Friday, December 7, 2012

Toyota at the L.A. Auto Show: My Car Hunt Begins

I was invited by Toyota to check out the debut of the 2013 Toyota RAV4 at the L.A. Auto Show last week. It was eerie timing, as the previous weekend I'd just started my search for a new car to replace my (non-Toyota) mini-van. Was it coincidence or are the people over at Toyota freaky mind readers? I don't want to get too cosmic, but what did they gift me with, just as I walked up to meet them and was thinking about how I'd forgotten to bring a pen and a pad of paper? That's right:

I'll bet Toyota knows how I like my coffee, too.
Our day started off with the keynote speech by Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales President and CEO. One of the things that stood out for me were his remarks about highway safety, especially when it comes to teen drivers. Because we have a 16-year-old who will soon be taking to the roads, his words sort of made me want to put off this whole driving thing until she turns 30. This was the most alarming statistic he mentioned:

"Teens are 26 times more likely to text while driving than parents think."

This really freaked me out, even though I know that when it comes to teens "text while driving" could easily be replaced with other things like "lie", "wipe their hands on the curtains," and "trade their sandwich for a bag of Cheetos." But I made a mental note to move that driving age back to 35.

Next we got to witness the unveiling of the brand new 2013 RAV4. I don't want to get too dramatic, but I have to say it was pretty exciting to be the first ones to lay eyes on this beauty as it rolled onto the stage, not unlike seeing your child being born. Okay, that's going too far – maybe just like seeing your friend's child being born.

A car is born.
I'm pretty excited about the RAV4. It seems to be a logical step away from the bulkiness and road hog-ness of my van, but still has the features that make it a great family car (RAV stands for Recreational Activity Vehicle, btw.) I'm looking forward to test driving it and seeing how the back seat rates with my super-tall teens. One other thing to check out: How many charging outlets and cup holders does it have?

How many iPhones can you charge and how many Frappuccinos can you hold?
I did feel like I was cheating on the RAV4, though, when I sauntered over and was immediately seduced by the Highlander. Its third-row seating is a huge plus for me and ideal for hauling hoards of teenagers – something I always seem to be doing these days. It definitely has a slightly more luxurious and spacious feel than the RAV4, but at the same time I'm thinking its size may make it just as difficult to park as my minivan. Someday I'll tell you about the thirty minutes and seven-hundred calories I lost while trying to maneuver the minivan out of a tight spot at Target.

Another cool thing to see while you're checking out sexy new Toyotas: a replica of the Toyota Tundra that towed the Space Shuttle Endeavour across interstate 405 during its epic journey to the California Science Center. You may never have to tow a 145-ton object across an L.A. freeway, but it's nice to know you can if it ever comes up.

I'll keep you posted on my journey to find a new car. In the meantime, you still have time to check out the L.A. Auto Show at the L.A. Convention Center - it runs through December 9.

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