March 2008


First let me say this: If you’re lost on the road, drive like you’re not.  I realize the temptation to slow down, to turn erratically when you see your actual road, and to want to get back to that turn you missed is very high.  But don’t do that.  All you do is make the roads less safe for other people.

Look, we know you’re lost.  The stops, starts, excessive waits, half turns, swerves, the slow driving, all of it.  But the way to deal with that is to pull off somewhere and find out where you are.  Not look at maps and stuff while you’re driving, not swivel your head around and around, not paying attention to the road.  Not stop on a 2-lane road.  And if you are in a situation like that, just keep going.  How much more lost are you going to get going further down a two-lane road?  Zero, you just come back down that same road.

This comes up because in the past week, I’ve had encounters with two people who are obviously lost.   And while I can sympathize with someone not knowing where they are, that sympathy evaporates when they forget the number one thing they should be doing: driving.  So accept that you’re lost, look for a parking lot, and get in it to figure out where you’re going.

And NEVER stop in a traffic circle to make your turn.  Just go around again!

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If you’ve never heard of Radley Balko, now’s your chance.  He’s a libertarian-minded writer who’s spent time at the Cato Institute and now writes for Reason magazine, with columns also appearing on Foxnews.com.

His site, The Agitator is early with a lot of stories that you just don’t want to ever see, but you really should.  Particularly, he has a lot of stories about malfeasance of police, prosecutors, and governments.  The kind of things that just burn you up, and sometimes make you despair for the country and the world, but also that make you have the hope that these things will be exposed and people will see them.

I got plenty ticked off when I read about this thing yesterday: The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid

The fact that ANYONE can think they’re doing the environment any favors when they drive a giant SUV unless they’re carrying around more than 2 people all the time drives me up a wall. And then there are the design choices for this vehicle, that really just burn me up.

First of all, the cheapest regular 2WD Tahoe comes with a 4.8l V8. The upgraded 4WD ones come with a 5.3l V8. So you’d think “Hey, we’re putting the electric motors on, we can go with less engine so combined power is the same.” Well, I’d think that, cause I’m not an idiot. But Chevy, they’re geniuses: they put in a 6.0L V8 that produces more power than either of the other engines. What a great idea!

And the net effect of the hybrid powertrain? It boosts gas mileage up to a whopping 21 mpg average. Wow! Thanks a lot, guys. You made your $50k vehicle get less mileage than I see on my decade old Civic with the world’s worst commute for economy (3 miles of stop and go).

I’ll admit it. I’m not a big fan of SUV’s in the first place. Especially leather-appointed living-rooms-on-wheels. These things NEVER go off-road. They rarely carry more than 1 person. They rarely tow anything. Most often, they’re driven around by moms who like to have a giant vehicle, for whatever stupid reason. And if you want to drive one, sure, you can, and I’ll continue to call you a freakin’ idiot. But the idea that they put out THIS as a hybrid, and it qualifies for tax breaks just cheeses me off. It’s not an ‘economy’ vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. And anyone who thinks they’re doing the environment a favor by driving one of these is a complete and utter idiot. You should be ashamed.

And Chevy should be ashamed for thinking that they’re producing something that’s ‘green’. The only thing green about it is the 50,000 dollars you’re spending, up to 15,000 more than a regular Tahoe. Chevy’s commercials about how environmentally friendly they are already tick me off (hydrogen isn’t environmentally friendly, Ethanol isn’t environmentally friendly, and giant ‘hybrids’ with 6L, 338 HP gas engines are NOT! environmentally friendly). If you want to help the environment, do something that would actually make a difference. A giant truck that gets 21 mpg is making a difference the wrong way.

*edit*

Oh, I had to add: If you buy this thing, you can get a tax credit.  Thanks a bunch.  Stupid government.

Ok, I’ve got a thing about American cars: I think they pretty much suck.  There are a lot of good people who work at building them, but there are always design elements that just… suck.

The last American car I bought was a Dodge Neon.  After that, I got a Honda Civic, and decided to never ever buy another American car.  There are just always things that you wonder if anyone even bothered to think about.

For today’s post, we’ll look at the Chevy Equinox.  I’ve driven this a couple times, and each time I notice something that’s just not right about it.  Here’s just a couple of things.

Power Window Controls – On the center console.  This is always an annoying choice.  They are never in a configuration that makes it easy to figure out which window is which, and it’s counter-intuitive to open the window away from the door.  And of course they were rocker switches, but at least they were mounted so that up was above down.

Console controls – Yay! Pictograms!  I guess they wanted to be able to sell in different languages, but there were some things that I was afraid to touch without looking in the manual.  Oh! They’re computer readout controls!  Plus the radio has way more buttons than readouts.  There are only 4 digits on the whole readout!  For an 8 inch wide panel.  You keep wondering what the point of the big readout is.

Turning radius – This is really the worst turning vehicle I think I’ve ever driven.  It never goes into the parking spot you think you’re gonna get in, unless you back up and straighten it out.  I couldn’t make a u-turn in 2 lanes and a 10 foot median.  Just really terrible.

Outside design – One of the times I drove the vehicle was in the sleet and snow.  Cleaning it off, I realized there’s a 2 inch lip on the sides of the windshield.  You can’t just push the snow off the sides.  You have to pick it up to get it off.  Just bad, and unnecessary.

Seatbelt latches – just cheap feeling.  A loose fit, a loose spring, hard to get the belt into.

Overall, the vehicle’s not that bad.  It runs good, it’s not rattly, it’s not too noisy.  But when you’re facing these bad design elements for the little things, it’s just making you think “Why can’t they do this right?  Didn’t anyone even try this?”

I’ve got a couple other vehicles I’ve driven, and will hopefully add to this  series.