Car Shopping Saga

by Natalie P.

January 13, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | No Comments

Yes… she drives a Ford…

I get no end of ribbing about that from the boyfriend, and others. In fact, a recruiter that I know dropped him off at our place, and asked, “Is that Natalie’s car?” when he saw my Focus ZTW Wagon in the driveway.

“Yes.”
“Do her friends know she drives a STATION WAGON?”

Apparently, by all accounts, I should be driving something more prestigious and bitchworthy.

My biggest complaint in the last year has been that Ford does not carry TIRES for the cars it sells. In fact, for the Focus ZTW, NOBODY seems to carry them except for a handful of specialty tire shops. Don’t buy a ZTW and expect to get a replacement tire from your local Walmart. Sure, I don’t expect Walmart to carry Pirellis, but I would hope they would carry some kind of tire that fits the ZTW rims. Nope. They don’t. Hell, Ford dealers don’t even carry them! I just don’t get it myself. It’s NOT a BMW or a Porsche, fer chrissakes! It’s a goddamn $20,000 STATION WAGON! At the very least the dealers who sell the damn things should carry the tires for it, don’t you think?

Why do I care so much about tires? Because I am the only person I know who can get TWO flat tires in a single year, just driving on normal city roads, and two hundred bucks a pop, that HURTS. It hurts worse, when you can’t get one of the Pirellis and have to buy two Firestone tires at the same exorbitant price to ensure that you get proper tread match.

So my last two cars were Focus wagons. I wanted economical gas mileage, low cost of entry, and the ability to haul those two-by-fours from Home Depot, if necessary. The fact that it is a low theft risk is a bonus, because, let’s face it, who in their right mind would want to steal a Focus Wagon? This latest one has integrated traction control, ABS, heated seats and mirrors, A/C, cruise control, leather seats (not something I will get again by choice – they fry your ass in summer and are FREEZING in winter until the bumwarmers get going) and a moon/sun roof that I can honestly live without because I hardly ever used it.

But this year, at the urging of the boyfriend, I actually “shopped around”. In some ways, I felt a bit dirty – like I was cheating on my dealer… but then I let them know that’s what I was doing, and I gave them the option to pitch me their best vehicle. I don’t think I’m the typical customer though. I did my online research, came up with a list of features that I wanted, and then took them to each dealer and asked what they had that could meet my demands, er, expectations.

Things that I really really wanted were: AWD or traction control, ABS, heated seats, A/C, power windows and doorlocks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, map lights, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, decent gas mileage, passing power, and an Auxiliary input jack so I could play my iPod through the stereo. From a driveability standpoint it had to have decent handling/suspension and passing power. Most of my driving is highway.

Oh, and I wanted it all for a price of less than $20,000 (Canadian dollars) before taxes. And I wanted a 36-month lease with $1200 or less as a down payment and monthly payments under $350.

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