Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Car Quest Has Begun

I test drove the 3 cars last night that could possible replace my beloved Rachel Train. I'm looking at the Toyota Corolla CE, the Honda Civic LX, and the Mazda3 i-touring. It's not going to be an easy decision.

I started at Toyota and the
Corolla drove very similarly to my little Geo. I liked the way it felt, and it was a nice ride. However, Toyota consists of packages and add-ons. The car comes with virtually nothing, and you must buy an entire package to add things. I haven't ever had power windows, and to get that, you had to buy the "UP" (upgrade) package, and to get ABS you had to add on the "safety package". It was all rather confusing, and you get a few more things in the packages than you really need or want.

Honda was our next stop. I thought this whole car shopping thing would be much easier. You find a car that you really feel comfortable in, and you'd just know which one to get. Wrong! The
Civic handled so similar to the Corolla that it was going to be a tough decision. The Civic was a little more dramatic in the handling, not quite as supple as the Corolla, but very similar. I did not like the inside of the Civic. Perhaps if I were an 18 year old guy I would prefer the electronic double dash with all the flashing lights and graphics. Alas, I am not. They were distracting, even when I dimmed the dash. This car was bumped behind the Corolla on my favorite list.

We journey on to Mazda. We grow weary (after all it is 8:30 on a week night!), and since both of the other dealers compared these 3 cars as well, I expected the same feel as the other 2. My mistake! The
Mazda3i has a bigger engine, it has much more space inside, and it handles much better than the other 2. The brakes were amazing too. My favorite to drive by far. The downside? There's huge rear blind spots that make it difficult for us little folks to see past. Otherwise, it was a very smooth ride. The dash was a little obnoxious with all red lights giving you the evil eye, but you can dim those pretty low, and at least it's not the flashing blue/white/red/green/yellow like the Civic.

Now it all comes down to my pocketbook. They're all in the same range, but it depends how much each will come down. The Mazda dealership that I went to, doesn't barter at all. They gave me a reasonable price, and said there's no haggling in this store at all. So, unless the Corolla can give me everything I want, (with the 8 million packages you have to buy to get power windows), it looks like the Mazda wins out. (The Civic is out of the running.) However, I think Toyota will come down significantly.

Only time, and some hard-balling will tell. I hate haggling. I'm not good at car haggling... because I've never done it, and it's a pain.


Missy said...

You are getting rid of the Rachel-Train?!?!??!

That car is iconic! The blue lights, the amazing music. Sigh. This will be sad. My vote is for the Corolla. Even though the Mazda has a bigger engine, all that means is MORE GAS!!!


hammerswing75 said...

If you're prepared to pay for the Mazda, then you're in great shape. Ponder a bit, and say "no, it's just too much for my budget" and start to leave. If Toyota dealerships are anything like Russian flea markets they'll be flinging themselves at you.

Rachel Irene said...

I'm not prepared for anything at this point. I'm willing to get the Mazda and eat ramen for the next 4 years... but I would change my mind if Toyota offered me a new shoe collection lower than the Mazda.

Missy - I know it's more gas, but everything else was better on the M3.

I will of course have a going away party for the beloved Rachel-Train departing from the Rachel-Station for the last time ever. And of course I'll get my I heart My Geo shirt.

Rob said...

Make sure you invite me to that going away party for the Rachel Train... she's been a great companion for you.

As for the other cars, I'd say the Mazda...

Chad The Elder said...

The smart, sensible choice would be the Toyota. But you're still young, so I say go with your heart and get the Mazda

Rachel Irene said...

They are both ranked equal in consumer reports. The crash test on one point was half a step lower on the Mazda, but otherwise they're equal in safety and dependability. The Mazda actually outranks the Toyota in a few catergories, and as the car overall. Plus, I can get more safety features on the Mazda.