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I think we have a — tight competition.

Posted by Miss Knotty on February 25, 2007

I’ve been test-driving, dear readers.  In the interest of not getting sued, I will use very generic names are my lay-person reviews for your consideration.

The cars in the running were all compact or sub-compact sedans.

Two were American-made, one was not.

One was from the family of cars that built my current car (in 1998), the other was from its competitor. The third is a foreign car with a similar model size and price point.

Car 1 was fun to drive. It has a larger, more powerful motor than Car 2, and was zippy and nice to drive in a standard transmission.  It handles well on the road, and dealt neatly with swerves and bumps.  The salesman was very personable (yes, it counts to me).  Cons: I had to option it up to a price past my range in order to get such basic amenities as air conditioning and a radio.  Blah. That said, the dealer incentive is pretty nice, and might push it back down into the affordable range again.  I don’t know how much I could get for my trade-in above this, though, and that’s a sticking point. It’s still a competitor, but I’m not sure whether a beneficial deal can be worked.C ar 2 was also fun to drive, it has more standard options that I’m looking for (i.e. standard air conditioning and the sound system for the base model is better than the sound system in Car 1, because it has a jack for the MP3 player to be plugged in right there.  However: Car 1 has an MP3-capable cd player – Meaning I could put a data disc in the player and it’ll play the music, which can hold 4x the number of songs my mp3 player can, which is pretty cool, and isn’t a drain on the MP3 player’s battery (feh, it runs on 1 AAA anyway, not a huge deal).  Car 2 also has a much lower sticker price, with an even less expensive invoice price, and I have a good friend in the finance department of the dealership – a bonus.  I have a pretty good idea what I would pay for it per month – a very reasonable rate indeed.  I’d have to do some negotiating with the dealer for car 1.  Con to Car 2: The only model they have that has the features I want on it (within 300 miles) is black, metallic orange or silver.  I really don’t want a black car.  Black cars, in TX, in Summer = uncomfortable heat dance.  We no likey.  In addition, black cars are nigh-on IMPOSSIBLE to keep looking clean.  However, it would appear (from the dealership I’m currently using) that the only other options I have are silver or metallic orange.  Since I seem to have gotten out of my orange/yellow phase, my options appear to be rather limited.  Still, though, silver is not so bad, and I’m just not crazy about the white, for some reason (which is pretty much a non-issue, since they don’t have any available).  The metallic blue color is starting to grow on me, but it reminds me of a cloudy day, so it might get depressing after a while, and also hard to keep looking clean. – and also not available.  But silver…. silver has possibilities.)  We shall see.

Car 3 – I shall not spend much time on car 3 – I was not impressed with it. The seats were uncomfortable. In order for my short height and t-rex arms to be able to reach the steering wheel and to be able to push the pedals all the way to the floor (a must on a standard transmission) – I was practically underneath the steering wheel.  Not a very roomy cockpit (especially compared to the other subcompacts I had been in that day, and I’m only 5’4, so that’s saying something.) Oh, and the salesman was a little churlish with me.  Not to mention that he didn’t volunteer very much information about the car.  I couldn’t get Car 1’s salesman to shut up about the features on the car, even to listen to the engine while on the test drive (although I eventually shushed him and he gladly acquiesced).  Not that I desire a hard sell, but I would have liked some specific answers to my specific questions relating to safety, standard options and performance.

Car 4 – (bonus for you readers) – I was in and out of the dealership in under 20 minutes – I didn’t even test-drive a car.  The salesman made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and they didn’t have a standard transmission of Car 4 in inventory.  All that said, I will likely NOT be buying a Car 4.  Based on the information I’ve located about safety, long-term resale value and …. safety, you don’t get a great deal for your money here.   Besides, just the salesman I had to deal with was bad enough that I didn’t want to even think about trying to negotiate or make a deal with him, even if Car 4 was literally an answer to prayer.  I’m serious.  I had an INSTANT fight-or-flight response to him.  I responded with flight.

So…. now I’m going to look at leasing vs. buying.  I’m thinking, on a vehicle of this price, that I’d do better purchasing it (especially since leasing really points towards more high-end, high resale-value cars.  Neither Car 1 nor Car 2 has a high-resale value, and I typically drive the car till the wheels fall off, duct-tape them back on, and then limp the car another several thousand miles, hoping to get to another educational milestone so that I can get a newer car, if I keep my grades up and my nose clean.  (Which worked, until I got my BA, and my newer car source informed me in no uncertain terms that that particular train had reached the end of its line – sigh).  Now I keep my nose clean just for the sheer joy of being able to breathe through my nose. (…Just go with it.)

I’m thinking a buy is a better option, and I’m leaning hard in Car 2’s direction, because of the price.  Still, though, I’m going to talk to Car 1’s dealership guy tomorrow and see what the actual price I’m looking at for a Car 1 would be.  Really and truly, at this point, we’re looking at price.  The features and drawbacks of one are pretty balanced to the features and drawbacks of the other. The resale value on Car 1 is higher, the warranty on Car 2 is better.

Car 3 is out of the running as a viable option, and I may go and test-drive a Car 4, just for the sake of saying that I’d done it (and been thorough and covered my test-driving bases).

Once we get done with all this talky talky, and my decision is made, and my name is on a line, and I have a new car, I’ll let you know what kind I got.  I don’t know that I’ll reveal the losing car’s information, I don’t know if that would be fair, but I imagine, based on what I pick, you’ll be able to figure out what its competitor(s) was(were).

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