|Not your grandfathers car anymore.|
Recently, I decided to trade in my six year old Ford pickup, as nice as it was, for something better with gas consumption, and a bit more comfortable. I searched the Internet for a vehicle for about a month, and after researching sports cars, and practical sedans, I was coming up empty. All the cars looked the same, and offered the same options. In fact, if you drive on the Pike and cast an eye over to the traffic moving in the opposite direction you will see that all the cars are either, grey, black, more grey, dark blue, less grey, occasionally white, a rare yellow, and sometimes a red one, or bright blue one.
Boring. It's like a bag of black and white M&M's.
I became frustrated.
Then one evening Mary then asked me to research another Ford product, a Lincoln. She had ridden in one recently and liked it a lot. Good enough for me. Now, I would never had thought of researching a Lincoln. My only impression of them was that they seem to be driven by really old people, or a chauffeur. I googled it, and found that it was high on the list of JD Powers, and customers had good things to say about it. I found one listed on a dealers website in Shrewsbury, and chose the "build your own" feature, and built the ideal vehicle for me. After my "build", I discovered that the dealer had the same car in stock. Another thing I discovered was that these cars were far from the image I had of them, and they were affordable. They are also American made, another plus, and a very important one.
So, we went to check out the Lincoln MKZ at Sentry West in Shrewbury. This car had it all. One thing I found interesting was the car had only a single CD player, not the 6 CD player I had become accustomed to in recent years. The reason for this is that the entertainment center was offering a USB port to plug in a thumb drive that could hold up to 2000 songs! Amazing. On my computer a USB port is great, but in my car? In addition to the USB port, the vehicle has a 10 Gigabit hard drive to add CD's to. All the music on my laptop can be dropped onto the removable USB drive and plugged into the car, and for those CD's not on my laptop, I just pop them in the drive, choose "record". I can also plug an iPod directly into the car, but many new cars allow you to do that, too. Still, it's just another gadget on the more useful side.
But, wait, there's more...
The car also comes with a six month trial of satellite radio, Sirius XM. Now, I really don't see my self needing "The Elvis Channel", The Martha Stewart Channel, or twenty four hours of Grateful Dead music, but there are some channels that are well worthwhile, such as one that plays all the current hits, a smooth jazz channel, acoustic music, hits from the 70's, and then there is the Sirius Travel Network. This is awesome. The navigation system is big, bright, and loaded with usable options for searching points of interest, and if you couple the navigation with the Travel Network you can search for the best fuel prices in the area, traffic problems, movie schedules at your favorite multiplex, and when the car is not moving, sports schedules, and scores for your favorite teams.
I've used the fuel price search several times, and it is is very accurate, and as a result I have become a Pilot gas customer, well at least until the price drops lower at some other place.
Gadgets, all, but useful gadgets. For a guy, any gadget that actually lights up, moves, and/ or makes a noise is a useful gadget, and is then called a "tool". This cars has "tools". Mary leans toward the word "toy".
Ever since man upgraded from throwing rocks, to making a spear, new gadgets have been a draw, and looking forward to the next neat thing was always worth the wait. It's in a man's DNA.
I didn't choose the multi-color ambient lighting that lights up the cup holders, and other recesses in the car. It's neat, but not really useful. The seats are not only heated, a must in New England, but are also air conditioned. AC in my seats. Neat, and lately I've found them to be very useful. Great tool.
One thing I have found over the years is that car interiors are "cave-like". Dark fabrics, carpets, seats, and instrument panels. Add window tinting, and I felt like I was driving the Flintstones house.
Dark is depressing, and, obviously, that kind of environment does little to lighten ones mood. This car has a very light interior, light colored wood trim, and dash, and no excessive window tinting. In fact, I don't think there is any. This car is far from being a cave.
Safety is a great concern for anyone buying a new car. Front airbags are important. Side airbags are just as important, but not all vehicles come with them. This one does. The car also ranked very highest in collision tests, and ability to avoid rollovers. Both excellent hidden benefits.
The "Blind Spot Warning System" is a gadget that will be on all cars in a few years, it is that important. Every car has a blind spot along side of it that the driver cannot visualize while driving. Mirrors don't help, and turning ones head too much can lead to accident as well. Changing lanes on the highway can be dangerous. With the "Blind Spot Warning System" a radar signal is sent out from the side of the vehicle when another object enters into the blind spot, and a small yellow indicator light is lit in the side rear view mirror of the side of the car where the object is. This safety "tool" alone is worth the price of admission, and greatly adds to ones peace of mind.
Still, despite all the high tech gadgetry designed to make life easier, and safer, one still has to use ones head, and not totally rely on the technology. Things can break, stop working, or not work as well, but as adjuncts to our operating this heavy machinery, they are not only convenient, but becoming more and more necessary.
I've learned a few things with this new car purchase. The first thing is that a Lincoln is far from a stodgy car for very old people. I am far from that demographic. New technology has made driving safer, and more fun, since I last bought a new vehicle 6 years ago. Hands-free cell phone is something I have always supported, but a blue tooth earpiece was uncomfortable, although I used it. This vehicle has the Sync® System. A voice activated system that allows the driver to make hands free phone calls, control the radio, CD player, and the other media, and adjust the climate inside the cabin among other things. Less distractions, and safer. Very convenient.
The vehicle is safer, and with the blocking of the program to check sport scores, and schedules of your favorite teams while the car is in motion, it is that much safer, however, I can still access the 5 Day Weather forecast on the screen, and a live weather map. These can be just as distracting as finding the score of a ball game. Just have to use ones head.
All in all I can't wait for more innovations, and more gadgets / tools. This particular vehicle also comes in a hybrid model, but then I would have to give up the all wheel drive. Need the sure-footedness of AWD on the Pike in the winter, so I can do without the hybrid version for now. The car also allows the primary user to set up limitations, and restrictions that can accompany the an other key. Let's say you loan the car to one of your teens to use, you can set it not to exceed a certain speed, or to mute all the audio until the seat belts are fastened. Talk about more peace of mind.
The color is not just white, it is Platinum White, and it is far removed from the other high gloss, clear coat whites seen on new cars. It is just that different.
I don't buy a new car often, not like my parents used to do, and trade one in every two years, but when I do I expect to upgrade. This time around I feel I did, and I bought an American car. I have nothing against foreign cars, but over the past few years our auto manufacturers have needed all the help they could get, and I was not yet willing to divert my dollars elsewhere. I now own a very well built, and affordable car American car.
Now, if you see me sitting in this car for a long time in a parking lot somewhere, and not moving, it's probably because I just rented a movie a Red Box, and I'm watching it in the car. Can't watch a movie on the front display while driving.
Gadgets, if you're a guy, ya gotta love 'em, if you're the guys wife, just smile and nod. It can't be helped, it's in the DNA.