Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Gas Guzzling

I just got back from a trip to the UK to show my new baby off to all the relatives. The highlight, perhaps, was driving around Northern Ireland with my parents, wife, and daughter, and having my parents point out where they got married, had their honeymoon, etc. I'm entering a stage in my life which is very analagous to the stage my parents were at when I first entered the world. Somehow I can relate better to their experiences of the late 1960s as newlyweds and new parents than I can to their experiences as children. And though getting older does have it's downsides (getting fatter, slower, and creakier), I'm enjoying my relationships with family even more than I did when I was young.

I got a ride in my uncle's new BMW 525d. My wife drives an older 525i, so it's interesting to compare the gasoline and diesel variants. Bottom line: that diesel rocks. Colin says he gets 34 MPG, equivalent to 27 MPG here (their gallons are bigger). Martha gets maybe 22 MPG, and I seriously doubt a new 525i does any better (probably worse: EPA says 18 / 26 MPG).

What I have wanted for a long time is a better minivan: The powertrain should be a 25 MPG front drive hybrid diesel, with electric low-speed RWD for getting around on steep, slippery roads that snowplows haven't visited recently. All I need is 10 HP on each wheel, but I need that at 5MPH. I'd like a suspension and transmission more like the 525i's automatic and decidedly less like that of the Dodge Caravan I have now. The rear seats should stow like the Odyssey, the roof rack should lever over the side so my wife can get skis off the roof, and a dog fence behind the middle seats that doesn't tear up the interior should be a dealer option. Oh, and that roof rack should be good for more than 200 pounds -- I tried putting four kayaks on the Caravan's rack and the thing just sagged down onto the roof!

(For my other car, I want an S2000R. :-))

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