.  I’m sure it’s going to be fabulous.

Our loaner was the 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD and the MSRP is $46,495, however the starting base model of the Sorento has a MSRP of $25,100.  To learn more about this and other Kia Motors cars visit them online – www.kia.com

Camping, Hershey, and the Mazda CX-5 #DriveMazda

Camping, Hershey, and the Mazda CX-5

The holidays are right around the corner and I wanted to share with you about our time with the Mazda CX-5.  Thanks to DriveShop and Mazda we had the opportunity to ride around in this car for a week.  When we get a loaner we love planning trips that we can’t take with our regular mini-van.  Since Hersheypark opening weekend for Christmas Candylane was the same weekend we got the car we headed to Hershey that weekend for a whirlwind weekend of adventure and fun.

Camping, Hershey &

My family is big so we need a large car.  When we move down to a five seater it’s a tight squeeze for us, but we always find ways to make it work for our family.  The Mazda CX-5 is a great car for a smaller family.  It will comfortably seat up to five people.  If you’re adding car seats I would say four people and the trunk is huge so it has more than enough space for just about anything you choose to put in the trunk.

Keen Footwear
Kennedi modeling Keen Footwear in the Mazda CX-5

The trunk was perfect when I was working on my post about Keen Footwear.  I used it as a backdrop for my daughter to model the fashionable boots.  She loved it.

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Mazda (4)

You can clearly see the trunk is very large and you can still lay down the seats to add even more space.  When we visited Hershey that weekend, the trunk held our luggage for the weekend, bedding including pillows for the cabin, and the extra items we picked up while shopping at the outlets.

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This model was a smoke color.  The model we were test driving was a top of the line model, however the base model starts at $21,795.  This particular car is the 2016 CX-5 Grand touring AWD Titanium, standard equipped the car’s MSRP is $29,470.  With optional equipment the model we were driving is $32,340. There were so many great things about this car that we just loved.

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This center control panel gives both the driver and passenger control of the media center.  There is even an electronic parking brake on the side of the center control.  We didn’t try using it when we had the car though, my husband wasn’t sure how it would work.

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This model had the two tone leather trimmed sports seats.  I wouldn’t choose white/cream with a family because we all know spill happens but it looked beautiful and it had the same two tone trim on the door panel as well.  Standard interior features include heated front seats and that was a huge bonus for us because it was very cold in Hershey when we were visiting.  Additional interior features include power locks and power windows, advanced keyless entry system, power driver seat, and leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise, and bluetooth control.

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Mazda really thought out the safety features in this car, making it a top pick for anyone.  Starting with the 36K mile bumper to bumper warranty, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, child safety seat anchors, rear view camera, hill launch assist, advanced dual front air bags, and front and side air curtains.

Hersheypark Camping Resort

Hersheypark Camping Resort

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The Maxda CX-5 rides smooth on the road and boasts 30 MPG on the highway.  We were able to get to Hershey, and drive around with just one tank of gas, we filled up on the way home and my husband was able to get back to Baltimore and to & from work for four days on the same tank we filled up on in Hershey.

Hershey Sweet Lights Entrance

Hershey Sweet Lights

Hersheypark Christmas Candylane (1)

The car managed great when we were driving through the Hershey Sweet Lights display, the narrow, dark roads were no match for the Mazda.  The halogen headlights were very bright and made the ride even more enjoyable for the kids.

We just loved our adventure to Hershey Candylane and spending the night at the Hersheypark Camping Resort, the Mazda made the ride enjoyable and fun.  To learn more about the the Mazda CX-5, visit their website.

Five Reasons to Love the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport #DriveMitsubishi @MitsuCars

Five Reasons to Love the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

When ever we get the opportunity to test drive a new car, we jump on the opportunity.  Last week thanks to Drive Shop and Mitsubishi we had another awesome opportunity to test drive a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  In August had the Outlander SE for a week and we loved that car so I was excited to see what the sport version had to offer.  Here are five reasons to love the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

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There are lots of great things I could say about this car.  While it wasn’t able to hold my entire family, its a great option for smaller families, couples or singles.  Just like the Outlander SE we had in August this car was very smooth on the road, in the city and on the highway.

