If you've spent any time with me in the past year, you probably know that my truck is not as new as it was. I've missed important events because I broke down on the way. I think at one point I was towed 4 times in 2 months. I'm the kind of person who scrapes every last bit of peanut butter out of the jar before conceding that it's empty, so I made sure to get that last full year out of the truck before I began shopping for a new one. As soon as I decided to look, the engine broke out of spite.
When I started shopping, I had a pretty specific list of what I wanted in a new vehicle. At least 25mpg, but preferably better, as much storage space as the truck, better handling in the snow, standard shift, and about $10,000. (I had to let go of that last one pretty much immediately. Everything is more expensive now than it was when I bought the Ranger in '97)
It didn't take long to discover that there really wasn't a truck out there that fit the bill. I had bought the most fuel efficient truck in '97, and no car company had bothered to improve on that over the last 14 years--even better, Ford has decided to retire the Ranger.
It was weird to think about no longer driving a truck, but my needs have changed and the trucks that are still being made don't fit my priorities. So I started looking with a fresh eye. I wanted a new vehicle with 40 cubic feet of storage space, at least 25mpg, better handling in the snow, standard shift, and under $25,000.
I test drove station wagons and crossovers, but I found the answer at a Honda dealership. I had stopped to just peer in the window of a CRV. One of the salesman came right up, but when I asked about a standard shift he just sighed and said that no, it was only made in an automatic, which I had been hearing a lot. Then he changed everything. He said, "I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but MINI Cooper has a new model out called a Countryman. It's bigger so it has the cargo space you're looking for and they're all standard shift." Love it! When the Honda wasn't right for me he actually told me what was.
Behold! My new MINI Cooper Countryman.
It gets 28/35mpg, should be great in the snow with it's wide wheel base and front wheel drive, is standard shift, fits the price range, and is dimensionally transcendental.* Even better, it's made by BMW, who have been rated the most sustainable car company. Click here, and here. All of MINI's models hold positions in the top fuel efficient cars, not just one or 2 token vehicles like the other car companies. I could go on, but suffice to say environmental impact is important to me, and I did a lot of research before buying.
Look, it's bigger than the house!
I had to order it and wait for 3 months, but it was totally worth it. And because it's so small and easy to handle, when we went to pick it up I got to drive it right out of the showroom doors.
*It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The doctor hasn't used the proper explanation in years.