It was a long seven days last week, ending with the purchase of a new car.
Our 2002 Toyota Camry finally gave up the last week of July so we were scrambling to find a car that we liked. Jim and I had been driving his mom’s Honda Civic for about a month but there were several things we were not enamored of.
First, it was a two-door, and the doors were heavy. They also were long, so the seat belts were waaaaay back there. Getting into the car and belting up was inconvenient at best and a real hassle at worst. Opening the door, especially if one was on a slight uphill or right-side-down slope was difficult at best.
The Honda also had a digital dashboard display. Yeah, it looked cool, but if the sun was coming in from behind, in the southwest quarter, there was no way you were going to see that digital display. Made early evening driving home from the beach difficult. If not for the cruise control, I would have worried about speeding since I couldn’t read the dashboard speedometer.
We did like the large volume knob for the stereo system and the large fan knob for the heating/cooling system. Very easy to work while driving.
Gas mileage for combo city/highway driving in the Civic was right at 29 miles per gallon. We liked that. In fact, we liked it so much that I am officially declaring that, as of September 1, 2015, the days of my infatuation with high horsepower, low-gas-mileage muscle cars officially is over. My next car goal in life is a Tesla at 100 miles per gallon. I didn’t know it even used gas at all! (Note: They don’t use gas. They are completely electric, so its actually 100 miles per gallon “equivalent”).
I also am declaring my days of dark-colored cars to officially be over. No more black. No more red. No more dark blue. Sadly, no more Texas Aggie maroon…….. It’s either white, light gray, or silver. Dark paint doesn’t do well in 11 months of hot, dry San Diego sun.
So when we went looking at cars, we initially started at the independent used car dealerships since there are about a billion of them within five miles of home. Buying a used car would mean that the immediate depreciation resulting from driving a new car off the dealer’s lot would have been absorbed by someone else.
Used car selection, however, wasn’t great. Either the cars were ten years old with lots of mileage, or they were 2-3 years old with low mileage but prices almost the same as a new car.
Then, last Thursday while reading the San Diego Reader, our weekly newsmagazine, I saw an advertisement for Nissan offering leases for no money down. That’s when it hit me that Jim and I had leased a Nissan Maxima and a Nissan Altima in the early 2000s. We were quite satisfied with them, more than happy.
However, Nissan’s dealership is the farthest away out of the major car manufacturers. Honda and Toyota are just a hop, skip, and a jump across the freeway. Being familiar with Toyota, we went there first.
Although we had been driving the Honda for four weeks, I was still quite comfortable with the interior layout of the Toyota. I specifically like the positioning of the cruise controls. I can’t drive without cruise control, and the controls must be easy to use.
We wound up getting a Toyota Corolla LE Plus. Good gas mileage was my #1 goal, and the Corolla was rated at 29/38.
Other things we really like about the Corolla:
- The headlights—They throw a bright beam from side to side in front of the car without being blinding to oncoming drivers.
- Cruise control—Familiar location and familiar controls.
- Analog—Dashboard, audio controls, and air conditioning controls are analog.
- Steering—Seems to be tighter, sportier, than the Civic.
- Suspension system—Also sportier than the Civic but without being too sporty in that one can feel the road without feeling all the pot holes.
- Audio system—My favorite part of the car, even more of a favorite than the cruise control, is the fact that I can copy music files to a USB flash drive, plug it into the car’s audio system, and rock on down the highway to my own thing rather than Justin Bieber et al.
The one thing that I don’t like about the Corolla:
- The readout for the audio system is digital. It has room for 36 radio presets, all digital. So what I don’t understand is why texting on a cell phone is against the law but texting on the built-in radio system is okay. The fact is that in order to operate the radio system, one has to take one’s eyes off the road and read these little display readouts on a tinier-than-a-phone display at 70 mph. Makes absolutely no sense. Fortunately, though, there are analog controls on the steering wheel, and once one is familiar with their positioning and functioning, one never has to look at the digital audio display again.
Lastly, I do think the custom license plate is pretty cool:
Sadly, I won’t get to keep the custom license plate once the car is registered with the State of California…..
With or without the custom license plate, we’re going to let it roll, we’re going to roll on down the highway, we’re going to rock on down the highway!
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Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America