Saturday, January 02, 2010

Van Go

For the first time in almost five years, I find myself van-less.

In early 2005, I bought a Honda Odyssey minivan, primarily to ensure that I had a vehicle large enough to handle comics shipment pickup for the three stores that were in our shipping group at the time. A van had never qualified as my dream vehicle, but it was the only viable option to hold three stores' weekly comic shipments. After a couple of years, though, I discovered a major design flaw in the Odyssey (the air conditioning compressor was placed too low in an unprotected position, so rocks thrown up from the road had a disconcerting tendency to puncture it--something that Honda acknowledged as a design flaw that they corrected in later models, but they still refused to cover any of the repair cost) that led me to trade the Odyssey in on a Toyota Sienna.

The Sienna was a better vehicle than the Odyssey in every way--drove better, improved sound system, more comfortable, quieter--but it still left me with the problems of second-row seat stowage. Since I used the van for cargo, I had little need for second row seats, so they kept taking up oodles of space in my garage when I took 'em out of the van. Furthermore, while the sound system was improved over the Odyssey, it was still lackluster--weak treble gave a flat, tinny sound rather than a crisp, rich sound.

So the Sienna gave way to the 2009 Nissan Quest, which I still rank as the best van on the market. The Bose sound system was rich and vibrant compared to the Odyssey or the Sienna, the second-row seats fold almost flat (and while they weren't perfectly flat, they were flat enough--and I no longer had to store seats in my garage!), the cargo space was voluminous, the handling was perfectly adequate...

But y'know, I really never wanted to own a van, and I didn't enjoy driving it. I didn't hate it, mind you, but I didn't enjoy it.

Back in September, the third store in our shipping group dropped out, leaving just two stores. And as soon as that happened, I began keeping shipping records, box counts, etc., because I was considering foregoing the van at long last. I had really gotten tired of driving what I felt I should drive to benefit our shipping group; I really wanted to drive what I enjoyed driving.

The last medium-cargo-capacity vehicle I had driven was the Acura MDX, and I had loved its performance, sound, and build quality. So I continued to look at the Acura as a possible replacement, and I let Paul (the owner of the other store in my shipping group) know that I might be making the trade, because it would mean that he might have to make occasional trips to the warehouse on larger weeks. (I thought it only fair to let him know a change was under consideration.) Paul understood, and even joked that he thought it was about time for me to get another vehicle.

When the details on the 2010 MDX were announced, I decided that was the vehicle I wanted. And on December 31st, I became the owner of a 2010 Acura MDX.

I've only had two days to play with it, but it seems to have everything I want in an SUV. For 2010, Acura added a six-speed transmission, cooled front seats (they were already heated), a superlative iPod interface, a hard drive for music storage, a blind-spot alert system, an improved rear camera system, and a few other features that made the vehicle even more appealing--but they kept all the things that made the Acura so enjoyable to drive previously.

Got it from Jackson Acura in Alpharetta, one of the most impressive dealership facilities I've ever visited. Based on my experiences thus far, I'll be doing business with them many times more in the future.

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