January 26, 2014

2011 BMW X3: first impressions

I have been driving a 2011 BMW X3 for 3.5 days now. Thought of recording my initial impressions with the car. (I know it’s not technically a car, but calling it a car makes talking about it easy.)
I was driving a rental Chevy Sonic Hatchback until I got the X3. Switching from this puny car, I didn’t like the X3’s handling in the first two days. The car felt massive and heavy. I think I am starting to get used to the bigger car now.
Compared to the Jeep Cherokee I test drove, however, the X3 was nicer to drive. The X3 had a lot less body roll, and the suspension was a lot smoother on the X3. Cherokee screams “utility” wherever you look. It had plenty of storage space; it had a wireless charger in-built; it had a 110V plug point. X3 doesn’t have as much storage space, which is a bit inconvenient at times.
I didn’t get to choose the features of my X3 because it was a used car. But I’m quite happy with the feature set my X3 has. Putting essentials like bluetooth audio streaming, navigation, etc. aside, the first thing I liked about it was keyless entry. I can open, drive, and lock the car with the key in my pocket. I don’t even have to touch the key. This is liberating, and I love it. The next thing I noticed was that it has auto-dimming mirrors. Looking in the mirrors at night is very pleasant. When I was driving inside Yosemite National Park last night, my car’s headlights turned in the direction of the steering wheel so I could see what was on the road before the car turned. This is a nicety that you won’t much notice when you have it, but a pain when you don’t have it. I’m glad my car has it.

The car’s engine response is good. Cruise control is great too. When the car is on cruise control, the speed never fluctuates no matter how the road is. It climbs up or down the hill with no change in speed — very impressive.

In the last two days, the car’s overall fuel consumption has been 27.2 mpg (11.56 kmpl), which is better than the quoted numbers (19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway).
Overall, the car has been good, I am happy with the purchase. Although my plans to try off-roading may not work out well with this AWD car.

January 16, 2014

Buying my first car

New SUVs, used SUVs, new cheap petrol sedans, moderately expensive hybrid sedans, almost new used cars, super-old used cars... there are tons of options for someone looking to buy a car. For the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about what I should get. You could even say I was overthinking it.

I have had an eye on the new Jeep Cherokee ever since I came across it. It’s feature-packed at an affordable cost. Doesn’t look boxy like a conventional Jeep. 9-speed automatic transmission sounds excitingly crazy. But there is a bunch of reasons why the Cherokee may not be a good choice. It’s not at all fuel-efficient. (I’m comparing it with Honda Civics and Toyota Priuses, mind you.) The cost of the car is high. It’s unclear what the resale value would be when I sell it off in a few years. It’s unclear if I need an SUV or a 4x4 at all! I somehow couldn’t bring myself to buy a Civic, although I wish the Jeep had some of the fancy features the Civic has.

Having slept over the pros and cons of the cars for over a week, today I feel like I have made up my mind. I think I’ll get the Jeep. I have never gone off-roading. I don’t know how to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Now is a good time for me to learn to use a 4-wheel drive and have some fun driving on less travelled roads. I think I’ll take this opportunity even if it means it’s going to cost some money. I’m sure the new roads and the learning experience will all be worth it.

January 13, 2014

Distracted

Buying a car is a tiring exercise. Especially when you don’t have the money to get the car you want. These days, irrespective of what I do I am unconsciously thinking about which specific car I’d buy, how I’d manage to pay for it, if I am getting the right car for me, am I getting a good deal, and so on. Naturally, this makes me distracted and I am not doing things particularly well.

This morning on my way to work, a car behind me bumped into another car when switching lanes. Maybe that driver was distracted too, thinking about something.

Right now, I just wish I could finish this car business and get on with life. I have been in similar situations before. I’d be trying hard to choose the best possible option and I’d exhaust myself in the process. Eventually, it’ll all be too much to think about and I’d go with something my heart wants without listening to the brain too much. Not once have I regretted such a decision. But it seems like somehow this ‘burning-yourself-out-thinking-through-the-possibilities’ is an essential before switching to the ‘just-pick-something-and-move-on’ mindset.

PS: I don’t really like the way I have written this post. I am sure I can articulate better if I tried. I’m just going to blame it on the car distraction and click the Publish button.