Monday, 11 June 2018

Absence and Disappointment, Part 3

Keeping in mind the newest vehicle I owned up to this point was an ex-RCMP, 2001 Chevrolet Impala Part 1 Part 2 Part 3, things come into a much clearer perspective when you continue to read my tale.

April 29th 2017 is a date that will forever be a turning point for me.

For the first time in my life, I walked into a car dealership with enough adult credibility and financial confidence to start and complete the serious process of acquiring a new car. Okay, not brand new, but a whole lot closer to the year I was currently living in than before.

After the disappointment of not moving a whole lot more forward on the my original choice, a 2013 Kia Soul, this 2014 Dodge Dart did have more than just a passing outward resemblance to my old, beloved Impala and the car was "something old, something new" to the revived naming scheme Chrysler was using.

With the test drive out of the way, it was now the "can you really afford this?" portion of the experience. Having bought one house and later, sold it to put a down payment and mortgage another, I was familiar with the misperception of time during the uncomfortable credit check and signing all those forms phase I was about to endure. Granted, this was on a smaller scale, both in size and bottom line cost versus a house, but still....

The first sign that I should have walked away from the deal was when the numbers started to go up rather dramatically. The stickered price was reasonable enough (can't remember the exact figures they were looking for, but there wasn't much effort to haggle those on my part), it was the taxes, dealer fees and a few other things I hadn't considered that kept on piling on, pushing what I would have to pay out upwards. It was a bit of a shock, however, I convinced myself that all of my future payments was going to be worth it.

The deal was sealed a few hours later and I left the lot, ready for new adventures.

Of the course of the next year, I had a mostly problem free and benign ownership experience with the Dart.

When I needed it to take me to work, it started and off we went. For times the family piled in and we went to do whatever, it took us where we wanted to go (or wherever we wound up). For being an office away from home (I sometimes have to drive up to a couple of hours to my destination, only to sit around and stare out the windows of my vehicle for twelve or more hours and then drive home again), there was a bit to be desired, I could never get the driver's seat just right.

The Dart had a lot of cool, almost futuristic features (remember my opening comments on my old Impala?), such as a auto dimming rear view mirror, back up camera, a fob instead of a key to start the thing, large touchscreen infotainment system, bluetooth connectivity, USB ports and a ton of other stuff. Sure, it had things I knew and experienced before, like power windows, tilt steering, traction control (throw ABS in with this) and working air conditioning (that died in my Impala the last year I owned it).

Funny enough, I found the tail lights, something I shouldn't see while driving my own car, to be the best of the futuristic touches.

The downsides started to show-up rather quickly too, more like "unexpected annoyances" than anything serious. For starters, the windows always fogged up under those perfect conditions. Despite my best cleaning efforts, I could never remedy that issue, nor keep the dust at bay. Ever once in a while, the infotainment system would flash a TV style test pattern, a couple of times while driving and the odd time during start up. The key-fob would just pop out from the ignition if I didn't start it right away (happened a few times, irritating to say the least) and I could never get the driver's seat set the way I wanted it (I know I said this before, but worth repeating).

The 2.4 litre Tigershark 4 cylinder engine put out "not bad" power, nothing like my old 3.8 litre Supercharged V6 from the Impala, but I do believe the Dodge was slightly better on gas. The one feature about this engine I could never get used to was the sound it made. When running and idling, it could have passed itself for a Volkswagen diesel, just the way the Mutliair valve system worked I suppose.

The transmission (or more correctly, the transaxle) would do it's own thing sometimes. If I was easy on the gas pedal, things were good, if I mashed it hard while in motion, it would drop into neutral for a split second. That was cool to get a bark out of the exhaust, not so much if I needed an immediate decision and action to speed out of certain danger (thankfully, that never happened).

Overall, the Dodge Dart was a really decent car, solidly built with a lot of "creature features."

Despite it's small list of shortcomings (like that driver's seat, which would continue to be my biggest gripe if I still had the car), I didn't mind the rest. I got me where I needed to go (much to the surprise of some folks I worked with), good on gas, an overall size I was used to and could manage and so on.

At one point I tossed around the ideas of either keeping it until it just wasn't financially viable (like the warranty ran out, parts prices are through the roof, no time to fix minor/major issues, wheels on the verge of falling off, in other words, most of the vehicles I owned before this one), or use it as a gateway car, perhaps using to step up to a newer Dodge/Chrysler in the future (I kept looking at those new Chargers....Hellcat....Challenger....).

However, the course of my future came crashing into my life like a rock from the sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment