Halloween, car shopping

Strangely-garbed children came to our house at Halloween, demanding candy, and we acquiesced. H, having lived in a remote rural area for most of her life,  never had the opportunity to suffer such extortion; she had a particularly good time.

On an unrelated note, it has come time for me to acquire a new car. The exact nature of this vehicle is under considerable debate. Personally, I want something a little larger, a little more powerful, and a little more sporty than my old Hyundai hatchback, but still mileage-friendly. H prefers that I get an automatic (the hatchback was a stick that she did not use) with a reasonable back seat and cargo area, preferably 4-door, with high safety ratings.

Here’s a few things we’ve looked at recently, ranging from fairly sporty to fairly practical.

’10 Mini Cooper S Clubman– a supercharged hatchback with great mileage (26/34) that will be an easy adjustment from the equally tiny Accent. The S model by itself is too small for us, but the Clubman S has 3 doors and more cargo space. It looks, corners, and drives great – it’s a rally car.  The main disadvantages are price – a good 40% of the sticker is style alone – and its tiny if fierce 4-cyl demands premium.

’10 Chevy Camero – Of the low-end American pony cars (Mustang and Challenger being the other two), it is the best on paper, even if in person it is a bit rough on the edges. The mileage is 18/29, Corvette-like, and the stock V-6 is 300 hp, which is very considerable and perhaps even tops for a sub-$25K car.  It drives like my eager, hyperactive spaniel puppy runs – like a bat out of hell, or as the old Chevy line goes, like a small vicious animal that eats Mustangs. My major concerns are the legroom in the back (almost non-existent, though a little better than the Cooper S), the size of the trunk (the opening is small), and H’s complete dislike of the entire bitchin’ Camero concept. It is not as much as the Clubman S, but still expensive enough to give pause.

’10 Hyundai Sonata – A jack-of-all-trades almost-luxury sedan with excellent standard gear, and it looks good, if a bit bland. The engine, at 175 hp, is a little underpowered – I was disappointed with what happened when I hit the gas in the automatic version I drove, but it was ok, and I suspect a manual version, and especially the V6 option, will be more responsive if we wander back to Hyundai. The price range is right – it is the cheapest of the four listed here, starting around 18-19k, though the V6 option could go up to 24.  The backseat and trunk are quite generous and it has four doors.

’10 Volvo C30 – This is H’s favorite. It’s essentially a four-door hatchback on steroids with an odd rear window that goes down nearly to the bumper.  It is the most expensive of the four, even the Clubman S, and is another premium sipper, and I don’t like the console layout, but it does have 225 hp and like all Volvos, it is made well and to last.  We tried but failed to test-drive this one due to another eager couple, but plan to return.

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