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What Is Your Patronus Car?

Petronus_3.2.jpeg Cars.com Illustration by Paul Dolan; Michal Boubin/Collection/iStock

CARS.COM — The Nov. 18 release of the prequel to the Harry Potter series, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” has us at Cars.com thinking about witches and wizards

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In “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third book of the Harry Potter series, Harry encounters dark creatures, called dementors, that attack him. The only way to repel them is by conjuring a Patronus, an “ancient and mysterious charm that conjures a magical guardian, a projection of all your most positive feelings.” In the wizarding world, powerful wielders of this spell can conjure a Patronus that takes the form of an animal. The simple way to think of the Patronus is as a spirit animal for the user.

For us on the Cars.com staff, we don’t have spirit animals; we have spirit cars. And those vehicles carry a lot of happy memories in tow. So we asked our staff: What is your Patronus car?

Ford Flex: Jennifer Burklow, Copy Editor

17Ford_Flex_OEM.jpg 2017 Ford Flex | Manufacturer image

My happiest automotive memories are of family road trips, especially the ones from my childhood. The Ford Flex is the car that evokes those memories because it reminds me of my parents’ Plymouth wagon from the 1960s. I can still feel that wagon hurtling along the highway through the cornfields of Illinois as we made our way to Aunt Gartha’s Iowa farm each summer. It was a great road-trip car with plenty of room for people — we were a family of six — and gear. Ditto with the Flex, which sparked those memories the first time I saw it.

So the Flex is the vehicle I’d choose to knock off an item on my bucket list. Someday I’d like to embark on my own version of John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley: In Search of America,” one of my favorite books – which has nothing to do with my maiden name of Steinbeck. The Flex would provide me with plenty of room for my golden retrievers and our gear. We’d take to America’s byways and discover what we’ve been missing by traveling this nation’s highways. News of the Flex’s demise by 2020 saddens my road-tripping spirit; here’s hoping Ford will grant it a reprieve.

Chevrolet Corvette: Joe Bruzek, Road Test Editor

16_Chevrolet_Corvette_Convertible_Review.jpeg 2016 Chevrolet Corvette; | Cars.com photo by Aaron Bragman

There’s really only one way I can go with this considering the patriarchal implications of the Patronus in the Potter series: Chevrolet Corvette. My family has had a love affair with that sports car since well before I was born. My dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette is the car in which I learned to appreciate all things automotive; driving stick, turning wrenches and seeing a car as more than simply a bucket of bolts.  

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro: Brian Wong, L.A. Bureau Chief

Off-roading_16Toyota_4Runner-TRD-Pro_BW_12.jpg 2016 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Brian Wong

I was going to pick something small, fast and without a roof, but when I think back to my happiest automotive memories over the past year, most came from an overland trip I took from Colorado to Las Vegas that was mostly off of paved roads. It helped me to discover a love of exploration I didn’t know I had, as our caravan climbed over mountains, navigated rocky trails, sped through dusty deserts and got stuck in muddy downpours.

So instead of a roadster, I’m going the opposite direction: the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro. It’s very capable, has plenty of space for people and things, and is comfortable both on and off-road. Plus, if you’re on an adventure and don’t make it to camp that night, sleeping in the back is always an option. I also love the way it looks, with the old school “TOYOTA” badge up front and brash “TRD”-stamped skid plate under the front bumper. My spirit longs for adventure – so I had to pick a vehicle to get me there.

Audi S3: Patrick Masterson, Copy Editor

news-2017-Audi-S3-10.jpeg 2017 Audi S3 | Manufacturer Image

When Harry Potter first conjured his Patronus, it looked like “a blinding, dazzling, silver animal … It looked like a horse.” Yet even in the Florett Silver metallic paint of Germany’s vehicular heritage, the Audi S3 won’t blind or dazzle. It couldn’t. It looks like a workaday four-door grocery getter, not a pony car.

But while the S3 may not look like a horse, it’s got a few under the hood: 292 horsepower pumped through a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and mated to a six-speed manual transmission with rally-rooted Quattro all-wheel drive. Add the Prestige and Technology packages to exude quiet all-around confidence and fine-tuned function in an otherwise unassuming sedan — that is, a car spiritually fit for a copy editor content to cut excess adverbs in lieu of byline glory. Of course, what I’d really love to say here is the 400-hp RS 3, but my proverbial wizardry is limited — for now, that hovers like mist in the distance of mid-2017. Expecto patronum, Ingolstadt.

Land Rover Range Rover: Mark Williams, PickupTrucks.com Editor

16RangeRover_Diesel_FirstDrive_JW_01.jpg 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

I’ve been on quite a few four-wheeling adventures with just about every manufacturer that makes a four-wheel-drive or pickup truck. Some of my favorite trips and most frightening trail-driving memories are connected to specific off-road adventures lead by Land Rover’s skilled team of 4×4 experts (many of whom were U.S. Army Rangers) that work closely with both national and international Land Rover Experience driving experience schools.

The Range Rover saved my bacon and made me look like a backcountry pro more than a few times, climbing over ruts, through ravines and up rocky hill climbs without so much as a slip of a tire. If I needed one vehicle to save my butt — and the family in the passenger seats — I’d choose the traction and luxury king of the hill: Range Rover

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” makes its debut in theaters nationwide on Nov. 18.

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