Monday, July 7, 2008


Wow! Three days without a post. That's the longest I've gone while still parking a healthy ass at home. Sorry (if you've missed me... or if you were hoping I'd packed it in).

Spent the weekend doing the new car thing. Test drove the XC90 and the MDX. For kicks I looked at the BMW X5, but that's off the menu.

I much prefer the Volvo's interior. Simple, nordic design is quite appealing. Sadly, fit and finish showed flaws. Components didn't match up and there were noticable gaps between pieces. The seats, though quite comfortable, were also rather slippery. I felt as if I wasn't staying put. The whole vehicle felt top-heavy and a bit wobbly, which made me glad for the safety features - just in case.

The best part of the test drive was torturing the salesman when I discovered halfway through that the gas tank was empty. The guy started sweating and I just kept telling him how hot he was going to be pushing me back to the dealership. "Don't worry, sir. I'll have somebody here real quick if we don't get back. I don't know how this could have happened."

One Volvo note: I know it's still rampant with Euros, but in a Volvo? I'm talking about the lighter and ashtray for the rear passengers. Weird.

The Acura was the better choice, though the whole Star Trek cockpit was overwhelmingly ugly. The car comes loaded with a mess of standard features, but it's as if they all have to be conspicuous for the driver. Aesthetically it reeked of "this makes me cool." That said, some of it was cool.

The car is throaty and for its size pretty snappy. It felt very close to the Murano in its acceleration and responsiveness. It never seemed to quibble about the things I asked of it. I thought it would be a little bulky but it handled very well.

The voice activation was unnecessary but fun. "Temperature, 65 degrees," you say and the lovely Star Trek voice responds, "Temperature set at 65 degrees," as the air conditioning switches on. "Find nearest German restaurant," and up comes a list of them on the screen. "Call number one," and it dials the Bratskeller. Throw the car in reverse, the backup camera pops up on the screen and the side mirrors tip down for a better view of the ground. All in all, I was surprisingly pleased by it.

I have debated all weekend long about making the plunge for the Acura, or anything else for that matter. With some puzzling together of our various child seats I actually was able to squeeze three abreast in the Murano's back seat, but it was knuckle-scrapingly tight. The infant seat has to go in without its base, which means it is locked in with the seatbelt and not the LATCH clips. They are awfully close together and I foresee sibling bloodshed as a result. At least we know we could get by with my car, but how safe is it for my kids.

The blank loan check is on its way, but I'm just not sure we're going to use it.

addendum: The Volvo and the Acura seem to be the chosen means of transport for clinical pharmacists as my wife asked around at the hospital today and two of her fellow med-mixers responded enthusiastically regarding their rides. One drove (and loved) the Acura till her lease ended, didn't like the new model's styling, went with the Caddy instead (eww) and hates it. The other drives the XC90 and loves it. Interestingly, she can get two car seats on the second row and still has room to use the center integrated booster seat for her oldest. That really slides the Volvo up a notch.


Anonymous said...

other uses for the rear lighter plug and ash tray -

1) power source for a dvd player...because kids don't say "are we there yet?" enough.

2) run yet another 12 volt device, like a phone charger, laptop charger, or 120 volt AC inverter

3) put the pennies back there, since they'll eventually be worth more melted down than in coin form again.

4) when the kids get older and you're taking a road trip, get a 3-way tap and they can run their nintendo ds or sony psp units

arlopop said...

Oh, I'm certain there are other uses, but I'm rather mystified by the fact that its primary function is pretty antiquated, especially from a carmaker that promotes itself as being about safety and, by implication, children's health.

Not that the kids are ever getting the whole DVD/nintendo setup in the back seat. They can count out of state license plates.

Blaize said...

Star Trek! Star Trek! Can I be Chekhov?

You know that no matter what car you get, you will be bombarded with repetitions of "Dad! She's on MY SIDE! Make her stop!"

Also, thanks for the comment on my BLARG (I hate the word "blog." Ew.).

arlopop said...

I was talking with a mom of three on saturday that said her son, 11, and her daughter, 8, tore it up in the back seat the other day because, "He's looking out my window and won't stop! It's MY window!"

Yeah - kids in the car.

"Don't make me stop this car."

Blaize said...

Mom and I went hiking yesterday, and as we were going up a hill she said, "Are we there yet?" So I said, "Don't make me stop this car." Then we cackled.

Steve said...

As a Nuance Communications shareholder, I command you to buy the car what you can talk to and then to make everyone else you know buy one as well. My shares are under water; help me help me help me!

Serious kudos to you for your stance on the backseat DVD players. If a cassette Walkman was good enough for me, it's gonna be good enough for my kid.

arlopop said...

If Nuance provides Honda/Acura with the vox recognition software I give it a thumbs up. When I first tried it I was over-enunciating for fear of it failing. Then it occurred to me that I didn't want to own a car that required stage diction so I mumbled a little and it still nailed it. It was pretty impressive stuff.

Steve said...

As I often do (because I can), I spoke too soon. Looks like IBM does Honda's VR stuff, while Nuance works with the likes of DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, Nissan and Renault. Buy an F-150 -- the kids can just roll around in the bed!

rhonanon said...

Check out the 7-passenger Subaru Tribeca. It's got a third seat, which should help to minimize bloodshed.