It’s like a knock-knock joke. Boy, am I glad I got a new car. And apparently most of my passengers are too. Just last spring, we had a tremendous auto issue, concepted and executed by and large by Randy Stern. In it, I presented an ode to my Jeep. I detailed everything I loved about it, from its Sky-Slider roof to its boxy shape to its ability to drive through — and out of — anything. I took that thing everywhere. It was very lived-in. I loved living life in it.
And then I had to start making more repairs. You know, the kind that you don’t know are coming until they’re there. They make sense. Things need replacing after eight years of ownership. When the monthly repairs started costing more than a new car payment would, my mind started wandering.
While I was up at my family’s cabin by Brainerd for Labor Day Weekend and the week after, working remotely as a busy professional, the Jeep needed a new water pump. I was parked and stranded in paradise. Thankfully, I got it fixed and was able to come home to the metro area.
As timing would have it, that’s also when Randy’s Ride Review of the Fiat 500X came out. It came out, literally and figuratively. It was in the mid-September issue, but I was proofing that issue while I was stranded at the cabin, wondering what to do about my vehicle. What was very clear in his article is that Fiat and the manufacturers are very supportive of this community. They want GLBT people involved in every aspect of Fiat’s products, from being employees to being buyers. Just as I do with many of the products and services in my life, I love to find them in the pages of this magazine. It makes me feel good to symbiotically continue the support that has been given. And this was the right time and right circumstances for me to consider supporting Fiat.
Oh, I wouldn’t have made the same decision last year. I am not a person who wants a small vehicle, which was my only impression of Fiats. It had to be the right Fiat for me, one that can fit a large Nordic woman and anyone in my posse. I still hate the idea of getting down into a car. I’d rather climb up and then fall out when I enter and exit a vehicle. And, anything I drive has to have good clearance from the ground for driving through snow and sand. And lava. Just in case.
What’s less easy to define is that je ne sais quoi about a vehicle I’m going to drive for years. I’d say that my instinct relies on a certain amount of uniqueness to my ride. The Jeep was silver and boxy with a roof that opened up completely. Loved it. People knew me by it. Whatever I drove next would need to have that similar head-turning quality, without beating anybody over the head with whatever makes it different.
Here enters the brand new Fiat, the one that is a Fiat on Viagra and basically just a swollen version of the 500, the 500X. So, one night I asked a friend if we could swing by the Fiat dealership and look at a 500X so I “could see how tall it is.” I just wanted to see if the stats I’d been reading that made them similar to a Jeep also included that they feel tall, instead of more of a car that I’d have to climb down into. Right. It would just take a sec, checking to “see how tall it is,” before we went to dinner.
Of course, we ended up having dinner at 10:00, after I’d done the test drive, learned about the great trade-in and financing options, and picked out my new Fiat 500X to drive off the lot. I made sure I got one with AWD and the height checked out juuuuuust fine. My new vehicle, which is the color of a blood orange, is what I very characteristically call “The Fiat” because I have no ability to branch out into cutesy names like “Clementine.” I am very literal. I can’t even call it a car, because I don’t know if it really is one, being in the “cute-ute” category of sports utility vehicles. Ugh. Cute. Kill me now.
I will choose to also apply the “cute” characterization literally because it is a smaller vehicle. It gets a billion more miles to the gallon than my Jeep did, despite the tank being the size of a thimble. I can fit people in it, though we get a little closer, and it passed the test of being able to get IKEA shelving home without having to strap anything to the roof. I’ve already driven it all over the state and I could not be happier with how it turns heads as I drive along with my new Bluetooth-enabled blissed-out environment on wheels (the Jeep was pre-technology and relied on an aux cable…it’s a whole new world).
Through all of this, I learned that I can love something as much as the Jeep without it being the Jeep. And that you should never trust me if I say I just want to “see how tall” something is.