A Special Thank You to Mitsubishi Motors & the DriveShop Chicago Office...
As I type these words, it is literally "the night before Christmas." Right now, at this very moment, the sounds of A Christmas Story can be heard emitting from the television in our family room. Both my wife and our youngest daughter are asleep on the couch (our oldest is finally asleep upstairs after a bit of Xmas Eve naughtiness), as the twinkle of lights has placed a magical, very comfortable vibe on the house. I finished prepping tomorrow's turkey, and now here I am - in my office, typing away while awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, and reflecting on what a busy holiday season this has been - one capping another busy year. While my family is always on my mind, tonight I'm also thinking of others, hoping that the third annual "Rock Father Santa" program was able to do some good. A few weeks back, our family hit the road once more, making our annual toy delivery in one of my favorite new vehicles serving as this year's "sleigh" - the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander. I know we've done good, but I can't help but think that we could've done better... and that bothers me.
"Dream Big, Princess" - that's a message that little ones have heard often this year as part of Disney's mission to inspire girls and kids around the world to dream big, and to unlock their full potential. Being a modern-day princess brings with it a spirit of adventure that accompanies a passion for friendship and kindness, and there's no better way to seek adventure with friends than to hit the open road... or in this case, sidewalk. The term "horseless carriage" has new meaning with the release of the 24-volt Disney Princess Carriage Ride-on vehicle from Dynacraft - almost unanimously-chosen as one of 2016's Hottest Holiday Toys, and a featured pick in both my 2016 Holiday Wish Guide™ on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine™ and the The Toy Insider's 2016 Hot Holiday Toy Guide!
While we're still not among their ranks as an owner, there is no other automotive brand on the road that my wife and I tend to like across-the-board more than Kia. There's certainly some specific models that I love from other makers, but when we're talking about consistency from top to bottom, over the past few years, Kia has positioned themselves to have their entire family of vehicles feel like the truly belong together - from the entry-level Rio to the K900 Luxury Sedan. Toward the middle of the pack are the crossovers, and in that "compact SUV" scale lies the 2017 Kia Sportage - recently named a 2017 "Best Buy Award Winner" by my friends at Kelley Blue Book, and a "Rock Father Pick" among them. If you're in the market for a solid crossover that wins on many levels, it's time to give the Sportage a look.
A great road trip is one of the most exciting activities to enjoy with family, and a getaway during fall is one of the best times to do it. I say that, of course, with the American Midwest in-mind, but any locale that boasts the true seasonality of autumn, complete with falling leaves and a robust color palette will make for a beautiful drive. When it comes to hauling family, there's only been a few occasions where I've actually driven more than our immediate crew, fully complete at four. Sure, I've driven plenty of larger vehicles with third-row seating and plenty of people-moving power, but seldom have I actually had a full load. This trip was an exception, one in which I could use the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited (on-loan from Toyota USA) to it's potential, heading straight out of Illinois and heading north to our relatives' lake house.
It was a sunny day at the end of late spring when the crew from DriveShop delivered a 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring Edition to Rock Father HQ for testing. Straight-away, the Avalon is a familiar ride, one with nearly a million-and-a-half siblings sold in the U.S. since 1994 - a car that even my own father owns. In "Sizzling Crimson Mica," the Avalon stands apart from the crowd wearing a color that's hard to describe with its purple/red hue. Making this particular subject even more dramatic is the choice of dark grey (nearly blacked-out) 18" alloy wheels. On the interior, it's Almond Leather and brown accents provide a color scheme that doesn't immediately seem to match the exterior (to me), but it works. So how does the 2016 Toyota Avalon hold up as a family car? More importantly, what do The Rock Daughters™ think of it?
Brand unity is something that the folks at Kia Motors USA have really nailed over the past few years. Whether you're driving an entry-level model, or a fully-loaded luxury vehicle, the experience is distinctly Kia, and there's a comfort level in that feeling that's hard to surpass - no matter if you're in a car, crossover or minivan. When I last found myself behind the wheel of their best-selling nameplate, the Kia Optima, it was the 2014 Hybrid model. While we enjoyed that car, the 2016 Optima has been redesigned, and I recently had the opportunity to do a little roadtripping in Florida at the helm of the SX Turbo Edition - the perfect family ride for rockin' the road.