We’re zooming through a canopy of lush green, my red 2012 Focus tailing a blue 2011 Fiesta along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Breaks in the tree cover now and again reveal a panorama of North Carolina hills hung with mist. At every curve of the road, I feel the precision of the European-inspired suspension. On the straightaways this car has power to spare. We pull over to take it all in, leaning against the warm metal of our cars. If cars die and go to heaven, it must be something like this.
Tucked away between two mountain ranges in the westernmost reaches of North Carolina, Asheville is both insular and surprisingly worldly. Its elevation and scenic beauty have long drawn Southerners fleeing summertime heat, and as its reputation spread, it attracted admirers from farther afield—including the magnate George Washington Vanderbilt III, who chose it as the site for his Biltmore House, still the largest private home in the U.S. Today Asheville remains a small town (just 80,000 souls) with a thriving music scene and an eclectic community of artisans and artists.
I arrive in town in a brand-new 2012 Focus to meet up with my sister, owner of a vibrant 2011 Fiesta. We’ve set aside a weekend to discover Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains—and what better vehicles to go exploring in than these impressively fuel-efficient small cars. We can hit all the sights and not spend our precious time—and dollars—at the gas pump.
And there are lots of things worth spending time on here. We park in the center of town, where the athletic, aerodynamic lines of the Focus and Fiesta stand out against the charming, historic row of shops and restaurants. We start out in the center of town, strolling along Broadway Street. Right away, I get it: This is the kind of town that’s easy to fall in love with.
Carefully preserved architecture nurtures a feeling of connection to the past. Across the street from the old-fashioned movie house we find the Mast General Store, a two-story emporium with creaky wooden floors and shelves piled high with all manner of dry goods, from camping supplies to wind-up toys to an enticingly large selection of candy in glass jars. We plan to do plenty of shopping, and with the rear seats folded down in the Fiesta, there’s more than enough room for our gear and our new purchases.
Read the rest of the story at My Ford Magazine.
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