“Dad, when are you going to get another ‘cool’ car to test drive?” my youngest son asked as he hopped into the passenger seat.
“What are you talking about, this is a ‘cool’ car,” I responded, slapping his hand as he reached for the radio dial in an attempt to change the station.
“Dad, it’s a minivan.”
“What’s your point?” I asked rhetorically.
“I’ll have you know this just happens to be the award-winning Honda Odyssey, hailed around the world for its fun-to-drive performance, its numerous safety features, its fuel efficiency, its flexible ability to handle a variety of passenger and cargo situation — and (I stressed the word and), its high resale value.
“What’s the big deal about that?” my young son asked.
“What’s the big deal about that?” I shot back. “Have you ever bought a new car, gone to great pains to wash it, wax it, have it serviced at all the regular intervals, then a few years later when you get ready to trade it in find out it’s only worth a fraction of what you paid for it? Do you know how devastating that is? Do you?” I asked.
“Dad, I’m not old enough to have a driver’s license,” young son replied.
“Right. Son, I think it’s time we had a talk about making responsible decisions.”
“Whoa! Dad! If you’re going to talk about the birds and bees again, I can just ride my bike. Really, it’s no trouble at all. Actually, there’s a math book I’ve been wanting to read. Now that I think about it, I’ll just go read.”
I pushed the power lock button before he had a chance to open the door.
“No, son, what we’re going to talk about is sound automotive investments. One day soon you’ll be making a very important decision on purchasing a vehicle and it’s not a decision to be made lightly,” I said.
“Don’t worry, Dad, I already know exactly what car I want to buy. It’s ….”
I cut him off in mid-sentence.
“Son, there are more things to consider than just horsepower and styling,” I said.
“Affordability — is it within your budget and can you afford to drive it once you own it? Practicality — does it meet all of your transportation needs? Safety — is the vehicle designed to help you avoid accidents from occuring, and is it equipped to protect you should an accident occur? Dependability — Is it a vehicle that has a history of holding up and needing few repairs? Depreciation — will it hold its value?
“For example, let’s take a look at this Honda Odyssey. Sure, it’s a minivan. It seats up to eight passengers and has lots of options for hauling cargo. It has earned top ratings for safety and is loaded with both passive and active safety features including ABS, vehicle stability assist, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and six airbags including side curtain airbag protection for all three rows. It has a base price starting around $25,000, gets 26 mpg highway, holds its resale value well and earns high marks for dependability. As you can see, it’s got a nice looking interior and has lots of standard features and, (I stressed the word and again) it’s fun to drive,” I said “So, in that regard the Honda Odyssey is a very ‘cool’ car.”
Young son glanced over at me from the passenger seat.
“Can we just talk about baseball?” he asked.
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.