As I wrote in a previous post, I’ve been in the market for a new car. My current vehicle, an Oldsmobile minivan (the Cadillac of minivans), has 150,000 miles and I want to replace it before it dies.
Thus far, I’ve test driven a Pontiac Vibe, Saturn Vue, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Caliber, Toyota Camry, Rav4, the Volksswagen Passat, a couple of Jeeps and a Subaru Forester. I also went to a Ford dealership (Gene Butman in Ypsilanti) to try their offerings, but after ten minutes of being completely ignored by the salesmen, walked away. I guess Ford is selling all the cars they can make, because they apparently didn’t need to sell me one.
The Chevy Malibu is by far the best vehicle I tested. It’s quiet, classy and has plenty of power for a four cylinder. I was absolutely stunned by the apparent quality, attention to the little details, and by how much car you get for a very low base price. The trunk space is plenty large for my golf bag, Sun Mountain push cart and a bag of shoes, extra clothes, etc.
It’s a good sized car, and it’s rated for 30 miles per gallon highway.
It’s definitely not your father’s Chevrolet. If you’re in the market for a car, you should give this one a test drive, if only for comparison’s sake.
I would have bought it on the spot, but for the fact that I’m not sure I really want to drive a sedan. The test drive was lengthy, but I worry that after a couple of weeks in it, I’ll miss the higher ride of the van. I wish there was a way I could drive one for a month before making a final decision.
Several of the cars listed above don’t have the trunk space, which automatically disqualifies them. Interestingly, one of the smaller ones—the Vibe—does. And right now, that would be third on my list.
Outside the Malibu, the one I liked the best was the Subaru Forester. But, as I work in a Ford neighborhood (there’s a big assembly plant just a mile from the school, and a huge percentage my students’ parents work there), I feel a bit awkward about that. Those people support their schools strongly and pay taxes to pay my salary and a big part of me thinks I should return the support by buying American (if not Ford, since they apparently don’t want to sell me one).
Then there’s the issue of several local places with the “No Foreign Cars Allowed On This Lot” parking.
Still, the Forester has a lot to offer as a commuting/golf vehicle. The cargo space is plenty large. I could easily carry four bags in there. It rides very well and the four cylinder “boxer” engine has more than enough power for the type of suburban driving I do. I took it out on the highway as part of the test drive and it handles very well there, too. A neat feature is that the shift has a “sport” setting which adds extra zip when you need it (at the expense of fuel consumption). You just push the stick left from the drive position and “sport” kicks in. That’s handy when you’re merging and notice that there is an 18-wheeler bearing down on you. You also can use it to shift up and down like a manual.
The four wheel drive is a nice plus. In the winter, I’m often on the road before the plows and salt trucks have gotten to work, and the ride in to school can be slippery. My sense of it is also that the four wheel drive and stability control give the Forester a very nice feel in the handling.
Inside, the Forester has more of a truck or van feel, with the cockpit being quite open.
I’m going to try a couple of more brands this next week, if only for comparison’s sake. I don’t really have an interest in the Honda Element, for example, but I’ll give it a try.