 Warranty

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Everyone knows that Mitsubishi has a killer warranty and owners of the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport will be happy to know that their new car will be covered with that amazing warranty.  Knowing you are getting a top level of protection after buying a car is a plus and huge bonus.  Every 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes with a generous warranty that includes a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, a 7-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty, a completely transferable 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited miles roadside assistance program.

Safety Features:

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Mitsubishi Sport 2015 (3)

We are always traveling with precious cargo so having a car with great safety features are a must for us.  Families looking for a good car can rest assured that the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport takes safety to another level with Mitsubishi Motors’ patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution, that helps protects passengers in the event of a side impact collision.  The cabin is made of high tensile strength steel for added protection, while the front and rear of the car absorbs the impact of the collision.

Rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a “Top Safety Pick” in 2014, every 2015 Outlander Sport model comes equipped with a plethora of important safety features and technologies: Active Stability Control (ASC) with Hill Start Assist (HSA); Traction Control Logic (TCL); a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS); anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist; and a seven (7) air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) with front air bags with passenger weight and driver’s seat position sensors, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, and curtain side air bags with roll-over sensors.

Top-Notch Interior

The interior of any car is just as important at the exterior and this car has a great interior.  The car we had included features that were not standard but this car does have great standard features.  Like the four speakers, two power outlets, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and electric power steering just to name a few.  Standard features include:

  • Air conditioning with pollen filter
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Soft-touch instrument panel trim
  • 4 speaker 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system
  • Electric Power Steering (EPS)
  • 60/40 split folding and reclining high-back rear seats with armrest and cup holder
  • Dual-visor vanity mirrors
  • Center room lamp
  • High-contrast gauge meters with full-color LCD Multi-Information Display
  • FUSE Hands-Free Link System® w/USB port
  • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
  • 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat
  • Power door locks and side view mirrors
  • Power windows with driver’s one-touch up/down
  • Steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise control
  • Two 12-volt power outlets

Storage Space

Mitsubishi Sport 2015 (6)

Mitsubishi Sport 2015 (8)

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (2)

Our family is big and we always need a lot of trunk space.  While this car doesn’t seat us all, the trunk would hold all our groceries for a month.  It’s huge and you can see from my photo with the car seat and the sodas,  there was still room to put even more items back there.  We could easily fit our big stroller, groceries, shopping bags and a few more things as long as we packed it right.

Panoramic Glass Roof

Mitsubishi Sport 2015 (13)

Mitsubishi Sport 2015 (1)

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (5)

I have to say that I can’t believe that listing this “moon roof” by itself seems odd but trust me it’s one premium feature that I would highly recommend for anyone purchasing this car.  None of my pictures could do this roof any justice but it’s one part of the car I just loved so much.  During the day it was perfect for catching rays and soaking up the sun, and at night it was great for star gazing.  Even when it rained we loved having to roof to watch the rain drops fall against the glass was so soothing.  I quickly feel in love with this feature of the car and by the time of pick up the whole family loved it just as much as I did.

Overall the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was a great car that provided a smooth ride and had great gas mileage.  Singles, couples and smaller families would benefit from long list of standard features and all the storage space.  The warranty makes it even more attractive to buyers, and once you read online reviews, you’ll be even more impressed with this car.  The Outlander Sport starts at $19,595 for the Sport ES 2WD and goes to $24,195 for the Sport SE AWD.  We had the 2015 Outlander Sport SE AWD with the optional equipment, the version of the car is priced at $29,945 and it’s worth every penny.

