Judge's Take - Don't Get Me Started

For this year's 10 Best Engines judging process, Judge Schweinsberg is vexed by vibration and flummoxed by figuring out how to disable scheduled charging.

January 2, 2013

2 Min Read
Editor Christie Schweinsberg scratches head over charging plugins
Editor Christie Schweinsberg scratches head over charging plug-ins.

After spending two months concentrating exclusively on engines, how they sound, how they feel and how efficient they are, it’s become clear auto makers still have a ways to go in eliminating noise, vibration and harshness.

Excuse me, I feel a rant coming on.

N-V-H. Those three little letters can make driving an automobile pleasurable or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our testing this year showed the latter all too often, and brought me to the conclusion some cars need to come with an Excedrin dispenser in the glovebox.

When I put my foot on the gas pedal, I just ask to be able to hold it there comfortably, without feeling as though I've strapped myself into one of those old-time exercise machines that jiggled you to burn calories.

Ditto for gripping the shifter. Too much vibration coming through the transmission makes the stick shake at idle, which may have been cool 40 years ago. Not so much today.

And, when cruising in a vehicle, it's often nice to be alone with one’s thoughts. Again, in some of our test vehicles, this was not possible, as the engine racket (I'm looking at you, CVT Sentra) drowned out the quiet contemplation I craved.

Which brings me to another problem: EV charging. We were promised that charging was the way of the future. So convenient. So easy! Not.

Our experience with some of the six plug-ins (three battery-electrics and three hybrids) we tested this year woke us from that fantasy.

Turns out some of our test cars default to “scheduled charging” upon plugging them in. In other words, you can't just pull up to a charging station, open the port door and start sucking down electrons.

There we were, foolishly hooking up to our charging dock, not realizing all those times we were not drawing any juice at all. Oops.

Fortunately, I figured it out. But oh, the instructions to turn off scheduled charging in some of these vehicles – don’t get me started!

You know the process is convoluted when the procedure occupies 16 pages in the owner’s manual. 

Automotive engineers of the world, please fix these issues. Thank you.

[email protected]

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2013 10 Best Engines2013
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