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The "I drove a thing" topic.

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Marcal

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostSat Apr 27, 2013 4:19 pm

I recently had the opportunity to spend a 3-day weekend in an Insight. It was, well, interesting.

In interest of saving weight, the doors are paper thin, and sound like hollow-core doors. It's the first thing you notice when you get in. Behind the wheel, I found the steering precise but vague, almost numb. Narrow tires, flimsy doors, and little sound insulation made for a noisy ride, to the point of distraction. I was confused by the control layout - the stereo/music controls take up almost the entire center stack, with a small bulge on the bottom for the climate control buttons.

On the highway, it was noisy, as mentioned. While driving through a shower, we briefly thought water was coming in the back doors. Worse, the blind spots are horrible. The rearview mirror shows me nothing but the back seat, and the side mirrors helped only if a car was beside me. On city streets, starting and stopping was a jolting affair, as the electric motor kicked on and off. The only way to combat it is to drive away from a light very slowly, which might have been the intent. Worst of all, though, was the steering wheel. With it all the way up and pushed forward, I still couldn't get in without hitting my legs on it. Getting out, I had to push the seat all the way back, and hoist myself out of the car. I'm not exactly skinny, but they clearly didn't have tall people in mind when designing that wheel.

On the positive side, we averaged 50mpg crusing at 60mph. When we went to 70, it quickly dropped to less than 40.
"A one that is not cold is scarcely a one at all."
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Dan

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostSat Apr 27, 2013 5:28 pm

Probably not your normal story, but: I was driving Humvees (the M1151) and MRAPs (the JERRV Cat II to be specific) this past week for licensing purposes. Prior to driving these, the only "tactical" vehicles I had ever been in were seven ton trucks and LAVs (which I have a license to drive). So, this is more from the perspective of a tactical vehicle vs. tactical vehicle than normal car vs. tactical vehicle.


The Humvee is actually not a bad vehicle, and is pretty advanced for being an off-road vehicle designed in the early '80s. It has inboard, disc brakes, a fully independent suspension with coil-overs, composite materials, etc. In its stripped-down form it's not a bad vehicle, but once the military started adding lots of up-armor to it (in an attempt to have it fulfill a role it was never intended to do), things went down hill. All the weight made it slow, cumbersome, prone to tipping over, increased wear and tear on the suspension, drivetrain, and steering components (which really shows with its wandering, numb, loose steering), as well as killed what was actually some decent fuel mileage. I would consider buying one of the non-armored Humvee versions if the opportunity presented its self, but the up-armored versions kinda suck.

The JERRV has similar problems: Numb, wandering, loose steering, top-heavy, slow, terrible fuel mileage, and cumbersome. But, it also has some even more serious problems than that. Much of the wiring, for instance, is all linked together, so if one thing goes out, it's like a string of Christmas lights. Also, on the 6x6 version (the Cat II), only one wheel on each side in the rear is normally driven, and the front wheels free-spin. This is fine, until you get stuck like that and need to put it in AWD and lock the diffs, but you can't do that unless you drive forward about fifteen feet. So if you get stuck and you're not in 6x6 with the diffs locked, you're pretty much hosed. We managed to get one stuck (and I'm not joking about this) on some loose top soil. On top of this, its puny ten thousand pound winch won't help you pull that behemoth out.

I drove LAVs for a while, and in comparison to those two vehicles, it's a sports car. While it's still not fast by car standards, it's definitely MUCH faster than those two, the steering is so much better, you can take turns at a decent speed without tipping it over, you can pull yourself out of tight spots with its winch, and the electronics aren't all linked together and prone to failure. For a while I had always looked at them like they were pieces of junk, with a "grass is greener on the other side" mindset, but now I've definitely changed my mind.

This week I'm supposed to be getting licensed on the MAT-V MRAP, so I'll let you all know how that one goes.
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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostMon May 06, 2013 5:41 am

Once again, I drove multiple things!

On the interesting front, last Wednesday I got to take a small track experience, an ex-cop Dodge Charger on Mosport's driver development track (not the main one). If I needed a big sedan, I could definitely do worse - it doesn't exactly feel small, but it's quick enough, and seemed pretty well balanced. Ultimately, I'm timid enough to not squeal the tires, and the instructor riding shotgun didn't have to tell me to slow down too frequently, but I also wasn't a complete roadblock to the faster stuff (and I passed a Ferrari! Before he passed me two laps later!).

