I’m not a car person. Yes, I drive one. Yes, I live in the Motor City. Yes, I can appreciate a nice-looking vehicle. But don’t ask me about engines, horsepower or much related to how a car actually works. Please. I just don’t care much. It’s my way of keeping mechanics employed. And I can read a manual when needed, no worries. However, I do drive a car and my lease was ending on my Dodge Caliber so I faced the task of finding a new vehicle.
I feel like I could honestly claim to be smart in many areas. But not so much with cars. I just want four wheels, a radio, decent gas mileage, safety, comfort and if I could get picky, air conditioning and a sunroof (even this is optional). I want room for backpacking stuff, luggage and whatever else I need to transport. I wanted the assistance of my car-knowledgeable
brother-in-law or boyfriend, however, I’m a single, financially independent, double degree educated female so I felt like I needed to tackle this challenge with my own wits and charm.
My first challenge was what to look for. I’ve been a Chrysler/Jeep girl for a long time. My first vehicle I shopped for and purchased on my own was a Jeep Cherokee, followed by a VW (nice vehicle, WORST customer service), Jeep Liberty, Dodge Caliber. While I kept my eye out for a vehicle that might really WOW me, nothing really did (thus, the leasing). At first thought, I liked the Jeep Compass and Wrangler. I toyed with the Kia Sportage and Honda CRV but dismissed both for various reasons.
A small SUV appealed to me. It’s bigger, higher off the ground, feels safer, carries cargo better and handles better in the winter. Since I typically drive alone and am unafraid of venturing off the beaten path, I wanted a vehicle that I felt safe in. I also wanted reasonably priced and fuel-efficient. Easy, right?
I walked into the Chrysler dealership with one item in sight – price. I needed my payment to stay the same, or lower, than my current payment. After looking at fuel efficiency, the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty were knocked out. I met with the lease consultant who happened to be a sales person (makes life easier). He turned out to be very nice and informative. We drove the Compass and he priced a lease. It wasn’t the price I was looking for. Boo.
My brother-in-law is an engineer at GM so out of respect for him I usually skim through GM’s website to check out possible cars. While I think the Malibu and Cruze are nice looking vehicles and reasonably priced, they were too small for my taste. I’m waiting for GM to make a small SUV (hint, hint, bro in law). Then at a recent social outing, a friend who works at Ford raved about the Focus and Fusion. I honestly hadn’t considered a Ford. When I priced an Escape three years ago, it was much higher payments than other automakers. However, after my friend’s review of Ford’s new cars/quality and an offer to use the X plan, I stopped by a local Ford dealership. I knew I wanted to drive an Escape but thought I’d test a Fusion too since I’d heard good things. The sales guy was helpful. He gave me the keys, said take my time and left me to drive (alone).
One a side note: I truly, sincerely, seriously dislike when a sales person wants to drive in the vehicle with me. I can’t focus on the car when he’s talking nor do I feel 100 percent comfortable. And please don’t tell me to “gun it” on a side street to feel the engine – I don’t think the dealership will pay a speeding ticket. Ok, I digress.
The Fusion was smooth yet I knew quickly it wasn’t for me. Too small. The Escape was smooth, quiet and comfortable. And surprisingly less per month than the Fusion and the Jeep Compass. Ford also offered a ‘lease conquest” since I would be a new customer. Not sure I appreciate the term (seriously, conquest? Makes me think of a cocky male), but I appreciated the discount. So after some hemming and hawing I decided on the Escape.
A few days after getting the vehicle, we loaded our bikes in the back to go trail riding. Two bikes fit much better than in my Caliber. While I plan to get a bike rack soon, it was nice knowing we could transport the bikes easily. We took our first road trip a week after I got the Escape. I loved folding the seats down and the ease that items fit. On the road, it was quiet (very noticeable on I75 North, which was always so loud in the Caliber) and comfortable to drive for several hours. The fuel efficiency was very good. And we found a great station on Sirius that provided entertainment! I feel like the acceleration of the engine is slower than my Caliber but I’ve been told the engine is still new and will ease into it better in time. Or I should stop gunning it to slide in/out of traffic. Ha. Ok, fine, I’ll wait for the engine to get broken in!
Overall I’m pleased with my decision. My mom still calls it a “Jeep” so now I catch myself saying that (I think that one syllable flows better than two!) but eh, life goes on. And in a few years, Jeep can try to woo me back to the family. Or maybe GM will be persuasive. I’ll deal with those decisions later.