2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum and Back to School

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Last week was back to school.  It’s always a mix of emotions for parents and kids alike, anxious and happy all at the same time.

My kids and I wanted to have a last hoorah before going back to school and we had the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum to go along for the journey.

The zoo was calling our names since we hadn’t been all year and the is one only a little over an hour at that we’ve never visited. Check out my coverage on it here.

The hybrid is A-Mazing on gas mileage. Half electric and half gasoline engine this darn thing charges itself! Yes, you read right.. no plugging it it although I believe you technically could. Any time you go below 30mph, the engine switches to electric and doesn’t suck up any gas.

I had a full tank of gas when I started my week, and a full week later after driving to and from work, the zoo which is an hour+ away, and to and from school pick ups and drop offs, I still had just under a quarter tank of gas left.

Not to mention $10 put it back up over a half tank!

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Not only is the hybrid awesome on gas, it boasts a fabulous interior if you can find the Limited Platinum edition. This photo has no filter, just amazing interior lighting and interior leather seats. My kids really enjoyed how big and open the it was with the captain’s chairs.  The center chairs move forward, backwards, recline and collapse forward foot extra space needs.

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The rear row of seats fit 3 and also recline and collapse. Look at all this space.  Its almost like a minivan fell without the “mom-van” stigma.

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The limited edition comes with these rims and open country tires.  The AWD feature makes for a smooth ride regardless of the weather.

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Safety is a big concern for everyone but especially top of mind for parents.  All new vehicles now must have a backup camera but I’ve seen some that work poorly at night.

Night time is probably one of the most important times to have clear vision on your back out camera, especially in a larger SUV. Kids are always in and out, and even when you think they’re in, they’re back out. The light on the back of this camera comes in handy for illuminating the space behind you like in a dark parking lot.

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Check out that trunk! HUGE space with the 3rd row folded down.  You can fold just one seat, or just the 2 on the right if you want.  Someone can still fit comfortably back there with one side down.

The Highlander fit easily into my daily routine. My mornings start of with an early bootcamp classes and the leather cooled seats help to not feel so sweaty! I car pool with a friend and she absolutely loved that little fact haha!

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I’m already missing the huge spacious inside of the Toyota Highlander and especially the heated and cooled leather seats.

The only downside (aside from my oldest son getting car sick from the new car smell) is the lack of ability of the push to talk navigation feature.  I thought by now they’d figure it out for all vehicles.  My 2016 vehicle does the same thing, it rarely understands me and I just get frustrated.  Maybe it’s just me?

If you want a laugh, check out my fighting with the navigation push to talk system LOL! Even with the “teach your voice” feature I still couldn’t get it to work for me properly.

I hope everyone had a great first week back to school! My kids certainly did but they’re already counting down the days until Summer break and so am I!

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Lehigh Valley Zoo Fun

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If you’re looking for some local fun, the Lehigh Valley zoo is just an hour away from central New Jersey.

It’s a great “staycation” idea, fun for all ages which is why we visited this Labor Day weekend before school starts up. Myself, my two children and my mother enjoyed the day checking out the cool animal exhibits in this on the smaller size zoo.

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A perfect size for anyone who might not like zoo’s due to all of the walking involved. We’ve been to very large zoo’s and the smallest zoo’s. This one is right in the middle. This makes for extra special zoo talk activities scheduled throughout the zoo, check the online schedule before your visit to make sure to hit them all!

They have special events such as Brew at the zoo & Grandparents Day coming up as well as the Fall family fun walk.

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The LVZ features some large zoo amenities though like Giraffe feedings where you get to be up close and personal with adorable humungous giraffes (they even had a black giraffe when we went!) It’s very affordable at just $4 for up to 3 people. You get 3 pieces of lettuce to feed them and can get some cool pictures!

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Not only can you feed Giraffes, but you can buy zoo encounters if you’re in a group. It’s a but more pricey, in the triple digits, but check out their website for more details (I know you can hang out with a sloth!)

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Their hours are limited from 10am-4pm, but it is more than enough time to see everything and take your time. They change for the season in November to 11-3pm and back to 10-4pm in April. Parking is free and there is alot of parking space close to the entrance so no need to worry.  One thing I must note is that the road to get to the zoo is small, winding and and never-ending. I almost thought we passed it or something because we saw the zoo sign and then kept driving and driving. Eventually we caught a glimpse of the entrance in the distance, but really this is what it looks like from the end of the winding road:

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Can you spot it?

We had a blast exploring the exhibits starting with the adorable penguins.  They were very active and were swimming and walking, making calling noises and all. I even caught this guy mimicking the poster sign haha!

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Next up we went over to look at the Mexican gray wolves.  Thet came so close it was amazing! They must have been playing a game with eachother because they kept going up and down the hill one after another back and forth. They apparently now have live feedings though according to signs and the carcus you can see inside of their exhibit so if you don’t want your children to witness this, go ahead to check its clear.

My little wolves were amazed at how close they were and enjoyed seeing how much they resemble our dogs at home.

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They have a small but cool amphibian section with the cutest little crocodile.

Arachnophobia Warning!

So.. funny story… we were at the playground area and there is a restroom right near it, so I figured I should go since I didn’t know where the next one was and didn’t want to chance it. The lady in the stall next to me asked if I could hand her toilet paper, so I did and then said I would give her a whole roll for that stall since there was one behind and above me. When I went to look again to get it, I realized I was SURROUNDED by Daddy long legs spiders! Oh my God, talk about horrified! Everywhere I turned I noticed they were there and I hadn’t noticed before. It felt like something from a horror film! Literally 25+ in my bathroom stall alone! 😲😱

I told my mom when I got out and she laughed at me, she noted we are in Pennsylvania, in a wooded area, and it’s humid out what did I expect.  I think she was under estimating the amount if spiders in that bathroom though since she didn’t see it herself!

Word to the wise, check for spiders in the stall before popping a squat!

But the playground was fun!

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Next we stopped for some dip n dots which were so refreshing on the hot and muggy day and checked on the patio deck for ring tailed lemurs in the trees.  We didn’t find any😥

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This was such a nice bonding experience for my mom and my sons though. The atmosphere is so nice as well, it really felt perfect.

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The snowy owl had just been added to the zoo in April of this year.  How adorable is this guy!?!

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The are many other exhibits, including the adorable otters, but i don’t want to ruin it all for you.  I highly recommend you visit the Lehigh Valley Zoo if you’re looking for a great family day out that won’t break the bank and can be just a few hours long if you want.

For tickets in advance visit Lehigh Valley Zoo online or purchase at the gate any day or time.

They offer birthday party packages too!

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Extended Sneak Peek at Disney’s Christopher Robin

In Disney’s heartwarming live action adventure, the young boy who shared countless adventures with his stuffed animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood has grown up and lost sight of what’s important in life. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasure in life once again.

 

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder and a story by Perry based on characters created by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. The producers are Brigham Taylor and Kristin Burr, with Renée Wolfe and Jeremy Johns serving as executive producers. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin; Hayley Atwell as his wife Evelyn; Bronte Carmichael as his daughter Madeline; and Mark Gatiss as Keith Winslow, Robin’s boss. The film also features the voices of: Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger; Brad Garrett as Eeyore; Toby Jones as Owl; Nick Mohammed as Piglet; Peter Capaldi as Rabbit; and Sophie Okonedo as Kanga.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN arrives in theatres everywhere next Friday, August 3rd!

 

Liberty Science Center Summer Fun: Dino Dig, Grossology, Arthur’s World, Planetarium and much more!

What a blast my boys and I had today at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City New Jersey.

Today was a perfect day to be at the LSC. 75 and sunny for the morning and we got there bright and early to get a jump start on Dino Dig!

20180721_111058.jpgThis is a view looking down on the exhibit from the 4th floor. It’s a huge area of imagination and digging up REAL (ok, replica) Dinosaur bones!

We’ve been here before, but even though they’ve seen it, my boys still seemed to enjoy it just as if it was the first time again. Finding new dinosaurs, even dinosaurs eggs and poop!

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Not to mention, I cannot get enough of this view! You can pay big money for a view as close as this to the NYC skyline. Many parts of the center allow for outstanding views but the Dino Dig section is basically in its backyard.

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We wanted to also check out some of the featured exhibits on the third floor.  These are the limited time, see em’ while they’re hot, catch them if you can kind of exhibited so I suggest you get on in!

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Arthur’s World is pretty cute.  It is an entire large portion of the 3rd floor dedicated to the children’s show “Arthur”. Although my kids were never into the show, they’ve both read the books and appreciated this fantasy room where they got to feel like they were part of the show.

