Mark Justifies a New Car

So I bought a new car a while back. It’s not a big deal—it’s actually the smallest car Honda imports into America, pardon the pun. But in keeping with my Hiatt-ness, I got the loaded-uped-est version I could find.

I bought a 2016 Honda Fit, sight unseen, having never driven one, on the strength of the reputation of the brand, the dealership and the salesman and the recommendation of friends. Take that, Consumer Reports! The dealership had to trade with a dealer in another city to get it here because with gasoline trending comfortably under $1.70 at the time nobody was interested in a car that got 45 miles per gallon except for me and they had only two on the lot, neither of which I was interested in.

Constant Lurker will remember I was embarked upon a journey to keep a 1995 Honda Accord forever. It had 176,000 miles on it and all of the old timers kept telling me, with a chuckle, it was just getting broken in. It was a simple car with automatic transmission, cruise control, electric windows that pissed me off, electric door locks that the original owner installed that pissed me off and anti-lock brakes that had given up a couple of years ago, reverting to, well, just brakes.

I had always repaired and replaced things with the best I could find. That car received the best tires, best brakes, best battery, the best, the best, the best whenever it went in for service. It was going to be my forever car, after all. And I have no doubt that someone received a wonderful machine.

I guess I got tired of it or lost faith in it or something. I’d recently started a new job and they don’t have a harsh unapproved absence policy but it is pretty strict and the thought of going into an ugly winter season with a car old enough to drink intimidated me a little.

When I first started driving, I made a list of the luxuries I would one day own in a car of my very own. My dream machine would have one of those toaster-oven rear windows, so you don’t have to scrape the frost off of the back. It would have radial tires, for a better ride and handling. It would air conditioning and cruise control and it would have a radio with a digital readout so you could precisely tune in the radio station you wanted.

The Accord had all of those things and I was really happy with it for a long, long time. We drove that car for more than 100,000 miles of our own and never made a car payment, having purchased it with the equity rescued from the wreck of our 1996 Honda Civic. Yeah, we went back a year and up a size after our Civic was totaled.

But I wanted gadgets. I wanted doo-dads. I wanted better mileage and I wanted to be able to leave for my sister’s house or to go on vacation and not have that nagging doubt that something would happen along the way that would mean I’d end up staying in a Motel6 somewhere waiting for parts. And I wanted in-dash navigation to see where I was and how far was left in the journey.

I have friends who drive Honda Fits, a car sold many places in the world as the Honda Jazz (I might re-badge mine, since I love jazz guitar). Now, I really loved the look of the first two generations of the car. Nice, small package. Tight little car. Room for four, or two adults and three kids or two adults and a dog or two adults and a ton of stuff. And of course, excellent mileage. And it looked nice.

The 2001 version was a simple little four-door hatchback that looked great and sported light weight, wonderful mileage, great handling, and a happy personality. Did I mention it looked great? In 2007 they redesigned it and so help me, the only change I can notice is the single crease in the hood became two creases. Still a cute little car with nothing on it that doesn’t need to be there, wonderfully gas mileage and what the magazines call “tossability” in the handling department. My friends raved about theirs, so I decided I had to have one. I could get one by writing a check. It would get great mileage. I could park it just about anywhere and the new ones came with GPS navigation, correct electric windows and door locks and all of the rest of the goodies.

The game was afoot….

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