Saturday, August 23, 2008

I May Be Loyal, But I Finally Gave In!

I wrote awhile ago about the car I drive and the issues it has. This is the car that I've had since I graduate college, and it is long past the decade mark. And some things about it have become a little less reliable, like ohhhh I don't know, starting in warm weather after I've driven it for more than twenty minutes.

I've been under pressure for awhile to get a new car -- primarily from my dad. Because he wants a new car, too, and he wants to cut a deal with me. And he isn't nearly as patient as I am. Give me a moment, the thought of my dad being patient and delaying gratification just reduced me to tears of laughter.

I've been debating between a couple cars. I have an Explorer, and with the wee ones getting into the age of carpooling and my parents living so close and wanting to drive with us, seating more than the four my car currently seats (due to car seats) is pretty critical.

I refuse to do a minivan. I'm just not ready to give up the false sense that I have a tiny modicum of cool left. That leaves a few three row SUVs, primarily the Pilot and Highlander. I already discussed my experience with the Chevy dealer, and that is SO out.

I finally decided on the 2009 Pilot, as they've made a number of improvements over the 2008 model (and Highlander) including dash design, room for storage with the third row up, totally flat storage area with the third row down, etc.

It was sooooo hard to give up the only car I've ever had title to though. I stick with those who've done well by me, and my trusty Explorer has -- for the most part, even though I've sworn to never buy another Ford again in my lifetime (and at the rate the health of the US automakers is going, this may not be an issue!). I almost couldn't make the deal.

Of course, they didn't have the color I wanted. And they really wanted my business. If I agreed to take one of the cars they had on the lot, they'd give me the built out car at the base car price. So I now I have a nimbus grey 2009 Pilot.

Oh, except that they sort of made a mistake. Apparently the 2009s havevn't been around for that long, and the salespeople are used to selling the 2008 models. When they wrote up my invoice, they charged me based on the 2008 invoice and not the 2009 one. Whoops. Needless to say, when my dad went to get that same deal they realized what they'd done and refused. That made me feel a little better!

So look at my beautiful new toy. It had only 8 miles on it (ok, 7.6 for the geeks among us) when I drove it off the lot, which is about 112 fewer than any car I'd ever driven before. So shiny. Smells so good!

The storage area is great. It actually fits my massive water bottle that I take with me everywhere -- my Explorer and my husband's Camry do not. Lots of space for the ummm stuff that accumulates when you have a car that children ride around in.

And check out how nicely it closes all the way, even when I've stocked it (neatly) full of all the necessities, from the Thomas CD for the wee ones to my lotion to paper and pens to nail polish to my coupon folder to umm other stuff.

I love the one handed operation!

And check out the lack of an ugly hole here. Do you see the beautiful armrest with nary a mark or scratchy ugliness to mar my happiness? Nope, me neither!

The only real complaints I have are in the dash, although I generally like it. To change the radio station, the tune button is a round dial. You have to spin it rather than pressing up or down, which is not the easiest (or probably safest) to do while driving. Not that I would ever do that.

Trying to change any of the settings on the stereo or clock there is also not intuitive. You press the menu button, then you pressing the "tuning" button to select something and then turn the tuning button left or right to get to an option and then press the button again to select. My only hope is that by writing this here, it somehow cements in my brain. I get the whole wanting to save space thing while adding new widgets and functionality, but for my brain at least this has gone a little too far.

And the gearshift was a bit to get used to, but I'm ok with it now. That was just more in a totally different place and setup than what I'm used to. I had the same issue with the windshield wipers. The poor people who I accidentally flashed with my brights when trying to clean my windshield. No matter what direction you move that stick in, it will do something. The trick for me is remembering what direction does what action.

The odometer is also more functional than the one I had before. The sad part is that my wee ones will never know the joy of watching the numbers turn slowly slowly and then suddenly you're at a new milestone. This is all digital. In fact, it's all digital enough to tell me (depending on the view I'm using): how many more miles I can go before I run out of gas, the average mpg I've had on the car in sum, the average mpg of the car on the current trip, the percent of oil life left, and obviously miles driven. Underneath this, it shows an instant readout of your mileage. You know, like 10mpg when you're accelerating and up to 50mpg when you're coasting down a hill.

That part is actually my favorite feature of the car, I think. It's a challenge to get and keep the mpg up. You know you're doing ok when the little green eco light shows up on the dash -- this is the light that tells me I'm driving gently and the car only needs four cylinders so it shut the rest down until I need them again, saving me gas. It's quite addictive. And it's nice enough to prove to me that I'm a better driver than my husband because he can't keep the mpg as high as I do. Granted, I've only let him drive my car twice, but for any consultants out there, we all know that two data points is a trend!

As far as the mpg goes, the model I bought is supposed to get 17/22. I'm a bit dubious of this claim. I know that previously the mpg tests were done in empty cars with all the extra gadgets shut off and in perfect conditions so they were always high, and now they've changed it so that they drive in more real life situations, but I'm getting much better mpg than they state. On the surface streets, I'm getting just under 21mpg (20.9 actually). And on the highway, I've gotten it consistently to right around 25mpg.