20180721_101925.jpg They got to pretend to be school teachers and students of the class. There were changes of clothes they can even wear to get into character.

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They also went “camping” and played house complete with a kitchen.

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They looked around and played however it might be more in tune with the younger crowd. 20180721_101726

The most popular new exhibit is the planetarium dome theater show theat runs every hour or so.  It is included with the LSC day pass, but I believe they’d like you to sign up for showtimes to avoid having to turn anyone away.

I remember seeing shows in this awesome dome theater as a child. It used to make me dizzy, and still does,- but it’s worth it!

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They have a few different shows all based on the solar system, we saw “beyond 2 worlds”.

My 6 year old was a bit nervous, gripping on to the seats because of the virtual reality like feeling you get. Eventually he settled down and enjoyed it.  Both kids and myself left with a huge smile and slight headaches and dizziness.  It’s a love/hate relationship!

Last but certainly not least, the awesome new exhibit GROSSOLOGY was so cool!

Having 2 boys, gross is a part of my daily vocabulary… this is not for the queezy people of the world.  Many boogers, burps and farts are thrown around this room.  Many..

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I think my favorite part of this exhibit was the lifesize, real life operation game.  Squishy organs you place one by one into a cartoon body, and then go to work getting a light flashing and buzzing if you even so much as tap the metal sides, just like the game!20180721_10481420180721_104653

They would stay in this exhibit for hours if I let them.

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Aside from the fun new exhibits, we hit up some of our old favorites too. The touch tunnel;

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The animal exhibits!

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And so much more.

You definitely need a full day to really appreciate everything. There is a food court that you can stop and get a bite for lunch or dinner, so plan a full day here… see it all.

Take in all of the knowledge, fun, and views the Liberty Science Center has to offer. You’ll be happy you did!

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Bendy and the Ink Machine Birthday Party

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Anyone else have a child who picks the most odd themes that they want for their birthday party?

My son dropped on me that he really wants to have a Bendy and the Ink Machine birthday party in our yard this year for his birthday next month.  And guess what,  there aren’t any party supplies at all for it at retail stores.

I know that he loves it,  and he watches the videos on you tube,  so guess what? This mommy has to do what mommy has to do to make it happen! Make it!

I decided to do like I did last year when he wanted to have a Five Nights at Freddy’s themed party and the were limited decorations to choose from.  Large cardboard cut outs! Very simple and the best part,  the kids can do most of the work. It isn’t child labor if they request to do it right??!? LOL. Just kidding.  He was so excited to get to work on it.

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The first step we did was getting the images to print out in a larger then one paper format. We used a free site called blockposters.com which helps you convert the images easily to multiple pages to create a poster.

Then we cut each piece of paper out and organized them together. 20180421_091641.jpg

Look how great my little boy was doing. Yes, he really did this all himself!

Then, we used anything we had around the house that can act as a sturdy back for the image. We had one piece of a gift box,  and some previously used shipping boxes that we cut to lay flat.

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Then you just glue each piece on order,  let them dry, and cut them out on the box.  We also cut eyes holes out so that the kids can use them as masks.

For the happy birthday banner,  I used my cricut explore and downloaded the banner file I liked for .99 cents.

I already had some cool vintage looking card stock on hand so it worked perfectly for this theme.

Also,  to make it more fit the theme, I printed some of the images I found online of the characters and cut them on sticker paper that you can get at any craft store.

It was a little time consuming,  but fun to put together.

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Here are some pictures of the FNAF them cutouts and party we did last year!

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Rain, Rain Go Away Hop with Medieval Times Giveaway!

Can you believe it is already April? Easter has come and gone,  and most Spring breaks have already taken place,  so I’m going to show you what we did with ours and offer you a chance to go with your family too! Hint Hint, we went back in time!

This Rain, Rain go away hop hosted by The Kids Did it and The Mommy Island.

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Enter at the bottom of the post to win by clicking the “giveaway” logo! There are over 100 giveaways you can Enter in addition to mine, so check them all out below! *Event hosts & participating bloggers are not responsible for fulfilling prize obligations from sponsors or self-sponsoring bloggers.

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Photo credit medievaltimes.com Lyndhurst, NJ.

I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life and haven’t been to Medieval Times until now.

Word on the street is there is a new Queen in town! Queen Maria Isabella is the first Queen at the location and she holds it down!

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Queen Maria Isabella welcomes you to dine with her and her royal court. Always a generous host, the Queen has commanded her royal chefs to cook her favorite meal just for you.