To learn more about Mitsubishi and their cars be sure to visit them online – www.mitsubishicars.com.  Thanks to Mitsubishi and Drive Shop for providing the Outlander Sport to our family for review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

Prepping for Back to School In Style with the Kia Sedona

Prepping for Back to School In Style with the Kia Sedona

I am honestly ashamed at myself for how long I waited to start getting the kids ready for back to school.  This year our toddler attended Summer School through the Extended School Year Program due to his Autism.  I think I was so focused on helping him have a smooth summer session that I didn’t realize that summer was coming to an end, and I didn’t have the kid’s school supplies taken care of as yet.  Usually I would coupon and get the basic like crayons, pencils, folders, and notebooks.  This year I didn’t get any of that done during the summer, so I found myself running around town a week before school started, trying to find the best deals around.

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Luckily for us we were test driving the 2015 Kia Sedona SX-L that week, so running errands and getting around town was a breeze and the kids loved trying out the new car.  There are so many reasons I could share about why this is the perfect family car, or at least it was for us.  We had a serious case of car envy when it was time for this beauty to be picked up.

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A good car for our family of six needs a lot of trunk space and when you’re shopping for three kids for school you need all the trunk space you can get.  The Kia Sedona had more than enough trunk space for all our shopping needs.  We were able to fit groceries for two weeks in the truck with ease.  Even when we decided on a last-minute trip to the beach for a family outing the trunk held all the food for seventeen people.

Kia Sorento (35)

Kia Sorento (37)

These seats also fold down so if you need extra room for bigger items then you can have it.  The captain’s chairs slide forward giving  you lots of space.  Families moving children into college dorms or apartments would love having the space in the trunk because it would be perfect to fit all those dorm essentials.  Plus when you’re done putting everything in, just close with the push of a button.

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Kia Sorento (27)

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We didn’t have to stress about extra long shopping days with the kids because the first class lounge seating provided the ultimate level or comfort and style when traveling.  I wanted to ride in those seats just to feel like I was being chauffeured around town.  Even when the chairs were in lounging position passengers in the third row still had enough space to feel comfortable.

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Kia Sorento (17)

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Although my picture doesn’t do it justice there are dual sunroof on this car.  I was quite impressed with that feature since it allowed us to give the kids the chance to have the rear one open at night for gazing at stars.  My husband spent the most time with the car since he would drive it to work, he told me that he loved the lights when driving at night.  So one night after dinner we jumped in the car and headed out for a late night drive and I have to say the lights were very bright, allowing us to take the long way home.  You know the scenic route that doesn’t have much lights.  We would usually only travel on those roads during daylight hours but we were able to master those roads just like we normally would.  Those front projection fog lights with LED positioning lamps do make night travel safer.

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For a third row these seats are pretty roomy.  We had two car seats back here and one of the kids could easily sit in the middle of both car seats.  I know there is a lot of room back there because when I attended the Monkey Kingdon Event with Disney, I had the opportunity to ride around in the Sedona and I would stretch out on the whole back seat and relax.

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Keeping my whole family connected is key.  Everyone has some sort of device to keep them busy in the car.  The Sedona has USB ports in the front and the rear of the car.  Someone who aided in designing this car must have known this feature was needed for big families.

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Our current vehicle has quite a few cup holders but not enough for six people.  We always had space for cups or bottles of water when riding around in this car.  There had to be at least ten of them, that’s more than enough for our family.  The week we had the car, temperatures outside were above ninety.  It was very hot outdoors.  In addition to the heated seats this car also has cooling seats, they felt heavenly.

When you live in suburban and urban areas parking can be a hassle.  My husband didn’t get his parallel parking skills down till he moved to Baltimore from Tulsa.  He loved having the parking assist feature of this car.  No more opening the doors to see if he’s in the lines, no checking to see if anything is behind him.  All you do it watch the screen and let it guide you.  The Sedona gives you an ariel view as well as additional views when parking.

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We loved this car, and my husband said he received lots of compliments on the car from several people.  You know you are riding in style when you pull up at the supermarket and you can see the people outside mouthing to each other ‘That’s a nice mini-van’.  I can definitely see us owning one of these in the future.  The Kia Sedona has a starting price of $26,100 and comes with lots of features standard, plus you can upgrade to another model for even more features.  To learn more about the 2015 Kia Sedona visit them online www.kia.com.  See what others are saying about Kia by following the hashtag #DriveKia.

