Here’s Whether You Think Cars Are Still Getting Better Or Not

2021 Toyota Camry XSE

2021 Toyota Camry XSE
Image: Toyota

By the metrics and KPI’s cars today are better than they ever have been. There’s mountains of evidence to support this claim. A Toyota Camry is faster around a race circuit than a bedroom poster 80’s Ferrari, and some bone stock pickup trucks are faster down the drag strip than the fastest Muscle Cars of the 70’s. Economy cars get better fuel mileage than they ever have, and emissions are down across the board. High end luxury cars are quieter, smoother, and more opulent than even 1960’s Caddy’s and Lincolns.

But by how they make us feel, how they engage the driver, and the feedback on the controls, they’re far worse, subjectively.

But Sweet Trav, performance cars are better than they have ever been! Have you driven a new sports car, hot hatch, or modern pony car? Of course I have. The very same performance metrics that make these cars so blisteringly fast don’t allow for your average driver to tap into them on a regular basis, safely or legally on a public road.

The best car is one that engages the driver and encourages them to drive it. Modern cars fall into two categories, those falling into the first category encourage you to forget that you’re driving, numbing every possible sensation. Those falling into the second category give you so much untapped power and potential that it’s easy for most people to run out of skill or run afoul of traffic laws.

Finding a balance between the two is exceptionally rare, I can personally think of 3 in the past 20 years. Sadly very few cars that find that perfect balance have made it to production because the OEM marketing machines push the vehicles into one of the two extremes.

I’ve used this comparison before with electric cars, but it fits with the quandary here.

Modern cars are the equivalent of a shiny new Apple watch, it does everything you could ask a watch to do and so much more, but its never going to have the impact on the owner that a 1954 Rolex Submariner does. It’s only a watch, and not a particularly accurate or durable one. But it’s undeniably cool, elegant, and impressively designed. I know I’d rather have a classic Submariner on my wrist than an Apple Watch, not that I can afford a Rolex.

Suggested by: Sweet Trav

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