I like most machines that move around and make noises, but cars are most excellent because you can do so much with them. Not only do they get you places efficiently, even when it's raining or snowing without getting wet, but cars offer lots of recreational enjoyment, and can be a place where friends and family socialize and have fun.
My cars - I have always liked Subaru Legacy wagons, the crossover wagon of the 90s before the term "crossover" was even coined. The new daily driver, the Subaru Tribeca, is the new iteration of the crossover idea. Subaru no longer sells the Legacy wagon in the United States, so the crossover is the new wagon. But Subaru sticks to a performance oriented design and demonstrates an interesting progression of technology over 16 years in the Tribeca. The attraction to wagons must have started with my first car ever, the 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier, which is now long gone. But time proved that I could never forget the feeling of a solid GM vehicle either, so when I came across a good deal on the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood I ended up buying a great example of some of GM's better work.
But these are the things I like that are quantifiable:
Handling. I like lower cars with wider tracks for their stability and handling. I enjoy all the directions of driving - not just forward propulsion.
Space. There are several cars out there that can be acquired in either sedan or wagon form. As a daily driver, I'm definitely all about the wagon. It usually doesn't weigh that much more (only about 100 pounds), and is the same length and width as the sedan version. Having a hatch instead of a sedan trunk makes that space behind the back seat so much more useful. Furthermore, many sedan's now don't have the fold-down rear seats anymore. Most wagons will swallow more stuff than these cute-ute SUVs out now. The reality is, there are some times when it's nice to have the option of lots of room inside a car, and when you can have that option all the time, and still have a vehicle that handles and performs like a good sedan, I'm all over it.
All Wheel Drive. The drivetrain layout of a car (FWD, RWD, AWD) defines where power is delivered in a car under traction-limited situations. Most people associated limited traction with inclement weather such as rain or snow, or even off-road situations. However, when a vehicle is turning, braking, or accelerating aggressively on dry pavement, it is also experiencing a traction-limited situation. Therefore, the potential traction advantages offered by AWD can benefit a car under all situations.
In a 2WD vehicle, if you exceed the traction available to those 2 driven tires, one or both of the tires start to spin and slide relative to the pavement. This happens frequently to people when they're driving on wet surfaces. However, it can also happen if you are negotiating an aggressive turn, and the tires are using up most of the traction to turn the car. For example, if a particular turn at a particular speed is using up 90% of the front tires' traction, and the car is FWD, there is really only 10% traction left for forward propulsion. Therefore, even small applications of the throttle can cause the front tires to slip, and the car understeers. RWD is better than FWD because the front tires are doing most of the work when the car is turning. Driving the rear wheels gives you more opportunity to power out of a turn.
AWD, offers the additional potential of utilizing whatever traction is left of all four wheels, instead of just the two that are driven, so there can be more forward propulsion than a 2WD car, whether the situation be a wet road, snow, or an aggressive turn.
A good AWD system not only provides extra traction in low-speed, low-traction situations (like light off-roading), which 4x4 trucks and SUVs have been doing for years, but is always engaged and and working to enhance driving dynamics under all situations, including high-speed cornering on the racetrack. Most AWD systems in SUVs are more focused on assisting with low-speed traction situations, and not performance driving. Even in promotional literature they advertise the AWD is "on-demand"/part-time.
AWD systems generally rely on differentials (up to 3 on an AWD car) to distribute power between 4 wheels, since a differential allows tires to move at different speeds (which inherently happens when you take a turn) while applying power. Part-time AWD systems attempt to replace differentials with electronic clutches that engage all wheels. However, the best AWD systems today still rely on mechanical limited-slip differentials, enhancing with computers instead of replacing them.
Cars: Driving | Legacy | Cadillac | Chevrolet
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