Our old car is nearing the end of its life – that awful point where the cost of maintaining it is more than the car is worth. Especially when you bought a bit of a lemon off the used lot to begin with. Naturally, this happens right after it’s paid off. Sigh.
So we have embarked on one of my husband’s favorite rituals: car shopping. He pretty much makes a hobby of car shopping anyway, but when we are actually considering buying one, he goes to town. The process involves spreadsheets, with rankings for all the must-haves and nice-to-have’s, and disqualifying factors. He has minimums for acceleration, combined MPG, storage space, leg room, etc. He has criteria for grading comfort of seats, ‘fun to drive’ level, quality of the interior, you name it.
He test drives. He does that some more. Then he has to go drive a bunch in the same day on the same course to ‘get a feel for comparing them.’ Did I mention he’s a little OCD about cars? Hours are spent on Edmunds, Car & Driver, Consumer Reports, CNET, you name it. My criteria? I like it to have four wheels and run. The cheaper the better. My nice-to-have’s are good mileage, a hatchback with flat area for changing squirmy children when necessary, and butt warmers. Oh, and I don’t particularly want a minivan.
The one big splurge I’ll usually go for on a car is leather/leatherette, because… well, kids. Kids with juice boxes and goldfish crumbs and melting crayons. Leather is soooo much easier to clean up. And it’s usually part of the trim level that gets me my butt warmers – which I actually use more as a heating pad for my old lower back injury, but also because I am a sissy in winter.
When he has narrowed it down to the top 3, I’ll grudgingly let him drag me along for test drives. I get excited about a lot of machines and electronics, but cars are just not among them. Unfortunately, all his front-runners so far are well above the budget I gave him. Now I am appealing to my fellow parents of geeklings: can you give me the selling points of your best, most affordable geek-parent-mobiles? Preferably ones with fancy electronics systems and enough shiny bells and whistles to satisfy a big techie, without totally breaking the bank.
So far only one test drive has successfully ended with a Cheshire Cat grin on his face, and it was one so far out of our budget range it was supposed to be a ‘just looking’ moment. Yikes. So I’m looking for good recommendations that will still let us make our mortgage payment and have the occasional steak.
And at least he hasn’t driven a Tesla yet…