17 Jan 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.


  1. Having been a position of being able to assist to people to make a conscious and studied decision, I am happy about your choice, while in itself being no Sophie's Choice of a dilemma, it sure represents the tangents that we find ourselves in.

    On a clearer note, the driving feel of a Jeep and a Civic are going to be in different trajectories, akin to one being a spaceship and the other a geostationary satellite, and both are good for their intended purposes. Your Jeep, with its 4*4,is going to go places, where people who like their vehicles three times more expensive than yours cannot and wont go.

    The Jeep is the vehicle to set out on, to drive all the way to the Danelli Mountains in Alaska. Of course, its grandest limitation is going to be the limited range of the vehicle, given its propensity to drink while others are given to sipping, but with the drinking comes the high!! The mix of air and fuel in the IC, will lead to an heavy dose of testrotone traveling through your veins, and there can be no greater measure of happiness than to take your Jeep through an autumn day, into one of the myriad national parks, with the leafy roads, and the canopied trees, affording you a chance to rolldown your windows, take in the smell of earth and when you fancy it, to engage your 4*4 and take a trip where the Civic is never going to find itself, and if you do come across one, you can ably tow it to safety.

    Muthu, go waterfording, you are going to love it.

    My best wishes Muthu. Post pictures, as and when made available.


    1. Oh yeah, "with the drinking comes the high" -- love it!

      I have just ordered Four-Wheelers' Bible to learn it properly. And looking forward to the adventures, albeit in small-sized chunks.

    2. What a lovely piece of prose that comment is :)

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    4. Muthu,

      “Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.”
      ― G.K. Chesterton

      Can we get 'drunk?' ;)

      Muthu, lay down a strip of darkies every time you leave your home, alongside your wife's smile, make this an evolving and everlasting experience. There is no better feeling than to feed a bootful of gas, first thing in the morning. The cold tires screaming for traction is as good as it gets :) Try it, before you try the tougher offroading part.

      But I'm afraid your TC won't allow it :(

      Your baby is a mile muncher and I am expecting you to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, as soon as you can. The roads are wide and the corners flow, you can have more fun, driving with the ocean on the left and the desert on the right. Want to repeat that experience? Take off to Chile and drive through the Atacama. That would be a life-changing experience. And must be done in a Land Rover Discovery, and not in any other vehicle.

      Muthu, all said and done, drive as much as you can. See if Google allows you to work offsite; if so, pack your bags and head deeper into the American continent, and for the love of God, stay off the main highways, stick to the smaller roads, and you will realize what a privilege has been extended to you.

      As you'd be aware off, I rarely take the driver's seat, while I'm on a trip. Most do not find the idea of testing the limits of adhesion of the tires, and the car, worthwhile, corner after corner. And to be able to blast off at a 100 miles in Indian roads, is akin to making your appointment with Lord Yama, for you find the slowest moving traffic in the fastest lane.

      Muthu, on my bike trip to Varanasi, I remember doing a few too many ghats sections in Maharashtra, and I realized something extraordinary. Keep your mind off the idea of a cruise control, especially when you are in the hillranges and where the topography changes with every mile. Reason is two-pronged, you'd be able to enjoy the drive better, and faster, when you have full control of the speed in which you travel, and more importantly, it would help you remain more focused, as longterm use of cruise control, particularly on hilly regions, lead people to complacency, so my kind request, avoid it. It may even lead to a drop in gas mileage, but that would be a negligible.

      Your X3 would be running run-flats (please confirm,) I suggest that you invest in a good fullsize tire and alloy, and keep it stashed away always. Runflats are great, but also expensive. And worse, have a limited range, which would mean if you are in an off-road course, its going to be a terrible thing to cut short your plan and to rush to a dealer.

      Buy a good body cover, preferably made of Tyrek material, by DuPont, which keeps the moisture out and maintains the quality of the paint. Use this link - http://www.empirecovers.com/carcoverguide.aspx And always cover your car, no earlier than 30-45 minutes after parking, the heat needs to dissipitate.

      To sum it up, maintain the car as well as you would want it to maintain you. This is a lovely vehicle that is going to take you places, the question is, are you willing to go? Do that and you are going to be rewarded.

      And be drunk, always, in happiness, as Chesterton says :)


    5. Nagalakshmi, I have been ashamed to unable to reach out to you, for not having lived up to your kindness. Please forgive the fact that I was not able to send you the package, as promised, and worse, to have not even been able to communicte the same to you.

      The fact that you live in Sydney lends me hope to persuade you to take a trip, that I have always wanted to make, but I'm afraid that such an scenario looks grim. And this has been a dream for a long time now.

      Start your journey, at a vantage point, with the Pacific ocean, bringing up the rear of the car, and given your skills at photography, I cannot even start to believe, how surreal such a moment should be. :)

      A few days later, pull into Perth, and with your car facing the Indian Ocean.

      Your lungs would have breathed the salty air of two of the world's largest oceans, and would have also been made to work in some of the hottest parts of the continent.

      I know this sounds like a crazy idea. And there in lies the charm of it. This would not pass for a romantic getaway, but a personal experience at being able to live in the same continent and to see the two aspects that's lost to most people who are born and bought up there.

      This would be a great way to explore the things you want to, and at your convenience.

      You will come out a different person :)

      PS: May I ask what car and model you drive?


  2. What about something between "paved road only" Civic and off-road capable but fuel-hungry and not-well-handling Jeep? Subaru Forester, for example?

    1. Hmm, that's a good question. I didn't even think about Forester, actually.

    2. Дмитрий Лоскутов, a point made well, and allow me the privilege of why the Forester wasn't considered.

      I believe, you, just like me, are still in our early to mid-30s, and that allows for us to go back and remember the Subaru Impreza, flying through the air, all four wheels.

      Had Muthu spent a few years of his time in Europe, and had owned or used a diverse set of wheels, I would have insisted on him going for it.

      A Forester owner, would never forget the origins of his steed. The mighty Impreza, may no longer be ruling the roost in the WRC, but then, it spawned the most beautiful handling crossover possible.

      And a Forester is a hell of a lot of work!!

      The very essence of the vehicle, lies in that amazing boxer engine, with its mind-boggling Turbo. Its a car, that weeps to be driven at a level which mandates a higher level of concentration and commitment.

      That baby doesn't respond to any revs on the low-down, it needs to be held on a gear and red-lined, and only then, only then, do you get your money's worth.

      I wouldn't even be spending a minute about its handling.

      Give me any set of corner and that's the car to go opposite lock, in every single one of them. The engine and the chassis taken together is one of the most coherent packages on offer in the market today.

      And that's why its never the first choice for anyone looking for a comfortable and luxurious vehicle. With the added bulk to boot, to make for a spacious car.

      The Forester skips on these, Though I do agree that its a very comfortable and capable car. But one would buy the Forester, only if they can love and live with the Boxer engine.

      I know, I would love to own one, atleast for a time frame as short as 90 days.

      BTW, I'm curious to know what you are driving :)