Category Archives: Transportation

2013 Toyota Sienna Minivan Review with Video

I was given the opportunity by Toyota to test drive a 2013 Toyota Sienna for a few days, during Reviewers Retreat conference at Callaway Gardens in Georgia.  The roads at Callaway Gardens are what I consider to be some of the best roads for test driving a vehicle, at legal speeds, of course. ūüôā

2013 Toyota Sienna review


Anytime I test drive a vehicle for review, the following 5 things are on the top of my list to check out:

  • Exterior (aesthetics)
  • Comfort
  • Handling
  • Technology & Entertainment
  • Safety features

Here is an overview of those 5 aspects of the Toyota Sienna, as well as a couple of extra bits of information about the popular minivan.

The 2013 Toyota Sienna is stylishly designed and strongly built. In addition, it is an incredibly spacious seven or eight-passenger vehicle that features a long list of appealing standard and safety features. Plus, there are many optional features that car buyers will find attractive. Toyota gave the exterior distinct modern styling that is not chunky like many other minivans in its class. Plus, the body of the Sienna is reinforced with side impact beams as well as front and rear impact absorbing crumple zones.


Under the Hood

Under the hood, Toyota equipped the Sienna with a powerful 3.5 liter V6 engine that churns out 266 horsepower with 245 pound feet of torque. Front wheel drive and an automatic six-speed transmission come standard on all trim levels. On upper trim levels, all-wheel drive is optional. The gas mileage is pretty good for a vehicle this size, which is estimated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

2013 Toyota Sienna minivan

What We Love

What I love:

– Triple-zone air conditioning so everyone stays cool or warm
– Heated front seats – great for my back!
– Easy steering and great handling on windy roads
– Satellite radio and easy connection with iPhone
– Natural sounding GPS voice!
– USB port and A/C charger in the front cabin
– The large empty space in front of the front center console where my purse fits perfectly! ūüôā

What my 7-year-old loves:
– Lots of leg room in the middle row
– Comfortable, adjustable arm rests
– “You can pack more stuff in the Sienna than in our car”
– The DVD/entertainment system

What my 13-year-old loves:
– Finding new places using the GPS/navigation
– The 12 cup holders. There’s apparently never enough cup holders!
– The sunroof
– The USB port and A/C chargers so all iPhones and iPads stay charged

What dad loves:
– Ample head & leg room – he’s tall
– Fluid design of the front cabin area
– Additional storage space above the glove compartment

There are five available trims of the 2013 Toyota Sienna, which are base, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The base and Limited models seats seven passengers. The LE, SE and XLE seats 8 passengers.


Inside the Sienna, the driver and passengers will enjoy plenty of leg and head room and a large amount of cargo space. If more space is desired, the second and third row seats easily fold down. Some of the most impressive interior features include the available rear entertainment center and optional elegant wood-grain trim. Other interior features include 12 cupholders, a GPS system and an available touchscreen navigation system with phone and streaming audio connectivity.

Standard & Upgrade Features

Standard features include a telescoping steering wheel, a CD player, 17-inch alloy wheels, triple-zone air conditioning, cruise control and power windows, locks and doors. Upgrade features include 18 or 19-inch wheels, leather seats, heated seats, Bluetooth, a DVD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, foglights, a power liftgate, keyless ignition, satellite radio, privacy glass and an iPod/USB interface.


An eight-way power driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are also offered as upgrade options. Toyota builds some of the safest cars on the road today, and the Sienna comes outfitted with many safety features such as various airbags, active front head restraints, anti-lock disc brakes, child safety locks, brake assist, a tire pressure monitor, daytime running lights and stability and traction control.

Optional safety features include hill assist, front and rear parking sensors and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Toyota also offers an available Safety Connect system. In addition, the 2013 Toyota Sienna received five out of five stars during side collision testing as well four out of five stars for overall crash protection.



The 2013 Toyota Sienna is a safe, spacious and family friendly minivan that has lots to offer for everyone in the family. I think you’ll love it!

Learn more about the 2013 Toyota Sienna minivan on the Toyota website and find a Toyota dealer near you.

I was provided with a 2013 Toyota Sienna to drive for several days for purposes of this review.

Sale Event: Cooper Tire Spring Savings Event is Going on Now!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooper Tires. All opinions are 100% mine.

