My Vicarious New Car Buyer’s Experience: II: The Cars

My Vicarious New Car Buyer’s Experience: II: The Cars

Heather had in mind a mid-sized sedan. She sometimes has to drive clients about, and her Honda Civic was just too small. On her list were these cars:  Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Ford Focus, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Chrysler, 200, and the Volkswagen Passat.

When she was okayed for car rental by her insurance company, Heather asked for a Fusion, but Enterprise didn’t have one handy and put her in a Focus. Before she got home she knew it wasn’t the car for her. The dash was v-shaped with about forty buttons on it; there was no convenient place for her cell phone; the only powered USB port couldn’t be used when a cup of coffee or bottle of soda was placed in the rear cup holder; and perhaps worst of all, the window ledges were semi-circular, making it impossible for us to rest our arms on them. I thought the car looked cheap, and that was verified when we needed to move one of the front seats forward. The mounting mechanism looked and felt flimsy.

The Camry Hybrid got good mileage and was a competent car, but it just wasn’t exciting. Something can be said for that, but it fell by the wayside nonetheless.

Heather refused to even consider the 50 mpg Prius. She didn’t like the dash, and most of all, she hated not having a clear view through the back window. The window is split horizontally by a tray that sits behind the rear sets, and three headrest block much of the lower half.

Heather thought the Sonata was beautiful but drove like a gas cart. Takeoffs started out powered by only the electric engine and felt underpowered—until the gasoline engine chimed, making it suddenly surge forward. It was pretty, though.

Neither of us felt particularly comfortable in the Fusion. As with the Camry, Heather declined the salesman’s offer of a test drive.

Our number two choice was the VW Passat. Its 1.8L turbocharged engine was powerful, and we both liked the uncluttered interior.

Our number one choice was the Honda Accord Hybrid Sedan. It was perfect, but for two things—a small trunk (because of the hybrid batteries) and no spare. That’s right, not even a donut. Otherwise, though, the Honda was perfect, and it’s the car Heather eventually went with.

After the fold: some photos of the cars in question.

2012 Ford Focus Interior

Interior of the 2012 Ford Focus rental car. Check out that busy area to the right of the steering wheel. Can you imagine trying to operate that while driving down the freeway at 70 mph?

2014 Toyota Prius

This 2014 Toyota Prius Hybrid has limited visibility through the rear window

2014 Toyota Prius Interior

Interior, 2014 Toyota Prius Hybrid. Instrumentation in the center of the dash was strange.

2014 Toyota Camry

2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid. The outside looks good, but just didn’t inspire us.


2014 Toyota Camry Interior

Interior, 2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid. The stitching in the fake leather dash top looked cheesy and the shifter was not attractive. Otherwise, the interior was nicely done– but uninspiring.

2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Okay for looks, a nice, reliable car, but no spare on a $30,000 car? What else did Ford cheap out on?

2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid Interior

Interior, 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid. It was far more solid-looking than the interior of the Focus, and looked nice, but wasn’t nearly as comfortable as it looked. I have to say, though, I did like the side-by-side layout of the cup holders.

2014 Chrysler 200

2014 Chrysler 200. We were unable to find one to evaluate.

2014 Chrysler 200 Interior

Interior, Chrysler 200. I sort of don’t like it.

2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The 2014 Hyundai Sonata was a beautiful car!

2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Inerior

The interior of the 2014 Sonata Hybrid was beautiful as well. Check out the huge display screen!

2014 VW Passat

2014 VW Passat. We thought the outside looked okay. We liked the car’s solid construction.


2014 VW Passat Interior

We liked the uncluttered interior of the 2014 VW Passat. We also liked the way the car drove.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. We thought it was gorgeous.

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Interior

Interior, 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. We liked the interior.

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