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    Cars Are Mirroring Our Evolving Gayborhood

    autoFirst, there’s the influx of tech money that drives up prices and limits the breadth of people, LGBT or otherwise, who can afford to live here. This conjures up the Volkswagen Tiguan, as it also has a high price—add all-wheel drive to the test car, and you’d be a Sausage Factory dinner away from $40K. As such, only a small fraction of buyers are able to choose a Tiguan.

    The Tiguan’s rich interior is partly how VW justifies charging more, with low-sheen plastics and a clean control interface. Visibility is terrific, and the Tiguan’s seating is roomy and supportive.

    On the other hand, the navigation screen is small, and VW’s refusal to equip its cars with USB ports has gone from curious to annoying. This VW aligns price-wise with base versions of small crossovers from Audi, Mercedes and BMW, and so it has more to justify.

    auto2That’s the dance many of us are doing these days in SF, as we also look to justify the pretty penny it costs to exist here. Even a quick spin in the Tiguan makes it feel impressive, with zippy takeoffs and slop-free handling. And the short Tiguan is very easy to park.

    So just like SF, the Tiguan is bursting with appeal—at a price.

    Then there’s concern that SF’s appeal will be watered down by the influx of non-LGBT folks to the gayborhood. This summer, I noticed the AirBNB effect, where the Castro seemed to have many more straight tourists than in years past, particularly in the increased number of guys who didn’t want to be cruised. It’s not that we’re all staring each other down, but the natural flow of gay energy, which is so rare in our world anyway, seemed to have dissipated a bit.

    That reminded me of the tested 2015 Subaru Legacy. It is Subaru’s most mainstream model, sent in to do battle with Fusions and Accords and Altimas and Sonatas and all the other mid-sized sedans. This is a market Subaru must be in, and the fierce competition there seems to be have shaved off just a tad of that trademark Subaru charm.

    autoThe standard all-wheel drive is reason alone for many to consider a Legacy, and over the road, the car feels nimble and stable. The tested Premium 2.5i’s “warm ivory cloth” interior was impressive to all. But 2015’s styling revisions make it indistinguishable from the others; if you can tell a Legacy from a Sonata at 20 paces at dusk, then I owe you a Coke.

    We hope that this is what the gayborhood won’t turn into, where you have to squint to see the specialness. The Legacy should be on every sedan buyer’s list, just as I’d say SF is still worth the toil and adaptation that is required to be happy here.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at www.gaycarguy.com. Check out his automotive staging service at www.carstaging.com