Help me decide which car to get!

The lease on my car is up in a month, which has led to — what else? — me overanalyzing everything. Time for you to weigh in!

I consider the Nissan Altima the “in case everything falls through, you can always get this” car. This car is, basically, me in automotive form. An Altima doesn’t make you stop and stare, agog, at its beauty, but when you really look at it, it’s pretty damn good-looking. Usually, once people experience it they have nothing but good things to say about it. It’s not high-maintenance or highfalutin, like people who drive entry-level BMWs just for the nameplate. BUT: three in a row? Rest assured I wouldn’t get the same color combination — because, uh, the dealer doesn’t make it that way anymore.

So maybe it’s time to step up to the Nissan Maxima. Here is my fundamental issue with the Maxima: It looks pretty much like an Altima, but costs $9,000 more. I know it’s got a bigger engine, but here’s the deal: My daily commute is four miles. Through a school zone and nine stoplights that are timed so that I can never make them. And I’m not a punch-and-go driver, anyway. (Or am I, and I just never had the tools?)

My neighbors like the idea of me finding a year-old Infiniti G35 or an Acura, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the fresh-off-the-lot depreciation but would still get the features (and warranty) of an entry-level luxury vehicle.  I remain noncommital about this, much for the same reasons as the Maxima. A used car that still costs $24,000? I understand that reflects its resale value, but still.

The Nissan Juke will be available in the fall. I like the way it looks, but it will be the first year the model is available, and I’ve always thought you should wait until they get to work out the kinks before you buy it. Plus, I don’t have a great history with unique-looking cars: Ever since I was little, the ones I liked always get discontinued. (See: Dodge Rampage; Nissan Pulsar; Pontiac Solstice; Chrysler Crossfire.) Car manufacturers should hire me as a bellwether of what the public will hate.

Speaking of the Solstice, it was for sale the last time I went looking for a car, and while I briefly considered it, I worried that a single guy nearing 40 and buying a two-seater convertible was a little too “midlife crisis” and, as I told Mr. Brooks: “If I have a midlife crisis, it is not going to be in a Pontiac.” But now, what about the Nissan 370Z? I think it would be fun … but I’ve never had a two-seater car before. I went from a 1976 Chevy Malibu Classic (parental hand-me-down) to a 1981 Plymouth Reliant K (ditto) before buying my first new car on my own … the Plymouth Neon Expresso (with spoiler!). Which lasted me until here, and the Altimas.  I don’t know if I could ever be “the person who can’t pick you two up at the airport because I only have one seat available” or “the guy who can’t drive at lunchtime unless we take two cars.” Or “the guy who can’t buy a kitchen chair and fit it in his back seat.”

Hell, if I’m going to get a two-seater, why not the Smart ForTwo? I’ll tell you why not: Go up and click on that Chevy Malibu. It was the size of my first apartment. The photo of the ForTwo above, in contrast, is just about the actual size of the vehicle. Scary.

I also thought about the Subaru Forester (advertiser for gays and lesbians!) but … I’m not a lesbian, I don’t have a dog and as much as I like to imagine that I “haul stuff,” I actually don’t, except for passengers.

So it’s really down to the few cars above. Wouldn’t you like to vote?

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3 responses to “Help me decide which car to get!

  1. If not the coupe, then the G37.
    The first two cars are just not cool enough.
    The Juke is too wierd and the 370Z IS “midlife crisis” like.
    My Mother In Law bought a smart car and while driving a piece of ice fell from a Semi-truck on the highway and took out her windshield entirely. I believe that if it was a bigger car there wouldn’t have been that much damage, so NO on the ForTwo.

  2. She needs not to drive where there is ice. 🙂

    No, when we saw first a couple of ForTwos zipping down the freeway, one-two, my first thought was, “That looks incredibly unsafe for highway speed.”

  3. How did I miss this poll yesterday? The 370z is my dream car currently, so while I would be insanely jealous of you, I’d also ramp you up higher on my bestest bestest friends list and suggest we go out to lunch a lot more often to places far far away. (Is this an incentive or deterrent I now ponder…)

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