Although I write an auto column, I don't really love driving. I gladly hand over the keys to my wife or my two teenage daughters. The thing is that driving isn't like those television commercials where the latest models always appear to be on winding mountain roads with spectacular views and no other traffic.
In reality, it's creep-along gridlock most of the time, and what's the fun in that? Plus, other drivers can really get on your nerves. Let me count the ways.
Slow going. This is the driver who is ultra-slow to get away from a green light. These folks can usually be seen playing with their cell phones, talking to a passenger or looking for something. They notice the green light at the last minute and speed through, leaving you stranded as it turns red. What can you say about people like that?
Which way? These drivers hate to use their turn signals, instead simply darting (again, at the last minute) down a side street. They're daring you to hit them.
Left, left, left. It's amazing these auto pilots got licenses, because they're capable of driving down I-95 for 30 miles without ever noticing that their turn signal is on. When they finally do make a turn, the signal is nowhere in sight.
Distraction rules. I've been hit, twice, from behind by people in SUVs or minivans who were talking on their phones at the time. It is impossible to hold a cellphone call and pay adequate attention to the road. And texting is, of course, far worse.
It's enough to make you take public transportation!
I spent much of last week behind the wheel of the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, and have enjoyed it much. Since I don't drive all that much, I've been able to take advantage of the 16 miles of all-electric driving for most of my travel.
This car is very new — when I talked to Ford at the auto show last month, only 200 had been sold (and 800 were on dealer lots). I like everything about the Energi except the small trunk compromised by the battery pack. It offers 620 miles of cruising range, and approximately 47 mpg in combined gas/electric use. Under the hood is a 149-horsepower four, and with the electric motor it's 195 horsepower combined.
Things you should know: the federal tax credit is half the $7,500 for the Volt because of the smaller battery pack. The price is just below $40,000. The cabin is a very nice place to be, with good front and rear legroom and a lot of useful electronic aids. And there's another choice from Ford — the C-MAX Energi, with virtually the same drivetrain but more of a utility focus.