I am certainly not the most parsimonious cheapskate when it comes to purchasing a new car; once the deed is done I have no regrets, no matter how the car ultimately performs. I do tend to spread my purchases out. The last time I bought a car for myself was in the previous century. It has done the job, although It needed a new transmission four years ago. Lately, it has developed a couple of issues that don't affect its driveability or safety, but are persistent irritations— the auto door locks don't always work, the heater is either full blast or nothing, and it can flood if hot and has sat for more than 10 minutes or less than an hour. A few rust spots have also appeared, more of a psychological threat than a real one. I wanted to get something smaller so I picked out a trio of appealing compacts.
Number One: 2014 Fiat 500L, 7k miles, $14k
Yellow! I was surprised. Very roomy and drove well. A few weird touches—the center console had to be lifted to operate the parking brake, the radio controls were a touch-screen, but otherwise OK. When I got home I looked up its reliability: Fiat was the worst, and the 500L was the worst of the Fiats. The dealership was also about 25 miles away.
Number Two: 2012 Mini Cooper Clubman, 20k miles, $14.5K
Stylish, but small and bizarre control layout. I don't know how it ran, the salesman and I couldn't get it started! It sat about 3 inches above the ground. Maybe not the best bet for a Minnesota winter.
Number Three: 2010 Nissan Cube, 40k miles, $9k
This was sitting forlornly on a lot on the prairie, it looked so sad, I didn't even bother getting a salesman. I had driven one before, it is big inside, with great visibility. It still looks like a clown car.
So, I'll probably put another $300 in the old Sable (for a new set of fuel injectors) and live with the heat and door issues (the doors do lock, just not automatically.)