Browsing Tag

testdrives

The Day I Put A Christmas Tree in a Honda Odyssey

Uncategorized By December 15, 2013 No Comments

If you ask what the biggest obstacle is for just about any Mom, keeping the car clean will be near the top of her list. We’ve sent people to the moon, can photograph a cheque to deposit it into a bank account and yet no car company had ever made a vehicle with a built-in vacuum.  Until now.  I have been test driving the Touring version of the 2014 Honda Odyssey and quite possibly may never give it back. I shoved a Christmas Tree in a Honda Odyssey and vacuumed up all the needles.

Roomy and luxurious, the favourite feature of the minivan is a vacuum that extends right from the rear all the way to the front windshield.  With a cord that won’t tangle. To truly test the functionality, I got permission from Honda to use the vehicle to carry not one, but two Christmas trees from the lot to my home. Pulling a cord and flipping the seats down was easy, and the 11-foot tree slid into the car with ease.  The 12-footer was strapped to the roof with twine.  After removing and decorating the stunners, the car was pine scented and fresh, but there were needles everywhere.

The Honda Odyssey Vacuum

I pressed the start button on the vehicle once to put the Odyssey into accessory mode. Pupping the trunk using the smart key, I only had to touch the ‘on’ button and grab the hose from the stowage area.  There are 2 attachments and it will run for 8 minutes before it shuts off on its own.  Not to worry if your car looks like mine – shutting car off and turning cit back on gives you another eight minutes of Cheerio-sucking bliss. 

The Odyssey Cool box

Cool box as in ‘keeps drinks, leftovers or pumped breastmilk nice and chilly. You just press a button to put air conditioning in the box.  The great thisg is that unlike other auto manufacturers, Honda does not simply use the vents to cool the box but has a seperate A/C cooling system.  So you can be warm while the juiceboxes stay cold.

The Odyssey Back Seat

You know when you try to squeeze three carseats across a back seat and the kids can’t access the seatbelt buckles so you have to get out of the car and buckle everyone in yourself? That doesn’t happen here.  You can move the back seats wider apart to make more carseat room.  There are window shutters that slide up and down that proved very durable as my kids played with them. ‘Daytime. Nighttime. Daytime. Nighttime.’ What a fun game.

The Miraculous Odyssey A/V System

Have you ever had a toddler and a teen fight over tv selection? Dora or Twilight and NO compromise.  This vehicle solve the issue. (Yes, you may want to move into it).  The wider drop-down video screen can split into two sides so each can watch their preferred programming. Switch seats after a rest stop? No worries.  The flick of a button on the remote will allow you to swap the screen. Cordless headphones can be assigned to either side, and the third row seating boasts hdmi or rca jacks for your secondary source dvd.  Or maybe an ipod. Or the Xbox or ps3.  Guitar hero anyone?

Odyssey Tech

The touchscreen is new to this Odyssey and when used with the Aha system, makes your life easy. Hondalink is a free app from iTunes or google play. It allows you to stream internet radio. You can pick any station in North America, type of music using hardly any data. You could, for instance, use it two hours per day for a month and use only 1 gig of data on your smartphone. Swipe to play the next song if you don’t like the current one, and set up to 16 stations as favourites..

Voice command functionality allows you to talk to the car.  With 2 presses of the voice command button you can say things like:
‘Find nearest gas station’, ‘Passenger temperature 25’, ‘Fan speed 5’ or ‘Rear defrost on’ and the car will do your bidding. No you cannot marry your car.

The clock is set via satellite so you never have to change the time again (or remember to add an hour).

Curious about the Christmas Tree test? Check out my video.  Spoiler alert: It will make you want a 2014 Honda Odyssey.

 

This article was generously sponsored by Honda Canada. All opinions, images and ideas are my own.  For more information, visit honda.ca/odyssey.

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50 Years: The Ford Mustang Convertible

Uncategorized By July 30, 2013 No Comments

Ford MustangIt was my tenth wedding anniversary and I was fully surprised as I got whisked off to Los Angeles.  The tenth seems to carry more weight than it used to.  We were upgraded and treated like royalty everywhere we went and it began with the car rental agency.  Noting the special occasion we were given a Ford Mustang convertible.  And I happened to have a scarf to tie around my head a la Grace Kelly. (But of course).

