Ryan and I are buying a car, probably this week. Last weekend we went and did test drives for our top three picks. Poor Haydie—that’s a lot of time in the car seat.
Our top three picks are (in no particular order) the Honda Accord, the Hyundai Sonata and the Toyota Camry. See if you can match the cars to my descriptions of the cars and dealer experiences.
- Car A—A nice car—of course, it isn’t the lowest trim line either. Anyway, it’s a little bit tight getting the car seat in the back. Leg room seems a little smaller in the back. Radio controls on the steering wheel. Cool. Where’s the keyboard so I can text 😉 ? Handles nicely, quiet ride, good acceleration, but overall a pretty short drive.
- Car B—Also a nice car. This is the lowest trim line, but has some features that other cars didn’t, including map lights and a sunglass case. I like the layout of the “cockpit,” with the cupholders, storage, etc. Backseat seems to have plenty of legroom. The gearshift (automatic) has a pretty convoluted track. Didn’t pay attention to noise, but I didn’t notice any. Vehicle stability is standard.
- Car C—Radio controls on the steering wheel. That’s nice. A nice car… nothing extremely remarkable. Good drive.
Hayden got tipped over in the back seat once and it took us a few minutes to realize it and fix it . Wouldn’t happen with the LATCH system, though. (LATCH is required on all cars, so not a selling point.)
- Dealer 1—We look around for a few minutes at cars. Of course, we’re a little bit lost—there’s no real system to arranging cars in a lot. After a bit a salesman approaches us. He’s quite helpful and offers to pull a car out for us to look at. The first car he tries doesn’t start :/ . He gets a car out for us, we inspect it. The four of us (Ryan, Hayden, sales guy and me) get in and take it around the block. We drop off the sales guy and he finally tells us his name. We take off for 20 minutes. I get to drive, too. We come back—the show room’s under construction, and it’s noisy. He lets us sit in the training room so it’s not as loud for the baby. We have to wait a little while. He gives us a verbal quote of the final price (well below MSRP) and mentions a deal for 1.9% financing. That’s about it—no pressure. We get a viewbook for the car and a reprint of a favorable article.
- Dealer 2—We look for a few minutes at cars before a sales guy approaches us. He lets us take out a higher trim line (trying to upsell us?). After a shortish drive, we come back. He invites us in. We see popcorn and a soda fountain. We are not offered any. We ask him to compare his car to other less expensive options. He almost balks: “It’s a [Brand]…” Assures us that there would be a big difference if we could see them side by side. Something about a solid feeling in the car when you slam the door shut. (My dad would kill me if I slammed the door shut!) He gives us a computer printed quote (lower than we’d expected, but just slightly below MSRP) and a viewbook for the car. Even less pressure than the first place. We only catch his name because his card is stapled to the viewbook.
- Dealer 3—We get approached pretty quickly. The sales guy actually gives us his name! He comes with us for the whole test drive. When we get back, he shows us the optional leather seats. I don’t want leather seats, but he didn’t ask that question. Again, we drove a higher trim line than we’d wanted to. Apparently, there aren’t ANY of the economy trim line on this lot or the next nearest dealer’s lot. Hm… Gets us hot chocolate and a viewbook. Sales guy writes up a quote while we look at colors. Don’t have the color I like. He asks what color I want, I pick an okay color, he goes to check if there are any on the lot. There are. He asks if we’re Costco members. We are, so that’ll get us a better deal. We know this. According to Costco, if we go through them we’ll get a few thousand knocked off. Sales guy goes to talk with his manager to get us our best price. He knocks off $640. Golly, what a deal. Still well over MSRP. Manager comes over to talk to us. We ask him to compare brands. He tells us that this car is the most popular car in America. That’s neat, but “Everybody’s doing it” didn’t work on us even when we were in high school. Hayden is approaching melt down (this is our exit strategy). Manager: “What can I do to get you folks in a [Brand] today?” Nothing—we’re not buying today. Hands down, absolutely not. Takes us a few minutes to convince him of this fact. Meanwhile, Hayden’s starting to freak. Still, the meeting ends amicably enough.
It’s tough. As one guy at a dealership put it, “It’s difficult because all new cars are nice.” Can you tell which car and dealership is the nicest to us? And can you tell which car they match to?