Posts Filed Under Reviews

Ford Explorer and the Little Things

posted by Momo Fali on August 29, 2011

Just after my husband and I got married, we bought our first new car. It was a 1997 Mercury Mountaineer. After 14 years and 145,000 miles, I’m still driving that SUV. I have had it so long that they don’t even make Mountaineers anymore. I might as well have an Edsel.

Even though my car has a rear door that won’t open, a horn that doesn’t honk, a CD player that won’t release my CD’s, a liftgate that slams down on your head and a speedometer that barely lights up at night, I didn’t think I was missing out when everyone around me went through two or three cars in the last decade and a half. After all, my car is comfortable, it has needed minimal repairs, I feel pretty safe in it and we have used the heck out of the abundant cargo space.

But, it is becoming more and more apparent that Bessie (as we lovingly refer to her) is beginning to show her age; not to mention that she only gets about 9 mpg. It is time that we start looking for another car.

I want something with more seating than the Mountaineer’s five seats, I want safety, good mileage, cargo room, towing capabilities, comfort and it has to fit in my garage. That is key.

I drove a Chevy Tahoe a few years ago and fell in love with it because of its ample space. Actually, there was too much space. I would have needed to tear out my garage door and raise it a few inches in order to park my car.

When Ford contacted me recently to test drive a vehicle from their media fleet, I immediately wanted to try the Expedition. Can you tell I like roomy cars?

Unfortunately, because of my garage door, I knew there was no way I could end up with an SUV that big. I looked at Ford’s website and chose an Explorer instead. It had six or seven seats (depending on the model), plenty of cargo space and best-in-its-class highway mpg. With fuel close to $4 a gallon, that’s a no-brainer.

The Explorer didn’t disappoint when we recently took it on a trip to Lake Erie. It had all of the above and a whole lot more. As much as my must-have list of features are important to me, I found that it’s the little things that make one, BIG impression. I had no idea what I’ve been missing.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Cup holders – What? Cup holders are a big deal. I have spilled enough drinks in my car to know this. The Explorer had two, DEEP cup holders in the center console AND each door has a cup holder as well. It was the same way for my kids in the back seat too. That meant my husband and I could have our hot coffee safely stored and have a water bottle in the door instead of rolling around on the floor.

BLIS® with Cross-Traffic Alert – See that little car in the side-view mirror? When another car is in your blind spot, it lights up for you and warns you not to switch lanes. Awesome.

Push Button Start – Say you have your hands full with grocery bags, or you just got a manicure…cough…me…cough…you can open your door AND start the car without ever needing to dig the keys out of your purse. The door unlocks when you’re within range and you push start the car. I loved this feature. Also, my purse is a mess.


Powerfold Seats – You don’t have to remove either row of seats to add to your cargo space. With the push of a button you can stow the seats. It is completely easy and effortless.

Heated AND Air Conditioned Seating – Sure you’ve had your hind end warmed, but have you had it cooled? Mmm hmm. Need I say more?

Who knew that your navigation system could tell you the speed limit of the road you’re on? Not me.

Um…that’s a power outlet. Heating chili at a football tailgate just got a whole lot easier.

Collision Warning with Brake Assist – The Explorer is so smart that it will keep a set distance between you and the car in front of you and will slow down automatically. You don’t have to mess around with cruise control. This was my husband’s favorite feature.

Remember how my original list included cargo room? The back of the Explorer held FOUR sets of golf clubs, a full-sized cooler, a smaller cooler, a backpack, a duffel bag, an enormous suitcase and an exhaust fan. My husband doesn’t just like white noise for sleeping, he likes jet engine noise. Oh, and there was also one surly preteen and an impish nine year old.

Folks, I could go on and on. I was so impressed with the handling, the padded seatbelts my kids wore across their chests, the ability to turn off the passenger side airbag (my car doesn’t have that capability) and so much more. This is one incredible vehicle.

