Our Car Shopping Experiences. Part 1

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About 4 years ago Tiana and I made a purchasing mistake.  We bought a car for our family that lacked the ability to meet some of our families needs.  While the vehicle is fine for driving around the city it has given us some grief on the annual anniversary camping trip.  So here we are starting the process of buying a new car for our family.  Sadly it won’t be here on time for the big USA roadie, in fact this will be months of finding the right fit for our family, as we move into a nicer and more luxurious ride.

Ok so maybe a bit misleading with my photo for this article,  Although I would certainly enjoy a nice Bentley Continental GT, I don’t know if it is the appropriate size for our annual camping trip.  What’s that you say Bentley is releasing a brand new SUV this year.  Perfect, right.  Apparently my wife would like us to purchase a vehicle they won’t repossess before we get to the curb of the parking lot.

So with that in mind we set out on a semi realistic shopping trip last weekend.  Knowing full well we will drive many of these cars a number of times, and participate in many hours of research, we wanted to get a head start.  So off we went.  Our first trip was to the Mercedes Dealership.  We kind of eyed up a new ML350 last year before the new house, but decided to wait.  Well turns out we don’t realistically see this car in our price range.  Plus met a guy connected to the dealership through work, guy was not one of the nicest cats ,so that didn’t help.

When we arrived at said dealership we were quickly approached by a salesman with a very thick accent.  I basically understood every second word.  We decided to look at the GLK.  Nice looking car and reasonably priced.  Early on the biggest issue was the lack of Cargo space for our furry friends in the back.  Then we test drove the car.  The GLK was possibly the most disappointing car I drove this far.  It didn’t have any spunk at all and really drove like a very average car.  The luxury items were there and the ride was quiet.  I am pretty sure our salesman in the back was trying to sell us the car but again every fifth word was not all that revealing.  We returned the car to the dealership and moved on with our lives.

Next stop was Volkswagen to drive the Touareg.  My wife is a huge VW fan and even said she would be willing to let go of her beloved Jetta if we went this way.  The Jetta has held a special place on my shit list for a number of years.  Although now that it doesn’t just hold down a parking pad, I am less pissed at it.  We met a british dude named Matt at Southcentre VW.  He was freaking cool and I could understand him.  He was happy to get us in a very lovely Touareg Highline with a lot of the bells and whistles I want.  I appreciate that the VW still sees the value in a Gestapo like state and had all of Tiana’s info from when she had purchased the Jetta or any parts for it.  Creepy as hell but less trying to get out of having to give them a phone number.  They have a waiver we had to sign, the guy at the desk explained it was our promise to bring said Touareg and salesman Matt in one piece.  Upon further probing I was able to negotiate a concession.  I promised to return the car but told them I could not promise the safe return of their salesperson.  I was surprised at how ok they were with this.  And really Matt just asked we give him enough time to call his mates at the pub and explain he wouldn’t be making it.  The Touareg is a beautiful piece of equipment.  Very high-end inside and the TDI was an incredible powerful engine.  (CAVEAT EMPTOR: ALL POLICE PLEASE STOP READING NOW).  I had no problems getting the car up to a speed significantly above the highway limit, while still being safe Mom, and felt it had a lot more.  It had some incredible overtaking power and my guess is it could easily handle the mountainous trip to West Glacier.  So car was amazing and salesman was cool dude, VW gets to stay on the list.  If you are looking for one in Calgary please go see Matt.

Next stop was Toyota.  This dealership had two cars we wanted to drive.  The 4runner and the Highlander.  I don’t fit in the 4runner the driver’s seat leaves my head right against the roof.  So it was off the list immediately.  Which is okay because the Highlander is a little more aimed at our luxury type style.  Car drove really well when we finally found one.  Problem was the only one we could find was the hybrid.  I can’t justify paying extra for this feature.  If the environmentalists really wanted me to drive a car more conducive to the earth they would make it cheaper.  Same reason I don’t eat organic.  I just don’t care enough to part with the cash.  Met a very nervous young lady for our salesperson.  She went to hunt down the keys for us.  This took a while so we ended up looking at a Camry.  The dealership was full of sales people and a little lacking on the customer end. We popped the trunk to the Camry and right away decided we would have fun at the sales people’s expense.  Tiana and I started discussing how many bodies we could fit into the trunk of the car.  Not to be out done the one sales lady promised us a 3 average sized body load.  I said with the shovels and other necessary homicide kit items or without.  She was confident two with all of these items.  While this gruesome conversation was being held our sales lady returned and the look of horror on her face was noticeable.  She didn’t like the conversation.  I looked up at her and said “oh, don’t worry not yours.”  I am pretty sure at this point she deserves an award for completing the test drive and still answering all of our questions.  The fun did not end there.  Our lovely sales lady, certainly pleased to return safely to the dealership, took us to her shared office and went to get us some info.  On the office sat the cards of a dude named Neil, obviously the office mate for our lady.  Neil wandered in and politely apologized while he checked a message on our computer.  Tiana in her best creepy voice said “Hi, Neil”.  Now again his cards are on the table and his name on the door but he still looked fearful,  My guess is our reputation preceded us.  Toyota was a fun trip.  Highlander makes the short list too.

