Finding the Family an All-New Ford SUV


the 2018 All-New Ford SUVs like the Ford Explorer
The new 2018 Ford Explorer offers a new stylish grill and the Safe and Smart Package. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Ford Motor Company knows life happens in cars, especially for families with hectic schedules. Families need vehicles that work with them. I recently got the opportunity to experience the 2018 All-New Ford SUV lineup.

Since I am in the market for a new family SUV to love, I am sampling all the manufacturers. Looking for power, space, safety and lastly style, I need a SUV to seamlessly fit into my busy family life.

Ford and the Female Frontier

At a recent Ford installation, what impressed me most was Ford focus on the female frontier. By acknowledging the power of women’s influence on the purchase of new family vehicles, Ford researches and markets their vehicles to women.

With women influencing 85% of all vehicle purchases, Ford values women as users, purchasers and multi-taskers. As commanders of the household, they want to simplify life and that includes the role of a vehicle in family life.

Families, especially Mom, want convenient vehicles for everyday life and comfortable vehicles for road trips.

2018 All-New Ford Expedition Platinum

The 2018 All-new Ford Expedition.
The 2018 All-New Ford Expedition offers families more style, room and power. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I recently got a preview of the new 2018 Ford Expedition and I found a SUV that handled the off-road with ease yet still featured sophisticated styling. With its Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging, keeping families connected has never been easier. This vehicle is a road tripping dream.

The all-new Ford Expedition just got leaner. By using advanced materials, like a high-strength aluminum alloy, Ford shaved 300 pounds off their SUV.

Though the stand-out feature is the second row seat that’s slides forward to allow access to the third row. That’s with a car seat in place, a major convenience for families with several children or parents that carpool kids around.

I found four 12-volt power plugs, six USB plugs and one 110-volt household plug. A plug for each kid, and that’s one less argument for a Mom to manage.

Power and plugs in at the 2018 All-New Ford Expedition.
The USBs and the 110-volt household plug in the second row of seats can’t be beat for convenience in the 2018 Ford Expedition. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The dual headrest, rear-seat entertainment system keeps the kids engaged in a program and not each other. Add the wireless charging for compatible mobile devices and a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices within 50 feet of the vehicle and everyone is happy.

The seat back entertainment system in the 2018 All-New Ford Expedition.
The seat back entertainment system for the back seater passengers helps keep driver distractions to a minimum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The driver experience is important so I loved the panoramic vista roof that spans two rows. Add the 12-speaker premium audio package, and this Mom can find happiness in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But my favorite feature has to be the adjustable shelf behind the third row.

A SUV for Dad too

Not just a Mom SUV, Dad can take the wheel and have confidence in the Ford Expedition’s hauling and towing capabilities.

Experience the 2018 All-New Ford Expedition.
I appreciate a well-designed storage spaces like the door of the Ford Expedition. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Remodeling? Stow the second and third row of seats and fit a 4×8 piece of plywood in the back.

The all-new Ford Expedition is engineered to handle rugged off-roading in addition to towing a family’s toys. With a hands-free lift gate, loading up the cargo hold has never been easier.

Look for this all-new 2018 Ford Expedition to be available in the Fall. The Ford Expedition is built at the Louisville, Kentucky, plant.

2018 Ford Explorer

the 2018 All-New Ford SUVs like the Ford Explorer
The new 2018 Ford Explorer offers a new style and safety. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The 2018 Ford Explorer sees a freshen up to the front and rear styling. Giving this SUV an upgraded style to satisfy a Mom that wants a capable vehicle that’s an extension of her personal style.

The 2018 Ford Explorer adds four new exterior colors, Platinum Dune, Blue Metallic, Cinnamon Glaze and Burgundy Velvet Tinted Clearcoat. Five new wheel choices will be available on the 2018 Ford Explorer too.

The 2018 Ford Explorer features a new grill.
The front grill of the 2018 Ford Explorer got a make-over. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Safe and Smart Package is a stand-out for safety and new for 2018. With high-demand driver assistance, families can feel safer in their SUVs. The Safe and Smart Package uses cutting-edge technology to assist drivers.

With features like adaptive cruise control, where the driver can set the following distance along with the speed, to blind spot monitoring, drivers benefit from additional information. Cross-traffic alert uses radar to monitor for cars when backing out of a parking spot. The lane keeping system uses a camera to monitor the lane markers and alerts the driver with a steering wheel vibration when leaving the lane.

Experience the 2018 Ford Explorer for safety and style.
The safety features of the 2018 Ford Explorer include a Safe and Smart Package. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Parking might be one of the most challenging driving skills and the 2018 Ford Explorer has a Mom covered. With the active park assist, ultrasonic sensors monitor the surroundings to help in parallel and perpendicular parking.

Like the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition, the Ford Explorer provides Wi-Fi and features a 4G embedded modem that can connect up to 10 devices.

The Ford Explorer will be available this Fall. It is manufactured at the Chicago, Illinois, plant.

