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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Her Name Is Rio...

Since I've droned on and on about this, I feel compelled to note that the great car hunt has concluded. By way of explaining recent history (if you want to call it that), I've been pondering getting another car for a few months now, and being the logically inclined person that I am, Ive done all manner of research and evaluations trying to find the perfect fit for both my budget and my 6'3"/230lb frame. Like most things human though, you can only do so much with logic, so I confess that there is some part of illogical "feeling" in the whole process of picking something so intimate as a car.

So what of it?

Well my research pointed to a Toyota Yaris as being the car I wanted. It had a few attributes that I was looking for...

...very good on gas
...low cost of ownership
...record for reliability
...enough room for me & a passenger or two (when needed) yesterday I decided to pull the trigger and head over to the Scranton Toyota dealership to actually see the Yarii they had on the lot (which I had been following on-line for a while anyway). At first I loved the in-person look of the car. Kinda bulbous, but all the better to fit a kind of bulbous Steve. Then I sat in the car. Deal over. Now I knew that the Yaris has the instrument cluster in the center of the car, so intellectually I was prepared. However sitting in the car and seeing behind the steering wheel just a padded dash was somehow disconcerting on some level. It felt very, very strange...almost uncomfortable.

Yes, it was a strange feeling. Mind you I drive different cars all the time. My job takes me to Connecticut and/or New Jersey every month (sometimes multiple times per month), so I'm used to driving different kinds of cars. I've had everything from a Cadillac to a Volvo and lots in between, so different normally doesn't throw me for a loop. This was very different though.

So what to do? Well I had also noticed two Kia Rios at that the same dealership, so after taking a gander at a few (more conventional looking) Corollas, I wandered over to peer at them. One was white with a tan interior, the other was dark red with a gray interior. At first I wasn't very impressed, as I really wasn't looking for something with four doors (despite the groans from my family members). However I sat in them and it just felt right, and the red one looked kind of sharp in a "cutting edge of South Korean economy car technology" way. It also had a few things going for it...

...2009 model
...better than average reliability record (not at Toyota level, but far above, say, Chrysler)
...nearly as good as the Yaris fuel economy
...a decent stereo (with a USB port) that I can connect my Sirius receiver to
...more than enough room for the above referenced bulbous frame
...only 9000 miles it was off for a test drive. It handled well and felt right, so it was time to do a deal. When all was said and done, I got it for about two grand less than a similar model for sale at the local Kia dealership.

So the quest has been concluded. I pick Rio up on Tuesday and I hopefully then begin a few years of worry-free driving. By the way, it looks something like THIS.

Interestingly enough this make & model wasn't on my short list of potential cars. I guess this means that logic can only take you so far, at least when it comes to cars.


J Curtis said...

Sometimes we become a bit irrational in our car buying decisions because it's something that helps define who we are.

Statistically speaking,Latinos swamp to Mitsubishis whereas I wouldnt spit on one.

Best thing to do IMO? Get a recent evaluation from Consumer Reports on used cars (ABOUT TWO MODEL YEARS OLD) and find out which ones don't have many problems or recalls and go from there.

Stephen Albert said...

That's pretty much what I did...I analyze things to death. I actually have an Excel speadsheet showing the key attributes of the various models I was considering, all of which eventually pointed to a Yaris as the right car. The problem was that once I sat in it, I realized that the car didn't "feel" right. All that analytical work trumped by a "feeling".

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the choice. Consumer Reports doesn't have enough data on this particular model for longer-term ratings, but similar ones from Hyundai (the Accent is the same car...made in the same factory) have been above average for a few years now.

One thing I wasn't going to do with buy another domestic brand. I dropped over two thousand last year on repairs to my Saturn Vue and PT Cruiser, replacing things (struts at 40,000 miles, valve cover gasket at 70,000 miles, rotors, etc.) that shouldn't have needed to be replaced.