By on June 7, 2018

road highway

Yesterday’s long-term update of Jack’s 2014 Honda Accord coupe struck a chord with me. Maybe it was his admission of fortysomething acceptance, his willingness to look on the bright side of average, that did it. After all, owning a car — any car — that you enjoy driving and feel good about buying is something to desire, especially if it doesn’t break the bank.

The car I’m about to talk about has zero sporting pretensions, nor is it lusted after by savvy people in the know. The interior aesthetics leaves much to be desired. The powertrain could stand an added dose of modernity. Its aim in the marketplace? To lure Middle Americans into purchasing a vehicle that’s inherently useful in form while feeling strangely familiar in function. A right-sized vehicle for legions of cash-waving buyers who aren’t in the business of shopping around.

Yes, it’s a crossover.

Due to an ongoing dealer situation, I recently found myself behind the wheel of a loaner. And, given the stratospheric heights to which gasoline prices have soared in my neck of the woods, it wasn’t a vehicle I hoped to have in my driveway for any length of time. It’s now been there three weeks.

I’m a single man who hates possessions. From the get-go, I knew there’d be no hauling with this vehicle, no need to access the second row for anything except groceries, let alone the third. No cries of “are we there yet?” would ever emanate from the aft quarters while my ass occupied the driver’s seat. No, it was just a lot of V6-powered real estate for me to drive until I returned to a compact, stick-shift economy car.

Crossovers sometimes feel good, though few ever feel right. It’s a class of vehicle I find stupefyingly dull and often quite pointless, regardless of what automakers do to spice things up. Frankly, I think parents today allow their kids to bully them into taking on too much cargo for every family trip, and their non-hardened hearts are a boon to automakers selling car-based behemoths for inflated MSRPs. Junior needs to be entertained 24/7, so you’d best sign for a crossover even though a sedan would suffice.

But back to this one.

“Look at that atrocious phoney woodgrain!” I thought after settling behind the wheel. “The ’90s are (unfortunately) over! I’d pay money to strip it out and have it replaced with black plastic.”

Hours passed, then days, and a curious feeling crept into me. I didn’t feel coddled in this vehicle, nor was I displaying anything other than a resting heart rate. I didn’t feel proud or boastful. All I felt, every time I slipped behind the wheel, was the realization that this was one of the most comfortable vehicles I’ve ever driven. In the driver’s seat, it’s as if my body levitated a millimeter from the unremarkable fabric below it, leaving my achy, lanky frame free of the slightest twinge of discomfort.

There’s just the right amount of power up front. The steering feel can only be described as natural. Not engaging, just natural. Daydreams of chasing storms across the Great Plains, putting thousands of effortless miles behind me in the process, danced in my brain. This is the one, I said to myself. This is the vehicle I’d buy for going the distance. There’s room for plenty of stuff, especially with those two rear rows folded — hell, there’s probably enough space to lie down back there, take a nap. And all-wheel drive would probably get me out of any situation a level head got me into.

Somewhere between acceptable mediocrity and aspirational sensibility, I found a degree of comfort that left me surprised. I’ll hold off on mentioning the make and model for now — there’s a review coming at a later date — but I’ll leave you with this question: Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt jarred by just how much you enjoy an unlikely and seemingly unsuitable vehicle?

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73 Comments on “QOTD: Highway to the Comfort Zone?...”


  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    “Have you ever felt jarred by just how much you enjoy an unlikely and seemingly unsuitable vehicle?”

    Every time I drive my Sienna. It rides good, sidewalls of tires are plump, plenty of power, gets decent gas mileage, has lots of head room, sight lines are good, easy to get in and out of. Probably shares the same attributes that draw people to pickups. Frankly, I never thought I would have owned one. But I had the last Sienna for 10 years and probably will keep this one for ten. Sometimes you just find the right tool for the job, public sentiment/opinion be damned.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …absolutely love a well-executed minivan: they’re honest, puposefully-designed suburban utility vehicles which excel at every aspect of that role, and nobody executes any given design brief much better than toyota…

      …only two things hold minivans back from their late-eighties reign over the marketplace: inheritance of the wagon’s fomer stigma and fuel economy…just wait, though, crossover will inherit that mantle of dysfashionability soon enough and within another decade or two minivans will be too cool for school amongst the automotive cognoscenti…

      …i always wanted a supercharged 4-trac previa with those trick turnaround second-row seats and flip-down back-cabin tables – they’re practically starfleet type 7 shuttlecraft – but they’re very thin on the ground these days…

      • 0 avatar
        2drsedanman

        I’m still surprised Toyota hasn’t given the hybrid option to the Sienna to improve mileage. Also surprised Honda hasn’t offered an AWD option on the Odyssey.

        I would love to have those swivel/turn around seats in our van, something like those found in the 70’s-80’s full size van. Probably not offered due to safety reasons.

        And while I like the functionality of the folding third row, I would have like to seen an option for 6 Captain chairs.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam Hall

          Hybrid drivetrains add something like $2k to the cost of a vehicle. Most minivans start off their lives as family vehicles, and the vast majority of those travel less than 10k miles a year. There is no financial benefit to extra mpg in that scenario. Customers would rather have more interior space and features for the money.

          Yes, I know the hybrid Pacifica exists–Chrysler needs halo cars. Toyota, the leader in hybrids, hasn’t seen fit to offer a hybrid Sienna.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Let me add my minivan love in here too. In addition to my appreciation for the Malibu, my 2004 Olds Silhouette minivan has been the Swiss Army Knife of vehicles for me. Take five more people with me somewhere? No problem. Load it down with sidewalk pavers? No problem. How many bags of mulch can you stack in there? 48? No problem. Drive 12 hours through rain, sleet and snow to a funeral? No problem.

      The thing that gets me are the times when you don’t realize how good a vehicle these things are until you find yourself slinging it around corners while hauling lumber home from the Home Depot. I find that I really like driving the dumb thing when my conscious mind tells me I shouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yep. Every time I rent a minivan I’m impressed. Tons of room, comfortable, decent handling and power. What’s not to like?

  • avatar
    gtem

    My rental Optima FE a few weeks ago was just the ticket for a weekend trip to NYC. I wasn’t expecting much at all, I was just happy that I snagged a rental with only 62 miles on the clock. Seat comfort was good but perhaps not exceptional, what was particularly good was the ride. 205/65R16 series tires on some modest alloys and a very compliant suspension ate up all that the mess around LaGuardia and Staten Island with aplomb. Two other, less obvious factors that made that drive stress free: a) it was a rental and not my own car b) it got fantastic fuel economy (43mpg indicated on the drive in, 39mpg on the way back) so I didn’t have to worry about planning fuel range to make it into NYC with enough fuel to get out without having to fill up there.

    The most relaxing car I’ve driven is probably a used GX470 that the local Mitsu dealer insisted I take on an overnight test drive. I set the shocks to “comfort” mode and it did its best to mimic an old land yacht or Russian Volga (my measuring stick for ride comfort). Upright captains chairs without the kicked out legs I’m used to in older 4Runners. Another factor in that comfort/security in the GX is that it completely dominates bad roads and potholes. No worries about bending some sort of fragile alunimum control arm or popping a low profile tire, it just eats it right up.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    In May of 2016, my wife’s 2013 CX-5 was rear ended by an inattentive driver in a Camry. While the CX-5 was in the body shop getting a new rear bumper, the Camry driver’s insurance paid for us to have a rental (even though the CX-5 was drivable and we could’ve just driven it until the required parts came in).

    Our rental was a 2016 Buick Lacrosse. I scoffed at it when my wife brought it home, saying we were going to be the coolest 80-year-olds at the local diner for the early bird special. But, the more days we had the Buick, the more I grew to like it.

    It had plenty of power, was uber comfortable, and was all but silent on the highway. I even fell asleep while my wife was driving on the way home from a family get together in another state. It was that comfy. I was a little sad to give it back, to be honest.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    I’ve had a few cars that were long-distance comfortable – and not what you might think:

    89 Chevy Beretta – just felt right to me – my wife and drove from NJ to FL in it. No comfort issues at all.

    91 Accord – great front seats – many trips from NJ to Maine in that car.

    2008 Fusion – highly adjustable seats – decent highway cruiser. I fit perfectly.

    2011 CX-9 – comfy highway cruiser.

    Some that weren’t great:
    89 Celica – a big mistake – most uncomfortable car I ever bought. Traded it on the Beretta.

    2009 Camry – could never get truly comfortable in it. Now my son drives it.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      have a 2011 cx-9. it CAN be a comfortable highway cruiser on smooth roads, especially when loaded down with our family of three and way more luggage than we need for a week-long road trip.

      however, the 20″ wheels on our grand touring, the zoom-zoom suspension tuning leading to a three-row crossover that handles way better than it should, and the typical mazda NVH of that vintage, has worn on me.

      last year i replaced the leaking rear shocks with new KYB shocks (forums claim they are the OE supplier, i have my doubts) hoping for a noticeable change… nope. new struts up front might help but not expecting a huge difference when i finally get around to it.

      wife still loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “91 Accord – great front seats – many trips from NJ to Maine in that car.”

      The 93 that I had was an awful highway car. The seat cushions were tiny, rock hard and bolted directly to the floorpan with no leg support whatsoever. The Honda DNA, which is to say road noise and impact harshness, never let up.

      All of the qualities which made that car a revelation on a 20 minute city test drive were just plain punitive on the open road.

      • 0 avatar
        CaptainObvious

        TBH – at first I hated the seats in my 91 Accord – then over a bit of time – they just started to feel “right” to me.

        I owned the 91 for 12 years – and commuted 50 miles a day in it. Bought an ’03 LX cause I liked Accords so much – what a disappointment in the comfort department. THOSE seats were exactly as you described your 93’s.

        Everyone is different. YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Seats are really a make or break issue with me. One of the benefits of buying the “Sport” or GT model is you used to get better seats with them. Not always, but usually.

