Round 2 Part 1: Tuesday morning
Armed with a notebook full of research and 5 brochures, the Dormans bid goodbye to Buck for the day, and climbed into Eve’s Ardent Chancellor. Their plan was to spend an hour at each of 5 dealerships, scrutinizing their targets, and taking a test drive. The remaining 5 were slated for the same treatment on Wednesday morning.
Their first stop was at the W&R dealership, for the Huron. There were two on the lot, both in a brown color. In person it was quite large, a little unexpectedly so for Barry.
It took a few minutes for them to hunt down a salesman, and another few for him to retrieve the keys so they could look inside.
Barry whistled as he opened the tailgate. There was no doubt that the Huron’s ample cargo area would handle his fishing and camping gear, and the roof rack would make easy work of his canoe.
Meanwhile, Eve was in the driver’s seat, running her fingers along the top of the plush seats, and fiddling with the radio controls.
“You folks have an eye for fine vehicles,” the salesman grinned. “This is one of our finest.”
“It has power steering, right?” Eve asked, as her hands gripped the wheel.
“Yes ma’am. Power everything. Brakes, steering, and windows. Even the tailgate window.”
“Tailgate?” Eve asked. The salesman pointed to the ignition and smiled. She turned on the Huron, which purred to life with a distinctive whistling noise as the engine idled down. The salesman then pressed a switch to the left of the steering wheel, and the tailgate glass retracted into the gate shell. This took Barry by surprise, nearly causing him to knock his head into the tailgate.
“Like I said,” the salesman continued, “It’s got everything. Even anti-lock brakes.”
Barry consulted his notes and grunted. This was one of the models that incorporated a lot of newer technology, including a turbocharger. Twin turbos, in fact.
“This thing’s got a turbo on it. Premium gas?” Barry queried.
The smile disappeared from the salesman’s face, albeit briefly. “The economy gains more than make up for the increased fuel price, if that’s what you’re worried about, sir.”
Barry nodded. “That. Among other things. Can I see under the hood?”
A moment later, Barry was poking around in the engine bay. It was a cramped, confusing mess. He shook his head in dismay. “Well, let’s see how it handles, shall we?”
They took the Huron for a 15 minute drive. The reviews were spot on about its comfort, as it sailed effortlessly over highway and surface streets, and smoothly rocketed up to speed. Bumps were soaked up by the suspension, and ruts didn’t cause it to wander. As they cruised along, Barry could barely hear the engine. He glanced down at the new-fangled in-dash tachometer, which read under 1800.
After the drive had concluded, Barry got the salesman’s business card, but only after hassle and pressure to sit down for numbers.
“What did you think?” Barry asked Eve as they drove off.
“I liked it for the most part. The radio was pretty bad, though.”
Barry nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I think this one’s better,” he said as he punched the mechanical memory preset button to call up the NPR station. “It had its ups and downs. Definitely don’t like what I saw under the hood, but it drove great.”
Mitsushita Lorux Lusso-G
Just down the road was a Mitsushita dealership. Three rows of new cars stretched across the front of the building, and the tall profile of the Lorux was visible in the third row as they pulled up. It seemed as if they had a good selection. Five minutes later, they were poking around a brilliant red Lusso-G.
A single bench seat up front provided the entirety of passenger capacity. However, it was a very finely appointed seat, and the Dormans both found it to be exquisitely comfortable. The Lorux’s AM/FM cassette radio was in easy reach from both sides, and the cavernous space behind the seat put the Huron’s to shame.
Barry turned the ignition all the way forward, and the 2.1 liter straight-6 purred to life.
They repeated the route from their previous test drive, and the Lorux handled the roads with ease. As they ran up the freeway onramp, Barry noticed it had a bit more pickup than he expected.
“Hey, this is actually pretty quick,” he noted.
“That’s because we use an aluminum hood and tailgate to keep weight down,” the salesman explained.
As it got up to full freeway speed, the once quiet and smooth engine started to emit a decidedly loud growl.
The salesman could tell Barry had noticed, and interjected. “The Lorux Lusso is designed for towing and off-road capabilities. The gearing of the transmission is part of that set up. But unlike competitors, we still get almost 20 miles per gallon in mixed driving.”
At the conclusion of the drive, they once again collected a card from the salesman, and departed.
“Boy, that thing screams at high speed,” Barry sighed. “I think I still have a ringing in my ears.”
“What?” Eve shouted, only half jokingly.
Bogliq Boxcar Entrique
Their drive was only one driveway. While the Dormans could have walked, they felt it would have been tacky to leave their car at a competitor’s dealership while driving another car.
A sea of light blue Bogliqs stretched before them, with occasional smatterings of other colors.
“There you go, honey. They DO come in something other than light blue,” Barry teased.
