About the Rental Car

December 19, 2003

This was originally supposed to be a review of ROTK, but they were sold out by the time I got there. Seeing it Friday now, so it should be Monday's entry.

Anyway. The Impala. It's a decent car, really. Nice interior, and a bunch of stuff my 11-year-old Civic lacks. Automatic headlights, cool idiot light LEDs, a stereo that adjusts the volume to account for road noise, an engine that heats up quickly.

But I don't like it.

For starters, it feels huge compared to my car. It's wider, I sit higher and it's longer -- longer than most cars in the parking lot, actually. I have no idea where this car is in its lane; I'm too far away from the door (and thus the left side of the car). Add the squishy shocks to that, and it's like the driver's seat is a Barca-lounger.

Then there's the automatic transmission. I've learned to like my manual, and I've finally learned why that is. In my car, I know how fast I'm going to within a few MPH. I know what gear I'm in, and I can hear and feel the engine revs. Thus, I have my speed. Also, since there's a direct line between the engine and the wheels, the car accelerates instantly when I stomp on the gas. I like that.

Automatics are different. I have no idea what gear it's in, and thanks to the wonders of the torque converter shifts are so smooth that I miss them most of the time. Am I doing 20 or 50? I have no idea without looking at the speedometer. And thanks to the way torque converters work, the response isn't instantaneous (or necessarily predictable) when I hit the gas. A friend of mine summed it up best -- it feels like I'm driving a video game.

I'm torn though; it is a decent car. If I were to replace the Civic with something larger I'd be more likely to get a V-6 Accord, but it's the same basic idea. Although the guys in the shop would probably look at me funny when I told them to stiffen up the suspension so I could actually feel the road underneath me.

Well, this is just a waste of cycles anyway. I like my Civic and I plan on keeping it a while; I'll probably drive it till the wheels fall off. But seeing what else is out there once in a while can be fun. I just wish it had happened under better circumstances.

December 17, 2003December 22, 2003