Archive for March, 2012
I hope you’ve read boss man Tom Appel’s blog about Nissan’s plan to resurrect the Datsun brand for vehicles to be built and sold only in such places as China and India. As Tom notes, Datsun is still very well known and well regarded globally, and I agree that it’s a shame to sully the name by slapping it on Third World cheap wheels. Sorry—make that products designed to sell for what emerging-market consumers can afford.
With a lengthy commute to the CG headquarters every day—31.4 miles each way—I do my fair share of driving, to say the least. Avoiding peak rush-hour times has become my number one hobby, and I have become quite well known by several different gas station attendants near the office and near my home in the ’burbs. I’m such a showoff, I know.
That’s what several gas stations I passed on my way to work this morning were demanding for a gallon of regular. Last week it was $4.35. Last month it was $3.75. Last December it was $3.41.
Normally this would make me cringe. But not today. Because today, I’m driving our new extended-use Mitsubishi i.
In a stunning about-face, Fox News now seemingly loves the Chevrolet Volt.
A victim of partisan politics since its introduction, Volt became a symbol of everything commentators on the popular conservative news channel found troubling about President Barack Obama and especially the auto-industry bailout.
I would describe my political affiliation as slightly left of center, but I get aggravated with people on the far left—particularly those whom I call PEECHES (Progressive, Educated, Eco-Conscious, Holier-than-thou Elitists). So when my wife asked me to pick up her vitamins at the Whole Foods in Evanston, Illinois—one of the most liberal cities in America—I knew I was in for a blood-boiling episode. Welcome to Prius Land.
In my seven-plus years as an auto critic, I’ve driven my fair share of Subarus. I have been behind the wheel of the Impreza, WRX, Legacy, Outback, Forester, and Tribeca—in different trim levels with different features—in the city, on the highway, and even on the racetrack. To be completely honest, I’ve never been a big fan. None of the vehicles were ever “bad,” but they never really lit my fire—not even the ultra-high-performance Impreza WRX STi. Until now.
Driving is hazardous enough without the car making it even more so. Yet thanks to a combination of “feature creep,” misplaced design priorities, and overzealous engineering, driving distracted is now more likely than ever, even if you never use a hand-held gadget on the move.
I’m not some anti-government whiner. I pay my taxes, am glad that my water’s clean, and really appreciate the fact that someone plows my street when the snows come. Additionally, I am pretty darn happy about most of the safety equipment on my car.
Man, does time ever fly!
Recently I had my first chance to sign up for the Hyundai Accent SE hatchback in the Consumer Guide test-car fleet. It’s a long-termer, one we’ll have for most of the year. In that time, everybody here will drive it more than once, but there’s got to be a first time, and this was mine.
Not that I was particularly looking forward to it, mind you. I couldn’t recall how long it had been since I’d last sampled the South Korean automaker’s entry-level subcompact, but the very words “Hyundai Accent” on the sign-up sheet summoned up a vague dread. These had always been terribly uninspiring “point-A-to-point-B” wheels. Nothing to see here, folks; move along.
Good thing I’m not particularly stubborn, or I might have failed to recognize just how much the baby Hyundai has grown up. This bigger, better Accent was a real car with decent driving dynamics and nice features. No, it still won’t inspire the writing of symphonies about it, but it’s certainly worthy of at least a “my eyes were opened” blog post.
I’m pretty sure that if Lenin were alive today and making decisions for the proletariat, we’d all be driving around in 4-cylinder Kia Rondos. At least folks with families would; the rest of us would be cruising around in Nissan Versa hatchbacks. Why hatchbacks? Because the trip between collectives always seems to involve schlepping a peck of peppers and the odd goat or two.