“Ooh, that one,” Eve pointed at a gray Boxcar, ignoring him.
They parked and took a deep look. Once they gained access, they confirmed the lack of stereo in the car, though there was definitely space to install one. Eve sighed in disappointment when she sat in one of the small, thin, vinyl-covered seats, and the seemingly cheap quality of the full-width jump seat in the rear. Barry noted the application of a rubberized flooring material in place of carpeting, which he thought would be a lot easier to clean after an excursion. This car was also the first manual transmission they had seen thus far.
Its cargo bay was deceptively large. Not as big as either of the other cars they had looked at, but still unexpected.
Also unexpected was the quiet operation of the Bogliq’s small 1.6 liter four cylinder at speed, as well as the speed at which the car motored around. The ride was somewhat less cushy, with some bigger bumps getting through. Gear shifts were smooth and precise, and the power steering gave the wheel such a light feeling that Eve could have sworn she wasn’t actually driving when it was her turn.
Once the salesman’s digits had been acquired, they headed out.
It was silent for a minute as Barry started to navigate toward their favorite diner for lunch.
“Well?” Eve finally broke the silence.
“Definitely had its ups and downs,” Barry replied. “I think I’d have to order the optional roof rack on that one. And those seats felt really small.”
Eve nodded in agreement. “Even I felt cramped in them. I’m just glad it wasn’t hot out today. I imagine those things would burn if they were left out in the sun. Plus that whole no radio thing. Kind of a shame, because it drove really well.”
After lunch they sought out the Komodo dealership, located in another suburb 10 miles away. It was a smallish dealership, with only a couple of each model on display out front, and two cars inside the showroom. That is where they found the car they sought; a Nurim in Jet Blue with red accents.
Being the showroom model, they didn’t need to waste time waiting for a salesman to open it before they crawled inside to check it out.
The long, sloping hatch opening revealed a cargo area that wasn’t as big as Barry had hoped, but was still plenty large. The seats folded forward, nearly flat, helping in that aspect. Both rows had impressive space for legs and heads.
Eve got behind the wheel before Barry could, admiring how all of the controls were in easy reach. The cloth-faced, vinyl-backed seats had plenty of cushion for her. She closed the door and checked herself out in the side mirror; she liked what she saw.
“Well, I know what car YOU want,” Barry grinned as he made his way forward to the engine bay.
24 Valve MPFI
These were the words scrawled across the cover of the 2.4 liter straight-6 engine. The engine bay was neat and tidy, with significant room to maneuver tools.
Finally, a salesman came up and greeted them. They weren’t allowed to test drive the model on the showroom floor, but instead were ushered into an identically equipped white one that the lot porter pulled out of the holding lot for them.
Barry had overlooked a detail on his first inspection; the Nurim had only a 4-speed manual transmision. This ended up not being a problem, however. The transmission and engine were perfectly balanced. The Nurim had no trouble getting up to speed quickly, and the engine was only pulling 2100 RPM at freeway speed. Unfortunately, braking was not quite as fun. The pedal was very twitchy, and they accidentally activated the antilock brakes a couple times.
Barry took the salesman’s card, and they hit the road again.
“Boy, that was an experience,” he noted. “I’ve got a lot to process with that one.”
“I’ve got all you need to process,” Eve retorted. “It’s gorgeous. I can learn to live with the brakes.”
“You’re not the one I’m worried about.”
A couple blocks further along, Indian manufacturer Pastinuji had set up shop with one of their stores. A handful of Roamers in an array of colors were on bold display across the front line. A blue-and-white one caught their eye, and they gravitated toward it immediately.
Once unlocked, the scrutiny began.
Barry immediately began to see flaws. The cargo area was actually very small, and the middle row only had two seatbelts instead of three. Still, the 1.6 liter all-wheel drive hatchback intrigued him, and he was game for a test drive.
The drive did not go very far. The Pastinuji appeared to have extremely short gearing, and the tachometer was reading over 2000 RPM in its top gear… at a mere 30 miles per hour. Barry had no desire to even attempt to take it on a highway.
For once, they didn’t bother collecting information. They simply left.
“A shame. It looked so great on paper,” Barry lamented.
Verdict: This is the only car that was outright eliminated on day 1 of test drives.
Meanwhile, Buck was at home, guarding the house from squirrels.
“MY HOUSE! GO AWAY, SQUIRRELS!” He barked loudly. “Squirrels are dumb. They run away… GO AWAY, SQUIRRELS!”
He paced to his bowl and started to take a drink, when he heard a car out front.
“BARRY! BARRY, I LOVE YOU! I’M COMING FOR YOU BARR…”
He tried to screech to a halt in front of the door, but his claws couldn’t bite into the hardwood, and he slammed head first into the door. This was just a momentary setback; he sprang right up, then sat down, his tail wagging furiously.