Next stop was Mazda where the CX-9 could not fit my height so it was out, nothing fun as we were there for about 3 minutes.

Off to Ford to try the Flex.  However this car has proven elusive at dealerships and we had to drive to Okotoks to find one.  And when we did, my wife was horrified.  She called it so many names the car cried.  Really who wants to be called ugly and crappy.  So Flex was off the list but she did find the Explorer a nicer looking vehicle.  So we looked into that one.  The young Sales guy we got was pretty cool.  He took us into the office for the general BS collect the license fill out the lead sheet.  Anyways he was a great guy he offered us a colouring book of the smurfs.  A colouring book with his name on it and a mighty fine start on smurfette.  We soon discovered smurfette was his handy work.  Nice kid but maybe he would be better suited to a career in art or as a kindergarten teacher.  Very solid inside the lines cover.  He seemed a bit nervous which was explained when he told us he had just started and he hadn’t made a sale.  Poor kid was really hoping for a sale from some people who weren’t going to be buying.  But he was happy to take us on a ride and spend his first time in the explorer.  For fun we bickered in the front seat and had him mediate our disagreement, which he did very diplomatically.  The explorer is a really nice car.  A little gurgly in the engine when compared to something like the VW or GLK but very stable, powerful and comfortable.  Very nice looking interior (we did drive their top of the line model).  I was impressed.  We spent some more time with Morgan and got some more info on the car.  Really was a cool kid and we would also recommend him if you are looking for a Ford right away.  He is at the store in Okotoks.  Today we got his follow-up email while very awkward was very polite and not pushy.  If the Ford gets to the end of our shopping and we decide on it, Morgan will certainly get a crack at making the deal with us.  Explorer definitely on the list.

Next we drove the pathfinder at Nissan.  This car was an absolute hunk of shit.  It didn’t have the power we were looking for it drove a little awkward and it felt a hair cheap inside.  Huge disappointment from their more luxury aimed SUV.  The Murano is not the right size for our family and the Xterra lacks all the bells and whistles we want.  Huge, huge let down.   First sales guy who delivered me that bullshit line “I don’t let price get in the way of a deal.”  Good give me the fucking keys and car for free then.  Guess price does get in the way.  Pathfinder is off the list with a huge thud.

In there somewhere we made two trips to the local Land Rover dealership and got essentially zero service.  By that I mean the first day absolutely no one approached us or even said hi in the 20 minutes we were there.  I didn’t want to go back but my wife loves the Land Rover look and so we did.  On the second day we were approached just before we left out of frustration but the sales guy checked his watch and told us that the 30 minutes he had left before the end of his day wasn’t enough for a quick test drive.  Based on the fact the Land Rover is a giant piece of shit when it comes to reliability and Calgary’s dealership has the worst sales staff in history we are wiping this LR4 off the list too.

So for this keeping score our current list is the very pricey VW Touareg, The Toyota Highlander and The Ford Explorer.  I am working on getting a drive in the Buick Enclave but my wife thinks it’s an old person car.  We will see.  Not sure how many more we will add to this, although my guess is we will end up driving the Land Rover, because she owns me, and I think the Nissan will get another look.  Maybe take a peak at the Audi Q7 although another car with less than great reliability ratings.

Car shopping can happen two ways.  The way we bought the Jeep.  Quick, get the car you think you want and not the best price or it can happen my way.  When I was 25 I wanted to buy my first new car.  I drove all kinds of things.  I loved the Camry but it was a little pricey at the time, I had a tough time finding anything but what my heart was originally set on.  The Ford Mustang.  So I shopped the Ford Mustang and I shopped it hard.  After about 2 and a half months of driving cars and specifically that car, I had fostered a number of relationships with a number of Ford sales people.  I started getting down to the numbers I was willing to pay.  The contact at Crowfoot Ford told me he wouldn’t come down to the price I was getting elsewhere and that I shouldn’t call if that is what I was looking to pay.  I didn’t call him again (dude you were an asshole).  I got it down to 2 ford dealerships in the city competing for my business.  At the end of the day they both came in at a price that they were pretty firm on.  The difference was maybe $20.  So I went with the guy we had a previous relationship with (work trucks bought through him).  Plus I couldn’t get a hold of my universal guy when it came time to make the deal.  While I was trying to call the Universal guy the other guy through in taking off the tire tax and for that extra couple hundred he had the deal.  Was a mistake because he didn’t end up bringing in the car we agreed on and I ended up giving up the fight to get the things he made a problem.  Was a let down but oh well.  I loved that Mustang, even when it had some problems, I just loved driving that car.  It broke my heart to sell that car.  But the young lady who bought it was truly excited to get it.  I think I even let it go for a little less than I would have with someone else because she looked like she would love it the same.  I hope she did.

Anyways we are off to a good start on the shopping journey and will bring some more blogs of us torturing some sales people.

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