The first rule of Car Club: you do not go around hitting things with your automobile. Having broken this rule entirely too many times in recent months — well, if you ask me, one is entirely too many, especially considering the expense — I've had to make some adjustments.

During Gwendolyn's stay at the body shop, I got to wander about town in a 2016 Jeep Compass: this is considered an upgrade from a "standard" (read "mid-sized") sedan, to the tune of fifteen dollars a day. I sort of reviewed the Jeep here, and, well, it wasn't in any way exciting, but it did provide an adequate quantity of adequacy. The automatic transmission — the rock-bottom lowest trim level can be had with a 5-speed stick, but you're not going to find one at the rental lot — is presumably the Hyundai-built 6F24, which is well-behaved without running the risk of thrills. The Compass is evidently too low in Fiat Chrysler's pecking order to get the infamous 9-speed slushbox, which I always suspected was built by ZF just to prove that a 9-speed could be done.

But more important than the gear ratios, it turns out, was the pedal placement. The Jeep is not the first choice for someone needing maximum legroom, but I had no trouble at all working the pedals. Admittedly, I tend to be just a little more careful in a car that isn't mine, but I didn't have to relearn my driving technique; I did back off from my usual speed through tight curves, since the Jeep seemed just a bit top-heavy, though it occurred to me later that by now they require electronic stability control, which I did trip once — at 10 mph. (Don't ask.) The dearth of legroom meant a different angle of approach to those pedals, so six days and two Compasses later, when I got my own car back, I decided to try to duplicate the Jeep's seating arrangement.

There's almost half a foot of adjustment range in my aged sedan, and once you find a spot you like, you push the button: the seat will return to that position next time. Shutting down and removing the key causes the seat to slide to its farthest-back position, making entry and exit easier (for normal people) or at least less problematic (for me and my semi-invalid brethren). My standard position was about two-thirds of the way back; setting a Jeeplike distance required a position at around the middle of the range. As in the Jeep, this changed the angle at which I had to keep my right leg. I believe that my recent mishaps were due to falling between the pedals; this seat position makes that harder to do.

Which does not mean I'm back to driving the way I always did. I have never been a tailgater; I keep about 1.5 times the recommended distance from the guy in front of me, and I adhere to the rule for following trucks: "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you." Fools, people who do tailgate, rush in to fill in that empty space; it's not my style to try and squeeze them out of that space. (When I was younger, well, maybe.) I've had to order a new passenger-side mirror, so I'm trying to minimize the number of times I have to slide into the right lane on the freeway. And contrary to my usual practice, I'm not trying to improve my speed in tight turns, which occasionally means I will torque off someone in a hurry behind me. De nada, I figure: they'll get plenty of opportunity to make up that distance once we're back on the straightaway. (Forty to seventy takes surprisingly little time with the big V6.)

I am still not up to doing a long trip: fatigue sets in a hair earlier than it used to, and frankly, my bladder is not what it used to be. Still, if it's a choice between this and ordering up a Lyft, I know what I'd prefer.

The Vent

  1 August 2017

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