And here's a video! It's 13 minutes long and not exactly thrilling, but here it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLZNnfK3Kyc

I also got flown out of town for work, and was assigned a Chevy Sonic (LT hatch) by the rental company. Since I picked it up at midnight, I wasn't about to ask around for anything different, but I don't think I needed to. It's honestly not a bad little car. Admittedly, Saskatchewan doesn't give much opportunity to prove a car's handling prowess, but it got around on-ramps competently, the 1.8 feels strong in such a relatively small car, and it's pretty nicely screwed together. The onboard computer estimated I was getting 8.5L/100kms (slightly below 30mpg) in driving mixed between a three-hour road trip, and driving it like a rental car (I want to say I actually got 8.1 based on the milage I drove and how much gas I used before filling up). Oh yes, and I think I got it airborne (coming across a large dip, either from construction, or a washed out section of road, at 60mph), and it handled it rather well (I mean, I'm here to type this, so there's that).
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Devin

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostMon May 06, 2013 9:44 am

Pfft, just because Saskatchewan was designed entirely with a ruler.

There is a random bendy dirt road outside of Muenster that's actually quite fun, but since high school I forget where it actually is.
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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostMon May 06, 2013 3:15 pm

Devin wrote:Pfft, just because Saskatchewan was designed entirely with a ruler.

There is a random bendy dirt road outside of Muenster that's actually quite fun, but since high school I forget where it actually is.


S'okay, Ontario has geographical features, if you look for them, but the British still used a ruler to design everything.
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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostSat Jun 08, 2013 5:15 pm

Another work trip to Saskatoon, another rental car - this time a new Focus hatch. Again, nice little car, same 8.1L/100kms as the Sonic, also just generally good to drive. I liked having Sirius this time (and Ford's direct tune system is pretty straightforward, even if I just left it on Iceberg, the Canadian Indie station, the entire time). On the other hand, visibility isn't fantastic (I'd be a little more uncomfortable if I ever had to parallel park it, or in heavier traffic), and either the PowerShift is weird, or those dual clutches are intermittently slipping (at 53,500kms, it'd be approaching the end of its rental life anyhow, and given the cracks and scrapes on the bumpers, I'm sure it hasn't lead the easiest life). To be fair, I'd go with the 5-speed anyhow, so that latter problem isn't.
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kayoteq

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostWed Jul 17, 2013 6:14 pm

Image
Oh, sorry, wrong topic interpretation.
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jibduh

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostThu Jul 18, 2013 5:47 am

Not at all! Seemingly redundant at first glance, even :P Perfectly fitting for this thread. Tell us more!
BlackIce_GTS wrote:M is a number somewhere between 53 and 75, X is between 12 and 13
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Devin

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostSun Aug 18, 2013 9:43 am

On my lovely vacation, I drove a new Chevy Cruze to Peggy's Cove, which is a really windy and entertaining road that had me wishing I was in an entertaining car.

The main issue is the steering, which is bad. No feel, no weight, it's like a bad arcade game. Other detriments were somewhat spongy brakes and a reluctant transmission.

On the good side, nicely laid out interior - though I'll never understand dash-mounted power lock controls - and good mileage overall.

It's not a miserable car, it would be quite nice if you're a grandma, but it's not an inspiring one either.
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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostTue Sep 10, 2013 5:10 pm

