So – the Subaru Crosstrek is gone. I’m free of my lease. And I’m ready to buy a new car. Not a New Car, mind you, I’m very much against that. But a new car; new to me.
A little backstory here if you don’t want to read the linked post. I over-drove my leased Subaru by 10,000 miles in the first year, which put me in an unpleasant financial position. Fortunately, I’d been promoted twice since committing to the lease, and had already started feeling like I was itching to treat myself with a fun car. And then I was able to talk my way out of the lease, Subaru bought it back, and I walked away scot-free.
I rushed into the purchase of the Subaru without even driving it first. I knew roughly how it would drive, and as I expected, it did its best impression of a Toyota Matrix stuffed inside a Chevrolet Equinox. And obviously that sucked. So how could I avoid that pain for my next purchase?
Fool Me Once…
Easy. I started driving things before trading in the Subaru. When I got my initial news from a Subaru sales rep (during regularly scheduled maintenance) that I might have the opportunity to walk away from my lease, three things happened concurrently.
- I looked that man in the eyes and said “no fucking way.” (Not my most proper moment.)
- I wept gently out of glee.
- I confidently asked, “what color STi’s do you have on the lot right now?“
This opened the door to a two-month process for me to evaluate every possible fun car that I could afford, in order to make the most confident decision possible… for what would be the largest car purchase I had ever made.
Although I love all the cars very much, I consider myself someone with very specific taste and requirements for what a daily driver should accomplish. I wanted a car right off the bat that was any mix of some key criteria. I wanted it to be: very quick, probably manual, reasonably fuel efficient*, good on the highway and good in stop-and-go traffic, large enough to haul comprehensive camera gear and/or three full-grown men, reasonably reliable*, low maintenance/running costs, and to appear age-appropriate. I would also like it to be a 2014 or newer.
The two asterisks are important. I knew I wanted a performance-oriented car. At a minimum, it would need to be a very sporty version of an existing car, but more likely it would be a car designed from the ground-up for performance driving.
As if that criteria wasn’t comprehensive enough, I have another philosophical confound; the Two-Car Garage. There is an ideal within some automotive communities to bring ‘balance’ to your family garage. Now, this only recently became tangible, but is very dear to my heart. Don’t worry too much about this, I think I’m going to make it its own post. I’ll link back.
The need for a performance car meant that I would probably be purchasing something with lower than average fuel efficiency and reliability; these are two sacrifices that I am willing to make in the name of fun and driver engagement. However, I still wanted the cars in my consideration set to be reasonable in those two areas, which meant above average within the greater cosmos of what we could define as a ‘sports car’.
It also had to be at or under a payment of $450/mo. This means that I had a little flexibility to play with in terms of finance terms length, small down-payments, etc, in order to reach that goal. So that disqualifies many easy choices (just buy the new Porsche 911, duh!) immediately.
And that’s not all: I am aware of the off-chance that no car within my price range may fit my criteria and send an electric shock of auto-love to my swimsuit area. That in mind, I’ve prepared some backup, older $5,000 cash cars that I also added to my consideration set.
I drove a lot of cars, and evaluated a lot more. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about what I drove, offer mini-reviews and light comparisons, talk about what I didn’t drive, what I wish that I’d driven, and finally, what I purchased and why. And then I’ll review that! So check back every few weeks if you’re interested or going through a similar buying process.