How To Buy A Car: Picking A New Car

As I established with my introductory blog post “Hello” From The New Kid on the Street, I love Sadie, my 2004 Kia Sorento. I grew up in her back, passenger-side seat, talking to my mom through the rear view mirror and looking out of my tinted window. But alas, Sadie is reaching the end of her days with me. I can feel it. It will soon be time for a new car.

This is not Sadie. Sadie is black with gold trim.

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The Feeling

The feeling first hit while I was on my way to a job interview about three months ago. I was pulling into a parking spot when there was a loud pop and steam started pouring out from under the hood. So I called my mom and then my dad, like I always do, and made my way to my interview.

Afterwards and while waiting for the tow truck,  I climbed into my parents’ minivan. I settled in and took deep breaths, trying to hold back a breakdown of my own. Something felt heavy in my chest. It was that feeling of dread I associate with spending large amounts of money. But this time, it was worse because because this time, it could be a a new car instead of just another repair.

Even though I’ve had her for five long years, I was not and still am not ready to let Sadie go. But that night, I solemnly began my search in the event that I had to buy a new car. It was then that I got my first taste for car shopping.

This is also not Sadie. Sadie has a large dull spot on her hood and a cracked driver-side tail light that’s repaired with clear tape.

The next day, I found out that the cost of repairs was just under $350.  And with that, I vowed that any repairs thereafter would need to be considered against the cost of a new car. After all, Sadie’s flaws were becoming too much to deal with everyday.

Sadie’s Flaws

Her quirks started out small. One of the doors started to creek maybe two years ago, and has steadily worsened from slightly annoying to completely obnoxious. Then came the squawk. What started out as a single squawk from the front passenger-side door every time I pressed the unlock button is now a relentless string of squawks every time I unlock the door. The sound is akin to that made by an old dryer when the cycle is done, only a little louder and harsher. The squawks don’t seem to want to stop until I forcibly lock the door. In the moment, it feels a little like Sadie is relentlessly cussing at me for waking her from a nice nap.

Then, there’s the gas gauge. Broken for months now, the gas light comes on every time the needle hits the halfway mark of my fuel gauge. I’ve taken to filling up every ten days or so to make sure I don’t run out of gas.  Not to mention the dashboard clock that’s been broken since Sadie was my parents’ car, or the areas of ceiling that sag.

If I were to replace my fuel gauge, I would want something like this. Or these.

Though I’m in the financial position to be able to fix all these things, I’m just too stubborn to invest the money in this car when it likely won’t get me much of a return. All of these little quirks coupled with the fact that Sadie’s air conditioning has been broken for almost as long as I’ve had her, lead me to one conclusion: It’s time to start looking for a newer, more adult car. After all, I’m supposed to be a Fully-Fledged Adult (TM), so it’s time to start looking at cars that an adult would drive.

Though it feels a little like I’m cheating on Sadie (because I effectively am), I have taken to doing some research on the type of new car I’d like to buy. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

My Choices for a New (Used) Car

I’ve narrowed my pool down to four SUVs from 2010-2014 for a few reasons. I chose this range because it’s still recent enough to grant me some of the latest bells and whistles and a lower mileage while still affordable. And I decided to stick with an SUV because, at 5’10, getting in and out of a sedan every day sounds like my own personal hell. Also, I’d like to buy instead of lease because I’d like to have something with value at the end of my loan term.

Honda CR-V

First, there’s the 2012-2014 Honda CR-V. The pros about the CR-V are that it’s consistently ranked at the top of every list when it comes to SUV safety,  reliability, and other features. Really, it’s just the best car out there that fits my qualifications for a new car. There are tons of benefits. One in particular, if it ever comes to the point that I break down, parts are readily available because it’s a common car. But at the same time, while it’s nice to know that parts for the CR-V are so common, that means these SUVs are everywhere and not very unique. There’s also some reporting that the drive is sluggish and isn’t as much fun as it could be. Plus, in my humble opinion, the car is a little homely. Lastly, the CR-V is the most expensive option of the four that I am considering.

A 2014 Honda CR-V

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Chevrolet Equinox

After that, there’s the 2014 Chevrolet Equinox. The Equinox is a tad bigger than the CR-V , but it scores lowest on performance and doesn’t have great fuel economy compared to the other SUVs. A bonus, it scores highest on safety and reliability and is neck-in-neck in affordability with the RAV 4. With that and a good cost-to-own rating, just behind the CR-V, it surprised me as one of my favorite new cars in my research.

A 2014 Chevy Equinox

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Toyota RAV 4

Next we have the Toyota RAV 4, any model year as old as 2010 and as new as 2014. A little sleeker and apparently a little more fun to drive, this car ranks well overall, but doesn’t rank as high in terms of reliability like I originally thought. The good news is that it’s just as affordable as the Equinox. It also comes with more standard toys and little extras. Unfortunately, its safety rating on average is much lower than the aforementioned SUVs.

A 2014 Toyota RAV 4

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Subaru Forester

Finally, there’s the 2010-2014 Subaru Forester. Now, originally, this was my dream car. I love the concept of owning a Subaru because I love the brand, but after a little research, I’m not so sure I should end up in one. For one thing, while the safety rating is good, the reliability rating and fuel economy is not what I’d hoped for. And Subarus , from what I’ve seen, have a cost-to-own rating that could stand to be better. Because it’s just as expensive as the CR-V with less of the pros, we’ll call the Forester an alternate and hope we don’t have to pull it off the bench.

A 2014 Subaru Forester

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Obviously, I still have my work cut our for me. I need to settle on a price range instead of just looking at overall value. And of  course, I need to decide what features are most important to me in a new car before I can decide which model it is that I want to buy. Plus, I’m still looking into what I should buy versus what I want to buy. Until then, I promise to keep you all posted on how things go as I do more research and consider my options for buying a new car. And with the next post, I’ll get into when the best time to buy a new car is.

Until then, #happymodding…

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