I haven’t thought much about new cars since I bought my present Ford Crown Victoria in 2005. It was a “pre-owned” 2004 model that already had 12,000 miles on it.

       Whoever the pre-owner was (according to the registration, someone in Florida) let a damn good car get away. I bought the vehicle in June of that year, never imagining the hell that WAS ahead for it. Two months later it was the car that evacuated us from Katrina, staying cool during hours of bumper-to-bumper driving and then sprinting when conditions allowed. In the months and years ahead it bounced along cratered streets, found its away through darkened boulevards and skirted repair sites. For much of that time its trunk served as a closet on wheels filled with suitcase, boxes and life’s savables.

       Parting with this car will be difficult but I sense that the time is coming, although with 116,000 miles on the odometer the V-8 engine is still amazingly convincing. One of the car’s great moments is when I can open it up on the interstate and feel the power rush. (For many years Crown Vics were the favored vehicles of police departments. The prisons todays are still populated by evildoers who were overtaken by a charging Ford.) Still, there are enough little things going wrong; the heating doesn’t work at all; the cooling isn’t much better. The door lock system is spotty; one of the windows is off track and the pull out drink holder has a broken piece. The radio works but the CD player, which was added after the purchase, has to be loaded from the trunk. The car came with a built in tape cassette player but try finding something to play in it.

       So I am looking, playing the field that I have been away from for so long. So far I have three rules for the new vehicle.:

1.)       It should be American made—just because.

2.)       It should include the latest safety innovations but there is no need for TV cameras, viewing screens or contact with the international space station.

3.)       I have always been a sedan guy but I am leaning forward a mid-sized SUV.

         I do not intend to carry surf boards on the roof or to go stalking grizzlies at Yellowstone. I like the SUVs though just because they are, as a friend who drives a Jeep Cherokee pointed out, higher off the ground; more comfortable for tall men to get into.

So, I need advice from you vehicle savvy people out there. What should it be? Possibilities that have been mentioned include Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox, Dodge Journey, Chrysler Town & Country? I don’t know. Or should it really be a sedan? If so, which type?

Other considerations:

              •I have a narrow driveway.

              •Most of my driving is in the city.

              •I do not need a gun rack.

              • I once gave a ride to John Patrick Shanley, the guy who write “Moonstruck” and “Doubt,” but I guess that should not be a factor.

     Thanks for your advice. I wonder if SUVs are good for hunting Bigfoot?






 BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.