Small Talk: The beloved car pressed all the right buttons


I swear I’m back to the Stone Age.

I bought a new car and it requires me to use a key. Yes, it’s true. After 14 years of just pushing a button, I suddenly have to dig into my purse, find the key, and physically put it in the ignition. And I have to apply the handbrake. Oh, and more digital speedometer. I’m just exhausted.

I’ve been driving a Toyota Prius since 2007. It was my first new car, and it’s been a love affair. I love that he can be absolutely silent. Everything was smooth and almost painless. It’s possible that the 2007 Prius will continue to run indefinitely, with just a little more maintenance than was required for the first 12 years. But I just replaced some pretty expensive coils, and there’s a chance the big battery – which costs around $ 3,000 – will finally die. It was only to last three years. Or, the whole car can turn to dust, like “… a Oliver Wendell Holmes hatchback, / That was built in such a logical way / It has been running a hundred years to the day.”

I decided I wasn’t ready to take the risk. I’ve spent far too many years going from one breakdown to the next and getting rid of it was an incomparable joy. Well, sure, I would have liked to have had another new Prius, but the bargains that funded that are well and truly gone. I finally gave up on my dream of an all-electric Prius and looked for something more affordable.

My son has been driving Honda Fits since 2014 and rented a second one. They have lived up to their reputation for running like crazy. They are compacts that are easy to park and wonderfully fuel efficient. I decided this fulfilled the main requirement of getting me from point A to point B with as little fuss as possible, for a price I could almost handle.

But I already miss my Prius. Yeah yeah. It’s only been two days, but the changes are getting me into trouble. I can’t tell how fast I’m going by the seat of my pants – things just look strange to me. I risk spraining my left foot by wedging it on an emergency break that is no longer there. The offset column is not much different, but it is different. From top to bottom instead of being side by side. And that key… Usually 14 years has to be beaten out of me and it’s just tiring.

I know. I know. I’ll get used to it, but just give me a moment to mourn my first love, who spoiled me so much. Goodbye, my keyless remote. Run in peace.

Jean Gillette is an old school driving freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].


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