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 4: A little clarity
After yesterday's frustration of finding the information I wanted quickly and easily on the web, I turned to some trusty old friends, the car magazines. With all the hype around the web and its 24/7, real-time information, it's easy to forget just how easy and useful the good old paper and ink periodicals can be. Especially this time of year when the new car buying guides are being published.
So armed with more (and more easily accessible) comparative information, some choices need to be made.
First, I'm cutting Acura from the list. The RSX and TL are the two nameplates from the brand that fit my budget and while they are clearly better than any car I've ever owned, the fact that I'm just not in love with the styling means they're out.
I was on the fence about the BMW, but the reviews are universal that the 3-series is the best driver's sedan out there. If nothing else, I'll use it as a benchmark. In.
I'm cutting the Mazda 6 from the list as well. I've owned one. I liked it. But I can't look at everything and the Fusion, Altima, Jetta and Sonata intrigue me more.
On the advice of a very good friend, I'm told I must put Lexus on the list if for nothing else than to experience best-in-class dealer service. Done.
As I said yesterday, there was a lot of lobbying from friends to put Saab back on the list. The 9-5 is getting good reviews. But there's nothing new with the 9-3 and that's the model that best fits my needs and budget. So with great reluctance, I'm keeping them off the list.
I wanted to cut the list further, but I until I actually experience the cars, it's clearly impossible to judge them. So right now the list looks like this:
1. Audi A4
2. BMW 328
3. Cadillac CTS sedan/wagon
4. Infinity G37
5. Lexus IS 250
6. Chevrolet Malibu LTZ
7. Ford Fusion sport and Taurus SHO
8. Hyundai Sonata
9. Nissan Altima
10. Subaru WRX and Outback
11. VW Jetta TDI Sportwagon
12. Mini Cooper S
It's pretty clear the next big decision will be budget based. With an upper limit of $40k, is it better to get a base level premium sedan or a mid-tier car with all the bells and whistles? The only way to find out is to drive them...