Yenya's World

Thu, 16 Oct 2008

Driving in the United States

I will not write about everything I did in Oregon (you can get better insight to the way of life in the US from the point of view of a foreigner in a Linus' blog), but there is one pretty interesting topic: my experience from driving a car in the US. There are several differences for the European driver:

As for the automatic gearbox, it was pretty interesting. While the machine can change gears definitely faster than human, it cannot predict what the driver wants to do. For example, I when I needed to accelerate in order to overtake, the car (Chevrolet Aveo and then a brand new Chevrolet Cobalt) firstly choked on a current gear for maybe two seconds, then shifted to a lower gear, providing some acceleration, and just before the engine entered the RPM area of the highest power, it decided that it is still not enough, and shifted down once more, taking the engine to the red RPM values :-(

Maybe I would learn how to accelerate properly with an automatic gearbox after some more driving, but for now it is not usable for anything more than slow and careful cruising (which is how people drive in the US). However, I can imagine that an automatic gearbox with some tweaking (probably a "hold the current gear unless RPM is already near maximum" button and a "shift one gear lower" button) would provide the better from both systems.

Section: /world (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 3 writebacks

3 replies for this story:

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

I had (and still have - but the car is currently used by my sister) an automatic transmission on my old Honda Civic and it was (is) absolutely awesome. It acts like early CVTs - how much you press the gass pedal, that much RPM (and power) you have - it shifts absolutely seamlesly and you do not know, which gear you are using. If you want more power, you can manually shift to "*" (star), by this you disable overdrive (a reduction behind the gearbox at a ratio about 1:1.2) and the engine revs some more and brings some more power. When it is still insufficient, you should gear "L" and it disables shifting last gear and the gearbox acts even more aggressive allowint the engine to rev more. I know, that modern gearboxes acts differently, but don't tell me, that it is worse, then my ancient '85 three-speed veteran.

Yenya wrote: Re: Honda Civic

A friend of mine has cca 1999 Honda Civic 1.4 with an automatic gearbox, and he said something similar to you. I am going to test it myself.

Tomas Janousek wrote: Subaru Legacy

The automatic gearbox of an old Subaru Legacy is also one of the good ones. As I have been told by a friend, it has a "kickdown" feature -- there's a switch behind the throttle pedal which, when activated by "kicking" the pedal, shifts one gear down. This makes fast acceleration quite easy, no need to touch the shift lever. I did not drive this car for more than an hour, though. I also noticed that there's a big difference in shift speeds. The thing in Subaru Legacy shifts almost instantly, whereas the semiautomatic gearbox in Smart Fortwo needs some 2 seconds to do it.

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