You guys, I’m in love. She’s cool, and gorgeous, and not like anything I’ve experienced before. She’s a bright blue 2017 Hyundai Elantra. I’ve named her “Electra.”

She’s not an electric car; I just thought “Electra the Elantra” would be catchy. It’s a used car, but with only 46,000 miles on it, which makes it the newest car anyone in my family has ever purchased. I bought it in Saco and had an excellent purchasing experience. They didn’t try to upsell me or spring surprise fees and costs on me, and they let me do most of my communicating by text, which was vital for me as a millennial.

I swore I would never buy a car other than a Subaru, and yet when my last Subaru bit the dust – I drove it into the ground, and then accidentally into a small ditch filled with sharp rocks, which spelled the death knell – I couldn’t find a good replacement in my price range. It took me a while to move on emotionally from my first love, a black Subaru Outback sedan with leather seats that was totaled in a crash that I walked away from unscathed because the car took the damage for me. First loves have a way of setting patterns. But then I thought – well, maybe trying something a little different for once might be good for me.

I try not to be materialistic, as a rule, and I think I’m usually pretty good at it but – I can’t help it. This car is just so nice. It has a push to start button, and a backup camera, and functional air conditioning. Fully functional!

Of course, I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, so I do feel guilty for buying a car that’s just, you know, spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I would have preferred a hybrid, but those are still a bit out of my price range. And anyway, the Elantra gets about 35 miles per gallon, which isn’t too bad – or so I tell myself, as I drive my daily round-trip commute of nearly 100 miles (Buxton to Brunswick and back, five days a week. My life is exciting and glamorous). Good mileage was pretty much my sole qualification when I started searching for some new wheels. (My mom was getting pretty tired of me taking her car to get to work. Not that she had anywhere to go, on account of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s the principle of the thing.)

And it’s fun to drive. I used to think I hated driving – it turns out that I just hated driving cruddy cars. It’s taken some time to get used to an engine that doesn’t make weird clunking noises or screeching sounds, or any loud sounds at all, really. It also accelerates deceptively smoothly.

In my last car, if you went over 50, you felt the engine straining, and the faster you went, the louder the screeching got (I assume it was screeching in protest). But in Electra, everything above 60 mph feels the same. Which came very close to getting me in trouble the first week I was driving it and still getting accustomed to it. (Sorry, Officer.) And the sound system is so powerful that if I lean my left knee against the driver’s side door while the radio is on, I can feel the vibrations in my kneecap.

The car was $12,000, which makes it the single most expensive item I have ever bought, unless you count my college degrees. I paid half in cash and took out a loan for the other half, and got a 2 percent APR from Casco Federal Credit Union.

Getting good credit ratings on things makes me feel like a real grown-up. And I’m proud of that. I don’t have a lot of money, but I do a pretty good job of managing what I’ve got, and it’s nice to reap a little reward from it. But at the same time, it makes me feel a little uneasy – I could have bought a cheaper vehicle.

But I didn’t. I wanted something nice and I saw something nice and I bought it because I wanted it. But don’t I deserve nice things? Well, sure, but usually when I decide to treat myself to something nice and use that as justification, it’s a scented candle.

It’s times like this I miss Grammy. In addition to being a financial whiz, whose echoing advice to me guided every step of the car-buying process, Grammy was an eminently sensible woman with enough life experience that she had something wise to say for any occasion. She’d have something to say to make everything make sense. And one thing I know for sure: She would be very proud of that APR.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: mainemillennial


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