QOTD: Highway to the Comfort Zone?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd highway to the comfort zone

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?

Join the conversation
3 of 73 comments
  • Sam Hall Sam Hall on Jun 08, 2018

    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.

  • Aajax Aajax on Jun 11, 2018

    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.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jun 11, 2018

      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.

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.