Saturday evening found Self and Mrs. R sitting in the local Honda dealership as we went through all the bumf associated with leasing a new car.

I do believe there is no commercial transaction I detest more than this kind of thing.  I hate everything about it; the haggling, the wondering whether I’m being rooked, the exposure to financial examination.  All of it.

Fortunately, Mrs. R really rayther enjoys the bargaining part.  So we have a system:  She gets the deal and then I come in and sign things.  And I’m happy to say that it worked out very well this time.  Originally, we had been lured in by a lease offer on the Odyssey LX, which is the basic model.  Only when Mrs. R appeared at the dealership, they didn’t have any.  (Nobody does.  Apparently the tsunami in Japan has played Old Harry with the supply line.)  So somehow or other, she talked them into giving her the EX-L, which is the souped-up model, for the same price.  Not only that, she had them find one in the color she wanted, a process that involved going about fifty miles out of town to track one down.  I never would have had the nerve to do anything like that.

So here we are.  And my fellow port-swillers, I must tell you: This is an almost ridiculous neat-o piece of machinery.

For one thing, the design is seriously impressive.  (I understand it is new this year.)  It certainly doesn’t look much like a minivan, but instead more like a crossover SUV.  (At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.)  And more to the point, the thing has about it the curious illusion of seeming larger inside than out.  I have yet to figure out how this can be, but there it is.   It fits into the garage better than the ol’ Cherokee did (although it is longer), yet I don’t feel half so cramped sitting inside with Mrs. R and the gels.

For another, Luddite that I am, I simply am in awe at the technology this thing carries.  Por ejemplo, it’s got what they call an “Eco” function whereby at cruising speeds it will automatically cut from firing all six cylinders to two or three.  For another, the oil filter has a sensor that tells you when the oil’s viscosity has broken down to the level at which it needs to be changed.  And then there are the whistles and bells: XM radio, Bluetooth, a freakin’ refrigerator up front, a radio gizmo that will take over your garage door opener, a rear camera to seek what you’re backing into.  And the doors.  The sliding doors.  The glorious push-button sliding doors.  My poor old Wrangler has a whole string of chips and dents down the driver’s side from years of the gels banging it with the Cherokee’s doors.  No more.

I’m sure that when Skynet sends the signal, this thing will automatically lock us in, steer us to a remote location and kill us all with carbon-monoxide poisoning, but in the meantime, I think riding around in her – especially on our extended jaunts – is going to be a real pleasure.