(as Johnny Olson) A NEW CAR!!!

Yes, we did!

And here’s how it came about: Ruby, our beloved 2011 Versa, was in serious need of attention. Like, to the tune of repairs totaling about a grand or more. The wonderful Shell and I talked about it, and the more we spoke, the more we figured it was time to perhaps look into getting a newer vehicle. Another, newer Versa would be nice. We could trade in the old car, but Shell really wanted to keep it as her own daily driver, and we really couldn’t trade in the truck either as with our rural property (such as it is) we still really need a truck. So, what to do?

A trip to the credit union proved the answer. We were quoted a figure on a used car loan, plus a little additional money to repair the old car. It kept us in the ballpark of payments that we had on the previous machine, and with that in hand we started shopping.

It didn’t take long. We went through Enterprise Car Sales, which whom our credit union has a relationship, and they had pretty much what we wanted: a 2016 Versa Note SV. The only hitch was the color; we had but two choices, black or silver. Neither one was particularly appealing, but I was prepared to live with silver, till I asked the wonderful young lady at Enterprise who was working with us if there was another alternative. She clued me in…”Sure! We have several of them at our Memphis dealership…what color do you want?”

Well, Ruby is red, so perhaps blue? She allowed as to how that would be no problem, and sent me a link. The picture included wasn’t all that good, but it looked better than black or silver, so I said, ship it and I’ll come have a look at it. She said, no obligation, which was even better. A day and a half later it was at the dealership, and I went in to scope it out…

Azzie the New Blue Shoe!

“Azzie” the New Blue Shoe sits at the dealership, patiently waiting her new owners.

…wow! That’s not the same blue I saw in the picture! It’s more of an azure, Shell said. It was love at first sight for me and I didn’t even bother taking a test drive, I had so much confidence. A mistake, I know, but somehow I just knew. I would take my test drive on the way home.

So. To the lot on Saturday to complete the transaction. I expected this to be as painful as our experience buying Ruby, but just it wasn’t so…we got it all done in well under an hour. Nice job, Enterprise…we will certainly do business with you again next time we’re ready for a new car!

Now then. I have since noted that the Versa Note gets no respect from the car mags–you know, the likes of Motor Trend and Car and Driver who, it seems, have forgotten what it’s like to be poor–so I figured I would put my own .02 worth in. Thus, here is the actual review I posted about our new car at edmunds.com.

First off, you probably should know that this is our second Versa. We really like the model…it is, it seems, as close to our ideal vehicle as exists today. Sure, we wouldn’t mind some cavernous SUV but the fact is that we can’t afford it, and with gas getting dearer and dearer still we appreciate the economy of a well built “misermobile”.

We bought the first used as well and have put 140K miles on it (so far…it’s still running well!) but we were ready to get another, thus the 2016 Versa Note SV. We purchased this one via Enterprise Car Sales and I cannot say enough about the buying experience…first rate all the way; great price, wonderful vehicle, just what we were looking for, and with pre-arranged financing through our credit union we were in and out of the dealership in well under an hour.

IMG_0913

The back side view. Minus stickers, those would, of course, come later.

Now, as to the car…first things first, it’s not a race car, so take reviews from sites like Car and Driver and Motor Trend and their ilk with a VERY large grain of salt. The Versa Note is a commuter car, and it does that job exceedingly well. It rides well, has a quiet, roomy cabin (I am 6′ 3″ and fit fine both in the back seat and behind the wheel) and everything is laid out logically. The SV package includes just about every electronic widget you could possibly desire sans navigation, but that’s why I have an iPhone and a GPS. The backup camera is a nice touch but with so many enormous windows it isn’t wholly necessary. It’s nice to have, though.

The body style is a significant upgrade from the rather shoe-like boxiness of the 2011 Versa we own, and is very pleasing to look at. The cargo space is remarkable with the rear seats folded down (my bicycle fits just fine, thank you!) and the Divide-n-Hide storage is a neat feature that gives you a nice flat floor with a nifty hiding place beneath. Every car should have this sort of thing!

As to the driving, I enjoy the CVT personally though I can understand why drivers who prefer more input might desire a five or six speed. I certainly can’t argue with the results though…my average gas mileage has been a jaw-dropping 41.5 mpg in combined highway and local driving. Seriously. I watch this stuff carefully (with my budget I have to) and this is not just accurate, it’s spot-on. Those are near hybrid numbers, at what, a half of the cost? A third? Remarkable! Mind you, I drive with a balloon foot mostly, but hey, I stay out of the way and don’t slow anybody else down. I bet I could speed up a bit with little loss in mileage, but I’d rather be kind to the car. The small fuel tank probably helps too, holding about 2.5 gallons less than the 2011 Versa. Less gas, less weight. Less range too, you would think, but at 41.5 mpg you’re talking 450 miles per tank, and that’s more than the 2011 ever got.

IMG_0916

Behind the wheel. More buttons and levers than we are accustomed to, certainly!

The steering is precise on the road but remarkably light in the parking lot…nothing to complain about there. The car mags all note the supposedly gutless engine, but hey, it gets me up to speed just fine and I don’t have any problem keeping up. So far as costs go, apart from gas, regular oil changes, and rotating tires, the Versa would be frugal on that score too.

In the summing up, as a used vehicle, fleet or otherwise, the Versa Note is a remarkable bargain, proof that you don’t have to give up much to gain a lot of value. I expect to be driving it for many years to come.

And that’s it. A new car buying experience that I will remember pleasantly (for a change!) and a new vehicle that so far has been a joy to drive. We’re going to take our first trip in her a few weeks from now and we’ll see how the pair of us enjoy it as a country road cruiser. Till then…

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