Saturday, October 3, 2009

Car Philosophy

It's been a while since I've posted anything about cars. That's partly because of lack of time and partly because of my rather schizoid nature. Oh, I come by the split-personality naturally - my sun sign is a water sign and my moon sign is earth, so I'm often caught up in my own mental-mud when I need to make a decision.

On the one hand, I read about all these truly amazing machines and it's truly overwhelming. I saw a red Masarati Quattroporte outside the place I get pedicures done just last weekend and nearly froze in my tracks, which would have been bad since it would have caused a wreck! So, while I continue to lust after super cars like the Masarati or the Audi R8 or Bugatti Veyron or Jaguar XKR, I know it'll be like a guy lusting after a night with Angelina Jolie - totally and forever unattainable. The problem is there are plenty of other performance cars out there that would work just fine for me and I could ostensibly afford. How about an Infiniti G37 or a Nissan Z or a Lexus IS or a BMW 3 series? Sure, all of those are fun to drive, are high-quality in materials and workmanship, have all the best technology and will last forever. But there's one thing they haven't got - good gas mileage.

Yup, here's where my schitzatude pops up. I am part granola-eating, tree-hugging environmentalist. I try to save the planet when I can. I have reuseable grocery bags that I take into stores when I go shopping. I save water by keeping a bucket under the condensation spigot from the air conditioner so I can collect the water and use it on the plants. I recycle everything I can. I will likely get a compost bin for our yard and food scraps once I get my kitchen garden up and running. So, how do I reconcile my need to not waste things with the purchase of a new vehicle, especially when I crave speed and performance in a vehicle as much as I crave air? It's a real problem!

So, cars like the Prius and Insight seem like a reasonable choice, right? Well, no. Those cars drive like a tank and are simply fugly. The concept of a car that looks like a hybrid, especially if hybrids are supposed to look like a Prius, just boggles my mind. Why can't a car that is easy on gas mileage or has an alternative fuel source just look like the expression of the manufacturer? Why do they all have to look like a clog-shoe on wheels? Sure, I'm told clogs are comfortable but they're so ugly, I'd never own a pair. Besides, these new hybrids or plug-in electric cars are coming out to be about the same price as a new BMW and yet they don't have all the technological advances that make a BMW or Lexus or Infiniti such safe and fun cars to drive. There's no anti-slip differential, no anti-lock breaks, no traction control, no all-wheel-drive - at least not on cars I've researched to this point. Granted, I've not driven any of them either so I'm likely being unfair in my critique of their safety and driveability in challenging situations. Reviews I've read on the Prius, however, all say it drives like a brick and handles like a one-horse hay cart (I paraphrase).

So, in a similar fashion to Sylla and Charybdis, I'm stuck between a G37 and a Ford Fusion Hybrid, and I doubt there's a good answer in the middle.