Car Shopping – Heaven, or Hell?
I have purchased 2 new cars in the past few years in totally different ways. As part of my continuing coverage of car stuff for Toyota, I’d love to hear about how car shopping is for you. I know that most people – and especially women – hate it.
My problems were compounded by wanting a car (Honda Fit) that was in short supply in the United States, since it was brand new here. I got the exact car I wanted, but I paid full price.
…and I needed a new car, I was under pressure. I was driving my mom’s 1994 Lincoln Continental Land Yacht and I felt SO UNSAFE in that car. Part of it was a slight case of PTSD from having just been accordioned on the freeway. The other part was that, in safety years, 1994 was a century ago. A big slippery bench seat, no head restraints, one ancient airbag and a seatbelt that only worked about 70 percent of the time…I felt panicked every time I had to drive that thing.
The hatchback was for the dog, naturally. I had to have a car that worked for her. She runs my life. The small was for me. I feel some responsibility for trying to keep my carbon footprint smaller by driving a small car.
I wanted to look at, in no particular order:
- Honda Fit
- Kia Soul
- Toyota Matrix
- Mazda 3
- 2012 Ford Focus
I went out and test-drove the cars, which was kind of a bizarre experience. The salespeople were generally so low-key that I felt like they some of them weren’t even trying. They were the anti-high-pressure salespeople you always hear about. One guy at the Kia dealership did not say ONE WORD to me during the test drive. I hated the car (the Kia Soul), but even if I had loved it, I wouldn’t have bought a car from him.
I didn’t get to drive a Toyota Matrix because the local dealership didn’t have any. It was a month after the Japan earthquake and things were a little weird with the Japanese car supply (yes, I know many Toyotas are made in the US). The 2012 Ford Focus was not yet available, though I visited 3 dealerships at least 5 times trying to find it.
I drove another Honda Fit, of course, and thought it was a fine option. My favorite car was the Mazda 3, which was so sporty and fun to drive – but it was comparatively pricey and the gas mileage wasn’t great.
But in the end, the Hyundai Elantra Touring won. I hadn’t even considered it originally but a very competent salesman at the Hyundai dealership went out of his was to make sure to call me when they got one in. He figured out what car would suit me best after showing me everything on the lot. They didn’t have an Elantra Touring the day I was first there because they were in short supply, but they got 2 in about a week later, and he called me to come in for a test drive.
I’m not super keen on how it looks, especially the color, which I haaaaate (silver cars are my least favorite). I think the style is pretty dull, though my BFF CC keeps telling me how gorgeous she thinks it is.
For the price – around $20,000 – it has great features (leather, sunroof, nice wheels, Sirius XM) and a 10-year powertrain warranty, which is ultimately what sold me.
I pre-arranged financing with my credit union and also joined Costco to take part in their buying program, which made me feel comfortable I was getting a good loan rate and a good price.
So for me, I felt like the internet was my best friend in car shopping. A good credit rating didn’t hurt, either. I am such a big dope that I could never walk in not knowing what I was doing and attempt to grapple with the salesperson/sales manager and hope to get what I wanted at a decent price.
After my experience test-driving all of those Toyotas the other day, I have a new fantasy – some kind of test-driving facility run as a co-op between all the car dealers without salespeople, but with all makes and models of cars to test, side-by-side, one after the other. No pressure, just a way to directly compare cars. Will someone please make that happen for me?
So tell me about your best or worst car shopping experience. I’d love to know.
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.
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