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My Trip to the Auto Show, or: Marketing Meets UI... With Sexy Tragic Results

Srahfamily ventured to Detroit today for the North American International Auto Show (and more importantly, to Greektown for lunch!)

The first cars we saw upon entering were shaped sort of like those creatures on Naboo that stupid retarded Anakin goes stupid retarded riding - the ones with the huge butts that taper down to tiny heads. What is with that trend in car design?

I walked past an Audi and looked it over. The nose was pretty huge and I couldn't decide if I liked it or not, so I came around to the side and checked out the price sticker: $146,000 base price. Ahem! There was a guy polishing the car and when he saw me sputtering, he said, "It's not worth it!"

"Um... you work for the Auto Show, rather than Audi, don't you?" I responded.

"What? Uh, yeah, I do." He looked confused.

"Because you're a pretty awful salesman."

Speaking of awful and salesmen, we also visited the Scion display. It makes me angry that the Scion xB exists and I was looking for answers. As I have ranted before, it looks like a freaking toaster! Why are there people out there who want to drive toasters?! I don't know if I want to live in a world where people want to drive toasters. I had always theorized that maybe there were a lot of people who wanted to own a Scion and that the xB was the cheapest model, but today my illusions were shattered - the xA costs over $1,000 less and is actually attractive.

The Stupid Toaster is much more visible than the normal-looking Scions and I wondered if there really fifty million of them on the road or if that was just an invention of my fevered mind. So I asked the salesperson, "What's the most popular model you sell?"

She thought for a moment and responded, "I think the tC is our best seller these days." I sighed in relief, but then she continued, "But the xB was our biggest seller last year."

Unfortunately, my hatred for the car overcame all sense of propriety and decency as I shook my head, grimaced and responded, "Oh no! That one's crap!"

Then Alfie and I wandered around for a while, daring each other to go and ask a salesperson where you put the bread in.

I always look forward to the auto show, but I always forget that it really isn't the place for me. There are all these displays with bad user interfaces, the noise and people and heat make me claustrophobic and I am painfully practical when it comes to cars. It does no good to show me a $146,000 Audi or a Lamborghini convertible because I will instead be drooling over moderately-priced 4-door sedans. I need four doors in my life. I have friends and I hate having to get out of the car so they can get in the back seat. If I had a sporty little 2-seater, I would never be able to drive when my friends went ou--

I need a sporty little 2-seater.

srah - Monday, 17 January 2005 - 4:06 PM

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Comments (19)

gravatar Smuj - January 17, 2005 - 9:52 PM -

My last 2-door was an Explorer Sport, after which I declared that I would never drive a 2-door vehicle again. I liked the Explorer, but I hated getting out to let people in. Since then, I've had a Focus and an Escape, both 4-doors. I could probably count the number of times I've had more than one passenger since then on two hands and a foot. My Escape lease is up in 2 years. I think I want a Mustang.

I have a good friend who works at the Auto Show during set-up every year. A few years back, he gave his brother, me and my girlfriend-at-the-time a golf cart tour of the floor the night before the charity preview. All of the displays were up and running and the pseudo-Cirque du Soleil acrobats were practicing. It was like having the whole auto show to ourselves. Awesome.

gravatar alfie - January 17, 2005 - 10:47 PM -

Thanks for not linking the name again. :P

gravatar Smuj - January 17, 2005 - 10:49 PM -


gravatar srah - January 17, 2005 - 11:17 PM -

Okay, so I suck at remembering to use people's pseudonyms. Shall change it now.

gravatar MaTT - January 17, 2005 - 11:55 PM -

What about the Mini? Did you like that one?

gravatar srah - January 17, 2005 - 11:59 PM -

I was a bit conflicted. *I* could own a Mini. My sister could own a Mini. My mom could own a Mini. But if any normal-sized person were driving, there would be no leg room in the back.

gravatar Erica M - January 18, 2005 - 12:16 AM -

Believe it or not, I've only been to the Auto Show once, ever. And it was on a horribly bad date. Overall, not a pleasant experience.

