Closing in on Paso Robles, Calif., we are well on our way to the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. Toyota handed us a brand new 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for the trip, so we expect to get good mileage along the way, although right now it has dipped under 24 mpg, to 23.5. This car's rated mileage is 25 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in the city, and in Los Angeles traffic, we expect it to do very well. We got the car this morning, an hour before we were to leave, and we were disappointed. You see, we automotive journalists are used to the finer things, but this Highlander didn't come with the options we usually get. The dashboard has one small LCD and one radio display, with no large screen that would indicate the presence of navigation. Not wanting to print out directions off of Mapquest to our hotel, we borrowed a portable GPS, a Garmin Nuvi, from our staff GPS editor. But there's nothing to be done about the sub-par stereo. We do have a six-disc changer that plays MP3 CDs and we do have an auxiliary input for our iPod, but no satellite radio or in-dash music server. The stereo also only has six speakers, leaving us feeling very deprived.
On this trip we have Car Tech editors Wayne Cunningham and Kevin Massy, and our photographer Sarah Tew. We expect to arrive at the Biltmore Hotel sometime this evening. We set out from San Francisco around noon, and the Highlander Hybrid, despite our complaints about its lack of tech options, has proven pretty comfortable. The seats are very cushy, with broad backs. Even better, the rear seats recline.
As we cruised through San Jose, Sarah expressed surprise that the MP3 CD had an album by Everything But The Girl on it, expecting more from us macho automotive editors. By the time Regina Spektor started playing, she insisted on switching over to the radio to hear NPR. Of course, we are in the middle of California, where finding an NPR station might prove difficult. She plied her way through plenty of FM static, but will be out of luck until we get near San Luis Obispo. So now we are back to Regina Spektor.