I am proud to say that I have stayed loyally focused on these priorities as I have aged. My friends have not been so lucky. Girlfriends turning into wives turning into growing broods have forced the sale of more cool but very impractical cars than I care to admit.
In their stead have come comfortable cars. Cars that can accommodate kids and the multitude of crap that always accompany them. While I refuse to drive anything that does not involve some sort of modern derivation of yoga for ingress and egress, I do empathize with my fallen sports car comrades’ plight. That said I do draw a line in the sand. That line is Minivans.
The Minivan is the automotive equivalent of stretch pants. They say to the world that you have given up on life. That now, you only care about comfort and space. It is for this reason that each of my friends have signed an agreement – before the wedding ceremony – that if they were to ever buy a Minivan, our friendship is immediately over no matter how many ‘but it has a mother in law seat’ excuses they come up with.
As with most contracts, my friends have found a loophole. The crossover. There are some that hide the Minivan from whence they came well but let it be known, they aren’t fooling anyone. The basic idea is that you have a SUVish looking thing without the size and economy penalty but has the same marching orders as a Minivan. And like the conveyances that won my friends’ the hearts of their now brides, they come in all degrees of snazzy.
The one that has seemed to catch the eye of my mother in law toting friends’ has been the Lexus RX line and I can see why. It does everything their wives tell it to do but it actually looks pretty cool in the process. If something looks good, I am not a total complete automotive tyrant.
As a public service to my friends and technogeeks, I spent some time with Lexus’ latest, techno laden and most gussied up baby buggy– the RX 450h.
Have spent a great deal of time perfecting the art of getting in and out of impractical cars gracefully, I was immediately taken by one thing on this new Lexus Hybrid crossover – it is just instantaneously comfortable and super easy to acclimate to in a good pair of jeans way. Yes, I have driven a lot of practical cars that have some comfortable aspects but this one brings a lot of pieces together for it to work beyond the sum of its parts. Let me explain.
After the easy getting in and finding your butt planted in a very comfortable heated and cooled seat, you are immediately presented with a mouse that can control virtually everything in the RX. Dubbed the ‘Remote Touch’, it controls the radio, navigation, climate, general settings and even satellite updates of traffic, sports and stocks. While this is great and all, what this represents is a huge departure for single controller systems. Lexus has combined a very comfortable and luxurious environment with a familiar interface that we all know. In doing so, after about 5 minutes with the RX, it is like a comfortable pair of shoes. It just feels you.
I will say that I am a Mac guy and this particular mouse has the disconnected feeling that only comes with a WinBlows system but it still does the job at hand.
The mouse controller is just the tip of the technology iceberg on the RX 450h. Even more exciting than the mouse was the addition of a heads up display. For anyone that has not driven a highly impractical car that usually feature these systems, the heads up display projects the speed of the vehicle in the windshield as if were floating in space just at the bottom of your line of vision. Why this is not in every car, I don’t know, but it is gladly welcome here. Speed is not the only trick it does. It displays everything from audio choices to turn-by-turn navigation directions. There are other fancy options on offer like dual DVD screens in the backs of the fronts seats but the heads up display is the one that almost makes me want to buy this minivan in disguise.