      For normal spec cars, the seats can vary wildly from model to model and person to person. What fits well for me may not for another person with my size and weight, but can color you’re entire experience with the car.

      With my wife’s daily, the seats have deteriorated over the last 10 years and it seems the bottom cushion has gone flat. It went from a car I used to love to drive to now, not so much, because the seat causes me back pain.

      I’ve been in other cars where I just couldn’t get comfortable, no matter what I tried. If I had to live day to day with that car, it would have been misery.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    had to borrow a 2010 fusion se V6. fairly basic for what it was. was surprised how tight it felt with 60k miles on it. enough power with the v6 to easily “make up time” and ate up miles on the highway i was driving it on.

    i’ve put a lot of miles on bmw vehicles and i started thinking about how putting straight line miles on a vehicle makes more sense in a vehicle like this vs a vehicle with more expensive maintenance/parts and premium fuel.

    that is how i ended up in my 2017 fusion se 2.0 ecoboost. eats up the miles in comfort and our bmw has been sold after 160k miles.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Laugh all you want but a previous generation Kia Rondo. The favourite among every member of my family, from our family vehicle ‘fleet’. Everyone who rides in it remarks on its interior room, headroom, great visibility. Big enough to comfortably fit 5, and groceries/luggage/the dog. Small enough to be a ‘city car’. Frugal. Fits everyone from a 6’1″ to a 5′ 1″ driver, in its 6 way manually adjustable seat. A 6′ 10″ friend still had headroom in both the front and back seat. Put together with some remarkable ‘touches’ for a vehicle of its age and price point. Even ‘base’ models came with some standard features that were either optional or not even available on much pricier/higher end vehicles of its age/era, including Bluetooth, leather wrapped steering wheel/shifter, heated seats, fog lights, rear adjustable heat/AC vents, roof rails, lit ignition switch, a number of safety ‘nannies’ including ‘active’ head restraints, and a hook on the passenger side to hold a purse/carry bag.

    Every time I drive it, I come back thinking, that is just a well thought out, functional vehicle, that I could live with nearly everyday, and should have bought another.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Nothing to lough. I used to have FWD Nissan Stanza Wagon. That ugly duckling was pleasure on highway. Great seating position, commanding view of the road and 36mpg to boot. I loved driving it on HWY. And it had great space inside with real cargo possibilities. And MT.

    • 0 avatar
      DownUnder2014

      Was there a V6/Manual version of that-gen Rondo?

      That would’ve been nice, and I suspect peppy enough (for what it is) as well!

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Based on the recommendation of an auto journalist who had one, we purchased the 4 cylinder rather than the 6. Quite similar performance and the 4 has a timing chain, while the 6 had a belt.

        It’s geared to be a little ‘tippy’ on initial throttle to provide an illusion of initial acceleration. However overall performance, particularly with less than a full load is more than acceptable.

        A number of organizations including some labs have used them as fleet vehicles with great success. They are also widely used as taxis in some of Ontario’s smaller cities.

        • 0 avatar
          DownUnder2014

          Interesting insight. I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before and I’ve forgotten.

          Regarding the engines, that is very interesting and would actually be a rather compelling reason to buy the 4-Cylinder engine instead of the V6…

          I never thought of these as fleet vehicles but I can imagine them as taxis!

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Two come to mind: Chevy Sonic and Kia Soul, both rentals. Ever practical, I like my small hatchbacks. The Audi-inspired interior in the Soul made it seem more expensive than it is and it wasn’t an awful drive either. The turbo version must be a fun little box. I’m not sure I’d ever buy one ( I drove a Forte SX before pulling the trigger on my Golf) but I was more impressed with it than I thought I’d be.

    I had the Sonic from Cleveland to Pittsburgh and I got off the turnpike for some back roads. It was very quiet on the highway for a small car, rode well and was fine at all legal speeds. Even kind of fun on the twisty detour I took to avoid the toll roads. It was a 1.8 car and having experienced the 1.4T in my Cruze, I have no doubt it would be better with that engine due to the low-end power.

    The interior was cheap GM, but I liked the “motorcycle” gauge pod idea. This one was tired at 42k rental miles, one of the speakers was blown. But I was impressed with the little car no one buys.

    I would have done a Sonic instead of a Cruze, but the Sonic didn’t lease like the Cruze did.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      When I drove a Sonic and a Cruze back to back on the highway, the Sonic felt like a tin can and the Cruze felt solid and quiet like a Buick. But I didn’t like the seats in either car.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Ford Transit Express. It was maybe around a 2013/14 model. It was out work vehicle that we used for getting around the plant property, but on occasion I had to drive it out on the open road. For a cargo van, it was fairly quiet and handled well and the high roof made it easy to move around the back. A positive enough experience that I considered the passenger version when it was time to replace my wife’s SUV.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Back in my late 30s/early 40s when I was managing the service department of a large Toyota dealership in Pittsburgh, I was the official test bunny for any car that had an intermittent issue due to my long commute from the other side of the city that was an ideal mix of city/highway miles. At the time I owned only sports cars and small pickups, and still cared about “image.” But every time I had to take a Camry home I found myself enjoying the comfortable ride. On one occasion I remember having an epiphany: enjoying driving Camrys meant I was officially middle-aged. After making peace with this I have owned only sensible and comfortable cars ever since. I still work on all kinds of impractical and temperamental cars/trucks — using my boring and reliable one to go get the parts.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Last year I rented and drove a new-ish Passat R-Line to and from New Hampshire – I’ve mentioned it here before.
    It should have been frighteningly slow, it should have felt cheap inside, it should have felt wallowy and over-Americanized, it should have been a totally miserable experience, I should have had my anti-VAG presuppositions verified by that trip.

