Should I buy my father’s Pontiac Vibe?

My car is getting on in years – and miles – and has been having some trouble. I’d like to get a new car, even though mine is only 10 years old, but I think I can muddle through with my car for a few more years.

My elderly father wants to buy a new car soon and has offered to sell me his 6 year old Pontiac Vibe. It’s a NUMMI car like mine. It allegedly has the same small engine, but the body is much bigger, almost like an SUV. The EPA rates it about the same as my 2002 Corolla, maybe a mile or 2 less mpg.

I’d love to get a 6-year-old car cheap. The problem is that I’ve never driven anything larger than a compact, so I wouldn’t feel safe in a larger car. Plus I often drive into the city and have to parallel park, something I’m absolutely terrible at.

I shouldn’t be concerned about this, but I’m afraid an SUV-looking car will make me look like a geek or a liberal or something like that. My Corolla makes me look like a hip software engineer, since that’s about as much as a typical software engineer can afford.

In my opinion, a Pontiac Vibe is not that big. It is smaller than even the smaller SUV cars. I don’t think it is much bigger than your Corolla. It shold drive about the same.

I don’t think the Pontiac Vibe will turn you into a geek or a liberal. In fact, I think Attila the Hun drives a Pontiac Vibe.

Triedaq is probably right about the size. If you looked at the overall length they’re probably about the same.

Being a geek is good - haven’t you heard? “Genuinely Enthusiastic Empowered Kids”

Pretty much everyone in the US is a “Liberal” - the fact that our political discussions have come to the point that we toss around vague and mostly meaningless words says more about the world’s situation than does calling people “liberal” or claiming to be one. Aside from that, even in the absurd and impoverished language we do use for these things I can’t figure out why the Vibe/Matrix would have an image that would be linked to one’s politics, or whatever people want to call it.

I would keep the Corolla. You will have to pay your father exactly $0 for it. Except - that no one here knows a thing about the condition of either car - not even the mileage was given. Nor does anyone know anything about your budget. That makes it impossible to say very much about which one would be better in the long run.

I never saw the connection of SUV-looking car making one look like a geek or a liberal, being a geek and a liberal, not a hip software engineer, though I do maintain websites, databases, implement antivirus and policies, backups, virtual servers and write code in c#, basic and in the olden days fortran. Sure I have a trailblazer, but my bigger concern would be buying a car from a family member, If it is a great deal pretend you bought it from someone else and when something goes wrong deal with it as if you never got a great deal from an in law. A larger car is safer usually, but seeing a Corolla is not the automatic hip software engineer ring a bell experience for me. In fact it is really hard for me to tell one brand of car from another these days. If the corolla means that much to you drive on in it bro.

My budget is very tight. My last good job went from making exports to being an export. I’m pessimist and paid off my mortgage early during the real estate boom.

My Corolla has about 120,000 miles on it. It’s been in 4 accidents, 2 of which were my fault, one due to impatience, which I’ve overcome, the other due to black ice. My father’s car has been in 1 major accident. He keeps much better care of his cars than I do and knows a lot more about cars too. He doesn’t drive that much, and my parents are going from 2 to only 1 car.

My car has been running poorly. It makes a lot of pinging noise and the ride is rough. It often feels like there’s something wrong with the tires, but all the shops say the tires are fine. I got all new shocks, but another shop told me the shop that did the work did not use new shocks. It was a gas station/garage on Main St. in Reading, MA right before the town line with North Reading. I had heard they were good, and went way out of my way to go there. Good at robbing customers I guess.

But again, it’s not really a matter of gas mileage so much as the fact that I’ve only ever driven compacts and am one of the world’s worst parkers.

Sorry about the stupid dig about liberals. It was inappropriate. It was really a dig at people in certain wealthy suburbs around here, some of whom I know socially. I’m politically eclectic.

Hey hoofer! Are you saying that in all this time you’ve never actually driven your Dad’s car? Borrow it for a weekend. You’ll adjust to it in no time at all.

The Vibe really is about the size of a compact. It seems bigger only because it is intended to fully use interior space for cargo. But that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you try it out for a while. Take my word for it – you’ll quickly find it to be the ideal size for you.

Based on the fact that it sounds like you don’t take very good care of your car - but that your father’s care is better, I’d probably dump the Corolla. But I’d only get dad’s car is you know the “major accident” issues are cleared up. And you should not pay much for it. Any car that’s been in an accident has its used value drop through the floor.

Of course, then there’s that age old issue that waterboy mentioned - buying stuff like cars from family members is often a terrible idea.

No need to apologize re: politics - this board is sometimes a fireworks show of politics. Its fun-ish…sometimes (It was probably I who tossed the dig).

If you park your Corolla right next to your father’s Vibe you should see they are really very close to the same size. Same length, same width, and the Vibe is a bit “taller”. The real difference is the cars feel very different inside and your view out the back of the Vibe is less.

Perhaps you need to practice your parking techniques, you can use plastic garbage cans to avoid dents and damage to your car. With a little confidence in your skills you should be able to drive, park, and enjoy the Vibe.

