Monday, August 30, 2010

Decision time

It's time to shop for a new car. For the next few weeks I'm chronicling my search, reviewing the process, the products, the marketing, the sales experience and the transaction.

Day 16: Reality sets in

This weekend, I drove two more cars and passed on a third.

My day began behind the wheel of a Ford Fusion Sport. Excellent handling, a beefy, 263 hp V6 engine, aggressive styling and a comfortable interior, this is a nice package for anyone who likes to drive fast. Just a couple of complaints.

Like the Malibu LTZ, there is no manual transmission available in this Fusion. The 6-speed autostick was sharper shifting in the manual mode than others I've driven, but it's still not as fun to drive as the BMW and the Audi.

But my biggest complaint is in the packaging of the options. Because they build so few of these, they're hard to find. And they're hard to find without all the bells and whistles, which includes a backup camera and a blind spot warning system. I can understand these features for mini vans and big SUVs, but this is a mid-sized sedan, what the hell do I need a backup camera for? In spite of being over-featured, I liked the way this car drove and it's a finalist.

The other car I drove was a Mazda 6s. I owned the original Mazda 6 years ago and enjoyed it. I bought it because it was a little smaller, had a sporty set up, nice V6 engine, and a slick shifting manual transmission. Unfortunately, the new 6 is larger, a little softer set up and you can only get a manual transmission with the four-cylinder engine.

My final visit was to the Mini dealer in Milwaukee. I was excited to get behind the wheel again, but as soon as I pulled onto the lot and looked at the car, I knew it wouldn't work for me. It's just too small. Rather than waste another hour and give my phone number out to yet another salesman, I drove on.

So where does that leave me?

After considering 28 brands and driving ten cars I'm down to five: The BMW 328i Xdrive, Audi A4, Ford Fusion Sport, VW Jetta TDI SportWagen and the decidedly less sporty, but oh so practical Subaru Outback.

Today I contact the dealers, see what they can do in terms of pricing, incentives and financing and then I'll make my final decision.


  1. Do we get to help you decide on the car you choose?

  2. All comments, suggestions, advice and bribes are being considered!

  3. I'm pleased you liked the Ford Fusion as well as I did. I almooooooooost bought one back in April, about a week before my agency lost the account I work on.

    Now my Honda Civic with 125,000 miles on it is looking pretty good.

    For now.

  4. Mandy, I really like the Fusion. The sport is an awesome car. If it had come with a 6-speed manual, I would have bought it... but much to the dismay of others of my friends in Detroit, I'll be driving an Audi for the next few years...

  5. ... oh, and the 1997 Honda CR-V with 191,000 miles that's been gracing my driveway for the past 12 months now goes with my son to Madison. Those cars are hard to kill.