OK, how about a fluffy post? Yesterday Mrs. Dreher’s 2005 rolling Cheerios repository minivan got sent out to pasture, and she acquired a 2013 Ford Explorer Limited. When we bought the minivan, and when we bought my Honda Accord, we got the no-frills models. This is a frill model, which I was happy to buy, given that she’s served her time behind the wheel of the bumpety-bump bargain minivan. (Selfishly and perhaps embarrassingly, I feel that having finally dispatched the minivan, my testosterone levels will rise once again). But look, at the risk of sounding like a turnip-truck faller-offer, I have to admit that I’m in awe of the stuff cars these days can do. It’s got onscreen navigation, satellite radio, and a phone system that works with your mobile to allow you to make hands-free calls while you drive. And it’s got wi-fi. Not being a car guy in the least, I’m kind of geeked out by all the stuff the thing does. I might be wrong, but I think if you pressed the right combination of buttons, it could fly. I don’t like driving in general, and especially don’t like lengthy roadtrips. But this thing makes roadtrips a dream, or at least for grumpy me, not a nightmare. The only way it could be better would be if it misted the children with light sedatives. Can I tell you it even has air-cooled seats? Because your butt might get hot, and who wants to have to deal with that? Jeezy pete.

I figured we’d need to replace the minivan within a couple of years, but I also figured we’d get a Honda of some sort, given how reliable they have been for me, or maybe some other Japanese make. But then we moved to a town that only had two dealers: a Ford dealer and a Chevy dealer. Lots of people around here drive foreign cars, but they have to go out of town for servicing. Just last week I had to have something looked at on my Accord, and had to drive to BR to get it attended to. The shop reinstalled a dashboard panel incorrectly, and now I’ve got to take another half-day, at least, and drive 35 miles to get it fixed. Pain in the butt.

Besides, my mom and dad have had a long relationship with the town’s Ford dealership; the owners are family friends (and one of them is literally my neighbor). My folks said you can always count on that family to deal with you honestly, as a real person, and that that sort of thing is worth any potentially lower price you might pay over what you could get from a big-city dealer. Anyway, my dad said, if you need to get your car worked on, doesn’t it mean something to you to be able to drive it over, leave it, and walk home?

Good points, all. Buying this Ford was a localist decision, primarily — but it helped a lot that the 2013 Explorers have great reviews. In any case, I think we got a fair deal, conducted in a low-hassle, stress-free manner, and we’re pretty happy with the car. Julie said an older lady, a woman she did not know, banged on her window in the supermarket parking lot today to tell her how much she liked the Explorer.

One thing I’ve already learned from being back home: if you spend any time in the country, you pretty much need a truck or an SUV. It would be hard to get down to Ronnie Morgan’s camp for cookouts in an Accord or a minivan. This is one thing people who complain about SUVs don’t often appreciate. It’s harder to see the justification for an SUV in the city, but if you live as we do, in a small town in a rural parish, they’re very practical.