    I can’t stop thinking about it and I can’t stop looking at them and considering leasing one next year.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Oh yeah I forgot to mention my VERY positive impression of a rental Passat SE TSI a few years ago on a long haul out to Kansas City from Indy. Excellent highway manners, the 1.8 TSI has good midrange and sips fuel, and having adaptive cruise on an affordable mid-range trim level like that was a pleasant surprise. I also really liked the overall restrained and handsome look of the car inside and out. Not sure I would like the R-line’s big wheels, my SE had attractive but still reasonably pothole resistant 17″ rims.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The 1.8T (and presumably the 2.0T version they’re selling now since I doubt it feels much different) Passat is one of the best highway cars on the market, and they are dirt cheap since Dieselgate.

      I wonder if the new Jetta will be a similarly good highway cruiser. I seem to recall reading that it has a softer suspension than the outgoing model.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I feel guilty about wanting to put my Optima SX on coilovers + bigger wheels. It rides pretty well. But I’d like to eliminate the float + tire gap, and aesthetically just going +1 in diameter and width really enhances its stance, which is very important to me. Thankfully I live somewhere with smoothish roads and I just prefer a more “connected” ride. But they struck a good balance out of the box for sure. Fast damping could be a bit more absorbent but ultimately its a cheap family car. They did well with what they had.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Lately on my mid west work trips that require a couple of hundred mile run from the airport to my destination I have found myself scouring the rental lot for one particular vehicle. A low option Silverado. Cloth, bench seat so there is no center console. Once you are on the open road and can set the cruise you can stretch your right leg all the way diagonally. It is like driving a couch, or my crown vic wagon that I had in college and wonderful for someone who has lower back pain periodically.

    When my Suburban is done, this may very well be my next ride.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      yeah the center console that manufacturers insist on putting in pickup based SUVs and high trim pickups adds more real esate for gadgets but really takes away the lateral room of a bench-ish front seats.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I have done a ton of driving most years I am around 30k or more a year so I pick my cars for driving confront they are my office, I have driven plenty of accords and lately have driven saabs and volvos, it helps to have a car allowance, but the car the just fit me right was my tdi jetta wagon, the seats were not as good as the volvo it replaced, it was not as fast, had no presence but it just felt right when I would put 8 or 9 hours in it. As for rentals I have to say anytime I rent a town and country mini van I walk away saying this is one great car, I have no need for all the space and do not trust FCA long term but they seem to drive well, the interior is a pretty nice place to be, seats pretty good. and they get decent mileage for a box on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Agree re: the Chrysler mini-van. Whenever I rent, which is fairly often, I try to upgrade/downgrade to a Caravan. Have replaced an Audi A3, Kia Optima and BMW X-1 with Caravans. And each time the Caravan felt like an upgrade in ‘comfort’ and ‘serenity’.

      And renting means that I don’t have to worry about any FCA quality issues.

      If FCA would just subcontract the sourcing of parts and assembly of the Caravan to the Toyota plant in Cambridge and add about $3k to the MSRP, I would purchase one in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Yes, definitely. I wanted something different but ended up with another Mazda. ‘6 this time. But every time I take it to a long trip, I realize that this car is so enjoyable. I even a bit proud that for “funny money” I’ve got really nice machine.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I bought mine.

    Dad used to have a Citroen BX 14 RE (1.4 litre, 71 bhp, second-to-basic level of niceties), which I always found comfortable, slightly quirky, if a little basic, and inoffensive to look at. When he finally tired of it after 13 years, we gave it away to a friend, and I was the one to drive it there across Germany. And it was a very relaxed drive, unlike those in the Golf GTI 16V I had then.

    So when the time came to part with the Golf, I googled BXes, and found they were also available as GTi automatic, with 1.9 litres and 120 bhp. So I bought one of those.

    I’m on my second one now (third if I count the parts car), and also have accumulated two manual BX Breaks (wagons) since. Hardly anyone ever seems to notice that they are 25-plus years old vehicles, or rarer than a 1st gen Mustang (in Germany, where that one was hardly ever sold when new). But they’re just the right size, comfortable (if a little noisy), easy to fix, cheap on spares, solid against rust, and with the 1.9 litre, plenty quick enough for me. The manuals even are economical. I can’t see myself in any other car, ever — those select few that might tempt me are not within my financial means, and won’t ever be — either their prices are rising already, or they’re too expensive to maintain.

    • 0 avatar
      DownUnder2014

      If you know, was the 1.1 ever available in BXs sold in Germany?

      Or was it limited to France (and probably Italy and Greece as well)?

      That is interesting…I never thought about BXs that way!

      • 0 avatar
        Ermel

        The BX 11 E (or RE) was never available in Germany, but in many other countries — I once saw one from Denmark, I heard of ones from the Benelux countries, so I’d expect it to have been available in almost all of Europe except Germany, Switzerland, and possibly Austria.

        The BX is one of the most severely underestimated cars of its time, I think. Especially the 1.9 auto drives and rides very nicely indeed — the worse the road, and the fouler the weather, the slower all those other cars seem to become. And then you look at the speedo and think, whoops, better slow down a little too.

        • 0 avatar
          DownUnder2014

          The BX was a good tow vehicle as well, along with the Volvo 360.

          Here in Australia though, BXs (along with most old Citroens/Renaults), suffered from being hard to find parts for (especially in the pre-internet days). They were also really expensive (due to import tariffs). So sales were a lot less and consequently, you don’t see them much now either!

          I wonder if the 11 was ever available in the UK/Ireland? The 11 was partially) made for the tax structure in some countries (Greece, Italy and Portugal) I think.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I didn’t think I’d like the car that I’ve most recently fallen in love with: a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LS Limited.

    It’s a step or two above the rental spec L, but has far more “stuff” than my formerly loaded nine year old Pontiac does. My first experience with it was driving it from Western Michigan to Colorado Springs, CO, to move my daughter. It’s her car and I had not spent any actual real time behind the wheel. At first, I thought I was going to hate it, refer to the “two steps above rental spec description” above.

    But once we got out on the road, I realized the car was quiet, economical and powerful enough to pile on the miles effortlessly. It’s very well assembled and never seemed to put a foot wrong. All of these years I’ve been buying the “Sport” or “GTS” version of a car and here, I’m smitten with this Kansas City Kadillac.

    I guess I should add as I get older, quieter and smoother are things I value in a car; these are traits this car has in spades. Best of all, it’s gunmetal gray with a gray cloth interior! It’s the perfect “old man” car.

    Now get off my lawn!

  • avatar
    John Scott

    I picked my current car – 2017 Subaru Forester Premium – pretty much based on an odd combo of wants/needs: AWD, MT, heated seats, sunroof, reasonable cost/economy, and decent reliability. I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoy just driving it. Certainly not fast or a particularly good handling car but sort of tossable in road going rally car sort of way. And with the cruise set on an open interstate it just hums along doing its job while we we can enjoy the great visibility out the big, low set greenhouse.

    Guess I value honesty of purpose and design more than outright performance (face it, unless you enjoy paying for traffic tickets or do track days, how much high performance can you really use on a daily basis?). Oh, and the fact that our twin grandaughters’ enormous car seats both fit with room to spare was a very pleasant surprise!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      How is seat comfort? Last I checked they were still putting really short seat cushions in Foresters, and even at 5’10” it’s just way undersized for long-haul comfort due to lack of thigh support.

      I’m finding myself eyeballing Subarus more and more, for my recent trip to NY a Forester would have managed everything my old 4Runner did but with another 10mpg, much better and less tiring road manners, and it would have made my offroading forays more fun. The 4Runner makes such short work of the seasonal access roads and jeep trails I find myself on that I almost never have to concern myself with actually picking a line. But going deeper into the woods into the real mud holes without a second vehicle is foolhardy so I never got to really test the ‘yota’s real limits this visit (unlike over Christmas break when I did just that). For some casual trail running a Forester would be just the thing IMO. And the beauty of Subarus is that I could probably drive it then sell it for very good money before any potential reliability concerns crop up.

      • 0 avatar
        slawinlaw

        My wife drives a loaded 2014 Forester. She likes it but I sure don’t. The seat cushions are way too short and cause fatique.The Outback may be better.

        The thing I hate the most is that we have to carry a quart of oil in the back at all times for when the “low engine oil” light comes on, as it does every trip with extended 70 mph highway travel. The owner’s manual makes clear that this amount of oil loss is within tolerance for a boxer engine. Never had this problem with any other car.

        • 0 avatar
          make_light

          I agree, seat comfort is stupidly poor. They ruined a nice, solid car with a terrible seat. It might work for short people, but I don’t see how anyone approaching 6 feet could be comfortable. Loved my Forester lease in a lot of ways, but didn’t keep it because of the seat.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          I really wanted the new Crosstrek. But seats were simply disappointing. Especially rear. The cushions…

      • 0 avatar
        John Scott

        I’ve read about the short seat cushion thing many times – never noticed that the seat was particularly odd or uncomfortable. I am a fairly short legged/long torso kind of guy. After 14 months/17k miles the oil level hasn’t changed between oil changes. The “to date” cumulative MPG is a scootch over 30MPG. I have noticed that the paint seems a little soft – there are scratches under the door handle and I don’t have particularly long nails. Oddly, the audio system looses touch with the thumb drive plugged into the USB port – I have to un- then reseat it frequently. Oh, and yes, it could use a little bit more power.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      j scott

      Agreed. I have a ’18 Forester Premium- eyesight. Best suspension calibration ever in this type of vehicle. soft over bumps but goes and goes ‘zippy’ around corners. VAst improvement over my ’12 equinox.

