Tween Approved: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a Go!

Tween Approved: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a Go!

Disclosure: I am not a car person; I don’t review cars for a living.  But I am a mom who is concerned about the safety of her family, is budget conscience and also takes pride in have a cool “mom-mobile. ”  All opinions and views with regard to this car review, the company that loaned it to me and the vehicle manufacturer are entirely mine and were not influenced, edited or even reviewed by the companies prior to posting. 

Last week, I test drove the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE and it couldn’t have come at a better time: Lulu had a day off of school and it was up to me to plan something cool to do that day.  Last year, Lulu’s class had gone on a field trip to the Chicago History Museum and I left feeling like we had been rushed and needed more time to explore the exhibits and gain some appreciation of our home town.  (Coincidently, since I was test driving the car, it would also be a great excuse to drive the car on the highway, in the rain and determine if it was, in fact, “kid friendly.”)  As I only have one child, I decided that I needed to “rent” two more, Lila and Madison, and thus fill the car’s back seat with wiggly, screaming, sometimes singing 10-year-olds.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE

“We Like The Color!”

Armed with their American Girl dolls to keep them company, my test drivers were up to the challenge of evaluating the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  Of course, the color of the car was their primary concern and these 10-year-olds gave it a thumbs up.  One girl commented that “I’m not sure if there will be enough room for my dolls and us.”  (There was.)  So in they climbed and fortunately there were three headrests and three 5-point seat belts.  This meant that everyone would be secured in the car equally and safely. (Check one for the Mitsubishi Outlander.)  Actually, as the day progressed, this turned out to be a very good feature because the two girls sitting on opposite sides of the car got into a fight and the middle child was able to keep them separated by the mere fact that her seat belt restricted each of the girls from lunging over each other.  (They are a very spirited bunch).  Also, I was a bit concerned about the seemingly lack of cargo space.  But, as the week progressed and I bought groceries, collected sports equipment and other school related items, I found that the cargo space actually met my needs.  Note: Also the front seat warmers were nice to have, but the switches were hidden and my husband had to point them out to me.  

As we pulled out of the driveway, I explained to my pre-teen passengers, that I was testing out this car for the week and I wanted their honest opinions about the car, the ride, the sound system and anything else that came to mind as we drove downtown.  Lila commented that she thought it was fun to watch the reverse mirror on the console while we were backing up and that “it’s a nice feature.  That way you don’t have to worry about getting into an accident.”  Lulu liked the panoramic glass roof but didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t open it and she also thought that the LED lights were a bit “cheesy.”  Personally, I found them to be distracting particularly when the roof was exposed while I was driving at night.  But, while driving home from the museum, all three girls were lulled into silence (and then sleep) while they watched the world go by via the glass roof instead of just looking out the windows.

Mitsubishi-Outlander_Sport_2011_800x600_wallpaper_4c

As we drove through the driving rain, the car handled well but seemed to lack some pick-up or power.  I actually didn’t feel like I was driving a SUV.   Yes, it was comfortable but I didn’t get the “zippy”  SUV feel that I am used driving my old car.  Also there are a lot of windows in the car, but I felt like the manufacturers could have designed the back windshield better.  It felt a bit small to me.

My passengers (and adopted daughters for the day) didn’t complain about the lack of speed.  They were too enamored with the INTENSE sound system and the huge speakers in the cargo space!   The girls continually ordered me to “crank it up!” but, to be quite honest, I was afraid all that bass would shatter the windows.

Note the giant speakers!

Note the giant speakers!

As a music lover,  I like to listen to a variety of tunes while I drive but I couldn’t figure out how to use and then program the stereo. Somehow the user has to switch between the different sources (GPS, MP3, Sirius, AM/FM etc) which takes some time, and requires the driver to take her eyes off the road (or pull over.)  I didn’t feel that the steering wheel controls improved my ability to drive and manage the music or GPS.    Also finding stations on the built-in Sirius/XM satellite radio system was really a challenge. To load CDs or DVDs, the display faceplate sort of  swings down and detaches itself from the unit. (Very odd looking.)  I originally thought that I had broken the stereo. I also struggled with connecting and then programming the navigation system.  I did, eventually, figure out how to use the GPS but never quite got a handle on the other components of the sound system and user interface.

