A car manufacturer’s reputation is only as good as their product’s owners

After nearly ten full years, I’ve said goodbye to my Kia Forte.  It’s still a little bittersweet at the time I’m writing this, in spite of the excitement of having a new car after nearly ten years.  But with a sliver under 150,000 miles, degrading brakes, a baby on the way, and just the fact that I simply wanted a new, larger vehicle, I felt that the time was right for me to make a switch.

I wanted to capitalize on being in a position to where I had the luxury of time to do research, test drive multiple cars, and play a little bit of negotiation, as well as have the ability to sit on the bench and wait things out if things weren’t looking promising.  I wasn’t as fortunate the last time I was in the market for a car, but things still worked out well for me, seeing as how it was then in which I drove off in my Forte, and it served me extremely well over the last 9+ years.

But the point of this entire post was that I wanted to give an appropriate swan song for my former car, because throughout their entire existence, Kia has often been perceived as a below-average car manufacturer, but seeing as how I just traded in one that had nearly 150,000 miles on it, never had any mechanical problems, and where I did pretty much no maintenance other than oil changes and new tires whenever they were needed, I can confidently vouch for the quality of Kia cars, and can proudly say that I owned one for the better part of a decade.

When I was in the market last, I was in a pretty bad situation.  I had a lemon of a Mazda that I still owed money on, but I was fed up to hell repairing it and willing to punt on the rest of the financing just to be free of it and have a car that was just plain reliable.  I wasn’t working full-time and was still in my life of freelance, so I couldn’t afford to get something that I’d risk being unable to pay the financing on it, so I had to accept the fact that I probably wouldn’t be getting a dream car or anything of the such this time around, and that I just needed something that could be relied upon.

The Ford Fiesta was actually my top pick going into my search back then, but I told myself to drive anything and everything that was in my limited budget, and put aside all previous stereotypes and perceptions, and think of the greater good of getting a reliable car.  I took a weekend day to go to a part of town that had a large number of dealerships, and I went on a spree test driving cars.  Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cobalt, whatever was a compact car that I could make the numbers work.

Eventually, I found a Ford dealership that had a Fiesta that was also a stick shift, and I looked forward to getting in and taking it for a whirl.  But from the moment I sat down, my expectations were immediately souring.  The seats felt small and cheap, and the interior was cheap-looking, plasticky, and everything I touched from the console to the door handle felt shoddy and sub-par.  When I took the car off the lot, I shift from feel and sound, and I realized that I was revving to like 5,500 rpm before shifting, because the car just had no power and needed that much juice in order to get moving.  There was a lot of body roll, and the brakes felt soft and uninspired, and frankly I was ready to get the fuck off the lot when I was done with this.

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