Had to buy a new car because the 16-year-old Toyota got totalled recently. Don't worry, nobody got injured. Only property was destroyed.
This time around, Yvette and I wanted a new car - our first real new car we've ever bought. So we hit the Internet and check out what we want the most: high gas mileage. We passed over the hybrids because the EPA mileage isn't their actual mileage. The EPA measures emissions and gets fantastically high numbers, while Consumer Reports measures activity on the fuel line itself and gets high numbers, but nothing like the EPA figures. We didn't want to pay a premium for EPA hype so we went a step down and looked for the most efficient traditional-style car.
So what gets 43 mpg highway? The Toyota Corolla 5-speed.
We were happy to see the Corolla come out on top. We loved the 1990 Corolla, so it looks like we get to continue our customer satisfaction experience. This time, though, there's a twist.
For the first time in a long time, since 1996, we're driving a stick shift. We're rusty at it, but in different ways. I tend to have jackrabbit starts - still working out the smoothest way to get into first... Yvette likes to leave it in second a bit longer than she should because she likes the sound and the rev of the engine. Both of these will impact final mileage figures for our vehicle, so we need to work on getting our shifting groove down better. Hills are again something to reckon with on the way up - we have to deal with the slight roll back as the foot goes from brake to gas while letting out on the clutch - but it's so much fun!
Maybe it's the novelty of the experience, but it's a buzz all the same. Best of all, we know it's a car we can drive for a very long time, if we keep good care of it. That's a great mental comfort to people of modest means such as ourselves.
There will be one other attendant novelty with this vehicle, one I accept as my duty to face down and pass through successfully: teaching Raina how to drive a stick. I'm already checking out wide open expanses of concrete on level ground for the first trials. Once she's learned, she'll be able to say, with no small degree of pride, "I can drive a standard."
Those of us who can drive a standard aren't an elite corps, but we all wear that skill as a badge of honor.
And they get great mileage...
by Dean Webb