Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Warm Butt in the Windy City

[Guest post by Allison Babka]

This is my first post on Lisa’s blog, and I’m about to piss off three-quarters of my good friend’s readers: 
  • I don’t care for sports that don’t involve a catcher’s mitt.
  • “Notre Dame” means a gorgeous cathedral in Paris, not a university in South Bend.
  • The only car I’ve ever really cared about was Speed Racer’s Mach 5.
That last one is huge. Want to see my eyes glaze over? Tell me how hot your convertible is. Drone on and on about horsepower. Explain once again how this minivan is cool because it has secret compartments. And so help me, if you try to address “torque” without making inappropriate jokes, I will kick you in the shin and then yawn theatrically.

That’s why I’m hella surprised to find myself still thinking about Lisa’s Volvo S60 a week after I bid it adieu. The seats... I can hear them calling to me.

Lisa and I recently made a quick pilgrimage to Chicago because City 360TV tapped her to interview Notre Dame players during the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field. I know; she’s a rock star. But Lisa needed to finish her interview research during the five-hour trek to the Windy City, so she asked if I would mind playing chauffeur in her Volvo. Being the driver meant getting control of the radio, so I quickly said yes before Lisa could change her mind and force Adele on me.

In the profound words of Janice from Friends, “Oh. My. GAWD.” How on Earth could a car make me feel so loved?

The only things that interest me about cars are that they work, that they’re comfortable and that they keep me warm. Lisa’s Volvo excelled at all of this. I was surprised at how quietly her car ran. From the ignition turn to the highway purr, the car rolled along without any obnoxious engine noises. In fact, except for the fact that I was driving it, I hardly noticed the car was on at all. The only sound was us singing “You’re So Vain” four times in five hours.

The Volvo’s seats -- both the driver and shotgun positions -- felt like they were made specifically to cradle my bony butt. In my own car, I sit on a dining room cushion when driving because my seat has become worn out and uncomfortable after 11 years. The seats in Lisa’s Volvo, though, needed no such nonsense. They were quite supple, yet the bottom and back portions both had a firm core that supported my weight and kept me alert. If I could put the driver’s seat in my living room, I would.

The very best part about driving Lisa’s Volvo S60 was the individual seat warmer. I feel like I’m freezing even during St. Louis’ oven-like summers, but cranking the heat in the car often makes my passengers uncomfortable. The seat warmer in the Volvo eliminated the need for air-based heat, and having the warmth go straight into my rear-end even made me comfortable enough to shed my three layers during the drive. In fact, I was so content that I denied Lisa the chance to drive her own car once she finished her research.

After Lisa became an internet TV star and we returned to St. Louis, I was disappointed to climb back into my own car. I’m hoping that my vehicle will squeeze out another year or two, but when it’s finally time to go car shopping, you can bet that I’ll be looking at Volvos.

Blog owner's note: I in no way requested Allison to write this post ... she happily and eagerly volunteered! Look, we've got a (potentially) new member to the Volvo family!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Chicago Volvo Road Trip: Take Two

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go to the 2013 Chicago Auto Show and take part in Volvo's display of its stunning new concept car, the S60 Polestar.

This weekend, I get to make another road trip to the fair city of Chicago in my Volvo S60 to cover the Notre Dame - Miami (OH.) hockey game at Soldier Field (with City 360TV), part of the Hockey City Classic.

It is a good thing that my Volvo S60 has such comfortable seats, otherwise all of this driving would be very exhausting and stressful to say the least!

Lucky for me, Volvo designs its cars with their passengers in mind. Their seats are ergonomically designed by surgeons so not only are they comfortable, they are also good for your back. "Seats should cradle people, and people have bad backs, so we used orthopedic surgeons to help design the seats." (Quote from VolvoBlogs.) They are definitely the "most comfortable seats ever!"

Time to once again hit the open road in my Volvo S60 ...
Here are a few of my other favorite features of my Volvo S60's seats.

- The seats are designed to help reduce driver fatigue, which is a good thing when you spend as much time in your car as I do. The last thing I want is a seat that lulls me to sleep. And let's face it, a tired driver is dangerous!

- The front passenger seat in the Volvo S60 (as well as the back seats) folds flat. This is great feature when you have to transport large items in the car (or long items such as hockey sticks). Look at how much space this feature allows inside the Volvo S60:

- Did you know that Volvo adds perforations to their seats? This addition makes them more comfortable in hot climates, which is fantastic when you live in the arm pit of the Midwest, I mean Missouri.

