CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

Evoque-ing a New Appreciation for Land Rover

Posted by carsdiva on November 26, 2013

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Winter Drive Event at the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, WA, hosted by Land Rover Bellevue & Seattle, part of the AutoCenter NorthWest group.

LR_At SuncadiaDid you ever wonder about the true performance ability of a Land Rover–  particularly in instances they showcase in their commercials?  I did.  However, I’ll be honest, I didn’t initially get my Evoque solely for this purpose– i.e. off-roading.  I love the design in it’s compact form, and it still provides me with SUV-capability. (That’s what crossovers are supposed to do, right?)

Fast-forward a few months and I find myself at Land Rover Bellevue, where I met Service Manager, Rahim Sheikh.  He enthusiastically explained to me about the off-roading ability of a Land Rover, and then he went on to invite me to their upcoming Winter Drive Event.  As Rahim said, “why own one of these vehicles if you can’t experience what it really can do?  You can’t really appreciate a Land Rover unless you put it to the test.”  And after this event, I have to say I agree, Rahim.  Well said.LR_Evoque wheels up

Despite the inclement weather (which added to the experience), I joined the crew in setting up the course on Saturday.  The sneak preview was a nice precursor to the event the next morning.  As a passenger I got a chance to appreciate the breathtaking scenery, and furthermore, experience the drive from a different perspective.  I hopped in my Evoque the next day, along with a variety of about 30 other Land Rovers— from the full-size Range Rover to the Sport, LR2‘s and LR4’s, as well as several other Evoques. The off-roading course included driving through rough terrain up and down hills, crawling over logs and rocks, splashing through water, and plenty of pot holes.  I felt like I was in a commercial, but eh, should anything go awry, this was for real.  (Ok, ok, I felt slightly more at ease knowing that several people from the service department where with us…just in case.)  If anyone had any doubts about the capability of their vehicle at the onset, they were quickly diminished by the end of the course.  Would I do this again?  Absolutely! I can honestly say I have a whole new appreciation for my vehicle…. and the brand.

Thank you to Land Rover Bellevue, first and foremost for extending the invitation, and to both stores and their awesome staff for their superb hospitality and putting on a fun and fabulous event.

And now, without further adieu, here are some of the photos:

LR_Seattle BellevueLR_sidewaysLR_Approaching rocksLR_RocksLR_3 LRsLR_Nice ViewLR_LogsLR_ME


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Toddler-Friendly Features for the Moms out there….. (as recommended by

Posted by carsdiva on October 1, 2012

Sherrice Gilsbach, associate editor, and mother of two, states in a recent press release that her life is “dominated by cars and kids.”  As a mother, she knows what it’s like to be in a long car-ride with kids, and the challenges, particularly toddlers.  Given her areas of expertise, she put together a list of “headache-alleviating” features, as she refers to them, and furthermore, which vehicles are toddler-friendly.

For all of you “moms” out there, I thought I’d share her expertise:

Features at a glance:

1.    Leather seating – easier to clean than cloth

2.    Weatherproof floor mats – prevents absorption– i.e. spilled milk

3.    Adjustable second-row seats – allows toddlers to be within your reach

4.   Cupholders within reach of child-size arms and fingers –  allows a toddler to grab their own cup without the help of mom

5.   A built-in refrigerator compartment – keeps the snacks and drinks chilled

6.    Window shades – nap time?  generally speaking, this also protects little eyes from the sun

7.    Cubbies – any mom can agree–the more storage the better for a toddler

8.    DVD entertainment system – no explanation necessary– keeps the little tykes occupied during the car-ride

9.    Low step-in height – easier for a child to get in and out of the vehicle & easier for you to help them get in and out

10.  Easy-access LATCH connectors – these hooks secure the car-seats, so easy access means easier (and quicker) for you

So which vehicles can these features be found in?  Well, as you’ve probably suspected, they can be found in the quintessential “mom” vehicle– several minivans (top trim levels), like the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Chrysler Town & Country.  For those of you that stray away from a minivan, you can check out the Lincoln MKT to find these features, or the Buick LaCrosse (a family sedan.)  And for the truck-lovers, the Dodge Ram 1500 may suffice.  To see the entire list of recommended vehicles and check out

A special thank you to Sherrice Gilsbach and!!  Here’s to a happy car ride and making life easier for the moms out there!

