Friday, July 24, 2009

Car Wars

I'm thisclose to purchasing a car. But damn if it hasn't been a helacious two weeks in between.

I started with the assumption that I would want a Honda Civic or used Accord. What I did not realize is that there are very few cars available in manual transmission. Either they are stripped-down models, or they're expensive sports cars. I suppose about-towners such as myself are supposed to prefer automatic transmission.

Back at the office, I started doing some research. For what I want out of a car (affordable, four-doors, side-curtain air bags, gas-efficient), a couple models kept getting mentioned as comparisons to the Civic: the Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and Accent, and the Mazda3.

They all came in under $20K (unlike any Civic I found - the Fit has taken its place as Honda's "cheap" car), and came with varying levels of extras.

Corollas bore me to death for some reason, so I planned to test drive a Honda Fit, and a Mazda3 - a maker that I've never considered. I just don't think about Mazda - except when I think "tiny little convertible" (the Miata). But it kept getting these rave reviews, and one recurring phrase especially caught my eye:

"Fun to drive."

I drove the Fit first. Very cute, lots of fun, comes in a stick. And cheap! (Under $17K.) But you get what you pay for: not much going on for extras. But still - it's a Honda, so you know it's made well. And it's a lot roomier on the inside than you'd think.

(I also drove an '08 MINI Cooper for the thrill of it. But they're so small...)

I head over to the Mazda dealership. They've got two Mazda3's with manual transmission on the whole lot. That's it. One was a 2009 in the nicer "s" trim, the other was a newer 2010 in the lower "i" trim, plus it had the updated Madza3 look, complete with the "Joker grin" grille.

I drove both, but really liked the 2009. As fun to drive as a MINI (if not as "cool"), but much roomier, and with a lot more extras than the Fit. Its only failing was that it's white (blah!) and overpriced.

After a lot of mental hand-wringing, and encouragement from my husband (his exact words: "Go with your gut. And don't be so frugal!"), I decided on the Mazda3. I called the dealership and told them my research showed the car was overpriced. Being the last of two 2009's on the lot (and an un-popular stick), he didn't pause much when he offered it to me at invoice, plus $2K cash back (a Mazda promotion for '09s).

Whoo hoo! I gave him my credit card for a deposit. Great price, and so what if it's white? I'll be on the inside, right?

I'm getting a car!

And then Ocala Jenkins Mazda called . . . .

No comments: