The Psychology Of Vehicle Ownership

Joined
Nov 21, 2016
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142
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Los Angeles, CA
Perhaps this is posted in the wrong place, but I think it fits. If you're just skimming, the models involved below are a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited, the Honda Fit, and the Mazda 3 Hatchback. My current situation is this: I own a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Limited (Poppy Red) with just over 93,000 miles on it. Aside from some rust underneath and a bit on the lower portion of the doors (Ohio car), it's perfect in that way you want the next car you buy to be perfect: 1 owner who bought it off the dealer's lot where he was a mechanic, tons of service records showing great maintenance, spotless carfax, spotless vehicle, excellent UOA, came with a bunch of extra parts and wheels, etc... I purchased it in June of 2015 somewhat off the cuff. Spent a bit too much on it considering the rust. It's the second XJ I've owned. I kinda love it. Lately, I've been thinking it's time to get rid of it. If you imagine a time vs resale value bell curve, I see it being somewhere near the top. Further, without going into detail, I've been thinking it wise to swap the XJ out for something more... practical. It gets between 15-18 MPG in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and about 18-20 MPG on the highway. You won't get much better in an XJ. But, you can get better than that in something else. Perhaps in something else that doesn't have future-rust issues either. Further, I've really started to miss driving a manual. I like to drive. I drive a lot. And for what it's worth, the XJ just isn't that much fun to drive anymore. It's a bit of a slug compared the '96 I had and furthermore, I drive it conservatively to save on gas. I'm not in a financial position to own two vehicles and that financial position is making me think more along the lines of current operating costs and future maintenance costs. As the XJ ages with the rust, things will need to be replaced. The oil pan for instance, to the tune of $580. My current brain sees the resale value dropping while maintenance costs will begin to escalate. Enter in the mind games... The other week, I rode in a buddy's Honda HRV. He had just bought it after his Honda Fit was totaled. It was a five speed and felt like a go-cart. He's a respected friend and was talking up the Fit as a good option for me so, I started to do some research. They seem to be everywhere and readily available for reasonable resale prices, get that great mileage, and have almost as much if not as much usable storage space as the XJ (that full size spare really gets in the way). I've always known Hondas to run "forever" if cared for (yes, this can be said for all cars). With a 5 speed and 30+ MPG, it started to sound like selling the XJ and getting behind the wheel of a Fit could be smart and perhaps also fun. For the past few weeks, I've sat on this notion and keep coming back to: "But I just CAN'T drive that little thing!". I'm not sure what it is...ego? image? admitting that cars are a hobby and not just a utility? It's this case that is at the crux of my dilemma. People always say that dogs resemble their owners. I've felt the same way in regards to some people and their automobiles. Or, me and my automobiles. I haven't yet abandoned the idea of a Fit, but I have given credence to the fact that I should like what I'm driving, or I'll not like it. And not liking what you spend so much time with can't do good things for the psyche. Enter stage left, the Mazda 3 Hatchback. In 2006, I delivered a 5 speed, 2005 Mazda 3 Hatchback from Pennsylvania to Seattle after responding to a Craigslist ad. I remember it being a blast. So, I started doing some more research into them and it seems like a good compromise between practicality, reliability, economy, and fun. With 22/29 MPG average throughout the years (excluding the 2012 and newer Skyactiv models) it'd be more efficient than the XJ, but very much less so than the Fit. The 3 seems to have a few more known issues than the Fit, but with any car that's 10 years or older, people seem to have found and figured them all out (hello '00 Corolla pistons). The Fit scores better on utility as well, but I do think the 3's 2.3L + suspension secure the driving experience win. They're also priced fairly reasonably for the mileages I'm finding (going to see a 1-owner 2006 with 155K on Monday that's selling for $2,900) and there are various trim options available, about which I must tell myself: "You can't afford the turbo, You can't afford the turbo, You can't afford the turbo..."! And so it continues... Would love to hear from anyone wanting to weigh in on these choices and especially from those of you who have thoughts on the whole psychology of why we drive what we drive. Merry Christmas (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc...) all!
 
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Joined
Jul 1, 2013
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Dana Point, CA
GMC Sierra = lumberyard AMG = country club Miata = Sunday cruises Model A = 4th of July parades I neither know anything about 'psychology' nor care what others think about my machines. I just drive what I feel like driving. And that varies. smile
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
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Campbellsville, KY
I'm far more familiar with the XJ than either of the cars, but I get why you're more inclined toward the Mazda than the Fit. The Fit is the small-wheeled roller skate with heavy primary emphasis on economy, where the 3 gives a car enthusiast more room to feel they're actually in a machine intended to be driven. I'm not a fan of hatchbacks or bubbly cars in the first place, which to an extent I see in both your choices - probably why I drive a Cruze: a cosmetically traditional sedan with pep and more than pure utilitarian design, but not any emphasis on sport that overrides it being a mid-size economy car intended as an affordable commuter. But then, listen to me, my preference in the Cruze was dictated by more than just price, fuel economy, and interior volume - it had to be a model I liked optioned somewhat to my liking, hence a stick shift with what I think are the best looking wheels (part of LT trim), RS package which got some trim elements I liked and Watts link in the rear, and red on red and black. Not the Wrangler or Camaro I'd have bought if money was much less an issue, but to a discerning onlooker likely not a car the owner just picked off the lot. If I was able to sacrifice the Cruze's 36-40 MPG in favor of an SUV that could tow a little something and offer 4x4 an XJ would be in my top 5. Even though they're fairly small inside and not especially fuel efficient, having owned a '90 Comanche and doing 80% of the work and putting several thousand miles on sister's '84 XJ (both 2.5L's) I like them quite a lot.
 
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Jan 30, 2007
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Clovis, CA
I've often wondered why the vast majority of people on this board drive itty bitty commuter cars; Subaru being the most popular. I keep waiting patiently for someone to start a thread comparing a Cadillac to a Lincoln. Great big cushy leather seats is what it's all about.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
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3,072
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Kentucky
I hate driving vehicles that don't have some sort of fun factor in them, or something that makes them "special." When my fiance and I moved in together a few years ago, I sort of inherited her mini-SUV, a 2002 Mazda Tribute V6 4x4. I sold my 2000 Land Rover Discovery II and replaced it with a minivan (for her & the kids.) The Tribute basically became mine. I loved the Disco, but it wasn't practical as a commuter vehicle. It got a decent all-around 17mpg (city/hwy didn't seem to matter) but Land Rovers of the vintage aren't known for their stellar reliability, so it meant I'd be under the hood or underneath the thing more often than I'd like. Now I regret the decision, because even though I made the right choice economically, I truly dislike driving that Tribute. The engine powerband (3.0L Duratec) is MUCH too skewed toward the top-end. Would be okay on a Ford Contour, but not a rather heavy small SUV. Our altitude here doesn't help matters any. The 4 speed auto is a slug, geared okay for the vehicle weight and engine, but it really needs another gear. Fuel mileage is poor (20 average) but likely has a lot to do with how I drive it-- it sees redline on a nearly daily basis because honestly, I want some acceleration. The nice thing? It starts every morning and never breaks, even with 180k on the odo. In hindsight, I'd go back to the LR Discovery in a heartbeat. To me, driving experience means more to me than the few bucks saved, unless I was in a SERIOUS money pinch. The V8 in the Disco was a torque lover's dream-- it wouldn't win any stoplight to stoplight drag races, but I never had to work it too hard. The ZF tranny was smooth as silk. Fuel mileage was a tad worse than the Tribute, but it made up for it in severe weather and having the ability to go nearly anywhere (within reason) off-road. If you do trade "down" to a more economical vehicle, spend some time with it and make sure you like its driving characteristics, and fits how you drive the car. That would be my advice. Good luck and Merry Christmas!
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
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Canada
I blame too many people these days idolizing people like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsay. Everything to them is about money. Takes away the enjoyment of making choices with one's heart. In my situation, two of the three vehicles in my sig makes my heart sing! the other is cheap, reliable, easy to maintain and completely soul-less. Everyday I drive it I feel a little less connected with life.
 
Joined
Aug 17, 2016
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Alberta
That jeep looks sweet! I can see where it's fuel economy would be an issue though, if you put a lot of miles on. Nice thing about buying used, is that if you are careful to get a good car at a fair price, you can always sell with little loss, if you don't like it. You do have to be careful though, there is a lot of junk out there. CARFAX, service records, and having a mechanic you trust check it over are good ideas (IMO). A friend of mine just went the same route as your friend, traded in a Fit for an HRV. He said the Fit was a bit buzzy/noisy on the highway, and that the HRV was better on the hwy. Stands to reason, the HRV is based on the Civic platform, which is larger than the Fit. Mazda 3s are good cars. Fun to drive with good reliability. Road noise might be an issue on the older ones, I read somewhere that the newer ones had better sound insulation. The Buicks in my sig were somewhat expensive as new cars, but inexpensive as used cars when I bought them. My family and I like them because they're quiet, comfy, roomy, good on gas, and reliable. I used to avoid what I thought of as "old guy cars", but I don't care about that now that I am an old(er) guy! Good luck and Merry Xmas!
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
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Central Florida
Originally Posted By: dishdude
I'll take the Jeep over either of those toy cars.
Yeah me too. If your vehicle has such low miles for the age, I would keep it and just fix the minor stuff needing attention.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2005
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NY
Originally Posted By: dishdude
I'll take the Jeep over either of those toy cars.
Add me that list.
 
