Leo Sens is an outgoing 12-year-old boy with lots of interests. He’s a musician and photographer. He likes automobiles, and he’s comfortable giving his opinion as a car reviewer.

When his parents were shopping for a new car, Sens was in the back seat. Visiting car dealerships to purchase a vehicle isn’t often anyone’s favorite thing to do. But the younger Sens, who lives with an older sister and his parents in Oakland, California, was into it.

A 2017 Audi A3 e-tron similar to the care reviewed by 12-year-old Leo Sens.
A 2017 Audi A3 e-tron similar to the car reviewed by 12-year-old Leo Sens of Oakland, California.

While his parents were in the front seat, he thought they needed the perspective of someone sitting in the back seat, a 12-year-old car reviewer. Thus, Backseat Driver, comprised of two YouTube videos, was born.

Backseat Driver isn’t a novel name, but it likely is unique as the name of the auto reviews created by a grade school boy.

Leo Sens is our guest on Episode 49 of The Weekly Driver Podcast. Co-host Bruce Aldrich was on assignment, so I interviewed Leo while he was with his family in a rental car and driving near Washington, D.C. We discussed his favorite cars, the pros and cons of the car his parents purchased and the making of his YouTube videos.

Josh Sens, Leo’s father, is a restaurant critic for San Francisco Magazine and a writer for Golf Magazine. I met Josh for the first time last month during a media day in advance of the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula.

Says the elder Sens about his son, the car reviewer:

“The idea came about when my wife and I were looking for a new car. We test drove a bunch with him in the back seat and he was very opinionated about them all. He kept saying that parents don’t think about how cars drive for their kids.

“He’s only done a couple of episodes but has written directed and edited them himself. He wants to do more but is also busy with guitar and a million things that kids waste time on.”

Leo reiterated his father’s thoughts. He said he plans to do additional car reviews when he has more time. Here’s his review of his parents’ car, a 2017 Audi A3 e-Tron.

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