On driving a regular car
It's been about a month since getting my 2010 small hatchback, which is pretty much as regular of a car as you can get, and there are a few things I've learned.
Here's what I've come to like about it thus far:
- Disc/drum brakes. My favorite brake configuration. Just as good as 4-wheel-disc in real world city driving, lasts longer and is cheaper to replace.
- Steel wheels with wheel covers. Easier to clean and easier to replace.
- No daytime running lights. Bulbs last longer and there's no stupid ambient light sensor to fail.
- Smaller steering wheel. Far better than a large steering wheel on a big, stupid truck. Feels better.
- No touchscreen. All controls are handled by rocker switches, knobs and buttons. Simple, easy and cheap to repair should they ever fail.
- An actual car key is required to start the car. Better than push-button keyless start. No transmitter required to start the car, no module to fail.
- Hardtop roof. In Florida, any open-air "feature" on a car always ends up leaking. It doesn't matter if it's a sunroof, targa top, ragtop convertible or removable hatch t-tops. They all leak.
- Smaller turning circle. Just a little over 34 feet. Very tight turning radius. Makes U-turns real easy.
- No "auto ignition". My car doesn't have this, thankfully. Auto ignition systems (computer decides when to disengage starter when car is started) always end up in creating false engine starts when the car gets older.
- Smaller wheels and tires. Small passenger car tires are significantly cheaper compared to tires for trucks.
- Secured storage with easy access. This is one of the best things about owning a hatchback. Very convenient. I can put guitars and amps in my car no problem.
Here's what I don't like, and this list is short:
- Electronic hatch release. The rear hatch requires a button to be pressed to open the door electronically. This is stupid is because that electronic release will fail at some point and become a needless expense. Yes, there is a manual release but it's on the inside of the door and is only supposed to be used if the battery is totally dead. I'd much prefer a traditional lock cylinder to open the hatch by key on the outside. But that doesn't exist on my car.
- A and D pillars are too thick. This is an unfortunate consequence of post-2000 build design. Cars made after 2000 have extra thick pillars to fit in air bags and/or to prevent the car from crushing in on itself in the event of a rollover. All well and good, save for one problem, it blocks visibility by creating blind spots. While true my car's blind spots are nowhere near as bad as they are on a truck or SUV, I still notice the ridiculously thick pillars getting in the way of what I want to see and am considering installing a set of cheap blind spot mirrors.
What does it feel like to drive a regular car?
I don't care about 0-60 times nor do I care about "sport tuned suspension" or any of that nonsense. What I do care about is noise, comfort and fuel mileage.
My car is not noisy. Very quiet, actually. This was a bit unnerving at first because my previous truck was noisy and I got used to that, but I quickly have become used to the lovely quietness. Silence really is golden.
It took about two weeks before I found the correct seating position. Once I found it, I established a comfort zone that feels very nice.
Fuel mileage has varied. The high point was 40 MPG. It was amazing to achieve that, but I had to hypermile it to get that figure. The realistic "drive normal and don't care" figure is 30 to 34 depending on how heavy I am with my right foot.
The part where I really show my age
I'm 42 at the time I write this and have lived in Florida for over 10 years. Around Tampa Bay it's fairly easy to find exotic cars. In certain areas, seeing Lamborghini and Ferrari cars is almost common. Heck, even where I live there's a guy who lives nearby that putts around in a newer Maserati that cost at least 6 figures. And I don't even live in wealthy neighborhood.
I've also seen classic cars aplenty. Florida has tons of those and I've even been to a classic car dealerships, including the DeLorean dealership in Bonita Springs, FL where you can get yourself a DMC-12 in like-new condition that even includes a warranty.
After experiencing what it's like to drive a comfortable, quiet little hatchback, other cars I used to think were cool now just seem totally stupid.
Here's what I know to be true about those 3 specific types of cars.
Luxury sedans, at least in Florida, lose well over 50% of their value in 5 years. The bare minimum cost to buy a new luxury sedan in 2017 is about $35,000. In 5 years, that car will be worth less than $15,000 regardless of who made it. Could be a Cadillac, Audi, Lincoln, Volvo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, whatever, doesn't matter. They all dive in value. It's just a huge rip-off.
Classic muscle cars are all rattle traps because they're built on 1960s and 1970s car technology. They're loud, obnoxious, get horrendous gas mileage, can't corner, get very bouncy on the highway, the turning circle is gigantic, the dash lights are dim and you can barely read the gauges at night, and so on. They really are rattle traps, by the way. None of those cars have panels that fit perfectly from the factory. And sound insulation? Yeah, right. What sound insulation?
Exotic cars are just plain annoying. Can't go over a speed bump or even the slightest dip into a parking lot without scraping the underside, no trunk space, worst visibility, bad gas mileage, loud and obnoxious just like muscle cars are, and most can't even get 200 miles out of a full tank of gas. That's pathetic.
I am right at the age where men will usually go and buy the luxury sedan, classic car or exotic car as a treat to themselves. I didn't, because having a car paid in full that comfortably, quietly and reliably gets me where I want to go while achieving good MPG is a treat in itself. More so that anything a luxury sedan, classic muscle car or exotic could offer me.
If I were a millionaire, would I still drive a hatchback?
Absolutely. All I would change is that I'd switch to a slightly older hatchback (probably something Japanese) so I could get the manual release hatch door, restore the car to like-new condition and just drive that.
One day I will be a millionaire, but until then I am genuinely happy with the car I have. Regular, plain little hatchbacks really work for me.