I am getting within a year or so of the end of my current vehicle’s car loan coming to an end and getting excited as to what I may buy next. Since I purchase my 2012 Honda Civic Si sedan cars have changed a lot. Well not really physically but the technology inside has made a huge leap forward.
In 2012 it was cutting edge to be able to connect your iPod usb and phone via bluetooth. Oh and the ability to connect to satellite radio was a big option as well. Voice activated controls were still sort of in their infancy, at least at Honda.
Now they have “infotainment” systems in cars that will allow you to reply to texts and twitter posts by talking back to them. To have a car without bluetooth compatibility is unheard of now even on most base model cars.
Often now what separates different trim levels on vehicles are the technology installed. There are still the traditional differences as access to difference paints (which usually nowadays includes 3 white 3 greys, black and perhaps blue or red), some different wheels and sometimes even a different engine to choose from.
What’s really interesting is the push towards smaller engines with turbos. In fact one vehicle where this exact thing has happened is the brand new Civic Si. A mainstay of the Civic Si has always been to have a high revving VTEC engine that makes a lot of noise. Now they’ve dropped the awesome 2.4L four cylinder engine from my car for a smaller turbo engine. No more i-VTEC sticker. No more saying “VTEC YO”! A lot of purists that bought the Si are pretty unhappy about this but sadly its a reality of the future.
Smaller engines with turbos are here to stay. Even Ford has moved the might Mustang from a V6 and V8 only affair to a car that sells more four-cylinder turbos that a naturally aspirated car. Really a shame.
But it’s par for the course. As long as the EPA keeps demanding more miles-per-gallon the only thing to do is make engines more efficient.
Hybrids are a good step in the right direction especially here in Canada. While everyone says electric is the only way to go I don’t see it that way here in Canada. We are rural enough here it makes electric cars less useful. They can be great in the city but their finite range and no easy way to recharge on the road (Ontario still hasn’t installed chargers at their On Route service centres on the 400 and 401 like promised) really makes them less than useful.
The plug-in hybrid is really the best solution right now if one is concerned about economy and are environmentally conscious. You get a long range on batteries to start and then you can rely on a small gas engine to recharge those batteries as you go. Well to be fair only the Chevrolet Volt does it that way at the moment. Typical plug-in hybrids will charge by a small engine while that engine also propels the car giving it a little extra bump in performance.
So now that I’ve gone all over the place with this story where do I go from here?
Fundamentally, I need to choose between technology, environment concerns, and, well, fun.
The only environmentally conscious cars on the market right now is the Tesla Model S and presumably the upcoming Model 3. They both are incredibly quick due to their great all electric powertrains. Sadly those are both really out of my price range. While the Model 3 may be easier to buy in the United States the price commanded by the Canadian dollar kills any chance of buying one of those. Of course the S is even more expensive.
I am told, but have no personal experience, that the new Chevrolet Volt is actually somewhat dynamic to drive.
The Prius line from Toyota is a study in how boring can we make getting good gas mileage be?
There are others like the Nissan Leaf and so on but they all have one thing in common. They all look like crap. Apparently the only way you can join the club of super mileage vehicles you have to buy a car that looks absolutely retarded. Seriously, have you looks at the Toyota Prius? I don’t know how that design got off the drawing board.
I’m afraid the only choice I really have is to go the traditional route. A car with a large block of metal in the front that produces highly controlled explosions and converts them directly into forward motion.
Which leaves me where I started. Civic Si, with a turbo? Ford Mustang, with a turbo? Sigh… Good thing I still have time.