Feeling patriotic this morning. Yesterday we went out and bought a Ford Fiesta. The first car I ever owned was a British Ford Anglia...
... a little less green than this one. It was England's effort to catch up with American stream-lining, and I was inordinately proud of it.
Since the 1970s, though, we have bought only Japanese-made cars, persuaded that they were more solidly built, more reliable, and better designed than comparable American vehicles. The only exception was a bright red Jeep Cherokee, which we drove in the 1990s for the length of a three-year lease. I couldn't say whether our bias was based on reality or sheer prejudice and promotion, but that's what we believed.
The backstory for this big change in our lives includes the fact that we bought a high-end SUV back in 2004, at a time when such a purchase seemed reasonable. We needed the cargo space, we reasoned, to accommodate our dual residence life-style and to have space to transport art work when necessary for Ellie's remaining activity in that business. Besides, gas was still relatively inexpensive, and we liked the high-off-the-road ride and the comfortable interior. We did our research, and ended up with a Lexus RX 330. And I have to say it has been, continues to be, a great car.
Why think of trading, then? Top of the list is the fact that we just don't drive it. Later in 2004 we also discovered the Prius--and fell in love. We drive it all the time, particularly since the rise in gasoline costs. The Lexus sits majestically in the garage, virtually unused. We take it out once a week or so for "exercise"--and to keep the battery charged--and take it on a longer drive occasionally out of a sense of obligation to keep the machinery functioning. In more than seven years now, it has accumulated only a little more than twenty thousand miles, and it's in immaculate condition.
But why hang on to a car when we scarcely ever use it, especially at a moment when we are expecting the arrival of a grandchild who we'd like to see riding with the safety and reliability that the Lexus can afford? Our initial thought was to pass the Lexus on to our daughter and to try making do with a single car between us. A tempting notion. But after a few weeks' trial period, I was beginning to feel the pressure and indignity of dependency. Ellie is more professionally active than myself, at least in the out-and-about sense, and for that reason exercised more priority on car use. But we live in a big city; I like to get out to the galleries and museums, to an occasional lunch with a friend, and so on. It began to feel constrictive to be reduced to asking Mommy for the car keys.
So we did our research again, this time looking for the most inexpensive, economical, eco-friendly, high-mileage run-around car available--one that still provided minimal comfort, with four doors to provide access for our grandchild's car seat, for those occasions when we would be transporting him. In view of the reports I was reading, it seemed that this time around we would need to move past our prejudices and give the American cars a chance. We did. We went through plenty of online detail before starting out. We test-drove a Japanese car, a Korean car. And, having found the Ford Fiesta at the top of a number of best-choice lists for its class, we took one out for a test spin--and were convinced.
There are still some details to sort out before we sign on the dotted line, but we're looking forward to soon being able to sign the Lexus over and, for a few weeks, to enjoy that new-car smell--along with the slightly smug satisfaction that we're doing our bit for the American economy and the environment. Fingers crossed that we made a good choice.