Yes I Like Minivans

If you were to ask me a few years ago if I liked minivans, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.  There was no way you’d catch me in the stereotypical family vehicle of choice.  That was until I had 4 kids of my own and a wife that extolled the benefits of said minivan.

As luck would have it, my good friends Charlie and Elena Wollborg suggested The Suburban Collection and I connect for another one of their test drives.  Charlie and Elena drove a Cadillac SRX earlier this summer through this program and they were kind enough suggest me to Dan Boismier, head of all things digital at Suburban Collection.  I picked up the keys on Friday to a 2012 Chrysler Town and Country and had the van for our weekend trip to northern Michigan.

First things first.
The van completely suits our family’s needs.  I posted on Facebook that I liked it.  I had a friend tell me that there are other vehicles that seat 8 comfortably.  True, but what makes a van desirable for us are automatic sliding doors so the kids can easily get in and out and easily putting my 3 year old in his car seat.  The sliding doors ease the worry of my  7 year old throwing doors open without a care for the car that happens to be right next to me.  The other basic need…CARGO ROOM.  Chrysler has always had fold flat seats which also allows for more cargo room than most vans.  A family of 6 (plus a dog) is no small task to pack for and when you do, you end up bringing everything!  Being able to pack everything in the back and leave the passenger area free and clear was fantastic.

It’s the simple things.
Chrysler thought of everything.  The pull up shades on the sliding doors and rear windows.  How great it would have been to have those this summer when the sun was shining right on my kids faces on our many drives up north.  The power windows on the sliding doors!  When we went to the dancing light show near our house, it was great to be able to put down the rear windows so the kids could check it out!  And the dual DVDs.  My how those came in handy on the drive home!  Instead of all 4 kids trying to watch a single small screen, each row had a 9″ screen to watch Mary Poppins!  Even Buddy, pulled up a chair in the back and caught some of the show.

Gadgets Galore.
I like gadgets.  I like technology.  The van had both.  It’s UConnect system, synced my iPhone contacts quickly and made hands free driving easy.  I could also play the music from my phone and stream through the speakers.  Included on this vehicle was its blind zone warning system integrated into the outside rearview mirrors, a common safety function offered on many vehicles but new to me.  It made passing other cars a breeze.  We also had a navigation system to play with and SiriusXM satellite radio.  So many things to make this Town and Country a wonderful ride for 5 days.

What I think I appreciated the most was the program that Dan has started at The Suburban Collection.  This is a great social media platform for dealers to engage in the community and for those participating, a great way for them to meet local dealers in their area.  Dan Wiebelhaus and his team at Suburban Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Troy were fantastic.  They made sure I understood the vehicle before taking it for the weekend and were very welcoming when I returned it this morning.  Kudos to them and their social media test drive platform.

As for Julianne and I, Town and Country will certainly be on our consideration list when we are in market.  We had one before and loved it and I know we’d love it again.  Thanks to Dan, Dan and The Suburban Collection.  Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post.  The Suburban Collection did provide me use of the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country you see above for a 5 day test drive.  The opinions expressed here are mine and do not represent the opinions of my employer.


Social Media and Social Causes

Everyone knows about the Red Cross effort to raise money for the earthquake in Haiti.  If you don’t, then you are not paying attention!  I first heard about it on Twitter and it continues to be a trending topic there.  It got me thinking again (dangerous) that social media as a communication tool is so powerful.  More importantly, when it supports a social cause like Haiti, it can be impactful enough to raise over $5 million in relief by merely texting “Haiti” to 90999.

As I’ve thought about ways to get more involved in social causes and philanthropy, I’ve met some great people that do it for a living.  For example, I met Daniel Herndon through Twitter.  His organization, Forkout, uses creative philanthropy and experiential marketing to “forkout” cash for worthy organizations.  One of his recent projects, Community First Initiative, was featured in the USA Today.  In an effort to raise money for Community First, Daniel and Darren Heil (director of Community First) lived underneath a billboard in a cargo van while providing updates via webcam and Twitter.  The goal was to raise $25,000 for CFI.  To date, they raised $18,000.  Click here to read the story.

So this week, the Washington D.C. Auto Show is going on.  Our sister brand, Chevrolet, has a display in which they are collecting donations in a Chevrolet Colorado for the Red Cross and Haiti.  In order to get the word out, many of us at GM are using Twitter and Facebook to generate the awareness and hopefully raise some significant money for the efforts by the Red Cross in Haiti.  A lot of money has been raised but the devastation to an already destitute country is unimaginable.  So if you happen to read this and are in the Washington D.C. area, please stop by and donate whatever you can spare, and while there you might as well check out the great products from  Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac!

Thanks for reading!