A Girl and a Car… the Acura edition!

As I headed to the Honda Canada head office on the morning of my scheduled race weekend road trip start date, I spent my hour plus bus commute wondering if I would get the sexy orange coloured Civic Coupe SI I had seen on the website or have to settle for the more staid dark grey or white version. (yes, I’m the girl that enjoys those orange or chartreuse liveried cars) I wondered what gizmos, gadgets, and bells and whistles I would get to play with. I wondered if the cup holders would be more coffee drinker friendly than the CR-Z , (yes, I think about these things) and I wondered what the storage space would be like in the trunk.

When I arrived, I realized I had misread my email and that I wasn’t getting the Civic Coupe SI, but rather the Acura TL. See the Coupe is manual transmission, and while I did drive a manual for many years, I haven’t driven one lately, and figured the time to relearn that skill wasn’t on the highway… in a their car!

I don’t know why I pictured an overly large car when I realized I would be driving the Acura TL for the weekend, but I did.
I pictured a big car that “grown ups’ would drive.
Older, rich people.
I don’t know why. I really don’t. It’s just how my brain works.
Suddenly my fun road trip was feeling not so fun.
And it was white. WHITE?!

Now my friends who accompany me to the Canadian International Auto Show every year are probably laughing their asses off right now, as every year I profess my disgust towards white cars. Not only are they entirely uninteresting to shoot under the fluorescent lighting of the convention centre, but they just scream rental car and no imagination to me. Again, what can I say… Meesh brain at work.

So off to the parking lot I ventured, key fob in hand, to find my car for the weekend.

Well, first of all it wasn’t that big. That was a relief. I knew it would probably eat a little (possibly a lot) more gas than the last one, but I didn’t want to feel like I was driving a giant car. I’m a city girl. I have a small city apartment, I drive on cramped city streets, and I travel mostly solo. I like all of my spaces “cozy’, including my cars.

I opened the door, and the seat automatically adjusted, pushing back to allow me to comfortably enter the car.
Ooh Fancy. Nice touch car designer peeps!
Oh, and there are not one, but two buttons to adjust your seat in multiple directions to get your personal comfort level ‘just right’ (which I later discovered you could “set” and have the car remember for up to 2 main drivers) Again, nice.
Score one for the “grown up” car.

Hmm… no key. Just a big red push button. (this of course made me immediately nervous, and I made sure my key fob was hooked onto my body at all times, lest I accidentally lock myself out of the car in the middle of nowhere)

Adjusting the side view mirrors I realize they are ever so slightly tinted blue, making them very clear to see out of, and lessening the glare from following and passing cars. I would later discover that the rear view mirror had an auto dimming feature for night driving that again, blocked the annoying glare from the following vehicle. Nice. More brownie points accumulated.

Once again, I had the benefit of the built-in GPS. This one was equally intuitive to use, yet much less user-friendly at the same time. I wasn’t too fond of the more time-consuming way you had to enter addresses, using the awkward knob to dial to select single letters one at a time. I also began to think it was an older model/set up, as the old Honda head office address came up in the search, and it didn’t recognize the new one! LOL! How ironic that I had to use my iPhone’s gps and Google map to remember where to turn off to get the car back on Tuesday!

So, safety checks done, and all strapped in, on to the highway I went.

Dayum! Nice pick up! This car does not drive like a “big” car either. It is super quick, and super smooth, and super agile. I felt the same maneuverability in the Acura as I did with the much smaller, lower profile Honda CR-Z, but it actually had a bit more weight to it, so I felt much more in control and safer if that makes any sense.

Fast forward 4 days to a couple of hours after the race on Sunday, and 10 silver, decaled Acuras are lined up on pitlane in preparation, I’m assuming, for the next day’s Mid-Ohio Driving School.
I nod my head knowingly, understanding just how much fun these lucky students are going to have in this super racy car on this incredible track.
While I never got to drive the track itself, I did walk the entire perimeter while shooting the race, plus I got to drive some deserted, twisting, hilly back roads in Ohio, so I can very much imagine what it would be like to really lay it out on a real road course. It’s funny, while I’ve always loved racing, I never really had the desire to get behind the wheel myself, that is until recently. Perhaps there’s been a shift in my testosterone levels? LOL

Oh, and I could easily have packed 4 times what I did for my trip in the trunk of this car, then added more crap in the spacious backseat! Loads of room.

