Since the VW Eos was recently named as one of Kelly Blue Book's top 10 cars for a road trip, I decided I'd take it on one. The first thing to consider for a road trip is the destination, or at least the direction. My friend and I picked Maine. But then we had to consider that gas is over $4 a gallon. So we went a little less epic and settled on a family member's lake house about two hours out of the city.
The next order of business was figuring out how to secure my St. Bernard in the backseat. He's extremely curious about children, other dogs, cats, pigeons, and especially the horses that pull carriages around the city (I credit the last one to his highly developed sense of sympathy). In short, he's likely to jump from the car if he sees one of these things, and though I've gotten pretty damn good at driving stick, I'm not good enough to do it while halfway twisted around, fighting to restrain a 90-lb. dog who's in monster mode.
With no scheduled visit from Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, I had to figure out how to restrain my dog during the ride. I decided to get the dog a seatbelt. It looks pretty much like a harness around his chest that clips into the regular seatbelt, but it gave him some mobility problems. He couldn't even lie down harnessed into the thing. That was bad because I really wanted him to lie down; when he was sitting up and we got above 60mph on the highway, the wind made his drool strands airborne, covering me and my (hopefully still) friend in a constant mist of grossness. After more than an hour of this, all three of us raced to the lake when we finally arrived. The dog beat us, of course, and then shook out all over us.
On the road trip front, the Eos has some awesome features, like a retractable roof operated by the push of a button. (It took under 30 seconds for the car to go "topless".) I love that the digital display on the dash shows not only how many mpg you're getting during that particular trip, but also how many miles you have to go before you run out of gas—good for a spazz like me who isn't sure if the needle nearing 'E' means get to a pump right now or that I can squeak by another 50 miles.
A few gripes, nearly all of which are accessory-related: even though there's an iPod dock, it plays songs in a really non-intuitive way, without displaying the song title or artist on the display screen. So a random shuffle is the main option (which made me realize my iPod contains quite a lot that's not fit for public consumption or road tripping). The GPS, an awesome feature, was really difficult to program—after two friends and I couldn't figure it out, we had to call in another friend who writes a tech column, who finally got it. But after we did, the woman's calming voice guided us directly to the lake house, even on dirt roads. For an award-winning road trip car, the trunk is pretty small (or maybe I pack too much?), but for a weekend out of town with just one other person, it was fine.
Generally, the Eos is super fun to drive. It has great pickup and a sporty coupe shape. The engine is loud enough that it feels like you're driving a sports car, but quiet enough to have a conversation. With the top down and the windows up, we were even able to listen to an episode of Car Talk.
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