My planned girls' weekend getaway has my tummy doing twists and twirls. I am giddy with joy as I pack my luggage into the 2005 Toyota Avalon. My bed-ready pajama-clad preschooler is as excited about helping mommy "pack," as he is in exploring the newly arrived 2005 Toyota Avalon.

The first thing that catches his attention is the audio area in the dash, protected by a thin plastic retractable cover. I watch him attempt to open and close the cover. Without success, I reach to give it a try. A 10-hour R&R road trip without our favorite tunes could spell disaster!

In my hurried state, I find myself pressing the case repeatedly (in an almost trance-like state), until I finally decide it is time for Plan B - "fix-it hubby" to the rescue! He appears, coolly sits down in the passenger seat, and gently presses the cover, which immediately opens smoothly, almost magically. Aaargh! (Note: the "stuck" cover situation repeats itself in a similar fashion once my friends enter the car scene, only to be mysteriously resolved for no apparent reason). A matching shield also encloses the grossly oversized tape-deck area. I question what purpose these impractical covers really serve and envision a dash adorned with pieces of broken tacky plastic.

Scrambling to stow the last of my belongings, I observe a recessed rectangular plastic storage area on the left side of the spacious trunk, which offers access to two round sunken holders, able to accommodate either a .75L or 1.5L bottle of wine. Wow! I am excited to find a good nook for the "bubbly," and the fragile gift that I am transporting. Additionally, there is a functional and removable net that spans the width of the trunk. I ponder what weekend shopping wonders will find their way into this catch-all, which can safely contain any number of dainty items (or in the mommy world...any loose clothing, toys, groceries, etc.). The huge bus-like windshield allows me to see everything. The only problem I find is that because of the barely visible hood, which slants down in a non-obtrusive, yet deceptive way, I come in "hot" as I park, barely touching my friend's car. I overcome this hurdle quickly and enjoy the unobstructed view out of the front and back windows.

Once the car is fully loaded with two kid-free moms, two DINKS (dual income, no kids) and our weekend luggage, we are off into the land of "not a care in the world." I glance over at my co-pilot with envy, when I observe her fully reclined in the passenger seat (map nowhere in sight, and all copiloting duties forgotten), receiving a facial from the back. Furthermore, one of the lounging back-seat ladies dangles her feet, while enjoying a reflexology treatment. Day spa-on-wheels, what a concept! Odwalla's are served. The only things missing are the white robes and fuzzy slippers. Everyone informs me that the seats are super-comfy and offer plenty of legroom, which I am fully aware of, when perceiving the sprawled-out women decorating the interior of the car. Furthermore, for additional first-class comfort, the backseats actually separately recline in a 60/40 split.

Driving along, the auto-day-spa morphs into an intellectually stimulating acronym workshop. One of my car-mates educates us in the proper use of the newly learned acronyms FRP ("final resting place") and PLU's ("people like us"). So here goes: for PLU's, the front storage area offers the perfect FRP for my cell phone charger (since it contains not only a 12V/120W power outlet, but also an adjustable upright cell phone holder). If that isn't enough, I can make use of another 12V/120W power outlet in the front center console.

I feel reassured driving friends and/or family with the knowledge that Toyota has included the following as standard equipment in the Toyota Avalon: Driver and front passenger dual stage airbags; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags; Front and rear side curtain airbags; driver's knee airbag. That is a whole lot of protection! I am also pleased to see that in this standard package, Toyota focuses on equipment that is not overly-flashy, but translates to a much more important aspect of driving: Safety.

LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 2 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair