QOTD: Taking the Short Way Home?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd taking the short way home

One of your author’s biggest pet peeves is the complete lack of confidence some drivers have in their own abilities — and that of their vehicle. It’s an odd thing, as these days the rolling stock on any street or highway consists mainly of car-based CUVs outfitted with increasingly capable all-wheel drive systems.

You’d think these drivers would show a little less trepidation when the weather turns bad — after all, they bought that particular vehicle for a reason — but no. After a recent, fairly heavy dump of the white stuff, the irksome observations began all over again. But an incident last night revealed the one thing that seems capable of motivating such drivers into taking action and using their vehicle to its full, confidence-inspiring potential: frustration.

Driving back from the store, traffic on the four-lane arterial came to a dead halt. One minute became two, then three. What gives?

The roadblock came in the form of a car carrier angled across the roadway; trailer blocking both lanes, tractor stuck on the wide, snowy median, nose protruding into opposing traffic. Traction wheels spun uselessly in the densely packed snow. Exactly what this driver was attempting to do when he got stuck, a hundred yards from the nearest intersection, is a mystery to me; the boys standing outside the adjacent GM dealership seemed similarly perplexed.

As the driver of a compact car, clearly, I was going nowhere. Not so with the drivers around me, many of whom sat behind the wheels of ubiquitous AWD crossovers. After politely staying put for a few more minutes, the situation soon became intolerable; getting a suitable tow rig to this locale was taking a long time, and the operation to extract the semi couldn’t take place without a cop to shut down the oncoming lanes. So, these drivers finally did the thing most CUVs avoid their entire lives: they went off-roading.

The first to mount curb and tackle the snow (which sat atop a nice layer of ice) was a Toyota Highlander. Kids clearly needed to be fed somewhere. Others drivers followed, giving their rear differentials a long-avoided workout. Maybe now they’ll be more confident in their daily driver, no longer creeping around corners at glacial speeds or undercutting speed limits by half just because two flakes fell from the sky.

On interstate medians and near interchanges, muddy tire tracks through the grass make it clear that nicely maintained blacktop isn’t the only way to get around in the city.

Have you ever had to call upon your own grit — and your vehicle’s brawn — to reach an urban destination in an avant-garde (and likely less than legal) manner? If not, have you seen someone else pull off a ballsy move that ended in success?

[Image: Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 25, 2020

    I'm convinced entitled rich ladies love Range Rovers because they can drive over curbs, sidewalks, etc. whenever they want to pull past someone or something in a fit of pique.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Jan 25, 2020

    The thing that always unnerves me is the conga-line in the left lane. 900 dingbats on each others' back bottom - one hits his brakes and the rest panic, slam on their brakes, lots of snaking and people flying off into adjacent lanes ensues. The year before last, I almost got clipped while driving in the middle lane because some flung themselves out of the conga-line.

  • Wjtinfwb Over the years I've owned 3, one LH (a Concorde) a Gen 1 300 and a Gen 2 300C "John Varvatos". The Concorde was a very nice car for the time with immense room inside and decent power from the DOHC 3.5L. But quality was awful, it spent more time in the shop than the driveway. It gave way to a Gen 1 300, OK but the V6 was underwhelming in this car compared to the Concorde but did it's job. The Gen 1's letdown was the awful interior with acres of plastic, leather that did it's best imitation of vinyl and a featureless dashboard that looked lifted from a cheaper car. My last one was a '14 300C John Varvatos with the Pentastar. Great car, sufficient power and exceptional highway mileage. The interior was much better than the original as well. It was felled by a defective instrument cluster that took over 90 days to fix and was ultimately lemon law' d back to FCA. I'd love one of the 392 powered final edition 300s but understand they're already sold out and if I had an extra 60k available, would likely choose a CPO BMW 540i for comparable money.
  • Dukeisduke Thanks Cary. Folks need to make sure they buy the correct antifreeze, since there are so many OEM-specific ones out there nowadays (Dex-Cool, Ford gold, Toyota red and pink, etc.).And sorry to hear about your family situation - my wife and I have been dealing with her 88-yo mom, moving her into independent senior living, selling her house, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.