Tag: road trip

Travel Swellness: Road tripping in a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal

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I think the Buick slogan, “That’s a Buick” is pretty clever, because the brand has truly changed my (and I’m sure other people’s) perception of what a Buick is.

Thanks to Buick Canada, I had the opportunity to test drive a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal in April. And I comfortably drove for 2.5 hours straight; this is the longest stint I’ve ever been behind the wheel ever since I started driving at the age of 18. And I felt comfortable (great ergonomic design), safe (thanks to features such as the heads up display making me aware of my speed and blind-spot detection system) and aesthetically, the car’s very sleek (appealing to my design sense — check out the dashboard in the photo below; and love the huge sunroof!) and the Envision we test drove was in the Galaxy Silver Metallic, which is the colour I would get the car in (although the Summit White is pretty hot, too). Oh, and the OnStar (which provides turn-by-turn navigation and if you know me at all, I have zero sense of direction) and 4G LTE WiFi hotspot (which I used aplenty when I was a passenger to catch up on work). And the car had Sirius and I was able to listen to all my faves:

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Plus there was plenty of space, both in terms of leg room (Billie Jean curled up in the floor area of the passenger side) and in the trunk (we drove back with several dozen bagels and loads of food that my mom cooked, and she cooked for days and days since she knew I had a car that I could load up).

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Even though I grew up in Montreal, it was great to have the Envision to try somethings I’d never done in my hometown. I got a chance to see the two apartments I lived in as a baby (which I’d never been back to before); we stopped for a sweet and creamy drink at Orange Julep (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid even though I have passed by it for years on the way downtown); and we hiked with Billie Jean on a trail I’ve never been to at Mount Royal, one just off of the observation deck area.

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Yep, that’s a Buick, and it’s a car I’d seriously consider when it comes time to get a car.

Thank you GM Canada for the test drive where I got to explore a bit of my childhood and discover new things to in the city I grew up in! I think Billie Jean enjoyed seeing where I came from!

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Leave a Comment June 4, 2019

Travel Swellness: Testing performance with the 2019 Ford Edge ST

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“Karen, how would you like to try something terrifying?”

Okay, okay, that’s not what the invite read. In April, Ford Canada approached me with a fun challenge. They wanted to know if I was up for testing my performance through a fitness performance adventure such as rock climbing or trapeze, while also testing the performance of the 2019 Ford Edge ST. And, of course, I said yes (hello, have we just met, I love semi scary adventures, hahaha!).

My gut reaction was to try trapeze…but then I got kind of nervous as I thought about it some more (I don’t mind heights per se, but I don’t like the sensation of free falling or being upside down much) and thought “Oh, I’ll just do rock climbing.” But I’ve done rock climbing several times (in CEGEP I did several rock climbing gym intensives (when you could get your gym credit completed in one weekend, so convenient!), plus I’ve been climbing since then both out in nature and at climbing gyms). And I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t push myself to try trapeze, so I decided to go for it. And then I had to think carefully about which friend would be up for this as well, and sure enough, my friend Amanda, who’s always up for just about anything, said she was game.

I drove us out to the trapeze class in Scarborough in the Ford Edge ST, and we were laughing on the way there because we knew the teacher would think we were a bunch of injured misfits who’d signed up for trapeze: Amanda was having knee surgery two days after our class, and I have a pinched nerve in my neck that’s been plaguing me with a sore shoulder for weeks. Not exactly peak performance mode for either of us! Also funny: we both had to google to confirm what trapeze actually is. We watched YouTube videos and fretted about actually being able to do it.

After some quick instruction, we were apparently good to go. Even just climbing the ladder up to the platform was nerve-wracking, but that was nothing compared to when they tell you to grab hold of the trapeze with one hand. It’s so taut that it feels like you’ll be pulled right off of the platform. I very much thought “I don’t know if I can do this!” I might have even said it out loud. I was doubting the decisions I’d made that lead me to be standing on this platform. Then, I grabbed it with my other hand when they said to and then (gulp) stepped off of the platform…

Whoosh! Once I was actually in the air it was less terrifying. I had a hard time hearing the instructions being shouted from the ground on my first try and didn’t quite understand when I was supposed to do what (with the first swing out is when you start to try to move the trapeze bar to behind your knees). I entirely missed it my first try, got closer the second try and by my third try I completed the movement! And I am entirely hooked. It was such an exhilarating feeling to be smoothly flying through the air, and also so satisfying to be able to complete the acrobatic move of moving your legs onto the bar, hanging down upside down and then moving your legs off of the bar to flip off of it. I only managed half of a flip off of it the whole class (I think my dismount is too slow, so I lose the momentum that’s necessary to do the flip).

I wholeheartedly recommend trying a trapeze class if you’ve ever been intrigued by it, I think you’ll love it. I hope to go back some day soon! Amanda and I still rave about it!

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We left the class totally high on adrenaline and piled back into the Ford Edge ST, and since we were so pumped, we got the ST’s 12 speaker B&O Premium Sound System by Bang & Olufsen going with some high-energy music to match our mood.

That was Friday night, and I used the car over the weekend, too, and took full advantage of having some wheels in the city and took it out several times each day. Since I was out and about a lot, having a fully charged phone is always an essential. And the Edge is the first car I’ve test drove with wireless phone charging. You just place your newer phone (like my Google Pixel 3) in the designated charging space, and your phone gets charged. No wires to fuss with. That is truly a life-changing feature, in my opinion.

