Thursday, January 31, 2019

Yesterday's Loaner

Part of what makes me return to the Jaguar dealer for its annual service is not just the friendly and helpful service staff, but the loaners.  The most antique loaner I have received was a several year old S-type, which is the 2WD version of the X-type.  A couple years back, it was the the then new XE,a very nice sport sedan a bit smaller than the XF that I have.  Last year it was a Range Rover.  This year it was a Volvo XC90, a luxury competitor to the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Very comfortable seats with what my baseline XF desperately needs: lumbar adjustment.  Like many luxury cars now, too many of the controls are on a touch screen, so you need to be looking while changing things.  That is a safety hazard. 
There were a few features that were known to me, but still I have never driven a car with them (except for the Cadillac CTS my wife and I drove when we bought the XF).  One was lane assist.  It seems to look for white line lane markers, and maybe only dotted lines at that.  It gives you a warning icon on the dash and the steering hints that this is not a good idea.  You can still drift into another lane, but do not claim you were not warned.  I am not sure that I would ever use it.  If you are that inattentive, you should be taking a plane or letting your chauffeur handle what is clearly too hard a task.  I did not turn on the cross traffic warning system, and I would not use it for the same reason.  Nor did I turn on the "You are tailgating feature."  Again, if you are this out of it, check into a motel for the night!
The blind spot warning lights in the side view mirrors are nice, although I have mastered the arcane art of keeping my mirrors showing the blind spots, so these are not very important to me.
One feature of the Corvette that I miss is the heads up display, and the Volvo  had it.  At least how it was configured it showed my mph and next to it, a surprisingly accurate speed limit sign.  Even in school zones it knew to show me the actual speed limit with excellent geographic accuracy.  Even though it is a Volvo, the do-gooder liberal's brand, it only flashes the speed when you  through the speed limit; it does not shake its finger at you, beep, or remind you to eat more broccoli.

And it was very quiet, as a luxury SUV should be.


  1. I've got an '18 Honda Fit. A big part of the criteria for selecting it were the semi-automated driving features, in particular adaptive cruise. This alone was worth the extra cost over the base model. It makes cruise control useful in moderate traffic--set max speed and minimum following distance, let the car deal with the details. It's something I'm able to deal with, but nice that I don't have to.

    Mine has both lane warning and lane assist. The assist is nice when the road markings are good, but not essential...and should be turned off in most weather worse than moderate rain. It's like the car pulls a little, but to the middle of the lane. The warning on the other hand is at least as annoying as it is useful--in particular it appears to give equal weight to a line of paint as it does to a semi, and complains when I'm not centered between them. It has a "you're going to hit something" feature that I leave on. I've never triggered it tailgating but has false alarmed, mostly on sweeping corners with oncoming traffic. It has never been triggered enough to put the brakes on by itself, just enough to beep and flash.

    A lot of the objections to this tech remind me of the objections to ABS when it was new--"I'm an excellent driver, I can stop faster than a computer". True for a few people at the time, but quite a few more thought it was true for them. At my skill level I think these features are more likely to help than hurt, and they make driving more pleasant.

  2. I just read a story about how recent cars with all the safety gadgets cost additional hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair over cars without them and these goodies are becoming standard. For example, the fancy mirrors and collision detectors you spoke of. Some cars can only used factory approved windshields that are way more expensive. I guess I'm too poor and will stick to old cars....

  3. The GPS updates containing the accurate speed-limits for most roads will need to be updated to remain accurate - and my experience of factory-built-in GPS is that this can be hundreds of dollars for each annual update.

    Even then, in a big eastern state, I've started to notice on some of the state routes with a large percentage of tourist traffic that the speed-limits are being frequently changed at random - the points where one reduces from "open highway" 55 to "town 35" being shifted outward beyond any sign of development, odd sections of clear open highway suddenly sporting 45MPH signs.

    So even when I install the latest updates on the day of release, my GPS speed-limit indication is often already out-of-date. I do like it, but it does not obviate the need to keep eyes peeled for physical signs in areas with revenue-driven traffic enforcement.