2018 All-New Ford Eco-Sport

The 2018 All-New Ford Eco-Sport.
The 2018 All-New Ford Eco-Sport packs fun in a capable small SUV. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The all-new compact SUV from the Ford line-up, the Eco-Sport, is the smallest Ford SUV. This SUV packs in the fun while staying capable and connected.

The Eco-Sport offers big sound with the available B&O Play audio system with 10 speakers. Add 10 available exterior colors to share personal style and all models feature the swing-gate style tailgate.

Enjoy the 2018 All-new Ford Eco-Sport, a compact SUV.
The 2018 All-New Ford Eco-Sport offers plenty of cargo space. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Stay connected with the Eco-Sport’s 8-inch touch screen for communication and entertainment. Looking for a plug? In the Eco-Sport, it’s easy. It features two USBs and one 12-volt plug and another 12-volt and 110-volt household plug are available.

The all-new Eco Sport arrives at dealerships in early 2018.

Ford and the Future of Cars

Ford acknowledges that more isn’t always better. The use of innovation needs to be deliberate and purposeful. Using technology to create vehicles that are seamless and intuitive.

Ford utilizes passive and active safety features in their line-up. With passive features like improved vehicle structure, crumble zones and airbags, Ford improves safety in accidents.

In the market for a new family SUV? Me too. I got a sneak peek of the 2018 All-New line-up of Ford SUVs. I found several packed with power, style and safety.

The active safety features include mapping the environment outside the vehicle to improve driver safety and convenience. Along with monitoring the driver’s performance while operating the vehicle to ensure undistracted operation.

My Experience with Self Parking

I am a driver.

As a driver, I enjoy the process. I learned to drive on a 1964 Ford tractor with a straight transmission. My dad balanced on the axle as he walked me through finessing a clutch. I moved on to the 1981 Ford F-150 with an equally cranky clutch.

As a smaller driver, I couldn’t reach to shift it into overdrive (old-school term for fifth). I had to throw the gear shift half way across the cabin and hope it engaged.

I will admit I was timid handling over the pleasure of driving to the vehicle. Though I understand for another generation, autonomous driving equals continued freedom of the road. For younger, less skilled drivers or non-drivers, freedom is equally important.

I slid behind the driver’s seat with an open mind. founder, Scotty Reiss, patiently instructed me through the process.

The Ford Fusion maps the environment before I double tapped the park assist button. The vehicle selected the spot and I followed the instructions on the display panel.

The bumper sensors monitored the proximity to the other cars. I monitored the rear backup camera and manned the brake.

When the Ford Fusion failed to move, I pressed the accelerator. I utilized the brake more during the process.

The Self Parking Result

After several attempts, I conquered a self park. I need to practice setting up the vehicle in the proper position.

During the process, I used the side mirrors and looked behind me to insure the Ford Fusion didn’t inadvertently hit another car. I didn’t feel out of control of the vehicle since I maintained control over the gas and brake petals.


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Finding Mom a New Toyota SUV to Love


Shop an auto show for convenient vehicle shopping
An auto show is the ideal place for vehicle shopping with all the major manufacturers steps away.

I just wrapped up a day at the DFW Auto Show and after I propped up my feet, I started to think. With tears in my eyes, I was actually thinking about finding a new SUV to love. It seemed so wrong but I had to admit I was in the market to replace the trusty, reliable, super fun-to-drive Toyota 4Runner.

Why attend an Auto Show

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, the local Auto Show should be your first stop. And here’s why:

  • Get an overview what’s new in the industry–from safety to style.
  • Shop brands efficiently and effectively without the pressure of salespeople.
  • Sit in different types of vehicles. Try on that convertible, sit in the luxury SUV.
  • Have some fun. I test drove a stick shift convertible and took a spin on a truck obstacle track.
  • Find a new car crush. A totally out-of-your-league dream.

I attended the DFW Auto Show to see what’s new with my go-to manufacturer, Toyota. I’ve got a teen itching to get behind the wheel coupled with an aging (sniff, sniff) family SUV.

My Toyota History

My relationship with Toyota began in 1990 with a light blue Corolla 4-door with a manual transmission and air-conditioning. It didn’t even have intermittent wipers or a rear window defogger. But hey, I was a kid and who needed that stuff anyway.

Vehicles are like family members.
Our Toyota 4Runner is a member of the family and the kids love her too.

Next I moved on to my current Toyota, a 2002 4Runner 4WD. A hard-working member of the family that’s hard to replace.

Then a red 2007 Toyota Matrix, nicknamed Britni, came and went. My husband (and the primary driver) said she was a girl car.

Then came the first crossover, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 that was allegedly stolen by a Russian international car theft ring in Montreal, Canada, and shipped to West Africa. Then a 2013 Toyota RAV4 AWD that replaced the stolen RAV4 after our insurance check came through.

My Girl

She’s a trusted friend, always reliably waiting for me and my three kids. Never left me stranded or failed to start, and always ready for an adventure.

I installed my first car seat in her. I strapped my last baby in her. I struggled with mushing three kids into a combination of boosters and carseats in her.

