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WesleySands 02-26-2014 01:50 PM

Car Rentals...Or Why I Stick with Mine.
So far, its been a bad year for Alistair, our '98 green Olds 88. The end of January was punctuated with sub zero temperatures, the cold exacerbated our standing problems with him, and one frosty morning the car would not start. To tide us over, my parents, as a birthday present got me a rental. I was hoping to try the new Fusion hatch, just to say I got to drive one, I've been hearing great things about them, and wanted to play with one down some of our twisty county roads, alas it was not to be. I had my choice of Chevy Malibu or Impala, or a Chrysler 200, Since I'd been fighting with a GM since October, in my hubris, I decided to go with the Chrysler. I based my decision partly on the opinion of a gentleman I worked with who has one, and loves his. Hell when the 300 came out; I drove one for a job I was on, I realized the dash was laid out much like my old '78 Checker Marathon, and was thoroughly impressed with it. However....

As the days went by and the repairs proceeded on our Oldsmobile. I began to rethink my decision. Firstly, the 4 banger is anemic, and the slush box didn't have enough torque in any end, so acceleration was like building steam in a battleship, and if you got it up to speed, the transmission did its best impression of a idiotic race car driver. You let off the throttle for any reason, and it would instantly downshift, pressing on the gas pedal would put the engine in regression and you couldn't accelerate. You then had to put the pedal through the firewall to get it to shift to a higher gear, and thus accelerate.

When the Gerbils eventually built enough momentum, and figured out what speed to go on their wheel, you couldn't safely change any direction. Need to shift a lane? You look in the rear view mirror which is about the size of your girls compact mirror, you can't see s**t. The c-pillars are a mile wide, and the headrests are so high and wide that it blocks looking out the back glass, also the front passenger headrest is so high, and wide that you get this beautiful collage of black: front passenger headrest, overlapping the c-pillar, which in turn is overlapped by the rear head rest.

Okay, you say to yourself, you look in the side mirror, but you can't see out of the side mirror, without completely taking your attention off the road in front of you, to focus on what that tiny piece of reflective surface wrapped lovingly by a thick border of rubber and plastic is telling you. So you end up having to turn your head so many times that your neck hurts, just to shift to the right lane. Need to shift into the left lane? Glance at the mirror and smack your head on the roof line, I'm 5'8", my wife is 5'3, we both did it...can't even venture to guess how many times. That's not even touching on the fact that the belt line is higher than my grandfather's, so even when you look out the window you'll miss the Miata sitting in your blind spot. Let's not even touch on the handling, there was a lot of steering wheel play, it reminded me of those red bodied, yellow topped kids cars, with the black plastic steering wheel. And, when you're on an off ramp, coming around a sweeping curve, dry pavement, with traction control on, mind you, the back end kicks out, and suddenly your Chrysler is drifting like a Ricer Type R.

The 200 is a bastard love child of the Chrysler Sebring with a detuned Italian sports car. You get the worst of both. I'm frankly unsure why we saved Chrysler...if it had been up to a vote, I wouldn't have given them my dollar 2.95. And did you know that it was voted the most American car of 2013? When did the 'most American made car' equal crap? My dad's Olds Cutlass Calais t-top, with a true diesel engine was American made, amazing. My mother's Ford Aerostar, American made, and was the Energizer Bunny. My Checker Marathon is an Abrams Tank. Hell, even a friend hated her Plymouth Neon coupe, couldn't put her finger on why though, because the car wouldn't die, and did everything she asked of it, and let's not even go into Jeeps and their rabid cult following, though they to have their faults, *cough* Electrical Gremlins *cough*. I rode in a 2010 Ford Taurus early this morning, and you couldn't see out of it, and the dash board looks like an x-wing fighter's cockpit. So its not just Chrysler, all of the automakers are making cars with less glass area, and more crap to make you not look at the road, maybe not as extreme as say, the McLaren P1 that has a porthole for a rear glass, but still...

At a job last night at the Smithsonian Air and Space, we got into a discussion about cars, I was asked what I drive, I responded an Olds 88. His eyes grew 3 sizes, and he asked why? My response: I know that car backwards and forwards, and the engine is bulletproof. Now, after all the work I've done on it, it's getting 17 mpg, that's one less than what GM rated it at new. For a 15 year old car, that: had about 100k miles put on it in one year alone, been neglected, beaten up, insulted, threatened, overheated more times than I can remember, whose serpentine belt slipped off the tensioner with no serious complication keeps coming back to life.

This whole experience has reminded me why I stand by my late '90s H-body with such devotion. It also reminded me that I need to Gibbs slap my friend for such terrible taste in cars.

I apologise for the rant, and will now tuck away my soap box. It was Life Buoy, in case you were wondering.


Mike 02-26-2014 01:56 PM

Well said sir.

Soft Ride 02-26-2014 06:33 PM

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Irregardless of the fact the Chrysler makes qustionable vehicles, how can someone like myself choose a new vehicle?
I am 6'1 with size 13.5 EEE feet and they keep making cars smaller, tighter, and more unconformable with also their crappy seat designs!
In my most recent 2014 Caravan rental, the only good thing about it is was it had electrically controlled adjustable gas pedal sideways, so if u had boots on u could move the pedal a bit more right of the brake. The brake pedal could move forward or back depending on your comfort requirements.
With 42 inch + shoulders I simply cant get into most cars without wanting to drive it with the door open LOL!
Last time I was at a car show a full size car looked like a compact or something.
The only thing that felt comfortable was the PU Trucks & some Vans.
Anyways after the car show, I got back into my "full size" Park ave and off I went in comfort and style.
I also own a KJ Jeep and on the driver's door I installed a cushion pad for my knee, so I don't rip the door open while driving. I cant imagine a long hwy drive in it, without stopping every half a hour to stretch.
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The PK Ave is like driving your Lazy Boy..5+ hours no problem, you feel relaxed when you arrive, and not beat up at all.
Oh How I wish that GM would continue to make full size sedans!

rjblazer 02-26-2014 07:19 PM

I am in new jersey right now drove down here with a 2013 awd equinox. It was a very comfortable ride. And even though its awd with a 4 cylinder it got good gas mileage im at a half a tank right now and the car says I got 33 miles on the highway. I also used the eco mode which is suppose make you use less gas by changing the shift point and cutting the gas when coasting. It was like 230 miles here. I go home late tom afternoon.

WesleySands 02-28-2014 05:05 PM

That's just it. It's the quality, it's the craftsmanship. Yes they badge engineered the hell out of their line-ups. And from an engineering stand point made some wonky decisions But all of the auto makers have lost something in the past 10 years. I don't think anything made today will be seen on the road in quantity 20 years from now

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