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Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Vern_in_IL
Hey, that XJ was NOT a Chrysler design.
Its the right color for IH
 
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Joined
Jun 26, 2003
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Illinois
Originally Posted By: Merkava_4
I've often wondered why the vast majority of people on this board drive itty bitty commuter cars; Subaru being the most popular. I keep waiting patiently for someone to start a thread comparing a Cadillac to a Lincoln. Great big cushy leather seats is what it's all about.
Because we are enthusiasts. You'll probably see the Cadillac vs Lincoln comparison on BobistheSofaGuy.com* *not a real site as far as I know.
 
Joined
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Campbellsville, KY
Originally Posted By: carviewsonic
The Buicks in my sig were somewhat expensive as new cars, but inexpensive as used cars when I bought them. My family and I like them because they're quiet, comfy, roomy, good on gas, and reliable. I used to avoid what I thought of as "old guy cars", but I don't care about that now that I am an old(er) guy!
As an aside, I've had a bit of an awakening about the old Buicks and the like lately, too. My grandpa willed me his '96 Lesabre Limited - I was plenty familiar with the car before that, but after several years of getting used to my Cruze, driving a wider variety of other cars, and maintaining the '96 and my BIL's '98 (with 180K and 215K, respectively) if someone asked me what solid, affordable, no-frills older car I'd recommend them buy the late 90's Buicks w/3800 would be at the top of the list. My BIL, no matter how many times I tell him, will not slow down and check the oil on anywhere near a regular basis, but that car won't give up and really drives pretty well. He's 23 and his parents bought the car as his first from a little old lady for a grand, and I told him one time (before he drove it through Toronto to Maine last fall for school), "Dude, anybody who criticizes your ride for being an old man car or whatever - just know their opinion doesn't count because driving that Buick makes you cool on, like, a level completely under the radar but so legit, practical, and classy, and they don't even realize it." Dead solid drivetrain, tough chassis (for a car), cheap and plentiful parts, good comfort and options, fuel mileage in the upper 20's? Many other "nicer" or "cooler" cars would do well to have so many things going for them.
 
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Joined
Oct 11, 2004
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Yeah, and my BIL was just telling us last night at Xmas Eve about his $700/mo lease payment on an LTZ Tahoe... crazy
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2011
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CA
Mazda 3 is a driver's car, from what I hear. Honda Fit is not, but, it's bigger on the inside. Pay attention to seat comfort. Driver seat on the Fit is not very comfortable to me (I'm big and tall). A/C seems to short-cycle compared to another vehicle. If someone short-stops on a freeway onramp in front of the Fit it'll be very scary (0-60 9.7) to get onto the freeway from that. Seems idiots do that a lot to an econocar around here.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2011
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767
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South Florida
It mostly comes down to your conditioning, the conditioning of being "american" (no disrespect meant) This conditioning, to a huge extent dictates what we do and how we do it, including what we drive and thus the self image of what im comfortable to be seen driving. Part of the condition here in the states is bigger vehicles and hence some calling your potential choices "toy cars".....thats just the 'me', the self playing out. The only way past all of this false story (thats all it is) is to look at it, Look at intimately, get close to it, look at ourselves and what we THINK we are, who we THINK we are. Question it. But....few really want to go down that rabbit hole and hence, we have the messed up human society we have. We speak of being humble, simple, kind, loving, caring.....in reality, very few of us ACTUALLY are these things. Get the Honda Fit, and watch yourself when driving it, watch yourself when someone makes a comment that you dont like....watch your thoughts, your feelings, they will show you your conditioning, all you have to do is watch. You're a human being, the rest IS conditioning. That watching is the beginning of a freedom beyond words and measurement smile
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2014
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'murica
You say that you're worried about rust, but have you looked at a Mazda3 lately? The quarter panels on a garage-kept Mazda3 will disappear just about as fast as the rockers on a mudbogged XJ crzy An an XJ has full-length unibody rails, so it doesn't fold like a pretzel when the rockers are gone.
 
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