Wouldn’t have believed it

Our little 2007 Pontiac Vibe is a good car for us. Besides being just the right size for 2 people, the hatchback allows for a versatile array of gear hauling, including the crate for our 90# German Shepherd. We have also modified the Vibe with a front attachment that allows us to tow it behind the RV. This car works out so well for us that I started looking around for a replacement in case the miles pile up to the point we have to retire it.

It turns out that Pontiac no longer exists, but the car this is based on, the Toyota Matrix, is still made. It is getting harder to find manual transmissions however. So I broadened my search to see if we might be able to buy a winter car, and store the Vibe away with the RV each winter. This should cut the miles the Vibe drives each year thereby extending its life.

While I was doing all this research, my elderly parents were reaching the point that they could no longer drive. They happened to have a car they no longer needed. My brother took the car (a 2010 Cadillac CTS) to the local Cadillac dealer, and they determined that since it had 80,000 miles on it, and needed some work, that it wasn’t worth very much money. None of us siblings were interested in the car, and we were a whiskers breath away from accepting their offer. Then my brother mentioned in passing, “…it is all wheel drive.”

“Hmm,” I thought to myself.

As I was growing up, Cadillac made cars that I felt could have doubled as aircraft carriers. They kind of lumbered down the road. They had a lot of room inside, and a huge trunk, but I wouldn’t have characterized them as nimble, or good in the snow. Also, Cadillac’s cost a LOT of money… more than my budget. Perhaps it is snooty of me, but I also felt that people that drove them were trying to make it clear that they were pretty special folks… not the sort of message I try to convey in my life.

All wheel drive though. Hmm. To make a long story short, Alice and I decided to buy this car from our parents and drive it in the winter. And for the umpteenth time in my life, I learned I was wrong. This car is great in the snow. It is low to the ground, so you wouldn’t want to plow through snow drifts with it. But if the snow is not too deep, this car performs nearly as well as any 4-wheel drive I’ve owned.

One plus we discovered on a trip a few weeks ago that was unanticipated, was the excellent brakes. We live in white tail deer country, and on a recent trip to Escanaba, we were driving along after dark when 2 deer sauntered across the road in front of us. I had to stab the brakes. That car stopped right now. We were seriously lucky we had our seat belts on or the G forces would have tossed us forward. We missed the deer by a wide margin, and I accelerated away from the incident with a new respect. This is a well engineered car that is good in the snow, accelerates well, gets surprisingly good gas mileage, and oh yes, it has heated seats.

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