I’ve had a couple of cars in mind that I wanted to check out, and I rifled through Cars.com this morning to see if anything else caught my eye. Something did, for sure. I went and looked at it first.

It’s a 2012 Nissan Cube with 67k. Here’s a link to the ad.

Yes, I know, lots of people hate them. “It’s so ugly! Why would you want anything with a CVT? They’re terrible!” Yes, the CVT sucks.

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NO CVT! 6-speed manual FTW. I went up to Longmont to check it out. After my truck experience, I went over this thing way more critically than usual. It’s clean inside mostly. Really needs a good vacuuming, but everything is in good shape. Power everything, decent stereo (more on that later), and not very much damage anywhere.

Took it for a drive, and it felt WAY faster than the horrid CVT. The 6-speed is mostly good, though the grid is a little too close together for my tastes. It’s easy to accidentally try for 4th when you mean to put in in 6th. But the shifts are smooth and easy. The clutch pedal is light, but not too light. The feel is ok. It drove solid. No pulling, no noise.

There are a couple of problems. First, the rear speakers are out. No sound at all. It’s a factory head unit. The fronts work (but are not that good TBH), but nothing from the rears. The other problem is a very small oil leak. It dripped about 2 drops of oil while we were looking at it. Judging by the location I’d guess it’s from the oil pan gasket, but it also could be a leaky filter. I could see the filter from the top of the engine but couldn’t get a good look underneath the filter. The salesman will have it looked at on Monday for me and call me back. If those two things are fixed, I think it’s the current front runner. I really enjoyed it, and I know my partner will get a kick out of it too. We’ll see what happens.

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While I was in Longmont I planned to look at the Town Car I posted a while back, but apparently they sold it yesterday. Boo.

Second, I went to the dealer where I bought my Optima to look at a 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE. Link.

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It’s a grand cheaper than the Cube and it does have a sunroof, but it has 50k more miles. Also, it’s not as clean inside.

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Hyundai/Kia fabrics are nasty to begin with, and these seats are all stained pretty bad. Other than that it’s ok. No weird smells or other interior damage.

I took it for a drive. It definitely has more power than the Cube but the shifter is vague and the clutch engage point is too close to the floor. Enthusiasts love to pretend that a manual is always better than an automatic, but that’s a load of crap. This car would be better with an auto, sorry. It’s fine, but it adds zero fun to the experience. Just more work.

The problems with this Elantra are a surprising amount of rust on the metal cross member right above the radiator (surprising because this is a Colorado car according to the Carfax), and the sunroof is sagging on one end. It’s like it’s compressing the seal on one side. That’s not a good sign. There’s no evidence of water getting into the cabin, but it’s a matter of time. I’ll pass on this one, as there are a few other Elantras I could look at in this range. I could look at them, but I won’t. My biggest reservation was that while I test drove it I could hear myself thinking, “Nope, I don’t want this.” It’s so painfully boring. Cross this one off the list.

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Finally, while I was in the neighborhood, I decided to look at this thing.

An orange HHR panel. Go ahead, fight me. I’ve been mostly indifferent to these, but for some reason I really like the panel version.

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Also, it’s a manual.

Weirdly, all of the interior pictures of this in the ad make it look like it was filthy inside, but it’s not. It could use a good Svending, sure, but it’s not that bad, really. It does have a bit of a funk in it, mostly smoke. I didn’t drive this one yet because it was buried. The lot is really tiny. They did start it for me and it sounds good, all the fluids look good, but the manual is not precise like the Nissan. It reminds me more of a truck transmission. I don’t think it’d bug me that much. I told the guy I’d call ahead next time so they can get it dug out. It seems like it’d be fun and it’s also cheaper than the Cube.

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Like I said, right now the Cube is the front runner. I know the engine fairly well from the old Versa I maintained at my last job (which is still buzzing around with 240k+ miles), the mileage is so low, and it’s in great shape. And it was fun! As long as the oil leak and speakers are fixed, I may pull the trigger. If not, I’ll see if I can try out the HHR later in the week.