And, as soon as Bessie tells me she’s ready for the salvage yard, I’d like to park an Explorer in my garage. Oh, and I tried…it fits.

filed under Ford, Reviews, Traveling and tagged with

Gas Giveaways #5 and #6 and a BONUS!

posted by Momo Fali on August 19, 2011

That’s right. This week’s commute better tip post comes with two more gas card giveaways AND a chance to win a commute kit provided by BP!

A few days ago, I had the honor of speaking to a group of Columbus Moms about making commuting more enjoyable with your kids in the car. I don’t drive anywhere for work and I don’t have far to take the kids to school, but my daughter plays golf, volleyball, basketball and softball and my son plays baseball and is involved with Scouts. I drive. A lot.

One thing I can’t do without, is my go-to bag. I take it with me everywhere and keep it in the car whenever possible. It is filled with essentials like bug spray, sunscreen, tissues, wet-wipes, hand sanitizer and snacks. During sports season, I keep a small first aid kit in it as well.

I can’t tell you how many short trips to a drug store we have avoided because I’m prepared for just about anything. And, the other moms know who to come to if they need something. I’m talking to you, Amy.

For long drives, don’t forget the electronics! And, if you have a child who gets motion sickness, I have found that books on tape are great at keeping them occupied without the need to take their eyes off of the road.

Sweatshirts keep young ones warm if mom and dad are cranking the air conditioning and they can double as pillows for sleepy kids.

When I’m driving around town, I keep a hot/cold bag or a cooler with frozen milk jugs inside, so that I can do my grocery shopping while I’m out and I don’t have to make a special trip. I don’t have to fill up my gas tank as often and I can avoid unnecessary wear and tear on my car.

So, which tip would you use most often?

1. Having a container filled with commuting essentials

2. Using electronics or books on tape for long drives

3. Putting frozen jugs of water in a cooler before you run errands so you don’t have to go out of your way to go to the grocery store

Just tell me which tip is your favorite and I will enter you in the drawing for one of  TWO $40 gift cards. AND, a lucky third place winner will get a commute essentials kit from BP. You can earn extra entries by tweeting about this giveaway, then leave your tweet link in a comment on this post. Contest ends Wednesday, August 24th at 5pm Eastern.

Three winners will be chosen at random. Make sure to leave a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win.

Good luck and happy commuting!

*UPDATE* Congratulations to the gas card winners, Lisa and Rachael and to the commute kit winner, Jennifer Marie! Stay tuned for more giveaways!

filed under BP, Giveaway, Reviews and tagged with

BP Gas Card Giveaways #3 and #4!

posted by Momo Fali on August 11, 2011

Guess what time it is? Oh, forget it, I’m horrible at keeping secrets…I’ll go ahead and tell you!

It’s time for BP Giveaway #3 and this week two winners will be chosen, so that makes this Giveaway #4 too!

Once again, the BP Commute Crew wants you to commute better with the chance to win a $40 BP gift card. That BP Commute Crew is one, nice group of people!

I have learned so much during this campaign and have really enjoyed sharing the tips I picked up at “Gas Class”. These four are my favorite, because they are things that I can do, personally, to improve my car’s performance.

* Don’t leave your car idling at school pick up. Shutting off your engine will save gas and the environment.

*All grades of BP gasoline with Invigorate® help your car get a few more miles per tank when compared to low-detergency, low-quality gasoline (I saw the difference with my own eyes). When used continuously, it helps clean and protect critical engine parts from harmful deposits, so you’ll go a little farther between fill-ups.

* Plug your destination into your GPS before you leave the house so that if you encounter traffic, you can automatically be redirected to another route.

* Choose the scenic route! This will allow you to practice more fuel-saving techniques versus contributing to bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic.

Just tell me which one of these tips you are most likely to use and I will enter you in the drawing for one of TWO $40 gift cards. You can earn extra entries by tweeting about this giveaway, then leave your tweet link in a comment on this post. Contest ends Wednesday, August 17th at 5pm Eastern.

Two winners will be chosen at random. Make sure to leave a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win.

