Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cruisin' for Cars

My wallet has decided to go on the Slim-Fast diet, and so far it's doing remarkably well.  Last week it shed some pounds as we bought Kyle a new bed.  This month it plans to lose much more, as we are now shopping for a new car. 

It's not like there's a problem with our current vehicle, a 2001 Toyota Corolla.  Here's a recent picture of it:

She's a beauty, ain't she?  Believe it or not, even after this snowstorm, my car started up right away.   It couldn't go anywhere for a month, but at least it was alive.  This car is still so reliable, I really have no reason to sell it, except for the fact that it's now turning into a black hole and may devour our entire family at any moment.  The inside of the car seems to be collapsing in on itself, becoming smaller as our family is getting bigger and needing more space.  We could barely fit one car seat into it, and there's no way we'd be able to squeeze in two.  It's not like it was back when Jennifer and I were kids, when you'd simply strap the new baby to the roof and just be careful on the highways.  These days there are laws discouraging that, so our only option is to get something larger.

On Saturday, the family drove out to Long Island to test-drive a few vehicles.  As I said, we were looking for big, but not too big.  I still park my car on the street, and most times I have to butter the bumpers so they could slide into a spot that's smaller than the car itself.  And that's with a compact car.  I can't imagine doing that with a full-sized SUV or - gasp - a minivan.  Still, we need more space, and we'd like a third row of seats, in case we want to take a couple friends along when we flee the city during the 2012 apocalypse.  The vehicle should be resonably priced, too.  We were rather surprised to find that our choices are limited.

(Above: Kyle chooses a new car for us)
It was much easier for Kyle to pick out a car.  He walked around the showrooms, saying he wanted this one or that one, without even comparing sticker prices or fuel efficiency.  Apparently color is what matters most to him.  That shiny sedan is perfect because it's black, though that blue SUV looks great, too - why not get both?  The one color he seemed to not like, at least not at first, was the color red: the exact color of the vehicle we decided to test-drive.

"NO RED!  NO REEEEEDDD!" shouted my son in the dealership lot as I struggled to fit his car seat into the vehicle.  He then cried and fought as we put him into the car.  The saleswoman with us stood there quietly, calculating in her head how she could use this incident to convince me to add on a feature that would distract our kid, like a sun roof or surround-sound golden-plated Blu-ray player.  I could tell she was looking forward to running me over during the negotiations.

That saleswoman ended up being the best one we had.  A salesman at another dealership seemed reluctant to even show us the vehicle we wanted to see, apparently sensing the destructive force of our child.  The last salesman we saw was more than happy to show us his cars, as he was one of those guys who acted like he was one of your best friends after having known you for all of 0.5 seconds.  After seeing us cram into a "crossover" vehicle, he said something that was probably true, but difficult to hear: "You guys are in minivan denial."

So, we test-drove a minivan.  There certainly was enough space in it to hold our family, and by "family" I mean Kyle, the new baby, their parents, grandparents, and about two dozen aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Plus there's enough cargo room to fit another car inside.  The salesman raved about all of the vehicle's gizmos, including a rear-window monitor on the dashboard, since the rear window itself is too far away to actually see out it.  The minivan cost about ten grand more than we were hoping to pay, but I suppose we'd be able to afford it if Kyle continues to shun expensive foods in favor of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... at least until he's in his early twenties.  Yet I can't see me finding a spot for it in our parking-space-deprived neighborhood.  It was a nice ride and we were glad to have the experience, since now we know for sure that we won't be getting a full-size minivan, even if we are in "minivan denial."  We stopped at a gas station during the test drive, as the trip around the block drained the entire tank.  With gas prices being what they are these days, the salesman had to sell a car to the station owner just to pay for the fuel.

We now think we know what kind of vehicle we are going to get.  We won't be able to purchase it until mid-March, as we have visitors coming the next couple of weekends.  I'll let you know our choice then.  For Kyle's sake, let's hope we have more color choices than red.


Craig said...

DON'T DO IT, DAVE! Resist the minivan! Seriously. Look at a CRV or RAV-4 or some other hatchback thingy. How often will you really need to fit three rows of people vs how often will you need to try and parallel park a yacht on wheels?

JoannaP said...

Seriously. Friends don't let friends drive minivans.