Medieval Times’ noble guests feast on garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, the pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages.

Our show was the 5pm show, but we got there at 3:50 and I’m glad we did. Parking was scarce and pretty far away for a cold windy day like today,  but we weren’t in a rush which was good.

 

Table sections (unless VIP) are chosen by first come first serve. We were given table 14 in the blue knight section which was good because my little one had me give him a blue sprayed Mohawk before we left the house.  Maybe that’s why they gave us blue? Either way, it worked out😊

They give you colored paper crowns that coincide with your knight and seat color after you get your seat tickets,  and then you walk into a room full of memorabilia and a small show with the queen recognizing special occasions like birthdays in which she “knights” The person in front of a crowd.  It was really cool to see an 80 year old woman there being knighted on her 80th birthday.

Make sure to pay attention to where your entrance is based on your color.  There seemed to be alot of confusion about that when it came time to line up to enter which is 15 minutes before show start time. Hint is to check the walls by the steps,  they have the color shields that should be in the section,  but it’s best to ask so you’re in the right spot initially.

We were ready to go in blue section,  and here is a view from our seat at table 14, see how cool the lighting is?

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Once seated you immediately get served with the first coarse,  your tomato bisque soup which is awesome! They have vegetarian and vegan options,  but check out the standard menu which is on the napkins at your seat:

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Overall,  it was a great time.  Fun show,  and great family atmosphere.  The only thing is that I wished the actual show was a little longer.  They spent about 20 minutes just calling out birthday shout outs which was making my kids fidgety and anxious. But once the actual show started, they were all eyes on the stage.

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Rooting for the blue knight (he lost in this show but that’s ok)

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The best part is you can Enter to win a family 4 pack of passes to go enjoy dinner and a show!

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*Disclaimer: By entering this giveaway you agree to share your email with Medieval Times.

For an EXTRA entry,  let me know what you think of the Toyota C-HR XLE by clicking the image below and commenting on the post!

Even if you aren’t THE winner,  everyone is a winner!

With the code ‘NJBlog36,’ our readers can get tickets for $36.95 for adults and $30.95 for kids (plus tax and processing). This is about a 40% off discount on the regular general admission pricing. It is valid for shows through the end of 2018, with the exception of the late night NYE show.

Check out the other giveaways for this hop and make sure to enter them! Click below.

1. The Kids Did It – Host 35. JeanBookNerd 69. It’s Free At Last
2. The Mommy Island – Host 36. Hollybee Tells 70. Everyday Gizmos Sweeps & Views – US
3. (VIP) Still Blonde after all these years 37. Savings in Seconds 71. The Jersey Momma
4. (VIP) Coupons and Freebies Mom – $19 Amazon Gift Card – US 38. icefairy’s Treasure Chest 72. The Mama Knows – US
5. (VIP) Way 2 Good Life – $40 UGears 3D Model – US 39. Nanny to Mommy 73. Author Sabrina A. Fish – US
6. (VIP) Broken Teepee 40. Tizzy Says 74. Utterly Amazing – US
7. (VIP) Comeback Momma 41. Confessions of a Frugal Mind 75. Win! Win! Win! – WW
8. (VIP) Living Smart girl 42. Erica Ever After 76. Drop The Spotlight
9. (VIP) Shopping Kim – $25 Target Gift Card – US 43. MyStylespot – US 77. Angie’s Angle – US
10. (VIP) Aging Like A Fine Wine 44. Parenting In Progress 78. It’s A Jersey Thing – US
11. (VIP) Beauty Info Zone – $25 Sephora Gift Card or PayPal Cash – US/CAN 45. The Moody Blonde – US 79. Christy’s Cozy Corners – WW
12. (VIP) Lindsey Blogs at SEBG 46. Busy Being Jennifer 80. Stacy Tilton Reviews – US
13. (VIP) On Honeysuckle Hill – $25 Jewelry Set – US 47. Staci Mauney’s Echoes of Joy – US/CAN 81. Mommy’s Block Pary
14. (VIP) Beautiful Touches – $149 Peachskin Sheets – US 48. Stacking My BookShelves – WW 82. Agent 54
15. (VIP) The Balanced Writer 49. Mom To Grandma – WW 83. More Than A Review- US
16. (VIP) Sunshine and RollerCoasters 50. A Modern Day Fairy Tale – US 84. Andersons Angels – US
17. Zombie Parenting 51. Mommy’s Playbook 85. Style Me Fantasy
18. A LeiSure Moment 52. Says Me Says Mom – US 86. Hanna Lei
19. FROG Reviews and Ramblings – US 53. Here We Go Again Ready 87. Candid Mama
20. Celebrate Woman Today – US 54. The Homespun Chics – US 88. Reviewz & Newz – US
21. Rockin’ Book Reviews  55. Eclectic Evelyn – US 89. Practical Frugality – US
22. Sweet Southern Savings – US/CAN 56. Java John Z’s 90. This Ole Mom – US/CAN
23. The Monarch Mommy 57. Simply Sherryl – WW 91. Live Well Be Fabulous
24. Three Boys & An Old Lady – WW 58. Tammie’s Reviews, Giveaways and More 92. SaraLee’s Deals Steals & Giveaways
25. Reading Reality  59. Graceful Coffee 93. Lisa-Queen of Random – US
26. Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life 60. This N That with Olivia – US 94. Literary Winner
27. Box Roundup 61. Silver Dagger Book Tours 95. Heck Of A Bunch
28. Mom Does Reviews 62. Luv Saving Money – US 96. My Life. One Story at a Time.- US
29. Kerrific Online 63. Rita Reviews 97. Home jobs by mom
30. My Silly Little Gang – US 64. Something 2 Offer 98. Laurali’s Blog – US
31. Batch of Books 65. Moss and Ink 99. Freebies Deals & Steals
32. Gypsy Road – US 66. Diva’s News & Reviews – US/CAN 100. Susie’s Reviews
33. Bargnhtress 67. Homeschool Insights – WW
34. Miss Molly Says – US 68. Easter Babe’s Theory – US
 (Submissions close April 24, 2018)

