I Disapprove Of The Car You Bought, But I’ll Defend To The Death Your Right To Drive It

2017 Nissan Maxima

Okay, maybe I won’t defend your right to the death.

But I promise, at the least, to defend on an internet web blog site your right to drive what you want.

I don’t drink coffee, I don’t like onions, I avoid footwear whenever possible, and I can’t generate any personal interest in any football game other than the Super Bowl.

But I’m glad you visit Starbucks every morning, I’m happy there’s gum to be chewed after you eat a burger laden with onions, I’m thankful there are socks to cover up your ghastly hooves, and I think it’s great that you found something to do on autumn Sunday afternoons.

Likewise, I believe the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Fiat 500L are heinous transportation devices. But if you want a GLC Coupe, Mirage, or 500L, I’m glad — for your sake and mine — that Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Fiat have made those vehicles available.

Choice is wonderful. Homogeneity is horrible.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

STANDARDIZATION

You can’t have it both ways.

On the one hand, you can walk into a Mercedes-Benz dealership and decide between five sedans (including two that Mercedes-Benz calls coupes), three actual coupes plus the AMG GT junior supercar, one wagon, five convertibles, five SUVs/crossovers including two available in “coupe” bodystyles, and three plug-ins. The price spectrum spans $217,200.

Or, on the other hand, we could all be driving a 2017 Toyota Corolla LE with the standard CVT and falcon grey metallic paint. Looks greige to me.

Roughly 350,000 new Corollas will find homes in the United States this year. But what if that number was 50 times stronger? What if every member of the U.S. car buying public this year drove home in a Toyota Corolla?

STANDARDIZED EXCELLENCE?

Furthermore, what if everyone drove home in a Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang? The Shelby would lose an awful lot of its special quotient when the only difference between yours and your neighbor’s was your choice of white stripes on blue instead of blue stripes on white.

Are you going to try to tell me with everybody else driving the same car, with manuals saved once and for all, that you won’t want something different? That with 11s slathered across every road, the sign of a rear-drive revival, you won’t seek a little calm? With the sound of a dozen 5.2-liter flat plane crank V8s echoing between apartment building walls half an hour after you got home from the night shift and with fuel consumption 94-percent higher than in your Accord, that even then, you won’t desire something more?

The avant-garde styling of the BMW 5 Series GranTurismo, maybe. Or perhaps the rear-seat solitude of an outdated Buick Enclave. Or possibly the surefooted winter-friendliness of a Freedom And Unity Subaru Outback. Maybe even the hyper-efficient Toyota Prius, embarrassing wheel covers and all.

Something less or something more; something faster or something slower. Downsizing. Upsizing. Supersizing. Capable or compromising. Adventurous or characterless. We all want something different, and in 2016, we are blessed with near limitless choices.

2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

HALF A FORTNIGHT

Perhaps this has all become clearer in my own mind because, with an automobile manufacturer delivering a different vehicle to my driveway every week, I’ve discovered that it’s possible to tire of a great car in four or five days.

What’s next, what’s after that, what’s on the docket for next month? I want unique experiences, not the repetitive remonstrations of long-forgotten rivals who won’t take risks or ever change their game.

As roads fill up with traffic and our regulatory environments restrict fun, outright speed is, if not tasteless, often useless. But if one automaker finds a new way to deliver power, if the punchy low-end torque of a small turbocharged inline-four stands in stark contrast to the protagonist’s naturally aspirated V6, I’m all for it.

Will I prefer one formula over the other? This much I know: I’ll appreciate the process of opposing arguments being delivered.

I want to drive the next car, not the same car. I want to see the next crossover, I really do, not the same old SUV cues misapplied to the wheelarches of the last crossover. I want to test the premium assertions of a new auto brand, not be incessantly smothered in tradition.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

The results of automakers’ efforts to locate new SUV niches are often troubling to the connoisseur of classic British sports cars. Truck traditionalists may be insulted by the very notion of a unibody, front-wheel-drive pickup. Trail-rated Jeeps built in Melfi — not exactly Michigan — are certainly not in keeping with the beliefs of the Toledo old guard.

I might just agree with the old guard, the traditionalist, and the connoisseur. But American consumers’ ability to buy 1,000 BMW X4s and X6s every month, ghastly though I believe them both to be, helps to make possible a Toyota/BMW joint venture that will replace the BMW Z4 and bring back the Supra.

2015 BMW X4

The refinement and on-road manners of the Honda Ridgeline, while it’s not astoundingly capable and won’t attract hundreds of thousands of buyers every year, will embolden better-selling rivals to up their game in those areas.

And the success of the Jeep brand in sectors where we once couldn’t have imagined it, even if the Renegade is undercooked and overpriced, assures us that the next Wrangler can stay largely true to itself.

SELFLESSNESS

It’s not all selfishness. Sure, the 911 purist can look at the Cayenne as the savior of Porsche, and thus the savior of his or her 911 GT3 RS. But the Cayenne can also be looked at as the very vehicle that was deeply desired by a buyer who has no interest in a 911 GT3 RS.

Clarity on this subject became more apparent in my own mind when my neighbor asked me about his intention to purchase a 2016 Nissan Maxima Platinum.

“Well,” I thought but did not say, “I can’t fathom the Maxima’s reason for being. If Nissan wants you to buy a genuinely sporting sedan, why wouldn’t they direct you to a gorgeous rear-wheel-drive $40,805 Infiniti Q50 3.0T Premium instead of an odd $40,825 front-wheel-drive Nissan?”

“All Maxima buyers should be Q50 buyers,” my inner car critic screamed.

Instead, I asked, “What turned you onto the Maxima?”

It turns out the local dealer had marked down the top-end model by $13,000. Suddenly the Maxima was in mid-grade Accord territory. “I don’t want an Accord,” this Civic Coupe driver told me. “I like the way the Maxima looks. Nothing else looks like that,” he said, pointing to the Maxima owned by another neighbor’s visiting parents.”I want something different.”

I can’t argue with that.

I won’t argue with that.

Vive la différence.

[Images: Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, BMW]

Timothy Cain is the founder of >GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter >@goodcarbadcar and on >Facebook.

Source : http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/09/disapprove-car-bought-will-defend-death-right-drive/

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