Dallas and I have had our hand-me-down Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo for the past two years and it has really served us well, but it is 13 years old and starting to show its age. I especially was not totally trusting it any more after the breakdown I had between Chicago and Milwaukee over the summer. How much money in repairs should we put into a car whose value is only a couple thousand dollars at the most? Also, when would the next break down be? And how much would it cost? And we’d have to repair it if we wanted to sell the Jeep. Can’t sell it broken down, so we were probably for sure in for another repair if we didn’t decide to sell it now.
Over the past few months we did a ton of online research into what type of vehicle we might want if we got a new one. On summer road trips to Wisconsin we looked at every car and talked about what we liked, how they looked, along with the research we’d done on each model. We decided we wanted a crossover, which is built on a car platform but combines features of an SUV with features from a car. But which crossover? Just about every car manufacturer makes a crossover these days. They’re very popular. So we made our lists of our top picks. I liked the Honda CR-V and the Nissan Rogue, maybe one of the Hundais. Dallas liked the CRV and the Mazda CX-7. He also liked an Acura, but they tend to cost a bit more than we could afford to spend.
This past weekend we finally had a free day to go out and test drive. We’d done as much on-the-street and internet research that we could do and we needed to get into the cars and drive them, see what they feel like. So, we got up early and drove out to Golf Road in Schaumburg, where we could try all of the cars in one general place. Golf Road has a ton of dealerships. We started off at Schaumburg Honda, since we both liked the CR-V. The CR-V was a big upgrade from the Jeep, which we were used to, but something about it… it was missing a luxe element. Something seemed cheap to me. Which, btw, I was totally fine with, if the price tag matched, if it was the economy option, but it didn’t really seem to be. Next we visited Woodfield Nissan to drive the Rogue. I really liked this car. The Rogue just felt different than the CRV. It had more design elements. It had a bunch of extras like a rear view camera and keyless entry and start and satellite radio for the exact same price as the CRV. It just felt like you were getting more with the Rogue.
Let me just say also that these two dealerships, Honda and Nissan, were really cool. No pressure, really friendly and knowledgeable salesmen. Very attentive. Very happy to just have you look at the vehicles and drive them and get to know them better. No pressure to get you to the desk and start wheeling and dealing. And then, AND THEN, we went to Napleton Schaumburg Mazda where we couldn’t find anyone to help us. Granted, the place was really busy, but no one even said hi or acknowledged we were there. Dallas was ready to leave without even driving the CX-7, but I got aggressive and just grabbed a guy walking by. This was a mistake. We should have left. We took a test drive with this guy but he didn’t know anything. Dallas was telling him things about the car. And all the guy really wanted to do was tell us how great the dealership is and sit us down to price out financing. Ugh! Dallas really liked the CX-7, but I was having a terrible time separating our bad salesman/dealership experience with the car itself.
So, I was still liking the Rogue the best. Dallas was liking the CX-7. We got lunch at Buona Beef and randomly ran into our friend, Adam, whose girlfriend, Christine, owns the Rogue. I’d talked to Christine previously and she seemed happy with it, but Adam said he thought that after 2 years it was running clunky. He didn’t know how to describe it, but it wasn’t as great as it used to be. He didn’t recommend we buy the Rogue. I took this advice with a grain of salt, but I did really want to look at the CX-7 again. Somewhere else. On the drive home we looked up the Mazda dealer in Highland Park and drove all the way up there only to find out that it’s now a Honda dealer. We were both kind of ready to give up, but I looked up one more Mazda dealer that was sort of on the way home, it was the Autobarn in Evanston. I’d never even been to Evanston before!
Ok, so let me just say. This Mazda dealer was about a thousand percent better than the other one. We worked with Andre and he was very knowledgeable and nice. We drove the CX-7. He left me alone for a while while I sat in the car and took it in, playing with all the options and really thinking about whether I liked it or not. I did. I liked it a lot. I liked the design and all the options. I thought that it seemed like a more serious car than the Rogue. The Rogue was fun, but it seemed kind of fey in comparison. And Adam’s comments made me wonder if they were trying to wow people with fancy extras but maybe the core of the car wasn’t up to par.
To make a long story short, we haggled, we haggled a lot, we had to be ready to leave. I absolutely hate the “game” but we played it. I thought I was going to barf, I thought I was going to cry. I almost did cry. We almost walked. We second guessed our decision. I didn’t like the way that this dealership played the game, but does anyone like this? It’s terrible. I always feel violated. We spent three hours going through the motions at the Autobarn… but, again… long story, short…. this is our new car!
I believe we got a good deal on it. I know we did. And Mazda is offering 0% financing through the end of the month, so that will really save us some money. But neither Dallas or I have had a car payment for about 10 years, so it will be an adjustment to our budget. I have to admit, after being put through the ringer all day, I almost started cry while leaving our Jeep as a trade in, but it will be worth it. The CX-7 is fun to drive, safe, and will give us the peace of mind we were looking for. We plan to have this car for like… ever. So it was a big decision for us, but I think we made the right one. After a couple days, I’m almost over feeling violated and can actually enjoy the new car smell. Almost. If you know me, this isn’t a surprise. haha
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