10 Years with the Grocery Grabber

This summer marks 10 years and 186,000 miles with the Grocery Grabber as a member of the family. 10 years ago, 12-year-old me was crushed when my dad said he was dumping his “cool” 2004 Acura TL for this car. And never in a million years would I have expected to fall in love with this mom-mobile, but here we are.

I won’t entirely rehash my timeline with the Grocery Grabber since I have written about it before when it crossed 200,000 miles. And then again at 220,000 miles. But in summary, the car was originally purchased by my dad when he got sick of the practicality and snow driving limitations of his TL. My sister and I both learned how to drive in it, and I drove the car since I got my license.

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The day I got my license. Look at those clear headlights!

I stopped sharing the RX330 my sophomore year of college when it officially became my car. At that point, it was nice and broken in with 216,000 miles. Since then, this car has helped me move numerous times, taken me to aforementioned sister’s wedding last summer, brought me to a new school, carted me and my friends around, brought me to my college graduation and my first “real” job.

As if I wasn’t attached to this car enough, this past year is what really sold me on it. So far, it’s racked up over 18,000 miles since January. I went from driving it maybe twice a week to commuting 65 miles round trip every day. And while it did have some bad luck early on, the old girl kept cruising along while keeping me ridiculously comfy.

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From -50°F with wind chill in January to 100°F in July, the RX wasn’t fazed. It plowed through multiple snow storms and over a foot of snow when I decided to cut through a snow bank. Most snow days, it was actually the only car of my two local coworkers that made it into work.

This summer, the Grocery Grabber made its second trip to New York, but this time with 265,000 miles on it. It was one of the more reliable options on the Baja SAE team, which is a scary thought, so we took it as part of the caravan.

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Honestly, I was a bit nervous for this trip, but the Grocery Grabber proved to me I shouldn’t have doubted it. The RX didn’t have so much as a hiccup and returned the best gas mileage I’ve ever gotten at 27 mpg over 400 miles on the way out there.

The Grocery Grabber and its new Baja SAE friend.
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This car also saved my ass this summer. It comes with brake assist, which monitors the brake pedal for the speed and pressure of brake application. If you brake hard and fast enough, it will deem a stop a panic stop and apply maximum braking force. I experienced this first hand when traffic on the freeway suddenly stopped.

This is when I learned that the feeling of brake assist is actually a bit disconcerting. The pedal feels like it basically gives out beneath your foot, but let me tell you, it saved me from kissing the back of the Mazda5 in front of me in a less than sexy way.

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Now, my time with this car hasn’t been perfect. As I stated earlier, I did have a streak of bad luck in January. And I can’t pretend that we’ve only done routine maintenance, but we really haven’t had a ton of problems with it. The catalytic converter and a couple of radiators are the big-ticket items it’s asked for so far.

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Unfortunately, the RX does seem to be showing its age a bit at this point. The rust on the tailgate is getting worse, and I just recently discovered the parking brake has given up the ghost. I’m assuming this also has something to do with that brown menace lurking on the tailgate. In classic mid-2000s Toyota fashion, the soft touch dashboard has developed three cracks. And the RX has finally started to burn some oil. However, this car still feels remarkably normal and solid for 268,500+ miles. I hop into it every day and drive it like any other car.

The 40/20/40 folding seats came in handy.
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During my time with this car, I’ve really used it, probably more so than Toyota ever anticipated. I’ve carried 8-foot lumber in it, and I like to think it’s one of the only Lexus RXes that’s carried welding gas.

It’s like this car was made to do this with those tie down hooks!
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I’ve had a blast sliding it around in the snow, much to the stability control’s dismay. In addition to the trip out to New York, I’ve driven it down to Nashville. I’ve seen “MAX VOL” displayed on the radio while I’ve screamed along to music more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve also gotten to slide the sunroof back almost every day the sun hasn’t made temperatures too sweaty. When temperatures were sweaty or shivery, the car was able to keep me ridiculously comfy in the climate-controlled cabin. Going to lunch, multiple coworkers commented on how comfortable the RX is, which really made me realize how much of a joy this car is to drive.

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Now that my co-op term has ended, the RX be getting a very well-deserved break since my commute has turned to walking to class. But when I first got my job this January, my dad said the commute would kill the RX. 18,600 miles of commuting to work, weekend trips, and a trip to New York later, the Grocery Grabber is still here to laugh at this statement.

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