I'm in the process of driving a 2014 Dodge Avenger. Ugh, just ugh. Serves me right for accidentally booking my car two hours after my flight landed. I show up to Nationals Emerald Aisle in Vancouver, to see nothing but one Yukon XL and one Expedition EXT. I go up to the clerk to confirm if anything is actually mine, he just shrugs and says one of the land yachts is mine if I want it. Considering it's just my wife and I, and gas is $1.40 (CDN) a litter, that's not an option, even if I have a soft spot for them. I'm eyeing the ATS sitting in a non-EA spot, when the clerk calls over to the manager and finds out said Avenger has just been pulled up. I should've fought for something else.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit of a Mopar defender, the interior is still leaps and bounds over the hard plastic monstrosity it used to be, and it's not bad looking. It's even adequate over bumps and around corners. But just adequate. On the other hand, rear visibility is only barely better than on a panel van, and unless that four cylinder (because a Pentastar would at least give it character) is Slant Six-durable, it's got no redeeming qualities. It's not dangerously slow, but it's absolutely reluctant to move, it just makes a dull drone, and I'm currently averaging a little over 23mpg despite not wringing the hell out of it (I got 30mpg out of a rental Suzuki SX4 on the same route, driven similarly)

The worst part is that I drove to Whistler today, which is otherwise a great road. I pick up another rental on the weekend - you'd better believe there'll be words if they try and foist another Avenger or 200 on me.

*EDIT* Forgot to mention the dead pedal that's set too far forward compared to the gas and brake (putting my left leg in an awkward position) and the seatback seems to be angled so that I have no upper back support, or bent uncomfortably far forward.
Last edited by Maymar on Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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slowtruck

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostTue Sep 10, 2013 5:59 pm

In 2012 I drove a BMW 335D new on lot wow it was awesome quiet and powerful.
It pulled like a semi and rode like a Rolls Royce and considering it costs less than a Chevy Volt with better MPG/range with seating for five instead of 4 it is spectacular green car that can do 140+mph.
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Maymar

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Re: The "I drove a thing" topic.

PostFri Sep 20, 2013 3:51 pm

Got to Vancouver Island, and the rental outlook got slightly better. Show up at the Victoria Airport, handed the keys to a Mazda3 (good, I guess), get outside to find a 3 wagon with a sunroof and the Skyactiv engine (better).

I'll fully admit, I've been a little indifferent to the 3 - most of my encounters with them have been with moving used models around lots (where they're occasionally flimsy, worn, and rusty), and trying out an absolutely stripped 3 with the old base motor several years ago, on some bland business park roads. Basically, whatever strengths everyone raves about, I've never been privy to, I've just seen the bits of old Mazda.

That being said, I don't know if it's from spending ~800kms in it, or just some of the improvements Mazda's continued to make, but it's a decent little car. To start with, it's just a sensible little thing - neither the backseat or trunk is huge, but it's adequate and sensibly shaped (especially for two people with just carry-on luggage), fuel economy was impressive (6.3L/100kms, or about 37mpg, through fairly mountainous terrain, albeit driven mostly sedately - either way, I did our entire stint on one tank of gas), and it was fairly quiet and smooth. Competent to drive too, plenty fun to hustle around. Like most small cars today, it has more than enough power if you put your foot in it, but you have to prove to the car you want expediency.

That said, the slushbox is definitely tuned for fuel economy, seeking the highest gear (although it kicked down quickly enough, I just used the manual function for engine braking). Also, as much as the 3 got around corners well, and was pretty easy to place, I didn't find it the most confidence inspiring in heavy rain, going through questionable roads (it'd get there, I was just never entirely sure what the car was doing, which was probably what it was supposed to). The seats weren't quite adjustable enough for me - I have shorter legs and a longer torso, so I needed the seat about as low as it goes to clear the roof, which makes the front of the bottom cushion a little too high for me, since it mostly lowers towards the back. It was fine on normal drives, but getting close to two hours in, I was getting a little squirmy. And as much as the interior is pretty well put together, and more substantial than I remember, there's still the occasional touch of cheapness (the one that stood out to me was the pods for the steering wheel controls - slightly elevated, and they had a bit of the plastic flash line running across the top, around where I rest my thumbs).

So, still, great little car (if they felt like resurrecting the GLC name, it wouldn't be unwarranted), and by virtue of Mazda Canada blowing out the '13s with 0% financing from now until about the time the sun implodes, I'd strongly consider one as long as I could find a wagon with the stick. On the other hand, I think much of the 3's accolades stem from Mazda's whole Zoom-Zoom ethos more or less pandering to us car guys, and the journalists that review them. It's a good car, but it's not astoundingly better than the Civic (even the maligned '12), except that you can get it with 5-doors, and Mazda dealers are slightly more motivated.
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