Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It's an inescapable fact of life, for now. We need dependable cars to make the income to fund this crazy, off-kilter way of life we have until it becomes viable, or until the oil supply runs out. Whichever comes first.

Our current fleet all have over 200,000 miles on them, which means they're great, above-average vehicles, but then again they could maybe leave us hitchhiking on the side of the road at any moment, with kids. Even my dependable Honda Accord, which I drive almost sixty miles round trip to work each day, is in the shop now for brake work. And there's the cool factor. When The Hermit and I drove to Park Point in Duluth a couple weekends ago for a music festival, in our '95 Astro van, we thought to ourselves..."Hey, I feel pretty frumpy!" :)

So we started thinking seriously about replacing the van, or at least getting a vehicle that a) we could fit the whole family in, plus accessories, and b) had few enough miles on the odometer that it would hopefully last us a few years, and c) was cheap enough, and d) had some of the "cool factor".

The above pictured vehicle, a 2006 Subaru Outback with some 15,000 miles on it, met the above criteria. I am now in way more debt that I want to be, but it's okay, I just got a hefty 2.5% raise from the State of Minnesota each year for the next two years! And, we're probably better off financially than we've been in years.

Still there was that gut-tightening wait while financing was finally approved. I hate that. I can't help but thinking, with all the people bringing their Acura leases in for tune-ups and such, that we were probably the white trash customers of the day. Mr. Attitude did a lot in the waiting room to reinforce that image. ;)

I can say, however, that this is probably the coolest vehicle that I have ever driven. It has one of these mileage calculator thingies, and on the drive home I averaged 31.5 mpg! Another factor we considered in our vehicle selection, perhaps the most important. We could have gotten in to a bigger minvan or something, but at today's gas prices you have to think "do we really need a third seat?"

Did I mention it's all wheel drive, perhaps another important factor in our Minnesotarctica climate?

Oh well, the cool factor overrides everything. :)


arcolaura said...

I was driving Dad's ancient monstrous pickup truck today - I don't even want to know what gas mileage it doesn't get. But it boasts two or three feet more length in the box plus tailgate than in my dear old '90 Nissan 4x4 pickup, so I borrowed it to haul some 16-foot rafters home. A tree-killer I am, too! Not a proud day for me.

pablo said...

Back in the day, we were so pleased to have bought our first new car. It was a five passenger economy job. A month later we found out we were going to have six passengers (twins).

RuthieJ said...

Hey Deb, nice wheels! I understand that the Subaru Outback also has plenty of excellent safety features, so you're really doing what's best for your family (in addition to recycling a used vehicle), so it's all good!

Madcap said...

Cool factor - glad to hear it has a/c!

Our dear 1987 little truck, The Miraculous Means Of Transport, has well over 300,000 kms on it, but now it's starting to make some pretty alarming sounds in spite of the TLC. I suspect it's soon going to leave the realm of active service whether we like it or not. Patch figures we should keep it as housing for chickens.

gtr said...

Oh, definitely cool!! I've driven Subarus for year, but none that new! I'm currently nursing along a '91 Toyota, but if kids ever enter the picture, there will a new car (or at least nice used car) purchase. Enjoy!

Gerg said...

Very nice! I'm envious, that is far, far cooler than my old VW Jetta!

As much as cars suck, having one that's reliable and has a few bells-and-whistles sure can make life a little more pleasant. We're thinking about getting a new one this year too, and a Forester is near the top of my list. With us, it's the addition of the dog that has been the tipping point... Especially when we're driving ourselves, Lola and two friends and their dog, Rosie's current vehicle, a Subaru Impreza hatchback, gets a wee bit cramped!

I digress... nice ride!

barefoot gardener said...

Good choice! I have been driving a late '90s Outback. It has over 238,000 miles on it, and though it is starting to develop issues from old age I can't complain about it too much. You're right, the all wheel drive is WONDERFUL in the winter!

Deb said...

arcolaura- We still have a 1991 Ford F150, used mainly for hauling stuff. It's falling apart now.

pablo- I will take precautions. Family size really limits vehicle selection, doesn't it?

RuthieJ- I'm still reading the owner's manual, trying to decode the safety features. It's a fortress on wheels!

madcap- Chicken housing sounds like a good next life for a vehicle. And, the a/c really came in handy today.

gtr- I guess I've secretly lusted after Subarus for years. I've heard nothing but good things about them. When kids are in the picture, it definitely influences vehicle choices!

gerg...ahem, greg: I think there's plenty of room for a dog kennel in the back of this one. And you're right, I've driven beaters or semi beaters for a few years now, and driving something like this just feels good!

barefoot gardener- Glad to hear your good report on a high mileage Subaru. This one should last us for a while...as long as the deer stay away, you do have to watch for them around here!