Well, the replacement for Olde Faithful Pick-up arrived on the 23rd. It has more frills than I’d planned on or wanted, but it was the last one in this color in this distribution district, and I did not have a choice. If I’d known about the froo-froo when the salesman located it, I might have turned it down, but it arrived and so the bank and I have joint custody. It is more nimble than the older one, and as I’d feared, the electronics are very distracting. I don’t like having motion in my peripheral vision, and the multi-function display (MFD) scrolls the artist and song info from the radio station when the radio is on. There is also a “heads-down” display that shows the current speed and extraneous info located on the instrument panel between the tach/temp and speedometer. That means the needle-indicated speedometer is offset and smaller. Eventually I will get used to it, but at the moment it is another distraction.
The truck, a Tacoma, handles well. I have not taken it off-road, but in moderately deep snow it is steady, assuming you don’t try to drive like a maniac. Even with true Four Wheel drive, Newton will kick you in the teeth if you forget that ice has a coefficient of friction down there with buttered glass. The rear wiggles a little on slick spots, as you’d expect with no load in the back, but it feels nice and firm otherwise. The power steering is lighter than I’d expected, so I have no trouble squeezing in and out of parking spots.
The seats and other non-knobby interior bits are very much like the old Tacoma. No heated seats, no massage, no magic cup holders or super-duper luxury seat-covers appear. I need to put my old seat-protector back in, but have not gotten around to it.
The rear window(s), including the beer-can window, are just out of my reach with the ice-scraper, so that has not changed any. The tailgate does lock, a nice change, and the bed seems a titch bit shorter, I think because of the tech gear incorporated along with the tailgate camera assembly.
The “off-road” bits are fascinating from a “why is that necessary?” view. I can see the lockable rear differential for getting out of ditches, mud and sand. Having to select the proper terrain (am I on lumps, very rough roads, sand, mud, or crawling out of the above?) so the steering and drive train can properly compensate and adjust seems excessive. Because these things are hard-wired into the vehicle, I can’t take wire-cutters to them, and I could not have had them removed prior to delivery.
Which leads to another interesting thought: what happens when the tech takes over and starts driving product design? We’re talking about a pick-up, a vehicle designed to carry stuff and two people (unless you are in a state that still allows passengers in the bed), and probably to pull a reasonable sized trailer. How much computer involvement should the operation of the vehicle require? Zero. Once you add in “safety” requirements* and the fuel efficiency and exhaust quality regulations, it increases a little, but I’m not comfortable with the level of computer control in this and other modern autos. There are too few “failure mode” pages in the very fat owner’s manual. Because tech will fail. It fails at the worst possible or most inconvenient moment, per Murphy’s Law and Boykin’s Addendum to Murphy’s Law (The likelihood of failure increases with the log of the increase in computerization times the square of the distance from pavement and/or people. Thus, you aircraft’s GPS-based navigation system will crap out at Flight Level 240 over Nevada while you are in the clouds and take the radar and MFD with it.)
So it’s not a bad truck, I like the color, the gas mileage is truck-like, and the seats are pretty comfortable. I don’t love the tech, but I can learn to ignore it.
- When the vehicle starts and the computer boots up, the MFD has a big warning in English and French about looking around for traffic and obstacles when the back-up camera is on. Apparently people assumed that if it wasn’t on the screen, it didn’t exist, and got hit or ran over things.