Thursday, September 25, 2008

Automotive Lust

My poor little Ford Focus is having a tough time. Every morning when I get in and start it, it shakes and rattles and harumphs for the first five minutes until it wakes up. Once it's in gear and about a mile away from home, it settles down, but the morning wake-up has gotten worse and worse in the last month.

I'm not sure exactly why this is. Part of me wonders if when I had that collision with the giant truck that cracked my headlight, that something else like a motor mount didn't crack also and it's taken all this time for it to shake itself loose.

So every morning when I get up and take Zboy to school, I fantasize about another, different car. It's no secret that I never actually liked this car. It was functional - got me from A to B in a fairly efficient manner at little cost. But A) it's RED and B) it's not my old Volvo. Now C) it shakes like it's sitting on top of San Adreas Fault - three strikes and I want it OUT!

This morning as Z and I vibrated our way out of the driveway, Z wistfully said, "I wish we could get another car. Like the Volvo or the Explorer or a little tiny fuel-efficient car." Yes, I did a double-take at the last one too. Nine year olds are more sophisticated than they used to be...

As we discussed the pros and cons of various models on the way to school, I realized that in reality, I needed to get a vehicle that would hold one tall man, one growing boy, one little but leggy girl, me, and two largish dogs. Because MY car is the family car, and we have to actually be able to fit the family into it without anyone drooling on anyone else.

My current dissatisfaction was exascerbated by my coworker's recent purchase of this:

It's an incredibly cute little Toyota Scion XD (not the one that looks like a toaster). It has plenty of room for people, but nowhere to put the dogs. No Scion for me!

Then, when we went south for the memorial service last weekend, Cousin P and her brother K both were driving these:

The Toyota Prius is a marvelous car! Good gas mileage, quiet... and there's room for people - but only if they're on the smallish side. My father (granted, a very large man) has been lusting after one of these himself, and being in the presence of not one but two Priuses, availed himself of the opportunity to try one on. It didn't fit. And I realized that not only was it WAY out of my price range, there's no way Darling Man would be able to fold himself into one of them. Scratch Prius.

So after my discussion with ZBoy this morning, I cruised the internet during lunch to see what there was out there. My criteria - Used (can't afford new), front seat/backseat with decent leg room, Cargo space for dogs, less than 30,000 miles on it, no older than 2005 (though there's a 2003 I'm considering) and as far away from $20,000 as I can possibly get.

The candidates:

2007 Subaru Forester (19,001 miles)

2003 Subaru Legacy L (23,713 miles) I am not opposed to small station wagons.
There's also a 2005 Subaru Legacy that's blue (69,975 miles which kind of lets that one out).

2007 Ford Escape XLS (12,925 miles). It's not the hybrid version though. I'd love one of those, but again, too pricy for me at this point in time.

And finally, a 2005 Honda CR-V LX (27,170 miles). I rather like this car - especially the tailgate door that opens to the side rather than to the top. Thinking about dogs here... it'll be a lot easier to close the back without nailing someone's tail with this kind of door.

So? What do you think? Do you have any experience with any of these models? Good? Bad? Quirks? Strengths? I already know that Ford does kick-ass AC, but there are other bits that leave much to be desired. Please, give me feedback!!!!

I can see my husband now looking just like this when I mention this to him...


Aoj and The Lurchers said...

Assuming the models are the same as here in the UK, I would go with one of the Subarus. I have friends with both the Legacy and a Forester and they are both considered to be brilliant!

The CRV doesn't have a terribly big boot to it so that might depend on the size of your dogs.

The Ford I don't know anything about.

Floridacracker said...

We have a Ford Escape that I bought a little used (31k) from carmax back in 2003 and it has been such a good vehicle. My first Ford and I am impressed ... 175K on it now and it runs great.

My daughter's roommate and best friend has a Suburu Forester that seems like a nice car. Too new to say anything about durability though.

cinnkitty said...

whoo..hoo!! Finally something I can give knowledgeable advice on.

I've owned a CR-V and currentlly have a Ford Escape (yes, I long for a Hybrid as well!).

aoj is right about the CRV cargo space. It's just not as big as you think. And the vehicle always felt somewhat "cheap" to me. Which is weird to say about a Honda, for sure! Oddly enough, the whole "door swinging out" thing was never a highlight for me. It just was what it was. Of course, with Honda, you generally get a long life span and good resale value.

I traded my CRV in for an Escape and I've been absolutely in love ever since.

The Escape has plenty 'o room in the back and with the way the back seats fold it really, really gives lots of space. I know plenty of folks that say bad things about Ford, but my Escape has been mechanically fabulous since day one (it's just the external forces.. i.e. stupid dump trucks and their stupid rocks cracking my windshield..grrrrr... that have given me grief).

Sadly, I know nothing of Subaru, but I hear good things.

Have fun!!!

(p.s. -- my Escape has butt warmers! ooooohhh... nothing says happy, happy, joy, joy like a warm butt on a cold morning!! hee..hee..)

Randi said...

A mini-van. A mini-van not only has great MPG, it also has TONS of room for everything - you'll be shocked at how much you'll fall in love with one - seriously!!

SophieMae said...

Well, crud! The one time I don't copy my lengthy message in case of meltdown, blooger melts down.

Gist: I've owned a Subaru... highly recommend.. BUT do NOT get one with a pneumatic lift. Fabulous gadget till it breaks, then $$$ to repair. >:\

I'd check out Hyundai Tucson, as well. High depreciation coz people still theink they're 'cheap', but they're much better cars than they used to be. And decent warranties.

SophieMae said...

Oh, PS... Randi's right about the mini-vans. I scoffed till I owned one and ended up loving it. 8-]

The Crutnacker said...

Some suggestions on what to check out:

CR-Vs are great.
Honda Fit is MUCH bigger and much more usable than it looks.
Mazda 3 or Mazda 5. The Mazda 5 is a mini-minivan. It has six seats and gets pretty decent mileage.

nikki said...

I vote either the Escape or the Forrester. The CRV does feel kind of cheap inside and the back seat isn't very roomy. I'm 5'8" and I was a bit squished.

Margaret said...

My parents are on their second CRV and love them. I wish we had gotten one (we ended up with the Saturn Aura). They have plenty of room for their Doberman. And my dad is super tall and fits good.

I wish I had gotten it because in my current expanding shape, it's harder to get in and out of a car. A small SUV involves less bending.

Kim Ayres said...

Try a tandem bicycle with a trailer. get fit and save the environment

Anonymous said...

A really simple and cheap fix from your Dad. It sounds like a leaking vacuum hose to me. The choke uses a vacuum and what's happening, I think, from your description is that the engine doesn't warm up properly, thus the shaky-breaky behavior.
Check with a good mechanic..or come up to Havana by way of Havana Ford and let Mike look at it--the fix may cost you $10 worth of vacuum tube.
PS. I have a slew of your chili peppers..come n' get 'em

S William said...

I'd like to comment on the cars, but I am clueless. I have been driving a 1994 Geo Metro for 14 years now without a hitch.

I could sell the car to you, but then i wouldn't be very "green", and would have to get something with inferior gas mileage.

Signed Steve
Green before green was cool because I was po'