A couple of weeks ago I posted a column about holiday travel as an opportunity for a road trip. I mentioned I would be heading down to New Orleans from my home base here in the ‘burbs of Dallas and, I promised a follow up.
New Orleans was a blast. The weather was Chamber of Commerce perfect and I was impressed with how clean the city was and how few bugs there were, even in the swamps. Throughout the state of Louisiana (as well as parts of East Texas) the leaves were in full autumnal change and there was a carpet of yellow flowers over portions of the swampland outside Jefferson Parish.
Eight-and-a-half hours each way behind the wheel and as I am taking a press fleet vehicle only I can do the driving. I remember writing something about specific features in certain vehicles that would make for more enjoyable travel – features offering comfort, convenience, economy and safety.
Well, we got most of that out of the Nissan Altima Coupe they sent me. The 2011 tester they sent featured the frugal 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine backed by a six speed manual gearbox. We enjoyed highway fuel economy better than the 31 mpg it was EPA rated at but the manual transmission just added to the frustration of the crush of congestion downtown N’Awlins.
And I seem to remember agreeing to the Altima as this model included navigation and satellite radio – wrong and wrong. Nothing but constant re-tuning of country music stations with bad DJs all the way down and back and no help in finding our way around the confusing traffic grid of the Crescent City (compounded by its shape and layout courtesy of its nickname).
OK, I will accept some of the blame here but not for the fact that Nissan chops off quite a bit of cargo room in the trunk of the coupe version Altima versus the sedan. Barely had room for my computer bag after we crammed our two roller bags back there – everything else rode in the passenger compartment with us.
I am writing this experience off as a valuable educational experience – one I had learned many years ago and confirmed last week. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will not be such a cheapskate (on gas) and spring for the Cadillac Escalade as my choice of transportation.