Our first stop was a kosher restaurant in what Yonah refers to as the ’Chood—the Jewy West Side neighborhood where he lives. Since it was Sukkot, a holiday meant to “celebrate” our peoples’ four decades of wandering in the desert, we ate out in the sun inside a flimsy hut. Joining us for lunch was John Kiewicz, Acura’s p.r. mensch, and he brought his full-on Aleph-game: an RL for us to drive, a corporate card to buy our meal, and a Letterman-style Rabbi-Ride Top 10 list, including gems like “the RL’s active noise cancellation will allow the Rabbi to better hear advice from his back-seat-sitting mother-in-law”. Yonah was plotzing before we even got behind the wheel.
The drive only improved his opinion. As we whizzed around Century City, running red lights, cutting off old ladies, and making illegal U-turns, the Rabbi wore a big smile. Riding mameleh reminded me of how Yonah’s driving skills had been honed during our youthful years delivering pizzas: I felt like traifig skin of pepperoni and mozzarella clinging tight to a chewy crust. “Great handling. Beautiful interior. Good acceleration. Slick technology,” the Rabbi said. “The steering’s a bit light for my taste, but still. Nice.”
Rabbi Grade: Aleph minus.
Next stop was Santa Monica, where we were met by fab G.M. p.r. diva, Diedra Wylie. Since Diedra didn’t have an STS in her fleet, we had to borrow one from a local dealer, which ended up being strike one (and two) against the car. It’s not like I’m the world’s top auto journo macher or anything; I don’t expect champagne and go-go boys whenever I stop into a showroom. But if you were a retail outlet that had been contacted by your regional headquarters and told that a representative of a national magazine and his close friend, a potential buyer, were going to stop by to sample your wares, would your response on their arrival be to make them wait for 15 minutes in silence, finally greet them by approaching brusquely with hand outstretched demanding “License,” provide them with a bungling and lifeless sales drone to deliver their product tour, and then loan them something that was deficient due to your own negligence? Um, mine wouldn’t.
We tooled around only briefly in the STS, the Rabbi glowering. “The transmission is clunky. The ride feels floaty. The technology is, like, 20th-century. And I would dread going back to that dealership for service. I mean, Oy!”
Rabbi Grade: Daled
This car wasn’t on the original list. In fact, the Rabbi recoiled when I’d initially mentioned G.M.’s big-in-China tri-shield brand and its French Canadian j.o. slang-named vehicle. But after the Caddy debacle, Diedre wanted to do right. So she arranged for the Reb to receive a week of LaCrosse. (Oui! Owee!) I couldn’t be present for this test, but Yonah sent me his detailed thoughts. He found the vehicle to be “fabulous, speedy, and well thought out, with amazing looks, a great ride, comfy seating and creature comforts, and top-notch tech integration.” Having given up on the General years ago, he was impressed. “Hard to imagine it's a G.M.” And while he prefers a more spirited (if not spiritual) ride, he found the Buick compelling. “It's not sporty, but Lexus-type luxury at an affordable cost.” Would he buy it over the Acura? Unlikely. But still, he felt it made a good showing.
Rabbi grade: Bet plus
So there we have it. Looks like Acura wins the Golden Torah award. (As John Kiewicz said presciently in the peak of his Top 10 list, “#1 It’s right there in the name: RL = Rabbi Limo.”) Stay tuned and see how Yonah does in his quest to find one. And at the right price!