There comes a time when you just have to let things go — grudges, negative feelings, those billowy Hammer pants from the ’90s that you couldn’t pull off then and definitely can’t work now.
While I never made sartorial choices such as the Hammer pants, I do find myself at the point of needing to let go of an object that I have a certain amount of fondness for. My Betty Blue is coming to the end of her road. After nearly a decade and more than 180,000 miles, it’s time to trade the ole girl in.
I realize it might not sound like it, but the time has come for a different vehicle. I bought my current GMC, which is blue obviously, nine years ago with four years and about 40,000 miles under its timing belt. The Envoy has, for the most part, been a fairly decent vehicle. Does it get amazing gas mileage? No. Have the latest sound technology that allows me to seamlessly connect my smartphone? Again, no.
However, the seats are comfy and the air conditioning is cold, which are criteria pretty high up on my list of must-haves.
Within the last several months, Betty has hit that pinch point that most car owners probably experience — everything that needs to be done to it is $200 minimum.
So here I am, car shopping. Given that everything is a pandemic right now, I’ve been looking at vehicles online. I’ve found some I things I like and even managed to schedule a test drive. Being that I’m looking at “gently used” vehicles, I understand inventory is pretty fluid. When I showed up for my first test drive only to find out it had been sold, I can’t say I was shocked.
I walked around the lot and found a second choice, a Toyota RAV4. The salesman went to get the keys, only to find it too had been sold, but hadn’t been picked up yet. There was a much nicer model of the RAV4 available for a test drive, so I took it for a spin. After much flailing and fiddling, I got my phone to pair with the built-in BlueTooth. This, after years of doing without, has become my deal breaker feature.
It was a stressful 20 minutes but I lived. I was also reminded viscerally why I don’t like leather seats. Let’s just say there was dampness.
I kicked a few more tires but ultimately drove Betty home. I’m watching the sites of a couple used dealerships I trust, but so far nothing has really thrilled me. I have also taken to reading reviews of vehicles I think I might like. Most of these websites have reviews written by professional drivers whose whole job is to drive cars all day long.
One consistent complaint I see about the compact SUVs I’m looking at is the slow 0-60 mph time. Like how many seconds it takes to go from dead still to 60 mph. I’m sorry, are we living in a “Fast and the Furious” universe all of a sudden?
I do know why quick acceleration is critical in some scenarios — I’m not that much of a girl — but the frequent comments about how these vehicles aren’t exciting to drive amuse me. I just want to get to work and back again, the grocery store on the weekend, maybe to a movie theater when that becomes a thing again. I don’t need a 30-second car.
While professional reviews are great, I wanted to see what real people thought of these vehicles, so I looked at owner reviews as well. They were interesting, to say the least.
One owner complained a 2018 model didn’t have power windows, which baffled the heck out of me. How is that possible? Do they even make vehicles with manual windows anymore?
He noted the windows went all the way when he pushed the button but then, then he had to hold the button to roll it up. Guys, he had to HOLD the button. His biggest complaint about a car that could easily control the Perseverance rover on Mars was that the windows weren’t fully automatic.
I just can’t. Maybe Betty has a few more years in her yet.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.