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Today, I've had my SOP EX AWD auto E for one week. I've put just over 800 miles on it so far, including a trip down to the coast this weekend. This vehicle remains the only vehicle of any type that I've ever had that makes me smile just to think about, and driving it is even better. :)

As advertised, this is one heck of a trip car. It's comfortable for passengers both in back and in front, which is lot's more than can be said for most other compact SUVs. I think it's lots more practical and certainly more versitile than more common mini-SUVs such as the CR-V and Rav4 and Ford Explorer or Ford Escape.

I've been very impressed with it's power, speed and handling. Sure, it's no V8 muscle car or sports car, but it's extremely cabable as a highway vehicle. With 2 adults and a load of camping gear, (for a total carry weight of 450-500lbs), it tachs 2900rpm at 70mph and only 3100rpm at 80mph.
I wouldn't want to run it for any extended time over about 72mph, but how often is it really practical to do so with any vehicle? Certainly, at more common highway speeds of 60-70mph the E has enough power. It's also got enough reserve to handle most passing situations just fine. The point is that the reviews that say the E is underpowered are wrong. It's powered just fine for what it is; namely the most functional vehicle on the road.

The only time the box shape really makes itself known when driving is with strong crosswinds. But it's no worse in crosswinds than most minivans and certainly lots better than the older Isuzu Trooper 4-bangers. All-in-all, it's just a lot of fun to drive. Manueverability is very good, as is tight turning. It's narrow width and easy turning make it quite easy to put into narrow spaces in crowded parking lots.

When ducking into the E to avoid a rainshower, we really liked that it doesn't make us feel cramped at all. In fact, just hanging out in the E, was so enjoyable that we weren't in any real hurry to get out of it when the rains ended. We also found that with the windshield blocked by an opaque sunscreen, the back seats make a quite suitable changing area, with room enough to easily slip into/out of swim wear. It's a little weird, because you can clearly see out of the rear tinted windows. But I checked it from outside, and anybody more than about 3ft. away, wouldn't really see much inside the van.

For beach trips, having a vehicle that can be cleaned out with nothing but a damp rag, is certainly a plus. I chickened out on driving it onto the beach itself. Three days of heavy rains, and footdeep ruts left by heavy duty SUVs made me wonder whether the E, with it's 7 inch ground clearance, could really handle driving on tons of loose, wet sand. I didn't want to do that to a new vehicle, anyway. But getting sand inside the cab was certainly no big deal, and cleanup was super easy.

I love my little "SpiceBox" -- SOP E!
 
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