ambivalent imbroglio home

« That Marriage Bidness | Main | Where Are They Now? »

February 29, 2004

New Wheels

Everyone's getting new cars these days, it seems. Sherry was looking and looking, looking, and thinking and looking and trying to choose between practicality and seduction, and then she bought and loved. You might sift through the comments to some of those posts if you're shopping for a car -- there's some good advice in there, including a link to the Confessions of a Car Salesman. Gotta know what you're getting into.

I was surprised to see that no one recommended the Prius. (Review, specs.)If that's not a dream car, I don't know what is. Wouldn't you just feel great driving a car like that? And isn't that what cars are for? To make you feel good? But ok, even if cars are for transportation and practicality, what's more practical than 60 mpg and super low emissions? Good for your wallet, good for the planet, just plain good.

But perhaps a good (or any) used Prius is hard to come by. They're still pretty new and there just aren't that many of them around, especially out in the wild wild west, where my sister and mother also just got new cars. Sis got a little red wagon, and mom got a little red toy (the 1999 Import Car of the Year!) Both got great deals on cars I would love to have. I've wanted an Outback since I first saw one; it's the perfect vehicle for throwing your bike in the back and going anywhere. And, of course, who wouldn't want a Beetle? And this one's a diesel, so mom's looking at 40-45 mpg. That's not quite Prius-level and there's still the emissions issue, but it's a definite step in the right direction.

Finally, someone else I know is shopping for a new new car, but she has to buy a GM, and maybe specifically a Chevrolet. So if you were shopping for a new car and you were forced to buy GM, what would you buy? If I could get any GM make, I'd probably look closely at the Saturn ION in rain forest green (roomy, cheap, fairly economical at 26/35 mpg w/manual trans.) . If the choices were limited to Chevrolets, I'd have to go for the 5-door Aveo in spicy orange (small, cheap, but sporty; good economy at 26/34 mpg), or maybe the Venture van (roomy and peppy, although it doesn't get great gas mileage at 19/26 mpg).

Of course, I'm not buying a new car or a new used car, which makes me think of the Dead Milkmen song, "Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me" (scroll down a bit):

People in nice cars how'd they get em? I close my eyes try to forget em Went out swimming got hit by a jet-ski Everybody's got nice stuff but me I wanna car I wanna jet-ski

Ok, so it's not true. I have lots of nice stuff, but I'm thinking of the song, anyway. It's a fun song.

And but so: Congratulations to all these new car owners (and the future new car owner). Good luck with those wheels, and may they roll long and trouble-free.

Posted February 29, 2004 07:08 AM | life generally

The Chevy Malibu has gotten excellent reviews recently, particularly the Malibu Maxx. The Saab 9-3 is a solid car, but not to everyone's taste. The entry-level Cadillac CTS is very well-made and a critics' favorite, but the styling is an acquired taste, and the price starts a little above $30K.

Posted by: Tom T. at February 29, 2004 11:47 PM

I like my Slattern well enough (it's an SL1), but I don't know that I'd go for the Ion. The panel gaps make it look as if it's built from Legos, for one. The speedometer is also in the middle of the dashboard rather than directly in front of the driver. I've heard it's an improvement over the Saturn S-series, but not by much, which would make it an average vehicle with decent gas mileage, decent dependability, a punky little engine, and of course those dent-resistent side panels. But you could do worse.

E. would know more about the new GMs than I do. I'll ask him and report back. :)

Posted by: raquel at March 1, 2004 10:17 AM

I'm a three-time Saturn owner (94 SL, 98 SL2, and 04 VUE) but news recently came out that Saturn was going to be rolled into GM in a much more conventional way than it was in the "different kind of company" days. We went with Saturn initially and stuck with them because we liked the labor-management scheme at the Spring Hill plant -- if that changes much in the next couple of years, the VUE may be our last. But I think the Ions are *cute* -- one of my classmates has one.

Posted by: Shelley at March 1, 2004 10:51 AM

Hooray for the Slattern! I like your SL1 better than the ION as far as looks and size are concerned, but they're not making it anymore, are they?

It's too bad if Saturn does become more conventionally GM-like, but it was probably inevitable. I've heard rumblings about this it seems ever since Saturn opened, and since the "different kind of car company" schtick was always billed as an experiment, its end was pretty well built into its beginning. Someone (like the Saturn workers who get laid off when GM moves the plant to Mexico) needs to start an American car company along the lines of the Saturn model but make it truly employee-owned and operated. And they ought to build electric hybrid cars like the Prius. Yeah. I'd buy that.

I can't figure it out, but the Malibu Maxx is strangely compelling. I like it. However, it will cost you a bundle to have it repaired if you hit anything -- even at low speed. The Malibu was the 2nd-worst-rated car in this crash test.

But here's a cool thing for car buyers: Intellichoice gives you a "cost of ownership" analysis. Here's one for the new Beetle -- they rate it an excellent value. Their used car pages don't have the feature, but it might be helpful if you're looking for a new car.

Posted by: ambimb at March 2, 2004 05:14 AM

Nope, my Slattern SL1 (an '02) was the last of the breed.

E. (autophile and co-founder of, recommends the Malibu Maxx (if forced into Chevy) and the Pontiac Vibe (because it's effectively a Toyota). He likes the Vibe for its ability to haul stuff, decent gas mileage, good performance, and affordability. And the aforementioned Toyota-ness. If forced to buy a Saturn, he'd go with the Vue.

YMMV, of course. :)

Posted by: raquel at March 2, 2004 09:06 AM

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.