Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bitter Sweet

It’s time, my friends.

Time to say goodbye to one of my true loves.

No, my wife isn’t leaving me. I said true love. She’s just tolerating me for the life insurance. Accidents happen all the time, she likes to remind me. Whether that means she’s planning one or is slowly poisoning my food remains to be seen. I’ll just continue to take it one day at a time and have one of my boys taste test my meals.

Sadly, I’m referring to my truck: a 2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab. I bought it after we had son #1 and realized we would have to take two cars away on vacation because we couldn’t fit all the shit we were bringing in just one of ours. Wifey owned a Honda Civic and I was attracting babes with a Toyota Corolla. Go me!

While the Corolla was my first brand new car (only 5 miles on it!), the Tacoma was my first REAL new car. AC, power locks, power windows, 6 speaker stereo system, 4 wheel drive, and – let’s be honest – a manly man’s type of vehicle.

Just looking at it makes hair grow on your chest

With the addition of Yakima roof racks, the kayak comes with me anywhere I go. Plus all the accessories can easily fit in the back. I was golden.

When son #2 came along, we realized the Civic wasn’t going to cut it. Just not enough room for two car seats. So we upgraded her Civic to a Rav4. Well guess what? Even that wasn’t big enough! It was fine if she was just driving the two boys around, but if she needed to pick up one of their friends, there wasn’t enough room.

Sidenote: I’ve learned first hand why cars are so much wider and bigger than ever: kids. These days you need expansive car restraint systems with removable baby carriers strapped down 42 different ways. When I was a kid we all piled into a Volkswagon Bus and fought over who got to sit in the way back. That way back basically being a storage area over the engine. Two of us would sit back there and wave to the cars behind us. Not only did we not have car seats, we didn’t even wear seat belts. Kids are wusses these days.

Wifey wound up trading in the Rav4 and upgraded to a Sienna. That’s right, I’m cruising around in a fucking minvan. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Minivans aren’t so mini. They’re also more luxurious than most cars. It’s loaded, has all wheel drive, AC, power everything, full child restraint systems and enough seating for a football team.

It also happens to have more storage space than my truck. All the seats can fold down and allow a full bedroom set to fit inside. I know this because I just moved a bedroom set two weekends ago. I knew the truck was living on borrowed time when I thought ‘More will fit in the van than the truck and it will be protected from the rain’.

That led to this thought: ‘Huh, I don’t use the truck very often’.

Which led to this thought: ‘Since the van holds more, why do I still have the truck?’

Wheels were set in motion. I started considering the low gas mileage (17 city, 22 highway), the fact that I basically use it to drive back and forth to the gym, and – more importantly – a conversation I had with my father about a year ago.

He mentioned in passing that he might be interested in buying the truck from me if I ever wanted to get rid of it.

That time is now. I have no reason to hold onto the thing any longer. It’s time to get something smaller. The van can do the heavy work while the smaller car can be used for the quicker, lighter legwork. Besides, the truck still has very low mileage (only 60K) and has just passed all sorts of inspections.


The question now becomes; what do I want next? Here’s the criteria I’ve set:

- Not paying over twenty grand. Ideally, I would find something for around 16K.

- Gets good gas mileage. Anything over 25 city will work.

- Enough space for two adults and two children.

- Reliable, but not nice enough I would give a crap if it got scratched up.

- Storage space for my kayak stuff. I can always get more racks for the kayak itself but I definitely need space to store gear such as shoes, life jacket, oars, covers, etc.

- Either all or four wheel drive. This isn’t a deal breaker, but the hill I live on is severe enough without having to worry about ice and snow. At the least it will need front wheel drive, but would PREFER all wheel.

- Refuse to buy any GM or Chrysler car. Their bailout money is coming directly from my paycheck. If anything I should walk in, pick out what car I want and tell the dealership ‘Consider us even’ while driving away.

- Open minded about buying used. In fact, I think I’m already heading in that direction.

For your consideration, here is what I’m looking at.


Pros: All wheel drive, good reliability record, roomy enough for my needs and – surprisingly – is rather sporty looking. Not spectacular, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed riding around in it.

