From Where I Sit – New Car Smell

In the past few days I’ve entered into uncharted territory. Normally I would’ve had Roy at my side driving the process. Because of time constraints, it was more out of necessity than desire that I began researching a new vehicle purchase on my own.

I started with talking to our son Greg, who’s a shrewd researcher. Knowing my needs and desires, he suggested some models to start with. He recommended a couple of websites (caranddriver.com and motortrend.com) that offer impartial comparisons of like vehicles. He offered us the use of a service he’s subscribed to that reveals true dealer costs and lists dealerships that are likely to deal.

I started checking out newspaper ads and specialty publications like Truck Trader. I stopped glazing over when car commercials came on. I surfed manufacturers’ websites. I read stories about cross-border vehicle purchases. I even left HGTV long enough to discover a television show called New Drivers’ Seat and its accompanying web site.

I reread the chapter on auto loans in George Boelcke’s book It’s Your Money. George spent years as the finance guy at a dealership and knows the attendant pitfalls and myths. He urges buyers to be smart and know the bottom line, the actual dollars and cents expended over the long haul. I’ve asked preliminary questions at my credit union. I’m thinking about how much moola I could get my hands on for a down payment.

I really didn’t know what to expect when it was time to start doing some test driving. Would I be treated as a second-class citizen because I’m missing a Y chromosome? Would I be talked down to or dismissed? At the two dealerships I visited–one urban, one rural; one very young salesman, one not–I was treated well. Maybe everyone has clued in to the fact women drive most sales of most products. Amen.

While nothing even close to a deal has been struck, I’m leaning toward the Honda CR-V EX in Tango Red Pearl. The test drive down the Yellowhead was fun, easy, natural. I liked the fact it’s bigger than a car but smaller and more manoeuvrable than our truck. I could cram a chair or other prize acquisition from a flea market into the cargo area. I could rip down the road with the sunroof open. We don’t need to worry about car seats or hockey bags anymore, so the size seems right for this stage of our lives. Honda’s standard safety features give peace of mind. The website alg.com shows it holds its resale value far longer than domestic models.

Maybe the nicest surprise is the straightforwardness of the pricing. Back in the day, it was a farcical process of ?make me an offer and I’ll take it to my manager,? and so the dance began.

I don’t know when this deal may be done but I’m glad I’ve done the legwork. We’re not rushing the process. We want to do it right. If we buy new, it will be my first new vehicle ever. There’s nothing quite like that new car smell, from where I sit.

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