Sunday, March 05, 2006

AutoQuest III - First Test Drive

On Saturday, March 4, 2006, Michelle and I left the house early in the morning and headed for Norco. The Chrysler/Jeep dealership had contacted me and I had an early morning appointment with the Internet Fleet Manager. It seems that dealerships now have an appointed representative to handle people who contacted them through the Internet. Why that is, I don't know, but it seems to be the same for all the dealerships. As soon as I parked my car, We were immediately swarmed upon by eager sales people. I was armed and prepared for this, though and said "I have an appointment with the Internet Fleet Manager Christina." They reluctantly parted like the Red Sea and I was allowed to walk into the showroom to meet Christina.

Christina was friendly and helpful and willingly let me drive a few miles around in a 2006 Jeep Liberty. I liked it. It had controls and gauges that were similar to my Dodge's so it was very easy to adapt to it. I wasn't used to the tall, commanding view of the road. I realized why so many people like trucks and SUV's. I wasn't looking up at everybody on the road for a change. I was either looking down or straight across at my fellow drivers. My Stratus is a pretty low-slung car, even when compared to other sedans so this was very different. The Jeep felt strong and secure. It inspired a lot of confidence in the way it felt and handled. It wasn't as smooth a ride as a car, though. It's a body-on-frame design, where virtually all cars are unibody designs. Body-on-frame is better for strength, but vehicles with that type of design tend to jitter or shake more. It's a tradeoff and I found myself not minding it much.

After getting back to the dealership, Christina told me she had a few 2005 models left and she can discount them substantially. "How substantial?" I asked. "6 to 7 thousand less than sticker." was the reply. This interested me greatly. A 2005 model would already be, technically, a year old and have a year's worth of depreciation on it. This could be important if I only planned to keep the car a few years. If I decided to sell it after two years, I would be selling a three year old car with only two years of driving. It would be a bad deal for me. But I keep my vehicles until they're almost ready to drop. This wouldn't matter to me. I told her I would definitely consider this.

I had made it plain and clear that I was doing my comparison shopping. Christina was fine with this, which is unusual from my past experiences with car dealerships. I asked her for one small favor. I wanted to look at a Chrysler Crossfire. I can't afford a new Crossfire, so if that ended up being my choice, I would buy a used one. I felt it would be unfair to ask for a test drive, so I told her I just wanted to check one out.

There it was! On the showroom floor was a blue-steel beauty, a Crossfire, looking gorgeous as ever. It seemed funny that here was a car that was even lower than my Stratus. I would really be looking up at everyone in this thing. It was the anti-sport ute. It offered very little in the way of utility but had everything a driver could want. Speed, handling, exclusivity (how often do you ever see one of these on the road?), and not to mention, sex-appeal. I knew I wanted one and momentarily forgot all about the Liberty. I opened the door and saw a very cool interior. This vehicle looked just a good inside with nicely contoured seats and a chrome center console. I sat in it and realized my head was hitting the ceiling. "This shouldn't be a problem." I thought as I used the electric power seat switch and began lowering the seat. It hit bottom and I moved around a bit and found my head still hitting the ceiling whenever I moved. The seat lowered, but not enough. I began tilting the seat to find a comfortable position where my head wouldn't be so close to the top. No dice! I couldn't believe it. I just could not get comfortable in my dream car.

I guess I'll reluctantly have to scratch the Crossfire off my list. I'm truly disappointed.

1 comment:

Erik said...

You know if you want a great car I think there are a few Ford Pinto's around :)