New Car Follies – Rental Cars

I am currently driving a brand new Nissan Maxima.  No, I’ve not lost my mind and spent 35,000 – 40,000 on a 4 door sedan.  It is a rental supplied by my insurance company.  I have a rental, thanks to a group of teenagers using their car to re-arrange the front end of my Ford Focus.  They hydroplaned around a corner, and smashed head on into my wife, as she calmly drove to work.  Thankfully, the car was the only casualty, as all humans involved were fine.

After some inquiries, our insurance company provided us with a rental to use while we search for a replacement vehicle.  The rental car has provided some nice perspective leading up to the purchase of our next car.

The Maxima, is roomy, fast, and comfortable.  It has two display screens, navigation, phone connections, backup camera, and more buttons then I can comprehend.  Our son can sit comfortably in the back seat without kicking the front seat, and my wife is no longer folded into the passenger seat.  The exterior has flashy headlights and curvy lines, conveying a message of speed, power, and sexiness; while the 4 doors say the car is also practical and efficient.  Basically, the car mimics my wife, a real hottie, who also enjoys domestic tasks around the house.

After experiencing this luxury vehicle it’s almost easy to consider buying a new fancy car.  How could I live without a backup camera (I have kids now), touch screen navigation, and a voice text system so I can stay connected?

Actually, quite easily, after the initial excitement wore off, (this occurred about one hour into our three hour weekend trip, when my wife fiddled with the buttons one time to many, and I veered over the rumble strips distracted by the 12th different screen view she had selected) I realized this car, just like any other was simply an expensive way to transport my body from one location to another.  For the record, all vehicles, even cheap old clunkers are really just expensive ways to transport your body.  What I really want, and indeed already have, is a bike, but at this stage of life, I unfortunately need a vehicle.  Therefore, I need a vehicle for work commuting and occasional family travel, as this is how the vehicle will be used for the majority of the time.

I don’t work in landscaping or construction, so I don’t need a truck.  I don’t have access to a race track, so I don’t need a car capable of going 160 miles per hour (Maxima).  All of my travel is done on paved roads, and snow is only a concern maybe 3 times per year, so I don’t need 4 wheel drive.  I don’t plan on having physical relations with my car, so I don’t need anything with sexy lines, or a throaty roar.

I need a vehicle that can safely transport either myself or my wife to work.  Our round trips are between 30-45 miles (I just got an ulcer writing that), so the car must be fuel efficient.  The car must have room for two kids in the back, in their special seats, as baby number two will arrive in August.  The car must have the ability to tow my trailer across town with a couple hundred pounds, or long distances with only bikes and camping gear.  The ability to strap gear to the roof would be nice, but not essential.  Lastly, it must be able to haul all 4 members of my family at the same time.  The car must be used, and cost less then 12,000, although I’d greatly prefer it to cost less then that.

What should I get?

I purchased a 2011 Subaru Outback Wagon, with 96,000 miles and a manual transmission.  It cost $11,250, but after all the taxes and fees, it was $12,130.  It’s not a fuel efficient as I’d like, (current average is 25.8 mpg) but it does fit the kids better.  It has a roof rack, and trailer hitch already installed so I better make good use of those features.  Since it is not as fuel efficient as our previous vehicle, or as our second vehicle (Mazda 3), we will now drive the older Mazda more, and save the Outback for family trips and transporting the children.

It cost more then I really wanted to spend and isn’t as much of a gas sipper as I’d like, but since we are soon to be a 4 person family, some compromises were made.  This whole process further motivated me to find ways to reduce or eliminate our commutes, as the amount we drive is the real elephant in the room.

How did I do?  Did I make excuses and rationalize my way to a more expensive less efficient vehicle then I really need?

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