What is it?
Yesh. I find myself grousing off and on — not to say incessantly — about the “new” car, a 2014 Toyota Venza, which in my petrified opinion seems to compare poorly to the much-lamented, ancient, 17-year-old Sienna. Why do I hate this hapless car?
- It won’t safely hold the dogs except in a cubby with no air-conditioning, because when you fold the back seats down they leave a big dog-leg-busting hole in the (admittedly generous) flat space.
- It suffers from the current bourgeois car design, in which about 90% of cars on the road look the same: like a herd of bloated ticks.
- Its stupidly designed rear door operates on two “struts” whose life expectancy is about two years and the cost of whose repair is, shall we say, bracing.
- There is NO place, zero, none, nada, NO place to set a small, loose item that does not entail either a) having to dig around in an inaccessible bin or b) watching it tumble off the top of the annoying console and wedge itself between the driver’s seat and the stupid console, causing a major, major hassle to retrieve it.
- Its stupidly designed console apparently holds only paper cups — real cups and plastic traveling glasses need not apply.
- Its stupidly designed console makes it impossible to set anything — like your purse or a bag of purchases — on the passenger-side floor, because you cannot reach the damn floor over the monster useless console.
- It has a stupid camera on the front of the rear-view mirror that militates against hanging your crip-space placard from the mirror, where you are required by law to hang it if you have the temerity to park in a crip space.
- Its dashboard is a rattle magnet.
- There’s no place to hang, stick, or set a trash bag.
- The burglar alarm arms if you manually lock the doors while sitting inside, and then it goes off if you turn on the ignition. Extremely, extremely, mind-bogglingly annoying.
- Speaking of stupid, its designers apparently think the vehicle’s prospective drivers are so dumb — SO DUMB — that they can’t figure out what direction they’re driving without a little light on the rear-view mirror to tell them. What??? All Trump voters, presumably?
- It has no cladding to protect it from fellow idiot drivers who like to whack their neighbors’ cars in parking lots and run shopping carts up against the white paint.
So…is there anything about this car that’s good? Desirable? Not annoying?
- I like that the doors lock automatically when you turn on the ignition. It’s not necessary, because I hit “lock” reflexively the instant I get in a car. But it’s nice.
- You can set the headlights to go on every time you turn the ignition key — which the Sienna did automatically, no choice in the matter — and to stay on about two minutes after you get out of the car. No, the Sienna would not do that. It’s very nice when you park in the garage after dark. My garage does have a motion-sensitive light, but sometimes the car doesn’t trigger it. With the head- and tail-lights on, you can close the garage door, get out, and walk around even if the motion-sensitive lighting hasn’t gone on.
- It has ultra-dark window tinting. No one can see how many people are in the car or, from the side and back, whether the driver is a woman alone. And you can’t see any packages sitting on the floor. Now…that tinting is probably illegal. But so far I haven’t gotten a ticket.
- It does have a six-banger. And it bangs with even more enthusiasm than the Sienna’s awe-inspiring engine. If anything, I’d say it’s over-powered. The body apparently doesn’t weigh as much as a minivan’s, and so you get some instability in the steering if you take off too exuberantly from a standing stop.
- It’s kewl that you can connect your cell phone — even a piddly little clamshell — to the sound system and hear a conversation in full glowing stereo. This is good, because it’s almost impossible to hear someone speaking to you on the clamshell; run its sound through the radio, and voilà! Intelligible words!
- The wheels are easy to clean thanks to their sort of skeletonized design.
- Its air conditioning probably works pretty well. We shall see: we have yet to enjoy a 115-degree day. But the heater gets warm quickly and keeps the driver’s compartment comfortable enough.
- If you park it in the sun, the cheesy plastic in the dashboard will expand in the heat and silence the rattling. It would be good if it didn’t rattle at all…but you can’t have everything, eh?
- The radio works. The CD player still works.
All of which is nice. I guess.