Loaded up, I hit the coffee shop, dialed in my first destination, and hit the road.

Bells and whistles!

The center console, which gave me much fodder for complaining last time, was well laid out in the Acura. Not only were the cup holders in the perfect spot, but there was a little cover that slide over them, like a rolltop desk. There was also a deep well-like hideaway under the center arm rest that contained all your auxiliary plugs, and even had a little gully for your cable, to allow for you to have your phone (on airplane mode of course, but accessible in case of emergency ;- ) on the seat or on that rolltop surface when the armrest was closed. My favorite feature though was the little hideaway drawer, just big enough to hold my passport, some money and my toll booth receipts. Handy and accessible. Loved it!

Remember my biggest pet peeve of the CR-Z? That horrible, HORRIBLE blind spot? Well my friends, all could have been solved had it had the groovy blind spot alert of the Acura. Yup, a little orange back-lit cutout picture of a car pulling alongside another car lights up right beside your side view mirror when your car detects another car in its blindspot. Eureka! I LOVED that! Personally, I don’t understand why there is even an option to shut it off. It should be mandatory in all cars. Particularly the cars driven by dickwads on cellphones that don’t pay attention. (though they likely wouldn’t pay attention to the alert light either unless it was hooked up to their cellphone and CALLED them to alert them… but I digress… )

Remember how thrilled I was to discover the seat warmers in the CR-Z, well just imagine my shock and amusement (and subsequent hysterical giggles for about 10 minutes) when I discovered the Acura had seat COOLERS! Yes kids, I pressed a button by accident and was greeted with a pleasant gust of cool air up my lady parts. Hey, when you’re driving for 6-7hrs at a time, which I usually do on these trips, being able to cool your nether region on demand, well, that is just a really, really enjoyable feature. I’m pretty sure you boys wouldn’t mind having your “boys” cooled on a long drive too 😉
Speaking of the AC, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it activated. Even after a full day of being parked in the hot sun.

Satellite Radio! Not having ever had any sort of satellite radio, this was a real treat. A little confused trying to figure out how to tune the damn thing, and not familiar with any specific stations, I just hit seek until I found something interesting, then landed on the 70’s channel. Oh lord. All I can say is thank goodness I travel solo, cause I was having my own little flashback to my childhood in-car karaoke concert all the way to Ohio.

Unlike the CR-Z, of which I saw NONE the entire week and a half I was driving one, I did see many Acura’s on the road, most as I suspected being driven by older couples, who gave me strange looks when I drove by in the same car.
Now I realize I’m no spring chicken, but I think, and sadly most of the time act, “young”, and I look younger than the age on my license. Come to think of it, I was also wearing pigtails that day, so I probably just looked like a car karaoke singing idiot. (thus the strange looks)

In truth, I am probably within the actual target demographic for this car (age wise, not salary wise lol) and were it within my means, this would definitely be a car I would consider for purchase/lease. But I really think this car would be appreciated by all ages. Ha! funny, I have the tv on in the background and the Acura commercial just came on, with the British dude driving on a hilly road course, talking about the blind spot alert and the amazing handling.
Yup! I agree with you British dude! Sold!

So there you go. Another unconventional “world according to Meesh” review.

Sidebar: All three races I attended whilst being “Powered by” Honda Canada for the weekend, a Honda powered driver/car/team was on the top step of the podium. Coincidence? I think not. That’s some serious Meesh mojo right there! 😉 Something to consider for the 2013 IndyCar season… #justsayin

Thanks again to the fine people at Honda Canada for the sweet ride, and the fine people at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for putting on such a great event for me to attend! (Review of the weekend coming up!)

*interior car shots courtesy of http://www.honda.ca*
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