In the year of my 49th birthday, I’m talking to myself a bit more than usual. Sure, people tend to carefully back away when this happens, but it’s not what you think.
Most of this mumbling is in the car on the drive to work during the early morning darkness — courtesy the early hour, daylight savings and welcome rain — and its rooted in an all-too-common internal dialogue, this time debating the vehicle that might best replace my trusty and economical 2003 Honda Accord sedan in about two years.
By now, putting two and two together would suggest this is about a ‘midlife crisis car.’ I prefer to think that it’s more a reflection of a better financial position, and certainly not indicative of compensation for some perceived inadequacy.
Why the heck would I think about something so far in advance? I’m a big proponent of saving a few thousand bucks buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, which are often covered by a warranty as good as, or better, than those covering new cars.
Unlike those who are retired or freelance from home — with a commute fueled only by coffee — my decision-making process involves a bit more pragmatism. It boils down to a reliable conveyance to the place of work, hopefully with a modicum of comfort at minimal cost.
But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Sporty would be nice.
When it comes to fishing, that better mileage certainly won’t be frowned upon during longer drives to trout waters. Maximization of fishing time requires space for a fully rigged 9-foot rod or three and all the associated fly fishing gear. Until a dedicated fly fishing vehicle joins the fleet, it’d be nice to have enough clearance for the occasional drive down a graded forest service road. That eliminates sports cars.
Though the EPA ratings of many small SUVs/CUVs are in the 30 mpg range, my Accord regularly hits 32 to 34 mpg on many fishing trips, in the real world, even if that entails traversing both sides of the Sierras. And driving 250 miles a week to work adds up when gas is $4-plus a gallon. Wanting any replacement vehicle to do as well, or better, eliminates any truck and many crossovers. Sure, a Subaru is worthy of consideration, but only the revised 2013 Imprezza and its crossover version (the new XV) offer hope of better mileage, but seem to fail in the real world. The new Mazda CX-5 warrants some consideration, but it’s expected to earn an EPA rating about equal to the Accord. The Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V fall in the same range.
My conclusion is that
I have no reason to impress the ladies there is no vehicle to satisfy all of the above requirements.
Years ago I thought, as I took up fly fishing, that I’d get by with a single rod. While I’m not a rabid rod collector, in a few short years I’ve already accumulated half dozen rods, with each dedicated to specific types of flies, conditions or species.
But as far as a vehicle goes, and for now being limited to one, it appears that practicality will win this round.
P.S. We’ve been through this before: an improving economy doesn’t lift all boats equally, but always lifts the price of gasoline. Maybe I’ve been desensitized to it, but the price of petrol here hovers near record levels, again, and will likely rise a few more nickels before California’s general trout opener. The journey, the food, and the companionship are all part of the experience. But how much money are you willing to spend on getting to that skunkin’?