17 Sep 2012 @ 5:24 AM 

 

During a memorably exciting car wash, I realized that the sunroof in my Charger had a leak.

Phonecall 1 from the dealership:  Good news, we found the problem with your sunroof.  We just need to realign the tracks that it rides along.  This will be ready tomorrow.

Day 2:  Oops, we broke the darn thing, but don’t worry.  We ordered you a brand new set of sunroof tracks.

Day 3:  Hi there, me again.  We kinda ordered the wrong part.  But don’t worry, it’s coming, two days.

Day 5:  Hoo boy, we are really taking a long time on this.  It turns out that we have to take off your front windshield to get the new tracks in.  But don’t worry, we have a guy who does these all the time.  No big deal.

Day 6:  Okay, we broke your windshield.  The new one is on order, probably two more days.  Yes, we suck.

For the first few days, I carpooled to work and Diva Girlfriend and I endured each other’s morning radio talk shows.  But I realized after a week that my warranty coverage actually included a rental car.   It’s a very secretive policy – Wink, wink, nudge, nudge – they only offer one if you bring it up.  My dealership service rep always acts like it’s some kind of hassle, like I’m asking to borrow their offices to host a mud wrestling event or something.

Enterprise needs to expand their slogan from “We’ll pick you up!” to “We’ll pick you up!  Eventually!  And then bring you back to our store to stand in line there!”

When it became my turn at the rental car counter, a male employee wrestled a key out of my (cute) female representative’s hand to scurry it across the room to a little blonde customer wearing a slightly sheer little sundress.  My female sales rep and I shared an eyerolling moment while we watched him lurching over Blondie-locks, dripping sweat from his receding hairline and forcing awkward small talk while she tried to leave.  I apparently missed out on renting a Chrysler 300.

As my sales rep handed me a different set of keys, she whispered “sorry,” and then I was introduced to the comedic stylings of the Dodge Caliber.

Ranked 41st out of 41 economy class cars, this is Dodge’s replacement to the Neon.  It’s pretty bad when the JD Power report recommends that you upgrade to the Ford Focus.  My usual ride is the SRT8 Dodge Charger, a 455 hp work of art with an enormous Hemi engine that lusts for speed and throws you back into your seat.  It is unthinkable that these two cars are made by the same company.

But I don’t want to be completely negative.  The Dodge Caliber has some bright sides too.

  • It’s cheap!  They saved money on the construction by only using 4 pounds of metal in the whole car.  The rest was shaped out of plastic, duct tape, and small pieces of baling wire.  And it adds to the comedy value — I took coworkers out to the parking lot to show them the BaWAAANNNNNNG! sound the passenger door makes when you shut it.  It sounds exactly like when you slam the door to the clothes dryer.
  • Saves gas!  The Caliber uses roughly the same amount of gas as a lawnmower because they use the same engine.  It makes for an exciting highway experience to enter from the on-ramp, redlining its crappy, noisy engine and still only doing 45 mph, watching cars fly around you like you’re in a reverse wind tunnel.
  • It has a gimmicky refrigerated area in the glovebox to kinda-cool some beverages!  I wonder how many people have made the mistake of putting beer in here, and then panicked when it came time to dig out the insurance car in front of the officer for running a stop sign.  I was tempted to say while you’re getting a ticket for speeding, but that would be difficult to manage in this ride.  The little cooler shelf works off a diverted AC vent, so you’re not going to have cold beverages again until you ride around for a while.  But that’s the good news — the car is so slow, you’ll have plenty of time to get there!

 

 

 

Posted By: Buffman
Last Edit: 05 Oct 2012 @ 10:29 AM

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