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Test drive event discussion thread

Discussion in 'Other Cars' started by cwerdna, Oct 10, 2011.

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  1. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    Want to discuss random thoughts and observations from test drive events sponsored by automakers? This would be a good place...

    In the past, when I'd been to a bunch of Toyota hybrid roadshows in WA state, the Toyota test drives offered at the Seattle auto show and most recently the Toyota test drives offered at Green Drive Expo in Richmond, CA, most of the staffers were the same folks. Yes, the folks I saw in WA were at GDE.

    Some of them recognize me and have gotten to know me after a few of the events. They apparently work for some agency/3rd party company and not directly for Toyota. They handle Toyota test drive events on the West Coast.

    Today, I went to Cadillac Culinary Challenge Test Drive at Santana Row in San Jose and I test drove all the vehicles there: CTS sedan and coupe, SRX, Escalade Hybrid, BMW X5, Mercedes E350 sedan and coupe and Lexus RX. I spoke to numerous ride along staffers and learned that they all came from different parts of the US, such as LA, Texas, north of NYC, and so on. Apparently they were all contracted by the same person.

    Apparently, the event's almost over w/remaining events in So Cal, Georgia and Florida.

    One of the women says she works at Scion events at other times of the year. I mentioned to her my familiarity w/the Toyota staffers (above) and how some folks in other parts of the country (East Coast?) were disappointed by the hybrid knowledge level of those staffing Toyota events. She basically said that the test drive folks at the Seattle auto show wouldn't be the ones working the show floor. She was correct about that. She said that "product specialists" on auto show floors have to know more and that people who know more are thus paid more.

    To her, those staffing test drive events, if they aren't one of those "paid more" folks... their lack of product knowledge isn't too surprising. She hypothesized that Toyota only had so much budget to hire whoever they got vs. the "paid more" folks.

    About the cars: I'm not a BMW fan and I found the X5 has VERY touchy brakes. I was warned about it by the ride along go and it was tough to get used to them. I was guessing that maybe there was something wrong w/the car but a few Google searches turns up the same complaint (in the automotive press). I've test driven a wide range of BMWs before but don't remember encountering anything like this before.

    I'd heard complaints about the X5's goofy turn signal lever and found them legit. The way it works is very annoying and unlike ANY car I've driven, Japanese, Korean or American. The gearshift lever is also goofy (seen complaints about this too).

    I can't imagine how many sales BMW has lost on the X5 when cross shopping w/other cars, unless one is a BMW fanboy. If were in the market for that class of vehicle, besides in being a BMW (w/high maintenance costs and hit/miss reliability, some very poor), the above reasons would be even more reasons to scratch it off my list.

    I thought it was odd to bring the MB E-classes to have up against the CTS. I'd figure a BMW 3-series or MB C-Class would be more appropriate.

    On the Mercedes, they put their cruise control adjustment lever in a weird place. They put it on the left side of the steering wheel, angled up and above the turn signal lever. It's exactly where I'd expect to a turn signal lever on Toyotas, so I kept pushing on that. It was odd that Mercedes saw it fit to put a huge analog clock on the left side of the dash. It reminds me of cars from the 70s and 80s. IMHO, analog clocks in cars today are ok, but a huge one in the dash? That's odd.

    Back to product knowledge, when I was in the Lexus RX, the woman in the car for some reason brought up (premium) fuel "requirements" for all their cars and competitors too. I mentioned the SRX recall (http://priuschat.com/forums/other-c...-fuel-grenaded-cadillac-srx-gms-response.html) but I didn't remember all the details. She was unaware of it. It was somewhat fitting to bring it up given what she brought up and given that an SRX was available for test drives.

    In the end, I was able to lookup some articles of it on my iPhone 4 and showed them to her.
  2. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    2011 Hyundai Test Drive Event

    My review of the Hyundai Canada Test Drive Event last month



  3. a_gray_prius

    a_gray_prius Rare Non-Old-Blowhard Priuschat Member

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    I test drove a Suzuki Kizashi and a Nissan Leaf recently. Unfortunately, I didn't get either past 40mph so it's kind of hard to make real judgements.

    The Kizashi was surprisingly comfortable, and was super easy to shift (I drove a manual, it was literally like zero effort, compared to the modified cars I often get to drive). First impression: zero effort daily driver - perfect if you don't actually enjoy the feeling of driving. Doors felt solid, well built. Steering was very light. It was super quiet and very smooth, but then most cars are when they are new. The rep that rode with us was from Seattle, owned a Prius :).

    I took my parents to the Nissan drive electric event in Chicago. The first impression I had of the Nissan leaf was "roomy" for such a small car. Also very smooth, quiet. Turning circle was super tight. Let me make something clear: my parents want to purchase an electric car, we really do like the idea. However: acceleration in eco mode made me want to cry. The rep that rode with us was like high school age - the kid knew like nothing about the car.
  4. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    (I posted most of the below in another unrelated thread.)
    I don't know how many stops remain for
    BMW Drive for Team USA - BMW North America
    and I don't know their schedule, but if you have some free time and you like unsupervised test drives, check it out. They had the 3 328i's, a 335i and competitor's cars that you could try: Audi A4, Mercedes C250 and Lexus IS250. I didn't like the Mercedes that much and the Audi A4 (being FWD) seemed to have noticeable torque steer, even w/o hard acceleration. It was weird. I've driven plenty of FWD cars before and am familiar w/torque steer on my former 02 Nissan Maxima.

    At the end, they give you a little schwag: a BMW hat and a BMW insulated metal travel mug. There was also plenty of free (pretty good) food. I should've skipped lunch before going there.

    For signing up online, I also received a $10 Starbucks gift card. Also attendees receive some sort of $1000 incentive towards the purchase of a new BMW...
    Anyhow, some random impressions about the cars:​
    - The auto-stop/start on the 328i was a bit amusing. The ICE starting sounds are very similar to that of a conventional car but very brief. It's not like that of Priuses. I heard the ICEs on other 328i's on event restarting.​
    - 328i had plenty of power and was reasonably quiet for a 4 banger. I now kinda miss both my 287 hp 350Z and (255 hp 02 ) Maxima. :/ Hmm... maybe when I'm due for a replacement for my Prius, I'll be buying a HyCam instead.​
    - iDrive is still quite complex and IMHO, overall not very safe to use while in motion.​
    - The 335i's auto-stop/start system didn't seem to be working. I tried playing w/the enable/disable button and it had no effect. 335i feels and sounds like a very different car. The test car had a sport package and had a very nice exhaust sound that could be heard in the interior.​
    - The test cars were pretty loaded w/LDW and some (?) blind spot warning systems. I didn't try those out.
    - I still don't like the goofy turn signal controls on the BMW but I'm more used to them now.
    - I didn't like the Merc very much and also don't like where they put the cruise control stalk. It's at the position and angle where Japanese automakers put their turn signal lever.
  5. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    After the BMW test drive event, I did some Googling about the Audi A4 torque steer/weirdness I experienced and stumbled across Team USA Experience - Page 7 - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums. All I can say from below is that some folks are expecting too much from test drive events, esp. ones where many people can sign up and people can also drop in:


    People posting on that date or within a few days after were definitely at the same event as I was.

    FWIW, I felt the Volt test drives that we got in WA state were surprisingly long, in a good way (Chevy "Volt Unplugged" Tour (test drives) - October thru November 2010 | PriusChat).
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