June 5, 2022
I'm looking to replace my current car when the lease runs out at the end of September.
I told you last time that I mostly really like my current car (a Tesla Model 3), but I don't like that almost all the interaction is on a screen that requires me to take my eyes off the road and that the location of items in that screen change now and then which forces me to search for them - even for simple things like cabin temperature.
Unfortunately there's a trend in cars these days to replace buttons with touch screens. I recognize that this is a cheaper solution but it's yet another thing that takes our attention away from our surroundings. My wife was killed by a truck driver who was paying attention to something other than the road ahead so I'm pretty sensitive to this change and wish it were better regulated.
Also, as good as my current car is, I've long had issues with the man who runs the company and he's only gotten worse. I can't, in good conscience, give the company more money.
So I test drove a bunch of electric cars. I've also decided to stay with electric and for me that means not even a hybrid. Although it wasn't easy I've driven a Polestar 2, VW ID.4, Mustang Mach-E, Chevy Bolt EUV, Nissan LEAF, and a MINI SE. It seems to me I'm missing one but I can't think of what it is. I couldn't find a Kia to test drive although I was on my way to test drive one twice and was called to be told it had just been sold. The Toyota isn't available in our area yet - it is hard to find electrics near me. Other models either weren't available to drive or were too expensive.
The TL/DR is that I've narrowed it down to the Bolt and the Mini.
Any of the other ones would have been fine. I'll briefly say why they weren't for me as they may very well be for you. The number one trend in EVs which I don't care for is that they are getting bigger. I want a small car. In the past three years there have maybe been four times where there were more than two people in my car. I generally don't use my back seat. So if you have a family or consistently drive around a lot of stuff, your needs likely are different and my opinion shouldn't sway you.
I liked the way the Polestar drives. My two objections were that much of the input was screen driven from the center touchscreen and that they provide service where they come to you within 150 miles of their dealerships. I'm 130 miles from the closest one so it doesn't take a very long trip before I'm outside of this range. Sure, things don't tend to go wrong and I likely won't need this service and could use AAA towing - but I didn't love the car enough to make that decision.
I didn't like the way the Mustang drives and it was way too big a car for me in ways that I couldn't easily use. I knew the electric Mustang was bigger than the classic car but it was considerably bigger and clearly wasn't targeting someone like me. One indication of this was when the salesman reached over and changed a setting that made engine noises inside the car while you're driving. Definitely not for me.
I thought I would love the Nissan LEAF. It was the first electric I ever rode in many years ago. I liked the form factor and the sales person was really nice. I didn't like the way it drove. It felt more like a gas car than an electric in its responsiveness. I expect electrics to have more punch when I accelerate. I may have things badly adjusted but I also couldn't get comfortable in the car during the test drive. Nissan's new car is bigger and uses a standard fast charger so I was a little worried about the LEAF's use of an older technology that has lost the charger standards competition and I'm concerned that it will be harder to find this type of charger when traveling and that resale costs would be impacted.
I would prefer to lease a car because I expect electric cars to continue to improve and for there to be more offerings in three years but some companies are really making leases costly. The VW and Polestar came in at roughly the same purchase price but the VW lease was double that of the Polestar. I don't understand current leasing prices but they are all over the place.
I loved the sales people at the VW dealership. The woman I contacted apologized but they had no car available to drive. A couple of days later she emailed to say that her manager owned one and he'd be happy to drive me in his. The two of them didn't pressure me in any way and a week later she had a used one come in that I could drive.
I liked the ID.4 but it was way too big for me. It is a lesson in being nice and not nagging - I considered the car longer than I should have because the two of them had been so nice about everything.
The other thing about car business now is that supply is constrained so they offer you deals I would never have expected during times when there was ample supply. The VW I test drove was a 2021. The 2023 models should be coming out in the next few months. The price of this used car was the same as a new 2022 and of the soon to be released 2023 and the warranty clock started when the car was first sold.
This happened to me with the MINI I test drove. The salesman said they have to keep it until September to use as a test drive model but that I could buy it as new then but the warranty clock started the moment the car arrived at the dealers. In other words, I would pay for them to have a test drive car available for three months.
I really liked the MINI. It felt great to drive - but while the other cars had a range of 250 and above and many of them came with an all wheel drive option, the MINI is front wheel drive only and has a range of 114 miles.
It's also small. I guess that's kind of in its name. I like that as I'd be using it for only myself or me and one other person but I would have to put the back seat down to get my bicycle in the car.
The other issue is that it doesn't have some safety features I would consider to be standard such as blind spot alerts.
That said, there are buttons and switches for everything - including controls for navigating the touchscreen by feel.
I'm scheduled to re-test a Bolt this week. This is the car that surprised me the most. I test drove a new and used Bolt three years ago and they've come a long way since. I liked the way it drove. It's bigger than I need but not too much bigger. The EUV is a little longer than the EV but the cargo space is slightly smaller. The extra room is in the back seat which I don't need. The but is, if I want the safety extras, they only come in the EUV.
The Bolt has a decent size battery but for some reason Chevy restricts the rate at which it charges so it will take longer to charge it up on a road trip.
So the MINI or the Bolt.
I'm a bit torn. Either would be fine. On most days the range of the MINI won't be an issue but it would be a pain on road trips. I suppose I could rent a car for those situations.
My goal is to test the Bolt in the next couple of days and make a decision. Let me know if you have any thoughts.