Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Car

Last week I took delivery of a 2015 Subaru Forester - Premium edition with all-weather package (do not let the name confuse you, the Premium edition is one step up from the base model and there are five or six trim levels).

I had been growing concerned with my 2012 Ford Focus.  The Focus replaced my 2004 Jetta GLI.  The Jetta was purchased new in Georgia and made its way to New England and eventually Hawaii where it enjoyed nearly four years of mothball status before being called up to service to move Karen and I from Seattle to Boston.  Putting less than 3200 km (roughly 2000 miles) a year on the car in Hawaii and then suddenly driving it across the country did a number on the car.  It wasn't long after being back in New England that breakdowns started happening.  Not wanting to play that game, I got rid of it and got a new Ford Focus.

The Focus looked like a nice replacement.  I did not want another VW and the Focus was at a price point I liked.  But I got the SEL trim level which came with nearly every feature and option available, including the parking assist feature which happily backed the car in to another while parallel parking.  The Microsoft SYNC system was also somewhat frustrating, needing updates and attention more than any of my other computers.  But that was all cosmetic.  What I really disliked was the transmission.  The Focus has a dual clutch transmission.

My guess is that Ford was trying to simplify the car and make it more fuel efficient for the most common driving cases.  That's fine, but this transmission is terrible for city driving.  It is fantastic if you get it on the highway and do highway speed.  Well, not fantastic, but you can tell that's how it expects to be driven.  When driving in stop and go city traffic, it doesn't quite know when and how to shift.  You end up having the car lurch at times, downshifting or upshifting when it thinks it should.  City driving here also means any non-highway driving.  It should really be called local driving.  Variable speeds, stop signs, rolling stops, yield signs, parking lots, and so on.

I took the Focus in for service a few times to see if they could do anything about the transmission issue.  All I got were factory reset to defaults -and- apologies from the mechanics saying they knew what I was talking about but they couldn't change anything.  They also said that Ford probably should not have marketed it as a city driving car.

Winter driving was especially challenging for the Focus and I decided that it just wasn't going to be a good car to keep for a long time.   I settled on a Subaru Forester.  I've never owned a Subaru and I am really not a fan of the Outback, but I decided to try the Forester.

The negative reviews I found for the Forester were around cosmetic nonsense on the interior, highend features like X-MODE or EyeSight, or the fact that the vehicle comes with a CVT.  Car people seem to really dislike CVTs.  Whatever.

The 2015 models were on the way when I was looking at the Forester, so I decided to put a deposit on one and wait for delivery.  I put a deposit on the car on March 26 and I got it April 30.  Considering it's manufactured in Japan and enters the US via Rhode Island, I think that's pretty good.

It's been almost a week with the new Forester and I have to say that I like it a lot.  Those who know me know that I'm probably going to cram a bunch of ham radio gear in the car and I'm to say, that's true!  Here's what I have planned:
  • The dash has a double DIN mounting area for stereo equipment.  I'm going to remove the double DIN sized factory stereo and replace it with an aftermarket Kenwood stereo and my Uniden scanner.
  • With that mounting scenario I can wire the scanner to the car stereo and car antenna.
  • There is a little cubby area below the air conditioner controls that is perfectly sized for a two-way radio.  I am planning on a Kenwood TM-281A there because it has a front mounted speaker, avoiding the need for another speaker.
  • I have a luggage rack now so I can install a luggage rack antenna mount for the VHF antenna.
If this all goes according to plan, I will only need to run one power line to the battery, one power line to the fuse box (for the scanner, not the two-way radio), and one coax line for the VHF antenna.  We'll see.  Once you pry the dash off, you usually find some surprises.

No comments: