Speed? What speed?

This week in SoCal, I rented a Saturn Ion. It's considered a mid sized car at Budget.

It's not a bad car. It's fairly comfortable. It handles well. And it has acceptable power. I would have liked a little more oomph trying to merge in a construction zone, but I've learned not to expect much from a rental car.

The best thing about it, though, was the AUX jack. I plugged in my new Gigabeat (a Toshiba MP3 player) and listened to netcasts (or podcasts) of NPR program that I missed when they first aired.

It's great to be a able to listen to whatever episode of This American Life, WNYC Radio Labs, or clips from A Prarie Home Compantion whenever I want. I didn't have to learn the radio stations in the area, and I didn't have to worry about faded signals while driving around the hills.

I don't understand why AUX jacks aren't more common in rental cars. A large number of business travelers and families carry music libraries with them. Instead, most rental cars come with a CD player or tape deck.

How many people actually travel with all their CDs these days?

2007-08-22 Saturn Ion Instrument panel

The instrument panel was a little disturbing, though. Instead of putting the speedometer and other gauges behind the wheel, they put them in the middle of the dash. Maybe this is supposed to be cooler. Maybe it makes it easer to build a version with right side steering for sale in Britain and Japan. And it probably doesn't matter once you get used to the car.

But I'm not driving the car long enough to get used to it.

It can be a challenge for night driving. I look down to check my speed or fuel level and just see a black space. My first instinct is that my dash light are not on, and I should check my headlights. When I see that they're on, I wonder what is wrong with the car. Then I look a couple inches to my left and there are the instruments.

Of course, it probably takes less than a second to run through this, but it's certainly disconcerting.

So it's not an exciting car, but it's decent.

And, most importantly, it's not a Taurus.

1 comment:

Adam said...

And I was all excited when my new used car had an audio cassette deck so I could plug in a non FM modulator from my iPOD... the wonders :-p