In fact, the last time we were riding the wave of trendy came in 1998 when we bought our Honda CR-V just in its second year of production. We weren’t big SUV people but active people who liked to hike, ski, and bike with kids and dog in tow. That smaller SUV was designed for people like us with its easy driving and parking as well as its mess-friendly (that means it takes a lot to change the looks!) upholstery. Our goal was to invest in a car we could drive for at least ten years. Five years beyond that goal, with our daughter driving it in college, we’re still trendy because the older CR-Vs are common among the younger set—they’re a reliable car a parent can trust yet not so much to make them seem uncool.
The CR-V is our favorite car among all our aging cars. Yes, you know we are not trendy when you find out we also drive a 1994 Toyota 4Runner and a 2000 Mercury Sable. (And that doesn’t even include the 1976 Mobile Traveler RV that is so old that they don’t make the right size tires for it anymore.) Many people’s bicycles are worth as much or much more than any of our vehicles. We got the 4Runner because we needed a vehicle we can use to plow a parking lot and we inherited the Sable—aka the Grandma-mobile—when my mom stopped driving at the end of 2007.
Given that the Mobile Traveler is really not a good choice for running errands and commuting—especially since we spent almost two years trying to figure out how to replace two flat tires—we were having more and more transportation challenges within our household. Though definitely more economical to continue as we had, it had become stressful enough that getting another car made sense, especially if I were to jump into the commuting scene.
Sherman has harbored a wish for years to get a Mini Cooper—me, I’ve harbored a wish not to drive the Grandma-mobile and to have a car that was easy to park. (Hey, I was setting my sights low.) Last month he renewed his Internet hunting obsession for Minis. Finally I told him he better go test drive one—what if he finally found the Mini of his dreams then found out he hated driving Minis?
It was a dark and stormy night when he first drove the car—and, yet, he liked it. So much so that he wanted to know if I wanted to return with him. A few days later the salesperson called him to see what he thought—it was approaching month end, a time when dealerships seem keener to book deals. Month end came and went because we wanted to drive the car in the daylight together. Plus, the dealership has a one-price/no haggle policy—which might explain why the price had dropped in the new month.
On a bright and sunny November day, my husband, son, and I took turns at the controls while we squeezed into a much smaller car than we have ever owned with a very nervous finance guy who was filling in for the salesperson. My male counterparts took turns peeling back our ears on the hilly roads and highways—I just wanted to figure out how to operate the turn signal. (Our daughter missed the driving fun, but arrived home in time for the mind-numbing experience of completing the paperwork. At least we were still in the system because of our CR-V purchase.)
There was really nothing wrong with the vehicle—heck, even pre-owned and with just under 30,000 miles on the odometer, it was a whole decade newer than our newest used vehicle. I’m still not convinced I am up to the added financial commitment of maintaining another vehicle, but it certainly is nice not to have to strategize about who has what car when—plus, the car is so dang cute!Though it seems that most males disdain driving “cute” cars, all the guys we met at the dealership and as well as those in my family (as well as my daughter, of course) get kind of excited about how it drives. Maybe even I like being able to pop up a hill or jump into traffic—finally—after a couple decades’ absence from driving a “zippy” car.
Of course, who buys a two-door car (our guys have nicknamed “Clown Car” for just how it appears when the four of us climb out of it) right before a long road trip when we need to pack for a 10-day stay and have promised to bring 40 tablecloths and two boxes of Mason jars? Good thing the kids flew in for the wedding or they’d have experienced western Kansas while clinging to that low-slung roof!
We’re happy to report our little car drove really well and achieved commendable gas mileage through a whole lot of wind. We managed to take out our mini-van driving relatives (so much for their mid-life crises—four grandkids in car seats has pushed their small car dreams back a few years) for spins and were very willing to volunteer to drive out to run errands. Plus, we got a whole lot of entertainment out of doing so, even on those occasions when we crammed all four of our family members in it.
This is the start of a whole new trend for us, anyway. And, somehow we just can’t stop smiling—no matter which one of us is at the controls—when we drive that car—well, as long as no one minds that everyone else is popping his/her space cushion. What’s not to love about a car that lets you touch each rider on the shoulder—without leaning at all? Oh yeah, though we’re driving in style, the car I call “Coco” is always going to be a clown car when all of us are cruising in it.