Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baby's got a brand new . . .


I was due for a new car. A new new car.  It took lots of research, a few test drives and of course some bumps along the way.

The great thing about the 1995 Nissan Maxima I was driving is that it was paid for. In recent months it had gotten to the point that I was virtually making a payment a month in repairs.  New tires in April, a new starter in December, an oil leak issue in January. It had 150,000 miles on it.  The engine was replaced at abou 140,000 which is great, except that the rest of the parts weren't. There was a daily alternation of burning oil or burning gas smell.  The whistle of the leak in the sunroof liner was irritating. Every day I was worried that I'd end up on the side of I-5 waiting for a AAA tow truck.
My old car, except my front bumper was maroon and the rear was black.
I started my online shopping about a month ago.  Where to begin.  hmmm.  I'd had the Hyundai Sonata as a rental car in Arizona and like it a lot.  The ride was smooth.  The options plentiful (of course, coming from a car made in the 90's, every car by comparison has a million buttons and options). I knew I definitely didn't want the Ford Focus or Dodge Dart after having both of those as rentals in Spokane. The Nissan Rouge was nice but not a car I'd want to own. 

Eventually I settled on a list to test drive. Hyundai was the first stop.  The Veloster is a hot little two or three door car that is supposed to be driver focused and aimed at "car" people.  I really wanted to like it but at only 138HP @6000rpm it was fairly gutless.  I'd have had to get the turbo model and that seemed like a speeding ticket waiting to happen. It was easily the most disappointing test drive. The Elantra was a nice ride, not amazing but there were some nice options. A small mid-size/big compact that would fit my needs but not necessarily be anything special.
Hyundai Elantra
Next was Mazda.  They market themselves as a fun car.  And the Mazda3 was a fun car to drive.  Small enough to handle well but big enough to hold four comfortably.  The Mazda6 would have been even better, especially as the 2014 had just been released, but at $28,000 MSRP, it was pushing my budget. I didn't even test drive it because I knew I'd have trouble not spending the money.
Kia was next.  It wasn't on my initial list but after reading some good reviews and hearing second- and third-hand what great cars they are, I added it.  I drove the Kia Optima, a chassis twin to the Sonata which makes sense since Hyundai owns 34% of Kia and they are both produced in South Korea. at 200HP@6000rpm, it had plenty of get up and go but a price noticably less than the Sonata or Mazda6 for a comparable size (wheelbase of 110inches). It surprised both 25 and I as we hoped it would perform well but didn't expect it to.
Kia Optima
The last test drive was a Subaru Legacy. 25 has a Subaru and thought I should at least give it a go.  Next to the Veloster, it was the second most disappointing. I felt like I'd be paying for All Wheel Drive that I didn't really need. The ride was bumping and noisy.  It was a wobblier handling too.

Any bets on what I bought?

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