Monday, December 16, 2013

Drivers and "Motor Vehicle Operators"

The other day I pulled into Starbucks' parking lot and I saw an attractive car I didn't recognize.  Which, of course, caught my eye.  On closer inspection I saw the Toyota logo and the Camry nameplate.  I was surprised.  For years Camrys have been what Car and Driver described as "aggressively bland."  But it must have worked for them because for years it has been the best selling passenger motor vehicle in the U.S.  But now that Hyundai and Kia (owned by Hyundai) are putting out very pretty cars, perhaps Toyota has decided it better keep up.

Doesn't change my opinion of the Camry as a "transportation appliance."

There are, in my opinion, three types of motor vehicles on the road and two type of motor vehicle operators.

The three types of vehicles are:
  1. Utility vehicles
  2. Transportation appliances
  3. Cars
Utility vehicles are vehicles designed to do a certain job.  Trucks, pickup trucks, delivery vans, etc. are utility vehicles.  Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) were once in the category exclusively but have migrated into category 2.

Transportation appliances are vehicles that are designed to get you from point A to point B with
Toyota Prius
the least travail.  These include: SUVs, minivans, almost every vehicle sold by Toyota and Subaru in the US.  (Exceptions are the Scion FR-S, Lexus LFA, Subaru BRZ (which is the same vehicle as the Scion FR-S), and the Subaru WRX).  The Toyota Prius is the ultimate transportation appliance, designed solely around getting good fuel mileage.  The people who are behind the steering wheel of these transportation appliances are "motor vehicle operators" (and often the most clueless people on the road).

Cars are vehicles that are fun, a joy to drive, bring a smile to your face with their looks, performance, and handling (yes, all three; a good looking Camry is still a transportation appliance).  These cars do not have to be high-powered (although that helps) and they don't have to be small.  A Chrysler 300C with the V-8 Hemi is huge, but it is fun to drive and therefore a car.  And cars tend to have "drivers" behind the wheel.  These are people who take an active part in operating their vehicle.  They know it's limits (because they've tested them) and it's capabilities (because they've used them).  They pay attention to the road (not the radio or their cell phone), they don't think driving slow equates to safety more than driving aware.

Of course, some cars are driven by motor vehicle operators who don't know what they have, and some drivers are forced behind the wheel of a utility vehicle or a transportation appliance and gaze lustfully upon the Ford Mustang beside them at the red light.

I have, in my life, owned one transportation appliance, a minivan to hold my three sons (and have some separation between them).  Even then I pushed the limits (admittedly low) of that vehicle.

Next time you drive, look around, see if you can spot the drivers and the motor vehicle operators.  The latter will be in the left lane going under the speed limit in a Subaru.

No comments:

Post a Comment