Monday, September 8, 2008

Best Laid Plans...........

Initially in this post I was going to compare and contrast the two Hybrid cars I drove over the last couple of months. The GM Malibu to and from BlogHer and the Ford Escape I used this past weekend.

To be fair it wouldn't be a true comparison as one is a mid-sized sedan and one is a CUV. The handling is different the ride is different the spatial environment is totally different. And most of all because of the vehicle types the mpg's are going to be different.

So I set out to just form my opinion on the Escape and give you the down low on that for a ride to and from Oakland Ca. an approximate 750 miles. Best laid plans............ (more on that later).

The car is delivered and was beautiful, I have never liked the color green much but this was a pretty “kiwi green” according to the person dropping it off (wonder if he liked the fresh baked cookies I gave him?). I didn't want my initial drive to be at 4am so I took Kiwi for a spin up to Burbank. I took the side streets there and the freeway back to try and gauge any difference in the handling and ride of the Hybrid. I was very impressed with both. Of course on such a short drive I couldn't properly average out the mpg.

At 4am the next morning, Adam, his friend Luis and I ventured out to the open road. The back back was spacious enough for our three bags and a cooler and we even experimented with putting half of the back seat down for easy access. Since Luis was the king of the back seat area the configuration was totally up to him. I asked him many times during the trip if he had enough leg room and such and he always replied yes. Since he is such a polite kid (what's up with teenagers these days?) I climbed back there myself to see if he was telling me the truth. He was. While I don't know that I would want to have someone else back there with me for a “road trip” it was fairly comfortable.

We made great time and mileage. Although I could have probably made it into the city before running low on gas, I didn't want to take the chance and filled up while we had breakfast. We ate at the Apricot Inn (or something like that), almost everything on the menu had apricots in or on it. The d├ęcor was fabulous tons and tons of old lunch boxes on the walls and matching thermos' in plexiglass dividers between booths.

The boys concert (Matches and Wombats were the two bands they most wanted to see) ended in the early evening so we opted to run up to San Francisco to hit a great record store Rasputins. Guess what running up to SF consists of? Yep that Damn Bridge again, ugh. Of course I did it and I didn't even cry this time. But coming back was on the lower level and very very freaky. Shopping for cheap cd's, hole in the wall pizza and a scare where I thought I was pick pocketed (Adam put my money in a different spot of my wallet) and some Cold Stone ice cream set us on the road again.

Luis and I wanted to find the “crookedest” street in SF. We were certain it was Lombard but the Sync took us only to parts that were straight. We drove around a lot. And all of it was at under 30 mph so for almost an hours worth of driving around on the hills of SF we used less than 1 gallon of gas. It was great. BTW we never did find that crooked street.

A nice relaxing night and some internet issues in the morning got us ready for a very yummy breakfast at the Marriott. Noon was check out time and also the opening time for the record stores in Berkeley so off we went. What a beautiful town. Walking up and down College and Telegraph where there were sidewalk sales and fun people watching. The boys shopped at Rasputins and Amoeba and then we were on the road again.

About an hour into our drive we are doing about 70 on the 580 just past Livermore CA and we start hearing a repetitive clicking noise. At first I thought it was Adams cell phone vibrating against the center console, but it was too loud and lasted too long, so I pulled over into a turn out.

Picture this if you will. Brown rolling hills, windmills and dead donkeys. Yes, that is all there was around us other than cars whizzing by at 70 mph. The boys get out and look to see if something is stuck in the tire but see nothing, so thinking whatever it was is now gone we get back in and start off again. Oooops nope, there's that noise again, pull over again. Thank goodness for turn outs.

I make a phone call to the Ford Reps from Page One and depending on who's side of the story you hear (and since this is my side that is the one you will hear), I calmly explained our predicament and requested assistance. (of course some of that calm may have included loud voices and mild hysterics but eh, there was a dead donkey nearby!) Long story short (too late for that) and the wonderful AAA guy Mike from Reed & Son Towing found us a Ford dealership to drop off poor Kiwi and deposited us at a Denny's to wait for a replacement car.

The replacement car was being arranged by Stuart from Page One who faced the brunt of my calmness throughout this entire ordeal and did a fabulous job of listening, empathizing and solving my problem. Awesome customer service.

The boys and I had a leisurely dinner and dessert at Dennys (which Page One picked up the tab for, thank you again) and 4 hours after the first noise was heard we were on the road again in our new 09 Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

The Mariner and the Escape are identical twins. Although the boys liked the comfort of the supple leather seats in the Escape as compared to the cloth seats of the Mariner.

Again on the ride home, good time and good mileage was had by all and we made it home just after midnight.

For the entire trip we averaged 27 mpg. Not a great number, but again a Hybrid is not meant for highway driving, so when you take into account that the cars are CUV's that mileage is pretty good.

As far as comfort and drivablility, I have one major complaint for both cars. I could not see out of the rearview mirror unless there was no one sitting there and I removed the headrests from the back seat. Thankfully the side mirrors were large and awesome, because that is all I used.

The navigation system (other than Lombard street, but to be fair, I didn't have an exact address) was great and the bluetooth ability was very handy in the SYNC. Although in neither car could we get the voice activation to work and the owner's manual said to see the SYNC manual which we didn't have.

What conclucions have I come to driving these three cars?
A. Hybrids are great for city drivers, not so much for highway
B. I am ready to move out of the “mommy” cars and into a sedan.
C. Whatever car I get next will definitely have satellite radio!

I have to give proper shout outs to Dan Smith of PCGCampbell, Stuart (I'm sorry I don't know your last name) from Page One Automotive and Jason Camp of Ford.
BTW the noise? Was due to some packaging material still on the drive train that started hitting against the heating vent with each revolution. Something completely harmless and insignificant. Thank goodness!


  1. What is a CUV? Is it the same as an SUV?

  2. I'm glad everything worked out for you in the end, Adrienne. Sounds like quite an adventure.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  3. Now I am going to recommend that you write for Automotive News, Cathy for Tennis News.

    Although I have been on Lombard Street three times, I could not find it the last time I was in S.F. Can the signs have been changed to reduce the traffic on that Street?