Recently my mom’s mom passed away, so I made the journey home to the East Coast for the funeral and some family time. For good or ill, I can’t shut off the ‘car’ part of my brain even for such weighty occasions, so I came away from the trip as I always do a few automobile-related experiences and observations.
First, I bought a “duPont Registry” magazine at the airport Hudson News store to read on the airplane. I usually manage to avoid doing this because as you know if you’ve ever bought one, it is not a actually a magazine but a 250-page collection of advertisements for cars and dealerships that sell cars no 99-percenter can afford.
I caved this time around because the December 2011 issue has some lovely renderings of TechArt-modded 997s on the cover. On one hand, I hate TechArt for doing what they do to Porsches, with their ridiculous body kits and huge wheels, but on the other hand, the Fast and Furious part of me thinks they are pretty cool in that tuner-ish kind of way. Still, I could never take my exquisite hunk of bulletproof German engineering to some random garage where they would hack it all up, cover it with cheap fiberglass, slap dub-deuces on it, and remap the ECU to make OVER 9000!!!! horsepower (for the three seconds before the whole engine comes apart).
Anyway, there was nothing interesting to a mere mortal like myself in the DR mag EXCEPT for two specific ads: one on page 75 and one on page 190. On 75, a law office offers to help you register your vehicle in Montana to avoid sales tax and numerous other government charges. On 190, there’s a similar ad for a service that does the same sort of thing, except in Alaska.
These piqued my interest because the massive downside to buying a car (new or used) from a dealership in the state of Nevada, where I currently reside, is that you pay the standard 8.3% state sales tax on the transaction. According to blog.truecar.com, a sales tracking website, the average transaction for a new, typical passenger vehicle in the US is right around $30,000. The add-on tax a buyer would have to pay to complete that transaction would be $2,500. Ridiculous. So even if these advertised services charge $500 or so, you’d still save two grand! I’m going to follow up on these at some point, and I’ll pass along my findings.
Item two from the trip East comes from a drive I had in my mom’s first-gen TSX. Her car is unfortunately saddled with an automatic transmission, which is the same thing as buying the Baltimore Ravens and then immediately trading away Ray Rice. It’s still a strong franchise, but you missed out on the most vital part.
I did both some back-road and some highway driving in both day and night for around ninety minutes total time behind the wheel. Conclusions: the suspension tuning is indeed excellent. The steering is as precise as it can be for a front-engine, front-drive car, but quickly gives way to understeer, as would be expected. The engine note is definitely not in line with the lofty goals of a ‘premium’ brand, and the engine performance is certainly not overwhelming, though the throttle response is quick. According to the mileage computer displayed on the dashboard, the car averages 24-25 mpg in mixed driving on the required premium fuel. Interestingly, the 5-speed auto has a better EPA mileage rating than the 6-speed manual (19/22 versus 20/23).
On cars.com right now, first-gen TSXs with manual gearboxes and
less than 60k miles are floating around in the $17-20k list price range with the main differentiator being the presence of a nav system, which was the only noteworthy option available from the factory. That seems a bit high given the recent glut of high-quality small cars that have come from a number of manufacturers, both foreign and domestic. The price of a used TSX doesn’t seem to have adjusted for this fact, as my mom could probably sell hers fairly quickly for about what she paid for it a year ago. Still, it’s a decent car with a phenomenal manual gearbox, and if you can find a clean one for under $17k (don’t forget about the tax!), it’s a solid buy.
Back to the airport for me. Can’t wait to get home to my wife, kids, and my new car mags, which came in the mail while I was gone.