Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Because We Can

We don’t do a lot of automobile reviews here on Dumbarton’s Beer. We tend to leave things like this to the experts. Besides, I always assumed my first review would cover the 1968 Mustang I just purchased. However, relocating to Buffalo means I’ve traded enhanced revenue for quality of life so the Mustang is on hold indefinitely.

There are a couple of reasons for expanding Dumbarton’s Beer into the auto world. First, if you’re not innovating your dying (I think I read that in Forbes). Second, I am eminently qualified to do this because I watch a lot of auto-related shows. Third, it’s a natural fit having grown up in and around the auto industry. Fourth, the trusty assistant was "on holiday" at press time and I’m home with sick kids. Two sleepless nights means that if I have a beer I will fall asleep before any attempt at writing about it. Finally, suck an egg.

While those are all perfectly legitimate reasons for an auto review the primary driver (pun intended) is my love-hate relationship with new cars. 

Case Study: the 2012 Ford Fusion SEL I4.

This really is the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you want a real, quality review search through Jalopnik. If you want test track data and comparisons against other mid-size sedans search through Motor Trend. Either of which will prove infinitely more informative.

The Good
As far as I can tell, SEL is code for “loaded”. This particular model is really only missing AWD and two cylinders (more on that below). Here is the list of options: six colors of ambient lighting, automatic headlights, fog lights, leather, AM/FM/CD/Sirius, Sync, Sony sound, 12v plugs, power seats driver and passenger, power windows including one-touch for driver and passenger, sunroof, blind side warning, variable windshield wipers that automatically determine speed based on rain, rearview camera for reverse, chrome stuff, and floor mats. Can anybody tell me why floor mats are an “option”?

The Bad
I4 is the engine code and the four represents the number of cylinders. By far the worst thing about this car is the four cylinders. Yes, they upped the HP for the 2012 but it’s still sluggish off the start. Once you are cruising you have no trouble. Still, get the six cylinder engine. I don’t notice the missing AWD though I might change my opinion after driving through my first Buffalo winter in a decade.

The Ugly
The Fusion is made in Mexico. Every day I drive to work and pass a Ford plant that makes parts of the Escape, Edge and Flex. Some 2013s will be made in the US so that helps.

My biggest complaint applies not just to this Fusion but to all of today’s cars. Like smartphones today’s cars are making us dumb. In this case, cars are making us dumb at driving. I once drove a stick shift Focus and to this day it was one of the most fun cars to drive. The driving experience is so much better because you are part of the car. Thanks to the Focus, I will never again be able to drive in reverse without the rearview camera. I expect that 6 months from now I will forget how to operate windshield wipers. All this means I can never own that '68 Mustang without being a complete menace on the roads.

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