It is good luck when you pass by the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile!

2015 On Four Wheels, a Q4C Review

A Queer4Cars Year in Review – 2015 On Four Wheels

The wienermobile, while we did
not drive one, who would not want
to drive one?

Thinking back to this past year, I got to “Hot-Dog” around in 2015 spending quality time behind the wheel driving various cars and trucks. It just seemed right to do a year in review and come up with the ones I liked best. So go-ahead and get right in!

Mercedes-Benz Metris in rural Michigan.
Mercedes-Benz Metris in rural Michigan.
Nothing like the hospitality of  Michiganders. We were invited to Stop N’ Rest at this barn and see the little town that is inside.

 

Shoes on display, welcome to the 1950's!
Shoes on display, welcome to the 1950’s!
Shoes in a replica shoe shop in a Michigan barn.

It was an eventful and interesting year out on the Queer4Cars road, from getting a warning ticket for speeding in a Mitsubishi Outlander, to having a wild animal take out the front of a Mazda 3 rental. And fun meeting new people on the back roads of Michigan testing out the new mid-sized van from Mercedes-Benz, the Metris and being given a private barn tour of Michiganders own version of the Henry Ford Museum, to spending a few days with Motor Trend’s Zack Gale driving AMG’s in Tennessee. It was a great year to be on the road with some very cool cars in some fun places like the Rocky Mountains or the twisty roads of Eastern Tennessee and North Carolina on the Tail of the Dragon. Cruising around the Summit Point Raceway and Monticello race tracks. Or the streets of Indianapolis IN or at home in Washington DC.

Motor Trend’s Zach Gale,
AMGing it up on the road!
Speeding warning ticket in a crossover,
The embarrassment of it all!

 

Posting on social media that I was going to do a rides review for 2015, a number of friends chimed in, I was amazed at the interest there was in pickup trucks. So we will start off with a review of what a High School boyfriend used to call “PickEMUPs.” We took the Ford F250, RAM 1500, RAM Rebel, GMC Denali, GMC Canyon diesel, and Chevrolet Z71 2500, out for spins.

2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4x4
2016 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4

GMC Denali Pickup
GMC Denali Pickup

Customized JEEP Rubicon
Customized JEEP Rubicon

 

Honda celebrates diversity in color as well as lifestyle.
Honda celebrates diversity in color as well as lifestyle.

One asked what would be good to pull a horse trailer, so I have to say, it is a tossup, between the Ford and The RAM. Not because all of the big mighty American Pickups could not do the job, with right drive train, and you can outfit the inside with everything or pretty basic, your choice. I would go with the larger gasoline or the diesel engines in the heavy duty 2500 models. While the RAM, GMC, and the Chevy all had some of the nicest, and toughest hard working interiors with leather seating, nice work surfaces and plenty of power outlets and entertainment options, making them the perfect rolling work station. You can haul horses, and anything else in a lot of style and comfort. The winner there for me, knowing horse people, was the basic work truck, the Ford F250, equipped for the job, with nothing fancy, but a hard working drivetrain and a basic though comfortable interior.

GMC Canyon’s interior is not over done.
GMC’s DURAMAX Diesel powered drive train.

For those who may be  looking for a hard working truck, but may not need all the hauling power of the big rigs. Then, no question the GMC Canyon Diesel is a great choice, and for all the right reasons too!Here we found a very well equipped and very stylish truck, while not full size, it was hard to tell it was smaller than the big pickups. The diesel engine was powerful, quiet and pulled down some good fuel economy for a truck. Not to mention you can feel comfortable driving it anywhere, be it the lumber yard, or the country club. To school to pick up the kids, or out to the local “pickemup” up place of your preference!  Gay, or Lesbian, Trans or Straight, it’s a nice truck, and it will fit any lifestyle.

The four-door GMC Canyon rolling in from a road trip.

 

RAM ProMaster City, a small city van.

