The comforts of a car

We’ve been offered a “gift” of a new car.  The string attached, is that the car must seat 5, comfortably.  You know, unlike our MINI Cooper. The last 3 cars we’ve bought were months and months of research and test driving. I think normal people do it much quicker. This “gift” is a race against time. We’re worried that if we don’t find a car we like, one that we don’t like will be purchased for us. Considering our lifestyle and the thing we want to do, but can’t due to our current car, we’ve been considering wagons. He wants an WRX. I looked at the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Nissan Rogue, but neither have manual transmissions. Other options are the Jetta Wagon or a used Audi A3. I’ll look into options from Hyundai since many of my friends drive them and like them.

Our MINI is 8 years old and falling apart; the glove box is broken, reading light buttons are broken, CD changer is broken, chairs are broken, sunroof is broken, windshield is cracked…and then there’s the small issue of the damaged panel.


I’ve written several times over the years on why our MINI is a piece of crap car. Oddly, it took just looking at websites of other automakers to fully appreciate what we do have in MINI.  I had assumed that 8 years later, many items that we have in our MINI would be considered standard in cars nowadays. Well, that’s not the case.

We’ve been spoiled by our MINI Cooper.

We have the sunroof/moonroof on our car and that has a built-in deflector and screening. There are audio controls in the steering wheel, which I love just as a safety feature. The car came with a 6 CD changer in the boot and a valet key. We have 4 carpeted floormats, 2 cargo nets and a cargo cover.

Needless to say, I love these features and thought that for certain cars, wagons to be exact, that some of these items would be standard. I was shocked to see that a sunroof or moonroof package on a car, was a separate fee from installing a wind deflector on the car.  Some cars we’ve looked at don’t even have screening for the sunroof.

So, as we talk, we find that features we have in our craptastic MINI are the ones that make driving enjoyable or safer. We each have items that we want/need in a car, but I’m afraid that under $25K, that car doesn’t exist…unless we get another MINI, which is out of the question.

Today, we test drove a Mazdaspeed 3. It’s interior was insanely ugly and boring at the same time. I asked the salesman if you could open the trunk with the key. I have that ability on the MINI and it’s great when carrying many things or heavy items. He said the feature is only available in the sedans. I was surprised at his answer.

My husband’s focus on a car is that it has power, AWD with a manual transmission and matches his personality. My focus is that it gets good gas mileage, the chairs don’t hurt my back and arms, and that the suspension isn’t too bouncy. I drive a lot for work purposes, often logging over 200 miles in day. We want a car that will make us happy.

The MINI is a joy to ride, especially when I have to log 200+ miles one way. The psychological joy we both get from our oversized sunroof can not be minimized. Most cars without a sunroof feel claustrophobic to us. I feel so much safer driving down the freeway, using my steering wheel to control the volume or mode of music, than I do jabbing at buttons while trying to watch out for other drivers.

Obviously, there are things about the MINI that I detest or that don’t make sense now that there’s 4 of us.  I can’t wait to have a car where I can put almost any sized cup in the cupholder. I crave sun visors that actually block out the sun and don’t block out the traffic lights. We do need more space, since all the gear we keep in the trunk takes up too much room. We now often have to pile grocery bags on top of the kids and the passenger. I can’t wait to be able to go to Ikea with the whole family without worrying about if we’ll need to have our items delivered or if a second trip back solo is in order.

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