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My work reward trip to California ended up corresponding to a visit from Mom.  She came out for her 50 year college reunion, and took advantage of it to see a lot of her friends who still live in the area.  Since I didn't need my car, I let her use it to get around Minnesota.

My family never buys new cars.  Once we do get a car, we keep it until it can no longer be driven or should be driven.  My car is a '98 Saturn SL.  I bought it in 2001.  I crossed 140,000 miles two weeks ago.  It is slowly rusting out around me.  The suspension is shot.  I'm not entirely sure about the exhaust system.  The transmission has always been rough going into reverse.   The transmission overheats in stop and go traffic and warm weather, and when it does, it won't get out of first gear until it cools down and the computer resets.  The engine is not powerful with lackluster acceleration, and cabin noise has gotten rather loud.  But, it still starts, and it get about 30 MPG most of the time, annual taxes as as low as state charges, and I own it outright.

When Mom returned the car to me, she told me it was time and past time to get a newer vehicle.

So, I started my research.  I know I want a newer car (2010, 2009 at the oldest).  I want a hatchback, not a sedan or a wagon.  And, I have to keep it within a specific cost range (I know what I want to afford, I know what I can afford, and I know what I can make work if I have to).  There area lot of choices, but the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa HB, Hyundai Touring, VW Golf, Mazda 3, Pontiac Vibe kept popping up.   The Vibe went to bottom of my list because it is a discontinued line.  The VW and the Mazda are at the high end of my price range for the age range I'm looking at.  And, I just needed to cut the list down to a manageable amount for test drives.

Last week was WW.  I chose not to go.  There were a lot of reasons, but the fact that my car really is getting to the end of it life played part of it.  I took some of that non-WW time to test drive vehicles.

The Fit has enormous amounts of stowage capacity, and the site lines are great.  MPG is fantastic, better than my Saturn. It's quite comfortable, I sit much higher to the road, and the drive is fine, but I can already tell that the engine just doesn't have a lot of power - it is the smallest and least powerful of the lot per the specs, and I was driving the Sport trim.  It also feels...small.  Just not that much car around me.   Also, the demand for Fit's is high enough that getting it new is almost the same cost as a used  vehicle.

The Elantra Touring is bigger and more powerful, but the MPG is also less than my Saturn.  It wasn't as comfortable the Fit (although still quite comfortable), but I like the feel of more car around me.

Today I drove the Nissan Versa, a 2011 SL with CVT.  It is bigger than the Fit, but smaller than the Touring.  It doesn't have the total stowage space of the Fit, but, I can get my cello across the back seat, which I can't in the Fit.  It still has loads of stowage space, including some "high" storage in the back seat.  I liked driving it - responsive, and more power than the Fit.  D also came along, mostly to check out the passenger spaces (he's a tall boy with long legs).  It passed every configuration.  The price point is exactly where I want it to be.

At this time,the Versa HB is the car I want.  In all likelihood, I will buy one next weekend.  I will have to finance it, but I should be able to pay TTL in cash and a nice little bit of a down payment (thanks to a bit of savings and a generous birthday gift from my parents).  I just check my credit rating and it is beautiful, so I should be able to get a really good rate. I have no idea what my Saturn might get as a trade in, but it's not going to be much.

I'd really rather not deal with this now, but I really do need to replace my car.  And I'd rather deal with it now than during the run at Festival (contract arrived last week!).
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