Here she is: http://www.toyota.com.matrix Just as red as in the photo. Yowza. As my sister says, "You'll certainly be visible."
Molly was an emergency purchase, when Bobo, her predecessor, blew a gasket. I'm having a hard time finding a link to Ford Escorts, but Bobo -- short for Boris the Blue Beast -- was a "French Blue" 1993 station wagon. Best car I've ever owned -- when that gasket blew, he had 208,000 miles on him, and the pickup in the engine was just phenomenal.
Anyway, you can't drive a car that keeps stalling out on you. So we went shopping, oh, about three weeks ago now, for something in our price range. We first checked out another Ford, a 2005 Focus, which would seem to be the logical descendant of the Escort -- nuh-uh. The leg room was awful, and we found ourselves sitting shoulder to shoulder. I could picture me driving around in this little puddle jumper on a typical day -- I'd go nuts inside of half an hour.
Our daughter has had a Matrix for about a year, and loves it, and I'd been thinking about it for some time, since I knew that my dream car, the Mini Cooper, was plain out of our price range. So, after we determined that the Focus was just plain cramped, we headed over to the Toyota dealership -- and there she was, the only manual transmission on the lot. A very tidy engine layout, and even at the rock-bottom price they were asking, she came with a ton of options (a/c, CD player and radio, floor mats, to name a few). We took her out for a test drive, and for me, it was love at first drive -- Jim's still warming up to her.
This is the first new car we have ever owned as a couple -- my first car was a new 1967 VW Beetle -- and also the first car of its size. We've always driven compacts before. It's so wonderful to be able to see over the top of our hedge! But even better is that, even with the increased size and the steel side-impact beams, this car still gets 30-36 mpg. I've filled the tank twice now, and I'm getting around 35 mpg, all in-town driving, and that includes letting the engine warm up on the frigid mornings we've been having.
In other news, Chris called yesterday -- he's signed a lease and put down a security deposit on a 1-bedroom apartment in Enfield, NH, population 5,000. It's about ten miles to his new job in White River Junction, much better than the 45-minute commute he had from Lansdale PA to New Hope, and he says the apartment is very "rustic," meaning lots of wood trim. He does need furniture, and I expect that a new futon sofa is going to be our housewarming gift to him -- he ended up leaving virtually everything in PA, when he couldn't get it into the elevator to move it (no service elevator). Oh, the best thing about this apartment? Depends -- from his point of view, it's the same price he was paying in Lansdale, and includes heat and hot water. From our point of view -- it's across the street from the police station!