Test driving the options

August 26, 2011

One week ago my son and I had left on our road trip from Edmonton, Alberta, to Victoria, B.C. We enjoyed a delightful soak in a hot tub under the stars at the HI Nordegg – Shunda Creek Hostel. Then we spent the next day reminiscing about past road trips as we drove through the mountains. The final day of our road trip ended with a bang when we were rear-ended on the last stretch of road to our destination. (See my blogs titled, “Soaking under the stars,” “Driving through our memories,” and “Third time not so lucky” for details.)

We spent the rest of our week’s vacation dealing with insurance and the difficulties that arose as a result of the accident. (See my blogs titled, “Scattering stuff as I go,” “Laying the foundation,” and “Negotiation 101” for details.) Always the one to look at the silver lining in every crisis, I chose to focus on the extra visiting time I got to enjoy with my sister. And on the vehicle that would be replacing my car.

One positive aspect of renting a vehicle is that you get to test drive different types. The first rental car we obtained was a Mazda 3. It was a sporty red car. Definitely one to notice on the road. At first glance, I knew it was smaller than my Ford Fusion. Which was disappointing as I wanted the same size of a car. I consoled myself with the fact that there were only two of us: my son and I. So the smaller car would not be an issue. I was looking forward to driving a sporty car around Victoria on a hot summer’s day.

I knew that this car would not be for me due to its size. When I merged into a line of traffic on the highway, I knew that the car was definitely not my type. Its ability to accelerate up to the speed of traffic was limited. Its little four cylinder engine just didn’t have what it takes for the type of highway driving I do on a regular basis. Delete this car from the list of possibilities.

The next car I rented was a Nissan Altima. Now this was one classy car. I felt quite special sliding behind the wheel of that car. The acceleration was great, definitely equal to my Ford Fusion. The size was excellent. The trunk held all of our belongings quite nicely. Only one problem: I couldn’t reach the pedals. In order to comfortably reach the gas pedal, I had to have the seat so far forward that I was practically kissing the steering wheel. Not a comfortable place to sit. I prefer to have my arms at a comfortable length from the steering wheel. And I prefer not to use only my toes to reach the pedals. Delete this car from the list of possibilities.

I picked up the third rental today. It’s a Dodge Charger. A muscle car. Not normally my style, but I’m rather enjoying the ride. I sit up higher than in other cars the same size. The trunk is definitely large enough for what I haul. And the back seats fold down, from the inside of the car. Its acceleration is a joy. I have no hesitation merging into traffic. Although it’s a bit longer in the front end than I’m used to, the size is not an issue. I eagerly researched the car on the internet to see if I could find some good deals on the 2010 models.

I’m glad that I did the research because I found out one small tidbit of information that will make or break this car as a possibility. It is a rear wheel drive. I don’t like rear wheel drives because they have a tendency to fishtail on icy roads. Since I do a lot of highway driving, predominately during the winter months, this is definitely an issue for me. Because I need the weight to help keep me on the winter roads, I prefer the front wheel drives. Delete this car from the list of possibilities.

As of now, my Ford Fusion is still the best choice. I truly enjoyed my car. It had a large trunk, perfect for hauling all the books that I cart around with me on my road trips. The back seats folded down. Unfortunately, they folded down from the trunk, which delayed my being able to get into it after the accident. (See my blog titled, “Scattering stuff as I go” for more details.) Having the seats folded down allows me to haul longer items that don’t fit in the trunk.

I fit perfectly into the driver’s seat. The seat controls allowed me to adjust the seat in many different ways: distance from the steering wheel, distance from the floor, angle of the seat, and angle of the back. The acceleration was great. The gas per mileage ratio was excellent. It was a front wheel drive. And, I know how well it protected my family and I in a car accident. The damage to our own selves was minimal. The trunk took the brunt of the force.

I wonder what other car I should test drive while I’m waiting for the insurance to decide what to do with my car?

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