Friday, June 23, 2006

The grass is greener

I’ve discovered a downside to test driving new cars for a living: it makes me have disparaging thoughts about my Jeep.

I like my Jeep – most days of the month. It’s gotten me through hard times. It’s taken me to great places. Normally, I sing the praises of my Jeep. I’m proud of its 215,000+ miles. I feel safe in it. I don’t know if I would be as safe from hit and run drivers (I’ve been hit twice on the same quarter panel) in a smaller, newer car. Most of the time, I love my good ol’ 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport.

But on the days I test drive a new car for work – whether it’s a car I’m really excited about or not – my Jeep loses all its luster. Yes, the honeymoon has been over for awhile but we’ve settled into a comfortable relationship, like an old married couple or a favorite pair of jeans. And then here comes a hottie – a Mazda CX7 or a VW GTI – to turn my head. It’s hard to be loyal to my heap after driving something with all that horsepower and torque, eight-way power adjustable heated leather seats and radio controls on the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. Not to mention shiny new rims and a 6-disc CD changer (the Jeep has cassette deck – yeah, cassette, it’s a ’93 people!).

After driving a new car, especially one I’m excited about, like the CX7 I drove today, I don’t love my Jeep. I want it to go away. I don’t want to sit in its busted old seats and listen to its tinny radio and not know if the intermittent wipers will work. The Jeep is lifted so it rides rough. It’s loud. It doesn’t have a moon roof or power windows or a sport shifter or a voice-activated navigational system or keyless entry.

It also doesn’t have a payment. I own it free and clear. My name on the title and the title in my possession – when I think about that, I remember the good times and why I love my Jeep and it looks a lot better.

I still wish it had a moon roof.

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