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Thursday, 20 October 2016

Ford Sustainability #FarmToCar

In a world where it seems there is more problems finders than problem solvers it is refreshing to see a big brand taking a step forward and actually putting their money where their mouth is. So often it feels the future of the earth is dependent on the things consumers are supposed to do with very little pressure on companies to change the way they do things. Vehicles are a great example of this, because as a consumer you aren't much more involved in the process than the decision to purchase. So you don't have a say in excessive use of non sustainable resources. But Ford is changing the rules, they are investing 4.5 billion, yes that's Billion, in electrified vehicle solutions as just one step in their sustainability initiatives.
Thanks to Ford Canada I recently had the opportunity to sit down with an actual Ford scientist and learn about their #FarmToCar program. It was an amazing meal at the Calgary Zoo in which each course featured a food item that is also used in Ford vehicles to make them more sustainable. This is a big reason why Ford is the Number One Best Global brand.
This leading by example sets Ford apart from other big brands, and as "the little guy" I love that I can participate in making our world future ready. Its not just on my shoulders to recycle, consume less etc. Brands like Ford care too and are making the changes so that you can still get to work and school but with a smaller impact on our environment.

Take Agave for example. It is not just for Tequila (you might be disappointing to know) but the previously unusable parts of the plant are being reused to create plastics in Ford vehicles. Check out this partnership with Jose Cuervo

Or their partnership with Heinz to find ways to use all the tomato waste products. Because wouldn't we all rather see less in a landfill and more innovation in our vehicles?
A photo posted by Leslie Brooks (@mrslesliebrooks) on

It was a fabulous learning opportunity and a wonderful way to drive home how easy it is to use food in vehicles with #FarmToCar. What food do you think Ford should use next?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Marlborough Mall – We Have It – Giveaway

Indoor Shoes and Picture Day Shopping

Recently the fabulous people at Marlborough Mall gave me a $100 gift card and the opportunity to go shopping, the gift card was the only compensation received and all opinions are my own. As much as I wanted to just spoil myself, cooler heads prevailed as Grady needed indoor shoes for Cubs and some clothes for school picture day and family photos. He also wanted a pair of blue pants that could be solely for cubs so that he could set them aside with his uniform and not be scrambling every Tuesday, pretty smart kid :)

Not impressed with Kidz Corner
I must admit I have only ever been to Marlborough Mall once before for an Easter petting zoo but never for actual shopping. We stopped in before Parkour as we were already in the area and it was easy to leave straight from school for the shopping trip. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of stores but there were only two places for children’s wear that I saw; Kidz Corner which was “too fancy” for Grady’s taste as it sold suits etc. and then Sears. I do like Sears because they have the Kidvantage Guarantee which means that if Grady grows out of or wears out his new clothes we can get them replaced for free.

Our finds at Sears
I found Marlborough Mall straightforward to get into and easy to find parking which is always a plus, is a straight layout so it is easy to see all the stores and has advertising at each entrance to let you know any stores that may be having specials. The gift card was simple to use, although some locations will require you to know the balance in order to run the transaction. The only place I ran into an issue was Sears but in hindsight I think it was more lack of training for the cashier than an actual store issue.

Here is a list of Stores that don’t currently accept the gift cards:

Canada Post
Edo Japan
McDonalds and Ultracuts in Walmart
Barber Shop
Mandeez Xclusif
Prince Travel
Dairy Queen
Kal Tire
Tutti Fuiti

Picture days are coming up for lots of schools in Calgary if they haven’t happened already. Grady had a firm idea of what he wanted to wear so we were able to find the few missing pieces he needed in order to be ready with clothes that fit, since hey seem to grow out of them overnight sometimes! We also found something for our annual family photos.

 I really liked that I could use the gift card at the food court so when Grady was spontaneously starving we were able to make a quick stop to fill him up with some Sushi (his favourite). Marlborough Mall’s slogan is “We Have It” and I think that is true, we were able to get all the things we needed and only spent $128. Granted I could have put back one pair of pants and a shirt and stuck within the $100 gift card including buying lunch but he could use the extra pants!
Filling up on sushi
It was easy to find shoes in a good price range and a good brand at Payless. Grady insisted on “memory foam” soles. He needed indoor shoes for Cubs so we are sending the brand new ones to school and using his old indoors for Cubs and Handball. This is his first lace up pair so he has been practicing that new lace up method that has gone viral lately.

Definitely go check out Marlborough Mall if you are looking for a quiet shopping trip and the ability to get what you need. And one lucky reader will get a $100 gift card of their own to go shopping with!
Which outfit is your favourite?

