I hate my work van. The transmission is a dual-clutch and chooses gears like my grandmother and operates the clutch like a driver’s ed student. As a practical joke, it offers manual shifting which responds to requests in anywhere from five seconds to never. The worst part, however, is that smooth inputs do not produce smooth outputs. You can give it a tiny bit more gas and it will downshift and launch itself forward. You have to learn to predict what the transmission is going to do so you can adjust the throttle to compensate in order to create smooth acceleration. It also down shifts while braking, meaning I have to modulate the brake pedal to produce constant deceleration . Combined with my need to drive smoothly, I’ve actually developed plantar fasciitis.

The more I drive, the more I become convinced that the designer of this transmission actually despises drivers. If an ironic hell existed, there would be an entire level filled with FCA executives forced to drive this van in stop-and-go traffic for all eternity. But, hey, at least theyll be getting great mpg and that’s apparently all that matters . As it is my work van, there’s not much I can do about getting rid of it.

My primary coping strategy is the realization that even the worst cars can still be enjoyable. For all its flaws, my work van has inexplicably amazing handling. It’s better than many sporty cars I’ve driven and you can hustle it around corners at surprisingly high speed.  Years ago, I had a girlfriend with a Geo Metro lemon that shook above 40mph but it was very lightweight and had decent steering feel. My first car was a 10 year old manual Camry hand me down that I drove the heck out of and had quite a bit of fun with. Old pickup trucks with no redeeming driving characteristics? I just pretend I’m driving an even bigger truck. I have yet to drive a vehicle that was less fun than driving nothing at all.

My second coping strategy was to buy a manual GT86. I wake up on Sunday mornings at 5 a.m. so i can just go and drive without everyone else getting in my way. I can’t give Toyota enough credit for designing a car that excels at simply being a car and that just does what you tell it to do.