While we are on the subject of hard working vehicles, there is nothing more handi than a van. A fully enclosed truck for protecting the stuff you haul, and being able to haul just about anything. We drove a fleet of van, including: Ford Transit (full-size), Tranist Connect (small size), RAM ProMaster (full-size), ProMaster City (small – this is not the old Dodge minivan), and the Mercedes-Benz / Freightliner Sprinter (full-size) as well as a US and Euro Spec Metris (mid-size) vans.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Full-Size Vans
Ford Transit Full-Size Vans
RAM ProMaster Full-Sized Van

 

Mercedes-Benz Westfalia Camper Outfitted V-Class Vans

The new mid-sized Mercedes-Benz Metris wins out here, new to the USA, though it has been in Europe as the V-Class for some time. While here it only comes as a gasoline powered with an automatic transmission. We were take with the European CDI, diesel powered, with the manual tranny in Westfalia Camper drag. While you may think of Westfalia and think of an old school VW Camper Van. Mercedes-Benz has bought into the outfitter and has it turning V-Class vans into campers for the European market. What was nice about the Metris was the size, small and easy to park, which also comes with good handling, much like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans. We expect to see a camper version here in the USA in the next few years.

Airstream Upfitted Sprinter Camper

When that happens you can pop the top, and throw a party no matter where you go. If you want to throw bigger more lavish parties there is always the Airstream Interstate, built on the Sprinter Chassis. Cub Scout Camping in the Metris or Glamping in full sized in style, with the Sprinter, you have your choice.

 

Nissan Maxima Sedan
The C450 AMG has all the goodies, just not the handcrafted
one-man-one-engine, that the AMG line is known for.

Mainstream sedans; nothing says it better than those that we took out for a spin! We settled into the BMW i3 (the electric vehicle for the upscale crowd,) enjoyed driving a Nissan Maxima, who can resist a four-door sports car; as well as the lux rides, the Mercedes-Benz C450, and the C63 and a few others, that we will cover in the Rental Car Rodeo. While we lust after, and I use that word totally litterly, let me change my shorts, kind of lust, the Mercedes-Benz C63S AMG, though the M-B C450 is almost all that, just without the massive AMG engine, the Nissan Maxima made the list for the most sensible four door sedan. The BMW i3, was cute, but not that practical, and in our eyes nothing more than an uppity Prius. Though nothing wrong with EV’s we love them!  So Give me a new pair of shorts, and a pre-loaded gas card, I gotta go with Mercedes-Benz’s C63 AMG!

C63 Handmade One-Man-One Engine
is what makes you change your shorts.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Cockpit,
Let me slip in and DRIVE!
The BMW i3 Electric Vehicle
has gone upscale.

Real Sports Cars! Though I spent seat time in just two classic drop top sports cars, the Audi TT, and the Mazda MX5 Miata, no need to look any further than the iconic Miata! Yep, had to cheer for this little rear-drive roadster, it has just been redesigned, being taken back to its roots as a pure sports car, not a muscle car, Just a fun-to-drive car for a driver, passenger and a few small bags out on a weekend trip, or to make running errands all the more fun. The Miata is different from what it has been in recent generations, but so much more like what it was originally designed to be.  Pop the top or button it up, it is a fun drive, top up or top down.

Audi TT is a great drop top sports car.
The new Mazda MX5 Miata

 

The Jeep after a muddy off-road adventure.

SUV’s, we took a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen as well as the JEEP Cherokee out on some very muddy, sloppy, off- road trails. Drove the huge Infinity QX80, and the always classy, Range Rover, as well as the new GLE Coupe from Mercedes-Benz. Only the Mercedes made us want to bring it home to meet the family. As odd as the GLE 4-door coupe styling is to look at, a four door hatchback SUV on steroids, it was the most comfortable and handled the best, making us feel great on the city streets or on the twisty roads of Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Range Rover is an ever classic SUV.

 

The Mitsubishi Outlander, classic crossover or is it an SUV?

Crossovers, we took out the Mitsubishi and promptly got a warning from the police for speeding, so since it was the only one we got behind the wheel of this year, and it got us the attention of two men in uniform! It wins our vote, hey getting pulled over by the cops must count for something. Nothing out of the ordinary, but then a crossover is not supposed to be anything special, it is there to haul people and stuff in the way that station wagons once did. And who gets excited about a station wagon?

