Family Car History

I have ALWAYS been a car fanatic.  I don’t know why but I’ve always been interested in those four rolling wheels, a multitude of designs and interiors.  Options galore.

My parents, before we left Newfoundland had a Renault (no idea what model) and a Fiat 124.

My grandparents had an AMC Pacer Wagon with a burgundy interior and a 1974 Ford Capri with black vinyl seats.

My mother purchased a two-tone blue 1986 Ford Escort which she still keeps in the garage at the house.  I can totally understand why she keeps the car, even though I doubt it runs today from sitting idle and other issues.  It was her first car, she bought it herself and she has an attachment to it.  Sadly, I don’t think it will ever drive again.

My aunt, uncle and cousins through the years had, at different times a Toyota Land Cruiser (Blue!  It was cool!),  a Datsan, a Mazda Wagon (GLC I think), a Green Volvo, a Grey Hyundai Stellar, a BMW 3-series, Chrysler Sundance, several Suzuki Swifts,  Toyota Yaris, and several Saturns.

I’m not sure what other cars my Dad had over the years, but I know he and my step mother had two Subarus in the 1990s.

So I got exposed to a number of different types of vehicles, and I learned what I liked based on those experiences.  I really liked the Volvo; despite Hyundai’s reputation at the time, the Stellar was a cool car, big for a family of 5; the BMW was the very first car I drove, standard in downtown Toronto; I learned to really drive on the Chrysler Sundance which I also liked at the time.  The Escort was also kind of fun to drive too.

Courtesy of my family, I took a preference to smaller cars.  All of the cars except for the Volvo, the Hyundai and the Land Cruiser were smaller cars.

My mother even gave me Camaro magazines with women on the front.  Well, I liked the cars… LOL!

I grew up when gas was $0.49/L – possibly even cheaper.  Today it’s between $1.36 and $1.40/L; so it’s not surprising that when looking for a car in 2001, I wanted something that was fuel efficient.   I don’t want to have to pay for gas and put it in the hands of the petrol companies.  At the same time, I want to be environmentally conscious.  Alright, if I truly wanted to be fully environmentally conscious, I would take public transit more often.

At the time North American cars were getting a bad rap for being gas guzzlers, and they were at the time.  To me, there were only two companies that made sense to me – Honda and Toyota.

Way back in 2001, I actually did not have the intention to buy a car when I did, but I was in the market and taking a serious look.  It was between a Honda Civic and a  Toyota Echo.  The Civic we knew to be reliable, and the Echo was the prefect Bear-friendly car that was tall enough to handle Scott and me comfortably.  Being 6ft3, myself, I need height in a car.

We got the price quote on the Honda and it was well within my range.  We then checked out a Toyota dealership and they had an amazing deal on what was supposed to be an “Absolutely Red” 2000 Toyota Echo without Air Conditioning, but it was a 2001 Toyota Echo with AC and a really great deal.  I spent about two hours humming and ha-ing at the dealership and I proceeded to put the downpayment on the corporate AMEX the company I was working for, had given me.  Okay, not something you’re supposed to do. *GRIN*

That car got beaten up so many times, gosh.  The thing attracted accidents, it was actually quite sad.  Still, we loved the car and with 4 men, our size or bigger in the car it looked like a clown car.

Sadly, the car was returned after an accident right at the end of it’s lease.  It was time to get a new car and just cut our ties with the accident prone Echo.

Sossi, who is now at Markville Toyota (I believe), did a great job selling us the first car.  I wanted her to sell us our second Toyota but she wasn’t at the dealer where we bought our first Echo.  I highly recommend her.

So we went back to the same dealer to crunch numbers and see what we could afford.  I really wanted a Toyota Corolla, and really wanted an upgrade form the entry-level Echo but it turned out we couldn’t afford the Corolla, so another Echo, this time in Indigo Ink.

That car, I am proud to say, never got hit, never got into an accident.  We put 170,000km on it and really, we probably should have bought it out at the end of the lease and drove it into the ground.  Alas, I wanted something else more fuel efficient, and we wanted a mid-sized car.

The sad thing?  I have no pictures of our Indigo Ink Echo except for the one picture of the dashboard while driving to Sudbury!  It’s not like we didn’t like the car, it was reliable the whole time we owned it and went on many a road trip to Detroit and Sudbury – hence the 170,000km on it. Probably because of the circumstances between picking up the car, and being so over mileage on our lease given where Scott and I were at in our life at that time, we  – okay, I, wanted an upgrade.  We earned it.

Enter the car of my dreams.

The next car had to be a mid-size car, as fuel efficient or better than the Echo, it needed to have cruise control and power windows.

