I’ve been driving 4×4 trucks for over 30 years. The trade-off for the weight and truckiness being that I could pick up firewood, haul lumber, sacks of concrete. and go anywhere, any time. I spent 12 years 4-wheeling in Baja. Many trips to the American Southwest (always in spring). 3 long trips to British Columbia, shooting pics for Builders of the Pacific Coast. 4-wheeling it across the river to my friend Louie’s house in Mendocino county. I’ve been a truck guy forever. The latest, for my last 10 years: a 2003 Toyota 4-cylinder, 5-speed Tacoma 4 X 4 with metal camper shell, pull-out canopy, all-time classic tough, dependable vehicle. 140,000 miles, good for another 140. Desert Roamer. (I may sell it, and get a beater truck for local hauls.)
But there came the time, several months ago, when I realized I was through with the long truck hauls, the 3,000-mile trips, and hauling the truck over the windy roads homewards from my weekly trips into San Francisco was a chore.
I embarked on a study of cars, and ended up settling on a Honda Fit. Other contenders (in this field of scaled-down, aerodynamic SUVs) were the Toyota Yaris Liftback, Mazda 2, Scion XD, Prius C model, VW Golf diesel. The Cube too cartoony, the Scion xB too boxy. I didn’t do extensive reviews, but in the end settled on the Fit largely because of its ingenious cargo space in the rear — 4 by 5 feet with rear seats folded down. 20 cubic feet of space vs. 15 for the other cars. 4 doors and a hatchback so you can get into the rear from all sides. Like a small truck bed. (I could get into my truck bed camper shell on all 3 sides.)
I wanted to see how the Fit did on curves, since a winding mountain road is about half of my driving. I talked salesman Murray Cherkas of San Francisco Honda into letting me take a Fit across the city and then down the winding block of Lombard Street, “crookedest street in the world.” I took the 8 hairpin turns fast, and the car behaved beautifully. Sold. I picked up a Honda Fit Base model yesterday. OMG!! It made me think of driving a Beemer 2002 in the ’70s. The 2002 was different! Like a rabbit. And I guess things have come a long way, because this v. efficient little car reminds me of that B. Going from a truck to this car is like going from logging boots to running shoes. Like a 250 pound guy losing 60 pounds.
360 visibility, automatic windows, a USB connector (country boy with vacuum cleaner here). There are a dozen things that delight me about this car. Biggie is it isn’t as tiring as truck driving. With the beamer, I could drive all day and arrive rested — er, well — not wasted.
With taxes, fees, everything, it was just under $18K. 3 years, or 36,000 miles, they’ll fix anything that goes wrong. 5 years, they’ll fix a lot of things.
I’m in auto heaven. Can’t help it. California kid. Driving since age 14. As evil as it is, I like rollin down the road. Good music. Thoughts rolling in. Cruising country roads looking for barns, indigenous, tuned-in buildings of all types to photograph. Arriving rested when I drive somewhere on assignment. Easy parking. Twice as good mileage as truck.
Poppa’s got a brand new rig.
Music del día: Right now, “Nobody’s Business,” BB King and Ruth Brown duo that just cooks — they’re having a good time up there. Earlier, “Bama Lama, Bama Loo” by Little Richard, little known, but maybe my fave LR song (yes, I’m sure I’ve said this before). Last, but not least, “Leave My Little Girl Alone” by Travis Tritt. Whoo!