Friday, 9 September 2016

2016 Ford F-150 Limited - Review

2016 Ford F-150 Limited
By: Brian Brooks

We had the opportunity over the Labour Day long weekend to take out the new 2016 Ford F-150 Limited courtesy of Ford of Canada. As always opinions remain my own and aside from providing the vehicle for review no compensation was received for this post.

We loaded up our 4,700 lb travel trailer for the long weekend and headed southeast of Calgary to a campground in Mossleigh Alberta called Aspen Crossing.  Our trailer and cargo used less than half of the 10,700 lb towing capability of the truck and hardly challenged its true capabilities.  We did also have the opportunity to drive the F-150 Limited without load in a combination of city and highway driving during the week to gain an appreciation of its levels of refinement and comfort.

Being the owner of a 2013 F-150 Lariat and having driven the 2015 F-150 Platinum last year, I was curious to see what improvements and changes had been made from previous models and see how the top trim Limited trim line differed from other models. 
The 3.5L Twin Turbo Ecoboost V6 engine and six speed automatic transmissions are carried over and remain the top powertrain choice across all F-150 models.  This powertrain is impressive and provides more than adequate power and torque for driving and towing; in my opinion it is the best powertrain available in any light duty pick-up truck on the market today. 
Throttle response in the 2016 version has been smoothed out from previous years and I found the turbos didn’t kick in with as much snap as in our 2013.  There is still plenty of low end grunt off the line however now just delivered more linearly and with better control.

As for the distinguishing features of the 2016 F-150 Limited, I found the adaptive cruise control along with forward collision warning and brake assist to be the most useful and progressive in terms of improving safety and would consider this a must have feature in my next truck.  The adaptive cruise control feature allows the driver to determine and set a safe following distance to traffic ahead and maintain this distance to an upper speed limit which is the cruise control set point.  With traffic along the QEII in Alberta where speeds can vary at any time by 30 km/h or more, this feature is simply brilliant and eliminates the frustration of constantly turning on and off or resetting the cruise control.

Some of the notable exterior features of the 2016 F-150 Limited include 22” polished aluminum wheels, dual panel moonroof, tailgate step, LED bed lighting, and box link system including the larger removable bracket tie downs.  Some of the noteworthy interior features include enhanced information display including a turbo boost gauge, trailer connection checks, and tire pressure read-outs.  There are multiple enhanced menus to scroll through that provide almost every bit of useful information possible to the driver.  I also find the new Sync3 system to be much more intuitive and responsive than previous generations of the infotainment system.

The biggest difference between the 2015 Platinum and 2016 Limited I noticed was that seat comfort had been improved.  Where I found the 2015 Platinum seats to be too firm for my liking, the 2016 Limited seats have been softened slightly to create an ideal balance between support and comfort.  Speaking of the seats in the 2016 F-150 Limited, with heating, cooling and massage features built in, they make for a truly luxurious and pleasant driving experience.

One of the features I thought I’d appreciate but would recommend against upon some use are the box side steps.  I found deploying them to be straightforward but stowing them to be a real pain requiring several attempts that needed just the right foot angle and pressure but with fear my foot would slip off and I’d smash my shin into the side of the truck.  With the tailgate step, I don’t quite see the need for these steps to be honest and feel they detract from the clean exterior appearance of the truck.
I still have some doubts of the long term and seasonal reliability of the power running boards.  Although we had no issues during our week with the truck, I question their longevity after several years of use with time for dust and debris to infiltrate the power mechanism and have concerns over their reliability during winter conditions especially in slushy snow conditions where ice may encrust the mechanism or pile up on the running board itself preventing it from returning to a folded position.  Unfortunately, the power running board are a standard feature in the 2016 F-150 Limited.

Other features in the 2016 F-150 Limited that I found less useful and remain fundamentally opposed to with their widening use in vehicles are those that aid actually driving the vehicle for you including the rear park assist and trailer back-up assist.  We decided to try out the trailer back-up assist and after a relatively complex set-up process of placing a sticker on the trailer frame, we took four measurements of the relationship of the truck to the trailer then entered them into the trucks computer, the system would still not work for us despite several repeated attempts.  My advice would be to learn how to back up your trailer yourself in the event the system fails you or better yet, forego this option entirely and save yourself some money.

Despite our 2016 F-150 Limited having an MSRP of over $78,200, I was surprised to find several interior pieces that just didn’t match the quality and feel of the rest of the truck including the glove box and faux wood trim on the doors.  Although not a huge knock against the truck, I’d suggest these things are definitely something needing improvement in future model years. 

Overall I am very impressed with the 2016 F-150 Limited even with its minor flaws and might consider one for myself but remain unconvinced of the necessity and value of the features this trim line offers over lesser trim lines such as the Lariat version.  With Ford Employee pricing now in effect and offering nearly $10,000 in price adjustments, I suspect Ford won’t have trouble finding customers for these decked out luxury pick-up trucks.