Sunday, May 13, 2012

Auto Reviews--unscientific and devoid of technical analysis

After 24 hours in the Chevy Toobig Tahoe, Enterprise chick calls and says she can switch me to something less gas guzzling. When I spoke to the middle manager guy, whose name is on the business card they give you, the day before, he sounded like he was blowing smoke.

It only makes sense that since this company has tons of large vehicles, no doubt purchased before the ultra expensive gas scam went into full swing, that they'd pawn these off on those who have the least choice--insurance backed patrons who need transportation while their cars are being repaired.

For those whose insurance company has a deal with a particular rental outfit, the ability to shop around is greatly restricted. Besides, any ride is better than none.

The point is that I get it, and I think I know when they are not being quite honest. You should have seen the look on Anastasia's face when I told her I didn't believe much that her manager said, but that I understood wanting to keep the high demand cars available for those who had a choice. They've all been briefed. That is how it works in that kind of world. Those who face the public have little leeway and take the brunt of the cheesy dealing dictated from above.

That is how the business of customer service works. I wish it didn't, and a large number of those in that sort of job feel the same. It is the slight tinge of dishonesty coupled with systemic incompetence that causes them stress. And they are the ones subject to the wrath of often unreasonably entitlement minded customers, as well as those who are justifiably aggrieved.

So, the smallest thing they claim they have to offer amounts to a choice between a black Lincoln, which looks like a mafia hit-man's pimp ride, or a Kia Sorento, V6, and not so bad. I opted for the Sorento. It has proven to be surprisingly good on gas and very tight and nimble.

If you end up in one, though, beware. The shifter setup is not immediately clear. I thought I was in Drive, but I was in manual mode. That means if you bump the stick forward it goes up a gear and stays there, downward it goes to the next lower gear. There are six speeds in that transmission. It starts at whatever gear it was in when the stick kicked over to the left.

The only clear label is the D. I had no idea I'd kicked it into manual as I started up the ramp to The 8. It is close enough to the Enterprise lot that the fact that the car was not upshifting wasn't evident until I tried to accelerate up the ramp, which had virtually no shoulder for pulling over to take stock of things.

I thought it was defective, stuck, or something, so I tried to move the stick forward toward N. It did not go into neutral. I was thinking putting it in N then back to D might unstick the tranny. Because it never went to neutral, I tried several times, inadvertently upshifting and gaining the ability to merge with traffic and avoid stopping dead in the road.

It looked wrong but I decided to move the shifter to the right, which appeared to be an open track which would allow one to throw it into any gear, like R, which would be bad. It turns out that is where regular drive is located. I looked for every logical place on the instrument panel for an indicator which would give a read out of the gear.

Finally I saw the little D beside the odometer readout, in the same color as the numbers, and pushed up against the numbers as if the two were of the same sentence or message. Hmmm. Let me put the stick back to the left and see what happens to the odometer letter. Oh, it changed to a six. Bump the stick back, it becomes a five.

Great, now I get it. When I stopped I intended to examine the owner's manual to educate myself about this vehicle. I opened the glove box and nothing was there. Other things were more intuitive, actually moreso than in the Chevy Tahoe, so I've had no more serious questions. Never did find the manual.

They really should give you a basic rundown of important items, like how to make it go in situations in which you don't want to find yourself winding 5000 rpm in first gear at 20 mph.

It occurs to me frequently that I could do wonders for many companies' customer service departments. But I do not have much on paper that would induce them to hire me, even though it would pay them to do so.

The mouse-the-customer-and-employee school of business has gained a very strong foothold in the corporate world, making it a tough sell for someone who could show them a better way while improving their bottom line. They cannot see past that nickel on the table to pick up the dollar on the floor.

In short, if you are towing a trailer, maybe the Chevy Colossus is the vehicle for you. If not, it is not that great a thing. Depending upon what they cost, I can't say choosing the front wheel drive Kia Sorento would be a bad choice. It drives pleasantly, and is quite tight. Like most front drive cars it doesn't handle the washboard dirt road up Ballistic Mtn as smoothly as the Subaru. Something about the all wheel drive makes it less jarring. I do not know why. I noticed it had that jarring effect on a friend's Lexus, too.

There you have it. Oh, and the Kia cruises very nicely on the open highway, and its cruise control actually keeps the speed more constant than the Chevy or the Subaru. Both of those tend to gain too much speed on downhill stretches.

I should note that the Kia has 25000 miles on it and shows no signs of wear at all. It seems absolutely new and I'd have no problem believing it only had 2500 miles.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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