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Business took me to Hawaii last week. Sounds fun but it was mostly business, no time to sight see or relax.

Landed Honolulu, stayed overnight in Waikiki, visited a customer site the next day, then hopped over to Maui, rinse & repeat. 2 nights there with just enough down time to drive from Kihei to Lahaina, grab dinner and drive back to the hotel.

National rent-a-car issued a Jeep Renegade for the Oahu stay, and provided options at the Maui location.

With a total of 45 miles behind the wheel, there wasn't enough time to acclimate to the Jeep, so grain-of-salt impressions here. The Renegade felt heavy and under powered, the motor was buzzy, the interior plasticey and oddly laid out. In a way, it reminded me of the Honda Element in its funkiness but Honda's funk transfers into endearing usefulness while Jeep simply looked and felt funky in rental car trim. I found the general layout and usability to be an ergonomic nightmare. For example, the simple task of using the seat belt is grossly impeded by the stupidly designed center console where a lift-able/unusable arm rest is in exactly the wrong spot.

You wouldn't guess by looking at the windshield from the outside but the forward view seems squished, height limited and just plain narrow. Side and rear vision is also band limited by weirdly shaped rear door and tail gate glass. Navigating the narrow/traffic dense streets of Waikiki, the Jeep did not inspire confidence or instill a sense of maneuverability, mostly because it was challenging to sense the outside dimension of the vehicle. Maybe that is attributed to driving an unfamiliar ride, but it was a relief to hand it over to the valet at the hotel - I certainly wouldn't want to navigate that jam packed parking lot in the Jeep. Next time a rental option comes up, a Renegade won't be chosen. And I still can't get over the X'd out taillight thing either.

HawaiiJeep.jpg

There were several cars to choose from @ Maui National, I instantly went for the 2015 silver Mustang. Physical age brings on certain limitations, like issues with limber spine and neck so first thing I noticed is entry is confined by a short door. The door is long but it ain't tall. Entering the Stang is much more difficult than entering my 01 Accord coupe, which I find remarkable given the size difference between these two. Once you learn how to fall into the drivers seat, the first thing noticed is the long hood. I know this is also an acclimation thing that would wear off over time but looking out over the hood reminded me of driving a 70's era Monte Carlo, Grand Prix or Eldorado. Yes, it felt THAT long. :)

I'm sure those twin hood humps add to the impression of length and this image doesn't capture the impression of how long the hood seems, but... I did see several Ridgeline brothers on Maui. In fact, I saw more Ridge's there than I see here in San Diego in a two day period.

HawaiiMustangRidge.jpg

Now I don't mean to be harsh but this car left me wondering WTF Ford was thinking with some of their interior and driver control design choices. Weird stuff like a combo of soft and hard key controls on the radio, non-intuitive climate controls and a REALLY stupid power mirror control on the drivers door. Examples: it was the second day of futzing around with the radio before I figured out how to pair my phone with the built in BT handsfree. Some radio functions are all soft key (touch screen) others are controlled by a poorly thought out series of touch screen and hard keys under the display. You know the little arrow on fuel gauges pointing to which side of the vehicle the filler cap is? Radio control confusion could be solved by simple down arrows in the display pointing at the row of hard keys under it. Seriously, WTF were ergo designers thinking?

Drive and passenger side rear view mirror controls are located exactly where you'd expect them to be, forward of the door mounted window controls, but get this: the buttons to select drive or passenger side are software controlled on a timer, which requires re-selecting either side after about 2 minutes of non-use. So if you adjust the drive side mirror and cruise along for a few minutes, then decide to make another minor adjustment, you are forced to push the drive side control button a second time. Apparently, a manual switch leaving power directed to the last mirror adjusted was deemed "old school", or something. This was aggravating as hell! I never got used to that, even after the first time shock of figuring out how it works while clipping along a road. And the rear view mirrors aren't very good at being rear view mirrors. It seems form over function won the battle on these. IMO, these aren't just nit-picks. They are indicative of what I would call a rush to market.

When you first get behind the wheel, there is a dizzying array of wheel mounted controls - which I'm sure would become a non-issue after spending a hours in this car, but the goal of any design is minimizing "learned behavior". There is nothing un-learnable with the layout, but the learning curve is not insignificant. I found myself unwilling to take eyes off the road to see where a button was, so I just left the "convenience" of wheel mounted controls alone.

HawaiiMustang1.jpg

The interior fit was good but materials and finish were on the cheap side. Rental car trim no doubt but still, this trim level is likely pervasive among dealer inventory. If I were a buyer, I'd be concerned about durability, especially the soft/padded center portion of the door panel, just above arm rests, which seems susceptible to wear and tear.

