Thursday, March 20, 2014

Upgrading the Wheels

It's time. Time for a new vehicle.

Harold the Happy Homo will be headed to that Great Bathhouse in the Sky tomorrow, or at least to the local junker. Harold is a 2003 Toyota Echo, and the story of how he got his name is right here.

Yes, he's a gay old car. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He's served us very well: two trips to Florida and a myriad of shorter jaunts (for Ontario values of 'short': my dad is four and a half hours away from here...five counties over, and that's still well within southern Ontario.) We've crammed all manner of stuff into that capacious back end of his, including some things you'd swear would never fit. As I say, somebody reamed this car out but(t) good: the trunk on an Echo is shockingly large. Very few problems over the years, but we're getting to the point where stuff is going to start costing.

And we'd like something bigger, something a little more capable of dealing with winter. Eva's got a commute now, and some of it is on roads that get a little hairy. Our Harry has coped with them...okay...but now that Eva is on her way to being half her size, she's no longer the anchor she once was. A 2003 Echo driven by Eva2 stays on the road. Driven by Eva, it has a tendency to blow around.
No cruise control on Harold, either. Nor iPhone/iPod accommodation... nor various other features that are commonplace now were either unheard of or unaffordable to us in 2003.
And one other thing: Eva wants something with road command. Now, granted, the Echo sits higher than many sedans. The two other cars I've spent any time in at all recently, I find either difficult or almost impossible to get in to, and this was in fact one of the biggest reasons we got Harold in the first place. You can get in and out of an Echo without having to do painful things like bend.
So yes, Harold sits high, but not high enough. It seems the road is full of SUVs these days that you can't see around and you sure as hell can't see over. They're forever blocking your view at intersections and making driving even more of an adventure than it needs to be. Given all this, and given also that the new vehicle's going to have to be big enough to take Princess Alexa and her subjects to Disney a few years hence...if you can't beat the SUV crowd you might as well join it.

There were four vehicles on our list: a Ford Escape, a Kia Rondo, a Hyundai Tucson and a Mazda CX-5. All four came recommended from people who had them. For external appearance, I especially liked the new Escape, but none of them were hideous (well, the Rondo was kind of ugly-cute in the same way Harold is...if we'd gone that route we probably would have called the Rondo Harold's big gay uncle or something.)
The Mazda had the advantage of fantastic fuel economy. People were reporting figures better than the EPA ratings, which is practically unheard of. Since I don't see the price of gas going down any time soon, or ever, that was a serious plus.
We ran the figures for insurance and discovered that the Escape cost considerably more to insure than any of the other three. The Kia dealership was  on the other side of the city and extremely inconvenient; also, in months of looking, we'd seen seemingly hundreds of Tucsons, a smattering of CX-5s...and exactly one Kia Rondo. I like to blaze my own trail as much as the next person, but you have to figure there's a good reason certain car models are popular.
 These may sound like pithy reasons to disqualify a vehicle, but we had arrived at a point, pre test drive, where the four seemed interchangeable...and let's face it, car shopping is stressful. We wanted to trim the list down to two, and so we did.

Honestly, I was hoping the Mazda would win out. Great fuel economy, very good quality...seemed like a worthy choice. Until I got into it.
It just didn't feel right. I can't be more specific than that. Eva can--she'll tell you that the controls were just that little bit awkward to get at, and that the seat was too firm in some places and too soft in others; for me, it wasn't any more or less comfortable than Harold, and that seemed...wrong, somehow, for a brand new car. And the salesman really didn't seem to take our interest very seriously, which was a strong turn-off.  (As usual when making a big purchase, we went in dressed--not grungily, but extremely casually. We have found over the years that many salespeople focus on your appearance rather than your intent. As someone who unfailingly does just the opposite, I find this rude and insulting.)

So we went to the Hyundai dealership, and before we pulled in, we told each other if this thing felt wrong, too, we'd hit Kia up as soon as we could.

It didn't. None of it did. The salesman was much more welcoming...unlike the Mazda man, Shane took us around the Tucson going over numerous features before we even got in.  On the test drive he mostly let the thing sell itself, and it did. Of course it was cavernous...after an Echo, almost anything would be. But it also felt cosy, It felt like a vehicle I could spend a day in without noticing.

When Shane came back with a price $3000 less than the CX-5, for a vehicle with more features, well, that clinched it. We pick up the Tuscon tomorrow. I want to call it Timmy Tuscon but as Eva says, its name is its name: we'll know it soon.

No comments: