8.27.2007

When downgrading is good

Three years ago we bought a Mommy-van. I hated it then. I never really got past that feeling.

It's not that it was a bad vehicle, well unless you get a flat. Have you ever priced replacement run-flat tires? Trust me, when you get three flats in 6 months you start to hate run-flat tires at a price of $250 per-tire. Tires that can't be patched. You start to realize that you'd much rather a slow leak and a $40 patch.

Things like stability control were nice; they're nicer if the sales guy bothers to forewarn you that loud screechy whistles and dings go off as soon as you hit an ice patch and stability control kicks in. The safety feature is really quite counterproductive when it causes you to slip into a panic attack the first (and only) time you trigger it.

All-Wheel-Drive was nice; unless gas costs a hair under $3 a gallon and you're considering selling a kidney to fill up your next tank. This also ignores the fact that you rarely encounter conditions requiring the extra wheel control. The raw truth is that you only moaned about not having AWD in a "LONG" vehicle because you were trying to talk your husband OUT of buying the damn thing to being with.

The extra space was nice except it meant you become the designated hauler of all things too big to fit into other family members sedans and pint-sized SUVs. The steering was nice until the little piece breaks off inside and you lose all semblance of power steering but the guy at the dealership service department tells you you're imagining things because it's all just peachy. A little digging finds out this is a common thing for the certain models of this brand. You get a new steering wheel but you're bitter.

Then one day your husband sends you an email as you're sitting at your part-time job stuffing lifesaver roles you paid to have your corporate logo and a snappy little message on into bubble wrap envelopes with a post-card you also designed. The email says "We've got a partner program through work and I can get a good deal on this vehicle."

You start to ponder. Well it's less space certainly. But truth is, we rarely use the space we've got in the Mommy-van. Hmmm, it's not one I see around very often does that mean something? Well, I see the Mommy-van (in the same color!) every other parking space which really sucks when you forget where you parked at a crowded mall.....and frankly, it did nothing to prevent the steering from breaking down no matter what the service manager thinks.

Well, it DOES get better mileage. It does NOT have run-flat tires (have I mentioned how much I loathe run-flat tires?) It is cute. Better yet, it's likely a lower monthly payment than we have today and will have for another two years with the existing Mommyvan.

We make an appointment with a dealer to go in Saturday for a test drive and a conversation. We find a better, closer dealer and head out Friday instead. The sales guy is nice. He's round and he smiles a lot. Logan plops his booster seat in the back of the vehicle for a test drive. Three tire rotations into the ride and Logan announces that we need to tell the man (who is sitting in the passenger seat) that we will buy this car. Mommy tells him we need to discuss it with Daddy. Megan makes herself at home in the cars and trucks displayed in the showroom. She thankfully never learns the horns work in those vehicles.

Daddy and the man head into the tiny little closet of an office to talk numbers. They emerge from time to time to run these figures by me. I sit in the corner of the show room entertaining too restless children with a TV hooked up to a cable system that hides children's programming on different channels than ours at home does, a few old beaten up books, a pint sized block table and one of those beaded maze things. We spend a LOT of time playing Simon says and "pretend you're a dog."

Hours later the four of us sit together waiting for the nice people in the back to spiff up our new set of wheels. We come home with a new "Mommy-mini-mini-van" and car payment that runs $50 less per month....plus better mileage (did I mention that), tires that won't run-flat but won't cost me an arm and a leg to replace and no warning systems that cause my heart to stop and my eyes to bulge out.

The kids love it. I'm finding it peppy and so much more fun than the "wreck my image" mommy-van. ;) I did hate that thing.

It does feature a third row of seating but no one with legs long enough to extend past the edge of the seat will fit in them comfortably. It's ok though because for the two or three times a year we actually drive more than four of us some place, the car seats will fit in the back row and the grown-ups will fit in the middle. The trunk is tiny - but since no one sits in the back row, the seats stay more or less permanently down and the cargo net holds grocery's in place.

I've got a moon-roof again. I so very much missed having the little rectangular spot of my roof open on a beautiful day - or at least the window exposed to let more light in. I have a 6-CD changer. I can load up *my* CDs and theirs without having to hunt them down at a traffic light and hope I can swap them out before the thing turns green.

My favorite feature? I have a remote starter. It's not quite necessary on a regular basis since, you know, I have a garage that sits just under my living room. It will come in handy when I leave the office and would like to get the A/C or heat running before I hit the drivers seat.

And if we're honest, I find a certain amount of glee in freaking out people in the parking lot by starting the car without a body sitting in it. :) I know. It's a bit mean. But frankly, it amuses me.

3 comments:

Melessa said...

Congratulations! I have designs on one of these myself-should my Durango ever give up the ghost.

M&Co. said...

Oh the Huz wants me to have one of those!

Anonymous said...

I just realized I've been out of my minivan for three whole years now. I've not missed it much, at first it was hard for the kids to get in and out of my Lexus SUV without those running boards, and Rachel struggled with the doors, but other than that, no worries! I sort of like that I can't carpool or lug other kids around, LOL. My car doesn't have the way-back seats at all, the salesman told me they'd be in the crumple (crash) zone and they just weren't comfortable with that, who knows, I just can see that point, if someone hit me from behind, I have a rather big storage area to crumple. :o) Anyway, ENJOY! It's fun to have something sportier, I found...but I actually really liked my van, too...reminded me of my own mom back in the station wagon days!

Jen