I can’t spill water on the back seat, or I’ll rehydrate a childhood of chocolate milk. I don’t know if she dreamed of being a Mom SUV, but she adapted and became a Mom SUV extraordinaire.

Finding a new SUV to love? I need to replace my beloved 2002 Toyota 4Runner in a few months so the research and the test drives start here.

Moms that drive 4Runners are fun, the guy’s girl that grew up and had a family. As a Mom driving an older 4Runner, I get a tiny thrill when a 20-something guy asks me about my 4Runner. Makes me feel younger, (I know he just wants to buy her but still…).

She’s still looks good on the outside with timeless styling and a paint job that’s held up but I demoted her to short-haul trips. I don’t take her on the long road trips I’ve made into a career.

So the time has come to think about replacing her and passing her down to my kids climbing into the driver’s seat. Though the thought makes me so sad, like putting down a pet. I guess that’s when you know you’ve owned a great vehicle.

The New 2018 C-HR

Toyota CHR, a Toyota Crossover, is a new this year.
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a compact crossover new to the Toyota line up. Courtesy Photo

As the newest to crossover Toyota line-up, the C-HR offers a compact option to the popular RAV4 and Highlander crossovers.

The new 2018 C-HR offers a distinctive athletic build at an affordable price point, starting at $22K with a premium option at $24K. The rear spoiler and the sport alloy wheels, standard on the XLE, add to its sporty personality.

The estimated MPG is an impressive 27/31. The cargo space offered by the 2018 C-HR is 36.4 cubic feet with folded-down seats and 19.0 cubic feet behind the second row.

With ground clearance coming in at 5.9” along with the lack of AWD, keeps this crossover on the paved roads. A consideration for me, and drivers in rugged locales or snow-prone areas, since I need more control and traction. The seating for five accommodates my three kids.

Though I love the styling, the C-HR doesn’t fit my needs for AWD or cargo space. A sporty option for the younger, less entangled drivers. I’ve got too many things to haul in my life and my SUV.

The RAV4

The Toyota RAV4, Toyota Crossover, hauls 73.4 cubic feet of gear.
After five years of ownership, I’m still amazed by how much the RAV4 hauls and the stability of the AWD.

The RAV4 offers proven performance and versatility that I’ve come to rely on for the last five years. As my husband’s primary car, I drive it on extended trips throughout the seasons. The starting price point of $24K entices many families into the mid-point Toyota crossover.

The estimated MPG is an expected 23/30. The cargo space offered by the RAV4 is impressive 73.4 cubic feet with folded-down seats and 38.4 behind the second row. I am amazed by how much luggage I can haul in the RAV4 during our trips. Coupled with a soft-sided roof carrier, I spent nine weeks on the road in our RAV4.

The Toyota RAV4, a Toyota Crossover, is loaded for a trip.
My RAV4 packed and ready to go on a multi-week long road trip.

The ground clearance is a comfortable 6.1” and easy on the knees for climbing in. The optional AWD has me driving with stability and security to the ski resort. With seating for five, it accommodates my three kids.

Though I love our RAV4, I don’t think we need another.

The Highlander

The Toyota Highlander, a Toyota Crossover, offers 3 rows of seating.
The Toyota Highlander is the largest of the crossovers and offers three rows of seating. Courtesy Photo

As the largest crossover in the Toyota lineup, the Highlander offers Moms lots of versatility. With refined styling and more space, the Highlander finds its way into many garages at a starting price point of $30K.

The estimated MPG at 20/23 is a little lower than I expected. The Highlander offers 83.7 cubic feet of space with the second and third row of seats stowed. With the second row down, it offers 42.3 cubic feet. And 13.8 cubic feet behind the third row, so no road trips will all the seats up.

The ground clearance is a generous 8.0” so a primitive camping spot with the best view isn’t a problem. The optional AWD has me driving with stability and security on the annual ski trip. With seating for eight, it accommodates my three kids and a couple of friends.

The Highlander intrigues me with its style and performance. Sounds like I need an extended test drive to help me make a decision.

The 4Runner

The 2017 Toyota 4Runner offers rugged style.
The Toyota 4Runner offers off road abilities with city sensibilities. Courtesy Photo

This SUV is an icon. It offers rugged performance that’s a breeze in the city with its tight turning radius. Its starting price point of $34K is manageable too.

With a 4×4 option and the TRD Pro option, the 4Runner wants to get dirty, in my case in a national park. I’ve used the 4WD option lots over the years and realistically never pushed my 4Runner to its limits.

The estimated MPG is a 17/21 that hasn’t changed much over the years. The 4Runner offers 89.7 cubic feet of space with all the seats down. With the second row down, it offers 47.2 cubic feet. And if you opt for the third row of seats, it offers 9.0 cubic feet of storage. Ouch.

The ground clearance in the 2×4 is 9” and the 4×4 option is a generous 9.6”. Though climbing behind the driver’s seat requires grabbing the bar to yank myself up. With seating for five, it accommodates my family.

A newer 4Runner is a contender. Though I love the rugged styling now, will I love it in a few years?

As in most major decisions, more research needs to happen. Stay tuned.


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