      Seats? Yes, short seat bottom. But, I can adjust the seat just right and now I dont notice it.

      Oil Consumption? Zero over the first 8000 miles.

      32mpg so far. 50% back roads/ 50% Expressways.

      Love the low belt line. I can see out of it !!! Love it!!!!

  • avatar
    mikey

    Help !!! My Mac comes up with 505 error when I comment I’m in Canada . My wife’s ancient I pad will work ???? What’s up with that ? If it’s me ? What am I doing wrong ?

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I wouldn’t be guilty of owning a crossover. Eventually the market may force me to buy a real SUV or pickup, which is fine, I’ve owned them before. People are buying CUVs out of resignation now, or because the folks across the street “love’” theirs. A relative showed me his Subaru recently, “Look at the cargo room” he said. I replied “How many things have you purchased in the last ten years that wouldn’t fit in your car?” “Your kids are gone and you don’t own a house, what do you need cargo room for?”. Cars are going away but it doesn’t mean I have to like these vapid, hideous looking, cookie cutter vehicles that everyone is rationalizing. Oh, and they are not safer than cars, the best way to survive an accident is still to avoid one altogether. Please don’t use “crossover” and “handling” in the same sentence. Just don’t. If you need space and have kids, a minivan is a much better choice than a crossover anyway. But if you love your crossover, good for you.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I really like the Beetle.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I bring this up every time the Beetle gets mentioned, but a married couple I know bought a Beetle convertible when the wife started a job that required a car for the commute. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I like riding in it. It’s well assembled, peppy (1.8T), and has a bit of that German je ne sais quoi. As a bonus, they got it for a song; it was a ’14 that was still on the lot toward the end of the ’15 model year. The passenger side window motor went out after about two months, and I was like, “Yup, VW.” Since then? Zero problems. The husband now probably puts more miles on it than the wife does.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    For me, it was a 2013 Prius v (base). It was to replace a 2010 Toyota Camry (ACV40R) Altise Sedan (2.4 2AZ/5-Speed Automatic, base trim).

    It has the usual modern features (Bluetooth, USB, A/C, power windows).

    I thought the car was not that great and that my family only got it as it was good on petrol. But after a while, I actually found it not too terrible to drive. It is indeed not bad on fuel, and as a 2-row car, it does pretty well (and has decent cargo space).

    The interior is a sea of grey (predictably), seat comfort is okay (I found them better than the old-model Accord but I prefer the ones in the 1996 Corolla, maybe it is just me though). The door panels have worn rather quickly however (they’re not ripped, just the patterned dots that were there have disappeared).

    Reliability-wise, mechanically, it has not had a problem (although it is still new-ish). However, the central locking on both front doors failed (it was the actuator that failed) right after the 3-year warranty ran out (fixed under goodwill however, so we’re thankful for that).

    On that note, the other car in our family (1996 Corolla) has never had a central locking issue (only the remote is broken and it is now (near) impossible to source a replacement as the company that made them is now defunct).

    It has had one recall done (software-related, I cannot remember what it was about now though).

    The 3rd row is usable in a pinch but not the greatest for long trips. The power is okay (it keeps up in city traffic), it is comfortable (at 100-120 km/h).

    There are downsides, needing 95 is one. But the frugality makes up for it.

    It suits our main need: frugality, and it has also suited the secondary aims: space, and flexibility.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    Nope, I’d say indifference is probably the warmest feeling I’ve had towards the sensible and practical type of vehicle. It’s one thing for a car/truck/SUV to have practicality and comfort—those are good qualities to have. But keep those tucked away as pleasant suprises. A Hemi Charger or 300 can do literally EVERYTHING that a comparable boring beige mobile can do, offers safety, reliability and fuel economy blahblahblah yet it offers style, driving satisfaction, and most importantly FUN.

    Now if bought on the cheap and parked slightly down the road, I can see scooping up some automotive appliance to insulate my ‘real’ vehicle from the door dings, coffee spills, etc of day to day drudgery. Im an enthusiast and always have been. 4x4s, pickups, classics, hot rods, muscle cars etc have always been a major part of my life and that’s not gonna go away. To hell with what the masses think is fashionable. You know that saying about wolves and the importance of sheeps’ opinions…

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    For me it was pickup trucks. I was adamant that I would never, ever buy a pickup truck. Then, I had a late-model crew cab GMC Sierra as company car for a year. Ever since then, when I see a Silverado/Sierra I like, I find myself thinking about how to make it fit in my life. That truck just had so much room, comfort, utility and V8 swagger.

    Unfortunately, I just don’t need a truck, and can’t make peace with driving a bed around that is almost never used.

