Family reunion

Posted on 19 Oct 2009 at 6:05pm
By CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer crwauto@aol.com

Thanksgiving means spending time with the family, which got us thinking: What kind of car would each member of the clan drive?

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m reminded: I hate family reunions. Why do we need a special occasion to commune with family oddballs? Besides, what I do in my private life and with whom I do it needs to be neither confirmed nor denied.

Still, it might be entertaining to imagine what car your crazy relatives would drive to their family reunion — and what it says about them.


TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE WE GO | The BMW Z4, above, may give your partner’s mom a bigger rush than pumpkin pie cheesecake with whipped cream; a stunning Mercedes-Benz coup, below, let’s everyone know Uncle Steve doesn’t have to worry about paying for kids.

The Mother-in-law: BMW Z4
Mothers-in-law always tell you what to do; worse, they are usually right. My partner has a great mother-in-law, but that doesn’t stop her from giving grief. I once shaved my legs and heard it endlessly. "What will people think," she asked. Probably that I’m gay… Big shock!

New for 2010, the BMW Z4 has been shaved smoother than my legs of funky bodylines that only Picasso could love and shaped like a wind-worn sculpture. A folding hardtop replaces canvas and looks as debonair as a gray derby. The old hag can blow her hair blue with style that Marge Simpson can’t match.

BMWs are well known for having the most complicated infotainment systems, dubbed iDrive, which controls the audio, navigation and climate systems. The cars complain incessantly (tire pressure monitor), but usually with good reason. BMW simplified iDrive for the Z4, rendering it helpful.

The interior is bathed in optional brushed aluminum or ash grain wood trim and Nappa leather. Audiophiles will find a USB adapter in the armrest, Sirius Satellite stations and HD radio.

When Mama steps on the electronic throttle, she’ll open up either a 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 255 horses (28-MPG Hwy) or optional 3.5-liter six with 300 HP (25-MPG Hwy). The 3.0-liter is plenty to get her panties in a bunch, but the 3.5-liter will rip and shred her satins for stains.

If the queen mom wants to stick her lady loafer into a Z4, she’ll need at least $45,750 for the 3.0 or $51,650 for the 3.5. Best of all, it won’t lecture when shaved appendages appear, and its NAV system will even help find a spa.


Tree-huggin’ Aunt Linda: Lexus HS250 hybrid sedan
Aunt Linda would drive a Prius if she didn’t think she were too good for it. She likes the Lexus LS600h, but couldn’t afford its alloy wheels out-of-purse. A Lexus HS250h will let her nose flag aircraft while her bank account stays grounded.

Linda had better like a Vegas electronics show worth of technology if she drives this eco cruiser. Temperature, cell calls and navigation are all done by voice command. The car monitors Linda’s face to see if she is paying attention. If not and an object is detected ahead, the car will beep, then lightly tap the brakes. A heads-up display shows navigation turns and speed.

That’s only the short list. Lane Keep Assist monitors the car’s position in its lane, can beep if you veer out of your lane, and can even gently steer you back in. A wide-view front camera swivels 190-degrees so drivers can see around objects that bock their vision when entering streets, etc. It can also detect imminent collisions, alert the driver and apply brakes if the loafer doesn’t move quickly enough.

Auntie’s thrifty side comes out in the 2.4-liter engine and battery hybrid system that helps the 250HS achieve 35-MPG — the best of any luxury vehicle in the U.S. The hybrid system has three modes: EV (no gas for short stretches), ECO and PWR (gets the lead acid out). Maybe somewhere deep inside her bark-munching soul lies an inner demon that loves to drive. Hopefully, she can pinch at least $34,200.


THRIFTY LUXURY | At under $35,000, the Lexus hybrid promises a greener carbon footprint without compromising style.

Gay Uncle Steve: Mercedes E-Coupe
If you didn’t know your favorite uncle was gay, you will sure as hell know it when he rolls up to the pavilion in a new Mercedes E-Coupe. Of course, the controversial one will probably open his own café from the trunk, complete with chairs, table, wine cellar and espresso piazza.

The big ol’ queer has impeccable taste in automobiles. Fifties-inspired "pontoon" rear fenders and gorgeous roofline show appreciation for the classics. Interiors are fitted with panoramic sunroofs, hand-polished wood, leather, gated shifter and center speedometer — just as Messrs. Daimler and Benz intended. A groovin’ harman/kardon LOGIC7 audio system rocks. Heated and ventilated front seats caress while your uncle sweet-talks the enhanced hands-free navigation, phone and audio systems.

A fine German motorcar should have smooth enough nuts to gallop briskly.

Mercedes endows the E-Coupe with either a 268-HP 3.5-liter V6, or for more stamina, a 382-HP 5.5-liter V8. Fuel economy really isn’t the point, but the V6 achieves 17/26-MPG city/hwy; V8s gurgle at the rate of 15/23-MPG.

Mercedes pioneered radar technologies in automobiles, so it isn’t surprising the E-Coupe comes with Distronic Plus auto cruise and Pre-Safe that can bring the coupe to complete stop to avoid objects. The chassis dances like Tom DeLay wishes he could thanks to Dynamic Handling that controls the suspension for current road condition and features Comfort and Sport settings to suit your mood.

A state of the art Mercedes coupe that is bound for stardom will set your presumably-rich guncle back $48,050 for the V6 or $54,650 for theV8. Don’t worry, he can afford it.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 20, 2009.

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