Requiem for a RAV4

I lost a family member this summer: my 1999 Toyota RAV4. They say death comes in threes and that rings true. My Vega was burned to a crisp in a fire in the late 1980s. My Audi was destroyed (while parked) by a drunk driver in the early ’90s. And now, the RAV4…is no more.

A VW Golf smashed into me while I was stopped at a freeway onramp at rush hour. My wounded RAV4 carried me home on wobbly wheels while the VW was hauled away looking more like an accordion than a car. The other driver took full responsibility and neither os us were injured. Except financially.

The RAV4 had been my trusty transport for countless trips to Home Depot, IKEA, and Costco. It never failed me except for that one time when my sister and I purchased two 8-foot folding tables. Once I put the seats down and angled the tables in, there was no room for my sister. I had to leave her at the store, go home, unload, and motor back.

Like its three (or four) predecessors, my RAV4 had a manual transmission. The stick was my schtick! But driving a 5-speed is a dying art in the US because just 2 percent of all vehicles sold in the in 2018 had manual transmissions. In fact, a manual transmission has prevented a few car thefts because the bad guys could not get away.

I understand manual transmissions are much more common in the UK and throughout Europe. I may need to plan a vacation with the money I’m saving on gas. My new (to me) hybrid is not a big drinker.