My friend in New Jersey, Carole Sovocool, has been car shopping for her teenage son, Chayden. Here's her story:
I've been busy looking for a new car. Chay is set to be let loose on the NJ roads as a driver as (SCARY!) and I feel he's not experienced enough to drive my (stick shift) Jeep, or the (stick shift) Beetle, which was also about to need a ton of work that frankly wouldn't be cost efficient. And I wanted him in something with as many safety features as I could find. Had to do it on my own, too, because the boys thought shopping for cars was boring (!!!).
There was considerable back and forth involved in what was considered acceptable, though. Had to be super safe (ie, low-mileage late model or new, with good safety ratings), decent on gas, big enough for dogs, but not so big as to be a rollover risk, not too powerful, but not too pokey so you can still get out of trouble, handle well in all weathers, drive easily (automatic), be urban parking friendly, have good visibility – and not a boring design ("Nothing that looks like it came off the car rental lot.") Also had to have fun styling, sat nav and a sunroof – convertibles being out due to budget and safety issues – and, if possible, four doors. And all for $25k or less!!
Chay refused to consider a Mini ("parents' car"), Toyota Rav4 ("grandma drives one"), Beetle or Fiat ("girl cars".)
So first I tried a Scion xB, drove well, but even though it was at least 'different' I couldn't come to terms with the boxy look and the money didn't afford many luxuries. Then a Hyundai Veloster. Loved the design, lots of fun extras, but didn't like the ride – very low, poor visibility and cramped inside. Still, I almost bought one but then remembered the Beetle – looks more fun than it is, and that gets old.
Then I stumbled upon the Nissan Juke – tried it, loved it, and Nissan had great offers for price and financing on their clear-out 2012 models which made it possible to buy new. Got the SL, which is AWD, loaded. Love it! Like a little mini SUV. Chay loves it too, it practically drives itself, and since it's shiny and new he is highly motivated to be careful with it. (Leather should help, dog/horse hair won't stick to it and mud wipes off.)
Went online and saw Jamie Kitman's mixed review and the long-term Automobile reviews – on the whole, thought they were fairly positive, given the tough crowd...! At the very least I got a lot of bang for the buck and it fit a very tough set of parameters.
I have to say, I got a big lump in my throat when I said goodbye to my old Beetle... had it from new, felt like I was sending it to slaughter when I traded it in. I thanked it for keeping us all safe for 12 years and 97,500 miles.
Native Americans say that the things we spend a lot of time in, like cars and houses, absorb our souls and become living. Maybe that's why the check engine light came on just as I sealed the deal and drove it into the dealer's back lot. :-(