2009 Nissan GT-R: Nashville to LA, Part 2: I Can't Go Straight Home
August 06, 2008
I'm actually supposed to do this trip in 3 days, but 5 minutes after getting into our 2009 Nissan GT-R, I realize that's not happening. Granted, the GT-R's fast enough that I could probably do it in 2 days. But this is my first east-west drive across the United States -- I want to take every highway in my atlas. It's also the longest amount of time I've ever not had to share a high-end performance car.
I immediately give into nostalgia and point the GT-R toward Memphis, because about 10 years ago, I went to college there. I'd forgotten how nice the roads are here, and the GT-R's ride quality borders on compliant on I-40.
I arbitrarily decide to keep revs below 4,000 for engine break-in, but I later read that Nissan recommends keeping it under 3,500 rpm for the initial 400 miles. And until 1,300 miles, you're not supposed to use full throttle and you're supposed to keep the suspension in "Comf" mode to allow for maximum travel, says the owner's manual. It's OK, though. Even half throttle provides considerable speed, and you can still see triple digits during closed-course driving.
By the time I roll up to the midtown Memphis Holiday Inn Express (friendly staff here, by the way), my luggage is cooked. Outside temperatures have been mild, so it must be the rear transaxle that's causing every carpeted surface in here to heat up. For the rest of the trip, my backpack rides in the passenger footwell.
The next morning I stop by Huey's, hoping this hamburger joint might be open, but no dice. Huey's is a chain in Memphis, and if you get sick of BBQ, it's hard to beat their juicy burgers, which my friends and I used to wash down with a pitcher of Michelob. This is the original store at 1927 Madison.
Next stop is 450 miles away in Bloomington, Illinois, which is most definitely not on the road back to California, but a person called Mom lives here, and the GT-R is keen to see all the summer flowers in the family garden.
Besides, Interstate 55 randomly becomes a closed course on the way back south, and on its straight, flat, smooth pavement, the GT-R briefly cruises in the 130s. Not the highest speeds we've ever recorded, obviously, but it's striking how comfortable the car is at this speed -- completely unstrained.
Finally, we reach St. Louis. Although everybody tells you the Gateway Arch is the one place you must go here, that's a lie. The real place you must go is Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard, which is possibly the best ice cream-related product I've ever had. On summer nights, the line wraps around the building at the 6726 Chippewa location, but on this hot afternoon, I wait only a couple minutes for my custom cookie-dough-butterscotch-banana concrete.
One complaint: The XM Nav Traffic feature really needs Nav Construction logic. The decision to make the pilgrimage to Ted Drewe's comes last-minute, and the nav system routes me on to I-64/U.S. 40. Just as I'm about turn onto the entrance ramp, I see the cones and the completely deserted freeway with construction equipment on it. No wonder it's showing up green.
I end up taking a long, slow drive through the old-money suburbs of Ladue and Creve Coeur. Narrow roads, 25-mph speed limits and irritating drivers in luxury SUVs. At least the concrete ends up being the most delicious meal I've had all year. And break-in is almost complete.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 1,072 miles