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I had some spare time available today, and dropped by the dealer. A complete inventory of one car was there. It was an orange Sport model, sporting Michigan plates. It was a "pre-production" model - for example, the seat height adjustment widget was not present. The seat was fixed at its highest position.

The driver's seat was comfortable and supportive. To make a long story short: The driving experience was very pleasant. It was actually quite strange, there was no learning curve. I felt like everything I needed to do was intuitively right there, I didn't have to think about it. I am used to driving a manual transmission, that's all I drive, but I did not notice the switchover to different controls. I was able to back up, upshift, and downshift with no more effort than the car I have now (VW) that I have been driving for 13 years.

Driving the car is kind of like driving a cadillac, in this way: The car is so quiet and smooth, you have to look at the gauges to know what is going on. This is no problem as the two primary gauges, speedometer and tachometer, are in two concentric rings right behind the steering wheel.

The interior controls were state of the art. Automatic climate control: you just dial the temperature you want and it takes care of changing everything else.

The only problem with this car is getting enough time to really know what you are getting. It's like a big deal to schedule a test drive. It's hard to get the time for things like really folding both back seats all the way down, remove that dumb shelf in the way, and see if there's enough room to put in a bicycle with the front tire removed.

I had a frank discussion with the car salesman while we were driving around (no, I am not medicated). This guy was my age and was just filling in for the other two Fiat people who were both missing. He actually sells Chryslers. They realize they won't make a lot of money on each unit. They are going to follow the fixed pricing experience. This will probably be 15,500 - 17,500 - 19,500. So don't expect a lot of fawning attention and time to play with the seats unless you are a serious Lounge customer.
 
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