Monday, March 28, 2011

On Car Shopping

(Edited to add: In case anyone was wondering, we are car shopping for the hubby – not myself!  We just bought my 2008 G6 last April, so I don’t need a new car. Stephen’s 1995 Isuzu Trooper is just not ideal for him anymore, especially with his new job! He is doing a lot more driving now than he used to and we are needing something a little more reliable!)

On Saturday, Stevo and I went car shopping. Um, hello. Can you say exhausting? I was (naively) expecting to just tell the salespeople that we were wanting to test drive Car A and Car B and then be on our merry little way.

But noooooo. Goodness gracious. Car salesmen want you to test drive every other car on the lot! And they ride with you, talking non-stop about why the cars on THEIR LOT are the best and why you don’t want to buy from the lot across the road, trash-talking their competitors. Then when you tell them that you’re ONLY TEST-DRIVING AND NOT BUYING TODAY they drag you into their office to “work the numbers” to try to “get you into that car today.”  Puh-lease.

I’m not a fan of being pressured into spending that much money, especially in just a few hours. We burst a lot of salesmen bubbles on Saturday.  But, we did test drive 8 different vehicles. Before we left, I made out a Ratings Sheet that we took with us. (Nerdy, I know, but it really helped!)  It included areas such as Comfort for Driver/Passenger/Back seat, Gas Mileage, Handling, Price, etc.  We rated each car after we drove it and at the end of the day we totaled up the numbers then put everything in order. It came in really handy!  Here are our top four picks.

elentra

The Hyundai Elantra came in at the top of the list. It scored an impressive 72/80.  The biggest downfall to this car was the price.  I think the salesman quoted us too high though, because we looked it up after we got home we’re thinking it should be about $2000 less than the price he gave us.  It was very comfortable, had plenty of room for Christopher’s carseat plus one for a baby brother or sister in a few years, GREAT gas mileage (40+ highway) and we like the way it handled and the way it looks.

escape

Coming in at number two on the list (67/80) was the Ford Escape. I. Love. Escapes.  I would be insanely jealous of Stephen if we bought this car for him.  We both loved the comfort, extra room, and appearance. The gas mileage is good for an SUV but it’s not good compared to the Elantra.  Also, it’s on the VERY UPPER END of our budget. The only way we could afford something like this is if we were to get it for a great price and a LOW APR.

fiesta

There was a tie for third place (65/80) between the Ford Fiesta (above) and the Kia Sportage (below.)

sportage

The great thing about the Fiesta is the sticker price.  Less than $15,000 for a brand new car?  Yes, please!  it also has awesome gas mileage (40+, like the Elantra.)  The biggest drawback was the size – it’s comfortable enough for me and Stephen driving to school, but not big enough for our family in a few years.

The Sportage was the very first vehicle that we test drove and we LOVED it. It’s more of a crossover instead of an SUV like the Escape. It was very smooth, very comfortable, had plenty of room (although it is a bit smaller than the Escape) and had really good gas mileage for a crossover - average of 31 highway.  It’s a few thousand less than the Escape, so that’s a positive, as well.

Another thing we have to consider is the fact that the Hyundai and the Kia both have 5-year Bumper-to-Bumper and 10-year Limited Warranties, whereas the Fords have 3-year Bumper-to-Bumper and 5-year Limited Warranties.  When we consider the fact that our loan could very well be a 5-year loan, we would definitely prefer the better warranty.

There are lots of other factors that we have to consider. We don’t feel like there’s any one vehicle that is standing out above the others. It’s a really tough decision! We like different things about all four of these vehicles. One minute we’ll think that the Fiesta is the way to go because of the price and mileage, but the next minute we’re thinking that the Sportage is the way to go because of the room and warranty.

If you have any advice or opinions about any of these cars (or just about buying a car in general!) I would love to hear it!

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--Steph