New (to me) Car!

After the second time of my Lumina being in the shop in as many weeks, I decided to stop delaying the inevitable and get a newer car. The Lumina is a 1999 model and has 150k miles, so I don’t think there are too many miles left, and certainly not enjoyable miles at that. I’m giving it to my 17 year old brother as a first car.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve test driven many cars. Everything from a Volkswagen New Beetle to a Honda Pilot to an Audi A6. This was more to familiarize myself with the cars out there and decide what attributes are important. First of all is reliability. I’m tired of cheap american econo-sedans that all look the same and crap out after 100k miles. Second was fuel efficiency, of course. And the third was comfort. I am a big guy, and a Yaris would not be a good fit. These were my only major considerations, but I also wanted something that wasn’t like every other Camry out there, and something I can be enthusiastic about instead of yet another ho-hum-mobile.

The first vehicle I seriously considered was a Honda Element. On paper it was a good match, and the look of the car didn’t bother me. When I test drove one however, I was not impressed. The driver area was not terribly comfortable(the window controls jammed into my leg) and the car had very little acceleration.

I tried a Saturn Vue next. Another small SUV with not terrible gas mileage. There was nothing bad about this vehicle, but nothing leaped out as nice either, and since the ones I looked at were $15-17k I didn’t want to spend that much on something I didn’t really care for.

Enter the Scion xB. It also met all of my requirements on paper. I went to test drive a 2006 in Easley that I saw on Autotrader. When I arrived, the car listed as an automatic turned into a 5-speed. I haven’t driven a 5-speed in 10 years, but it was easier than I remembered it being. I loved the car. loved. The salesmen were sharks, though, and I wanted to try an automatic, so I walked off the lot.

At that point I stated doing heavy research on the xB online and calling dealers all around SC, NC, and GA. The only xB in Greenville was a 2005 with 42k miles that the dealer wanted $17,995 for. I found my black box in Augusta, GA. A 2006 with only 18,039 miles with a sticker price of $15,000. I talked him down to $12,500 and agreed to buy on Thursday just after lunch.

I had already setup financiang, so I just had to take my blank check from Capital One with me, but the problem was finding a ride down to Augusta within the next hour. Since it was Thursday afternoon, I was betting that Elias might be over at Jacob’s apartment and drove over there (he never has any minutes on his phone), but no luck. Just as I was pulling out of the apartment complex, Leigh called me. She said she was having a bad day and needed to hang, so I told her my predicament and she volunteered to drive me to Augusta if I’d pay for gas. An hour later(4pm) we were headed down the interstate to Augusta.

I bought the car at Augusta Dodge, and it was a very good experience. Since we had already negotiated price on the phone, there was no haggling involved. I showed up, test drove the vehicle, filled out the paperwork, and drove it home. They even filled the gas tank for me.

Since it was an econo-box with a 4 cylinder engine, I expected anemic highway performance, but was greatly surprised how easily it accelerated to 80 mph. It is boxy like an SUV, but it has the chassis and suspension of a car, so it handles well on the road. We had an uneventful drive back and I bought Leigh dinner at Stax’s Omega as a thank you for schlepping me 200 miles and driving that back again.

All in all, I love my black box and will post some pics after I take them today.

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