Friday, November 13, 2009

Minivan Momma Reviews Cars

So, I got my rental yesterday. It's a Chevy Cobalt.

Let me first give you some background on my car having past. I used to drive an Aveo. If you don't know what an Aveo is, you aren't alone. I find that half the world has no idea that car exists. They are little and fuel efficient and they look a little like a box. Except mine has a trunk (some are hatchbacks) and so it's a little more car-looky and a little less box-on-wheels-looky.

I drove the Aveo for years. Her name was Scarlet, but I usually called her the MiniMobile. Because of her tininess. I could park that car anywhere. I drove it with a car seat in the middle and for the 3 months or so that Brynna rode in the pumpkin seat I had to move my seat up a notch. One notch.

The Husband drives it now with two car seats and no moved up driver's seat. Although, to be fair, he drives closer to the wheel than I do. If I could just take out the driver's seat and drive from the back, that would be great for me.

Then I got the minivan. I swore my allegiance to minivandom and pledged to never drive a mere car again. I mean, the minivan is awesome. It's a traveling dining room for one thing. There are 12 cupholders and it only seats 7. Plus, the back seat folds down into a tabley thing and you can sit in the trunk and eat on the back seat. Or you can take it out and turn it around and look out the back of the car. It's high and you can look down on car drivers. It holds everyone and I can totally truck my whole family plus three. With car seats. It drives like one of those big cars from the 70's too. Like piloting a boat. I love my minivan.

So, when the guy told me at the car rental place that he had a Chevy Cobalt for me, I was a little worried about driving something so small again, but totally unworried about fitting the kids in it because it's supposed to be a size bigger than the Aveo, right? Right?

Turns out that I have to drive with my knees bearing into the steering column to put the baby seat behind me. To put Brynna behind me, I have to drive closer than I like and she's in a booster. This morning after I dropped her off, I moved my seat back into the realm of comfortable and when I got out I noticed my seat was touching hers. Seriously. Volkswagon Beetles have more legroom in the backseat.

But for all that, it has it's perks. It knows when it's dark and turns on the headlights. This is good for me, because I pretty much wear my sunglasses 24-7 and I often don't turn on my headlights until someone honks. It knows what song the radio is playing which is wicked cool because I am constantly driving down the road thinking, "Crap! What is that song? Who sings it? Arrgghh!" Also, it turns down the radio when you slow down. Which seems like an option made for me. I dind't know anyone else did that, but I always do it and now it's automatic.

Also, it's got pick up. I mean, lots of pick up. I mean I hit the gas and it's already going somehow. It also has killer brakes, which is a good thing because between the great pick up and the fact that it wants to speed, I need to be able to stop now and then.

So, all in all. Cobalt, good car if you don't have kids. If you have kids, run. (Which brings me to an interesting side point in which I bitch for a while about the fact that if you want a family car you can't have a fuel efficient car and if you want a fuel efficient car you can't have a family car. I am convinced that this is a construct of the American automobile industry. There has to be a way to get 35 miles to the gallon and still fit in a couple-three car seats. I'm not asking for much, you know. I don't think I should have to sell my environmentalist soul just because I live in the country and have kids.)

On the other hand, I think now that there is a betrayal of Minivan Narnia in my future. I've got about 15 more years until both of my kids are driving and hopefully about 20 years until I have grandkids. So, I figure that gives me 5 years in a mid-life crisis car. I'd like red please.


Suze said...

We have a Prius, and it is surprisingly roomy. The first thing Stuart did when we went to check it out was sit in the backseat, because he was thinking about tall people and legroom (we assume Daniel will be tall one day, and we are the sort of people who will drive a car for a good 15 years before selling or junking it). My brother was pretty comfy sitting in the front seat, too, and since he's well over 6 ft tall, this is no small triumph. Just saying :)

Jessi said...

Suze - Thanks for that. I do like the Prius. Although I still think it maxes out at 2 kids. Which is all I'm having, but other people. People with more patience. Yeah. I looked at them when we were shopping for the Aveo and we just couldn't afford it. I didn't when we were looking for the van because I really wanted a van.

ShellSpann said...

I have a Cobalt and I hate it!! It was cheap but you get what you pay for. It's just way too small and I've had SO many problems with it.

Strangeite said...

I hear your pain about a fuel efficient family car. We have four in the family now and (shhhh... but 5 soon) and it is hard.

Mazada makes a cool little car that gets 30+ mpg and seats 6 and then there are the hybrid mini-vans and hybrid SUVs but damn, they are expensive.

However, there is one good piece of information to keep in you pocket. I read a study about 6 months ago that buying a used gas-guzzling SUV has less of a carbon impact than buying a new hybrid.

Basically because of the carbon used in manufactoring, you have to drive a brand new hybrid for about 100,000 miles before you hit the break-even point versus buying a used SUV.

Google it, it was an interesting study.

Suze said...

Yo, Strangeite I'm not going to bother to Google that study. We drive a pretty new hybrid and love it, thanks. We're also the sort of people that WILL drive it well past 100K, assuming it lasts that long (which it probably will - Japanese cars are fairly indestructible that way), so it's the right choice for us. We also know a family with 3 (count 'em!) kids whose family cars are a Nissan Sentra and a Toyota Corolla. So it can work if you don't mind your kids being...cozy, shall we say, in the back seat.

Becca said...

We've had our Prius nearly three years, put 45K on it, and it's handled about everything we've needed. Does well on road trips, no issues with my 60+ miles daily commute, and the only issue I've had beyond normal maintenance was a splashguard I ripped off the bottom when I parked over a concrete curb. It was replaced rather easily.

I've had two adults squeeze into the backseat with the full carseat, and the hatch holds a full Target load and grocery trip. Back seat folds down if needed. My only complaint is that it sometimes takes a while to cool the back with the A/C during the height of the Phoenix desert summer.

Best part--the touch screen for the climate control, radio, and energy monitoring makes me feel like Wesley Crusher.

Mrs. Allroro said...

Jessi, you're so funny. I love your blog. (And in the interest of relevance, I drive a corolla and am a long way away from driving anyone's children anywhere.)

Suze said...

Becca, I luuuuuuuuuuurve the touch screen. The keyless entry and keyless ignition is pretty sweet, too.