    • 0 avatar
      Yankee

      I’m with you Cognoscenti. As a green-minded mechanic I can’t justify a full-size pickup for myself, but every time I drive a Silverado/Sierra after servicing it I really like the way it rides and drives. The 5.3L motor is smooth and powerful, love the big bench seat, and they just float down the road on those big tires. I have a friend who used to sell cars at one of those Texas megadealers, and he told me the trend down there was for people to have the dealer load them up with every imaginable add-on (leather upholstery kits, custom wheels, electronic devices, etc.) before purchase, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars on top of the purchase price. They called them “Country Cadillacs”

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        This is true. What’s weird is that all the “Texas Editions” and whatnot really are kind of base models.

        The trend now is to buy the lift and giant wheels and tires as part of the initial loan. People will pay more per month than their duplex rent.

  • avatar
    St.George

    Absolutely! My sister in laws 2008 Corolla. Silver, 1.8, 4 speed auto. What you would imagine to be the ultimate bland-mobile. But, here’s the thing, it was quiet, smooth and quite refined. The interior, whilst devoid of frills did exactly what it set out to do in a modest, no-nonsense kind of way. It was good on gas and while no ball of fire, didn’t feel under-powered. The steering and brakes, whilst not go-kart sharp weren’t completely devoid of feel either. That experience now makes me question the perceived internet wisdom of the best & brightest who all seem to universally loathe the Corolla and those who drive them.

    By the way, my S-I-L and her family still have that Corolla and it hasn’t missed a beat in 11 years or so of Michigan weather.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Ford Ranger. Went to the motor pool to pick up a vehicle for the 80-mile trip to the Big City. All the sedans were gone, leaving me with a stripper Ranger, complete with manual windows. We got along fine. It was comfortable enough, pretty quiet, and easy to maneuver and park downtown. I really liked the thing.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    In 2008, I inherited Mom’s 1994 Buick LeSabre – light metallic blue with cloth bench seats and fake wire wheels. The car was pristine with around 25K miles. I happened to need new wheels at the time, but I wasn’t too sure about daily-driving such a “grandpa car” after a series of 5-speed Hondas. However, even on the initial trip back to Miami I was impressed by the quiet and smoothness at 70 mph – it was like piloting a cloud. Over the next few months I came to really like the car. The 3800 engine was torquey and surprisingly economical. Seats were comfortable, HVAC was really powerful, and there was lots of interior and trunk room. The car was cheap to service and parts were never a problem. It could even handle corners (to a point). I got a lot of comments on the car and not just from old folks.

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Yep, just had a Toyota 4 Runner SR5 as a rental.

    Everything seemed designed to fit me perfectly. Ride was ’80s American Sled solid and boring, thick sidewalls made for smooth going. I even loved sitting up so high. Still, 15 MPG…No.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    “Have you ever felt jarred by just how much you enjoy an unlikely and seemingly unsuitable vehicle?”

    Yep, twice.

    Ford Transit Connect – it handled my family of 4 better than any crossover or any minivan while getting decent mileage, providing good seats and driving better than any van, mini or otherwise.

    Ford Explorer – prior to renting, I didn’t give a rip about tech toys. After renting the Explorer, I get it. I get why it’s nice to have seat warmers in both rows, why infotainment systems done right are nice and why having more space is something I really want.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    I was recently in a large Texas city to visit my daughter, and needed a cheap rental for two days. Priceline hooked me up for $14 per day plus airport fees and toll tag. Done. Kia Soul or similar.
    I showed up to the counter and the woman (nicely) stated “all I have is a Fusion”. Ok, sure. A black shape pulls up behind me. Some sort of Chevy.
    This one? “Yes”. It amazes me that people who work in car-related industries can have absolutely no concern or care about cars at all.
    It was a new Malibu. I started to be disappointed, but hey, it was almost free minus the gas.
    I got in and was faced with a grey suede-ish wheel and rubber wheel buttons. It had a full-size lcd unit not sunk into plastic. Kind of Mazda-ish. I determined to just drive it. Wow, rearview camera is actually really good. It had mousefur seats, but at least they were kind of comfy with tons of up and down range. Two highway trips had me staring down at the optimistic little gauge. “Best over last 50 miles: 42.4 mpg.” No way. I’m assuming the 1.5 Turbo, but still wasn’t sure and never checked. The bluetooth and Android Auto hooked right up, the information center had a bunch of options, there was a cell-phone holster in the console, and the sunroof was panoramic (meaning the entire roof into the back seats). It had the same Goodyear Assurance quiet tires I put on the wifes car as they’re nearly silent, and here they were also silent. The car took bumps like an Avalon or something. My daughter told me “wow, this is really nice” unprompted. My gripes? A black car in summer in Texas is never a good idea. Also, it’s invisible in any crowded parking lot, so use a phone app when you go in if you ever want to find it.
    I didn’t want to like this car but it did everything I asked, got Corolla mileage in what I consider a full size sedan, and had enough power when traffic opened up to at least get up to speed well. If I gave up fun completely and could trust it to last, I would own one. In white.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      I believe you, Willyam. Friends and I got the much-derided 8th gen (as opposed to your 9th) for a vacation rental several years ago. I’m firmly convinced most of the people who snipe at these never have ridden in one. If it was the worst-in-segment vehicle, then it’s a testament to the overall quality segment in 2012-2016. My buddy who did most of the driving pronounced it “smooth.” I’m guessing the mouse fur seats and base alloys actually made it a more comfortable car than the higher trim levels.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Featherston: If you saw my comments further upstream, the 8th gen is the one I’m driving now. The mouse fur seats, the 16″ base alloys and incredible suspension tuning make that car super smooth.

