My Dumb Car
Feb 01, 2018 11:10AM ● Published by City Journals Staff
The 2018 Mazda 6, loaded with safety features to keep you safe on the road.
My car is a 2005 Ford Taurus. Knowing that, you can imagine that I am not a car guy. I am not a person that is necessarily impressed with something because of the shininess, rather, I look at things more functionally. My car gets me from point A to point B, several times a day. It gets 25 miles per gallon, the doors and windows work, the heater and air conditioner work, and best of all, it is paid for. Why would I need a new car?
Until this week I would have made a passionate argument that I don’t need a new car. But over the last week my thoughts have changed. A few weeks ago my office got a new car on a loan with the instruction I could drive it for a week. They did not know what car, just that it would be a new one. I was excited. Then I got the phone call saying the car was at the office, it was a red 2017 Mazda 6, I was disappointed.
A Mazda. I might as well just drive the Taurus. However, I was assured the Mazda was a nice car. I have 200,000 miles on the Taurus, so I thought at least I don’t have to put more miles on the Taurus. As soon as I sat in the car I was impressed, it had comfortable white leather bucket seats, smelled like a new car and it was modern and sleek. The excitement was back.
But it was not the new smell that changed my mind, it wasn’t the comfortable seats that changed my mind, it was not the warranty. From my office to my home is about a 25-minute drive, from Sandy to Bountiful. In those 25 minutes, I learned my Taurus was dumb. Now I have always known that I drove a dumb car, but never understood that my car was dumb.
The Mazda 6 was equipped with heads up display, keyless entry system, keyless start, rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, auto lights, auto high beams, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition system, radar cruise control, traction control system, and dynamic stability control. Those are just the things I figured out. My Taurus had given me no experience with such capabilities. The fact was obvious, this car was smart. This car knew things that I did not know, important things like when a car was in my blind spot or when I was drifting lanes.
Technology is cool but doesn’t necessary impress me. Remember, I measure the functionality. And it was the tech’s functionality that impressed me. As soon as I started the car the heads-up display came up on top of the dash. This allowed me to know the most important things I needed to know while driving, without me taking my eyes off the road. It showed me my speed, the speed limit, if there was a car in my blind spot, if I was drifting lanes and more.
The Bluetooth telephone system allowed me to take calls without using my hands. In one swipe of my thumb, without my hands leaving the steering wheel, the call was answered. Until this moment, I did not realize how dangerous it was for me to use my handset while driving. Over the week I also noticed that I did not hold my phone while I was driving, which dramatically cut down on texting and other use of my phone while driving.
I travel with two dogs and, like children, sometimes these dogs require attention in the back seat. So, I reach back and tend to them. The first time I did this with the Mazda I started to drift into the next lane. That is when I learned about lane departure warning and lane keep assist. The car alerted me that I was drifting lanes and it corrected the steering to keep me in the lane. Possible disaster avoided.
The Mazda 6 is also equipped with controls in the center console, which are easy to learn and operate. This was nice because it allows you to maintain your driving position when using the radio, navigation system, Bluetooth phone, without having to reach up and touch a button on the dash or touch screen. In the 7 days that I drove the Mazda I don’t recall once reaching for the dash as I drove.
All this tech seemed to keep my body in a better driving position, my eyes to the front, alerted me of dangers, presented me more data to allow me to be a better driver and when I wasn’t being that better driver, it softly nudged the steering wheel and put me back on target.
So after spending a week with the new 2017 Mazda 6, I will be looking for a new car, or at least a newer car, but for sure a smarter car. I loved the Mazda and I hated to return to the Taurus, is that Mazda the right car for me? I don’t know. The Mazda was a great car and it appeared to be incredibly safe, so if you see a new Mazda 6 out there on the road with a smiling driver, it may be because I traded in my dumb car.