Mama called me early Tuesday afternoon and asked if I could come home early to watch the baby; I knew by the croak of her voice that she was in a bad way. So I came home just in time to get the girl up, fed, and dressed, set a cool glass of water next to my sick wife, then slip quietly out of the house on a combination grocery/Lowe’s run.

Words cannot describe how easy it is to get a child out of a four-door vehicle when you’ve been limited to two doors for sixteen months. Car seats are built and regulated in such a way that they are impossible to use for all creatures except perhaps the octopus; one needs at least four arms to wrestle the baby while the other four are engaged in latching the tiny buckles without getting them caught in clothing, toys, or fingers. Having to do all this while leaning over a bucket seat in a snowstorm is enough to make one swear off automobile travel forever. Being able to remotely open a door, lean in, and handle everything while standing on solid ground is a revelation.

I think the best overall way to illustrate the differences between our Jeep and the CR-V is to say that the Jeep was designed by people who probably had children; the CR-V was designed by people with children for people who have children. I realize I’m dinging Chrysler—actually, American Motors—for a model design that dates back to 1978, but you’d think that in twenty years of production and two(!?!) major refreshes, they could have built in some features to make everyday life a little easier.

The Honda’s cabin is quiet and very roomy, compared to the Jeep; both vehicles share almost the same wheelbase and dimensions but the Honda feels larger and more stable. The doors close with a solid feel. The interior components are sturdy and feel refined and polished. The controls are bright and clear. I’m enjoying the clutch more as I get used to it, although I have to really listen to hear when it’s ready to shift—it’s that quiet. And I’m still not used to the microscopic distance between gears in the shift pattern; that’s going to take more practice. It’s responsive and quick in a very Japanese sort of way, unlike the hairy-chested American manner of the Jeep, which is all sound and fury when the gas pedal is down, but an absolute mess to wrestle back into control.

On the ride, it’s now very easy to turn around and check on Finn; this is partially due to the positioning of the seat, which is in the middle of the 60 side of the 60/40 bench. It’s also due to the wider split between front seats and the thoughtful collapsible tray between them; Jen and I have joked that it’s designed so that of us can easily get to the back seat to administer beatings.

I stopped at a total of five stores, and took the backpack with me for the first time in months. It was a breeze to get Finn out of the seat, open the barn door in back, set her in the pack, stand up and lock the car with the keyfob lock—all without slipping a disc, hitting her head on the roof of the car, hitting my head on the top of the hatch, or having to open one of the front doors to use the switch to lock the car. This was a day where I was able to do five stores in two hours, as opposed to maybe hitting three stores in the same amount of time with the Jeep. That’s a quality of life improvement that I can get behind.

Date posted: January 28, 2010 | Filed under finn, honda | Comments Off on Initial Thoughts.

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