My car search has at last come to an end…

5 minute read

March 14, 2012, 10:54 PM

So on Monday, my search for a new car came to an end, as I turned one set of wheels in for another. So let’s take one final look at what was my car for a little over six years:

Say goodbye to the Sable...

In trading in the Sable, I will say this: it was a very comfortable car, and it certainly had an air of class about it, with the Mercury trim level that included leather seats, a chrome grille, a climate control system that worked via a thermostat (i.e. you set a temperature vs. setting the intensity of the fans), and a Gentex auto-dimming mirror (yes, the same Gentex that makes fire alarms). Realize that a Mercury Sable is basically a Ford Taurus with nicer trim.

And over the course of 70,000 miles’ worth of driving, it certainly lived up to the old saying about Ford: Fixed Or Repaired Daily. In the course of owning it, I had some major (read: expensive) repairs that I had to make to it. The air conditioner stopped working in 2008 and had to be replaced, and then the fuel pump, after having an issue that appeared to resolve itself in late 2009, and then came back and meant it in 2010, necessitating the replacement of the fuel pump. And then most recently, I had been driving around since around August with the “check engine” light on, and the car was making some jerky starts and seeming to strain going up hills at times. I’m told that the transmission was probably going, but all I saw were two words: MAJOR REPAIR.

When you consider that I was not exactly willing to do yet another major repair within a year of the last one, I decided that the real solution, rather than deal with a repair shop yet again, was just to replace the car outright. Thus I searched online and created a list of cars to test. Then I test drove a whole bunch of cars from Toyota (Prius, Yaris), Scion (xD), Honda (Fit), Hyundai (Accent), Kia (Rio, Soul), and Ford (Fiesta). One thing I discovered from all of this was that subcompacts were a little too small for me. If it gives you any idea about the problems I had with subcompacts, I hit my knees on the equipment between the seats on the Toyota Yaris, and felt a little closed in while driving it.

Long story short, I test drove the Soul and loved it (but hated the dealer where I test drove it), still liked it when I did a second test drive on one, and then after evaluating all of the bids from various dealers after settling on the Soul and getting some bids on the Sable, I finally jumped.

So on Monday, I traded in the Sable and got the Soul. I ended up getting it from Charlie Obaugh Kia, as I kind of expected I would all along. Here’s a note for all of you car dealers out there: treat me with respect. Treating me with respect is what ultimately got Obaugh the deal. They weren’t pushy. They made me feel at ease. And while the trade-in value that I ultimately got for the Sable was actually less than both JBA and Herson’s, we were able to reach a deal that, when the smoke cleared, was better than what JBA and Herson’s had offered me – and I didn’t have a headache at the end of it like I did at just about every other car dealer that I visited. And I consider that a win in my book.

So here’s my new car:

And here I am with my new car:

And here’s a photo that I took of the house before I realized that the car was in the way:

And here's a photo that I took of the house before I realized that the car was in the way.
(Sorry, Mom, I couldn’t resist.)

And then this is what it looks like inside:

Soul interior

In getting used to how things work and where things are on the Soul, some of it reminds me of the Sable, some of it reminds me of the Previa, and some of it is completely new to me. The audio system is completely new to me, for one thing, and that also includes the built-in Bluetooth for the phone. There is no tape deck, which is a first for me (but who uses cassettes anymore?). But there is a USB connector and an auxiliary jack to plug up various music players. Then the phone is completely voice-activated, and I’ve gotten the hang of that, and now know how to call people up on the phone from the car now without ever taking my eyes off the road.

Then the steering column-mounted controls are like a throwback to the Previa, as they are configured mostly the same as that car. The Sable had the headlight controls and the rear wiper controls on the dash, and then the one stalk out of the steering column controlled turn signals, high beams, and the front wipers. The Soul, like the Previa, has turn signal and headlight controls on a stalk on the left side, and all the windshield wiper controls (both front and back) on a stalk on the right side. The cruise control is on the face of the wheel sort of like the Sable, and then the audio and phone controls on the wheel are completely new.

In driving it, it is definitely lighter than the Sable, and I’m still getting used to how it handles. I didn’t realize how heavy the Sable was until I really drove this, as this car is very light on its feet. It’s also far easier to turn, as the turning radius is very tight. It’s not quite “on a dime”, but pretty close to it. I’m also not entirely sure yet where the end of this thing is, but I certainly do have room to spare when I’m parking it. Check this out:

It’s just swimming in that parking space. This is a good thing, because the Sable was far longer, and I ended up having to pull as far forward as possible in order to be sure I was in. A common sound heard when I was parking the Sable was that of the bottom of the front bumper scraping on a curb. Now I can park several feet away from the end and still have room to spare. I have, however, on a few occasions gotten out and inspected my parking job to make sure that I’m in far enough and also far enough back.

So there you have it, I suppose. That’s my new car, and my first brand new car. Hopefully I will have many happy years together with it, and may it hopefully one day reach the Previa’s ripe old age of 15 years with me.

Web site: My "Cars" page in Odds and Ends. Guess that needs to be updated now, doesn't it?

Song: The obligatory Kia Soul hamster commercial. I didn't see this commercial until last Friday when a coworker showed it to me. I think I would fall down if the crotch of my pants was as low as what we saw on those hamsters.

Quote: Meanwhile, I'm not quite sure what to call the Soul's body style. I've heard it described as "hatchback", "wagon", and "crossover SUV". I can see merit in all of these, but none of them quite fit perfectly.