The Vibe/Matrix is a Corolla with a higher roof, higher seats and a hatchback.
I live in an urban setting and I can fit my Matrix in the same small parking spaces a Corolla would squeeze into.

Just drive the car and see if you like it.

You have some really out there thoughts of what is hip, safe(smaller car???) or look like a liberal/geek.

Not sure what you can get from us except you are right its a lateral move to the same car in slightly different package.

“Image” is something you should only be concerned about if you’re financially comfortable to be choosy. For the rest of us, we wish we had a kindly elderly father generous enough to offer us a 6 year old Vibe for a cheap price.

Take it. People on a tight budget cannot afford to be choosy. Count your blessings and find something nice to do to thank your dad.

You know the person that owns the Vibe. If you believe that Dad took care of his car, then it could be a good purchase for you. Drive it for a weekend and see if you like it.

Hmmm, you think a Corrola is less geeky than a Vibe? Interesting. I was going to buy a Vibe but I test drove it and didn’t like it at all. Don’t know exactly why but it just didn’t feel comfortable driving it. Too high, poor visibility, hard seats, etc. Reminded me of the old econoline trucks. Plus, they were made by Toyota in a joint plant with GM and the plant closed. They are mostly a Matrix or something. I believe some of the parts might be a little hard to get with the plant shut down a couple years ago. But if you like the way it drives and handles, go for it. I didn’t.

I’m not a fan of the Vibe but if the vehicle is in good shape, the price is right, and considering the current ownership of the vehicle I’d say go for it.

Odds are if you spend a few days driving it around you will find that it’s not nearly as large and cumbersome as you may think.

Getting you from Point A to Point B without being in hock to a bank for the next 8 years is always a huge plus.

ok4450 makes a good point- especially about not being in hock.

Bing, the Vibe is a rebadged Matrix. Parts should not be difficult to find.

I too tried one and found it uncomfortable, but I wasn’t strapped for cash and I’m old…my body is far less tolerant than it was when I was young. When I was young I could get comfortable sleeping on a duffle bag. Any car was comfortable.

“My Corolla has about 120,000 miles on it. It’s been in 4 accidents, 2 of which were my fault, one due to impatience, which I’ve overcome, the other due to black ice.” “Plus I often drive into the city and have to parallel park, something I’m absolutely terrible at.”

Pardon me, but you don’t drive well. With an accident averaging every 40,000 miles (once every 30 months) you should consider wearing a helmet, driving with emergency flashers on or a strobe light on the roof or at the very least driving a large vehicle. " . . . so I wouldn’t feel safe in a larger car." Are you serious ?

Besides, a liberal would likely drive a Corolla. Want to see what a conservative drives ? Come to our Country Club. The parking lot is full of large SUVs, pick-up trucks, large American vehicles by Ford, GM, and Chrysler. You won’t see Toyotas.


common sense answer:

My accidents were due to

  1. impatience: a problem I have largely overcome out of necessity. Even my best friend has noted how much more patient and polite a driver I have become.

  2. Not knowing how to handle a car well on snow and ice, though I’ve lived near Boston my entire driving life (and I used to be a typical Boston driver).
    ** I’ve just signed up for special safe driving/accident avoidance classes.

  3. Two of those accidents were not caused by me and I was not found at fault by the insurance companies. In one of them I was rear ended while pulling a little further toward the road entering a busy highway to get a better look at oncoming traffic.

In Boston most wealthy suburbs are very liberal. My recently defeated liberal state rep (working class suburb) drove an SUV, even though he was single with no kids. I was just making a cheap dig at their hypocrisy. I make such digs at conservatives over other issues too.

I’ll take the advice and try driving the car.


Before you buy any car, I would suggest getting a quote from your agent for insuring it. With a driving record that includes 4 accidents–even though two of them were supposedly not your fault–the difference in insurance costs from one car to another should be a consideration, and there can be a considerable variation in insurance costs from one car model to another.

When I consider how much I pay for car insurance–even though I have driven for 41 years and well over 600k miles with no accidents whatsoever–I would hate to see your insurance rates! It is definitely a good idea for you to take classes to improve your driving.

Regarding your comment about SUVs and liberals you no doubt notice that all or most of the politicians and celebrity types who yell the loudest about conservation, Earth crushing SUVs, the environment, global warming, and so on are also the ones living in 10k square foot homes, flying in private jets, and driving SUVs or an equivalent gas guzzler themselves.

Some years ago the guy who is head of the Detroit Project (a group that wants to ban SUVs) was on TV one evening railing at great length about SUVs, their fuel consumption, and how the Earth was being ruined because of them.
The host pointed out that he had arrrived at the studio in his top of the line Mercedes which has a roughly 4-5 grand gas guzzler tax built in.
A few seconds of darting eyes and he then stated that, "Oh, uh, uh, I’ve got a Prius on order…"
Taking any bets on whether that statement was true? :slight_smile:

As to the Vibe you might find it’s not as cumbersome as might think. A few years ago I went to Dallas (600 mile round trip) and drove my sister in law’s Chevy Trailblazer.
For an SUV that sits up in height a bit and so on I found the vehicle actually very comfortable, easy to handle in traffic, and it felt nowhere as large as it looks.