Saturday, February 25, 2012

Non-Binge Purchase

While out in Colorado I rented the cheapest car they had: a Chevy Cobalt*.  I have to admit to not being a fan.  I didn't care for the interior, the exterior, the controls, etc.  It also had all the pick up of a hand cranked radio.  I hated every minute with that thing....until I had to fill it up.

I had been used to filling up our family cars on a pretty methodical basis and with a trip of any length the fuel costs had to be brought into consideration.  In either car there was no binge 40 minute trip and our trips down to Amish country dropped off from bi-monthly to bi-yearly.  That Cobalt, which went all around the state on one tank of juice, made me realize that even with $4/gallon gas there was a world where driving a distance was still an afterthought.

Even before the trip to Colorado though, I had half considered trading in my beloved Matrix because of the impact on the old wallet, but I always wisely decided that the lack of a car payment made up for its love of high end petrol.  With the accident though, those considerations came back to the surface and I was very interested in a car that could get good fuel mileage.  No, not a Cobalt/Cruze, that's just crazy talk.  I still like the idea of a hatchback, but I didn't want it to be ugly (like the Kia Sol, Nissan Cube, etc.) and that pretty much left one vehicle: the Honda Fit.

I've always been a proponent of new cars, but I figured my old car was (very) used and I didn't have a problem with it, so logically a significantly less used, used car would be practically new to me anyway!  (The Sandmiches have typically had a 'good' vehicle and a 'beater' and the Matrix was the beater, so there also wasn't a great need to get a faultless vehicle out of the gate).  From a friend's recent experience I knew that good used cars have a way of evaporating very quickly (on Monday she would make a list of cars that she was interested in, and by the time she got to the dealers on Thursday they would all be gone), so when Mrs. Sandmich caught a 2007 Fit with only 20,000 miles on it being posted for sale on Saturday we went out that day (well, this day) and picked it up.
Exactly like this, but in Ohio, not California

The car was on a list that we were considering but it was the best choice by a healthy enough margin (some cars had better warranties, but more miles; other cars had better specs, but weren't hatch backs, etc., and all of them were more expensive).  The sales dude said that they probably could have sold that same car four times over during the weekend and that it was good thing that we got in early.  I'm half tempted to say that was regular salesman bunk, but for the fact that a few minutes on the Internet would prove him mostly right (at least within 50 miles of our house).  Used car Honda dealers are bursting at the seams with Civics, Accords, and CRVs, but pickens' are rather slim when it comes to the Fit (a lot of people driving their fuel efficient grocery getters into the ground methinks).

One last note though, the car that I really wanted was the Civic Si.  They even had a nice, used sedan version on one lot and I got shivers thinking about peeling driving out of the dealer with that bad boy.  It was, unfortunately, exactly what I don't need.  Although the fuel economy is (supposedly) better than my sport equipped Matrix, it still takes premium.  There's that, and the fact there's probably many a rubbed chin at the insurance company when someone buys a car that's not much bigger than a Fit but with double the horsepower.  As a different friend (who is a Fit fanatic) put it when I was debating:
  • Me: "I'm still thinking about getting that Civic Si though..."
  • Her: "You don't need an Si.  If you get an Si every time you call me it will be you crying about how you have no money because of all the speeding tickets that you have to pay!"
  • Me: "I won't speed in it-"
  • Her: "BULLSH!T"
*The Cobalt did have one feature that I liked, a feature that I've only ever had on one vehicle that I've owned: the fuel receptacle was on the passenger side. This is like one of those "left handed" things in baseball in that its rarity makes it easy to find a pump at a crowded gas station since everyone else, who pulled into the station the same way, has their receptacle on the driver side.

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