New Car Adventures: A Preface

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my trusty Accord previously in my ramblings. It’s an ’02, purchased by me in ’04 with about 34k miles on it. Currently, it’s sitting on 219k miles. It’s also sitting at the curb of my boyfriend’s house, being not so trusty anymore.

almost accurate.
almost accurate.

I had the oil pan replaced a few months ago and thought that the car would be good until at least the fall when I would start looking for a new car. Wrong wrong wrong. When I was driving to work the other day, I felt a slight quick tug in the car. I couldn’t place exactly what had happened, but it was… different. It still drove, but a little rougher than before. I felt pretty unsafe in it, as I didn’t know what had happened, only knowing that my car has been on the verge of self-destruction for years now. I took it to my mechanic that evening. He plugged in that magical box that plugs into the car and tells you everything that’s wrong with it that you never wanted to know and let me know that 3 of the cylinders were misfiring. Since I couldn’t remember the last time I had my spark plugs changed, my brother helped me out and replaced them for me. Things were slightly smoother after that (or maybe it was in my head and wishful thinking?) but still rough, so I took the car back to be plugged into magical box again the next morning. This time, 5 of 6 of the cylinders were misfiring. Super. He dug a little deeper and found that my timing was off, so the timing belt was probably on the verge of breaking or going out or whatever it does… which I am told is not good if you want your car to do things like be more than two couches in a metal box. He told me I could drive the car, but as very little as possible, and that I needed to drive like an old person (note to old people: sorry… but you know it’s a generally true stereotype). So, I deposited my car at the boyfriend’s house and have been carpooling with him since then.

So, the search has begun for another vehicle for me. This is not easy, as I had good ol’ Accord for nine years and so now am in a whole new world of… something other than my Accord. This is what I’d like, in order of current importance:
– Sedan or small sedan. I think I need 4 doors (though I guess 2 would work in a pinch if everything else was freakin’ awesome), a back seat large enough to accommodate 2 large dogs, a truck large enough to accommodate a set of golf clubs and then some.
– Great gas mileage. My office is 26 miles from my house, putting me at 260 miles per week of non-optional driving. I need fuel efficiency, bigtime.
 Leather (“leather”) interior. The dogs ride in my car at least twice a week right now, and between dog hair or dog smell sticking to the fabric, leather would just be way more convenient and less terrible (assume that I never wash my dogs or clean my car and you’ll be close to actual life).
Technology. I consider myself fairly technologically savvy… I will be making a mistake if I don’t have some sort of fun cockpit, rather than the technological prowess of a 1997 Dodge Neon.
– Audio upgrade. I know this is standard on a lot of cars already so maybe isn’t an upgrade, per se, but steering wheel audio controls are important, as is a slightly upgraded dash panel. I’m in my car a lot and listen to a lot of music. I want to be able to plug in my phone and see what’s playing and maybe control that from the steering wheel to some extent.
 Manual transmission… or, ya know, not. Manual because it’d be fun. Automatic because I have a terrible sense of direction and looking at google maps on my phone while navigating through the city would be easier while not shifting (hey kids, don’t use your phone while driving!).
Cheap. I shudder at the thought of entering another set of years with a car payment.
So, basically, I need a car. That is how far I have it narrowed down. Potential cars at present are Jetta, Fusion, Prius, Mazda6, Civic, Sonata, Corolla, Dart, Cruze, Altima, Impreza… and then a few others. So basically, all the cars.
This is going to be difficult. Internet, your opinions are valued at this time more than ever. Halp.
[update: jetta has been test driven. holy embarrassing test drive. post to come.]