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Chronic Car Buyers Anonymous

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  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,579
    edited March 2013
    Don't be silly guy, I really think you and Backy do a much better job than I at this stuff so please, be my guest. Now let me give it a shot. The March 7th edition of The Sandman Chronicles is set to begin below.

    For my 1st Ft. Myers run today, i had a top of the line Chrysler 200 in charcoal with 18" alloys, a very sedate looking vehicle and all I can say is..."wow"! hat a sleeper car this is! Smooth as glass and I got it up to 102 to pass someone and the car didn't even flinch just did what my right foot asked of it. Soft touch dash and nice hardware with every control right where it needs to be...wonderful ergonomics and the leather wrapped wheel was just meaty enough where it felt like one with my arms. Great steering and minimal road noise made for a fun and energetic run across the alley. This car really is a sleeper and surprised they don't sell more than they do. I know it's the fleet queen but it's a really good family sedan and although not the looker that the new Accord or Fusion is, anyone in this market should give this vehicle a good tryout as I'll bet it's priced aggressively and I had a smile on my face the whole way over. This is the 4th 200 I've driven this week with two being the lux model and the other two the regular one with 17" bolt on wheel covers and they both drive superbly though if I had to purchase one, I'd go for the top model to get that great steering wheel and the Sirius/XM.

    Trip two almost got me into a brand new with the plastic Nissan Sentra but my buddy saw it first and he took it. Was a bit envious but I'll just get the next one. At this Dollar out lot, we're in the process of swapping out the fleet so there are new vehicles waiting including Altimas and Sonatas. But I got a beautiful ref 2013 Ford Focus with just 435 on the clock. No sat radio but my flash drive synched perfectly with the standard radio though the speakers are on the cheap side. If I were to own one of these puppies, I'd have to swap out the speakers and put in a small amp to get more sound bang for the buck, as to me it's an investment in happiness and the cost isn't much when a car is kept as long as I do with mine.

    These Foci have nicely bolstered seats which really hold you in place but they really need some more padding where it counts...I got back fatigue by the midpoint of the trip which caused a considerable amount of pain and problems with my bad left leg on the return trip to Lauderdale. For the seat alone, I could never purchase this vehicle. This is it's major faux pas for me because in the hatch version, it's a nice looking ride. The other major problem was the irritating wind noise the driver side mirror resonates which just gets louder at higher speeds...very annoying and unacceptable inn this segment. The 2013 Sentra I tested last week was so much quieter and even the little Kia Rio was stellar in this regard. No matter how high I put the music, I could still hear that annoying wind noise and it took away some of the enjoyment of the drive. the seat fabric was acceptable, not class leading but it did it's job and didn't itch my legs. I usually wear shorts on these trips so comfy fabric is important.

    Mileage is impressive though and I had the a/c on most of the time as it has warmed up by the afternoon. in this car, the dash surrounds one like a cockpit which is a bit claustraphobic at first but after awhile, it's not even noticeable. All the controls fall to place and are within easy reach. Not a fan of the awkward cruise buttons but they are better than some of the GM products of late. Still, for simplicity sake nothing beats my '06 Civic's cruise control buttons...one push operation and it always works without fail. Why the other guys don't copy it's form and function is a mystery to me but it works...period! Ford and GM I hope you are listening here folks!!!

    In the compact segment, this Focus is just mid pack and really, nothing to write home about. The Elantra is still the benchmark hands down with the Sentra moving up the ranks nicely with it's new 2013 model but I will have to wait till I get some extended seat time to really evaluate it properly. But just from my little test drive last week I'm gonna say that Nissan did a very commendable job here, much better than the comfortable one of the last generation. This new one looks so much better and I think is very comfortable especially in SL version which has the nicer seat fabric and extra options. But I'm very excited to see what Toyota has up it's sleeve with the new Corolla coming soon. These last two generations have shown this to really be a "blahmobile" no matter what version one chooses...but that's not to say that blah is a bad thing. It gets the job done with stellar mileage and though not a looker in any trim, it quietly goes about it's business and still seems to sell in record number so they must be doing something right here. I guess many folks are happy with an appliance that's still "cheap to keep" with minimal input. I had a couple years ago when Toyota and Honda were the major players in this segment and could do no wrong and they were great vehicles then. These past two generations have just been very dull looking but are still appealing to many. Toyota knows that it needs to beat the Elantra in this segment because the Koreans have seemed to duplicated the Toyota playbook and tweaked it in such a way that they are now the class leading benchmarks of the compact segment. How and why Toyota and Honda got left in the dust is an interesting question but they both know that they have a lot of catch up to do. Hopefully Toyota is up for the task and will hit a homer with the next Corolla. Saw a brand new Civic today on the road, my only comment was "meh", still a bit on the bland side and if I had to purchase today, I'd skip the Honda store completely. As we shop for the next Mrs. Sandmanmobile, no Honda or Toyota is even on the short list as there's nothing that she's remotely interested in. My how things have changed in the import vehicle segment!

