stevenpiziks: (Default)
We need to rejigger the cars.  The F-150 is simply too big for what we need, for one thing.  We bought it with intent to tow Darwin's trailer, but we're selling that, and it doesn't make sense to keep the huge truck.

Although both vehicles in the household belong to both Darwin and me, it's functionally "my" truck because Darwin never drives it, and whatever car we got to replace it would be the one I drove most often.  So it's my decision what kind of vehicle to drive.

I've settled on a mid-sized SUV.  Darwin initially pushed for a compact hybrid like the one he drives, and the idea had appeal, but I figured we should have one vehicle with a little more room.  Whenever all of us go somewhere in the compact, we're crowded and crabby, and it's always good to have a vehicle that can haul bigger stuff once in a while.  A full-sized truck, as I already knew, is too big, as is an SUV, but the smaller SUVs looked pretty cool.

As it happens, Darwin's sister worked for Ford, so we can get the family discount.  This really pointed us toward a Ford Edge or a Ford Escape:

Last weekend, Darwin and I did some sniffing.  We prowled around a Ford lot and examined some Edges.  We didn't like them.  They're too big, for one thing.  The front is ugly and . . . aggressive, somehow. It looks like it an elephant is bearing down on you.  The interior seems to have been designed in 1974, with faux wood lined with chrome.  I'm usually more concerned with the way the car drives and its reliability than anything else, but this was just ugly, and I couldn't imagine looking at it every day.  Darwin agreed.

The Escape was much nice.  The size was Just Right (one of the reasons it's so enormously popular), and the interior way more attractive.  We test drove it, and I liked the way it handled.  The Eco-Drive system which shuts off the engine when you come to a stop was a little unnevering at first, but I quickly got used to it.  It has a lot of cargo space, and the mileage is good.  It's not as good as a hybrid, of course, but this car wouldn't be our high-mileage car anyway--it'll be my five-miles-to-work car and our road-trip car.

So we'll be getting this one.  After we close on the condo, though.

Long Drive

Nov. 15th, 2010 10:55 pm
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
Over the weekend, Sasha drove everyone all the way from Wherever to Ypsilanti, and all the way back again.  Crowded highway driving, and he made no mistakes and had no problems.  Go him!
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
. . . that Sasha got his learner's permit?  Apparently I am no longer allowed to drive anywhere.

Car Ha!

Apr. 3rd, 2009 10:25 pm
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
Someone agrees with me about the Cavalier when I said it was an economical, dependable, high-selling car that Chevrolet yanked from production for stupid reasons:
Chevrolet Cavalier. GM sold millions of Cavaliers in the 1980s—and decided the thrifty car was so successful the company didn't need to update it for more than a decade. To milk the model, GM even added some lipstick and high heels and tried to peddle the upgrade as the Cadillac Cimarron—a legendary flop. Honda and Toyota, meanwhile, were updating their competing models every four or five years, and grabbing market share with each quality improvement. A new Cavalier came out in the mid 1990s—then languished for another decade, while GM put most of its money into big trucks and SUVs. GM has since improved its small cars. "But they have to be miles better than the imports for Americans to forget how bad their small cars used to be," says Jamie Page Deaton of U.S. News's Rankings and Reviews car-ranking site. Even if they are better, many Americans wonder why they should give Detroit a second—or third—chance.
I had one of the wonderful mid-90s models that Chevy abandoned in favor of gas-guzzling SUVs.  Given a choice, I would have walked straight into a dealership and said, "Give me another Cavalier" when I went cars shopping last week, but noooooo!  The idiots stopped making them, and now they're begging for government handouts from corporate jets while their workers starve.
If it weren't for the shit-hole that they dragged Michigan into, I'd be laughing at them.

Car 2.1

Mar. 24th, 2009 10:38 pm
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
We decided to get the Cobalt.  By chance we'd made an appointment for today with the dealer to get more pricing information, and this was the only day I'd be in town until Friday.  I was also just not up for more car shopping any more.  And we got the family pricing, which Ford wouldn't give us.  So after school, Kala picked up the boys and I met them at the dealership.

It was the usual mess of signing and waiting around and more signing.  We refused the extra, over-priced warranties.  (I interrupted the finance guy in mid-pitch: "You can stop.  We don't want them.  We're done."  I tend toward brusque and impatient with sales techniques, I'm afraid, especially once the haggling is over--I just want to get the hell out.)  And then we =finally= got the keys.  The boys, of course, wanted to ride home with me in the new car.

The Cobalt is the first car I've ever driven that has a driver's seat which goes too far back for me to drive comfortably.  I actually have to pull it a little forward. (!)  I love being able to plug my iPhone into the stereo system.  Cruise control!  Remote start!

Weirdly, the battery is in the trunk.

And I'll be driving it up to Saginaw tomorrow morning.
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
I love my Cavalier.  Wonderful car.  But it has 180,000 miles on it.  It also needs about $2,500 worth of work (including new struts and a new compressor for the AC).  Therefore, it must be replaced.  I'd love to get a new Cavelier.  Unfortunately, Cavalier was a best-selling, reliable, reasonably-priced car, so Chevrolet stopped making them.  Ford did the same thing with the Escort.  (I don't know why car companies do this.  They get a successful, solid model, then they deliberately toss it aside and wail that their customers buy Japanese.)