Date Night, Hersheypark and the Mitsubishi Outlander SE #DriveMitsubishi

Date Night, Hersheypark and the Mitsubishi Outlander SE

Summer flew by faster than I expected this year, before I knew it we were facing back to school and our family hadn’t had a chance to get away for the summer.  Drive Shop and Mitsubishi offered us a loaner 2015 Outlander SE for a week and our family of six decided to plan some fun before the kids got ready to head back to school for the new year.  My family owns a Minivan for our regular transportation.  My husband has been wanting a truck for him to drive to work and when he’s not with the family so I figured he would really enjoy the Outlander SE 2015 since it’s a crossover.  When the car was dropped off I was surprised that it had a third row because looking from the outside you couldn’t tell.

Mistubshi Outlander (14)

Mistubshi Outlander (15)

When you have six people in your family being in the car can be a pain at times, that’s why we love our car because everyone has their space.  The Mitsubishi Outlander SE comfortably held our family for the week we had it.  None of the kids complained about space at all.  My husband loved having a different car to ride to work that week.  Our first adventure was a long overdue date night.

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My husband and I was hosted by Hunt Valley Inn at Cinnamon Tree Restaurant.   We posed for a quick selfie with the Outlander before heading for in for dinner that night.  If you are ever in the Hunt Valley area be sure to check out them out.  You won’t regret it.

 

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Since we hadn’t taken a family vacation this summer we decided on a quick trip up to Hershey, PA to visit Hersheypark.  We stayed in Harrisburg, PA for the night and woke up early and drove the rest of the way to Hersheypark.

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Hershey PA (12)

When you’re packing for six you can expect to end up with a few bags, we had to get creative with the space we had in the Outlander.  We were able to fit most of our bags in the trunk and store extra pieces inside the car since we had an extra seat.

JB was excited about getting into the car.
JB was excited about getting into the car or he’s ready to run the steps.

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Hershey PA (2)

The kids were super excited about having a different car for the week.  They had been counting down the days to Hersheypark and the arrival of the car for weeks so when it arrived they couldn’t wait to go out and explore.

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We were able to fit two car seats in the Mitsubishi Outlander SE, our infant seat in the second row and the toddler seat in the third row.  This allowed the older kids to take turns sitting next to their younger brothers.

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Mase wanted to sit in the regular seats like he was a big boy.  We had a fun two days in the Harrisburg/Hershey area.  At the park the kids spent half of the day at the water park section, where they had the chance to play in the wave pool and the mini water slide.  It was super hot out so after a few hours we decided to change-up and head to the rides and other attractions in the park.

Zoo America

A trip to Hersheypark isn’t complete without a stop at Zoo America and since admission is included in the price of your ticket into the park it worth it to stop by and see the animals that live there.  Zoo America showcases animals found in North America only.  Be sure to check out the giant snapping turtle and the bears while strolling through the zoo.  Plus I suggest when you’re ready to eat or just grabbing a drink to visit the counter near the zoo exit.  When we visited they had the shortest wait times in the entire park.

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When we travel safety is always a major concern for us.  The Outlander has seven airbags throughout the car.  The rear doors are equipped with child safety locks and this model also has RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) Construction that deflects and transfers crash energy away from passengers.

We enjoyed test driving the Mitsubishi Outlander SE for the week.  There were so many great things we loved about this car.  Here’s some things you need to know about the Outlander.

Outlander Pros:

  • Three trim levels: ES, SE, and GT starting at $22,995
  • Great Gas Mileage – 26 MPG
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Fast Key Passive Entry and Push to Start
  • Power Windows, Mirrors and Locks standard on all models
  • Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Break Assist – break sensors will add extra pressure for emergency stops
  • Automatic Power Lift-gate
  • Touch Panel Display Audio System
  • USB Port
  • Rear-view Camera System
  • Third row cup holder and storage space

Mistubshi Outlander (4)

Mistubshi Outlander (8)

Mistubshi Outlander (7)

The only challenge for us with this car was the small trunk space when using the third row option.  We need that row when traveling with the kids but when we were not traveling with all the kids or none of them we could easily fold down the seats for additional trunk space.