    Until next time reader, I am,

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,579
    edited March 2013
    Still suffering from insomnia so I thought it would be a good time to write the latest version of "The Sandman Chronicles" but please forgive me if some of the sentences aren't the best as I'm really tired now so please bear with me. I did correct as many spelling and punctuation errors as I could find. I'll be back with the next installment once I get to drive some different vehicles. There are a few that I've got my eye on and depending on how fast I can get to them will determine what I drive. Also we tend to look for vehicles which are already gassed up and ready to go as waiting in line for petrol is a major time waster and we always leave the lot in a group as each vehicle and each driver are checked against the master list for logistics purposes. Once we hit the open road though, we're free to go as we please. Some go in groups but I prefer to be the lone wolf and go at my own speed. Many eat in the car after they go through a fast food line. I'd rather go inside and get out of the car if I do end up buying my meal. But I also pack a lunch and maybe eat once we get to our destination while I wait for the chase vehicle and the others. I'm not one for eating while I drive as I don't want to spill or leave crumbs in any vehicle...I treat all my rides as if they were my own vehicle and never do anything stupid on purpose. I just wish others would do the same as some people are really pigs folks, absolute swine in that they trash these things and leave paper products and charge slips all over. I've seen some very low mileage vehicles with marks and stains on the seats and headliners which is just plain so low class and it really pisses me off. I bet these folks treat their personal vehicles so much better so why do they feel they can muck up these rentals...just leaves me speechless!

    The Sleepy Sandman :surprise: :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    Good luck with the Juke shopping this evening Michael - I assume it's Go Nissan down on Arapahoe?

    Hmm, your daughter may complain about the tight space.

    My advice? Stay out of it if they argue about that.


    breld - yep, it was Go Nissan on Arapahoe. Wife's new office is just north of Arapahoe on Peoria, so quite close.

    Headed up to meet the wife after our daughter got home from work. Didn't go directly to the dealer; the girls needed to get a bit of retail therapy first so we went to the local Vera Bradley store. Then a bite of dinner at California Pizza Kitchen before heading to the dealer around 7-ish.

    Took a few minutes to find the specific car we were wanting to look at ... 2013 Nissan Juke SL AWD in Metallic Bronze. Since it was dark out, you couldn't really appreciate the color. I took a look at the window sticker - OMG! Over $30K - this particular car had the "sport" package - rear wing, gunmetal alloys. Also equipped with the front armrest and carpeted floor mats. Dealer sticker wanted to charge for pinstrips, nitrogen in the tires, and other fluff.

    Nobody approaches us so I head into the showroom to grab a salesman. Managers greet me and introduce me to "Marv" (not his real name). I tell Marv that we want to see that specific Juke and give him the stock number so he can get the keys. I also give him my license to copy so we can do the test drive without any other delays.

    The girls are standing by the Juke and I introduce them to Marv. I explain to him that I know about the car but the wife does not so he needs to explain it all to her. I'm trying not to influence the wife's opinion one way or the other.

    Marv does a decent job of explaining the major features of the Juke (torque vectoring, small turbo engine, etc.), but he's doing so in a somewhat condescending manner .. as if my wife had never driven such a feature laden car.

    He pulls it out of of the line and under a large light so we can see it better. He opens up the hatch to put in his dealer plate and the wife comments how small the rear storage area is (yep, 1/3 the size - 29 cu ft. in the Mazda vs. 10.5 in the Juke). Marv flips the seat down - it folds flat, which is nice.

    Wife hops into the drivers seat and Marv starts explaining all the features - auto headlights, buttons on the steering wheel for cruise and Bluetooth, etc. Tells us he can't demonstrate the Nav system as all the SD cards are locked up in the showroom. Bummer - that's a feature my wife will use a lot in her new job.

    So, off we go on the test drive - Marv explains how you can "configure" the Juke to operate normally, in Sport mode or in Eco mode. Each affects the way the engine responds to throttle inputs and handling. Wifes' eyes glaze over - like she's gonna change modes while driving. Not!

