Mark, Jake, Kacey and I went to the Auto Show this week.
I’m in need of another car and Mark and I have been contemplating buying one for a while now. We were actually considering buying something more than a year ago, but for various reasons, have yet to take the leap. I’ve been paying particular attention to the cars I see on the road every day, trying to figure out what is most visually appealing to me. I’ve done tons of online shopping, comparing features, options, fuel economy and prices. And still, nothing stands out as the one. So the Auto Show seemed like a logical adventure. We could see many makes and models all in one place.
Jake and Kacey had a vested interest in going to the Auto Show too. Kacey’s been home on spring break this week, so after the rest of us finished work for the day on Thursday, we all piled in my car and headed to the Minneapolis Convention Center to go and ogle some new cars.
Kacey, at nearly 21 years old, has been managing life without a car so far. But she would really benefit from having one. Being at college and living away from home, she’s often had to rely on others for transportation for various reasons. She’s applying for summer jobs and can consider so many more options if she has a car to get herself to work and back. Since most of her own money goes toward putting herself through school, we want to help her out in any way we can so she can stay in school and get her degree. She stands to inherit my 2004 Impala, so the sooner I get something else, the sooner the Impala is hers. It’s getting older, but it’s a good car and I’ve absolutely loved it. We replaced the transmission a year ago, so I feel confident that we’ll be handing off a reliable vehicle to her.
Jake, on the other hand, has been diligently saving his money to buy a truck. Living at home, his monthly expenses are few, so he’s really been socking it away. He started his job a year ago and it was supposed to be seasonal. He expected to be laid off for a few months this winter, but his company managed to keep him busy and so he’s been able to stay on. But not knowing for sure if he can expect to continue working without interruption, we told him he needed to save a major portion of the cost of a vehicle before we’d consider cosigning a loan for him if it becomes necessary. He took our words to heart and I have no doubt he’ll be able to replace his unreliable car very soon.
The Auto Show had it all! I had a list of potential vehicles in mind and so those were my focus. Since test driving wasn’t an option there, all I could really do was check out body styles, sit behind the wheel and see how each one felt. I know I don’t want anything all that big. So many of the new vehicles are gigantic! But I don’t want to feel cramped while I’m driving either. And since we’re a family of tall people, I wanted to be sure that there was leg room in the passenger seats for those times when others are along for the ride. There are a few perks I’d love to have if they fit within our budget, but they aren’t make or break things.
One thing that struck me at the Auto Show was the cost of cars these days. We Americans place a lot of importance on what we drive, don’t we? As I looked around at the broad range of styles and prices, it struck me as ridiculous how much money some people actually spend on a car. And I felt guilty too. For the past year, I’ve been complaining about “needing” a new car. The reality is, I don’t need a new car, but it’s a luxury that I’m fortunate enough to be able to consider. This thought kept me in check. I can look around my company parking lot on any given day and see that some of my coworkers are driving vehicles that are rusting and falling apart. Others rely on public transportation to get there. It was these thoughts that made me look first at price and fuel economy. Only after we’d narrowed down our choices based on those things, I could think about what my new car should look like.
There were some really cool cars to see, though, and even though I knew what we could realistically consider, it was fun to check out how the other half lives. It’s amazing how many features can be considered. Depending on what you have to spend, you can choose an elaborate stereo and sound system. You can add options to assist with backing up, parallel parking, or a warning that alerts you when trying to change lanes and another vehicle is in the way. You can select a built-in GPS, heated seats, a remote starter, and a sun or moon roof. (I’m not even sure I know the difference between the two.) The list goes on and on.
Personally, I’m torn between something pretty and something functional. This car drew my eye – because the price was very reasonable and when I got behind the wheel, it felt roomier than it looked. I made 6-foot tall Jake get in the back seat and he confirmed he had plenty of leg room. It has good fuel economy, a roomy trunk, nice interior features, and I like how it looks.
The Chevy Malibu – Kacey liked it too!
But as much as I like this car, I feel a stronger pull toward something a little more rugged. Minnesota winters can be long and brutal, and although I’ve been very lucky not to have experienced any major road emergencies, I’ve often wished for a car with optional four-wheel drive or standard all-wheel drive, one that would make me feel safer when I’m driving in one of our many winter storms. (Have I written a single post this winter without making reference to the weather? I don’t think so!)
The GMC Terrain
Another perk of the Auto Show is that many of the auto manufacturers hand out cards to encourage potential buyers to visit a local dealer and take a test drive. Once you test drive a vehicle, you can redeem the card for something like a fifty-dollar gift card. We picked up two of these cards. In the coming weeks, I plan to go test drive a few cars, see how they fit me, and look for a price that’s right. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a new car before summer arrives!