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The Ford Edge features a dial to change from park to drive, and I think that’s a new design that would take some getting used to (I would always automatically go to look for a stick over the days I had the car) but I’m sure after a week, it’d become the norm. I did test the car’s performance once by hitting the S to put the car into sport mode. Now, I was only doing a slowish drive of the car on the Gardiner (thanks Toronto traffic), but I did sense that the car sort of stiffened up and was ready to GO, but driving in the city didn’t really allow me to do much with the feature, unfortunately. I should’ve planned a drive on a less busy country road to better test drive the 335 hp, 380 lb.-ft. of torque,  and the 2.7L V6 turbocharged EcoBoost engine (but I’d have had to bring a more car-savvy friend to help walk me through how those features were contributing to our drive, because short of a car having good ergonomics and visibility, and maybe how smoothly I feel it drives on a basic level, I am not, as I have mentioned before, super knowledgeable about those details; I assess cars more on comfort, safety and lifestyle features). The Ford Edge ST, by the way, is the first SUV from the Ford Performance Team.

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Always a bonus in a car is an sizable trunk, which I got full use out of by doing errands and picking up bulky grocery items (namely dog food and cat litter, those pets require lots of heavy lifting!). And I threw in more fitness fun with a hike at Dundas Peak in Hamilton, and a few foodie outings with friends (and driving with the Edge’s GPS is such a relief for someone like me with zero sense of direction; it got us to our destinations every time with no issues). The car also features Ford SYNC 3 AppLink with Waze, which we put to use when we ran into traffic on way to dinner on the weekend.

Oh, and the steering wheel in the Ford Edge ST is heated, which was fantastic when I test drove this vehicle because as you may know, it’s taken a very long time for spring temps to arrive in Toronto, and in fact, it snowed on the weekend I had the Edge ST and that heated steering wheel warmed up my frozen hands after a long hike. What an ultimate luxury, right? I think once you go heated steering wheel, you can’t go back.

The Ford Edge ST is both slick enough for urban life but rugged enough for those fitness-fueled outings, which is essentially how I live. Thank you Ford Canada for nudging me to try new things and the opportunity to put such a sweet ride to the test.

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Leave a Comment May 27, 2019

Fitness Swellness: National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada

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Last month, I celebrated National Take a Hike Day with Ford Canada (thanks for the Eco Sport for the week, Ford Canada!).

I wish I lived close to mountains and forests so that hiking were more easily accessible. But for now, I do like living in downtown Toronto (having a ton of great restaurants nearby is a life essential). And while there are some trails in the city that I know of that I can take Billie Jean to either by running to them or via public transit (David Balfour Park is one of them), the better trails tend to be farther afield. So with the Eco Sport filled up with gas, we set out for Hamilton to the Bruce Trail.

 

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Crunch, crunch, crunch. I love the sound of just my footsteps and Billie Jean’s flurry of steps (she adores racing around; I’m sure she ends up doing at least double the distance I hike). I’ve done this particular hike once before, which includes four waterfalls. We had just missed the wonderful autumn leaves on the trees by maybe a week or two, but they still made a pretty glorious setting on the ground dotted with some snow. I hadn’t realized there’d be snow on the trails (the snowfall hadn’t lasted downtown so I’d forgotten any snow had come down). The air was brisk and we encountered few people on the trail; I love when trails are so quiet (except if I am lost, then I want to encounter people!). About four hours later, we finished just at dusk famished and pooped.

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Because getting out to hike is a favourite for both me and Billie Jean, we headed out again on the Sunday to Rouge National Urban Park to the Woodland Trail. More snow, a pretty creek, very few people and one very happy dog.

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Whenever I have access to a car, I try to take advantage of doing things that are too difficult to do without one. Such as going to restaurants further out of the downtown core, and doing shopping errands for bulky items (as much as I’d like to make it a strength workout, I can’t walk the 30 minutes with a giant bag of Billie Jean’s food). With the zippy Eco Sport, I was able to check off trying Tajok-Uzbek cuisine at Chaihana and made full use of the spacious trunk on a shopping outing with a friend.  

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Someday, I’d love to have a car. It makes so many adventures like camping and hiking and doing chores easier; I truly have never appreciated having one  more than since adopting Billie Jean. The past few years I’ve driven such a variety of cars and it’s helping me learn more about what I like in a vehicle. I now know I prefer SUVs (I find there’s a comfort that comes from sitting up high compared to a car) and the Eco Sport I felt was a good compromise in size for me personally (it’s not so large that I feel uneasy parking or maneuveuring it, but sizeable enough that I could probably go camping with it, and do a road trip in it with Billie Jean). Plus check out the big screen in the Eco Sport (below)! Love it.

This is the first vehicle I’ve driven that has the trunk opening from the side, and I’m not sure what I think about that (would it be harder to open if you had a car or something right behind the car because you’d need more clearance space compared to a trunk that opens upwards?). I also realized that when it comes to paint jobs, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to car colour, gravitating towards black or white, or at most a deep inky navy, instead of more standout shades like the Canyon Ridge of this Eco Sport. (Not that I’d turn down the beyond beautiful red 1957 Mercedes Benz SL that I was fortunate enough to enjoy on Highway 1 in California a few months ago, though!)

 

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Already plotting on where to road trip next to with Billie Jean…debating a long (multi-day) road trip next…What are your favourite things you do with a car? Did you celebrate Take Hike Day? Are there fun mini road trips I’m missing out on? Or things in the city I should check out the next time I’ve got wheels? Would love to hear from you.

Billie Jean in Eco Sport

Leave a Comment December 14, 2018

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