CarQuest- The search for the next identity of Steve Perry driving

Prelude to Better Things

That’s right friends,  I’m officially throwing my hat into the ring in search of my next vehicle. My 2001 Dodge Stratus has about run its course and its void in my life needs to be replaced with a newer vehicle. I have had my Stratus for about a year now and its role in my life was to move my household goods and personal valuables from Iowa to Virginia and be my transition car till I moved to my next location a year and half later.  The original idea was to have the car roughly two years till replacement, but I no longer can afford that time in luxury.

My car has been nickeling and diming me ever so slowly since my arrival into Virginia. Threats of my front bumper coming off, radiator hose problems and now most recently, exhaust problems underneath my car have finally taken the toll on my concience. My two year window has now shrank to hopefully me making California before I release the car to its impending doom this November.  It is literally a race against time when someday, hopefully not soon, where I put my key in the ignition and the car refuses to come out of the corner to finish the 14th round of originally a 15th round scheduled fight.

While playing the odds and probability, I have now offiically begun my next car search of  “American Auto” to find a car that I want before reaching California and then simply purchasing what I want and a price I’m willing to pay for it. This is going to take time to fight the right car for me and quite the challenge as well.  My very first car was a 1994 Honda Del Sol and I absolutely loved it, but it had many miles on it and needed money and care I wasn’t able to give it. Plus, moving across country with your possessions doesn’t make much sense in a two seater car.

Where You Come In

I need your help friends in deciding which car I drive off in late fall this year. I will be updating this post over the next few months to let you know what I test drove and what I thought about it.

First to give you a heads up on who I am and what I like or not like to better aid your advice to me:

  • No trucks- I don’t want anything to do with them
  • I’m 6 foot and four inches tall and have long dancer’s legs
  • My gut is leaning towards a foreign made car
  • I’m wanting something practical, not too sporty and decent on gas mileage

Well, that is what I have for now. So please leave comments in what direction I should take in my auto shopping venture.

Thanks!


Test Drive #1  Chrysler 300 Limited Edition

Well my first official car test drive goes underway with a 2009 Chrysler 300 Limited edition. I have been looking at this car now for several years and my mouth just waters at the sight of it. It just a classy looking car with a nice shiny grill that just smiles in reflection from sunlight. The Chrysler 300 started being made roughly 6-8 years ago or so again after many years of not being produced. This reinvented beauty screamed Cadillac without the Cadillac pricing. The car I drove was a beauty and all loaded down with features. She was a nice shiny royal blue 2009 3.5V6 L; which is the smallest size engine I think you can go on a car like this. Chrysler makes a 2.7L V6, but the car is just too big for a engine that smalls and it demands at least 3.5 L.
Getting into the car I was a little worried I might be giving way a little more handeling than I wanted to in a smaller car, but this car handeled remarkably well with its size. Of course it was a dream to sit in and have all those nice gizmos and accessories to play around with, but I didn’t pay much attention to them because I don’t really care for that. This car is a cruiser and is definitely made for the open road as I took it onto the highway with plenty of power to merge into traffic. Steering was a little loose for my taste but the trademark solid leather steering wheel more than made me feel fully control and aware of the car.
I really enjoyed this car, but I found out that this is probably not the right vehicle for me….at least for now. It is too big and not really practical for my needs right now. I would like a little bit better manuervability and looking behind you to see if it is safe to merge or change lanes, the setup of the car creates a good size blind spot. A blind spot you could obviously work around and get use to, but I don’t think I would want to “get use” to the fact that I’m putting myself a little more risk driving this car.
The biggest reason I know this car isn’t for me is price. I’m not willing to go much beyond $15,000 for a used car and $20,000 for a new one. This car is going to be around $18,000-20,000 to get into for a 3.5L V6 and probably with at least 50k miles on it.
Out of a possible 50 points. (10 for each category)
Performance/Driving: Like I said before, you need at least 3.5L V6, but you can upgrade up to as high as a 6.1L V8. Drove like a dream except for the blind spots. Very solid and very much a cruiser for long trips. 8.5/10
Space/Room: Looks like a Caddy and has the space like one. It is a generously sized trunk and I think 5 adults can sit in this car comfortably (as long as you aren’t too tall for the back obviously) For my purposes though, it is too big which I new from before I tested it. 8/10
Appearance: You can’t drive in any more style I don’t think. Gorgeous chrome grill and well done paint job. You’ll get plenty of looks riding around in this car. 10/10
Cost: Cheaper for a luxury line of car in comparison to its competitors, a poor man’s Cadillac as I like to call it. It is out of my range though and that is the biggest turn off for me on this car, but it is probably worth it to a person looking for luxury car for the biggest bang for the buck. 4/10
Comfort: You can drive in style and feel like it too. Very comfortable electric leather seats. Plenty of support and head room for us taller folk. 9/10

Overall: Looks like it comes to a total of 39.5 or a B- for a grade, but I tell you now that I think much higher about this car, but I think for my purposes I can get more bang for my buck. In another lifetime, perhaps I’ll land myself with a Chrysler 300. For now though, I must bid thee farewell my love.
 
 

Test Drive #2 Mazda 3 Grand Touring

 

Back on the car search again to see what is going to replace my beloved Dodge Stratus, I see what the 2010 Mazda 3 Grand Touring can do for me. I took an instant liking to it based on features at reasonable price. This car comes loaded around $23,000 with leather seats, moon roof and stick shift. This car looked nimble and full of personality.

I ended up test driving a cloth seat, automatic which wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but not what I would have bought overall if I decide this is the car for me.  She was a nice quiet ride that definitely had some zip for a 2.0L engine.  I fit comfortably in the driver’s seat with plenty of head room, which was a concern for me when I first looked at the car. She has enough power and handling to do what I need to do; zipping in and out of traffic to avoid being killed by other drivers.

Controls and the dashboard were all placed closely together but convenient and easy to learn what all the buttons do.  Under the hood looked like plenty of space to get in there and work on your car and perform your own maintenance.

Knocks against the car come from a somewhat small trunk and back seat. The back seat looked not completely put together as it felt a little loose, not completely attached to the floor platform when pulled up on. There is a lot of plastic on this car as well, which I suppose is what you can expect from the price.

Overall I liked this car and it deserves some serious consideration. I need to test drive a stick and leather seats as well as look at the doors and underneath the car before I can give the complete thumbs up on it. 

 

Out of a possible 50 points. (10 for each category)

Performance/Driving: Not going to be an overpowering car, but you are going to get a pound for pound, a pretty zippy car. She is not going to blow anyone of the line 0-60, but I have faith she’ll catch plenty of cars on sharp corners. She sticks the road like glue. . 8.5/10

Space/Room: Again, very surprising this car felt so comfortable for me with plenty of head room, but with the backseat and trunk a little small, you wouldn’t be carrying much, period. 7/10

Appearance: Neat looking front in with just a enough color options to choose from. Her cute, compact little form will be an eye turner as Zoom Zoom pass them 8/10.

Cost: It is what attracted me to it and I think I would getting value for my dollar with all the features and solid performance. 8.5/10

Comfort: Wish I could have had leather seats, but I won’t be too sure on comfort or possible road trip potential till I ride in leather. I had a good feeling and nice back support along my lumbar from the seat so I think you would be alright without leather, but leather sometimes can make all the difference.  7.5/10

 

Overall: 39.5/50 B-. I will test drive this car again though and this very easily could be a car in my future. Leather seats and a manual could push this car over the top. Until then, I still feel a little unfulfilled and wanting just a little more out of this car.

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