Sometimes life changes suddenly. Last week, my middle daughter swerved to avoid hitting a deer in the middle of the night and trashes her car into a bridge abutment. Car totaled, all airbags deployed but she walks away without injury.
So that car, a 2010 Hyundai was paid for and was what’s commonly referred to as a disposable car. Insurance elected to just offer nominal cash settlement to my wife (whose name it was registered in).
As it turns out, my wife decided that she didn’t want to purchase another car for the kid who is in graduate school at Pitt and has no funds but needs a car. So she announced that she would be bequeathing her own car, a five year old Toyota Prius, to the kid and she would be taking over my car, a 2013 Fiat Abarth and I should go out and buy another car.
Unclear how she will do with the Abarth over the long haul. When queried if she really liked the car, her solemn opine was: “well…it’s a little overpowered for its size”. Ha. She has no idea. She’s never seen the look of abject terror in a passenger at 18 pounds of turbo boost flat out in third gear. But no matter, it’s hers now to do with as she pleases.
All things considered, this was a reasonable plan under the circumstances, so I started sniffing around looking for a new ride.
There were some things I really wanted at my stage in the game:
* All wheel drive- I’m tired of plodding snow in Pittsburgh.
* Built in GPS and back up camera. Traffic advisories.
* The new technology of blind spot warning, lane change alert and cross traffic alert.
* High-end audio
* Hands free Bluetooth phone
* Ability to pull a motorcycle trailer
I knew that all the high-end cars, Mercedes, Audi and BMW had all this stuff and I started looking around on Auto Trader and several other Internet sites, to find out that all these cars, similarly equipped were very expensive. VERY expensive and I wondered if I really wanted to pay US$60,000 for a car.
After a discussion with an independent mechanic I have dealt with for years, I decided to look at lower Echelon cars similarly equipped.
So, I found that Toyota makes a “smaller” version of an SUV that has everything I wanted for half the price of the high-end cars. I didn’t really want an SUV but I need something that will pull a trailer with a bike on it, so this was my best option. I found one at a local Toyota dealership that had relatively good reviews and went down there to check it out.
I haven’t bought a car in a while but I hate the process. You get pumped into a high-pressure pipeline that’s been refined for years to insure the seller always has the upper hand.
First of all, the myth that I can walk in there and negotiate a better deal on a price is not viable. They know all the moves well in advance and they can adapt to ANY situation to insure they always win. Any car that I might want is in high demand and there are no discounts. Of course, I’m a lousy barterer anyway, so the price is what it is.
This Toyota RAV4 has every option known to man and some that are just plain silly. But it does have the basics I want and the price is half that of the high-end models. I could find no real differences other than the brand name.
Does not have a huge engine (that I don’t need) and gets reasonable gas mileage for its size. 22-MPG n town and 28 or so on the road, so they say. Much better than a Jeep and it will tow a trailer. The seat is actually quite comfortable and is long enough for full support.
So my car sales person was a very nice kid right out of high school that had been shaving for about two weeks. He knew the basics of the car and I knew all of it going in. So his jobs were to get me to say I wanted the car and do the preliminary paperwork, but he was not selling me the car. His role was to start the process that quickly evolved to the “closer”, the guy that figures me out and decides if I’m really a serious buyer.
By the time I get to him, he knows everything about me including my credit score and all about my career. All that’s available on-line, you know. So he then clears me to do more paperwork and then sends me to the finance officer whose job it is to set up my financing and get me to purchase lots of expensive extra options that every financial advisor everywhere say are not good buys.
I decided to lease this car for several reasons. Normally leases are considered bad deals by most financial advisors, but I rarely keep a car longer than three years, I do low mileage and take care of cars. I really didn’t want to put up a big cash deposit on this car right now and I’m happy to unload it in three years to find what new technology has emerged. The down payment was reasonable as was the monthly payment.
The new technology of blind spot warning, lane change alert and cross traffic alert are VERY interesting and I think significant advances in safety. I like the back up camera and all the new GPS stuff. This car has a dashboard resembling that of a Boeing 747 and will take hours to comprehend all the switches and dials. The operator’s manual is 700 pages, and it’s only one of several manuals that rise about 6 inches from the surface.
Of course half the text are “warnings” that Toyota’s lawyers can point out when someone sues them. But the plaintiff’s lawyer would then point out the incomprehensible 700 pages so suing Toyota is usually successful I would guess.
The car is absolutely amazing for the price and will be a significant improvement in winter weather and all around safety. I was out to the gym this morning before ANY plowing and there was four inches of new snow on the ground everywhere. Every road was snow-bound and there were cars on the side that couldn’t or wouldn’t move. I cruised up the one-mile hill to my house with ease.
I did spend several hours trying to absorb the incompressible operators manual, ultimately to figure out most of it by trial and error. So I have all the satellite radio stations dialed in, my voice trained for commands, my phone contacts set up, all the traffic advisories dialed in, the GPS set up and several other things it does.
RAV4 by Toyota. I’m pretty happy with it.