Trust me, I'm not complaining about this at all. I just think it's interesting how off this is. I'm also thinking about getting a Vornado or whatever it's called to put in my car somewhere that's one of the few mileage increasing devices that's actually been shown to work. For $40, I figure it can't hurt. Of course, first I have to go to a car store and find one and buy it and then convince someone to install it for me, but it'll happen eventually!

I have yet to mention that it also came with a 90 day free trial of XM Radio. Yeah, they try to sucker people into buying yet another ($13) monthly subscription that they don't need. And umm yes, my dad's already extended his agreement. Me, I'm still not so sure. While I'm going to take full advantage of the trial, I don't know that I spend enough time in the car to justify it, nor are there enough things that I can get only on XM.

The middle seat also earns kudos from me. It's actually comfortably roomy. And the 60/40 split seat moves forward and back to give more or less room to those in the second and/or third row. What an idea!

And the armrest goes fully down with cupholders for the days when the wee ones are out of carseats and arguing over how Little Miss is putting her hand in Mister Man's space and so forth. Not that I ever did anything like that with my sister or anything. (""Mom, make her leave me alone!" "I'm not touching her, see! She's making it up!" And it's possible that my hand was about an eighth of an inch from her face at that point. Only possible.)

So the back is pretty cool. You can see how much room I have with the third row down. It's actually more room than my Explorer had (and the car is slightly longer and wider than my old one, too).

Plus, you can see that the middle seat has a full seatbelt vs just a lapbelt, which I love. The third row has the same seatbelt, but I don't have it down right now. When you don't want that seatbelt, it actually stores in the ceiling. Way cool!

Under the storage area behind the third row seats, I have a cool nice wide storage area that opens up. It's a great place for me to put my uncommonly needed essentials like winter gear and emergency devices. That netting also hooks horizontally to better hold things in and down and I think I'm gushing. Do I have a crush on my car?!

Putting up the third row is truly a one hand operation. Grab the handle and pull up. It locks into place easily! Putting it down means pulling the same handle and pushing the seat down. I could do this with a baby on my hip (not that any babies are on the horizon!).

And seriously, check out how much room I still have with the third row up! My sister actually sat in the third row. To get in, we put up one of the seats, and she clambered through the back to get there. But the second row leans forward and slides up to provide easy access to the third row via the more traditional route.

It's hard to really get a good picture of the third row from the side, but this gives you a little bit of an idea of how much room there is. This is with both the second rows all the way back, so more room is possible. And yes, my 5'4" sister very comfortably sat back here.

All in all, I'm happy with my new car. But I do miss my old one, just for its familiarity. And I realized that my next door neighbor and another really good friend of mine both have identically colored Pilots. At least they're all different model years!


Mabunny August 23, 2008 at 10:18 PM  

Gratz on the new car, but be warned, I now officially hate you:))
(Please also notice the smiley face after that comment that just means I'm jealous and NOT serious about hating u!)

ya ya's mom August 24, 2008 at 9:07 AM  

nice new car, congrats!!!

-Bridget August 24, 2008 at 8:26 PM  

Congrats on the new car! I love the center console part.

Michelle August 24, 2008 at 9:05 PM  

Mabunny - Thanks, and I like your concern. I would have known that you weren't serious even without the explanation. I know better than that!

ya ya's mom - Thanks! I like it... although after putting 850 miles on it between Thursday and 1:23am this morning going to MN and back, it doesn't feel quite as new. And when I went to get it washed this afternoon, the car wash was closed!

Bridget - Thanks! Just wait until you see what I've done with the center console (via one of the XM channels) now!

anymommy August 25, 2008 at 12:51 AM  

Very nice, congratulations! But, hey, I'm offended. Minivans ARE cool. They are the new sporty convertible. Just saying.

Sydney August 25, 2008 at 9:49 AM  

We're getting ready to look for new cars. Just trying to figure out how to do that while dragging a three year old with us. We'll be looking at the Honda CRV and the Toyota RAV4. Wish me luck!

Michelle August 26, 2008 at 9:51 PM  

Anymommy - Thanks. And ummm did I say something about minivans? I'll plead mommy brain -- I don't recall what you're talking about.

Sydney - Hey, I've got a great strategy. Have the three year old throw tantrums as you're negotiating. Hem and haw and do the "we'd love to get out of here but want to finalize the deal first." Then feed him sugar. Maybe forget to give him a nap before you go. Who wouldn't do ANYthing to get you out of there at that point?

Cookie August 26, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

Very nice. I'm jealous. Congrats! And thanks for volunteering to be the designated driver! ;)

Angie's Spot August 28, 2008 at 11:04 PM  

Congrats on the new car!! I'm trying really hard to resist going the minivan route. I'm SO NOT a minivan driver mama. A Pilot might be a good alternative.

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