- Finally, did you know that Volvo uses safer interior materials? Their interior upholsteries and textiles are tested for allergy-inducing or harmful substances and their interior metal details are tested for contact-allergies. This is not only great for me, but for my passenger as well!

Well, shortly I will be on the road again and on my way to Chicago to cover two of my favorite things ... Notre Dame and hockey! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful car that makes my travels so painless ... and fun, too!

Stay tuned from more of my trip to Chicago to watch hockey at Soldier Field!

Cheers & GO IRISH!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Volvo Road Trip to the Chicago Auto Show

I never realized that after becoming the proud owner of a Volvo S60 that I'd feel as though I had become part of such a wonderful family, but I truly do.

A little over a week ago the digital media team at Volvo Cars US asked me if I'd be interested in attending the Chicago Auto Show as their special guest and to have the chance to get up close and personal with the Volvo S60 Polestar concept car and I jumped at the chance! 

As we got closer to the day of the show, the weather in Chicago started looking worse and worse and I was fearful that I was not going to be able to make the trip, but I took a chance, knowing that I'd be riding in such a safe vehicle and hit the road on Thursday evening. The drive ended up being not nearly as bad as I had been expected and I made it to Chicago safe and sound!

Car parked and ready to head into the show! CAS13
Too excited to sleep, I got up early Friday morning and headed over to McCormick Place to get an early start at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. I was very much looking forward to seeing the new Polestar concept car. I had seen photos of it from the Detroit Auto Show and it looked absolutely stunning!

The Volvo S60 Polestar concept car at the Detroit Auto Show

My first stop at the Chicago Auto Show was to a panel discussion hosted by Autoweek: Everything is in the message. The panel discussed the use of social media and various forms of advertising to promote automobiles and how it has changed. 

Autoweek Social Media Preview panel, Everything is in the Message
There is growing concern amongst the automotive industry that young people today don't have the same interest in cars as generations of the past. There is a push to reengage today's youth and to cultivate in them a love of cars and the automotive industry. The best analogy I heard was this ... there are two types of people. Those who treat their car as a pet, and those who treat their car as a refrigerator. What type of person are you?

Then it was off to find the Volvo S60 Polestar. The Polestar Blue was even more stunning in person than it was in the photo from the Detroit Auto Show. I know these photos could not possibly do it justice, but the color really is terrific!

Volvo S60 Polestar concept car ... one of only two in the world

Then I come to find out that this is the exact car that Jay Leno got to test drive and I could not wait to get in it and try out the new "bucket" type seats that they have designed for this concept car!

Yep, here I am, sitting where Jay sat! I love these newly designed seats!
After I had the chance to check out all of the Volvos on display at the Chicago Auto Show, including my favorite red Volvo S60, I got to spend some time with Andreas; one of the lead promoters on the Volvo S60 Polestar team. We discussed the challenges of marketing Volvo cars in the United States and the importance of social media in the automotive industry. So many people still associate the Volvo brand with the boxy cars of old and that is just not what Volvo is today. I love watching the look on people's faces when they see my Volvo S60. 

My favorite red Volvo S60 and the Polestar concept car in the background!
I also had a chance to meet some fellow Volvo influencers while I was at the auto show. It's amazing. The Volvo family reminds me an awful lot of the Notre Dame family. The only thing you have in common is the ownership of this fantastic car, and yet you instantly feel a connection and feel like you've known each other forever. I learned so much about Volvo from the influencers that I met at the Chicago Auto Show and cannot wait to meet more fellow Volvo owners at the MeetUp in St. Louis later this year!

The stunning Volvo S60 Polestar concept car

I didn't want to leave the Chicago Auto Show and my new Volvo friends. I had a fantastic time and I really enjoyed learning more about the Volvo brand and my new "family." Reluctantly, I left the show and headed back to my Volvo S60 for the drive back home. It was a whirlwind 24 hour trip, but fortunately for the incredibly comfortable seats in my Volvo S60 it was an easy one!

Me and my new favorite Volvo S60 - Polestar

How can you not love the Polestar Blue?
If you haven't looked at Volvo lately, give it a chance. The Volvos of today are definitely not your father's Volvo ... trust me on this one!

Check out these awesome videos of the Volvo S60 concept car. It truly is a remarkable innovation from Volvo cars!

Car and Driver: Tested : 508 Horsepower Volvo S60 Polestar 

Jay Leno's Garage: Volvo C30 Polestar