I spent a half hour last night explaining the stupidtom car shopping process to a table of my Bear watching friends and since they were mildly interested I figured that you might be as well. First off the car requirements.

  • I have to be able to drive it. I am roughly two average Japanese people in all directions and not particularly flexible so rolling out of a vehicle that sits low to the ground is not appealing especially with the weather we’ve been having lately. Also since we already own our family mover 99% of the time this thing will have to haul me or me plus one and I don’t really care about the possible back seat passengers. I told the guys last night that the Civic I looked at could only fit the corpse of Ron Santo while I was behind the wheel.
  • Great gas mileage is a must. It looks like I will be paying for my own fuel for the first time in years and I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around that concept. Buying gas to get to and around work, crazytalk.
  • It has to be cheap and new. I don’t care if it’s a 2011, 2010, 2009, just new with warranty so I don’t have to worry about anything but routine maintenance for a long while. Cheap is the most important part of this as I’ll explain.

I now have a four horse race to $20,000. Four dealerships from four different manufacturers are all trying to find me a car with the options I want for that price. They have all started considerably higher but I’ve got nothing but time. I picked that price because I’ve calculated that it plus the current zero or point nine financing will make the standard car allowance a win when I include insurance, tolls, etc. They are all playing the same bullshit games regarding the options so maybe its become the standard in the industry. Whatever the story I don’t like it.

I want hands free Bluetooth because I cant stand the blinking plastic ear jewelry. Plus its another thing to keep track of, keep charged, keep screwing around with. The problem is that in all of the cars except the Fusion it comes as part of some “technology upgrade package” which usually includes a bunch of crap I don’t want. I refuse to pay two thousand dollars for a navigation system that isn’t as good as the two hundred dollar version I own with free lifetime map updates and traffic alerts. They tell me that’s what it costs and I tell them to take it out or give it to me for free. I told one guy yesterday to just deactivate it internally because the flat smooth surface would be a perfect place to suction cup my own system. He was not amused.

I have driven everything and started initial price volleys and here I sit waiting for the games to begin today. I just sent an email to most of the contenders reiterating that this is a race and once I make my decision I will go in and buy that car, that day, so don’t hold hold back on your best price or think you will have a better shot being the last one in next week. Once I buy something all other cars will be dead to me.

A couple random notes from my shopping experience to close this topic out. (until I actually buy something) The Ford Fusion is awesome but the most expensive of the bunch and the least willing to deal. It looks like I wont be driving one of those. The Prius is just funny enough to make me smile every day I drove it but there is a thick bar dead center horizontally across the rearview and I will have a new driver in this thing soon. For some reason I can’t shake that annoyance. The insight scared me while I was driving it so I eliminated it. Probably a great car but I got the distinct feeling that if I drove around with a friend sitting right behind me we could go up on two wheels.

Finally, a number of people have suggested that I go the Cube route like Katie’s car. That’s a great idea because the price is under the twenty but I still have to take this thing to meetings and I’m not sure if I want to be the salesman in the clown car. Its still in the running because I could get one loaded for under my strike price but the gas mileage isn’t that great when you put wheels on a Kleenex box and rounded the corners just a bit. I had one other observation that I forgot to put in the earlier paragraph: I don’t like heated seats; they give the feeling that you made in your pants.

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