Blog / Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

When I bought my 2007 Kia Rio back in December, I was in need of a car to get to and from my job every day (then a 1:15 commute each way). I was in a time crunch too, and had very little time after work to view cars in person. But I ended up with the Kia Rio because it was in my budget, had low miles, and I could buy it in my hometown. In many ways, however, I lucked out.

My Kia Rio is a very basic car. It gets me from A to B and does very little else. My brother has the 2008, and I’m proud to say that mine is a step up from his in that it has power windows and power locks. There’s also airbags coming out of the wazoo (based on the baby seat manual left in one of the seat pockets, I’m guessing the previous owner bought it for safety of their child and thus got the most airbags available).

However, what I didn’t count on was the decent gas mileage of the vehicle. For reference, my first vehicle was an ’88 Ford Ranger which pulled in a mean 18 MPG. My second vehicle was a 5-speed ’90 Mazda 626 and on its best day could get me 32 MPG, its worst brought me in the low 20s. The Kia Rio, however, did 32 MPG like it was made for greater things. In all the driving I’ve done in the car, it’s pulled in an average 34 MPG. Not too shabby for a basic car not built to pull in great numbers.

In April, I took my first trip up to Minneapolis to visit my girlfriend, Ellie. The weather was nicer than I expected for the icy northlands and I had only packed jeans. I also hadn’t prepared myself mentally or physically for the 5 hour drive in a car without cruise control. My ankle weakened slowly after a day already spent sitting in a chair and because of this my speed traveled all over the speedometer. At some points in the journey, I was down around 60 MPH and in other parts, I was up at 85. I don’t feel the need for speed like I used to so for me to be that high up clearly meant I was struggling. Clearly. After five hours of travel on the highway, I pulled in a dismal 32 MPG. There was clearly too much speed variance for my own good.

At least I had a great time in the Cities with a lovely woman:

At the Sculpture Garden
We’re too cool to take our sunglasses off.

Then, I got an idea. I decided to look into aftermarket cruise control. Personally, the thought of installing something that the car manufacturer didn’t, scares me a little. Maybe it wasn’t put there for a reason? What if it gets installed wrong and then I’m driving a ticking bomb? Apparently, these thoughts weren’t enough to discourage me from shopping for an aftermarket add on and ordering it. I added a rush shipping fee because I wanted to make sure I had it before my second trip to the Cities. Yes, I was a daring person twice in a week. I’m still alive. Did I mention that I installed it myself?

Okay, maybe not by myself, my dad helped. A word of advice, have a very limber friend be willing to help you install cruise control as it involves burying yourself underneath the gas and brake pedals for a couple of hours. Also, be fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into before you start. It’s not a particularly difficult thing to install, but finding the wires and splitting them can be daunting to a novice (hence why I had my dad check what I was doing before I did anything with wires).

But I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “Was it worth it, Danny?” Yes. Yes it was completely worth it. It bumped my MPG on my next trip to Minneapolis all the way up to 37.5 MPG. Not too shabby. Oh, and while I was finishing the last 20 minutes to pick up Ellie from her friend’s outdoor concert, I got to watch July 3rd fireworks being shot off all over the city. It was kind of really cool.

For the 4th of July, I met more of Ellie’s friends and ended up going on a bar crawl with them. Danny and a bunch of 21-year-old girls at the bar makes for a fun night. They approved of me for Ellie. The days spent up there were again full of beautiful, if a little hot, weather.

After that brief stay, I brought Ellie back with me to meet my family. Yikes. By a show of hands, who looks forward to meeting their partner’s family? I see no hands.

This past weekend, I drove up a third time and averaged 36 MPG for the trip. I wanted to install a cold air intake on my Kia Rio to further improve gas mileage but I waited too long to order it that I knew it wouldn’t be delivered in time for me to install it. I’ll get it eventually.

Sadly, the weather wasn’t all that great for the full day that I was there. It was cold and it rained and it ruined our outdoors plans of either going to the beach or going to the zoo (we were leaning towards the zoo because animals). We ended up shopping in a mall, not even the Mall of America, most of the day. We followed that up with a visit to an art museum where I got to see a Lichtenstein!


After that, we tortured ourselves and suffered through Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke, in my opinion, is a terrible actor.

Sunday, the weather cleared up and gave us a great day to work with before I had to head home. We had brunch at The Wilde Roast and ate outside. I tried poached eggs for the first time, Ellie had what I thought was a mix between a spinach omelet and lasagna. We wandered around the Mississippi waterfront for a while to delay my departure.

The Mighty Mississippi
The Mighty Mississippi

We also tried to take a decent photo of ourselves. We mostly failed:


But eventually got one right:20130728_143046.jpg

 I think that’s as up to date as I can get you on both my car and my girlfriend. Ask me questions if you think I forgot some details.

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