Saturday, June 01, 2013

A Car Question

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Proudly purchased in 2002, in Hartford Connecticut


I learned to drive later than most Americans. There had been some kind of mix-up in my high-school drivers' ed class, and they (whoever they might have been) never delivered our cars. My instructor was a vile, sexist ghoul who filled our non-driving hours with gory car-crash movies, lengthy discussions about sports, and appalling anti-woman rants.  I resolved never to repeat his class.  My parents we not great driving teachers. My father seemed baffled my lack of instant proficiency, and gave up trying to teach me (see also: skiing and tennis). My volatile mother would throw me out of the car with empty pockets, and if I didn't make it home quickly enough, she'd report me to the police as a runaway.  (This was a fairly regular practice of hers. I have all sorts of horror stories to tell about teenaged hitchhiking.)

Robb was the person who finally taught me to drive. We were moving to Dallas, a city that doesn't have sidewalks.  Robb was unfailing kind, and remarkably calm, and thanks to him I'm a safe, reliable driver.

But alas, my very first (and much beloved) car is no longer safe or reliable. Robb and I knew this day was coming, and have been saving to buy a newer car.

Because I do a lot of hauling for work (and the garden) we're looking at smaller station wagons, or hatchbacks with larger cargo areas.  I really want a car whose back hatch does not narrow at the bottom, like the Nissan Versa.  We'll be buying a used car, of course.

Does anyone have any suggestions about what to buy, or avoid?  There are several VW Passat wagons for sale locally. Are they junk?  What about the Mazda 3S?

17 comments:

Amber said...

I don't know about the Mazda 3s, but my hubby has a 2, and he loves it! Granted we have had it just under a year, but he drives an insane amount for work, so he has put a lot of miles on it already.

Michelle said...

I don't really have any car recommendations, but I can say that Robb is a keeper! He taught you to drive and you're still married! It says a lot for both of you. :)

But... I absolutely love my Mini Cooper Clubman, incredibly roomy for such a small car, but probably smaller than what you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

How about a used Prius? It's amazing what you can get in its hatch and great gas mileage!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

We haven't seen a used Prius in our price range. I think they are very desirable in the Bay Area.

Anonymous said...

I love my Subaru Forester. It has a roomy hatch, and the rear seats fold down (easily) to make even more room. I have hauled 2 bicycles and 12 bags of mulch (not at the same time).

It is incredibly safe on ice and snow, due to all-wheel drive, but I know that where you live this isn't a concern.

I sound like a car salesman, but I am not! Just a woman who loves my little car. -Rose


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Robb *is* a sweetie. He's delightful, funny, and even tempered.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

We'd happily buy another Subaru. We just haven't seen one yet.

knitica said...

LOVE my mini Cooper countryman. It has as much space in back as my old truck did, but with much better gas mileage.

Noreen said...

I have had two Subura Foresters in a row...I may never get a different car. My first one, with more than 100,000 miles on it is still in the family and doing fine. The rear view visibility is wonderful. There's tons of cargo room. And it's very reliable.

The only thing is that the mileage isn't great. But it's pretty good for an all wheel drive vehicle.

Trina said...

I've had my Scion XD for a year now and I still love it. We looked at the Versa, the Yaris, and the Fit also but the Scion really felt the best. I'm getting a solid 35mpg (manual) and I can fit several 8ft 2x4s in it. I can also highly recommend the Toyota One by the Collesium. The head sales manager helped us and was great. Also got FULL blue book for my trade-in 315k Tacoma.

deelitedesign said...

We love our Honda Fit, its actually quite big inside. No mechanical problems whatsoever. Interior folds flat(seriously) and mike can put his mountain bike inside, front wheel off. If I couldn't have a van, this would be my car.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to drive a red car you might as well get a Ferrari.

They can pack a lot of horsepower in that rear hatch.

JulieBMc said...

My parents had a Passat while I was growing up. They liked it a lot, and had it a LONG time (like, 15 years and it still runs quite well), but I seem to recall it needing pretty regular (and expensive) maintenance. Also bear in mind that upper Midwestern winters are a lot harder on a vehicle than Californian "winters" are, but still.

Anonymous said...

Yep! Subaru all the way. We had a Forester then went to a Toyota Tacoma when we went down to 1 vehicle. It killed us in gas so now we are back with a Subaru Impreza hatchback and love it!! Never leaving Subaru again, we should have this one for years to come.
Don't Panic!

Paperback Writer said...

Dylan and I were researching a Subaru, but discovered that it was out of our price range as well. We're currently eyeing the Toyota Matrix. Good space, hatchback with back seats that fold flat, reasonable MPG, good longevity (similar in maintenance records to the Toyota Corolla)...all good things. And a reasonable price, to boot. Definitely worth some investigation on your end.
Also, on the Mazda, I'm pretty sure that's what Andrew S. drives...worth asking him about his experience? He did a huge amount of research before buying his car last year.
Good luck finding a new faithful adventurer!

Jennifer said...

I have a Pontiac Vibe, which is essentially the same as a Toyota Matrix. I can fit four bales of straw in the back, which I'm happy about. Oh, and I get 40mpg on the highway.

Anonymous said...

Probably way too late, but... I was looking at VWs, but Consumer Reports readers give them terrible marks for reliability & maintenance. The '05 & '06 Passats get the lowest rating for Engine, minor, fuel system, drive system & electrical. I gave up on them. Don't know about you, but I need reliable!

Birgitt

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