Autolust… postponed

Okay, I so did the math. Apparently, the Lumbering Beast gets better mileage on the highway than I thought (closer to 24 than 20 mpg), which puts it at a real-world average of 15/24. Also, I did comparisons using Consumer Reports’ numbers (which are pretty consistent with mine for the XTerra), and buying a Subaru Forester would only net me a savings of about $50 per month.

Figuring what it would cost me in sales tax alone (insurance and monthly payment would be similar), it would take nearly a year to break even, then I’d be within a year of having the XTerra paid off. Even with regular unleaded running around $3.25 here in the Ozarks, I’m going to be losing money on the deal.

And, since I’ve had some wishy-washiness with vehicles in the past 5 years (the XTerra is the third car I’ve bought in the last 5 years), I’m going to stick with it for a while. Also, the options I want on the Forester aren’t available until the Summer, anyway. Plus, it’s the first year of the redesign, and they’ll invariably make some improvements in years 2 and 3 anyway.

So, getting a new ride is off the schedule… for now.

Autolust, part 2

About a month ago, I posted about wanting a new car to replace the Lumbering Beast. In some weeks of driving the new commute, I’ve determined that the Lumbering Beast gets approximately 19 mpg on the highway. That’s NOT good. It’s rated (in 2005 numbers) 17/21. It gets more like 15/19, though. I need to improve that immensely.

Going to Germany added some perspective to what you need in a car. Granted, we were mostly in cities, so I saw a lot of city cars, but the German perspective on cars was refreshing.

First, they’re all SMALL cars. Only around what is often considered the most expensive hotel in Berlin (Hotel Adlon, where Michael Jackson famously dangled his infant son out the window a few years back) did we see any big cars (big Benzes and 7 series BMWs). There were virtually no SUVs or trucks in Germany. LOTS of VWs (with the Golf and its siblings being the most popular). Lots of A-class Mercedeseseses, too. I REALLY like the looks of those little cars, but they don’t sell them here and, if they did, they’d be almost $40k (or about $15k over my budget). Still, the Germans got me thinking about cars (and bathroom design, but that’s another topic).

The other car I mentioned in that other post was the 2009 Subaru Forester. I have some history with the Forester, having driven an ’03 for a while two vehicles ago. I loved that car. Sold it to get my MINI Cooper S (which I also loved). I test-drove the all-new ’09 Forester last week. I liked it, but not as much as I thought/hoped I would. Also, its fuel efficiency is not fantastic (20/29), though of course way better than the Lumbering Beast. That’s also the mileage range for both of VW’s american-spec engines (though the 2.0L turbo requires premium fuel).

On the horizon looms the VW Jetta SportWagen TDI, which has a few things going for it as far as I’m concerned: (a) it’s a wagon, and I’m partial to them, and (b) the new Bluetec TDI diesel engine, which is 50-states emissions safe (one of the cleanest engines in production now) and gets 40 city/60 hwy mileage. Oh, and it has a super-large giant moonroof, and I likes those (the Forester has a big moonroof, too). But, that version of the SportWagen (known as the Golf Variant in Europe) won’t be here until the fall. That might be okay, though. It might take me that long to decide what I want.

Stay tuned…


new VW sciroccoOh. My.

I’m shopping for a new car. The new gig requires me to commute about 23 miles to work (one way), and the Lumbering Beast (2005 Nissan XTerra SE) gets at most 18mpg on the highway. ON THE HIGHWAY. So, I’m car shopping… again.

If the new Scirocco were available here, I’d be on it like white on rice. Alas, it’s not. I am looking hard at the VW GTI MkV, though, especially now that it comes in the four-door flavor (since I am family-enabled). Fast as, nearly as cool as, and much more utilitarian than the MINI Cooper S I used to own (and regret — often painfully — trading in on the Lumbering Beast two years ago).

My other wanna buy is the new for ’09 (but coming out in late March) Subaru Forester. A nice redesign of a great car (I had one before the MINI). Also available in FAST version. The new Forester probably won’t have any special incentives or financing like VW or other makers these recession-soaked days.

I need decent gas mileage (24 city/30 hwy), preferably no Premium fuel requirement, driving fun, four doors, under 30K (and preferably under 26K).

Your thoughts?

My new ride

Flickrized shot of my new XterraI bought a new car yesterday: a 2005 Nissan Xterra.

While the MINI has been fun for the last 14 months, I need something bigger and capable of going off the pavement. If I could afford to have a second car for myself, I’d pick the MINI hands down. It’s a blast, but not very practical for my lifestyle.

The Xterra is about the only “real” mid-size SUV left. The rest of them are just tall cars (Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander) or are insanely expensive (Toyota 4Runner). The Xterra is a real truck, with real 4 wheel drive with a low range.

I really like the aesthetics of the Xterra, too, especially on the inside. Outside, it’s a little butch. But, the inside is very cool. The dash layout is very minimalist and clean. The cargo compartment, instead of being carpeted, is rubberized, so it’s easy to clean. It really feels like home to me.

2005 Toyota Prius: First Impressions

Hallie's Prius!This is based on about, oh, an hour’s drive time in the Prius. First, what I think is fairly irrelevant, since it’s The Wife’s car. But, I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it. As far as a passenger sedan meant for getting you from point A to point B as efficiently as possible while remaining comfortable, it’s aces. It’s NOT a sports car, but it’s got acceptable acceleration and handling. It’s surprisingly roomy (but, then again, everything seems roomy compared to the MINI) and comfortable. After borrowing a friend’s Toyota Sienna mini-van last week to haul the racecar bed in, I’d say the Prius is the most minivan-like car I’ve ever driven, and that’s not a slam. You sit up pretty high and there’s no hood in front of you (due to the silhouette of the car).

It’s got some good and/or interesting features: The climate controls are on the steering wheel (as are the audio controls), which I like quite a bit (you can also adjust the climate controls via the touchscreen). It has a lot of storage in the center console, thanks in part to Toyota’s use of the old-school foot e-brake (it’s in the Sienna, too). The JBL stereo sounds pretty good once you dial it in a little, though I know that stereo has gotten a bad rap in some places. There are a number of small, oddly-shaped windows on it. Not real sure why, as they don’t seem to really do much.

That’s about it for a random first impression dump. More later when I’ve spent some more time in it. But, I think it was a good choice for The Wife, and, most importantly, so does she.