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FLEX’n through Philly: Part 1

Posted by carsdiva on September 10, 2008

Unveiling the 2009 Ford Flex, McCafferty Ford

Unveiling the 2009 Ford Flex, McCafferty Ford

After my recent visit to Ford in Detroit, I thought I would “go out in field,” where it really happens, and visit a few Ford dealerships during their Flex Consumer Event, parties that dealers hosted to introduce this very unique vehicle, in a very unique way, to the general public.  Unfortunately I missed many of these as getting schedules to dealer Flex events around the country was impossible from one database or resource [Why was that? Shouldn’t there have been a single place where any consumer could go on the Web to find out about the dealer events in his/her area?  Isn’t that what social networks and social media are for?  I would assume that this would have boosted visibility and attendance, therefore, I’ll volunteer to host the schedule for any and all future auto- related consumer events.  By the way – it’s a great way for me to know how/where to attend a few…I do love a good party!]

At any rate, relying on an old friend from Philadelphia, John Possumato… (see his latest blog on the Flex by the way at, I did get information and some “Flex paraphernalia” from some of the dealers who “did it up right” in the Philly region.  You can check out my last blog on the happenings, including some pictures from Lilliston Ford in Vineland, NJ, Haldeman Ford in Hamilton Square, NJ, and C & C Ford in Horsham, PA… and with a bit of luck I should be receiving a video of the Lilliston event soon. Stay tuned!

FLEX’n with the Diva: 2 Special Invitations

I’m most excited to say though, that I eagerly received and accepted an invitation to go to two dealer

The ladies are sporting their own McCafferty Ford was Flexn with the Diva shirts!

The ladies are sporting their own McCafferty Ford was Flexn with the Diva shirts!

Flex Consumer Events in person.  The first was with Jim Thomas, Steve Amabile and their crew at Springfield Ford, in Springfield, PA, on August 20th. And the second was an extra special event at McCafferty Ford in Langhorne, PA, August 22nd, with Todd Buch, Chris Bove, Lisa Markley and all the individuals that helped to create what I heard was one of the best Flex intro parties ever  …and I’m not just saying that because they had a bunch of special t-shirts made with the caricature of, well, yours truly, the CarsDiva (although that certainly made it extra special for me!)

Social Media Savvy at Springfield Ford

Springfield Ford was under construction during their Flex event- they’re doing major renovations to their facility (which I can’t wait to come back and check out when it’s finished!)  However, they did their best to throw a successful

John Gatto, Internet Sales Manager and Steve Amabile, General Sales Manager.

Springfield Ford, Springfield, PA: John Gatto, Internet Sales Manager and Steve Amabile, General Sales Manager.

event in a very small section of the showroom given the circumstances.  I was more so eager to meet dealer principal Jim Thomas, and especially General Sales Manager, Steve Amabile, as Steve is very active on the Web on blogs, online networks, etc… (We actually met through a “Flex forum.”)  Steve started in the Internet Department at Springfield Ford- (one of the early pioneers in automotive Internet sales) and he had actually sold several Ford Flex vehicles through his online networking and delivered one as far away as Japan!  So that being said, I was anxious to meet him and perhaps learn a thing or two from his experience in using social media to promote the Flex for Springfield Ford.

Click here to watch my interview with Steve Amabile.

First-Class All the Way at McCafferty Ford

McCafferty Ford in Langhorne, PA, historically one of the highest volume and most consumer (female

Ford Flex Walk-Around at McCafferty Ford

Ford Flex Walk-Around at McCafferty Ford

especially) friendly Ford dealers in the Philladelphia region, characteristically went the extra mile to prepare for and promote their Flex party; they even announced in advance that I would be attending the event! (Check out the announcement at  I spoke to Chris Bove, General Sales Manager at McCafferty , prior to the event, and he enthusiastically told me about their plans, including having a DJ, hors’ devours, plenty of staff on hand to welcome the guests all building up to the “unveiling of the Flex” complete with a vehicle “walk-around” presentation.  After the “unveiling” there were plenty of vehicles available for guests to “ride and drive” and experience the impressive driving attribute of the Flex on their own.  Of course,

Consumers at McCafferty Ford, checking out the all new 2009 Ford Flex

Consumers at McCafferty Ford, checking out the all new 2009 Ford Flex

one of the most exciting things (and surprising for me) were the exclusive shirts they made up with my caricature and the line, “McCafferty Ford was Flex’n with the Diva” – quite an honor guys!

In my opinion, the group at McCafferty Ford was really a forward-thinking crew, starting at the top with President, Todd Buch, and including the management team, Chris Bove, and Lisa Markely, Internet Sales Manager.  They all shared not only their receptive attitude, but also their eager willingness to dive into social media, particularly as it relates to the Ford Flex.  Lisa, their expert in the Internet Department, discussed with me the importance of establishing and then retaining her relationship with customers, particularly female consumers.  And from the way the the McCafferty crew interacted with the consumers at the event, many of them already loyal customers, I could see first-hand that what they said held true.

CarsDiva, Demetra Markopoulos and Chris Bove, General Sales Manager, McCafferty Ford

CarsDiva, Demetra Markopoulos and Chris Bove, General Sales Manager, McCafferty Ford

From what I saw at both Springfield Ford and McCafferty Ford, consumers reacted very positively to the introduction of the Flex, once they fully experienced the vehicle.  There were those who came because they loved the Flex from the get-go, and others were intrigued and wanted to learn more about it.  After a successful event at Springfield Ford and a spectacular party at McCafferty Ford, I definitely look forward to attending future dealership events, specifically at these stores – I can’t wait for my next trip back!

 Click here to see more photos from the events!

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Tips to Save Gas…and save your extra dollars!!!

Posted by carsdiva on April 2, 2008

I came across some very useful advice today on and thought I’d share with all of you. Given the ridiculous gas prices, everyone’s looking for a way to save a couple of cents, so I found this rather fitting. According to the Consumer Federation of America, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll save at least 20% on fuel costs. Along with each tip, I’ve included the amount you’re estimated to save according the CFA’s studies:

CarsDiva shares tips to save on fuel costs. 1. Keep it CLEAN

Did you know that you can increase your gas mileage 10% if you have a clean air filter? AND almost 25% of all cars need a new one!

Savings: $0.28 a gallon

2. Straighten out

You all know that if your tires are poorly aligned, they’ll wear out faster (especially on rear-wheel drive cars). However, they also force your engine to work harder, using up more gas.

Savings: $0.28 a gallon

3. Tune Up your engine

Don’t ignore the “Check your engine” light. One- you’ll most likely save on gas, and two- you could prevent more costly damages.

Savings: $0.11 a gallon

4. Keep them filled

Over 25% of vehicles have somewhat deflated tires, which also results in fuel deficiency.  Soo…pump ‘em up!

CarsDiva says, keep your tires filled...Savings: $0.08 a gallon.  

5. Screw it or replace it

If your gas cap is loose, broken, or missing, two things can result: 1- your gas mileage can decrease, and 2- for those of you “green” fanatics, you could be harming the environment.

Savings: $0.02 a gallon

6. Gimme a break

Slow down….did you know you can decrease increase fuel efficiency 7% if for every 5mph you slow down on the highway? (I’m gonna be perfectly honest…this is a tough one for me!)

Savings:  $0.19 a gallon, (reducing speed from 70 mph to 65 mph)

Gimme a break...(CarsDiva)

7. Smooth ridin’

Don’t slam on the breaks or floor the gas pedal (if you don’t have to). You could save up to 33% of your gas!

Savings: $0.48 a gallon.

8. Get off it

One of my biggest pet peeves…. Don’t ride with your foot on the break! Not only do you wear out your breaks, but this is the number #1 way to waste your gas.

Savings: $0.96 per gallon

9. Lose some weight

Stick to your New Year’s resolution and lose those extra pounds! (just kidding) But seriously, get rid of the extra poundage in your car and yes, you’ll increase your fuel efficiency by 1-2% for every 100lbs you drop.

Savings: $0.04 a gallon, (based on 100lbs removed)

10. Stop putzing

Keeping your car running idle causes pollution and wastes gas. (So in other words, you really don’t need to warm up your car for an hour if it’s cold out…just throw on an extra jacket and you’ll save $$$)

Savings: $0.01 a gallon, (for every 2 min you keep it running idle)

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“Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…” (or soon will be…)

Posted by carsdiva on November 20, 2007



As the cold season approaches, keep in mind there are some things to prioritize when it comes to your vehicle in order to prevent unwanted situations.   

