Secret Supercar Owner's space
SSO: The Non-Supercar Blog
September 11, 2013 8:33 PM  |  Posted By: Secret Supercar Owner
Rated 2.1 out of 5.0 by 7 members  |  5 Comments  |  6840 Views
Related Categories: Supercars

In the last several weeks I have driven just over 2000 miles and not a single one was in a supercar.  All were done in a parade of rental cars that we picked up in different locations as we first hopped down the west coast of the North American continent and then flew over to the east coast.  In chronological order, the cars we picked up were a Chevrolet Impala, a Chevrolet Suburban XL, a Chevrolet Equinox, and a Nissan Pathfinder.    With the exception of the Nissan Pathfinder, they were all really rubbish or near comical to drive. 

First up was the Chevrolet Impala.  I had booked a premium luxury car and clearly someone in the rental car company’s classification office had a keen sense of humour and included this four wheeled barge in that category.  As it was the only car they had left on site in any of the “larger classifications”, I took it.  A gutless floating sofa covered in cheap molded plastic is probably the best description I can come up for it.  For a non-turbo car, it had an immense amount of turbo lag, and when the power finally did kick in, not much happened anyway.  About the only redeeming quality I can think of for this piece of uninspired engineering was it at least didn’t break down.  On a more amusing note though, based on the theory that the fast car in the world is a rental car, we did get the poor tyres to screech on a number of occasions as I tossed this land yacht down a few hilly roads. 

After the Impala, we flew down to Los Angles and picked up the Chevrolet Suburban XL.  The Suburban is an absolutely massive thing, which is not a bad thing to be sitting in in the driving chaos that is the City of Angles.  In fact anyone who complains about the standard of driving in the Greater London area should be immediately sentenced to spend 10 days driving up and down I 405.  We witnessed one woman driver talking on a cell phone while applying her lipstick and weaving through traffic at 40 mph.  Signalling was not something she seemed to have the least bit of interest in.  The Suburban is huge.  I am reasonable certain that a Mini would fit easily in the back, without having to put the middle seats down.  At one point we ended up next to a McLaren 12C in a traffic jam.  The 12Cs roof line did not even reach the bottom of the Suburbans driver’s window.  Despite the titanic size, at least the Suburban drove better than the limp Impala.  It also had the added benefit that most people would clear a path when they say this urban tank bearing down on them.

Car #3 was a standard size Chevrolet Equinox SUV.  After the Suburban it felt tiny but infinitely better suited for San Francisco’s Alpine terrain.  All things considered, it drove OK.  The drivers in San Francisco are much tamer group than LA, turn signals get used and they actually let you in from cross streets.  The auto box was definitely set up to maximize gas mileage and on some of the steeper roads I was afraid that we might start drifting backwards towards the bay.  Downhill though, acceleration was fine.  The big negative on this one was the driver’s seating position.  It was either designed by someone who had never driven a car or really does not care for his fellow human beings.  We concluded that this was a car designed for people who live in cities and are not into cars.

The final rental on the trip was a Nissan Pathfinder that we picked up in New York.  By a huge margin this was the best of the group.  Decent amount of power, very well laid out cockpit, comfortable, brakes that didn’t frighten, well planted on the road, and lots of leg room for the passengers in the back.  We drove the Nissan just over 1000 miles and did not have a single complaint from any of the passengers or driver.  Overall we were quite impressed with the Pathfinder and it certainly felt like it was better screwed together than any of the other three.

In conclusion, I have never been as excited to see our Porsche Cayenne Turbo as I was at the conclusion of this trip.

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sobean at 6:57 PM September 17, 2013

Reminds me of the time the Queen popped over and called my place crap. Why criticize a car that costs less than the annual maintenance bill for one of your cars when you could've easily afforded a much nicer rental?

carwrappro at 4:15 PM September 15, 2013

Good that you returned to your Porsche Cayenne Turbo at the end of your trip! Take a look at these supercars just so you can relax:

articulatedjunk at 4:27 PM September 13, 2013

I think the best way to appreciate the seating in an Impala is to gain 300 or so lbs. Only then will you understand.

426cuda at 3:35 AM September 13, 2013

Im also American and I completely agree that most American cars have been terrible for along time. Some of the recent examples have been better like the Ford fusion but for the most part you are right. Our performance cars are getting better as well if the new corvette is any indication. I currently drive a BMW e30 and I hope that eventually a small reasonably economical American car will be able to meet that standard.

BMcG at 9:10 PM September 12, 2013

I'm American and I often travel the US for work, renting many cars. Unfortunately, US cars are mostly horrible in terms of build quality, ergonomics, fit and finish, etc. I have owned (foreign) manual cars exclusively for many years, and the one thing that always stands out about American cars is how atrocious their auto transmissions are (clanking after 4,000 miles, clueless laggy up/down shifts, etc.). To be fair, several Asian autos have had equally bad transmissions, but the US examples are particularly and consistently egregious. I personally enjoy driving - e.g., I can't remember the last day I didn't strive for perfect heel-toe downshifts even during my daily commute - so I do expect a lot. But as an American who wants to see the US do well, it is always deflating and depressing when I end up with a particularly bad American made rental. Tesla is making great quality cars, but that's it for US producers - too bad they're electric only. US autos are in sad shape these days

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