Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hello Yellow Jeepie!

It wasn't time to get a new car, but this happy Jeep has made a grand entrance after my trusty BMW 325xiT wagon came to an untimely end last month. 

We got the BMW when I was was pregnant with Dova and brought her home from the hospital in it. It's taken us on countless journeys through the years. Granted it was nearly 15 years old with 185,600 miles, but it was still a great luxury car with heated leather sports seats, a short throw shifter, and an engine that ran smooth as silk. I really wanted to hit 200k miles before thinking of giving it up. Ok, so it also had a new random light pop up on the dash every month (cycling between brake lining, radiator and oil usually), but overall, it was very reliable, safe and comfortable.

The kids and I were on the way to the beach last month, and we had to slow quickly to a stop on Rt. 495 (since it was hot out and everyone was on the way to the beach). After coming to a stop, I instinctively looked in my rear view mirror and saw that the truck behind me had plenty of space to stop and looked away. Except the truck didn't stop and rammed into our car. Immediately, I  hit the car in front of us as well. We all pulled over in the left shoulder and after making sure that everyone was okay, did the obligatory exchanging of registration and insurance information.  The truck which had hit me had State Farm insurance, so the kids immediately sang the song from the ad, but no State Farm representative magically appeared (meme courtesy of Adam).

Thankfully someone contacted the police since I had no idea how to do it.  I didn't think it was an emergency requiring 9-1-1. I actually called directory assistance 4-1-1 to get the number for the state police but they insisted on a city and state.  I correctly guessed Andover and got the number, but then the other driver told me that the police had already been contacted.  Later, I learned from Doug that you can dial *SP, but just now I found that *SP is now obsolete (but will still be answered).  Just dial 9-1-1 for crying out loud!

While we waited for the police, I checked out the huge traffic jam we were causing on both sides of the highway (we were heading North). Check out those red lines of traffic! Rubberneckers!

The one thing that my kids and I thought was odd was that we didn't hear the rear hatch glass break. When I looked through the rear-view mirror after the crash, I saw glass all over the hood of the truck behind me. Their windshield was still intact which confused me, because I didn't immediately figure out that it was glass from our car. Dova also looked back and thought, "Gee, I don't remember leaving hatch window open. Oh, the glass is broken!" Definitely lots of after-crash confusion. Thankfully, most of the glass went into the truck and outside the car, and not too much went into the passenger compartment. After the accident, Dova didn't want to come out of the car, but Adam wandered out to view the wreckage and scored the rear Roundel as a keepsake.

When the police officer arrived, he came up the right shoulder of the highway and came to a quick stop heading towards us when he saw our cars. Another car in the middle lane screeched to a halt to avoid hitting the police cruiser. This is the best part according to Dova... The police officer stuck his head out the window and screamed at the car, "This is why you don't ride my ass!"  To which the driver replied, "I wasn't riding your ass!"  Now the police officer was really pissed and told him to pull over as well.  Now all five cars were on the narrow left shoulder. After checking to see that no one was injured, the police officer told us all to move to the right shoulder and stopped the entire highway so we could move our cars.  

Forty minutes after the accident, we were on our way again. I considered continuing on to the beach. We could shake the glass out of the boogie boards and beach towels, right? But then I thought that we couldn't leave the car with an open window because people could steal stuff. Like they would CLIMB THROUGH BROKEN GLASS to steal stuff!?!? In the end, I had the sense to get off at the next exit and turn around. When we passed the location of the accident, we saw the other stopped driver taking a sobriety test shirtless on the side of the highway. Oh yeah, he had it coming!

It was a tough drive home, my mind and judgement were not quite up to snuff.  At least I had some sense to head back and not to the beach! I was pretty sure my car was totaled considering its age and mileage, and a few days later, it was confirmed. There was quite a bit of damage to the trunk; the spare tire actually helped to cushion against further damage. Repair estimate was $6300, the car was worth $5000   :(. A couple ironic points to note: all the turn and brake signals worked perfectly after the crash, and the brake lining sensor light finally went out!