I want a Mini for my summer car.

gravatar MaTT - January 18, 2005 - 1:52 PM -

Why would you need leg room in the back? ;)

gravatar srah - January 18, 2005 - 2:09 PM -


gravatar Nick - January 18, 2005 - 4:48 PM -

Ironically, I've always wanted a toaster shaped like a car.

gravatar kate - January 18, 2005 - 5:47 PM -

Have to mention this as a scion driver.. the tC wasn't around last year. Came out in late June 2004.

gravatar srah - January 18, 2005 - 6:13 PM -

Well thank god it's come along to steal share from xStupidB.

gravatar neXt xB - January 19, 2005 - 11:54 AM -

Hee. I might be buying a xB soon. I want a new car, don't want to spend too much, and I have two toddlers to carry around, and a third baby coming later this year.

I'd love a Mini Cooper, but getting two kids in there is a bit of a hassle, and three kids seems insane.

I don't want a big SUV or minivan. I want something more economical on gas.

We test drove a xB and there was plenty of room in the back for two booster seats and room for a third baby seat in the middle. The width is a little tight, but there are three latch connectors.

Inexpensive car, good gas mileage, room for three kids without killing myself to get them in, if I need too I can take out the car seats, knock down the back seats to make for a lot of storage for special occasions, reliable Toyota parts, what's not to like?

What other car should I be considering?

gravatar srah - January 19, 2005 - 12:13 PM -

According to Yahoo! Autos, The VW Jetta wagon gets 36 mpg in the city/47 mpg on the highway. I, personally, would pay $5,000 more not to be seen in an xB, but that's where my priorities are.

They also price the Chevrolet Aveo Special Value Wagon at $9,455 with 27/35 mpg. The Kia Rio Cinco is $11,365 but only gets 26/33. Toyota Matrix is $14,760 and 30/36 mpg.

I don't know anything about cars and even less about wagons, but these seem okay.

gravatar neXt xB - January 19, 2005 - 12:47 PM -

The Jetta wagon might be worth looking at for me. I've heard mixed reviews on VW the last copule years. The Matrix is one I do want to check out, along with the new Dodge Magnum.

I won't even consider a Kia, just no faith in that.
The Aveo? Eh, maybe. A quick look reminds me of Scion's xA, which we also looked at and didn't have the room of the xB.

What I forgot to mention before about the xB is that it is paradoxically both large and small. There's plenty of space on the inside to be comofrtable, but the overall length and size of the car is pretty small. Great for parellel parking in the city (I'm in San Francisco area).

And the looks of the xB don't bother me, it's sort of cute to me. I see so many cars that look alike -- civics and celicas and all that just bore me they are all so similar. And everyone has a silver car these days it seems. No individualty. I tend to like cars I can recognize as a fairly unique design, like the Xb, the VW Beetle, the PT Cruiser. Actually, the PT Cruiser isn't really to my taste, but I like that I don't confuse it with other models. :)

But I can see why others might not like the xB, it does have that "designed using only a T-Square" look. And there are cars out there I think are ugly -- looking at the Pontiac Aztec is like nails on a chalkboard for me.

gravatar srah - January 19, 2005 - 12:52 PM -

The Honda Element also has the toaster-look to it, but slightly more rounded.

gravatar David (neXt xB) - January 19, 2005 - 1:38 PM -

Element only seats four, sigh. Can't get three in the back seat. I do like it's funky looks though. Not as economical as the xB, but a bit more power and some nice features like being able to hose out the thing to clean it. :) Do you dislike the looks of the Element as much as the xB?

Oh, I did a little checking, and seems the Aveo is a rebadged Daewoo something or other, which doesn't really inspire confidence to me.

Also should mention the Mazda 3 hatch, which I test drove and was ok, but the kids didn't really have any leg room and seemed a bit cramped overall.

We need more cool looking hatchy-wagon things for those of use who want to carry people in the back with some room but don't want a monster sized SUV or minivan.

Still looking for my list... we don't need to buy for another month or two, nad I want to make sure to check out all decent options. Will probably go look at the Matrix, Magnum, and prolly the Jetta too this weekend.

gravatar monger187 - January 21, 2005 - 2:49 PM -

FYI, Good ol' General Motors is partially responsible for the style of the xB. At some point in the past ten years or so, for some unknown reason, Japanese kids decided that they really liked to customize Chevy Astro/GMC Safari Minivans, which have a distinctive (read:ugly) boxy shape. So the Japanese car makers picked up on this and came up with things like the xB and the Honda Element, as well as several other designs that we don't get here in the States. So the xB is really just a repackaged Japanese version of a GM minivan. So blame those guys up there in Detroit for the ugliness of the xB!

gravatar srah - January 21, 2005 - 4:19 PM -

I blame... Humanity.

*dramatic bow and arm sweep*

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