The day has come: It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, and that means it’s time for Ask Doug, where I respond to all of your highly important automotive questions, and also your non-highly important automotive questions, assuming they praise me and my work.
If you’d like to ask a question, you can! Just e-mail me at OversteerDoug@gmail.com, and I will read your question, and possibly even reply here on Oversteer, though I think it’s more likely that I will laugh at you and make fun of your grammar in my head.
Anyway, today’s question comes to us from a reader I’ve named Phil, who writes:
My commute to work each day is roughly 30 miles of highway driving with the cruise control on. When I drive on the weekend, it is usually highway driving with the cruise control on. What this means is that when I get my next car, I want it to be a boat like an old-school Cadillac or Town Car. I don’t want to feel the road, corner sharply, or anything that most car reviewers seem to think is important. I want it quiet, boring, quiet and plush.
To that end, what would be the best modern car for me? Most carmakers seem to take the stance that even big sedans need that Nurburgring cache.
This is an excellent question, Phil, and I’ve noticed the very same thing: Every automaker wants to attract young, sporty, enthusiast buyers, and nobody is going after the population who doesn’t want any of that stuff. It’s surprising, and pretty interesting, and I often wonder what’s going to happen to all of us young "enthusiasts" when we get old and automakers are still producing all the same sporty cars we always told them we wanted, except we don’t want them anymore.
My dad had this problem recently when he went to buy a car. My dad, who is roughly 70 years old, literally does not care about cars; he could not tell a Honda CR-V from Jay Leno’s tank-engined car. He wants something nice, luxurious and comfortable, and that’s it. For the last decade he’s been driving a 2005 Lexus RX.
So it came time for him to replace the RX, and he discovered that the new RX is now trying to be sporty, high-performance and angry-looking, and they’ve gone away from the normal comfort and traditional styling he’s gotten so used to. Not surprisingly, he didn’t want anything to do with that, so I convinced him to buy a Lincoln MKC, which has been a good vehicle for him so far. I say this because I’ve only received one angry call from him asking how to use a feature he couldn’t figure out.
And this brings me back to you, Phil. Looking for a relatively non-sporty car for my dad wasn’t easy, but we found it, and it’s out there for you, too — you just have to look past the usual noise of BMW, Mercedes and even Lexus now, which has gone sharp and edgy on everything. Consider, for instance, the Lincoln Continental, which emphasizes relaxation over performance. Or the Acura RLX, the Volvo S90, the Cadillac XTS, the Chrysler 300 or the Buick LaCrosse. These are the six sedans I’d recommend if you’re looking for something that’s more luxury and comfort than sporty and fast.
But you’ve brought up a good point, here, which is that automakers seem to be abandoning the people who purely want comfort, and don’t care at all about anything else. Yes, the six cars I recommended are pretty good, but they aren’t the Lincoln Town Car, or the Buick Roadmaster. The days of huge, old-school boats are gone. And presumably they’ve lost some buyers along with them.
Or maybe they haven’t.
Here’s a theory I’m working, Phil: Automakers can become sporty because people — even older people who want comfort above all else — still want to feel cool. Yes, my dad ditched Lexus, but my dad doesn’t care about his image or his appearance in the slightest; he wears a $9.00 watch from Target and even cheaper shoes than mine. Most older people, the "comfort" car buyers, appreciate the new look of Lexus, Acura and all the other brands trying to go sporty, because it makes them feel young. So Lexus and Acura still get most of those buyers — and they get a lot of other actual young shoppers, too, reaching the brand for the first time because they now look "cool."
But people like you are left out of the whole thing. Fortunately, as I mentioned, there are a few cars that still get close to your requirements. And just remember, if you don’t like any of those, you can always buy a used Lincoln Town Car. I hear there are a few for sale on Autotrader.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.