There was only one logical vehicle that met our requirements and that was a Toyota Prius.

I love the Prius.  Where everyone is being a nay sayer about it’s looks, questioning my masulinity and yelling at me to, “Get a real car” – Yes that happened to me, from a guy driving a tricked out truck – I’m laughing my butt off because the Prius has way more pep than anyone thinks and way more room.  It’s technologically advanced, and quite honestly, I think it’s the prefect geek car.

Once again, I didn’t have plans to necessarily swap the car when I did, but I knew what I wanted and, well, why not?  I wanted blue, but got black because that’s all the dealer had in stock and it was difficult to get 2009s at that time with the 2010s coming out.

We’ve had the car three years. With it’s, what I like to call, “Retro futuristic” styling, it’s kind of like the interior of the Enterprise NCC-1701A.  We’ve been known to get up to 800km on a single tank of gas in warmer weather.  We’re getting between 5.8 (40 MPG and 6.0 L/100km (39 MPG) these days though in one picture below you’ll see we were able to squeeze out 5.4 L/100km (43 MPG).

It’s got everything we wanted and I’d say it’s more than we need.

The Prius, unfortunately, picked up racing stripes by kissing a concrete pillar in a parking garage.  I’ve never actually done anything about them – and it doesn’t look like the ‘kiss’ got down to the lower paint levels which is great. So I’ve put it off for about two years.  Other than that, no accidents!

On Friday, I decided to stop at the local dealership where I get my car maintained, not the one I purchased my previous 3 vehicles from.  In short, the sales guy who sold us the Indigo Ink Echo and the Black Prius was an idiot and his lack of professionalism when we purchased the Prius was astounding.  Whenever Toyota sends me a survey I point out how unhappy I was with the sales rep and the dealer.

Anyway, at the local dealership, they practically pounced on me when I asked about trading in and getting a 2012 – thinking more for next year, but the Leasing Manager suggested we could potentially trade this year:

  • It could potentially be cheaper for me – between $40 and $100 cheaper per month than my current vehicle.
  • Toyota considerably dropped the price of the Prius in the 2012 year.
  • Used Prii have high resale values.  $14k to $17k for 2007 and 2008 model years.
  • The leasing manager was pleased to see how well I had taken care of the 2009, despite the scratches he had said not to worry about.
  • The key thing will be the outstanding lease, and how much they’re willing to negotiate.

So we are looking at:

  • 2012 Toyota Prius
  • Moonroof Package with Solar Panel
  • Thinking if we should go with SofTex (Leather wanna-be seats)

We would get way more car for less than I’m paying now.  In fact, its way more care than anyone needs.  And, by the way, I do laugh at people driving up supped up expensive vehicles.  Do you really need it?  No, I didn’t think you did.

Anyway, I digress – if it’s the same or more than what I am paying now, then I would consider buying out my 2009 – I really am quite happy with it.  Or, if someone wants to buy a 2009 Toyota Prius base package, let me know.  We’ll fix up the paint scratches.

So the question is – Red or Blue if this all comes through?

I see us sticking with Toyota for a while. While it’s nice the North American car companies finally got their act together, but for me the cars are bland.  Other manufacturers just don’t stand up to the quality Toyota has – despite the challenges that Toyota had a few years ago, they stepped up to the plate and are doing some cool things.

Technologically the only car companies I would look at are Toyota, Ford and Honda.

Despite my ragging on North American car companies, Ford is the only company I would look at.  They were smart bringing the European styled cars over, and using Toyota’s technology in their hybrids.  Unfortunately, their cars are either too big or too small for my liking.

Honda’s design language doesn’t appeal to me anymore.  I just don’t like it.  As for their hybrid Civic and Insight, the mileage should be better.  IMA is just too over engineered and isn’t a true parallel hybrid.

I will say GM caught my eye with the Volt.  The problem is three-fold

  • The car is just too expensive
  • The car is just too small
  • Our condo doesn’t have plug in electricity in the parking garage

Other than that, it’s pretty cool – Good on GM!

Toyota has a good thing going with Hybrid Synergy Drive – and now three Toyota cars and a number of Lexus vehicles that are fully hybrid.  I will address that yes, you do pay a premium for a hybrid.  So does it even out at all between buying a cheaper car with good gas mileage that’s not a hybrid versus buying a hybrid?  I’m either putting it in the gas company’s hands, or the car company’s hands.  Given the innovation at Toyota, I’m happy to put it in their hands.

And as a final side note – my aunt, Scott’s mother and Scott’s aunt are now all driving Toyotas.

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  1. Pingback: Indigo Ink (Absolutely Red) | IainBlog

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