Priorites Please… 

First off, if you need to, get your car serviced!  Have you seen some lit up “check” buttons you’ve been procrastinating to investigate?  If it’s 75 degrees and sunny and your car breaks down, well so you get delayed a bit, but no big deal.  However, as the snow begins to fall and temperatures drop you don’t want get stuck waiting outside as your toes get frost bitten, do you?  Make sure to have the mechanic check your battery and belts.  If you’re having any issues starting your car in warm weather, well you can be almost sure that there will come a time in the cold when your car won’t start.  (Note:  batteries lose power in the cold).  It may not seem like a priority now, but when it’s 10 below zero and you have to jump your car, well, you’ll think twice about my advice.  My suggestion- take care of it now.

Number 2- check your antifreeze (or coolant).  Do you know what antifreeze does anyway?  (I know I was a little unsure, so I’ll let you know.  AND if you know why you should do something, well it’s a bit more motivating to get it done, right?)  Antifreeze inhibits your cooling system from corrosion, and also absorbs heat from the engine, dissipating it through the radiator, preventing your car from overheating.  You really should drain and refill the coolant system to remove any dirt or rust, but if you don’t do that, at very least check the level.  No coolant in your car will prevent your heat from working.  AND make sure the antifreeze you put in has a 50/50 ratio, coolant to water, which equals a lower freezing point—important for those treacherous winter days. 


 gas-gage.jpg   Fill ‘Er Up! 

The next important thing to remember, though it gets more expensive every day, is to ALWAYS try to keep your gas tank full!  First off, late at night when the temperature drops and the sun’s not out, do you really want to stand outside freezing as you fill your gas to get somewhere?  And secondly, if by chance your car does break down, or you get stuck in a snowstorm, you’ll probably want to keep your car running for the heat.  And um, well if you have no gas, well then you’ll remember the importance of why I told you to keep your tank full.

Make sure to check your windshield wiper fluid.  We’ve all been behind that big semi that drives through a puddle and slops that brown, slushy snow on our windshield.  You’re frantically trying to spray fluid to clean it as you drive down the road.  Don’t get stuck without out it, or you’ll be sticking your head out your window to be able to see.  On that same token, make sure your front and rear defrosters work, or you’ll end up in the same bind.   

“Slide, slide, slippety slide…” 

For those of us (like me) that are ridiculously stubborn and insist on driving their little rear-wheel drive sports cars in the treacherous weather, well I recommend snow tires and sand bags.  (Trust me- I can vouch for the importance of these two things from personal experience.)  Putting some extra weight in your trunk (sand bags or kitty litter work best) can keep your car from fish-tailing across the freeway.  Snow tires are recommended for all vehicles, but especially smaller/lighter cars or those with rear-wheel drive.  Although they don’t work miracles in a gigantic snowstorm, they will give you more traction. 

Keep some basic supplies in your car.  I would recommend a snow brush and ice scraper.  And maybe an extra thick pair of gloves if you forget either of the two.  Also- don’t forget your cell phone!  Although I wouldn’t recommend talking on it while driving—most police officers will slap you with a fine if caught, you should have it in the car (and fully charged).  If you do get stuck, you don’t want to have to walk 5 miles to the nearest gas station.




Before you get in your car, make sure you clear off any frost or snow- and I’m talking the entire vehicle.  One, because most state laws require you to and you don’t want to get stuck with a fine; and two, well that snow on top of your car is very likely to slide onto your windshield once you start moving.  And trust me (again from experience) you’ll end up sticking your arm out the window, trying to brush it off with hand while your driving. 



Time for Donuts- Woo-Hoo!  (Note: we’re not talking Krispy Kremes here…) 

Most importantly, know your car!  You should know how it handles in the snow (go do donuts in a parking lot… but make sure it’s empty first); if you have front, rear or four-wheel drive, if you’ve got antilock breaks and stability control.   

And remember, (and I’ll be the first to admit I have a lead foot), slow down in icy or snowy conditions.  As well as you know your car, Mother Nature takes precedent here and you don’t want to end up in a ditch, or forced to decrease your savings to pay for a fender bender.  Stay far enough behind other vehicles and be aware at all times- even if you’re being as careful as possible, it doesn’t mean other drivers are doing the same! 

And for those of you who think you’re exempt from the hazards of winter conditions, well check out what happened to this poor lady:

“A woman on her way to hair appointment crashed her car through the hair salon. Della Miller, 73, crashed into Tina’s Hair Pros’ windows Wednesday, knocking one customer six feet across the room, Soldotna police officer Marvin Towle said.  The parking area in front of the salon was snow-covered.



Hey- at least she still got to keep her appointment.  Her car may have been a wreck but at a very expensive price, her hair looked good…     

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