Dan Blum (tool_of_satan) wrote,
Dan Blum

Say the magic word and get yourself a new car

The magic word was "timing," as in "timing chain," which broke in my Saturn last Friday. This spelled death as the cost to repair all the damage was well over the actual value of the car, given that it was 14 years old and had over 165K miles. I wasn't too upset as if it hadn't been that, it would probably have been something else relatively soon, as it had needed more and more frequent repairs recently.

Fortunately the car had the good grace to die in a parking space, and less than 2 miles from the repair shop we use, so getting it towed was simple and free.

I wanted something small, not too expensive, and with traction control (which the Saturn had and was very nice in winter). There were a few options of which the best seemed to be the Matrix and the Scion xB. Kristine and Jacob lobbied heavily for the xB (it's Jacob's favorite car), and if we hadn't found a decent low-mileage Matrix I would have bought one. It seems to be a perfectly decent little car, but it doesn't have as much cargo space as a Matrix, the engine has noticeably less pickup than the Matrix's (no surprise, given the specs), and I really don't like the instrument display, which is not only in the center but set back from the rest of the dash - it's not a car for myopics, apparently. These comments all apply to the 2004-2006 xB - the 2007-2008 is larger, which is fine, but has much worse sight lines (due to the third windows being removed), which is not.

The 2007 Matrix (2008s are not available yet) theoretically can be purchased with the Vehicle Stability Control system, but apparently none of the dealers within 50 miles of here order them like that. So, we bought a 2006, which was the last year they made all-wheel drive models. We got one which is just about exactly a year old (so it has two years of warranty left), has 11,300 miles on it, and is extremely clean and unblemished. Sadly, it does not have the 115V outlet in the dash, but I can live without it.

Yes, the color is kind of boring. They had a red one, but it was $1500 more because of options I didn't particularly care about (fog lights, CD changer - like that).
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