    Test drive route is a mix of business parks roads and a short blast on the highway. Takes us to a parking lot to demonstrate the turning radius (for some reason, this is a big deal for my wife) and the backup camera. Turning radius is really small - as it should be, since the car has a WB of under 100". The backup camera includes lane markers shaded in green, yellow and red - a nice feature the Mazda doesn't have.

    I ask her how she likes the ride. The Mazda is pretty firm, but since it's a larger car, you don't notice it as much. The Juke, OTOH, is about a half step up from the daughter's MINI. Not sure how that would play on a long road trip.

    Decent power, easy to drive, very responsive, according to the wife.

    Daughter said she was OK in the back seat, her biggest issue was that the windows were smaller than in the Mazda. Yep, quite true.

    The test drive ends and we tell Marv that we need to give it some serious thought. He doesn't try to pressure us at all .. no questions about a trade, though it was pretty obvious that we'd be swapping the Mazda. No "trial closes". Very professional. We tell him it's not a matter of choosing the Juke over something else, it's a matter of keeping the Mazda or not.

    So, what did we decide to do? We had a long talk afterwards and a decision has been made .. will share that with you here in a bit.

    In the words of our departed friend Mack, to be continued...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Idle is almost coarse

    Fairly typical of DI engines nowadays.

    I think we give up linearity and smoothness, but the power and economy balance are impressive.

    I predict we'll see more and more "fake" engine sounds piped in to cabins.
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    Fairly typical of DI engines nowadays.

    Guess it depends how it is tuned. The 3.6 in my LaCrosse is very smooth at idle (can't feel it) and outside the car (as long as the cooling fan is off) there is barely a whisper coming from under the hood except for the electronic "clicking" of the injectors.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    no Honda or Toyota is even on the short list as there's nothing that she's remotely interested in

    The segment is competitive, you just can't rest on your laurels nowadays. Others will simply outgun you, and then you'll have to lower prices and say bye bye to profits.

    Fitzmall has a brand new Corolla for $15,306, how much of a loss is there for a price like that?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    windows were smaller than in the Mazda

    The rear doors do seem small. Did she have to duck to get in and out?

    $30k seems a bit steep for such a small vehicle, but it does sound loaded up. I've priced Altimas for a lot less than that, though.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I sampled the 3.6l in the very first year Saturn Outlook, but I don't think they had DI back then. IIRC they made it an upgrade option a year or two later.

    I bet your Buick has excellent insulation, too.
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    The rear doors do seem small. Did she have to duck to get in and out?

    I don't know, but wouldn't be surprised if she had to. Quite a bit of slope on the rear doors.

    $30k seems a bit steep for such a small vehicle, but it does sound loaded up.

    Yeah, I don't think there was an option or accessory it didn't have.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I get why you're letting her choose (happy wife, happy life) but if it were me, I'd get the Altima instead. More car for less money, really. The 4 banger is both quick and efficient, and loaded up they were mid 20s.

    While at the dealer, you should say "why don't you try one of these" and just see what she says.
  • breldbreld Posts: 1,127
    Saw a brand new Civic today on the road, my only comment was "meh", still a bit on the bland side and if I had to purchase today, I'd skip the Honda store completely.

    Now Sandy, a couple months back you saw a new Civic and were "in awe" of it, stating that Honda was back on track with the new Accord and redesigned Civic. What happened? :D

    2014 Passat - 2010 328xi M-sport wagon manual - 2008 A3 - 2009 Ody

  • breldbreld Posts: 1,127
    Yeah - the Altima sure seems to be a lot of car for the money, particularly with some really attractive lease deals right now.

    So Michael, you've posted this morning, but with no reveal? Oh, the suspense! :)

    2014 Passat - 2010 328xi M-sport wagon manual - 2008 A3 - 2009 Ody

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just checked on TrueCar, $27k for an SL+tech, and if you don't need leather an SV+tech+conv is $24k or so, and that's still pretty loaded up.
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    I get why you're letting her choose (happy wife, happy life) but if it were me, I'd get the Altima instead. More car for less money, really. The 4 banger is both quick and efficient, and loaded up they were mid 20s.

    She doesn't want just a "car" (read: sedan). When I bought my Saturn L300 10 years ago she commented that it was a "grandpa car" -- and I was 39 at the time!

