Have you ever tried to drive and chew gum at the same time? Well, I combined both this week when I took the 2013 Toyota RAV4 to the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, Wrigley, as in chewing gum, Catalina Island and the legendary Wrigley Field!
It was the new look of the RAV4 Toyota sitting pretty in front of the 81 year old mansion that was almost as breathtaking as the views from the upstairs rooms. The Wrigley Mansion was built in 1932 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. to be one of their five homes. The Mansion sits atop a 100 foot knoll with beautiful views of the mountains, the city of Phoenix and Wrigley’s other guilty architectural pleasure, the Biltmore Hotel. This was their 17,000 square foot winter cottage, built for his wife Ada, for their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
The 2013 RAV4 was built for a budget conscience family, one needing a crossover in the price range of $23,000 to $27,000. It appeared Mr. Wrigley didn’t even have a budget as the mansion has 24 rooms and 12 bathrooms. I was fascinated by the interior of the mansion as well as the RAV4. The Wrigley foyer, especially the tile, was magnificent and looked new as did the RAV4’s interior, which includes French stitching. I’m told that much of the tile work was shipped to Phoenix from Wrigley’s own factory in Catalina, California and hauled by mule the last ten miles up the steep hill to the site. I couldn’t help but visualize how easy that would have been in the RAV4, with enhanced vehicle stability and traction control, with an anti-lock brake system, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and smart stop technology. So where was the Toyota then?
Coincidentally around the same year that Mr. Wrigley was acquiring property and printing gum wrappers the Toyoda (original spelling) family was getting busy themselves. Just one year after Mr. Wrigley completed “the winter cottage,” Mr. Toyoda, who owned a very successful Automatic Loom Works company (textile machinery) in Japan, traveled to Europe and the USA to research and hopefully, develop gasoline powered engines. The latest World War required companies to diversify their manufactured goods in order to survive and it’s easy to say the rest is automotive history.
It was later in their history, that the spelling of Toyoda was changed to Toyota. The Japanese philosophy “Kaizen” which focuses on “continuous improvement” is evident in how they improve their cars year after year. For example, the 2013 RAV4 has child safety seat features that include LATCH, also lower anchors on the outboard rear seats and tether anchors on all second-row seating. Additional protection includes eight (8) standard airbags; which is an improvement from last year’s model. The mansion, which is also experiencing enhancements, is a perfect venue for weddings, business meetings or quiet romantic dinners for two.
The Wrigley’s had five homes. The RAV4 has three trim levels LE, XLE and Limited models. The cottage was actually just a place to stop on their way to Catalina Island, another of their fabulous homes. The RAV4 may not have its own island but in many ways it’s an island onto itself. The RAV4 made some changes in 2013 that customers asked for, such as hiding the spare tire, making the lift gate adjustable for all heights that opens from top to bottom, not side to side. Simple changes like that have made the 2013 RAV4 one of the most affordable and desirable crossovers in its class, much like the restaurant at the mansion.
In 1992 Geordie Hormel, one of the heirs to the Hormel meat packing family purchased the mansion in fear that it was fall into disrepair. It was the goal of Mr. Hormel and his wife to keep this cottage as a Southwest treasure and maintain the elegance and history of the Wrigley family. Mr. Hormel (Geordie) was a familiar face for years at the mansion playing piano during Sunday Brunch and welcoming guests. Geordie died in 2006, but his memories and philanthropic print are everywhere including the “lounge” named in his honor. Geordie loved music so I’m sure he would have appreciated the sound system in the RAV4 limited model with display audio, GPS navigation and Entune, which includes 11JBL GreenEdge speakers in seven locations.
When visiting Arizona, you must meet the Wrigley Mansion’s General Manager, Ben Sinon and Chef Stephan Germanaud. Ben has the good looks and personality to make you think you saw him on Bay Watch and if Stephan’s cooking doesn’t melt your heart, his French accent will.
Chef Stephan Germanaud let me watch him in the kitchen where he prepared a sampling of some of his favorite dishes. It didn’t take me long to ask if he would pose for me by the RAV4. I used the excuse that I wanted him near the RAV4 steering wheel, as it had French stitching, and he graciously agreed.
General Manager Ben Sinon comes from quite a background in the hospitality industry as well as acting, music, athletics and 8-years with Donovan’s in San Diego. Sinon, only 32-years old, shares GM responsibilities and panache with James Beard award- winning Christopher Gross, Wrigley Mansion CEO and Sommelier /owner Paola Embry. What Ben has acquired in working for Christopher and Paola is unparalleled to anyone in this field. His true desire is to continue his Sommelier education and grow with both Christopher and Paola’s tutelage, makes Ben an up and coming name in the business.
It isn’t every day that I get to drive my test car to one of my favorite landmarks in Arizona. I think that the Wrigley Mansion is a “must see” destination no matter where you come from. I think the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is a crossover that would have been an asset to the Wrigley’s and Hormel’s; it surely has been for Toyota.
For more about Toyota go to www.toyota.com
Wrigley Mansion: www.wrigleymansionclub.com
For more reviews go to www.twofortheroadusa.com
Ahh Summertime! Pool parties, backyard barbeques, family road trips, and the all too common shredded tires.
Driving around the valley we see bits of tires all over the roads. Keep yourself and your family from experiencing this frustration by following these simple Tech Tips to prolong the life of your car’s tires, improve safety and increase fuel economy.
Did you know the outside air temperature can affect the pressure in your tires?
When it’s hot the air expands and when it cools off the air contracts. Believe it or not, this simple fact can wreak havoc on tires because over inflation or under inflation causes uneven wear and in extreme cases the tires may rupture because of excessive heat. The good news is the fix is simple: Check and adjust your tire pressure monthly. And for anyone who does not want to do the dirty work themselves, we will gladly check and set your tire pressures for free on our service drive! Oh, and another bonus… Having proper tire pressure will help improve your fuel economy! Another very important tip, especially for people going on a road trip, is to check your tire pressures every time you stop for gas because pressures can change one pound for every ten degree in temperature variation. It is proven that lower tire pressure causes more damaging heat. Using infrared photography you can see how the tire with lower PSI has more heat at high speeds than the properly inflated tire.
Did you know that the front tires will wear faster than the rear tires? Think about it, every time you round a corner only the front two tires are turning. This is why rotating tires every 5 months or 5,000 miles is so important.
Did you know your vehicle can go out of alignment just sitting in the driveway? It’s true. When the vehicle sits, especially for a long period of time, the suspension components settle. Most vehicles today have a supple suspension designed to absorb the road vibration and roughness. It is literally designed to flex and adjust to give you the best possible driving experience. What you may think is a small bump can have a huge impact on the suspension components. And when the suspension is out of alignment this causes the tires to experience more friction, ultimately leading to irregular tread wear. Having an alignment yearly is the best way to maintain proper rolling resistance to prolong the tire life as well as maintain the best MPG ratings.
Did you know a tire balance with rotation is helpful? Have you ever rotated your tires then experienced a vibration in the steering wheel? This is very common. I use the analogy of a ceiling fan that is off balance… It wobbles and makes a racket. Tires are the same. If they are ‘out of round’ the driver will experience a vibration in the steering wheel. The fact that the front and rear tires wear differently is what causes this vibration because the changes in tread cause the tire to spin asymmetrically. Balancing your tires every time they are rotated will prevent this and prolong your tire life.
This may sound like a lot of extra work, but in the end it is far better than being stranded or in an accident because of a situation that can be prevented. Please, feel free to stop in and see us for a hassle free tire check up.