I fancy myself a bit of a car guy, if not in the mechanics of it all, at least in the knowledge of the many models I’ll never be able to afford…
And those who know me will be familiar with my
pathological incessant need to research the heck out of anything.
It’ll be another forty to fifty thousand miles, four years and a few handfuls of Benjamins before the time comes to consider another vehicle, but hopes were high since visiting the auto show Thanksgiving week that perhaps an all-purpose solution was on the horizon.
I’ve been following the development of the Mini Countryman, an Oompa Loompa-sized amalgam of the Mini concept (small and space efficient) and a compact SUV. Something that wouldn’t break the bank on my 54-mile commute (EPA MPG estimate of 24/30 to 27/35) but with enough clearance to reach lesser-fished stretches of water in the Sierra Nevadas.
It’s not that I’ve been shy about pushing my Honda Accord down Forest Service roads. One of those roads, not to far from the cabin, eventually transported me and son Christopher to some great fishing along the Stanislaus River. But during that drive and others, I gained more gray hairs than I care to recount and lost a day or two off the back end of my life negotiating some of the less-improved sections in the dark.
The Countryman seemed to offer the best compromise. Kitted properly, it’d be awesome.
Alas, despite being run by a German company known for mechanical brilliance (BMW) the reliability of the Mini brand is decidedly lacking. Something that is a concern for one who’s driven Honda’s for many years and rarely paid for anything but regular maintenance. As an
aging guy coming into the prime of his buying power life, something sporty can be very attractive and almost overwhelm thoughts of practicality and dependability. Nonetheless, I scratched the Mini.
I’m also old enough to appreciate those
manly utilitarian vehicles of the past. Air conditioning only if you’re lucky, am radio and tasteless graphics standard, and a suspension designed to protect the vehicle, not the passengers. Great for dirt roads. Not so good for my commute.
I’m comforted by the knowledge that a few more new car/SUV designs will emerge in the coming years; perhaps a small SUV with a Prius-like drivetrain. (Don’t laugh, a lot of torque with those electric motors.)
But thinking about it, what I need:
- a car that can move down the highway at speed,
- adapt to a change in terrain when needed,
- possibly cross those wide and/or deep ditches found on USFS roads,
- bushwhack though unimproved sections of those roads,
- possibly with night vision capabilities,
- and some way of summoning help if needed.