If you’ve experienced a medieval times show, please comment below!

We were given a 2018 Toyota C-HR XLE to take to the show which was awesome! It kept our family safe and comfy on the 1 hour ride to Medieval Times, and was there to take us “back to the future” with its stylish look,  so check it out!

20180407_190951.jpgFor an EXTRA Entry,  Remember to click on the photo above and leave a comment on the post about what you think of the vehicle!

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE Review

2018 Toyota C-HR XLE

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Check out the all new C-HR by Toyota. What a cool looking car right? Immediately I felt like it was a car of the future,  especially with the back door handles higher up then normal,  made it feel like a “special” vehicle that I’d feel proud to ride around town in.

My kids,  my husband,  and I went to Medieval Times  over the weekend in Lyndhurst NJ and took the 1 hour ride in style with this beauty.

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It has everything you’d expect from a 2018 vehicle,  blind spot monitoring,  large LCD touch screen with bluetooth capability,  heated seating,  and more, although navigation does not come standard which is interesting.

One thing that I found unique that may be a Toyota brand thing (this is my first time with a Toyota) is the back up camera comes up on the rear view mirror as opposed to what I am used to which is on the large LCD screen.

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See how small it is? Personally I am not a fan of this for a few reasons.  The number one reason being the picture is very small and grainy and I don’t quite get the point of it being there instead of a much larger viewing screen.  The second thing is,  as a mom,  while driving I have enough distractions with the kids fighting over things in the back seat,  It’s defintely a distraction to have to look into the rear view mirror foot the back up camera,  and in the right side is the actual mirror which you can see out of the back, yes, but you also see little heads bopping around and hands flailing about.  I guess I don’t really see the point of it IN the rear view mirror. Anyone?

I found myself not even using it and struggling to see out of the accrual mirror instead along with the turn your head to see technique which the back windows make it very hard to see out of since they’re small due to design.

I guess that’s a price to pay for external beauty.  The vehicle itself shines no matter where you go because it is so different in its design.

I thought my kids would have a hard time opening the back doors themselves but once I told them where the door handle was (I admit, I let them struggle for a bit trying to figure out where it was #badmom) they were able to open it pretty easily.

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Can you find the back door handle? LOL!

The inside front is much smaller then my husband and I are used to with me having a full size explorer, but it is roomy enough to get comfortable in after. Also,  surprisingly The back seat is much roomier than you would think.

My stepfather wanted to go for a ride in the back seat with my youngest and he raved about how comfortable he was back there even though it’s a small sized crossover.

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From the back it looks like a small hatch back, but looks can be deceiving.

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Check it all of this trunk space!

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