The one with the new car

by DaniGirl on July 23, 2009 · 13 comments

in Consumer culture, It IS all about me

It’s been two weeks since the whole “oh my god the van is on fire” nightmare, and I’ve finally managed to restore pretty much everything to a state of equilibrium. I’m not seeing the crash in technicolour every time I close my eyes anymore (that went on a lot longer than I expected, actually) and the bruises and burns from the air bags have faded to muted tones of ocher. Last but not least, we are a two-car family once again!

We’ve spent the last two weeks cramming our family of five into our 5 1/2 year old Focus wagon, and it hasn’t been pretty. (Insurance would have paid for a rental van, but try to find a minivan for rent in July!) Two booster seats and one child seat do fit across the back seat of the Focus — but you have to seat one child, buckle him in, put the second booster in place, and then buckle that child in by reaching in behind the car seat. Not. Pretty. Plus, the boys were about to kill each other, sitting in that close quarters!

My first instinct was to simply acquire another Grand Caravan. Must restore equilibrium! There aren’t a heck of a lot of choices for a family of five on a limited budget, and we’d narrowed it down to the Kia Sedona, the Grand Caravan, and maybe a Kia Rondo or a Mazda 5. (My friend loves the Kia Rondo so much he got one for his wife, too, and they also have three boys.) I didn’t want to shop for a new car, I was tired and had a lot on my plate and just wanted to get it over with.

Having never been in a crash before, I didn’t realize at the time that the whole “bursting into flames after the impact” thing was particularly out of the ordinary. However, the shock on the part of all the professionals who see accidents every day — the tow truck operator, the insurance people, the impound lot operators — was giving me serious concern about why a year-and-a-half old Grand Caravan with less than 20,000 km burst into flames in what was actually a fairly minor collision. Then another sweet friend told me about hearing a podcast where a Caravan burst spontaneously into flames at around 30,000 miles. I had all that rattling around in my brain as Beloved and I set out last Saturday just before the Worldwide Photo Walk (what! a! week!) to look for a new vehicle.

Our first stop was the Kia dealership. I dearly wanted to make the Rondo work for us. While I did love the van for it’s spaciousness, I did not love its egregious gas consumption nor its abject lack of maneuverability. But we took one look at the back of the Rondo with all three rows of seats in use and knew it would never work. There’s not even enough room in the back for our Maclaren travel stroller.

We took the Sedona van for a test drive and were underwhelmed. Meh. It’s like going shopping for a new outfit and trying on a uniform — it fits, it keeps you from being naked, it does all the things clothes should, but lacks any style whatsoever.

We were on our way, even more resignedly, to the Dodge dealership where we got the first Grand Caravan when we saw the Mazda dealership next door. I waffled — if the Rondo was too small, the Mazda 5 wouldn’t be much better, and we were short on leisure time for browsing. But we were right there, just across the parking lot. What the heck. So we walked over.

I’d been admiring the Mazda 5 from afar for quite some time, and figured it would be the car we bought when the Focus finally sputters to its eventual end. The first car I ever bought was a Mazda 323 back in the day, and I drove the crap out of that car over its eight years with me. When I saw the Mazda 5 in the showroom, I was hooked. The sales guy couldn’t even get his spiel out — I just wanted to see under the hatch to see how much space it had. And to my great surprise, it had more than the Rondo. Not tonnes more, but enough for a folded up stroller and a backpack.

We took it for a spin, and we were hooked. We *almost* got the fancy GT model with the sunroof (be still my heart!) but they didn’t have the colour I wanted in stock and that gave us just enough thinking time to realize that paying an extra $40 a month for a sunroof was an indulgence we really didn’t need.

By the time we signed the deal, they’d thrown in free window tinting, free roof-racks, a free Thule roof box, free oil changes for five years (!) and a financing rebate from the bank to the tune of $2500 or so. The sticker price was a couple of grand lower than the Grand Caravan, and the gas consumption should be about 40% less, from what I’ve heard.

And the best part? I love it! I will love it every single day, except for the days when we have to pack it up for a road trip (thus, the free Thule roof box!) As a matter of fact, when I made Beloved promise he wouldn’t lose his cool trying to cram everything we needed for a road trip into the back, he grinned and said “No problem. I won’t pack the car for our road trips!”

We picked it up last night, after my CBC interview. (Did I mention what! a! week! ?) We haven’t put Lukey’s car seat in yet, but the big boys were instantly charmed by the Mazda’s friendly “HELLO” on the dashboard when I turned it on. It’s got that peppy Mazda zip that I remember, tonnes of energy and so easy to drive.

Hello, Mazda!

185:365 My new Mazda 5!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris(mombie) July 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

We have had a Mazda 5 for the past two years and we love it. So comfortable to drive, so easy to install carseats, I’m hooked.

2 liz July 23, 2009 at 3:28 pm


3 Chantal July 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

My sister has one and loves it. I love a lot about it too. We own an old Focus as well and I have also said it is high on my list when that one kicks the bucket. 🙂

4 Amber July 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Great photo! That makes me smile.

I’m glad you’ve found a new car, and you love it. Here’s to many accident free years. 🙂

5 Jen July 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm

So glad to hear you love it! We are planning to replace our really old, yucky, gas guzzling minivan in the next 6 months or so and had pretty much decided on the Mazda 5 (before test driving, but in our minds at least!). I know a few people who have them and love them as well.

6 Mac and Cheese July 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm

You make that van look sexy! I’m happy for you!

7 Child Insurance July 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

New blog post on chi The one with the new car: I t’s been two weeks since the whole “oh my g..

8 Ari July 24, 2009 at 12:04 am

Sounds lovely! And you totally rock that van, you both look fab!

9 Gliding through motherhood July 24, 2009 at 12:16 am

We had a Mazda 5 for a year and loved it! We were so sad to give it up but as great as the Mazda 5 would be for 3 kids, not so much for a 2.5 year old and newborn twins. Enjoy – we did! 🙂

10 BeachMama July 24, 2009 at 7:49 am

And what a sweet ride it is. You look great driving it, which does count in my opinion, and I am sure you will grow to love it just a little more with each passing week.

11 Roz July 24, 2009 at 8:33 am

LOVE it!

12 Sue July 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

Fellow Mazda5 driver here 🙂 You’ve inspired me to get a Thule box for ours. We only have 2 kids but when we take road trips our two small dogs often have to share half the third row, and we cram our gear into the other half. It works, but it’s tricky (we’ve got a not-quite 2 year old who still needs a playpen and other baby gear, which as you know takes up a lotta space!) Enjoy it, it’s a great little car.

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