Alas! Once again I have seen the lamb of style sacrificed upon the altar of practicality.
For all my love of the retro-muscle design we are seeing in modern domestics, two facts remain: the first being that I just don't have as much confidence in Motor City as I once did, and the second being that it is just irresponsible to get something that isn't at least somewhat miserly with the fossil fuels when you are commuting 80 kilometres per day. Dammit.
For another thing, when the $3500 "Cash for Clunkers" program failed to materialize in Canada the way it did in the U.S., it took most new cars off the table, even the eminently practical yet stylistically polarizing Nissan Cube I was looking at. That said, it is not as though I have faith in the 1.5 decade old Plymouth getting me around for a year or so while I sock away enough shekels to make a play at something fun, so when I spied an ad for lease-back 2009 Corollas, I did some research, and we ended up getting one last Monday.
It's been quite an adjustment, but almost all positive. The Corolla appears to be near the zenith of 'good, reliable transportation', and, whining notwithstanding, that is exactly what we need right now. It is a fairly comfortable ride for a compact, but I am glad I didn't get a Yaris. I mean, as it is, getting out of the car looks more like some perverse bio-mechanical birthing than an elegant disembarkation; if I wore a red sweatshirt and climbed out of a red sub-compact like the Yaris, people would be apt to think they had just seen an automobile undergo mitosis. "Holy crap, that car just calved off a whole person! Those Japanese engineers can do anything!" Still, I keep hearing the Mexican farmer talking to Steve McQueen in "The Magnificent Seven", who is turning down their job offer because it doesn't pay enough. The farmer says, "I understand; you can make much more money as a grocery clerk. It's good, steady work." The look on McQueen's face is priceless, and I saw it as clear as day when I wrote "good reliable transportation" above.
It is not particularly exciting to drive, but has enough guts to pass slowboats on the Henday, which is about all the chutzpah I am going to require. The clock offers a number of alternate displays, though, one of which shows your current fuel economy in L/100km, and I have seen it go from 5.2 to 16.1 in the course of ten seconds of passing speed, so leaving that display on as a default could save me some money in not only gas but also speeding tickets.
Still, it is very nice to have a proper sound system again. Nothing fancy, but very decent sound quality. Even though there are so sub-woofers, the bass is beefy enough that I was honestly fearing that the new Muse album I was enjoying was going to deploy my airbags, and the bass was only set to 3 out of 5. I kept thinking back to that description of "The Quivering Palm" from my high school D&D handbook, and how the monks could achieve all manner of horrifying effects through their attunement to certain vibrations; I turned the bass down to 1 just to be safe. Still, if you could get video of it, it might make a good prank: "Bass fo' yo' face! KaBLAM!"
Yeah, maybe next time I can get something a bit more distinct, or more fun to drive, but like I wrote previously, I don't have a lot of ego tied up in my vehicular choices. I mean, it's more than none, and sometimes I wish it was less, but belly-button car or not, it's nice to have some confidence in the item most responsible for getting me to work in an orderly fashion and keeping my family safe while they ride in it. Oh, and I even got $300 for the old beater from the Fed's "Retire Your Ride" program. Sure, maybe I could have held out for $500 from some high school boy thinking the red interior and tinted windows on a '94 Plymouth Acclaim could overcome peeling paint that made the car look like it was sunburned, a wrecked driver's side door lock (thanks to the skells who stole it from in front of my house IN BROAD DAYLIGHT a year ago; that was a Batman moment I am happy didn't pan out...) and the fact that any dipstick with one thumb and a chopstick can now make off with the car at will if The Club isn't attached to the wheel. But the moment I pictured who I might be dickering with, I signed up for the $300 and never looked back. Part of me is thinking I should re-attach the plate and do something liberatingly stupid with the car before it gets towed, but then I remember that they don't call it Murphy's Theory now, do they?
Friends of ours have a Corolla they have driven for years; in fact, the body has become so rusted that they jokingly refer to it as the Toyota 'Corrode-a', but it still runs, and runs well. Given how little I enjoy purchasing cars, I hope to get the same sort of longevity out of this one.