Thursday, June 4, 2015

And The Search Begins…

2012 Chevrolet Malibu
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had to make a couple of stops on my way to lodge on Tuesday night. Thankfully I was able to get out of the office at the usual time which allowed me a few detours before I was supposed to be in Ardmore that evening. So where did I go? As is evident in the title, I stopped at a couple of car dealers

My wife and I decided last week that it might be time for me to get a new car. I have enjoyed my Chevrolet Malibu over the last three years and haven’t had a single issue with it (beyond potholes) but it just doesn’t work for us now that we are a family of three. While we aren’t really flushed with cash (to say the least) we need something that will serve us better than my current car. Plus it would keep us from putting so many miles on my wife’s Subaru Outback that we got earlier in the year. So, with that in mind, I put together a short list of things that I am looking for in a new vehicle. Here is the basic criteria:

Reasonably priced (preferably under $25,000) – easier than you might think using USAA pricing but still significantly limits the options given the criteria below.  
Reasonable Insurance Rates – I really would like to see my rates stay about the same (lower is obviously preferred).
All Wheel Drive - four wheel drive is also acceptable (my wife is at least laughing at that one).
Automatic – because manual is a ‘pain in the what’ and I haven’t had to drive a manual car in 15+ years.
SUV – Putting a stroller in a trunk is not fun. Add anything else in the trunk and it becomes exponentially more difficult.
Leg/Head Room – This is a basic comfort level. If I can’t fit in the front AND back seats I know it won’t work.
Other Basics – power driver’s seat, windows, doors, air conditioning (still not included in the base models of some cars), radio, etc.

Here are some things that I would like to have but can do without:

Remote Start – I don’t use it much but there are some hot/cold days when it is needed especially when we are taking our son.
Bluetooth – I am usually on the phone when I am in the car.
Cruise Control – most of my driving is on the highway.
Full Size Spare Tire – see posts about potholes.
Side Molding – I have seen the dings on doors in the parking lot on cars that don’t have this.
Regular Outlet – I have used a fair amount. You never know when you need to plug your computer or some other electronics in on the road.
Roof Rack – For the longer road trips that we hope to take our son on in the future.

As you can see, I have put some thought into the list of things I would like to have in a new car. With all of those things in mind I began searching using USAA’s car buying service. The three vehicles that cleared the board and met all of the aforementioned things on my list (including the optional ones) are the Jeep Patriot, Jeep Compass, and Chevrolet Equinox. With those three in mind I mapped my course on Tuesday night stopping at a Jeep dealer first because I had never driven any model Jeep before.

2015 Jeep Patriot
Contrary to some of the reviews I found in some of the industry publications, I really enjoyed the ride, feel, and finish of both models. They are on the smaller side of the SUV market but there is a lot there for the money (fully loaded (more options than I have specified above) limited models are near the top of the budget). They look to be solid options and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked them.  

2015 Jeep Compass
From there I drove to a Chevrolet dealer near the lodge. The same dealer from which we bought my wife’s previous car. There I was able to see the Equinox. In addition to being larger than both Jeep models the price tag is also higher (about $4,000 – 5,000 more than a comparably equipped Jeep). However, I have had a great experience with Chevrolet and am familiar with many of the options that are available. Also nice is the fact that GM now offers 2 years of free maintenance on new cars.

2015 Chevrolet Equinox
By the time I got to the lodge I was basically in the same place that I started. I liked all three options that met every single item on my rather extensive wish list. I would be happy with any of them and they would all work well for many years to come. I guess it is probably going to come down to price and how much they are willing to work with me on getting those payments as low as possible. Of course, I am going to have to test drive each of them some more as well. Stay tuned for an as of yet unscheduled update on the decision.