Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rolling, rolling, rolling

That's what our car is doing, quite reliably now.

And no, it's not the same car we've been driving for a while. With our old car on the very verge of collapse, its transmission needing rebuilding, an inner CV axle needing to be replaced, the air-conditioning not working right, it occasionally being grumpy about starting, and a plethora of other minor problems, we were just trying to limp our way along until I would receive a regular full-size paycheck from the church.

Going full-time with the church on May 1, we went car-shopping last week. Ordinarily, I would have liked a lot more time to make a big-money decision like this, but with the car we were driving making people shake their heads at the miracle that it kept rolling this long with its problems, time was really of the essence, so I prayed and went shopping. Now, I've been researching for a while, trying to find which car would give us the most value for the dollar, something that should give us years of reliability, meet our needs adequately, and still be reasonably affordable.

We settled on the Hyundai Sonata. It's a mid-size, really, though the interior is big for a mid-size. If you go much smaller, it gets cramped if you try to put an extra person or two in it for a ride to church, or if you have to travel a long ways. And with just one child right now and gas prices being what they are, we don't need anything bigger.

The beauty of the Sonata is that it is basically equivalent to the ever-popular Accord and Camry -- but it costs thousands of dollars less, comes with a better warranty, and appears to be engineered well enough to last just as long.

Ours is a 2006 (the 2007s are several thousand dollars more expensive, for basically the same car, and the company re-engineered in 2006, producing a much better car than the 2005 and prior) V6 with about 30,000 miles on it. It used to be a rental car. It's dark blue, with leather interior and most of the gizmos and gadgets. Since we were buying used from a large car lot, the salesman and floor manager didn't seem really aware of the differences (and price difference) between the GLS and the LX (particularly since the company dropped that naming style last year; those two were trying to figure out if this is an SE or LE, the naming style Hyundai went to this year), and we basically got the LX with all the features at the GLS 6-cylinder price. We wouldn't have paid extra for the leather interior, heated seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and whatnot, but when it comes at basically the same price as the 6-cylinder across the lot that didn't have those features, we'll take them.

There's a lot of little things about the car that I really like, like the immense trunk and glove compartment. If I get the chance, I'll post a pic or two; I think my wife already has on her blog.

There is, incidentally, a certain thrill in going toe-to-toe with a classic used car salesman. And it's way more fun when you've done your homework, and know more about the car, its value, its history, and what his company paid for it than he does. (My wife, incidentally, vehemently disagrees -- she figures used car shopping should be like shopping at Walmart: each car has a sticker that is the actual price, and if you don't like it, you go someplace else, do without it, or bite the bullet and buy it anyhow. But where's the time-wasting adrenaline rush in that?)

So far, we're very happy with it, outside and in, design, construction, engineering, and handling. It's still under the 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Ask me again in 150,000 miles, but at the moment, I think what we've got is pretty good.


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