So that night I went on line as I have done a few times in the past year to look at used cars in the area. The local Chevy dealer only 8 miles away had a nifty looking 2004 Pontiac Vibe. It also had several Chevy Trailblazers, a 2003 GMC Envoy and a 2006 Chevy Equinox. The plan has been a used car under $10,000. When I was looking last year that was the low price of even 2006 small SUVs most of them being more money. This shortage of used vehicles for reasonably low prices is a direct result of that "cash for clunkers" program. I don't even want to talk about that.
But Wednesday night the Lincoln Chevy dealer had several cars below 10k and Hal agreed to go look at one in particular the next morning (yesterday), the 2004 Pontiac Vibe listed at $6,995 with 126,000 miles on it. I checked out reviews of it and they were very, very good. Good gas mileage, decent price, a lovely cherry red color. A little worrisome in that it was already 9 years old, but we would see.
We took it for a test drive, twice because I found it awkward handling the first time which I thought could be attributed to fighting with the wheel of a huge sloppy steering truck. It was, second time it was easy and pleasant. The car itself had a noisy engine, it was only 4 cylinders so acceleration was slow, I would call it nimble though. It was a rainy day so I got to test out the windshield wipers, braking on wet pavement, etc. The interior was clean, black cloth seats with some obvious stains. the cargo area in back was nice, the rear seats folded down flush with the floor and it had tracks in the floor for tie downs. Stereo worked. But on the outside we noticed some rust (Hal did, actually) on the hood, never treated and bubbling up at the nose. Well my Taurus had lots more than that which we didn't notice at the time because it was covered up with paint, so maybe it wouldn't be a big deal. But under the hood there was also some obvious rust at the top of the struts.
In between those 2 test drives I drove the 2006 Equinox. It has 145,00 miles but it's 2 years newer. It doesn't get as good reviews but out of 5 stars possible on Edmund's for instance, it was over 4 stars. But this car drove wonderfully. It's slightly bigger but handles well. At first on starting it I couldn't hear the engine! Everything seemed to work fine, too and we couldn't find any rust on it, the body is in excellent shape, the carpet is a little worn
So as we sat in our salesman's office we went back and forth over mileage, age, rust, and price because the Equinox was $1000 more, though still under $10k. It was the rust and being 2 years older than killed it for the pretty red Pontiac. So at 3 pm today we will be meeting with our salesman (who isn't pushy at all!) with the check, the plate from my truck and other paperwork and then shortly after I should be the proud owner of a very nice small SUV! Looking forward to it. I will have more to say about "DarkStar" later.
edit to strike out info on decals, that was on the Pontiac radio. The Equinox radio is in primo condition. Also added photo.