Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Two car reviews

Had the opportunity to experience two vehicles new to me yesterday.  First, a crew cab F150 with the Ecoboost turbo engine.  Overall, very comfortable, good handling and ride, immense capability, great mileage, and the big downside is that the nose is in New Mexico while the trailer is still in Wyoming.  It is big and hard to park.  Great choice for a moderate sized family that likes to camp and is tired of minivans, though.

Next, I got a quick ride in a Tesla model S--yes, me, the guy who gets rather tired of helping people pay for them and points out that it's really a very polluting coal fired vehicle.  But I'll be fair. 

First impression is that it's very low to the ground--to the point where I'd be uneasy taking it across speed bumps, really.  It's well styled and unobtrusive, so if one really likes speed, but not speeding tickets, it's probably a better choice than a Camaro or Corvette, and does have room for two adults and two children--not really four adults, unless they're "vertically challenged."  Front seat headroom was adequate but not great--not bad for a sports car, really. 

Car is controlled by a touch screen "entertainment center", which is frankly huge, somewhat distracting, and disconcerting--my eyes are going to be drawn there when this "hot rotor" goes to 60 in less than three seconds, which doesn't seem like a really smart safety move.  When the gas juice pedal is pressed with near-maximum power, the sensation is physically uncomfortable, and the vehicle can get close to 100mph on a highway on ramp.  It is, more or less, the vehicular equivalent of taking off from an aircraft carrier with full afterburners, I'd imagine, and stats say it matches the Corvette Z06 even at a quarter mile at about eleven seconds.  Thankfully the owner did not demonstrate this!

Handling is wonderful, as you'd expect with most of the weight within a foot of the ground, and range is a full 315 miles....but with serious degradation in battery life when you're below about 80F, which is...quite frankly...most of the time here in Minnesota.  The battery pack, which forms the base of the car, even has a heater to enhance performance in cool temperatures.  One guy's experience suggests about a 30% loss in efficiency due to heating the battery and the driver, which takes the carbon dioxide per mile (assuming night time power generation using coal, which is the norm) to about the same as a one ton pickup getting 13mpg.  If you assume natural gas, you're at....about what you'd get with that Corvette or Camaro.

Overall verdict is that it's well made, fun to the point of getting a driver in trouble in a hurry in many ways, but given the limitations in passenger space, range and refueling, and tax and environmental impact, I just really don't see the point.  Go with the environmentally sound choice instead--the F150 crew cab.

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