Monday, February 03, 2014

The Great Bonaire Car Hunt

A friend of mine is looking to get his mother a small used car with an automatic transmission.  They are very difficult to find here on Bonaire.  Even harder to find are small second hand SUV/Crossover vehicles with an automatic transmission.

At one dealer, probably the largest on the island, we learned that about 85% of the vehicles they sell are 4 door pickups and SUVs.  A few years ago, over 85% of these had manual transmissions.  Today, over 85% of them have automatic transmissions.  One only has to "drive" through the gridlock downtown whenever cruise ships are in town to get a handle on what caused this big reversal.

So most second hand vehicles these days have manual transmissions, but that will change in a few years, I think.  My friend needs a vehicle now, so he's begun looking at (gasp) new cars and mini SUVs.

Here is what we found:

A Chevy Spark (also known as a Daewoo Matiz) was the least expensive new car we saw, coming in at $14,700 with an automatic transmission.

A Hyundai Accent came in about $16K+ for the base model, ranging up to $20K+ for fancier versions.  The Elantra might have been in the $24K range.

The least expensive SUV was the (3rd generation) Suzuki Jimny for $22,000 with auto transmission.  That is about twice what we paid for our 1991 Suzuki Samurai, which is still our daily driver, 'tho it is getting kind of ragged.

A Daihatsu Terios, with automatic trans, was in the $24K range and a Hyundai Tucson was in the $29Ks.  The Toyota Rav4 might have been in the $34Ks, but we didn't look too closely at anything over $30K.

We saw two Toyota Prius models, a normal one and the sort of station wagon-y one.  They were both in the $31Ks.  I'm not sure what the trim level is on these cars compared to the USA models: 2,3,4,and 5.
Wikipedia says that the plural of Prius is Prii.  I had been wondering about that.  Really.
By the way, in the States, this car is know as a Pree-us.  On the Top Gear TV show from the UK, they call it a Pry-us.  I didn't think to ask the salesman what they call it here on Bonaire.  He and my friend had switched from Papiamentu to Dutch by that point in the conversation, leaving me in the proverbial dust.

So what did my friend buy?  Nothing yet.  As I left him, he was mumbling something about looking for small second hand SUVs with automatic transmissions, in Curacao!

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