By Peter Dushenski @carenvy
As our neighbours to the south head to the polls for the most important election in the world this November, it’s time again for members of the international community to think about who we might vote for, given the opportunity.
To help guide us in this very theoretical debate, CarEnvy has invited two proud American sedans that provide speed, luxury, and most importantly, exceptional value. Because other than childhood obesity and technological innovation, what’s more American that bang for your buck? We’ve matched each of the political candidates with their nearest automotive parallel to help shed some light on what is sure to be a nasty and narrowly won fight to the finish. Republican Candidate Mitt Romney will be represented by the 2012 Buick Regal GS and Democratic Candidate Barack Obama will be represented by the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO. It’s Romney GS vs. SHObama!
You have but one vote, dear friends, and the fate of the world depends on it.
Is that the sound of America’s constricted pulse, clogged with big government, unemployment, and lard? Probably, because neither of these patriotic princes has the characterful V8 that might also make that sound. That America died with Nixon. So get over it. Even though the American DNA has eight cylinders double-helixed into its very fibre, the SHO is motivated by a 365 hp twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5L V6 and the GS zips ahead with a 270 hp single-turbo Ecotec 2.0L I4.
The on-paper power and torque figures for these two are as similar as the backgrounds between the two candidates, and so are their curb weights. When all the numbers are crunched, however, just like he will in Oregon, the SHObama trounces the Romney GS in power-to-weight with 11.9 lbs/hp versus 13.8 lbs/hp. And just like in Florida, the torque-to-weight battle is a far closer contest thanks to a sturdy 295 ft-lbs from the GS, but the SHO still edges it with 12.4 lbs/ft-lbs versus 12.7 lbs/ft-lbs. Oh, and lower numbers are better because the less weight that each hp and ft-lbs has to tow, the faster you go!
Although these ratios make the SHObama seem like it’s carrying less baggage, it’s a deception. Obama has racial and religious overtones to overcome, not to mention a less-than-revolutionary term in Office fresh in our minds; just as the SHO has 4,343 lbs to drag along, 610 lbs more than the svelte Regal. But at 3,733 lbs – like Romney with his shoulder-sagging tax evasion and hush-hush Mormonism – the competition isn’t what you’d call lean. The Regal’s lighter frame gives it an additional 2 mpg in both city and highway ratings (19/27 mpg vs. 17/25 mpg), which makes sense; you’d expect the Republican to spend less. But in my experience with the four-doors, they achieved almost identical mileage figures. Much like two political parties that promise different levels of spending, it appears as if neither is capable or likely to reduce the daunting debt levels, regardless of campaign promises. In reality, they’re both going to hit your pocketbook pretty hard.
In the transmission department, the SHO is auto-only, not unlike the Democratic candidate who makes running a campaign look ever so effortless. SHObama always seems to be at the right place at the right time, no paddle shifters required (even if they’re there). Romney doesn’t have that finesse, even though he has more political experience. He doesn’t handle the media with the same grace, as he made clear when homophobe wackjob Rick Santorum almost beat him in the primaries. The 6-speed manual offered in the GS is a respectable nod to enthusiasts, but the longish throws and unsatisfying clutch mean that it doesn’t translate well into practice, much like the Republican.
And when it comes to maneuvering, the SHO is as deft as a samurai’s chopsticks and equally deadly, as is Obama. Whether its the crumbling city streets or the crumbling economy, SHObama carries exceptional pace and makes the best of the situation. Few can compete with the combination of determination and balance. The Romney GS doesn’t come close here. With a rocky ride and inaccurate steering, the Republican Regal never feels like the trusted companion you’d want for the next 4 years. More than any other analogy, the ride and handling differences between the SHO and GS best elucidate the differences between the Presidential candidates. The GS feels crashier, less composed, and is ultimately slower to recover when mistakes are made. That’s not what driving enthusiasts or the sputtering economy need.
Like one of Romney’s finely tailored 5th Avenue suits, the GS gets a bespoke steering wheel that places the driver’s hands slightly higher and canted inwards at the top (pronated, for you anatomists) from the preferred 9-and-3 position. The GS rim is also thicker than the wonderfully thin helm in the SHO. Overly thick rims are very de rigueur, but thickness negates the sense of delicacy that is oh so desirable for enthusiasts. Although the SHObama is porkier on paper, when its alcantara-lined wheel is in your hands, it feels like the more lithe driving companion is. Must be all that jogging.
Although its baggage is a burden, the SHObama is the more compelling contender. It inspires greater confidence, offers superior value, and represents the best that America has to offer. And with AWD, it’s a sure bet in the snow belt. At the time of this writing, they’re both also about C$45,000 out-the-door. Although both offer plainly different approaches on paper, the reality of living with each of them shows even starker and more important differences. Neither is wrong, but only one gives so much hope.
But that’s just an outsider’s perspective. How would you vote?
[Photo credits: author]
These vehicles were generously provided by GM Canada and Ford Canada for the purposes of this article.