Adventures in Car-shopping

I married a self-proclaimed “car nerd,” a product of Southern California’s legendary car culture, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him in the nearly five years we’ve been together. But I think he’s learned that when it comes to a car that I’m going to drive myself, I’m not necessarily looking for car-nerdy things. It doesn’t matter to me how fast the car goes from zero to 60. I’m not all that interested in high horsepower numbers, and I really don’t care about tires (as long as they’re not flat).

I’m looking for safety and reliability; I keep cars for a while, and I’d like the odds that they’ll still be in decent driving condition five to seven years from now to be pretty high. I care about getting good gas mileage – I was deeply influenced by the energy crisis during my 1970s childhood. I want a car that’s comfortable to drive, handles well, and is easy to park. I don’t care all that much about luxury, but at this stage in my life I would like certain amenities. And I like my cars small. I’m small – I like cars that are my size. My dream car is a Mini Cooper, not a minivan.
But since something in me balks at the idea of paying much more than $20,000 for a car – which I guess clarifies that I’m neither a car nerd nor a native Californian – my dream car remains a dream. (And a minivan remains a vehicle I’d never dream of owning – along with not having a Costco membership, it’s one of my little acts of rebellion against the suburbs.) I recently went out shopping for a car…

…and you can read the rest of this at the Los Angeles Moms Blog.

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  1. I am not a car-nerd either! As long as it gets me there in one piece – and is cost effective (eg – gets good gas mileage and does not have to go into the shop every other month), I am a happy camper.

    I would much rather spend my hard-earned money on books or travel, so I totally agree with your $20,000 threshold for a "new" car, and then I tend to drive it into the ground.

    I love the picture of you and your new baby – you look just perfect together 🙂

  2. Molly – I had my last car for 9 years. Actually, I still have it; we're saving it for my stepdaughter, who will turn 16 in the fall. I hope to get at least that long with the new car.

    And I'm the only person I know who makes a subcompact look big :-).

    Average Jane – Oh, I like the Insight. And clearly I agree with you about Hondas, since that's what most of the cars I've owned have been.

  3. I can identify with you on the husband thing — my husband is a "car guy" (even worked for one of the Big Three for several years), and while Id never have minded a mini-van, don't have one because he deems them uncool. So, a mid-size SUV is our family vehicle!

  4. I've let my husband do it all with our current vehicles – I didn't even go with him to buy them. He works for a tire company, so he's all about the tires!

  5. Valerie – My thing with minivans is more about the image than the vehicles themselves. They ARE kind of uncool, and suburban :-). But I'd take one over an SUV, to be honest. SUVs are too truck-like for me.

    Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I usually like to go along car-shopping, even if the car isn't for me, but car dealers are still not the most women-friendly places.

  6. If you put a giant spoiler on the back and one of those loud mufflers, it will be like having a super fast sports car. 🙂

    I don't think we'll ever get a minivan either, but we have a Costco membership. What can I say, I was born in the suburbs.

  7. Mike – You mean one of those spoilers that looks like a giant carrying handle? Yeah, I don't think that's gonna happen :-).

    I've had Costco memberships in the past, but they've never been worth it for me. We don't have room to store all the giant packages, and the store just wears me out.