WHY CLEANING & GETTING READY INCLUDED A 2020 TOYOTA RAV4
Growing up in the Bible Belt several decades ago was a good experience for many of us. Saturdays included spending time with friends, day trips, outings, sports, and having family members around the house instead of being at work or school. It was a break from the work-week. But Saturdays also meant preparing for Sunday morning church services. It was not a chore, but a way of life. Getting family members ready and ‘presentable’ as well as cleaning up the family vehicle was all part of the process.
Mothers would prepare and lay-out the dresses, iron & press hair ribbons, and otherwise get things ready for their daughters to go to church on Sunday morning. Dads and sons would make sure their shoes were all shined appropriately. Even babies had their “Sunday-best” outfits cleaned and ready. Bible-belt families prepared for looking their best. We were taught that God wanted our best offerings and our first-fruits, all as a part of our giving back to our Creator as a way of saying “Thank You” for all He had done for us. This was not only given in the form of monetary donations, but in our appearance, attendance, and participation as forms of worship.
The presentation of ourselves in attending church services extended to our vehicles. We see videos, advertisements, and photographs of youngsters, teenagers, oldsters joining together to wash their cars – usually on a Saturday. Youngsters were often told it had to be done “if you want your allowance this week.” Teenage girls could always get a teenage boy to spend the afternoon with her by asking for help “washing the car.” Dads and moms usually emphasized that the family should always look clean and neat, be on their best behavior, and dress appropriately, and that included having the family car look clean and neat.
This recent period of sheltering at home, maintaining social distancing, and otherwise not interacting in large groups took its toll on church gatherings as well as our own appearance. Facebook postings laughingly commented on sweat pants or pajamas being the ‘new’ work uniform. Easter Sunday was difficult for a lot of church-going believers in the Bible Belt because it is usually considered the most significant Holy Day on the Christian calendar. There were a few families that actually got dressed-up to watch Sunday morning church services on the TV or live- streaming video. A few mothers posted photos of their little girls in their spring-colored new dresses and hats. But our cars took a beating by not being cleaned up, as was customary.
“One week during the shut-down and sheltering, a new 2020 Toyota RAV4 was furnished for a test- drive. It was a TRD Off-Road edition and was a wonderful week of driving. The color was called Lunar Rock, which was a weird gray-green color, almost nondescript in appearance.”
The vehicle certainly didn’t stand out from a crowd of cars that were bright blue, yellow, green, or white. This RAV4 was built and designed for off-road performance for those consumers who wanted a daily drive vehicle that could hit the back-woods, hills & dales, on the weekends. The test-drive RAV4 was powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. It included Torque-Vectoring All-Wheel-Drive with Multi- Terrain Select. This was simple to use, consisting of a dial and some buttons in the middle console.
The test-drive Toyota RAV4 included TRD Off- Road Weather & Technology Packages that added a heated leather-covered steering wheel, heated & cooled front bucket seats, front & rear parking assist, wireless smart-phone charging, overhead 360-degree view, and curbside cameras. The RAV4 drove easily and comfortably, providing 29.6 miles-per-gallon for the week’s test-drive.
The Sunday morning during the test-drive week was chosen by my community church for a short- version “parking lot” service. The pastor and a keyboard player utilized microphones that both recorded the short service for a PodCast as well as a short-range FM radio transmission. Cars were lined up in rows on the parking lot and it didn’t take much to notice which vehicles had been cleaned up and which retained all the dirt, grease, & grime accumulated earlier.
“I was proud of the fact that I had cleaned and wiped down the RAV4, making a major effort to show off the vehicle.
I’m not sure I did it so I wouldn’t be judged by the other parishioners, or because of my childhood upbringing to honor and give my best to God. Whatever the ‘real’ reason, that Lunar Rock greenish-gray was polished and the chrome shined. It looked good, as if I really cared about the vehicle’s appearance.
Cars, trucks, and cycles have become an extension of who we are. We are easily identified by the vehicle we drive. Showing up at a Sunday morning service in a dirty car for me would be like wearing an old pair of dirty blue jeans. I just have to clean myself up to go to church and ‘self’ includes the car I am driving. I just have to make the car look ‘spiffy’, which is mostly a British adjective meaning attractive, lovely, splendid, very posh, or stylish. Possibly, I fear being judged by others as well.
BOTTOM LINE: The 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road edition is a wonderful car to drive, in spite of the exterior color. Just make sure it is cleaned up and looks good. The test-drive model had an MSRP of $35,190 and with the add-on packages and destination charges, the bottom sticker price was $41,385. Whether the RAV4 is sitting on a Church parking lot at a outdoor Sunday service, in front of a store or restaurant, or in your own driveway, it looks stylish and attractive. It may not be distinctive or flamboyant in appearance, but this Toyota will certainly get the job done, especially if it has been ‘spiffed-up.’