To learn more about the Mitsubishi Outlander visit the website – http://www.mitsubishicars.com/outlander.  Be so to get social and follow the hashtag #DriveMitsubishi to see what others are saying.

 

Exploring Orlando with Kia #KiaDriveFL

Exploring Orlando with Kia

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I was in Orlando for the Monkey Kingdom Event.  It was such an amazing experience, I’ve been sharing about it all last week and now that most of my posts are up I also wanted to share how I went exploring Orland with Kia.  Thanks to the generosity of Kia, they provided cars and minivans for us to use during the event.  We also had drivers from DriveSTI toke take us to and from the airport.

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My adventures with Kia in Orlando began with the ride to our homes from the airport.  A flight delay in Baltimore caused me to be moved to another group for pick ups from the airport.  When the Kia Sedona showed up to pick us up it only had empty seats for three since we needed the cargo space for luggage.  I was actually surprised that all our luggage fit because when four women are traveling for a week, you can end up with lots of baggage.

Kia Sedona

With a family of six we need a minivan to get around.  The Kia Sedona is the perfect family ride.  Although we were sharing two seats among three people we were all comfortable the entire ride.  The space in this car is simply remarkable and there are cup holders galore.  Another bonus for me were the USB inputs and plugs in the back of the car.  Everyone in our family has tablets and when we are traveling there’s no where for the kids to recharge in the back.  With the Kia Sedona, charging up would be the last of your worries.

Kia Sedona Captain Chairs recline – Photo Credit Kia Motors

Relaxing in the Kia Sedona is no problem at all.  When you’re on a long road trip be sure to claim the captain chairs because they recline, giving you room to put your feet up and enjoy the ride.

Back Seat of the Kia Sedona

On the way home, I had lots of space in the back seat of the Sedona, so I got comfy and took the whole back seat to myself.  Can you believe there was enough space for me to put up my legs and relax.  Now that’s a lot of room.  I bet car seats can fit back her without any trouble.  My blogger buddy kelly @ Kelly Stillwell had a Sedona for a week, she even drove hers to Georgia.  Check out her full review to see what she loved the most about the Kia Sedona

Kia K900 Luxury car

Another car we had the opportunity to use while in Florida was the Kia K900.  I didn’t get to spend much time in this car but Melissa A @ A Sparkle of Genius had it for a few days and she has a great review about the car.  I can say when I did get in to look at it I was very impressed.  You can adjust your seats from the door panel and that’s just one feature.  The sun roof is humongous and the seats can be heated or cooled.  Be sure to click on the link to read what Melissa had to say about this car.

2016 Kia Sorento

The 2016 Kia Sorento was also apart of the fleet of cars from Kia during the event.  Due to our schedule I didn’t get an opportunity to check out the Sorento at all, except to snap a quick outside shot.  Carlee of Frugal and Fun Mom drove this beauty around for a week and she had some great things to say about this ride.  Check out her review to see what features she and her family enjoyed the most.

Kia Optima Hybrid

On our free day Cori took Dawn and I to Downtown Disney so we could get some shopping done.  She wanted directions and was pulling out her phone to input them when we remembered the navigation system in the car.

Optima Navigation

Using the navigation system was a little tricky at first but once we figured it out we were on our way.  One feature of this car was the volume control, while using the navigation system we needed to hear the instructions so the music would play regular when we weren’t receiving instructions and when there were instructions the music would lower in the background making it easy to hear what the system was saying.  Another feature I liked was the dual zone temperature controls. Not only do the people in the front of the car get to control their own temperature, but so did the person in the back.  I had a fabulous time in Orlando and thanks to Kia I also got to ride around in style.  Now I want a new car.  LOL.  Interested in learning more about Kia, visit their website to see what’s new.  Also be sure to follow the #KiaDriveFL hashtag to see what the other bloggers on the trip thought about the Kia Cars.