COLUMNS: Power Packed Test Fleet

By Jean Jennings, President and Editor in Chief - September 4, 2008
0809 01 Z+range Rover Hse+roush 427R Mustang
It has been a heavy week, one that will stand out for the sheer amount of power packed into our test fleet. You can't imagine how perilous it can be, driving all that heavy metal in greenest Ann Arbor, home of dreadlocked grandmas who picket the Federal Building across the street and of lovely young ladies who spit on passing Hummers.
How are we to view the wealth of exotic and speedy transport waiting for us at the end of a hard day? As the lucky dogs we are, babies! We get it. China and India and the rest of the emerging speed-loving nations-to-be are poised to suck the world's natural resources dry. Hydrogen can't arrive a moment too soon, we know that. And we thank those of you who've made the supreme sacrifice, trading in your evil Boss Hogg sport-utes for hybrid aero lumps.
Is it OK that I've decided to reduce my carbon footprint elsewhere? For instance, no Citation jet for me. And I went with the recycled Civil War-era home, with new windows and insulation. No McMansion for me. I'm not feeling guilty about loving the cars. What a sad place it would be if we were all going 55 mph in our electric cars.
While Detroit burns and the world rejoices (tsk, tsk, Kitman), I renewed my bond with the devil this week:
Monday: I doubt there is anything bigger in our current fleet than the 2008 Ford F-150 Foose Edition. Starting with a fairly loaded SuperCrew Styleside with a five-foot box (traction control, trailer-tow package, XLT trim, FX2 Sport package, and enough glitz to drive the price to $36,150), customizer god Foose works in another $18,845 of design, engine, suspension, and wheel changes. The result is a lowered, raucous, gas hog of a show truck (11 city/15 highway mpg, premium fuel, of course). The concussive noise rumbling from the supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 was enough to set off nearby car alarms as I rolled down the ramp. I hustled out of town under cover of darkness.
I wanted to cry, it was so much fun. Yes, I am a truck girl, especially when that truck has 450 hp, 500 lb-ft of torque, shifts like a dream, and rides on rails. I love you, Chip.
Tuesday: Aston Martin's new U.S. vice president and general manager, Julian Jenkins, sent us the heartbreakingly beautiful DBS as the kind of gesture of magnanimity to which I can totally relate. I called dibs. If you have the money (for fuel, of course, although it beats the Foose F-150 with 11 city/17 highway mpg), buy this car. You will dress better just to honor the unbearably exquisite interior, trimmed in the finest suede, carbon fiber, stitched leather, and billet aluminum. I would like the people who hand-assembled it to know that I even wore makeup.
The DBS is a visceral driver's car, with a 510-hp V-12 that begs to be flogged and never breaks a sweat in the process. Carbon-ceramic brakes - a first for a roadgoing Aston - ensure that, no matter how fast you go (very; you can't help it), stopping will not be a problem.
I never want to give it back.
Wednesday: The Roush 427R Mustang waited next to the exit of our parking garage, giving Francois in the ticket booth a ringside seat for the beastly, blood-curdling roar of the 435-hp, 4.6-liter supercharged V-8.
"Too bad it's not really a 427," he said, referring to its garish body decals.
"It'll still burn rubber," I shot back, then executed a perfect, wheel-spinning, 90-degree snap through the exit and down Fourth Avenue. Ho-ho-ho.
Next stop, downtown Detroit, this rock-crushing sledgehammer's natural habitat. Three valets at the RenCen rushed me (I mean, the car) to snag the keys. Later, when I loudly departed, an entire block of pedestrians stopped to watch. You would deny the world this tiny moment of 15 city/20 highway mileage pleasure?
Thursday: Regaining my decorum, I borrowed an understated but even more egregiously thirsty Range Rover HSE (12 city/18 highway). Yes, it costs a lot, and its nearly three tons is a bit piggish. But it is also the most exquisite, luxuriously capable SUV in the world. Period. This iconic representation of gross, hedonistic excess is redeemed with one leisurely trip over treacherous Black Bear Pass into Telluride, Colorado. Or a vertical romp up the terrifying Lion's Back in Moab, Utah. Land Rovers are the vehicle of choice for grueling off-road challenges, because they are unstoppable, and when the worst is behind you, the best is still all around you. You deserve it, bwana.
Friday: I had a Fit. Which seemed a fitting end to all the madness. Honda's babiest car is dwarfed by the Roush, and yet it has more passenger and cargo volume. It has superb visibility, it's funky, it'll go 80 mph without scaring you to death, and it's functional as all hell. The carpet feels like flocked cardboard, but the Fit delivers 28 city/34 highway miles of love. You can stuff a bicycle inside.
I don't have a bike. Is that OK?

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