Sunday, February 5, 2012

Car Geek Observations

Yes, I love cars … and trucks. I know a little about engines and specs and a lot about makes and models, especially older cars. I’ve owned twelve vehicles, many for less than eighteen months, three for more than five years. Five were new, the rest pre-owned. Two were trucks, three were wagons, the rest were 2 or 4 door sedans – no convertibles yet but I had one as a company vehicle for a month back in the 80s. I remember every make and model, years owned and approximate purchase price. Oddly, I have very few pictures of most of them.

Brand I hate the most: Chevrolet; I had one, it was the single worst car I’ve ever owned and I’ll probably never even consider one again, ever. Brand I’ve had the most: Ford (five of my twelve). I’m not really a Ford fan but they happened to make the vehicle I wanted most at those times. Two of my best and one of my worst were Fords. I would buy one again, maybe an Explorer. Cars I used to want but have never owned: Mercedes and Cadillac; not that interested in them any more. Former fantasy brand that I did actually own once: Volvo. Current fantasy brand: Acura! Don’t know how I’ll ever afford a new one but it’s on my bucket list.

I’m thinking about this right now because I went to the Washington DC Auto Show. In the 1980s and 1990s I went to Auto Shows nearly every year. I look at cars, collect brochures and sit inside cars I might want to own some day. Three of my cars were chosen in large part to how I felt while sitting in them at these shows. But until yesterday I had not been to an auto show in the 2000s. Glad I went.

I mostly sat in and looked at SUVs. I can’t really afford to buy any vehicle at the moment, but I miss my SUV and I’m paying plenty of attention to them.

Acura MDX - I want one!!
Biggest surprise: Jeep Grand Cherokee. I am not a fan of Jeep/Chrysler but this one felt good. And Consumer Reports has rated Jeeps higher in reliability than in the past.

Another surprise: how much I liked the Honda CR-V. The redesigned one is bigger than previous versions. My current ride is a Honda and I’m happy with the brand.

Nice surprise: Explorers are still good. I miss the one I had. The latest are comfortable and reasonably reliable, just like the one I had a few years ago.

No surprise: my absolutely favorite at the whole show was the Acura MDX. It’s a luxury SUV in the size class of an Explorer. It costs way too much but if I had the money I’d buy one anyway. Awesome vehicle.

2012 - but looking very 70s
Boomer Alert: the ‘big three’ are trying to appeal to us with the return of some of our old favorites in the Muscle Car category. The name plates and colors are from the 70s and late 60s but the designs are current. Mustangs never went away, but Camaros, Chargers and Challengers left and are now back. Mustang is still my fave in that class.

Other thoughts: Nissan Xterra keeps getting better while Nissan Passport keeps getting worse. Mini, Smart and Fiat are toys – until everyone is driving something that small you won’t see me in one. Hybrids and electric cars took up plenty of space at the show – their time has not come yet but it will.

Xterra - keeps improving
Meanwhile, I am just a few months from paying off my current ride. If I’m smart, I’ll live without payments for a few years. But I have not always been smart when it comes to cars.

What about you? What is your current ride? What’s your fantasy ride?

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