All in all, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE was a decent and seemingly solid car. But for the MSRP of $23,695 (with basic options), its combined MPG of 26 and general lack of exciting features, I wasn’t overly impressed with the car.   My fellow reviewers enjoyed being in the car and felt that there was PLENTY of space even if Adam was riding in the back seat (i.e. lots of room for tall people.)  From the driver’s seat. I felt that the car handled well (especially in the driving rain.)  All-in-all, I felt that it if you are looking for a solid, reliable ride you can’t go wrong with the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE but for a mom who is used to a lot of power and a sun roof that opens, this wasn’t the best choice of car for me.

 

A Windy City Momma Finds A New Toy Store

Occasionally, I find myself with a free afternoon.  I like to take advantage of these rare opportunities and explore a never explored area of Chicagoland.  Today, I landed in Glencoe and Winnetka.

I am the type of mom who likes to stockpile birthday gifts.  Yes, if you are reading this and actually live near me, chances are pretty good that your daughters’ gifts were purchased well before I actually received an invitation to the party.  But not to fear, I almost always purchase these gifts with one thought on my mind: Would my daughter want to receive this gift if it was her birthday?

So today I decided to explore Beat Street, a boutique-y toy store that has, among other things:

Toys, gifts, candy, seasonal gifts, tin robots, japanese items, party favors, pajamas, t-shirts, jewelry, plush, unique and unusual items, arts & crafts, science toys, artisan items, board games, baby gifts, spa and beauty products, bags, purses, wallets, lunch boxes, books, boy and girl gifts, stickers, music boxes, flip books, yo-yos, back to school items, holiday, keychains, watches, clocks, blankets, pillows, bean bags…

Here’s a pic from their Yelp.com “page”:

Despite its location, in the stereotypic “North Shore” notoriously known for its ambivalent sales staff and snotty affect,  I found the customer service at Beat Street to be quite agreeable and the staff to be knowledgable and accommodating.  For instance, when I asked for a particular shirt (Eat Vegetables, Not our Friends (animals)) that was out of stock, the owner offered to order it for me.

The store is LOADED with the “MUST HAVES” for the 12 and under birthday party set (particularly for girls.)  They carry a wide assortment of Klutz products as well as other more well-known toys brands.  (Breyer horses anyone?)  In fact I may have spent over 45 minutes just browsing and stocking up on birthday gifts.

I snapped a picture of  just one of funky items I picked up this afternoon:

30 Hair Tie Lollipop

I have a few suggestions/comments that could make this store a little more accommodating: mainly, better organization.

  1. When I first entered Beat Street, the back of the store was quite messy and I could not look at some of the items because there was so much stuff on the floor.  It looked like a 2 year old had just thrown all of the merchandise on the floor and made a quick exit out the back door. But by the time I left (again, 45 minutes later) the owner had cleaned everything up.  It is a bit hard to navigate around the store because there is so much product and not enough space.  I had a hard time finding some things and needed to ask for assistance in finding toys for young children.
  2. Also, something that I felt was strange was that there is no restroom or bathroom accessible to the store’s clientele.  Why does this matter?  Because when you bring a child into any store, there is always a chance that the child will need to use the facilities.  I would think that a store designed to entice children, would also want to accommodate their primary customers.  I was informed that the store did not have a bathroom because the water was turned off and was then directed to the Panera Bread across the street.  I was pretty “turned off” by the explanation but decided that it was not a reason not to shop at this store. Had I had a child with me, I might have left the store to take care of her and then not bother to return.  Since I was by myself, no having easy access to a bathroom was not my primary concern.
  3. No website: When I asked about a web site, I was informed that they were working on it.  As someone who shops online A LOT and knows people who don’t live anywhere near this store, I think that it is unfortunate that the Beat Street owners are cutting out this important group of customers.  They have such incredible inventory and I am sure could make a killing with online business!

Whenever I visit and spend money in a store, I ask myself two key questions:  Is the store worthy of my coming back and would I have trouble getting my child out of the store.  In both cases, I would say a very definite “YES!”  Beat Street is a great store to pick up birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter etc. etc. gifts.  Not only will I be back, but I will also recommend to my pals that they check out Beat Street for themselves!

Address and other pertinent information:

Beat Street
930 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL  60093 
(847) 441-8580