Archive for the 'Automobiles' Category
I see a lot of cars during my daily commute, and lately I’ve been noticing a trend: “smart” cars are popping up everywhere. At first it was kind of cute in a “reminds me of Germany” sort of way, but the little buggers are multiplying. Now I’m starting to wonder why the heck all these tiny European city cars are suddenly sharing San Diego’s freeways with lifted F-150s and 18-wheelers.
Are they cheap? Well, the base smart starts at $13,590. The cabriolet, a popular choice here in San Diego, costs $16,590. That’s kinda cheap, but the way more practical Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris start at $13,950 and $11,550 respectively. So for the same price as a real car, you get a tiny two-seater with a thimble for a trunk. What a way to save!
Fuel economy is just okay… fueleconomy.gov says the smart coupe gets 33/41/36 city/highway/combined MPG. The Fit gets 28/34/31 and the Yaris gets 29/36/32. Sure, the smart is marginally more efficient, until you want to take two friends with you to the bar and the third guy has to drive his Silverado.
After the novelty wears off it can’t be fun to drive. With a 0-to-60 time of 12.8 seconds, a top speed of 90 MPH, and a jerky, laggy automated manual transmission, how fun can it be? Not to mention the dread experienced by the driver when the grill of a Peterbilt is looming in the rear view mirror.
So why do I see so many? After checking out all the facts, I can only come to one conclusion: The smart car is a fashion accessory. In image-conscious San Diego where it’s cool to look “green” and drive something that instantly grabs people’s attention, the smart is a perfect fit. It’s for the same freaks who paid $5000 over MSRP for the New Beetle back in 1998 and waited in line for 12 hours to get the first iPhone in 2007. Some people just love the attention they can’t get without spending money on something that says, “Look at me!” It’s the equivalent of wearing a steak neck-tie so the dog will like you. Or getting fake boobs so men will like you. But hey, if you’re hoping to catch somebody’s eye at a stoplight, gas station, or parking lot, have at it! Just remember, it may be cool now, but in a couple of years you’re not going to feel so smart.1 comment
Looking for a great conversation starter? Try “Prius”. It’s not easy to make a box with four wheels, four doors, and four seats so polarizing. It seems that everybody has an opinion about the Prius, but few people talk about what it’s like to actually drive the thing. I mean, isn’t it still a car? It seems to be made of metal, plastic, and glass like every other car on the road. But what if the truth is much more insidious? What if driving one of these things makes you into a smug jerk? What if it makes you part of the Hollywood elite? What if it subliminally brainwashes you into voting Democratic? What if the radio only tunes in to NPR? Curiosity got the best of me; I had to find out.1 comment