This week is being confusing – mostly about the car thing. Last week I got a break from thinking about it because I spent most of the week in Toledo for work. I’m still not that fond of TOledo but it was a good trip. It was sprung on me suddenly and I wasn’t too excited about going, but we got to present the results of an innovation effort, which was fun,a nd then I had a bunch of productive meetings. Also, one of my coworkers from here was traveling too, so I had someone to carpool and hang out with , which definitely makes a trip better. (Well, depending who it is, I guess. This was a good one.)

Now I have finally decided what car I want; once I realized that what I really wanted was something capable like a Subaru Outback plus something fun like a Mazda Miata (and I simply don’t have room to park two cars plus Ted’s truck), I settled on what turned out to be the booming new class of compact crossovers. I want to get a Mercedes GLA250, but the problem is that I don’t want to spend $50K. No, the problem is that the basic car from Mercedes isn’t that out of line with everyone else’s prices, but they charge about 4 times as much for most of the same options that everyone else has. Mercedes basic, $32K. Mazda or Subaru basic (for the highest-end model of a comparable car), $24K. Mercedes loaded, $50K. Mazda / Subaru loaded, $30K.

Also, I do really want the driver’s assistance package, which the cool new shiny autopilot features that everyone has this year, like a lane departure warning (and in some cars, a nudge back into your lane), auto-braking if an accident is impending, and radar cruise control that changes your speed if you’re using cruise control and get too close to the car in front of you. The engineer in me is torn between “just more things to break” and the prediciton that every car will have this stuff in three years and I’ll be hating my cvar if it doesn’t. Yet though there are about 50 GLA250s available from the local dealer, only two of them have that option – the two most expensive. Apparently Mercedes thinks no one could possibly acutally want that option unless they wanted every other option too.

The smart thing would be to buy a Subaru XV Crosstrek or a Mazda CX-3, both of which were a lot of fun to drive. Yet the two of them just don’t quite measure up. On the one hand, the fit and finish isn’t quite as nice – why get leather seats if they feel like cardboard? (Possibly it softens with use.) And on the other, there are some options that for some reason just aren’t available, like a powered driver’s seat with memory. THat’s a useful thing, when you have two drivers in the house who differ by nearly a foot in height.

So I’ve told the Mercedes dealer what I want, and to see what he can do for me. Since I don’t have to be in a hurry, I might even just go ahead and order one.