The Ford Mustang has always held allure for me.  Rugged and manly yet powerful with crisp lines, it produces a visceral reaction.  I have to stop writing auto reviews.  They always sound racy to me. (But to be fair you should read their slogans).  Even as an automatic the car is easy to handle and the turning radius was impressive in tiny LA parking garages.  Delivering up to 662 HP (V8 Manual Supercharged), I can’t think of a better vehicle in which to see the southern California coast.  No longer intimidated by the sunroof, it was fully automated with 2 manual levers that were easily operated.

Mustang 50I happened to be attending the Ford Trends Conference in Detroit for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang.  Unlike the image in my mind of the vehicle of 50 years ago (my close friend was given one by his dad), I was taken with the modern design and extras.  Trends discussed at the conference about environmental responsibility, technology and the notion of cars making life easier for their drivers were evident in the vehicle.  The SYNC® with MyFord Touch® systems allow you to use the RCA connectors to plug in all kinds of video players such as gaming consoles and iPods. You can even turn your smartphone into a wireless router, so your passengers — big and small — can surf the Web! Hold me back – I’m trying to unplug this summer.

mustang wheelThe steering wheel was stitched beautifully through leather and ergonomic to the hands.  The square detailing on the dash juxtaposed against the curves of the outside shell made for a ying-yang experience.  Our music blared clearly from huge speakers and as we drove through Malibu and Hollywood I played with the dials styled like old-school radio accessories.  I may have been singing a bit too.. Capitol Records, are you listening?  More a ‘date-night’ vehicle, there were of course carseat latches but you’d be hard-pressed to fit a third person between two carseats.  That, of course, isn’t the purpose of this machine.  As a date vehicle for fair weather?  Perfect.

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How to Drive a Stick Shift

Uncategorized By July 3, 2013 No Comments

How to Drive Stick ShiftGet your head out of the gutter Mom.  Learning how to drive a stick shift (or manual transmission for the techies) is a perfect skill to add to your bucket list.  Not only does the manual shifting of gears give you more power and control, but it could be necessary in an emergency (think James Bond in Die Another Day), renting a hot European driving machine in the South of France, being a DD to a friend in a race car, or driving on icy roads (last but not least).  I have owned a couple of manual cars and was fortunate to learn on my Dad’s before I ruined my own clutche(s) (thanks Dad).  But I must admit, the control over the car and the jaw-dropping stares by people as I stepped into my car in stilettos and didn’t stall was worth every ounce of effort.

It used to be the case that most people drove manual. Not now.  Honda has a deep heritage in racing, and I was lucky to attend a manual driving school with professional racers Daniel Morad and Jeff Boyce.  Very cool.  Honda believes that manual transmission is at the core of the driving experience. and without it, driving has lost some of its ‘fun-ness’. It doesn’t have to be just for getting to a destination with juice boxes being biffed at your head.  It’s a better experience with manual because you control more.  About the car.  Unfortunately Honda has no backseat nanny option .  As yet.  They do have a vacuum in the new 2014 Odyssey though.

Honda Manual DriveSo I ‘raced’ the 2013 Honda Civic around a track – it’s the best selling car in Canada for 15 years.  It was responsive, compact and exciting.  And then I got to drive with the pro.  For the record – I didn’t stall.  But I certainly picked up a ton of pointers on how to drive a stick shift.

1. Depress clutch all way to floor so car will start.
2. Adjust seat. (In my case way up and forward).
3. Hands at 9 and 3 to protect from airbag. No longer 10 and 2.
4. Put car in 1st gear. Put right foot under seat. Cars have enough torque to move a bit nowadays without balancing the clutch and gas. (Exception – on a hill use the emergency brake to avoid rolling backward and balance the feet).
5. Once car rolls, lift clutch and give a bit of gas.
6. Clutch needs to be fully up or down.   Don’t hover foot over clutch pedal.
7.  Put foot on floor or to left of clutch.
8. Advanced: When you downshift blip throttle to eliminate jolt to lower gear.
9. Clutch down then break when stopping.
10.  Breathe. 

 

Here’s a clip of the lovely Laura Heasman from Honda Canada ending in Daniel Morad doing his power lap – WHILE talking as I shot footage.  I think I would have stalled.

 

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