I have no moral fiber.
I'm in the market for a new car. My current car gets 16 mpg, give or take. This is clearly an environmental and national security crime. Plus the local dealership sucks and the warranty's expired. The car is almost 6 years old. Time to trade.
But I love my car. It's wife, kids, career then car. It's big and it's fast. When you stomp on the accelerator it punches you in the kidneys and hurls you down the autobahn. And the brakes! You can go from 70 miles an hour to inches from a Prius' bumper in, like, ten feet. (All the better to read the array of hectoring bumper stickers. Did you know war is never the answer?)
So, I tell myself that the old version of status has been replaced by eco-status. I tell myself it's not about speed, it's not about size (insert sleazy laugh line here,) it's not even about construction so indestructible that the car's grill is to Subarus as a drunken frat boy's forehead is to beer cans.
No, now it's all Woody Harrelson and Ed Begley Jr. Green, green, greenery.
A digression: I take a trip to L.A. I'm staying in Century City, across the street from CAA. I'm driving a rented Toyota convertible because the bastards at Hertz lied to me about a guaranteed Mustang convertible. And you know what I see on Santa Monica Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset and the 10 and the 101 and the 405? Not Subarus. Not Priuses. Not Civics. I see a hell of a lot of BMW's and Benzes. I see horsepower. German horses. You want to see squirrel-powered eco-mobiles, come to Chapel Hill. One out of three cars here is a Subaru plastered with no fewer than eight hectoring, scolding, nagging, sanctimonious Leftie bumper stickers.
Nevertheless, by God I was determined to do what's right. Repair the damage I've done by six years of stabbing Mother earth straight in the eyeball with a three-pointed star.
My candidates: The Lexus GS hybrid. The BMW 5 series. The Mercedes E320 Bluetec. The Infinit M45.
Two of these cars, the BMW and the Infiniti, have no serious claim to being eco-friendly. They were included only for comparison purposes.
The Lexus is a hybrid and gets low 20's mpg. Unfortunately, the word on the street is unanimous that it handles like a pig with a loose-fitting halter. The BMW has that ludicrous drive-by-mouse system, and it's not as fast as it ought to be. The Mercedes E-320 Bluetec, by contrast, gets an honest to God low 30's mpg. Crazy good mileage. Granted, it's diesel, and thus a pain in the ass, but still. 32, 33 mpg? Double what I get now?
Then I made the mistake of driving it. The word adequate comes to mind.
I also drove the 18 mpg Infiniti M45. The salesman says, "You can take this 45 mph off-ramp at 75." I do. And it's like the car is magnetically affixed to the road. Oh, my God. Fast. Agile. Beautiful. Like a woman. If women could take 90 degree turns at 40 mph with zero lean. (In my experience, they can't.)
I checked the EPA web site. The Infiniti will dump a ton more crap into the air than the Benz. The Infiniti will do nothing to win the war on terror. The Infiniti will drown polar bears in the melting arctic. It may club baby seals. The Infinit hates our troops.
But it's so cool. I don't even like its look. But the drive? Man, you drive the Infiniti and you come away sold.
We wants it, Precious. Yes, we wants it.
So, here's my rationale. See if you buy it. My current mileage is 16 mpg. The Infiniti should get 18 mpg. That's a good 12% improvement. Plus, I will turn down th thermostat.
12% Huh? Huh? Come on, making progress, right? Right, Precioussss?