My Family Car News

BMW i3 REx Test Drive

I have test driven two different i3 with range extenders, the first was a Mega (base model) last october, the second was a bright orange Tera (loaded) this past weekend. Before we get too far in, I should include a couple of qualifiers for this review. First, and most obvious, this is not meant as a replacement for a minivan or three-row SUV, but as more of a second car. Second, I am a Chevrolet Volt owner. Third, despite not fitting in with our typical test drive fodder, you will probably never see me turn down an opportunity to review a car. With those out of the way, on with the fun...

While some may view the styling as too edgy, I find it quite refreshing. In the word's of one of my co-workers "it looks like a concept car". The same can be said of the interior as well, while the shift knob does take a moment to get used too. Overall, the interior is bright, open, and airy feeling. Visibility to the rear is good, and the materials used are nicely chosen. Our test unit was a Mega World trimmed model (BMW for base model i3). Stepping up to the Giga World trim nets you real eucalyptus wood in place of the less premium looking black plastic dash top featured in our tester. 

In the 48 hours that I had the first i3, it handled everything that I threw at it with aplomb, including a pair of car seats, and a long distance cruise to drain the battery so that I could drive it in range extended mode. Side note, the regenerative braking is so strong, that I had to make an extended highway trip to drain it, around town I was gaining back enough charge that it would have taken me longer than I first anticipated to get it near "empty". Once the range extender kicked in, it could be heard, but only if you were actively listening for it, and performance around town didn't seem noticeably restricted. Granted, with only 34 horsepower, and 650cc of displacement, unlike my Volt, it is NOT meant for primary propulsion, hence its 2 gallon gas tank. The i3 offers three driving modes, Comfort, Eco Pro, and Eco Pro +. Rather than feeling under powered in the Eco modes, it comes across as resistance in the accelerator pedal.

The BMW i3 is a joy to drive. The steering is light, but not devoid of feel, and eager to turn in. The suspension is quick to react, but not punishing. The interior feels much larger than you would guess based on the external dimensions. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in these cars, and would definitely consider owning one. Maybe when my lease is up on my Volt...


This marks the third year in a row that Ford of Europe has put out a stop motion video featuring their 1/64th scale drift hero Mental Block. Find them all in reverse order below. Happy Holidays!

"Happy to help, Mr. Claus"

For your holiday viewing pleasure, Honda has put together a charming little cartoon campaigning for a safer sleigh for Santa. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays from everyone at MyFamilyCar!

Honda - The Cog

After posting the GI Joe and Barbie commercials the other day, it got us thinking about some of our favorite car ads from around the world. The Cog is from 2003, for the Euro market Accord wagon. Enjoy!

Tesla Model S P85D

Last night, Tesla Motors announced the newest variant of their other-worldly Model S sedan. The "D" denotes a dual motor setup, available for all three Model S versions (60Kwh, 85Kwh, and Performance 85Kwh). Due to efficiency gains in this new configuration, choosing all wheel drive actually increases your total range by 10 miles, as opposed to combustion engine vehicles that are less efficient when driving both axles. The dual motor setup is optional, but as promised, Tesla Motors had something else to announce as well, Autopilot, standard on all Model S's, and already included in any vehicles assembled in the last 2 weeks. The Autopilot hardware is made up of a forward looking camera, radar, and 360-degree ultrasonic sensors actively monitoring the surrounding road. The most athletic result from the dual motor setup may be taking the Performance model from Porsche 911 levels (0-60 in 4.2 seconds) to Ferrari level (0-60 in 3.2 seconds)! Or if you skip the performance model and go for a regular 85Kwh you gain an extra 30 miles of range, for a total of 295 miles between charges, and killer all weather capability. As proven by our fervor for the new Charger Hellcat, we'll take a P85D in white, with the third row, and panoramic roof. See you in line for lottery tickets!!

Tesla Autopilot

Tesla Autopilot

KIA Optima Wagon? is reporting that they have heard rumors that the next Kia Optima will include a range of body styles, rather than just the current sedan. One of those mentioned is a wagon, in addition to a sedan, and possibly a coupe. Given that the US is a veritable wasteland for wagons, if such a move occurs, we won't be holding our breath that it would be sold state-side. However, if we are wrong, we would love to test one out! Their source also mentions the possibility that the next Optima will be previewed in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Kia Optima T-Hybrid Concept shown.

Kia Optima T-Hybrid Concept shown.

Toys Selling Cars

Nissan for a brief time had the World's most famous woman as a spokesmodel. The first is my all time favorite commercial, one that I spent hours discussing with a coworker back in the day (I know, I am a geek).

The second cashes in a little of the magic, but is still better than most sequels...

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S

While we had hoped to have driven a US market Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV by now, thanks to numerous delays, it looks like the Pluglander won't arrive until after it's mid cycle refresh. After seeing what Mitsubishi has done with the Concept-S, we're not so sure that's a bad thing... Also, red leather, because, awesome!


Overview of the Outlander PHEV Concept-S

The Outlander PHEV Concept-S is a concept model presenting a special design package for the production Outlander PHEV. The exterior and interior design are created under "Sporty and Sophisticated" design theme. The design expresses driving pleasure by delivering powerful and agile driving performance as well as quiet, advanced and high quality driving performance provided by its Twin Motor 4WD and Plug-in Hybrid EV System. 


Meant to symbolize the functionality and reassuring safety inherent to Mitsubishi Motors' SUVs, the front end design shields the Three-Diamond mark with bold chromed accent moldings on either side - a three dimensional effect - in a further suggestion of motion.

Wraparound headlamps contribute themselves to a sense of dynamism sweeping gently up and outwards.

This "protective theme" continues at the rear where similar symbolic chrome accents – topped by elongated combination lamps - run from tailgate to wings meant to express dynamic and innovative styling as if bracing the vehicle for better safety. The body color uses a brilliant "Platinum White" with glass flake finish.


Contrary to the sparkling exterior design, the "Black & Burgundy" color scheme interior design offers a refined quality passenger compartment.

In particular, Concept-S' interior design makes use of painstakingly executed detailing to express precision, quality, craftsmanship and sophistication such as:

-  Black woodgrain trim with silver accent 

-  The center console designed inspired by Japanese traditional black lacquered boxes

-  Soft fine leather, hand-stitched by craftsmen selected for the seat upholstery

Furthermore, the seat upholstery forms a three-dimensional surface with horizontally-ribbed cushioning providing superior fit, while the use of trimming lines is formed so as to gently follow the body contours holding occupants snugly in place. 

Silver accents of the trimming lines, curving around the seat, further enhance the perceived quality of the interior.

Chrysler Town & Country PHEV coming a year early?

Automotive News (subscription required) is reporting that the plug-in hybrid version of the next Chrysler Town & Country minivan may be ready late next year, rather than 2016 as laid out in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles upcoming products plan back in May. Toyota Prius rivaling gas mileage has been bandied about, in a minivan! CEO Sergio Marchionne has said many times that he doesn't see electrification as the answer for ever tightening emissions regulations, despite the rave reviews being heaped on FCA's only EV the Fiat 500E. Only time will tell, but if its true, I have a 2010 Town & Country LX+ that may be on the market...

Chrysler 700C Concept shown.

Prior Life Messenger Bag

Finding a cool diaper bag is a challenge. There are several styles out there, and some are quite rugged and handsome, but they all scream diaper bag, and can be quite expensive! However, Prior Life makes many different types of bags from old banners. Banners that are made to withstand the elements, therefore are more than rugged enough to withstand the daily grind. Or so my theory goes, I will report back on how it is holding up in the future. I picked up a Prior Life Messenger Bag at the Grand Rapids Public Museum Gift shop to use as my diaper bag. It has a few smaller pockets inside, but is basically wide open to customize as I choose. I am looking forward to speccing it out to suit all my gear hauling needs, from diapers to laptops to cameras. Here is their official blurb, and a link to their website: 

"This hip, eco-friendly bag is crafted from recycled vinyl banners. Perfect for carrying a laptop, school books, it's sure to be the envy of all your pals!" $39.95