    Vehicles that have caught her interest lately:

    Fiat 500
    Subaru Crosstek XV
    Nissan Juke
    VW Beetle
    MINI Countryman

    I suspect she will continue to drive hatchbacks and SUVs, given her need for cargo capacity and ease of loading.

    While at the dealer last night, the girls found a pretty purple car (purple is my wife's favorite color). I told them it was a Rogue.

    Another constant is that whatever she drives needs to have a lot of "get up and go". I figure if I ever got her to a FIAT dealership and test drove a standard 500, her enthusiasm would wane after the first 500 feet.

    Even the daughter commented recently that if she had to do it all over again, she would get a Cooper S.
  • breldbreld Posts: 1,127
    So why not the CX-5? Certainly roomier than the Juke, with much better gas mileage than the CX-7, and you'd have that Mazda familiararity. And I tend to think that trade values are a bit better at the dealership which sells the product (may or may not be true).

    2014 Passat - 2010 328xi M-sport wagon manual - 2008 A3 - 2009 Ody

  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    So why not the CX-5? Certainly roomier than the Juke, with much better gas mileage than the CX-7, and you'd have that Mazda familiarity. And I tend to think that trade values are a bit better at the dealership which sells the product (may or may not be true).

    She's seen the CX-5. I suspect she would like it since she's familiar with the "Mazda Way" (ergonomics, zoom zoom personality). I know she liked the 3i GT we test drove last year, and it only had 155HP. Now that the -5 has the bigger 2.5L SkyActiv engine with 184HP, it might make the cut on her "get up and go" scale.

    I, too, would think the trade value of the -7 would be better at a Mazda dealership.

    But .....

    The exciting finale to our sales story!

    After leaving the dealership last night, I noticed a couple of other bells and whistles she would give up if we got the Juke - automatic wipers, blind spot monitoring, and the smart mirror that we can program the garage door remote to. This is in addition to the HID headlights and power memory seats the Juke lacks.

    After getting home, I had to fill up the Mazda. Turns out she got almost 22 MPG on this last tank ($53 to fill it with PUG at the local Shell station). A co-worker shared with her than her last monthly mileage reimbursement check was $112 (at $.0555/mile). If we fill the Mazda up once a week at $50-60 per tank, and get $100 or more in reimbursements, then we're spending only $100 or so each month on gas. The Juke gets 27 combined, so not really a big improvement. Plus, the smaller tank might require us to fill the car up more than once every 7 days.

    Couple that with the lack of creature comforts and the wife decided that the "fun factor" of driving the Juke wasn't worth starting over on payments with a new car, especially with the negative equity we have in the Mazda.

    In short - she liked the Juke, but didn't love it.

    We'll continue to monitor the situation for the next few months - keeping track of the mileage she gets, etc.

    I'm pretty sure that whatever we get next for her will have, at the very least, the same features she has now; hard to go backwards in terms of feature content (I'll be interested if fin feels the same way about his new Benz).

    I'll give "Marv" a call tomorrow with our decision.

    If there is any good news from this, it means that my next car won't be delayed. Given that I'm averaging about 20K per year on the ION (and it has 85K on it now), I'll be well into 6 figures on the clock by the time I'm ready for a new ride.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,198
    There are so many choices -- you are smart not to rush. At some point, after lots of looking and testing, the decision will be made. This is the fun time -- make it last.
  • michaellmichaell Posts: 4,300
    There are so many choices -- you are smart not to rush. At some point, after lots of looking and testing, the decision will be made. This is the fun time -- make it last.

    Getting my wife to the dealer is pretty difficult. Not sure that we'll do anything for now. She's gotta really like the car to even agree to see it in person.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,923
    My potential issue if I was ever to go "backwards" isn't really the features, but the ride and driving manner. I will still say there's something different about the way a middle or higher MB drives, especially at speed. I can live without the parking sensors and lane tracking stuff, I do like nav and an ok stereo, and I am kind of liking the keyless go. It's the solid ride and assembly that I would find hard to abandon. If for whatever reason my next car isn't as fancy, I might look into a semi-vintage MB (80s era) rather than a cheapo new car.
  • breldbreld Posts: 1,127
    Good decision. It sounds like it was a good experience for your wife to shop a bit and check the Juke out - allows you, and more importantly her, to be that much more comfortable with keeping what you have (which, dare I say, is generally the best option).

    And like you pointed out, makes the next purchase for you that much closer.

    2014 Passat - 2010 328xi M-sport wagon manual - 2008 A3 - 2009 Ody

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