(Honda) Insight Insights

This makes two non-food posts in a row. This trend will cease, I promise. Before you know it, I’ll be back to recipes, or write-ups of my local farmer’s market, or odes in verse to Manchego cheese, or what have you.

But like I said with regards to our recent spate of inclement weather: sometimes life impinges on baking. And this time, by life, I mean a new car.

Yeah. You heard what I said. Sarah and I have traded in our eleven-year-old, couldn’t-pass-its-emissions-test Toyota Corolla for something a little more modern, something a little more stylish, something a little more green. Well … actually less green. Taffeta white, to be exact. But stingier at the pump, at least, if you catch my drift.

We marshaled our forces, and laid siege to a Honda Insight Hybrid.

Now, before you say anything, the answer is yes. It is that Honda Insight Hybrid. The one that Consumer Reports panned roundly, and the one that Jeremy Clarkson of The Times of London called biblically terrible. But they can think what they like. That’s just, like, they’re opinion, man. We drove it. We liked it. It seemed more than adequate to our meager needs. And it was considerably less expensive (and drove considerably less like a boat on wheels) than the Toyota Prius.

I have no intention of telling you all about the Insight. You can find ample information about it here, if you want. And it is my considered opinion that there is no particular need to wax poetical about any car, new or old, except inasmuch as one should appreciate the presence of four wheels, working brakes, and an engine that goes when one presses on the gas. Still, I suppose, one must appreciate its sleek styling, its feisty pep, its EPA 43/40 fuel efficiency that many anecdotal reports suggest is in fact even better than advertised.

Okay. Maybe I am just a little bit excited. But it will pass.

Meanwhile, though I will not be boring you with inane automotive details, I will tell you that in the process of making the purchase, I learned some important things:

1) Everybody — from your friends, to your parents, to their friends, to your acupuncturist — is full of advice. Much of it is good. So seek it out. The odds are that everybody has bought a car more recently than you have.

2) Sales people are all really nice until you tell them that you’re going to buy. Then they’re sharks.

3) It’s not that the sales people are out to get you, or that they’re bad or dishonest. It’s that they do this every day. For a living. Whereas you do this — what? — once or twice a decade.

4) You’ll never get the price you want, especially for a hybrid. And especially if the dealer you’re working with is big.

5) You’ll also never get the trade-in value you’d like, or that you think you deserve, or that Kelly Blue Book says that you are due, even at their lowest valuation.

6) And it is probably better not to agree to buy the car, put down a small deposit, then tell the sales person that you’ll come back on Monday to close out the deal. Once they know you’re committed, you’re no longer a priority. And you might as well be something they dragged onto the showroom floor on the bottom of their shoe.

Items two through six really make my buying experience sound horrid, don’t they? But that’s not entirely accurate. Sure, there were some horrid moments: being kept waiting by the sales people, being forced to prove my financial solvency, having the dealership temporarily lose my financing information after I had already driven the car off the lot. But the truth of the matter is that I worked with two pretty trustworthy sales people, I got the car that I wanted, I got it at a price that all the online sources say is more than reasonable, and I am left with no lasting bumps or bruises, metaphorical or otherwise, as a result.

Buying a car, I think, is always going to be a little bit unpleasant because it’s such a big purchase, because it happens so infrequently, and because it’s one of the few circumstances (in the United States, at least) where we are compelled to haggle. It’s a lot of pressure. But you’ve got to take the bitter with the sweet, I always say. There was a short, intense interlude of feeling jerked around. But the likelihood is that there will be a much longer period — more than a decade, if my last car is any measure — where I will feel like a savvy consumer who only has to buy gas every four-to-six-hundred miles. And that, it seems to me, is worth it.

So … uh … happy new car day to me!