Today is Thanksgiving, which has given us pause to consider what we should thankful for. Having our health and happiness is great, but what we really care about is what sort of car items you should be thankful for. The typical driver goes through life without a care for many of these things. Some of these are definite items that only the enthusiast can appreciate, but others are items that all drivers should consider themselves thankful to have in their daily commute.
Holy crap. Where would we be without Bluetooth? If you have not gotten on the Bluetooth bandwagon and don’t know what we’re talking about — you’re missing out. We don’t mean those earpieces that yuppies and taxi drivers wear. We mean the fully integrated system that connects your phone to your car and allows you to make hands free calls and music from your phone. Some new systems even read emails and text messages. Most importantly, it promotes safer driving.
Hybrids That Don’t Suck
If you are an enthusiast, driving a car like a Honda Insight is a painful experience. But automakers have learned how to tune more robust hybrid systems to be actually fun to drive. The Infiniti M56 hybrid is a freaking monster, with tons of low-end torque. Heck, Lexus replaced the V8 version of its GS sport sedan with the hybrid, claiming the two would be capable of the same kinds of performance numbers.
Just remember this — there is a reason that Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren and others have elected hybrid powertrains for their range-topping hypercars.
Let’s face it — a lot of you are bad parkers. For some of you, parallel parking might as well by some sort of Cirque de Solei performance. But with the added benefit of a rear view camera, you can actually pull the task off. The added front and side cameras on newer luxury vehicles, like the Range Rover, are even better for avoiding scraping the curb– or the cars around you.
This one is for the enthusiasts. Any Wall St. banker can buy a Ferrari, hop behind the wheel and feel like a pro, flipping through the paddle shifters. But the real sign of a true driver is one’s skills with a good, old-fashioned, do-it-yourself manual transmission. Also, rev-matching is for squids — if you can’t perform heel-toe simultaneous downshift-braking, too bad.
How many times have you been getting ready to leave the office, and you check traffic on Google maps one quick time? I’ve done it plenty of times, and it’s all worth it for that one time there is a massive accident, and you can plot a different route.
Navigation Systems in General
How lost are people without their navigation systems? Be it an in-dash NAV, handheld Garmin or Tom-Tom or a smartphone, people are lost without these tools– literally. Take away someone’s phone and hand them a Rand-McNally map book, and it might as well be Sanskrit.
Automakers Who Still Offer Large Engines
BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are all moving away from snarling, naturally aspirated V8s in their performance vehicles, but at least Audi and Mercedes have the cojones to tell the EPA to stuff it one last time. Cars like the C63 AMG and Audi RS5 are not long for this world, but until regulators outlaw massive V8s, these engines (along with the big V8s from the Big Three) will still make turbocharged four-pots quiver and shake.
Fun Affordable Cars
When Scion rolled out the FR-S (and Subaru debuted the corresponding BRZ), the automotive community collectively said, “finally!” There are plenty of toys out there for people that are made of money, but how many new cars can you buy for about $25,000 that will put a smile on your face like these cars? They are not entirely powerful, but they are fun as hell to drive– and that’s the point. You would have to pay extra for a large, powerful motor. The FR-S tuned to be fun with the power that it has– and that makes us very happy.
The Return of the REAL Mid-Size Pickup
Before you say, “Well, George, the Tacoma and Frontier have never left,” I would interject by saying that Toyota and Nissan’s respective mid-size pickups are ten years old in their current generation– ten years! Frontiers and Tacomas may still be running off the assembly line, but those companies have not given their mid-size trucks so much as an afterthought in quite some time. Besides, I put this to you– if there is a truck segment, and there are no American trucks in it– does that truck segment really exist? Mind. Blown.
The Open Road
Another one for the enthusiast. There is nothing quite like getting behind the wheel of a fun car– as thrifty as an FR-S or as powerful as a Corvette– and getting out on to back roads so early that no one else is there clogging up your avenue of delight. Weekends are the best– but you have to go at the right time! Don’t get up early enough, and you’re stuck behind an old couple on their way to brunch.
An unoccupied, windy road is a blank canvas that true drivers will grace with the strokes of their four-wheeled, V8 paintbrush. Think about that the next time you are driving too slowly and there’s a sportscar behind you– aching to open up. Let him by, and both you and the other driver will be thankful for the peace that follows.
That’s just some of the things us car guys are thankful for — have a happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Bold Ride!