Hello fine folks.
I’m a Vermonter that is new to California. I married into the Ventura, CA area about 3 years ago.
I’m a musician and touring was my main pursuit for about 5 years. For those years my primary vehicle was an 02 Voyager minivan. Sherman was his name and for all his weirdnesses I loved him (one of my band’s most popular shirts was “Driving a Minivan So You Don’t Have To”) and after a new tranny and over 200K, my wife and I took advantage of cash for clunkers and got a new 2010 Honda Fit, which we have shared for almost 3 years. That’s right, I live in California and we share one car.
It’s been great, actually. Despite getting taken for a complete ride on our first (and probably only) new car purchase, we love Bert. What a car he is, holy moly. But it’s a little noisy in the cabin and the engine is fine, and I wouldn’t call him a fun car to drive, though I do find myself dropping it down to Sport mode and using the paddle shifters for a poor man’s exciting drive down the PCH once in a while.
The time has come to add a second vehicle in the mix and I am a little over my head, but excited at the possibilities. We don’t need to buy until July since we both travel for work out of state/country, and that’s when we’re back. And we’re planning to buy used, preferably around $10- $15K.
I’m wondering if I can throw some desires out there and tell you what I’ve been thinking and if you can spot a car I might have overlooked or one I should definitely avoid. I’ve also heard of the magical rust-free, highways-miles used car from California every since I was a young chap in the salty hills of Vermont, so I’m used to ignoring older cars that might be a great find out here.
I’d like to send out a list to the local used car dealers, check out craigslist, etc. I have a great mechanic here in town to check the car out. Actually, that’s another piece of advice I’d love to get your input on – is it prudent/advisable/recommended to somehow let local used car dealers know what I’m in the market for and to keep an eye out? I’m guessing there’s probably another thread on this, so I’ll look around.
Pickup Trucks and SUVS are, for the most part, off the list. But I could be convinced. A toyota tacoma with a cap on it has looked appealing from time to time….Rav4s, CR-Vs, yeah they’re good cars, but I just don’t gel with those cars. Can’t explain it.
-Cargo Room. I haul around drum sets and gear. It doesn’t have to be a touring minivan, but the 20’/50’ cargo room of the Fit is the baseline.
-25 MPG + I’m open to hybrids and diesel
-Quieter than the Fit.
-More powerful feeling/capable engine than the Fit.
-Fun to drive. I’m even open to a stick, or a car with faux-manual shifting capabilities. I drove a stick growing up and I really miss it.
-Comfortable. We’re adults now, and we’d like to drive a car that feels grown up. We may even have kids soon.
-Cost-effective to maintain and fix.
-$10K-$15K with at least 3-5 good years left in its bones.
On our list right now, in no particular order, and acknowledging that there are some compromises with all of these:
-Mazda Protege Wagon?
-Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix (I can’t tell if these are roomy enough…)
-Saab wagon (careful what years according to consumer reports)
-Ford Focus wagon (meh but maybe…?)
Thanks so much for sticking with me.
I’m no Ashley Judd, but glad to be here