Saturday, January 29, 2011

NEW CAR FEVER

This is to confess that I have developed a case of new car fever.
This is strictly an emotional malady because there is no logical reason for me to NEED a new(er) car.
I lay the blame for my illness on the designers at Hyundai and Kia – sister companies, based in Korea.

I never thought I would be lusting after any Korean car brand, but I am.
It started with the 2010 Hyundai Sonata.
The previous version of this car looked okay.
I liked it.
It was conservative but had no bothersome traits.
I liked it enough to think positively about it without wanting one.

But when I saw the first pictures of the 2010 Sonata, I was stunned.
I loved it.
It looked sleek and swoopy and daring.
MUCH better-looking than the Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry.
And since then, I have seen several driving around and they look even better in person.
They did an excellent job on this piece.

Then came the 2010 Hyundai Tucson.
They swooped it up, too, and I liked it also.
Then came the 2011 Hyundai Elantra.
They turned this rather bland vehicle into a junior version of the Sonata.
And I liked it also.

Then Kia released the 2011 Optima -their version of the Sonata.
It looks like a big BMW – only sleeker, and cleaner.
Wow.

Then I saw the 2011 Kia Forte line.
They generally match the Honda Civic in size and performance, but look WAY better.
AND... they make a 5-door hatchback model.
I very like hatchbacks.
I have had two and have been very happy with them.
(Honda no longer makes Civics in a hatchback configuration.)
Although Honda makes good (read: durable) cars, no hatchback Civic models and dorky looks have them at the bottom of my wish list.
(the Honda Fit is a hatchback, but is too small, gets only average gas mileage, and looks like the Pope-mobile.)

THEN (ta-da) I saw the 2011 Kia Sportage compact SUV (or cross-over or whatever they want to call it).
To my eye it looks even better than the Hyundai Tucson (its corporate cousin).
And the more I saw of it, the more I wanted one.
It looks WAY better than the Honda C-RV and gets WAY better gas mileage.
That pretty much did me in.
I wanted a new car.
One of THESE new cars.

So here I am, stewing in new sheet metal envy.
There is just one problem....
I don't need a new car.
The one I have is doing just fine.
I even still like the way it looks – sort of.
But it is eleven years old.
It has 104,000 miles on it.
It might break some day.
(my last Honda was 13 years old and had 250,000+ miles on it when I sold it. Still ran like a top.)
I still like it - sort of, but I am tired of it.
Actually, I was not tired of my present car (a 2000 Honda Civic hatchback, BTW) until I saw the new Hyundai's and Kia's.
And I like the 2012 Ford Focus hatchback, too. (never thought I would like a Ford...)

Then there is the financial issue.
I could afford a new car payment – but I don't want one.
I will not be able to pay cash for a new car like I did my present vehicle.
My investment decisions have not been blessed with the increase that they were in 1999.
So I will have to encumber myself with a car loan and its associated monthly payments.
Most likely, this is doable, but I do not like the idea of having another large debt.
And Dave Ramsey would frown on this transaction.
But I want a new car.
Certainly it will be my last.
I may not live to see the final payment. (sorry, kids....)

So, what to do?
I am still arguing with myself and playing with EPA numbers and annual costs to try to logically justify such an illogical, un-necessary purchase.

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