Diatribe

Rear seat leg room? Stop living in the past

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour     
 
As an auto writer I always peruse the interior dimensions of the vehicles I drive and even those I just look at like at auto shows. Even though I speak in generalities it never ceases to amaze me how little leg room there is for the rear seat occupants in far too many vehicles.
 
For all practical purposes about the only usable function for a rear seat is extra storage. Have you ever seen the back seat of a Nissan Juke? It’s handy to have a place to stow packages, shopping bags, etc., when off on a “mission.” However, try to put anything short of either small children or Lt. Dan in the rear seat and you have some very uncomfortable riders. 

A pain in the neck — when headrests became head restraints

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour      

I vividly recall auto seats when I was growing up and as I got taller how uncomfortable they could be, especially if I were leaning back to take a nap. Sometimes my head would bob around like apples in a barrel.

Then in the year I forgot, the manufacturers developed headrests and then adjustable headrests whereas they could be set at various heights to accommodate the comfort of the passengers in the seats. Even as a young Hoosier I could see that in the event of a rear-end collision such devices would have a better chance of holding your head still and not having it snap off like an abused Pez dispenser.

Bouncy, Bouncy

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour         

Talk about being ahead of one’s time, there used to be a hit song in the ‘50s by Bobby Rydell called Rubber Ball. The background singers would sing the words, “Bouncy, bouncy” during the chorus. Where am I going with this, you ask? Just read to the end and you’ll see where my mind was when I wrote this. I think of this song quite often as I drive through the flak-laden “skies” we commonly refer to as our nation’s roads.

Stick it

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour     


Does this headline give me your undivided attention? Good, because it has nothing to do with what you filthy-minded readers think it does. “Au contraire,” as that famous stinky Frenchman, Pepe LePew would say. I’m referring to a manual transmission.

What you’ve missed by being young

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    

Last month my wife and I attended an auto manufacturer’s dinner held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We were sitting with two other couples at the dinner and one of our table mates was on the sunny-side of 25. I pointed to a journalist colleague of mine and mentioned that his lifelong best friend is the famous actor Dabney Coleman.

Put a sock in it, lady

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour     


Pardon the pun but I am a "huge’" fan of vehicle navigation systems. They’ve been around awhile and just keep getting better and better. One thing stays consistent, however, and that’s the female voice who gives you directions. I’m sure it has to be a computer-generated voice or else some poor woman is working 24/7/365 and taking enough bennies, yellow jackets and greenies to gladden a Teamster convention.

If at first you don’t succeed…you never will

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    

How many times have you driven through a construction zone and wondered what the area was blocked off for since nobody is working within ten miles of where you’ve been, while sitting in a traffic jam for the last half-hour?

Yes sir, yes sir, two gripes full

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    


This week you folks are getting a double-header. I have two, but equally-related gripes that need addressing and I’m just the man to do it. Let’s begin, shall we?

Until last week I hadn’t really driven vast distances in any of our western states. However, I was given the opportunity to join in a driving event put on by Volvo Cars North America to experience what they called “The XC Lifestyle.”

Your car is your baby — be a good parent

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour    

I think it’s safe to say most people like their cars. It’s probably just as safe to assume most selected them personally. Completing the “hat trick” it’s probably just as realistic to assume purchasing a vehicle is not only a huge financial commitment but the purchaser is probably — at best — hurting for money.

Designer-speak…Bela Legosi without the accent

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DRIVER'S SIDE DIATRIBE
By Al Vinikour        
 
Attending a lot of automotive press conferences I get the opportunity to listen to many a designer as they go about describing their inspiration for, and what they hoped to accomplish with a particular project. And what I’ve been able to deduce after decades of oral absorption is this: these folks are awfully scary.