February 2011


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Archive for February 21st, 2011

So long, Holly

Posted in Life on February 21st, 2011

The time has come where the good ship HS Golightly (AKA “Holly”) must be retired and a replacement brought in. The reasons behind the move are mainly financial – it was a terrible loan rate and the car was actually rated as worth only about $500 more than the cost of some needed repairs (some damage to the heads when the timing belt went and a power steering pump). There is also the idea of tourney season coming up, and we need more cargo room to haul our ever-expanding camping gear collection.

Like most people, I hate car shopping. The entire process of buying a car from a dealer is not designed to make things easy for you. You only get to compare cars side-by-side if they happen to be at the same lot, so when you’re shopping for used you must resign yourself to a lengthy process as each dealer tries to coerce you into buying what they’re selling, never mind what you told them you’re actually looking for. (Yes Mr. A.M., I am talking about you and your damn Equinox.). Or (almost) worse, you get a dealer with a huge selection – that is scattered over 5 different lots scattered across town.

In any case, to chop several paragraphs of me griping about the process out of this post, suffice it to say that we eventually did find a car that was both A) worth driving and owning and B) we could fit into the budget. The surprising thing was the car we ended up with.

Originally, I was looking at a 2004 model, but in the end it turned out that the dealership had spent so much money on the car already (trade-in value, repairs, etc.) that they wouldn’t be able to fit it into my budget as well as make my upside-down Kia loan go away. They could do all of this, however, if I were to instead buy this 2009 model…

Uhm, ok. Twist that arm there just a tad… newer car, a little more miles but in better shape and without the leather interior. And it’s even silver!

So, after about 150 signatures on the dotted line and a liter of my O-Positive, I am the proud owner of a loan that has the physical representation of an as-yet un-named silver 2009 Subaru Outback wagon.

The differences, New Car vs. Holly:

  • Slightly bigger engine producing 32 more horsepower
  • Estimated improvement of 1 mile per gallon!
  • Automatic transmission with Sportshift (almost as good as manual… but no more clutch-cramps)
  • Wheelbase is one inch shorter, but the new car is:
  • 3.2 inches longer,
  • 5.1 inches wider,
  • 6.1 inches taller overall,
  • and yet 121 pounds lighter,
  • with a towing allowance of 2700 pounds. (Which is better than a Dodge Magnum!)
  • The big change, though, is we went from 13.6 cubic feet of cargo to 33.5 internal, with a full set of factory roof railsĀ  on top.

I think I can fit all our crap inside that :)

Speaking of those larger numbers, this is the last year (in my mind, at least) that the Outback is a station wagon and not a full-up SUV. There was a minor re-styling in 2008 over the previous body which added a couple inches here and there, but the 2010 re-design added a handful more. This was a bad move in my mind, as one of the selling points to an Outback has always been that it isn’t a ginormous SUV. Luckily for me, Subaru has a well-earned reputation for building cars that last, so I’ll be in this one until the SUV trend finally dies off and they go back to their more minimalist days. (Heh – my first car was a ’74 Subaru wagon – I could almost fit it inside this one.)

I may end up missing the Kenwood stereo I had installed in the Kia – it had HD Radio (which I almost never used) and would play MP3 files from a USB stick (which is almost all I ever did with it). The new car has an aux jack in the center console, so with a two-ended headphone plug you can wire in anything that has headphone outputs… but at that point I’m not using the radio controls, so I have to fiddle with a small device flopping around on the end of a cable if I want to skip a track or something, and I don’t get the track readout in the display on the dash.

Considering that this is my only real disappointment in the entire car, I think I can live with it :)