Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ain't Life Grand?

You may not know that I have Terminator Vision. It's like a heads-up display in my brain that activates whenever I'm in the presence of cars. Makes, models, and manufacturing trivia flood my head as I absorb data from all of the cars within my field of vision. It often spills out of my mouth in a torrent of factoids which I find fascinating, but bore most of those around me to tears.

Did you know the Chevy Captiva is a rebadged Saturn Vue, only sold to rental fleets so that GM can sell more Equinoxes and Terrains to real people? No? Well did y... HEY! WAKE UP!

As the taxi from ORD mounts the rise in front of my regular Enterprise franchise (recognize that poetry and move on; not intentional) it takes all of three seconds to scan and digest the contents of their tiny lot and figure out what I'll be driving, using my magic power.

On a recent visit, it was apparent that I wouldn't be driving the economy class I had reserved. Data collected from my optical sweep returned the following results: Grand Caravan. Grand Caravan. Sienna. Grand Caravan. Sienna.

What's worse than Stow & Go stigmata? A minivan that's also a Toyota. So I took the Caravan, in the butchest color available: Maximum Steel Clearcoat Metallic. Hellzyeah.

So what's it like hauling two other full grown men around town and country in a vehicle meant for suburban kiddie conveyance? It was hell. Having a remote slide both side doors open and raise the liftgate as we approached with heavy computer bags and purchases was positively annoying. And all that SPACE! Dealing with all that AIR in the car; the free movement and ease of access and egress. It was just tedious. And how typical of such a vehicle to have countless thoughtful bins and cubbies to store everything from cell phone gear to SmartWater bottles. YUCK!

Ok. It didn't suck. Like... not at all. In fact it was ideal for our purposes. Considering I had squeezed the three of us into the likes of the Mazda 2, the Fiat 500, and the Chevy Spark, the fellas in particular enjoyed our time in the Grand Caravan very much. Interior accommodations were very good, which one would expect from a car the size of a SoHo micro loft. Interior design was tasteful with two-tone bone and ebony dash treatments and occasional flashes of chrome. And bits of mood lighting were an unexpected touch. We all got quite... comfortable.

I played with the Stow & Go seating. I'm sure with practice it becomes second nature, but it was much more difficult than it looks in the commercials. Particularly the second row. But it is really cool how all that seat can just disappear into the floor. And my palms didn't bleed once.

The Grand Caravan, well, GRAND, so fuel economy from the V6 is only about 17/25. But once you get used to all that size, navigation is pretty easy. It isn't what I'd call nimble. But it never came across as top-heavy and the suspension was buttoned down and not floaty.

I'm a little more than mad that I liked it.

Fast forward a couple of months and I'm at the Enterprise counter being presented with the keys to a gleaming blue Chevy Cruze. I show the agent a free one-class upgrade from Enterprise, given in honor of my birthday. The Cruze keys go back on the hook.

I cross the parking lot, pointing the remote at my giant birthday present. The side doors slide in welcome as the liftgate rises and salutes me...

1 comment:

  1. You left out one thing: It is unthinkably ugly on the outside. It is the antithesis of aerodynamic and, did I mention? UGLY. I had a '99 Chrysler Town and Country with a tri-coat midnight blue finish that was a stunner! It had many of the features of this new one, except it wasn't allergic to AIR! Seriously, did they just cut the block of modeling clay into the rough shape of a van and go on vacation? I am glad it performed as well as it did and was comfortable inside and, of course, that you didn't go blind from looking at it. Ick.