Car Crash - Not So Bad

That's why my car looked like late last June.  After a stop at Babies R' Us on the way home one night, I thought to myself, "Take the interstate home or this 45 mph highway?"  It was only a few miles, so I decided to take the latter, scenic route.  Wrong choice.  Some dude turned left in front of me in an intersection, despite his obligation to yield, and I hit him.

Car accidents are generally a bad thing.  But in this case, it worked out OK.  Here's why:
  • MacKenzie and Lucy were not with me.
  • There were no injuries.
  • It was time to replace my car (which was totaled) anyway - I had been unsure about when do so.
  • I got a good settlement for it from the insurance company.
  • I remain optimistic the other guy will be saddled with liability.
Here's his vehicle, by the way:

This accident forced me to conduct a search for a new vehicle on a compressed schedule.  I didn't have rental car coverage on my insurance, so I had to foot the bill for that.  Thus, every day without a vehicle was costing me money (note: I now have rental coverage.  For only an additional $3-4/month, I now think it's worth it).  Our criteria for a replacement vehicle, in order, were as follows: Get something within our price range, in order to buy the vehicle outright (no loan).  Get something reliable (fewer problems, fewer repairs).  Get something with good gas mileage.

We are a one-vehicle family.  We realize that will probably have to change at some point, but we'd like to delay it as long as possible due to the additional expenses another car would bring with it.  So we had to decide between a) buying a nicer, larger vehicle now and a cheaper second car later, or b) buy a cheaper car now and a nicer, larger vehicle later.  The question was, how long will it take our family to outgrow a sedan?  We initially tried to split the difference by finding a Subaru Outback, PT Cruiser, or similar hatchback-type vehicle.  On the former, we couldn't find any that had less that 120,000 miles on them that were within our price range.  On the latter, we found several at a good price, but decided the quality of these vehicles wasn't quite what we were looking for (we relied a lot on Consumer Reports' used car ratings).  On the SUV front, Honda CR-Vs were similarly only available with very high mileage.  I would have been willing to bite the bullet on a minivan, but CR says only the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are good, and late models of these vehicles are still high priced.  Plus, I hate those Sienna commercials.

Some other models we considered: Mazda 3 (no AC or ABS in mid-2000's base models), Scion xA (too small), Mercury Grand Marquis (kinda ugly).  In the end, we found this:

It's a Kia Sportage.  It seats five, has side and curtain airbags, and supposedly gets 25 mpg highway (I'm monitoring actual performance in this category).  It has fairly high miles on it, but the dealership did a lot of work on it after acquiring it as a trade-in (brakes, tires, drive belt).  I rather like the color, too.  CR said these vehicles were no good in their initial production prior to 2003.  The model was revived, however, in 2005 and has gotten good marks since that time.  So far, it's working out pretty well.

If you had asked me two months ago if I wanted to get into a car accident, I would have said no.  But looking back, it worked out fairly well for me.  This cloud had a thick silver lining.

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