Good luck and happy commuting!

UPDATE – 8/17/2011  CONGRATS TO SUEBOB AND KAREN T!

Commute Better and Another Gas Giveaway!

posted by Momo Fali on August 1, 2011

If you have ever lived in Columbus, you know how hard it is to merge onto 23 North off of Interstate 270. It’s a nightmare. I used to work one block north of the merge.

Traffic would back up all the way along the ramp and, sometimes, would carry all the way onto 315. There wasn’t much room to deviate from that route either. It’s just about the only place in town that doesn’t offer a different choice of roads, but even with alternates, not many people think about changing their route.

According to a survey commissioned by BP Products North America Inc, Columbus commuters are creatures of habit, with eighty-six percent agreeing that they have a very specific commute route that they adhere to on a daily basis. Even if there is construction, we tend to stick to the same roads and that causes traffic jams.

Trust me; that traffic can make people grumpy. Just ask my former co-workers. Three out five Columbus commuters agree that a bad commute can impact their mood for the rest of the day. I was one of them.

Craig Sinclair, traffic reporter with Clear Channel Radio Network in Columbus recently shared some tips on how to “Commute Better” by avoiding congestion and maximizing your time on the road:

* Try to leave 15 minutes earlier or later than usual to avoid rush hour. A 15 minute change in drive-time can make a difference in Columbus. When you leave early enough for your destination, you won’t feel as pressured to put the pedal to the metal and you’ll be able to employ gentle driving techniques.

* Listen to the traffic report before your commute. Don’t wait until you’re sitting in traffic to tune-in. You’ll save yourself, and others, time.

* Research alternate routes along the way to your destination which are easily accessible from main roads to combat traffic hold-ups.
Visit a one-stop shop for all your commuting needs to avoid multiple-stops – from fuel to beverages like your morning java fix. Recent changes at your local BP station will make your stops at BP more enjoyable.

*All grades of BP gasoline with Invigorate® help your car get a few more miles per tank when compared to low-detergency, low-quality gasoline (I saw the difference with my own eyes). When used continuously, it helps clean and protect critical engine parts from harmful deposits, so you’ll go a little farther between fill-ups.

* Plug your destination into your GPS before you leave the driveway. If you do encounter congestion you can allow the GPS to re-direct you.

* Drive in the center lane, when possible. On multi-lane highways, the center lane offers the most flexibility—speeding drivers can pass on the left and merging/exiting traffic is on the right. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work!

* Run errands on Sunday morning versus before or after work. Sunday morning drive times take about half the time it takes to navigate from one side of the city to the other during the work week. If Sunday morning is not conducive to errands, set aside some time to plan them into your schedule for the following week so you can make stops at your convenience when you’re on-the-go. Also, for parent’s on-the-go, consider working on your to-do list in the evening when the kids are in bed with your spouse at home. You can get more done quickly and it isn’t as hot out.

* Avoid being a “taxi” for your kids and go to a coffee shop or a nearby local park while your kids’ participate in after school programs so you can avoid going back and forth. Or, make phone calls and set up appointments while sitting in the car waiting for your kids to be done with activities.

* Drive with other commuters. This helps cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car. When time and schedule allows, embrace and cruise with the traffic. Flowing with freeway traffic when possible can decrease wind resistance, but only if you’re staying within a reasonable speed of 65 mph or less.

* In heavy traffic, go easy on the pedal. Driving stress can translate into tenseness that has your foot pushing harder on the pedal than is necessary.

All of these tips are thanks to BP and their Commute Better Crew. Have you seen them? They’ve been out and about in different Columbus locations handing out free commuter essentials.

And, guess what? BP wants me to hand out ANOTHER free gas card! Leave a comment on this post before Monday, August 8th at noon Eastern to be entered to win a $40 BP gas card.

For an additional entry, you can tweet about this post or share it on Facebook, then come back here and leave the link in a separate comment.

Good luck and happy commuting!

*Update* Congrats to the winner, Colleen!