Super Cars: My heart is still pounding: Dodge Viper, Mercedes-Benz AMG GTS and the McLaren, while all were pretty amazing, ALL are so out of my stratosphere that I did not take any of them seriously. Taking the Viper out on the Racetrack was pretty wild, and the McLaren, just oozed sex appeal. The AMG GTS seemed to be the most sensible of the bunch, but not something you would take home to Mom, though Dad on the other hand, why NOT, he would like some German muscle with a nice butt and pretty guns to boot!

The Mercedes-Benz AMG GTS – An Affordable Supercar.
The Dodge SRT Viper, don’t worry it’s not
small, and it has plenty of RAW Power!

 

SRT Challenger HellCat, This one will bit you in the ass.

American Muscle Cars, the Dodge SRT Challenger, and the Ford Mustang. It came down to the Challenger Hellcat or Scat Pack, since we took the Scat Pack to the track and it had something hard to put in our hand, as it was a manual, it wins our love in this category. Though the Hellcat was pretty darn cool, even though you just knew it could bite your ass if you hit the throttle the wrong way. But sometimes that can be fun too, you just have to be in the right mood for that kind of action.

Challenger Scat Pack at the Track
The Iconic Ford Mustang Convertible

 

 

The AMEX Card Rental Car Insurance
Program saved a road trip!

A Mitsubishi Lancer, Chevrolet Captiva, Mazda 3, and Chevrolet Impala, were in our 2015 Rental Car Rodeo,

For 2015 the winner this year… IS… The AMEX Card and their built-in as well as the extra option, rental car insurance. In 30 plus years of renting cars, never having an issue out on the road in a rental car, there are those times you wonder if spending the money for the extra insurance or for carrying an special metallic colored card is worth the fees.

Well let me tell you AMEX and the extra rental car coverage through the card that I pay a per rental fee, took care of the issues (and the cost) of having an accident in a car rented using the card. And it did just fine, thank you! With caring representatives who walked me through the whole process and showed they cared for me, their customer. From the initial phone call, the weekly emailed updates, right down to the final report four months later.  So it is the AMEX Platinum Card which ends up being the total winner of 2015.

Rental Mazda 3 after the bumper was ripped off

Late at night in the middle of nowhere Georgia a wild animal darted across the highway. With no time to react, the bumper of the Mazda 3 took the impact and was destroyed, in the middle of the highway, in the middle of NOWHERE! Pulling over in utter darkness to rip off the plastic bumper was not on the 2015 bucket list.

Kudos to AMEX and their rental car insurance! With all the paperwork handled over the phone and via email, there never was any out of pocket charges or any additional cost for the repairs that came to over $2500, not to mention waiving of the loss of use fees, that can really add up.

Back to the rental cars, the Chevrolet Captiva had no understanding of the Michigan snow, though it managed to drive through it, lighting up idiot lights, clearly stating that sub-freezing temperatures, snow and ice was not the thing a car with a

Old School Chevrolet Impala, still had a great ride
and good fuel economy for a long highway drive.

Florida name could deal with.

Both the Mazda and the Mitsubishi were base models. They felt cheap, rode hard, were good on gas, and did the job of providing transportation.

So the winner for 2015 in the Rental Car Rodeo is the old-body style, 2015 Chevrolet Impala. I felt like I should be looking for my next meal at a senior buffet while driving it. The full size Bow Tie ride provided a comfortable ride for a long boring road trip up I95 from Florida to DC, To top it off it provided good fuel economy in the upper 20’s for a car of that size.

GMC Canyon 4-door Pickup Truck.

So which would be the choice to put in my driveway for the new year?  The hardest part is to name just one!

If I had to, it would be the GMC Canyon Diesel.

Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe

Followed by the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 Coupe, and to be totally tragically boring and practical, the Mercedes-Benz Metris Van, camper van, passenger van, or cargo van, they were all good.

Oh, and what I would put in the Garage, where no-one would see me lusting over it would be the Mercedes-Benz C63S AMG!      Let me change my Shorts.

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG – Photo by MBUSA

Cheers to the New Year, let 2016 be a great road year as well for you and yours.

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