In searching for a new car, I had a few key criteria.  Heated steering wheel was at the top of the list. What kind of softie are you, you ask? Years ago, I had driven a friend's car with a heated steering wheel in the middle of winter, and it is the BEST THING EVER. I found this cool site which you can find cars by such obscure criteria:  Here is the complete criteria for my next car:

  1. Heated steering wheel, heated seats
  2. Can fit Adam's upright bass with only one rear seat folded down
  3. Front wheel drive
  4. Good gas mileage (30+ mpg highway)
  5. Bluetooth
  6. Under $30k
  1. Manual transmission (used to be on the must-have list)
  2. All wheel drive (snowy in these parts)
  3. Cool color
  4. Cool roof
Before the accident, I wanted to get an electric car had my eye on the Kia Soul EV, especially in electric blue, but the EV model was not available in the east coast. The gas engine Kia Soul fit the must haves, but only one of the nice-to-haves (cool roof). The electric BMW i3 would've been cool to own, but it completely missed the under $30k mark, as well as front wheel drive. I located a used BMW wagon meeting all the criteria except the first one - heated steering wheel!  Then I priced a new BMW wagon with the entire criteria list and it came out to $51k! Grrr! Clearly, I had to give up owning a "fleet" of BMWs.

According to AxleGeeks, only three new cars met my must-have criteria (bass fitting test to follow):
  1. Buick Encore
  2. Jeep Renegade
  3. Kia Soul
I didn't care for the Buick, so we went off to the Jeep and Kia dealers for the bass test (as opposed to the acid test). Both cars passed the bass test, although the Renegade was a bit tight (there are side panels in the trunk which could accommodate optional speakers but were just blocking storage space otherwise). Now, Doug actually already had his eye on the new Jeep Renegade model for himself and was steering me in that direction, especially since it had a manual transmission. For the Kia, you couldn't get both the stick and the heated wheel in the same car. Wake up, car manufacturers! People don't get manual transmissions just to be economical anymore! But neither dealer had any inventory available that had colors that I liked, even in trades with other dealers. In fact, I didn't like any one of the Kia Soul colors available for 2015. Typical woman! Perhaps cool color needed to moved up to the must-haves.

A few days prior to visiting the car dealers, Dova and I spotted a yellow Jeep Renegade on the streets and thought it looked super cool. My top choice was yellow for this car, although the blue was pretty sharp too (but I already have a blue car). The Jeep dealer we visited could only get an orange one or boring neutral colors. The next day, I looked online and found both the yellow and blue Jeep Renegades at dealers near me with EVERY must-haves and nice-to-haves. Why couldn't the Jeep dealer I visited do the same search?

We called 495 Chrysler Jeep Dodge, and they actually just received the car the day before. Three hours and a test drive later, it was mine. The next day we picked up the car and learned some of the history and features of the car that even "Mr. Car Guy" Doug didn't know.

For example, the seven ovals on the grills of all Jeeps represent the seven continents that Jeeps are sold on, although this claim for the first car on Antarctica has been contested and rebutted (see comments in the link).

This car is actually manufactured in Italy by Fiat (FCA = Fiat Chrysker Automobiles), so Doug calls it a "sexy Jeep" because it's Italian. The kids love the "easter eggs" where you can find the Jeep logos everywhere, even in the headlights.

The rear lights originally reminded me of the x's you find on dead cartoon character's eyes, but now that I know that the design is from the military gas cans from WWII, they look cool, especially when you back up (notice more easter eggs).

There are little Jeeps everywhere, here's one on the windshield.

Dova spotted the spider in the gas fill first. Ciao Baby! It's Italian alright.

She also spotted the Bigfoot on the rear window.

The heated steering wheel has already been put to use and the manual shifter has a nice, positive feel. But the coolest nice-to-have is the My Sky roof!

When I was setting up the Bluetooth connection, I asked Dova to send me text to test it out. 

Hey yellow Jeepie! Welcome to the family!

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