Looked down at your tires recently and realized that it might be time to start shopping around for new ones? Or are you and your family going on a road trip this summer? ¬†Need to get new tires before you head out of town? ¬†Buying new tires can be a costly expense but ¬†even more reason that ¬†you will not want to miss out on this great opportunity for new tires and be¬†eligible to receive up to an $80 Visa¬ģ prepaid card!

Cooper Tires Sales Event

Cooper Tire Spring Savings Event¬†is going on now through the end of June. ¬†When you purchase four qualifying new Cooper tires¬†through participating dealers in the U.S., Canada, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico¬†from May 1 to June 30, 2013, you get more than just tires built for you. You’ll get up to $80 back¬†on a Visa¬ģ prepaid card! Whoa! I might have to take advantage of this offer! My husband is in desperate need of new tires for his car.

Spring Savings Event eligible products include: 

  • CS4 Touring
  • Discoverer CTS
  • Cooper Zeon RS3-S and RS3-A
  • Discoverer H/T
  • Discoverer HTP (Available only at select U.S. retailers.)
  • Discoverer LSX and LSX Plus (Available only at select U.S. retailers.)

Cooper Tires Sales Event

There seems to be a tire on sale for everyone in your family so make sure to take advantage of savings on select Cooper Tires during its Spring Savings Event. ¬†Don’t ends June 30th!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Review of Mercedes-Benz 2013 GL-Class Safety and Comfort Features

Two days after landing back home in Atlanta from a GL-Class test drive in Santa Fe, NM, I’m still drooling over and fantasizing about the 2013 GL-Class SUV from Mercedez-Benz. ¬†Given the anything but smooth and straight terrain we drove the GL 550 and GL 35o on in Santa Fe, NM, I was able to get a feel for how the vehicle operates under not just highway conditions but off-road as well.

Two features I focus on when test driving a vehicle for the first time, are safety and comfort.  This review introduces readers to the safety and comfort features that I think are most important for parents to consider when buying a new SUV for their family.

What are the features of the vehicle that will keep my family safe and comfortable?

During my three-day trip to Santa Fe, NM to test drive Mercedes’ upcoming 2013 GL-Class SUV, I learned about the plethora of safety and comfort features of the GL-Class which are sure to make you *need* to take the GL-Class¬†for a spin when it becomes available in September.

Mercedes-Benz 2013 GL-Class
Mercedes-Benz 2013 GL-Class

Parents will be thrilled with the numerous safety features available on the 2013 GL-Class SUV.
The spacious seven-passenger SUV comes with a standard rearview camera, 13-way airbag protection, 4MATIC all-wheel drive that provides all-weather control, and a whole host of other crucial features to protect their children.

Mercedes-Benz 2013 GL-Class SUV
Mercedes-Benz 2013 GL-Class SUV

Here are few 2013 GL-Class safety feature any parent driver will appreciate:

  • There is the PRE-SAFE¬ģ system that adjusts settings to headrests, seat belts, windows, sunroofs and other items in preparation of an impending crash.
  • Attention Assist driver-drowsiness monitor sounds an alert when it detects signs of fatigue in the driver.
  • The optional Active Park Assist with Surround View Camera uses four cameras mounted to different points on the GL to create an overhead image of the SUV and its surroundings on the COMAND screen.
  • Also included is the new radar-based Collision Prevention Assist technology that can alert the driver and get the brakes ready for maximum stopping power if it detects an impending collision.
  • Finally, the GL can include the Trailer Stability Assist that automatically adjusts for the sway of items being towed. With a towing capacity of a whopping 7,500 pounds, this is a critical feature.
For protection every day, drivers can opt for the Lane Tracking Package. It includes both Lane Keeping Assist to help drivers stay in their own lanes and Blind Spot Assist that alerts drivers with a light and a sound when they are close to a vehicle into whose lane they are trying to pull. For even more protection, there is the Driver Assistance Package that combines the Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist with the advanced sensors of the DISTRONIC PLUS system that activates the PRE-SAFE¬ģ brake to compensate for vehicles in its path that have stopped or slowed down significantly.

2013 GL-Class Comfort

Like other Mercedes-Benz models, the comfort of the GL cannot be beat. It includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, completely redesigned dashboard and new upholstery combinations. There are also massaging front seats and ambient lighting, as well as the AIRMATIC air suspension that levels itself. This last feature allows the GL to handle like a smaller vehicle while electromechanical steering leads to an effortless driving experience.

