Friday, March 27, 2009

Cars we left by the side of the road

Being a bit of a car nut (and a basket case when it comes to big decisions), our new car search began essentially with the dawn of time.  Officially it lasted for about six months.  During that time we test drove the following cars:

2005 Audi A4 (Used)
2009 Honda Fit (New)
2009 Mazda 6 (New)
2009 Mazda 3 (New)
2005 Mercedes-Benz C230 (Used)
2006 Nissan Maxima (Used)
2008 Saturn Astra (New)
2009 Saturn Aura (New)
2009 Suzuki SX4 (New)
2009 Toyota Corolla (New)
2009 Toyota Camry (New)
2008 Volkswagen Jetta (New)
2008 Volkswagen Rabbit (New)
2007 Volvo S40 (Used)

Our 2010 Mazda 3 wasn't my first choice; I preferred the Mazda 6, Saturn Astra, and Volkswagen Rabbit, the first two of which have the added benefit of being somewhat American made.  The Saturn would never really have been an option though, because they killed off the brand just as we were finally ready to buy.  I was really disappointed with the Camry and Aura (though I liked the Aura better) for incredibly weak engines and poorly tuned transmissions (both with the 4-cylinder engines).  They get the job done, but without even a hint of passion for driving.  

One of our requirements for a new car was that it have a stability control system (if you're buying a new car, be sure to get it!), which when combined with our budget ruled out a large portion of the available cars.  There were a few that we could have considered but didn't:  2009 Ford Focus (too ugly and apparently less fun to drive than a Camry), 2010 Ford Fusion (the stripped down model would just barely fit in our budget), 2009 Honda Civic (only the top of the line model has stability control, and it's quite expensive), 2009 Subaru Impreza (too granola), and 2009 Chevy Malibu (again, only the stripped down model could possibly, barely, almost fit in our budget).  Hyundai and Kia also offer some models we could have looked at, but we felt no need to go to them.  The models just listed were enticing as either highly reputable companies (Honda) or American made to some degree.  Unfortunately, our ultimate goal was an elegant, compact car with the requisite safety features and in our limited budget, something the Detroit automakers just don't offer.  

Ultimately though, one criteria mattered the most:  Krystle's choice.  And in case you hadn't picked up on it from earlier posts, Krystle loves her car (even if it does look like a smiling whale with braces).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Farewell to a good and (mostly) faithful friend

As Krystle wrote below, we have a new addition to our garage.  More on that later.  First, I want to remember our now gone Pontiac Grand Prix, for as younger siblings push their older brethren from their parents' affections, so our newest addition has shoved its predecessor out of our care (and apparently into the waiting arms of Mexico, if one dealer is to be believed).

For reasons unfathomable to my wife, I actually liked that car.  At the end, it was a little bit like driving a truck:  large engine, meaty tires, so many dings and stains that you didn't even notice more as they appeared.   It was also dead reliable, except for all that stuff I had to fix.  Pontiac got the major parts right though, since the engine and transmission still run like they'll never give up the ghost.  It will make great transportation for some thrifty traveler, as long as they don't mind the heat since the a/c quit.

All those imperfections also made it a perfect commuter car.  Rolling down the city streets, if a BMW or Mercedes wants to cut me off, no problem!  This lane's big enough for the both of us!  I probably wouldn't even be able to tell if I got side swiped.  I'm sure the BMW owner couldn't say the same.

In conclusion, the car served us well and was the best hand-me-down I've ever received; it was from Krystle's mom, thanks!  (As a side note to any guys reading this, here's a great way to scare an actual or possible mother in law, potentially enough for them to offer to replace your car:  After driving to the house of the parents of the girlfriend/fiance/new wife, excuse yourself to inspect your car since it was having problems on the drive over.  When they ask what is the matter, tell them it's no big deal, you're just trying to plug the leak in the gas tank.  Worked like a charm for me!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Our New Baby

No, not a human baby, just this smiling bundle of joy:

Yes, after six months of research and saving, we brought our new car home today. I had a lot of fun reading up on all the car's cool features, particularly its bluetooth capabilities. I can now make or receive calls using my car's voice activated bluetooth device! We can also plug in our ipod directly into our sound system. My happy baby makes a chime sound when it starts and says goodbye to me when I shut it off -- how cute!

Other cool options include a sensor that lets me know when my tire pressure is low (or high) and safety features like dynamic stability control. And it is super-fun to drive. Zoom Zoom!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We're No. 1

Guess who was the first couple to drive a 2010 Mazda3 in Albuquerque? Hint: we're pretty amazing, and being the first to drive a 2010 is pretty amazing!

I am pretty much obsessed with this car, so I found out as soon as one of the mazda dealers in town got one in. We went in, made them pull the car out of the back where they were sprucing it up to put on the floor, and took it for a spin! I love it, and hopefully I will own one by the end of the month.

We're not going to buy the one we drove though because it was white and I am not a fan of white cars (though I will admit that the 2010 mazda3 wears white well). We are thinking of getting a deeper red color (they call it "copper red mica") with a tan and black interior (the combination is sporty-looking . . . I will have to get used to it though).

I realize that not everyone is as enamored with the new 3's looks as I am. Jesse is skeptical for one (though he admits it looks better in person) and Warren said it looks like a "smiling wale"!

Anyway, I thought I would share this picture, which while intended to make fun of the car, actually makes me love it more.