Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This week's Quest... For... Car!

On a rainy Saturday, we canceled a shopping trip to Saint John (shopping in the rain: not so much fun) and test-drove some PT Cruisers instead.

And in doing so, we had a so-far completely-unique experience in our auto-shopping adventures to date: salespeople who actually acknowldeged my existence.

I know, I know. The bad old days of ignoring "the little lady" have supposedly gone the way of the dodo bird, but, brother, have I felt invisible at most of the dealerships we've visited! The two salemen we interacted with at - and I'm so impressed, I'm coming right out and identifying them by name - Wheels and Deals not only spoke to both of us, the dealer we were working with directly asked my name!!! And wrote it on the quote sheet he prepared for us! Right next to Husband's name! Oh my God! As if I was half of the decision!

And that, my friends, is the way to start out on the path to sellin' a couple a car!!!

I know we've talked about the incongruity of the PT Cruiser on our list, next to Mercedes and BMWs and Jaguars... the truth is, we can afford a pre-owned luxury car, but we have a soft spot in our hearts for the Cruiser. It was the first convertible we ever rented, for a trip to Halifax; the first really fun, head-turning car we ever drove. And after 18 years of our faithful Honda Civic, we have come to appreciate the value of a darned good, dependable little car, which the Cruiser is shaping up to be.

So, it's kinda like knowing that you can afford steak but if ya had $1,000,000, "of course we'd eat Kraft Dinner... we'd just eat more Kraft Dinner..." "With gourmet mustard..." "Mmmm... DIJON mustard!"

The first Cruiser we drove today was a 2003... the manufacturer calls this colour "burgundy" but we agree that we can't help but call it "grape".

We were both a little surprised that its handling, acceleration and ride were inferior to the ones we've rented. It just felt different. Ok, but not great.

After that we drove a 2005... hated the colour (kind of a goldy-beige) and, like the graple one, the ride and handling was merely adequate.

Astonished to discover that it didn't have A/C!

We had decided to approach the car purchase the same way we approached buying the house... we would each make a list of our "absolute must-haves" and our "would-be-nice-to-haves", which would save us time and effort chasing after things that didn't at least meet "absolute must-have" criteria... in the end, the only "absolute must-have" we both agreed on was "air conditioning"... and this 2005 PT Cruiser didn't have it.

Too bad but an automatic disqualification.

On Sunday we took a Crossfire out for a spin. (That's the one which I think looks like it has its bum in the air, but nevermind. Husband quite liked it and it is snappy looking.)

Not much impressed. It was kind of, I said later, like sitting on a skateboard. It was low, and it was kind of cramped. Since about 75% of the driving we'll be doing in this car is multi-hour road trips (Halifax, Moncton, Toronto, Montreal), the snap and speed factor realistically pales in comparison to the "this car rides and drives like we're sitting on the sofa listening to some CDs and eating chips and talking" factor.

So... what if we found everything we wanted ... a luxurious feel, lots of extras (heated seats, leather interior, sunroof), nimble handling, great acceleration, a great price, and that cute PT Cruiser styling in the same car?

Well... we did. Today we test drove - twice - this PT Cruiser Limited Edition. (This car was not at Wheels and Deals, but at another Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge dealer in the city.) We took it out for a spin at lunch and liked it so much we took it out for a longer drive after work. We liked it so damn much we popped by Mom O's place to make sure she found it comfortable to get into and out of (she doesn't drive, and since Dad O got sick the boys and daughters-in-law have worked as a team to chauffer her everywhere she needs or wants to go).

This car, for the first time out of all we drove, spoke to us. We like this car.

(And the dealer deals with me. Even phones me when he wants to convey information to us. I mean, that no reason to buy a car. But it doesn't hurt.)

It drives like a dream. It handles the way we remembered.

So it's perfect, right?

Alas, when shopping for cars, nothing is perfect. This little girl is a 2001. That's certainly the absolute oldest model year we'd consider. It even has a casette deck (but the first thing we asked the dealer for - and he immediately agreed - was that they'd replace the stereo with a new CD system). A cassette deck that immediately ate the copy of Pink Floyd's "Relics" that we brought along to test the sound system.

So it's more confusing than ever. Great price (and he offered us a surprisingly good trade-in price for Yvette); we adore the car; the payments are quite a bit lower than the others we've been looking at, which means more disposable income every month; but the car's already five years old (six, when the new model year comes out).

What to do... what to do... what to do...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, no, no, no.... not the PT Crusiser... not when you can have a Mercedes!

(You do realize the Cruiser is just a Neon with a bigger top on it?) Seriously... NO comparison to the Mercedes! My half-sister has a PT Crusier... by the time it's paid off it won't run anymore. Meanwhile, my Mercedes is an '83 and still kicking... ;)

4:37 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Sorry, Cuz... the Mercedes just didn't "do anything" for us... more later... (big wink).

10:56 a.m.  

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