We can’t leave out the new EASY-ENTRY system

To gain easy 3rd row access, there is the power EASY-ENTRY system that tilts the second row forward by simply pressing a button. There are also flat-folding seats in the second and third rear rows to gain the most cargo space possible. The third row also has a power-folding button, and there is an optional Panorama sunroof.
With the significant focus on both safety and comfort, the folks at Mercedes-Benz have created the perfect family vehicle. It is large, elegant, comfortable, and one of the safest vehicles on the road today. Families cannot go wrong with a choice as good as this one.
The 2013 GL-Class¬†will be available in September 2012. ¬†You will love driving this vehicle. ¬†Don’t forget to bring the kids along for a test drive so they too can experience the excitement that is the GL-Class!
Alicia Hagan, Editor
Disclosure: Mercedez-Benz invited me to Santa Fe, NM to test drive the 2013 GL-Class.  All expenses were paid but I was not compensated financially in any way and all opinions are 100% my own.   

BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Seat to the Rescue!


BubbleBum is a portable and foldable booster seat that is perfect for daily car rides or for keeping in Grandma’s car for the occassional trip to story time. Made for children who weigh between 40 and 80lbs, are older than 3 years old, and can refrain from sitting on their knees during a long car ride, the BubbleBum Booster Seat is a unique solution to a problem that’s been around for years.. ever since booster seats were introduced. The problem you ask? The lack of portability and foldability. Booster seats aren’t typically known for being foldable but once you try the BubbleBum Booster Seat, you’ll realize that it’s something you’ll use more often than you expected.


Bubblebum Inflatable Booster Seat


The school year is about to start and I bet not everyone on your child’s pickup list has a booster seat in their car. My sister-in-law is on my daughter’s ‘safe pick up’ list and she doesn’t have a booster seat in her car. Why would she.. she doesn’t have kids!? What will I do if I need her to pick my daughter up from school? When I know that she will be picking my daughter up, I’ll send the BubbleBum Booster Seat to school with my daughter. ¬†It’s light enough for her to carry and it even fits in her backpack! ¬†Let’s just hope I remember to give my SIL a car pool number! ūüėČ
This booster seat is great when you travel via airplane as it will conveniently fit inside your carry-on or checked luggage. When you arrive at your destination, simply inflate the BubbleBum booster seat and install it in the taxi or rental car.

The BubbleBum booster seat is compact. Three BubbleBum Booster Seats will easily fit across the backseat of a car, suv, or van. No more excuses for Grandma and Grandpa to not take all three of your kids to the beach without you next weekend. You need a breather.. grab a few BubbleBums and send the kids off with the Grandparents!


It has been proven that children in booster seats have approximately half the injury risk of children without the use of a booster seat, and in seatbelts alone. While head injuries are the most commonly injured body region for all restrained children, abdominal injuries are the second most common injury for belted children as a result of “seat-belt syndrome” injuries. Children who were restrained by booster seats showed a notable absence of abdominal injuries.

Every parent wants their child to be safe. Here are some reasons why you should use a booster seat on EVERY journey with your child:

BubbleBum is a Belt Positioning Booster seat for children who meet all of the following criteria:
1. Children between 40lbs and 80lbs in weight
2. Children are over the age of 3,
3. Children can sit for the entire journey without sitting on their knees
A booster seat must ONLY be used with a 3 point seat belt, this is a seat belt which goes across the lap and diagonally across the chest.

To learn more about what make the BubbleBum Booster seat safe, click here.

BubbleBum can fit easily with any combination of cars seat as long as there are enough 3 point seat belts to restrain each and every child.

My 5 year old loves the BubbleBum Booster Seat. She thinks it’s cool because (a) it blows up (b) it’s comfy and (c) it makes her feel like a big girl.

You can purchase a BubbleBum for $39.99 from As mentioned above, your child must meet certain criteria to use the BubbleBum. You can connect with BubbleBum on Facebook BubbleBum on Facebook, and follow @BubbleBumUSA on Twitter.



My 2006 Nissan Quest Lease is Almost Up.. What Should I Do?

I drive a 2006 Nissan Quest minivan sportsvan and love it.¬† The lease is just about up on it though am I’m struggling with trying to figure out what to do or get.¬† Not once in my life have I been so completely satisified with a car so much so that I wasn’t anxious to trade it in after a few years.¬† However, my Nissan Quest not only satisfies me but I am proud of it too.¬† Unlike with other cars I’ve driven in the past, I don’t mind piling a few of the kid’s friends and parents in the car for a day out because I like my Quest and I’m proud of it. ¬†Oh, and I just had some¬†vinyl¬†lettering installed on the rear window on the Quest for my website,, so I’d had to do that all over again if I got a new car.. but that’s not a big deal.

