This is the first in a series of more humorous/in-depth reviews I will be writing. Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions, critiques, or other items you would like me to review.

This is a review of my car. I know you are probably used to reading reviews of gear, books, movies, even music. I am here to give you something totally different. I think my car deserves to be reviewed, she has just as much character and story as any movie, and as much beauty and rhythm as any music.

My car’s name is Roxanne. She is a 2001 Subaru Outback, green, with ski racks and a lot of stickers. Roxanne became mine just over a year ago. Her previous owners, a young couple had treated her with love and respect. As my first road trip worthy car Roxanne has proved to be an interesting and unpredictable companion, worthy of the love, praise and slander that this review contains.

Extensive scientific research has determined that most important attributes of a car are: Reliability, Utility, Ability to Defeat Rugged Terrain and Image, so those are what we will cover in this review.

This is Roxanne, comfortable in her native habitat


Let’s start with reliability, this also ties into how Roxanne got her name. Roxanne only has 133 thousand miles on her. This June I drove her ten hours to Red Lodge, Montana to cover the Beartooth Summer Session. Up until this point Roxanne had been relatively reliable. She preformed well on the way to Red Lodge, copping adequately with Montana’s high speed limits and her cargo of smelly ski bums.

Three hours into the drive home disaster struck and Roxanne earned her name. The setting: a small hill just east of Bozeman Montana, the soundtrack: Roxanne by "the Police," the players: myself, another skier, an artist and a good samaritan who only identified himself as “Fresh”.

As we crested the hill, traveling at about 95mph The Police wailed at Roxanne not to “turn on that red light.” As fate would have it my Roxanne chose to turn on her red light at that very moment, the “check engine” light, to be exact. A series of loud grating noises later and we were stranded with a blown engine. We sat, silent, her once proudly purring engine now still, with only the sweet strains of the Police to console us.

This is Roxanne, defeated, dead, about to leave Bozeman for the long drive home

It is hard for three guys who haven't showered in four days to get help on the side of the road, but the series of miracles that got us home that day deserves its own story. I’ll just say that “Fresh” had some interesting stories, Sam Caylor is the man, and my father is incredible. Thanks the tireless efforts of those three people I made it home by seven the next morning, with time to shower and shave before work.

Roxanne used to score high on the reliability scale. Now, I am not so sure. A friend and I put a new engine in her in my backyard, and I don’t know how much I trust my own work. For now Roxanne scores one broken piston out of four for reliability.


Roxanne was purchased primarily for her utility. With her seats folded down she makes a great camper. She sleeps one ski bum very comfortably and stays warm, even in the dead of winter. Her capacity can be stretched to two but I would only recommend that if you are really good friends with the other guy and if the Walmart parking lot you are sleeping in turns out to be way sketchier than you thought (Mexico Walmart parking lots can become sketchy enough that they warrant 3 bums in the trunk).

Roxanne is good for sleeping in

Roxanne has hauled countless feet of lumber on her rack and a plethora of other construction materials in her cavernous posterior. She scores five air fresheners out of five for utility.

Ability to Defeat Rugged Terrain

As a long time truck driver an important aspect of any vehicle I purchase is Ability to Defeat Rugged Terrain. Roxanne is all-wheel drive, she has decent ground clearance and she doesn't balk at mud.

I realize that this picture does not contain rugged terrain, The rugged terrain is actually about .25 miles ahead of us.

I have only ever gotten Roxanne stuck once at that was purely driver error. You can’t really expect any car to pull itself out of a snowbank that reaches higher than the windows. Roxanne scores four out of four bald tires for Ability to Defeat Rugged Terrain.


Finally we reach our last and possibly most important attribute, Image. Some people buy cars based simply on Image. I personally think most of those people are lame but that is irrelevant.

In the liberal college town where I live I sometimes struggle with the image my Subaru gives me. I feel like I should have a “Coexist” sticker and eat more organic food.

Is it ok to be a conservative, pro-gun, pro-logging male and drive a Subaru Outback? Is it ok to drive a Subaru and shop at Walmart sometimes? Can I drive a Subaru to go deer hunting with my brother? These are the questions that strain my relationship with Roxanne.

Image, yep, I'm the dude with the Subaru and the Birkenstocks, deal with it.

I sometimes feel like I am betraying the stereotype my car gives me, but put me anywhere skiers, climbers or bikers gather and I feel right at home. In a parking lot full of muddy, stickered up Subarus packed full of smelly people who love the mountains Roxanne fits right in. Four out of five liberal bumper stickers for image.

Now that we have completed this scientific review process it should be clear that Roxanne is a worthy and valiant vehicle. What she lacks in reliability and image she makes up for in utility and character. Hopefully I have made an honest woman out of her and she never needs to turn on that red light again.

Roxanne, basking majestically in the early morning light.