Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My car died. Combine that with my dead dog and rural Alabama roots, and I have to start wondering whether my pregnant wife is going to run off with my best friend and all my hootch.

Anyway, it's a blown head gasket on a 97 Subaru Outback. We don't have the $2500 to fix it, and even if we did, we'd have to wonder about the wisdom of spending so much on a $4K car. So we're looking at replacement vehicles with the room to tote a baby (and all the accompanying detritus) and a big dog (and all the accompanying crud). It looks like our hate-on for SUVs, like our circa 1997-2002 hate-on for cell phones, might finally be subverted by preference (as in "we prefer to bring our helpless baby with us when we take the dog to the park."). Because we haven't completely lost our minds, our major considerations are fuel economy, roominess, and affordability, all with certain give-and-take. Also, since my wife's car is 10 years old and has 120,000 miles, we might try to buy two vehicles at once. It's a Honda, so it'll run for a while still, but it's also been broken into 4 times and stolen once in the last two years. The driver's side window has been worked on several times, but still doesn't roll up right, and it drives kinda funny now. So, yeah, maybe it's time to lose it for one with one of those bitchin' newfangled alarm systems.

Replacement vehicles we like so far:

  • Toyota Matrix, which is surprisingly roomy inside. New ones list at $18-$20K. The one we drove was at 28/34 on the fuel economy scale, and would work as long as the dog sat mostly still. We could add a roof rack to go on vacation. Eventually, the baby will get to be large enough to kick the hell out of the backs of the seats, though. Despite all this, the Matrix might be our go-to car.
  • The Honda CR-V. Yes, an SUV. New ones list for $19-$23K. The one we drove was at 23/29 on fuel economy and was absolutely great. Lots of room, roof rack for vacations, seats that fold up or come out, hidden compartments galore. We like.
  • The Honda Element. Another SUV, although one that drives like a minivan. New ones list for $17-$23K, but they don't sell as well as the CR-V. Fuel economy similar to the CR-V. The roominess and plastic inside are good. The lack of a center seat in the rear for baby is bad. Might be able to get a good deal on one, though.

Don't like:

  • Scion xB. It's tiny in there, y'all.
  • Toyota RAV4. Loud & handles like shit. Maybe the sales guy shouldn't have put us into an unsold '04 model. They get great gas mileage - 25/31 - so I want to drive another one before we write it off.

Anyway, we'll see. There's two Honda dealers in the area with used Matrixes (Matrices?) on the lot, so maybe we can work a deal for a CR-V and a Matrix for something approaching affordable. Preferably they'll just give them to us.


JBJ 5:20 PM, December 07, 2004  

I damn near bought a Matrix this summer. I could see it being a pretty good car for two adults, a baby, and a dog. (I concluded that I shouldn't try to jam three kids into the back seat, but I dunno, it might've worked.) You probably know this, but the Pontiac Vibe is the sister model with only cosmetic differences.

I ended up going less deeply into debt and buying a 1999 Maxda 626. Our other car is the dreaded Dodge minivan.

Hayden Childs 6:17 PM, December 07, 2004  

Strangely enough, I don't think we can afford a used car. No down payment. But thanks!

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