        I agree 100%, the folks who dismissed that car never spent any wheel time with it/in it.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          I’d missed your comment. Regarding “All of these years I’ve been buying the ‘Sport’ or ‘GTS’ version of a car and here, I’m smitten with this Kansas City Kadillac,” I don’t think your choices necessarily were off base. In what I’ll call the “6000 STE Era,” you definitely got a better driving experience if you opted for the “sport” suspension on a GM car. Nowadays, however, most (all?) manufacturers’ base cars ride fairly firmly. In many models, your optimal ride/handling probably actually comes in base or one-level-up-from-base guise.

          It’s since sold, but a family friend with a garage/used car lot had an 8th-gen 2.0T on his lot for awhile. I wasn’t in the market, but part of me was like, “Hmm, poor man’s Regal GS from a seller I trust? Tempting.” Had I bought it, I would’ve sourced refurbed 17×8 wheels. I can’t recall, but this example almost certainly had 18×8 or 19×8.5’s on it.

          A friend who drives an F30 328i, FWIW, had an 8th-gen 2.0T as a rental and quite liked it.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    PT Cruiser. Looks like the sort of old person’s car that would have a wallowy suspension and slow, numb steering. But both are quite nicely tuned. It also has a comfortable seating position and excellent visibility.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Nothing to do with comfort, but I know I absolutely loved a 1995ish Mitsubishi Mighty Max 2wd 5spd. It just did everything well. I loaded down the cargo box and it hauled it with no problem. I later bought an Isuzu Hombre and hated it. Shoulda held out for a Max.

    I also really liked a 2000 Grand Prix I drove new. This was when I worked at the GM dealer after high school. All the other GM cars I had driven up until then were not impressive in the least. Hated the Malibu, hated the Cavalier even more, the Century felt like it was trying to be the absolute definition of the word stodgy. Didn’t care for the Impala. Its funny that the Impala (Century too I believe) is on the same platform, yet failed to impress. The Pontiac was comforable, handled well, had plenty of smooth power from its 3800, and it looked fantastic. I also found myself really enjoying a new Bonneville, at least from the inside. I liked the car a lot, but it was just ugly lol. The Buick and Chevrolet versions just didn’t ring my bell like the Pontiac.

    I have been disappointed in cars i expected to like, like my cousin’s then-new 2005 Nissan Altima. Later, when a friend bought a 2012ish Altima, it was similar disappointment, except this time my expectations weren’t as high.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    “Look at that atrocious phoney woodgrain!” I thought after settling behind the wheel. “The ’90s are (unfortunately) over! ”

    The ’90s are the years you think of when it comes to terrible woodgrain in vehicle interiors? Hell, I’d say the ’70s and ’80s were far worse. The dash of a non-Mustang Fox body, the Caprice, etc. So fake, so awfully plastic-y. By the ’90s, it seemed to have been banished from most mainstream cars and only reared its ugly head in pseudo luxury cars.

    I read in a book that the designers of the original Taurus fought hard against woodgrain, but the marketers overruled them. At least it didn’t take long to disappear from the car. Totally the wrong image they were trying to project with the car. I guess guys trading in an LTD found it familiar, but it didn’t belong in that car no more than opera windows or hood ornaments would have.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Begrudgingly discovering automobile comfort is one of the best things about driving. It’s happened to me several times over the years. The first occasion was when my grandparents decided to bequeath to me their 2002 Buick Park Avenue. It was sublime. The second occasions was when I rented a 2013 Nissan Sentra for a long business road trip. The Sentra also acquitted itself well by using the 2speed CVT to keep engine rpm suppressed and deliver incredible fuel economy.

    Neither vehicle should have interested me. I loathe CVTs and the Park Avenue should have been too lazy to impress, but both vehicle were among the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had.

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    A c.2015 Ford Transit 150. Having driven several old-school full size vans, it was a revelation–solid, quiet, and sedan-like handling with or without a load, and actual thought into the load space features like tie-downs, doors that open completely out of the way etc. I’d have shortlisted it for our next family hauler if not for the fact that our 2010 Town & Country could nearly fit inside it. We just don’t need that big a vehicle.

  • avatar
    aajax

    Several years ago. A rental Camry. After an hour and a half trip, i felt refreshed and my back felt better than when I had got in, which had never happened before. Should have bought one and driven it into the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      How tall are you?

      I’m only a bit under 5’11” but I have yet to find a Toyota seat cushion that is long enough to make my thighs feel well supported.

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