Friday, June 21, 2013

One Car Family

Our beloved Mazda finally bit the dust, and we are in the process of getting a new one, which is never easy, especially for frugal individuals as ourselves. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it took us five years to get our first second car, and it wasn’t easy in all regards. This time around I’m hoping it won’t be as bad.

We are weighing our different options, and are leaning to getting another Fit. We love our Fit, they get great mileage, look sporty, have lots of cargo space, and Hondas are known for reliability. They are a little pricier than the other fuel efficient models, but not by much. Not enough, in my opinion, to sway us away from getting a Fit, but the decision is not completely mine.

One thing I find fascinating is people’s preferences. R and I are not the type to make a big ticket purchase without the required amount of exhaustive research, and we have visited countless forums in order to gauge customer satisfaction. Don’t you just love the internet? What’s so interesting is what different people find important in a car, and it’s so diverse. For us, the keys are price and reliability. With this in mind, we have been looking at low end models that are well built and get good gas mileage.

Not everyone cares as much about these issues. The proof is in the pudding. People’s tastes run the gamut, and they will base their choices on completely different criteria, especially looks and performance. I understand all this, but for us, having to constantly repair things on a car would be unbearable. That’s why we love Hondas. What’s also amazing to me is how people want bells, whistles, and gadgets, and will be swayed by these choices. Car companies are more than happy to add these things to their cars, and half of them completely baffle me.

I guess that’s what makes the world and crazy and interesting place. In terms of our car search, we narrowed it down to a Fit or a Ford Fiesta, which happens to be a little cheaper and actually gets better gas mileage, if only a few miles per gallon, but still better. Now Fiestas have been around for decades, and their reputations were less than pristine. I’m not sure why they’ve been around for so long. In fact, I think they disappeared for a while, only to be brought back in their new incarnation. Ford finally got smart and made a good looking fuel efficient car to compete in an increasingly competitive market.

The big question was, how reliable was it? Now Ford quality has gotten better, but how much better? We researched the Fiesta, but it’s only been around for a couple of years, so reliability issues are hard to gauge. Granted, the Fit hasn’t been around that long, either, but Honda has a rock solid reputation, so that is a plus. Most of the positive reviews of the Fiesta focused on performance and looks, which for the record is what a lot of people want. I really think Ford has made a good car.

One thing that kept popping up was that the automatic version of the Fiesta had a huge number of problems, mainly with the transmission. Over and over again we read about people complaining about the transmission. The cars were under warranty, so they fixed the problem, in some cases replacing the transmission, but what a hassle.

We were in the market for a manual transmission, so you could make the case that this didn’t apply to us, but even still, it didn’t bode well for Ford’s reputation. There wasn’t much info about the manual, people just don’t buy them, so we were a little unsure. We finally spoke with our mechanic, whom we know and trust. He said that it’s completely understandable to save money and go with the Fiesta, and if that’s what our budget could afford, then go for it.

However, he said by the time we traded in the Fiesta, the thing would have been a joke (his words), whereas Hondas have the highest resale value of any car manufacturer. We saw this firsthand in looking at used cars, you really don’t save much money buying used. If not for the rust problems, a Honda might go for 400K miles. I know it’s a stretch, but people in the know have supported this.

In the end, we think we’ve decided on a Fit. We love the one we have, and are leaning in that direction, so we’ll see where that goes. On the other hand, as anyone who knows us can attest to, a decision won’t mean much until we’ve signed on the dotted line and the car is in our driveway.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rebecca Smiley for the pic.

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