Cons: For a smaller car, these are pricey. They come with a lot of nice features standard, but not sure I want to pay $20,000 for a used car. Also, since they come with all wheel drive standard, the gas mileage isn’t that great. In fact, it’s only slightly better than the truck. Good chance at being labeled a hippy just for driving one.


These could be the same exact car

Pros: The classics. Can’t get more reliable than these MOFOs. Good price, good mileage, really like the new looks and roomy enough for what I need.

Cons: Yawn…


Pros: All wheel drive (on some models), not too expensive, large enough to carry my load (that’s what she said), much sportier look with the new models.

Cons: I don’t know. Every time I look at this I can’t help but think a woman should be driving it. It’s like a truck for girls.


Pros: Sportier looking than ever, reliable, great mileage.

Cons: Not sure either of these will be big enough. Also not sure I want to back track to another Corolla. To go from a truck to a go cart might be a tough transition.


Pros: My brother bought one last year and loves it. Ford did not take any bailout money and seem to be making quality cars for the first time in my life time. Looks great and moderately priced. Who knew making quality products for reasonable prices is a good business model to follow.

Cons: Still not totally sold that these cars will last. Quality in the first three years is one thing, but let’s see how many of these make it past 100,000.


Pros: Look at it! It’s gorgeous! Good mileage and they start under 20K.

Cons: Not sure about the room (will need to sit in one to be sure) and reliability is up in the air. My neighbors both have Mazdas and like them, but his Mazda 3 is getting worked on all the time. I don’t need that hassle.


Pros: This is basically a Corolla hatchback, but I’ve driven one of these before and they ride nice, roomier than they look, even new they’re not expensive and fantastic mileage.

Cons: While I don’t have exact measurements, I’ll bet this could fit in the back of my current vehicle. Also, I had an issue with the visibility while driving the other one. The side and back windows are small. I may feel like a college douche while driving, too. Been there, done that.


Pros: I’ve had a crush on this car for a while and recently spotted the new one. That’s the only reason I put this on the list. Might be able to snag one used for the price I’m looking at.

Cons: Not great mileage and on the expensive side. Pity as I would look great in this thing. Although I would be parking it 5 miles away from any other car so it wouldn’t get scratched.

So that’s what I’ve got so far. I think I’ve already eliminated the Rav4 for testosterone based reasons and I’m keeping an eye out for other options.

Opinions and feedback are always welcome.

Today’s distraction: Go four wheel crazy! I blew my truck up about five times before figuring out the trick. Have fun.


Anonymous said...

go crazy

get the Maxima

Clayton Bigsby said...

Rav 4's are women cars. If I were you I would look into a Subaru. Ferester's are pretty nice too. Maybe get a used outback.

Hammen said...

Definitely no Rav, it is indeed for chicks. But then again, I drive an Element, so take that with a grain of salt.

My buddy has an Outback and loves it, he does lots of hunting and fishing type stuff with it and says it works great.

BeachBum said...

OK, RAV4 is off the list. Glad to have confirmation on my gut feeling.

I'm pricing out used Outbacks (new ones start around 23K which is crazy) and it looks like I could get a 2008 for the price I want.

My father agreed to the price on the truck and is getting the money together. So, hopefully I'll have new wheels before Thanksgiving.

As for Anon's comment, if that was who I think it was I just need to say not all of us can afford Lexus convertibles and are able to throw money all over the place. Although I really wish I could. Jealous much? Oh yeah!

If that was someone else...well then...carry on....

thepowerof10 said...

I just spent a weekend driving a Matrix when my truck was in the shop. I actually liked it, and I'm not going to lie, I went like 200 city miles and the needle on the gas gauge barely moved. That being said, if you have issues about looking like a twit in a car, this selection won't help you. I've heard awesome things about Outbacks and I have a handful of friends who drive Subarus, and all swear by them.

Clayton Bigsby said...

Gladys was in the shop? Element's are not chick cars. Rav 4's, Ford Escape's, and anything Pontiac are chick cars

BeachBum said...

I look like a twit simply walking down the street, so that's not a major concern.

I'm leaning strongly towards a used Outback right now, but that could change if I stumble across a godfather offer.

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