The console shifter has the expected position clicks but no physical position markings, so if you find yourself overshooting the desired gear, don't bother looking at the shifter itself, you gotta find the position indicator on the dash, which, depending on angle of column tilt may not be visible over top of the large center wheel hub. I actually had to seek out this display.

Generally speaking, ergonomics seem to have suffered in favor of swoopy/sporty cosmetics. Which is a baffling decision IMO.

Being a rental, it had a V6 which I assume to be bottom of the line but it felt peppy and smooth. The tranny was tight with positive/quick shifts. It rained a bit during the trip, resulting in surprise tire spin when leaving stop signs or maneuvering parking lots. I never did adopt a feel for the go pedal. And I learned quickly to leave the paddle shifters alone because they were a bit too zippy to be learning while driving wet streets. Hard to imagine this same frame/body combo with the 400+ HP V8 option.

Unfortunately, it was cloudy the whole time on Maui, definitely not a Chamber of Commerce picture day. Still, the Mustang looks at home sitting on a stone and lava beach.

HawaiiMustang.jpg

To me, the Mustang is like NYC. Nice to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. I'd drive it as a rental but would never consider a purchase. But then again, I'm not looking to buy, which is nice.

Earlier this year, business took me to Florida where a lot of drive time was spent with a 2016 Buick Enclave. Surely a different class and trim level than the Jeep or Mustang but it was WAY ahead of either for comfort, road manners and drive ability. Its good when a rental car leaves an impression on you and the Enclave did. By comparison, there was another trip earlier this year requiring about 400 miles of driving in a something-or-other rental SUV. It was so unremarkable, I don't even recall what it was. A Kia I think. Whatever it was, it wasn't memorable, and that is remarkable.

With weather issues across the country, there were lots of delays affecting the connecting flight out of San Fransisco. The pilot and crew were several hours late, and then a flight manifest problem made us sit on the tarmac for an hour. Ended up arriving San Diego @ 2AM Friday. The 01 Accord was sitting where I left her at the airport and I gotta say, getting behind the wheel of that ~15 year old vehicle with fading clear coat and less than quiet twin cam 4 banger was welcome compared to the Mustang. With the freeway empty and lots of connecting ramps between downtown and home, the early morning drive was a whole bunch of fun. There's a banking left turn connecting the interstate 8 East to HWY 163 North - posted speed limit is 40 - 01 hammered thru @ 65. SWEET. Maybe familiarity is the reason, or my aging perspective on new things, but the Accord just felt more settled and predictable, like putting on a favorite pair of shoes. And driving the 06 Ridge after the Jeep? Not even close. The Ridge is a favorite pair of shoes, broken in jeans AND tshirt.

20K mile rentals vs 100K plus Honda's. No comparison in my book.
 

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Go drive a GT350. All that goes away. Angels come down and sing, I mean devils from hell, and sing through the glorious voodoo V8.
A V6 Mustang is no treat.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Go drive a GT350. All that goes away. Angels come down and sing, I mean devils from hell, and sing through the glorious voodoo V8.
A V6 Mustang is no treat.
A friend took me for a ride in his ecoboost Mustang. He was clearly possessed by demons from hell during a short run to lunch.

It could only get worse in monster V8' versions. Or is it better? Yes is the answer. >:)
 

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I don't want to steer this thread off kilter too far, but as an owner of an Ecoboost Mustang and former owner of several 500hp cars I can tell you I would kill to go for a rip in the new GT350.
 

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2011. Another visit to Florida. Hemi Challenger rental. Very entertaining to drive and wonderful exhaust sounds when the go pedal was pressed hard. Surprisingly, no tickets on that trip.

A year later, I'm in the passenger seat of an SRT8. PFFFFT.

After that ride, I'm pretty sure I'd turn down a ride in the Hellcat. Unless it came with diapers.
 

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Not much a traveler here. I think I had a local rental Nissan Altima once and a rental Chevy HHR in Denver once.

Both incredibly anemic.
 

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I travel a lot. Had some really nice cars and some really junky ones. Have a 2017 Hyundai Sante Fe AWD right now. It's junky. lol

The 17' Convertible Camaro SS I had a couple weeks ago in Florida was a great car. Just wouldn't buy one. And I agree with your review on the Renegade. Those X's are killer and it just is like a Kia Soul . No power and rides bad. Like you mention the Buick Enclave is nice. And for a mini van, the Pacifica is reallllllllly fast. Hang on!


Steve M
 
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