Saturday, January 12, 2013

Back Up

My husband has been talking about replacing one of our cars, and more recently, about replacing my 13 year old Mustang convertible. He has been able to bank most of his paycheck from his new job, so we would likely be paying cash if we wait until at least March or more likely summer (since I have a fantasy about the car appearing in my driveway on the morning of my birthday with a big bow on top, or maybe balloons.)

Before my Mustang, I had a Honda Civic. It was two years old when I bought it, and its former owner had ridden it hard and put it away wet, but it was a good car. I found it at a Ford dealership where I had gone looking for a year-end sale Ford Escort. The dealer, after listening to what I wanted in a car, convinced me to take the Civic for a spin. Compared to it, the Escort felt like a toy. The Civic still had some warranty left on it, and it also had what to me seemed like unbelievable creature comforts: electronic door locks, cruise control, electronic remote adjustable side mirrors, a 4 speaker audio with built-in cassette deck (this was back in 1994) and, best yet, four doors.

I drove the Civic for 6 years and then gave it to my son, who drove it for three more, even after the air conditioner broke, while he saved up for a new car. 

In the back of my mind, though, was my dream of owning a convertible, especially a Mustang convertible. Okay, actually, a T-bird convertible, but they cost twice what the Mustangs did for half the space, so the Mustang it was. It took a little while for me to get used to the 6 cylinder engine (I had a young man challenge me to a drag race out on Florida Blvd one afternoon, although I took it as a joke and shook my head) and the gas mileage was less than that of the Civic, but aside from a few trips to the beach and one to Santa Fe, I didn’t go far with it.

When I met Anett’s boyfriend, he was surprised at my choice of a Mustang. “That’s a man’s car,” he said, or so she translated for him. I had to explain that no, not in the USA it isn’t, although I spared him the sound of me singing When God-Fearin' Women Get the Blues (“I’ve got a Mustang, it’ll do eighty; I’ve stirred my last batch of gravy.”) or even Mustang Sally. My 80 something year old godmother drives a Mustang (with a vanity license plate, something I meant to get and never did).

It was always my idea that once the convertible needed to be replaced, I’d get another Civic. 

I was pleasantly surprised when looking at Civic specs online to find out that even the base models come with backup cameras as standard equipment. It’s part of the Honda’s i-Mid system, a system that sounds so complicated that I might have to take a class to operate it. I’m the world’s worst when it comes to backing up, as I proved most recently when I took out a shrub while backing into the driveway of the Little Theater to donate a few goods to their garage sale last spring. I’m sure whatever they earned from the items I donated went straight to their gardener. I’m surprised that random citizens of Baton Rouge haven’t taken up a collection to buy me a backup camera by now, so the idea of getting one as standard equipment definitely appeals to me. 

I assumed that if a backup camera was standard equipment, a navigational system would be a readily available option, but that is where I got a surprise. To get the navigational system, I’d have to move up to the next model, the EX, for $2,000 more, and then pay $1500 extra for the option package that has the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System.  The EX also gives me a moonroof, standard, however, which is a nice touch for someone giving up a convertible.

Enter my husband, John, with an issue of Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports, he informs me, has some issues with the Civic, and prefers the Accord. So I dutifully check Accord prices online. In order to get the navigation system with the Accord, I would have to buy not just the EX, but the EX-L, and then pay for the additional option package, bringing the cost up to $27,000. IOW, by time we have saved up for this car, I will be too old to drive it.

I checked into comparable cars, like the Toyota Camry and the Hundai Sonata. They don ’t even have backup cameras as standard features. I googled aftermarket navigation systems. Honda owners message boards warn against them, since it means messing with the wiring on the backup camera. I finally decided the cheapest option would be upgrading my old iPhone so I can just hook a newer one up to the i-Mid and have Siri give me directions. Or maybe not. People have been having issues with that solution, too.

Back up a minute. Why isn’t the navigation system an easily available and cheaper option to begin with? Garmin and Magellan make stand-alone systems for a few hundred dollars. If you already have a screen and speakers anyway, why does it cost so much more to get one built in, and why does it have to be bundled with extras you might not want or at least need?

My friend D ventures an explanation. It’s something people want, she points out, and so they will pay for the other upgrades to get it. It’s cynical, but sounds logical.

Maybe I’ll just stick to getting lost. With my new camera, I’ll have no trouble backing up and getting out of there.

1 comment:

  1. Go with the stand alone system and get the car with the camera. I'm still excited that my "new" car has a CD player - my last one had a tape deck. My next one might even have been built in the 21st century!

    My navigation system is still the paper map book as well - or a passenger, if I need verbal directions.