2006 Nissan Quest
My 2006 Nissan Quest Collage

I use my car to the max. The kids and I are always on-the-go between school, after school activities, local events, my job ( has us going to events around Atlanta a lot, camping trips, and I’ve been driving it to blog/social media conferences often lately which my great friends Desiree Miller from and Stacie Connerty from and would love to continue to do so. ¬†I’m afraid if I keep putting miles on this Quest, it’s going to go give out on me or the maintenance expenses will sky rocket. ¬†So, is that a good reason to get a new car?

Again, I love my Nissan Quest.. I’m not anxious to get a new car. I just want to make the smartest decision when my lease is up.. very soon. ¬†The Quest has take us to Orlando many times, Kentucky to see family many times, on many many road trips, and to and from every day activities for almost 5 years.

Here’s what I love about my 2006 Nissan Quest:

  • The size. ¬†It seats 7 people easily.
  • The cargo area in the back is great.
  • The DVD movie and sound system is great.
  • The heated seats. I love these.. even on hot summer days I use the heated seats to help with my back issue.
  • The running boards. ¬†I am short (so are the kids!) and I love having running board to step onto so I don’t fall on my face when I get out of the car.
  • Automatic doors. ¬†I love that the kids can push a button to get out and that I can close the door from the front control panel when my daughter’s teacher gets her out of the car in the morning.
  • Safety. ¬†The Nissan Quest crash test results were very good.
  • The leather seats. ¬†They are so easy to clean.
  • The adjustable pedals. ¬†Because I’m short, I tend to have a difficult time reaching the gas pedals on some cars. ¬†The Nissan Quest has adjustable pedals so I just move them all the way up so I can reach them easily.
  • It hasn’t had any major mechanical issues.
  • Wireless headphones. ¬†The kids can listen to a movie while I listen to music up front.
  • Front and rear air¬†conditioning.
  • Rear View Monitor

Here’s what I don’t love about my Nissan Quest:

  • I think the front seats could be much more comfortable.
    I drive long distances regularly for family road trips and blogger trips and have back and neck issues, so being comfortable while driving long distances is extremely important to me and is the MAIN reason I would consider getting a different minivan.
  • It needs about $800 worth of regular maintenance done on it within the next few weeks.
    I maintain my Quest very well and this is a regular maintenance and new tires, etc.. but I’m thinking maybe that $800 can be spent on a new lease or buy instead of on maintenance on a vehicle I might not have in a few months when my lease is up.
  • Not that this is something I don’t love about my current Nissan Quest, but I am always on top of the newest technology and it sort of pains me to know that there is a newer version of my car out there that has better technology implemented in it than mine.

What I would love in my next car:

  • All of the things listed in my “What I love..” section above PLUS
  • Built in GPS
  • Moonroof
  • Blind spot warning system
  • Bluetooth¬ģ Hands-free Phone System
  • Woodgrain
  • USB input

Here though, are a few questions I’ve been asking myself over and over for the last few weeks:

If I trade it in for a new Quest:

  • How much will I be charged for being over milage?
  • How much will I be charged for the broken cup holder?

If I keep and buy my Quest:

  • When I finish buying the Quest, in three years, will I still want it and will it still be in good enough condition to drive for another few years so I can be without a car payment for a few years at least?

Go New..Buy or Lease?

  • If I decide to trade the current Quest in for a new car, should I buy or lease?
  • What are the proc and cons of leasing?

Go New All Together

  • Should I embrace change and buy or lease an entirely different vehicle? ¬†I need a minivan and have test driven the Honda Odyssey and didn’t have any¬†qualms¬†with it but am not sure if I want to switch from Nissan to Honda.

The funny thing is, I haven’t actually seen or driven the new Nissan Quest yet. ¬†I’ve seen plenty of photographs online and inquired about it at my local dealership where I leased my Quest, but the salesperson at the dealership wasn’t very nice or¬†informative¬†which turned me off to shopping with them.

What I’m asking for from you..

Is your help with this process! ¬†What would you do? Are there other questions I should be asking myself? ¬†Am I using my super power of over-thinking things too much here? ¬†I need to have one of Oprah’s Ah-Ha! moments here.. I’m desperate!

Your advice and thoughts are greatly appreciated!  What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Image source: The photograph of the Nissan Quest above, is from Can you believe I couldn’t find a single full body shot of my van?

Alicia Hagan, Mom Blog editor