Anyway, we got a powerful tax refund, and we went car shopping.  Again.
Read more... )

stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
The Cavalier seems . . . different.  I can't put my finger on it.  When it steers, it feels a little off, somehow.  It doesn't drag, exactly.  It doesn't pull in a particular direction, exactly.  It doesn't float, exactly.  But as someone who spends many, many hours a week in the thing, it feels different lately, like I'm being gently pushed around the highway lanes, just a little.

Have to get it checked out.

Also, the freakin' breaks are pulsing, and we JUST GOT THEM DONE.  Argh!

New Van

Jan. 15th, 2009 04:28 pm
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
Once the vet declared Sam good to go, Kala and I piled him back into the car and we drove straight to the car dealership.  There, we signed form after form after form.  The Friendly Salesman offered us an extended (and rather expensive) warranty.  We gave it brief thought, then declined.  In my experience, extended warranties aren't worth the money.   Sam waited patiently next to our chairs the entire time.

At last, the Friendly Salesman gave us the keys.  We put Sam in the back of the new van, Kala got in, and off she went.  I met her at home.  We had a new van!

Mackie was utterly thrilled.  For the last six months, the boy has talked about a van as if it were the Holy Grail.  He would just go on and on.  "Will we ever get a van?  When will we get a van?  I hope we get a van.  It would be so cool to have a van!"  I have no idea why this should be, but it is.  He examined the thing from every angle and with enormous enthusiasm.  When I announced I needed to get canned food for Sam and did anyone want to go with, Mackie scorched a trail to the door.  Aran and Sasha followed a little more slowly.

Mackie climbed into a little piece of heaven.  His choice between a captain's chair in the middle, or a bench chair in the back!  So much room!  A ceiling compass that tells you which direction you're going!  Sliding doors on both sides!  Just incredible!  I think he'd've moved in if I'd let him.
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
Okay, we made an offer on the Freestar for $1,000 below asking, figuring they'd counter with $500 below asking, which is what they did.  The taxes and fees ate up everything that was lopped off, though.

Then came the snag.  Our credit union refuses to accept faxed signatures on the final loan form and they won't transfer funds electronically.  This meant that Kala and I would both have to drive to the CU to finish the paperwork and get the check.  Our CU is up in Wherever, about 40 minutes away.  Normally this would've been an inconvenience or annoyance.  However . . .

Our wonderful Michigan winter, so great for skiers, was making things dangerous for drivers.  Blowing snow, falling snow, slick roads.  Kala and I got on the highway, and straighaway hit stopped traffic.  An accident had completely halted all movement.  Fortunately for us, we "only" sat there for about fifteen minutes before the towtruck pulled the cars in question aside, opening up one lane.  I drove with extreme caution and slowness.  About a mile further north, we saw the remains of another accident (one car, two ambulances).  We switched to the second highway of our journey, and a couple miles further down, we got into =another= traffic stop due to an accident.  This one involved a pair of firetrucks, two towtrucks, three police cars, and three civilian vehicles.

Our enthusiasm for driving farther dropped sharply.  C---, the Friendly Salesman, had told us about other places we could apply for auto loans, but we had elected not to run them, since we already had approval from out CU.  I exited the highway while Kala called him to ask if we could still go through someplace more local.  He said we could, and he took the info over the phone.  And we drove carefully home.

Kala is now picking up the boys.  However . . .

C--- just called to say the car will be ready at five.  Except Sam the Dog has a vet appointment at five, and he =has= to go.  (See the next post.)  The dealership closes at 6:00.  We want the van tonight.

Why does everything happen all at once?
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
More car shopping.  We can't find any used Odysseys =anywhere= (except for one that was way outside our price range).  People apparently don't want to give them up.  We found a 2004 Kia Sedona with 58,000 miles on it, and they're asking $8,900 for it.  It's decent, but the price must come down for us to get it.

We also found a 2004 Ford Freestar with 65,000 miles on it, and they're asking $7,900 for it.  MINUSES: I don't know this model.  Ford's minivans don't have the greatest reputation, and they seem to have phased them out.  PLUSSES: We've bought two cars from this dealership before, including the current used Escort, and both cars lasted until they simply fell apart; this place's cars seem to be trustworthy.  The Freestar is quite a lot less expensive than the Kia.  The dealer may take a little for the Escort for trade.

A friend of Kala's who's good with cars says the Freestar is a good second choice.  (He also said he wouldn't touch the Kia.)  I've done some on-line research, which, as always, turns up a mixed bag.

Anyone know anything about Freestars . . . ?
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
The snowstorm was a major problem because we'd been planning to do some serious car shopping on Saturday.  We braved the storm and creeped out to a nearby Kia dealer for a test drive on a 2004 Sedona with 65K miles on it.  It handled very well despite the bad roads and we liked it, but it was outside out price range.  I love to bargain, though.

The storm was just too nasty for us to consider looking at anything else or at any other dealerships, so at this point we went home.  Sigh.
stevenpiziks: (Jalopy)
I need some advice.  We =must= replace at least one of our cars fairly quickly, but we can't really afford a new one.  We'd like to get a used small minivan, or =maybe= a small SUV.  Mileage is high priority, as is passenger room (two adults, three kids--two of whom are teen-sized).  Cargo space comes in third.  Any idea what we should look for?  Jim?


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