While the dealership performs scheduled maintenance on my car they have graciously provided me with a loaner. The loaner is a 2012, 4 door sedan that runs about $30K.
Because I don’t hate on any specific type of car or its manufacturer I’m not going to divulge the make/model, especially considering that information has nothing to do with what I’m about to say.
This car sucks. It sucks rocks. Aside from the fact that it can technically get me to my destination I don’t know why anyone would ever want to drive it. Ever.
- Engine: This car has a 3.5L V6 DOHC engine. It is supposed to put out 263 HP at around 6500 rpm. On paper that doesn’t sound horrible but I don’t know what the engineers did between the engine, injection system, and throttle but it drives like it’s axel-deep in a bowl of jello. Pushing down on the throttle does almost nothing (and it takes almost 2 seconds for that nothing to occur). I don’t expect it to be a race car but it should be able to merge onto a highway without a 1/2 mile onramp. No power. No torque.
- Speed stability: At 55 mph, no matter how still I kept the throttle, I felt like I was on a see-saw. The car was constantly gaining 2-3 mph, and then losing 4-6 mph, repeat. I thought enabling cruise control would mitigate the issue. Nope. The car just likes to pretend it is a skiff upon the ocean.
- Suspension: Due to the fun speed issues you really get to feel everything that a marshmallow suspension has to offer. I bet I could hop a curb at 30 mph and barely feel it. Ok, I get it, the majority of drivers out there don’t want a sport suspension but holy crap… having absolutely no feel for the road is not a safe way to drive.
- Indicators: I didn’t even know these existed any longer but all of the analog needles (tach, mph, fuel) bounce when you drive. Seriously? For $30K they couldn’t figure out a better way to track the gas in the tank other than floats? The bouncy indicators just add to the motion sickness.
- Steering column: All of the controls, all of them, are on two arms that both protrude from the left side of the steering column. And here is the best part: the windshield wiper arm is above the turn signal arm. So, to use the turn signal you have to either slide your left hand down or take your left hand entirely off the wheel. Awesome. (And for the people who drive with one hand… well, good luck with that)
- Steering: It is my opinion that Speed Sensitive Steering Assist should come standard on all consumer vehicles. At low speed I want the power steering system to help me. At highway speed I want the power steering system to shut the hell up and mind its own damn business. If I coughed too hard while driving the loaner on the highway I might jerk the steering wheel 3” and roll the piece of crap.
- Blind spots: Oh. My. God. I can see out of the front windshield and a good portion of the rear windshield. But anything on either side of the vehicle is a total mystery. I like playing the game, “If I change lanes right now will I die?” Do you know how the engineers solved this problem? They stuck little round convex mirrors on the outside of both side mirrors. This is awesome because now cars which are right next to me look like they are 1” high.
- Clock: What time is this 330? It is 3:30 of course. I guess for $30K they couldn’t fit in a “:” spot on the LCD display.
- Vents: The vents only go left and right. “I don’t want all this air blowing on me so I guess I’ll just point it towards my passenger.” Again, they couldn’t at least copy the genius concept of an air vent that can be aimed left, right, up, and down? By the way, one of the vents can be closed (yippee) but the other can’t (boo).
- iPod: Just about every new vehicle today has some type of iPod/iPhone integration. My loaner does too! But the USB connector does not provide charging power (by design). Are you kidding me? This isn’t Apollo 13, I bet you could find a little extra power in there somewhere.
- Heated Seats: Oh… this must be a luxury vehicle. No… it isn’t. I turned the seat heater on (it is either On or Off) and after about two minutes my low back was burning. I could feel the horizontal heating element. I have to wonder if they stole parts from a toaster.
For $4K more you could grab an entry-level BMW 3 Series. Or, you could do what I like to do, for $10K less you could get a 2 year old, fully loaded 3 Series. By the way, I am not necessarily pushing BMWs (although I do like them). My point is that people pay crazy amounts of money for horrible cars. I think there are two reasons for this:
1) People assume they can’t afford a BMW, Audi, Benz, Porsche, etc. But that is absolutely not the case. All it takes is a little patience and research. I guarantee you that right now someone is sitting in their living room rueing the day they paid full price for a brand new C-Class - they will be happy to get out from under their $800/month payments. Their pain is your gain.
2) Perhaps many people have never had the opportunity to drive a “higher end” car which, in my opinion, is sad. For many people, paying $60K+ for a car seems insane (and it may be) but you don’t have to pay $60K for it - some rich (or dumb) person already did.
I do admit that the cost of ownership is usually higher with these types of cars. The cost to change the oil in the Lotus is $250. (The car has to be put on a lift and the entire bottom of the car has to be removed) But that is not the norm.
Also note that I am not suggesting that you run out and buy a 1983 Ferrari. That isn’t my point. My point is that you should get the absolute best car you can for your money. Spending $30K on a car that is poorly designed is just ridiculous.
PS: If you’re of the mindset, “Well, I don’t want to be one of those douchey BMW drivers”, then all I can say is, “Ok, how about you drive a nice car without being a douche?”