I am *done* with the horrendous, strength-sapping, mind-melting affair that was the car-shopping experience. Ugh. In the end, I went with new. First time I've ever done that, and possibly the last - we'll see. It'll be nice to have the peace of mind of a warranty, but of course it's a lot of cash.
I spent a lot of nights during the search period not sleeping, because I was reading and rereading reviews and ratings and user reviews and user ratings and specifications and measurements and...well, you get the idea. I tend to get completely obsessed with whatever the current goal may be.
Finally a few Fridays ago, I decided I was tired of weighing options and thus ready to go for it. I talked to a local Pontiac dealership that had a number of new-but-'07-model Vibes, and was all but set to do that. But just to make sure I didn't regret my choice, I stopped by the Toyota dealership to see if they could cut me as good a deal on a Matrix. They could, pretty much...but then I noted that the brand new '09 Corollas were actually a little less, and included all the safety features and all that weren't included with either the Vibe or the Matrix. And there was a pretty bright blue one. And the inside wasn't that much different than my lovely '97 Corolla of fond memory: the same comfy little fat steering wheel (albeit now with tilt and telescoping), the same big, chunky controls that can be operated without looking, in mostly the same locations. But it was the enhanced version of my old car, with power windows and cruise control and a CD player. CD changer, actually. And an auxiliary jack for an MP3 player. Whoa - very high tech...
I'd done absolutely no research on the Corollas. And they're probably not the most bike-friendly vehicle. But I drove one home that night. Logical, I'm not. Entirely, anyway.
So far so good! It's a blast to drive a fairly peppy little sedan after driving the van for so long. And while getting twice the gas mileage doesn't really balance out the payment, it doesn't hurt, either.
Heh...in looking at the reviews on-line after the fact, they mostly said about the same things that were once said about my '97 model: that the car is well-built and should be reliable, but it's boooooring, and not enough of a change from previous versions of the same model. I can live with that.