Monday, November 9, 2015

Motor Monday: Car Shoppin'

Got hired on full where I'm working, with a tidy little raise now that the contract agency isn't taking a cut out of my check. My car is, however, in the process of dissolving out from under me. It's late 80s/early 90s steel, and I'm up in Wisconsin. The two do not get along well.

This means it's time to go shopping! Car shopping. Thankfully, I can drive stick, unlike most of my generation, so I've got some fun options available that other people don't. I've got some basic criteria to narrow the field; Approximately 30 mpg highway, AWD or 4WD preferable, and above-standard performance; This can take the form of hot hatches or similar, cars with some extra zip, or smaller trucks or SUVs that offer actually capabilities such as towing and/or offroading. Max price is $30k, but less is preferable if I can get it. Unfortunately, there's an added complicating factor; I'm a pretty big guy. Tall and broad shouldered, I often either can't fit my legs into a car, or I'm wedged into the door when it's shut. I'd love to get something like the Elio, which is cheap and performs decently by virtue of light weight, except it's basically vaporware at the moment.

Below are a few I've tested out that I actually fit in.

The Subaru WRX is one of my top contenders. Good ratings for reliability, performance, and user happiness. It's got AWD, and they actually work pretty decent when taken lightly off pavement being rally cars. They're a little spendy, but it's just because they include a lot of features that are upgrade packages on other cars in the class (and that AWD adds a bit). They've got a nice roomy trunk, although the newer models that get fuel economies where I want them aren't available with a hatchback for some reason. Test driven them, and they feel mighty nice, and I FIT very comfortably. I wouldn't be going for the STI package, because more power and expense than I have a use for, but it sure looks pretty.

Next up, and the car I actually learned to drive stick for, is the Ford Focus ST. 2wd and fwd only, but darn near $10k cheaper and a lot more subtle with its extra power. Rowdy handful and great fun to drive, with decent space inside and enough room for me to fit. Unfortunately I can't go for any of the higher packages that come with more sporty seats, because I have big muscley manlegs that are wider than the seats allow for when they have the racing wings to help hold you in place.  Still, very solid contender.

Ah, ol' reliable. A truck. Big ol' truck. Probably a Ford truck. There's a formerly beat to hell Ford Ranger at the family business, if we can get a functional engine in it again, it'll be a new truck (everything ELSE has been replaced). But, it's still 15 years old, and offers... less performance in every conceivable way than the modern generation of trucks. I'd lean towards a light truck, but they've gone the way of the buffalo as fullsize trucks shrink slightly, yet retain their capability in ways light trucks never hoped to achieve. Toss on all the options I want and a shiny new one goes just a bit above my price range (and below my favored MPG), but it'll have the specs I yearn for across the board. Thankfully, decent trucks have been a thing for a while, and even going back several model years they've still got pretty fair fuel economy. A couple aftermarket extras to improve the aerodynamics and load distribution and I'll be set with a pre-owned, and still have money to spare for a nice truck gun safe. Gotta have the slightly extended cab, though, to make sure I FIT in the thing. Going to be way harder to find a place to park than my current compact car though.

In testing, I've determined beyond any shadow of a doubt that... I do not fit in Hondas. There is no car made by Honda that I can comfortably fit into, driver's side or passenger, front or back.

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