Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Narrowed it Down. Test Drive Surprises were surprising

Plan A actually happened, I went to all three dealerships at the appointed times, test drove several cars, got usable prices for everything I was interested in, and made a decision. It was not the decision I had expected to make.

10 am Toyota
Celine was on the phone talking Chinese. She said a friend had referred someone to her and the someone was on the phone. First we test drove a Yaris, and it was surprisingly peppy, great brakes, smooth acceleration. We took the "short freeway" route, it had no problem getting onto 85's uphill ramp at Fremont St. and we were at 65mph in about the same amount of time as with my Corolla. And a somewhat smoother ride.

She told me the Prius C had some big discounts, and was no longer $10k more than the Yaris, but only about $3k more. So I test drove it. It was not as peppy as the Yaris, the sight lines were poor out the back (half blocked by the rear seat head rests which are removable). We took the same route, it was sluggish on the 85 onramp and took longer to get to 65 mph. It is silent when stopped, but there is an annoying whirring sound as it speeds up and slows down from and to a stop. It comes in some more festive colors than the Yaris, I loved the orange one in the showroom. I also liked the digital speedometer.

The manager came over with numbers for both cars, which I thought was a bit premature because he had not asked which model of the two cars I was really interested in. I told him I would install an after-market GPS/radio/CD and he said he might be able to get me a good deal and install it there.

They don't do trade-ins as such. The new car and used car units are separate, but Celine said she would take me over to see about selling my car to their used side when the time comes.

11:00 - Trader Joe's, got natural peanut butter (chunky) and hummus. Diabetes doc said those were good for snacking, and I like them. They were out of almond butter (there's a shortage, he said) and no sign of their killer fondue mix (seasonal, coming back in October, he said). This is a new store, in the space formerly occupied by Borders Books. It is a really great space, but a craptastic location on account of the parking lot being designed by the same folks who do bumper cars. To their credit, TJ's had two or three "security" midgets in reflective jackets helping direct traffic and pretending to make it safer for pedestrians.

11:30 - lunch at PF Chang's. I had the Mongolian Beef, which was superb, but the steamed rice was short grain and dry, and the cucumber salad was soggy.  Egg flower soup was hot & sour base with a little bit of egg. However, the service was lightning fast, and they got my order right, so I left a big tip.

1 pm Honda
Max was somewhere on the premisis, they found him after 5 minutes. Max is from Gabon, his English sucks and his enunciation sucks even more. Most English-speaking Africans I know who are from Francophone countries are very careful about their enunciation, but not Max. I wanted to test drive a Fit, and there was one right up front which it took him about 10 minutes to get the keys for. All the other dealers have keys in a lock box on the vehicle, Honda has a bizarre system where the rep looks up the stock # of the car, punches his code and that number into a keypad,a drawer opens up, and he needs to find the right key from about 100.

He gets the key, we go to the car, the battery is dead. This also happened at the Palo Alto Honda place. Dead batteries on brand new cars is a show-stopper. He had pretty much lost the sale right there.

But there was another Fit right behind it, and he thought there was just enough room between the car and the wooden post for the carport to its right that he could extract it. I didn't think so. I was right. He was about an inch too far to the right, and the post nearly ripped off the trim, and made a nasty dent in it. Flimsy material, lost me again.

Drove the car, pretty much the same route as the Toyota, but without the freeway part. Soft brakes, okay acceleration, okay sight lines except the back window is smaller than the view in the rear view mirror.

Back to the dealership, I asked for some ballpark numbers. He brought out a loan application., I told him I was paying cash. He still wanted me to fill in the name/address/phone number part. He already had that - I gave him my card last time I was there. I told him to just give me some numbers. He asked what I expected for my trade-in, I said $7k-$8k. He put down $6k. With the trade-in, his number was just over $10k. That's pretty low. Tempting, if the car wasn't a piece of junk.

2:15 - Starbucks, used my free drink credit on a frapuccino, set up the laptop and played on FB. While I was there, Tim from Ford called to confirm my 3 pm appointment.

3 pm Ford
Tim is not there. He doesn't answer his page, no one has any idea where he is. I use the restroom, he's not in there and he isn't in the showroom when I return. Ken volunteers to help me. We take a Fiesta out, a similar freeway route to Toyota, except Ford is a couple of miles closer to 280, so we do the Wolf Road uphill ramp. Good enough acceleration, but not as good as the Yaris. Off the freeway, a couple of times the transmission seemed to stutter. The car was sluggish responding to the gas pedal. Braking was a little soft. I loved the lime green color. I ask about navigation, and contrary to what it says on the Ford web site, they can't/won't put the high-end GPS into a Fiesta.

Next we tried the Focus. Almost decapitated myself getting in. The seats are not very comfortable, and sight lines are only so-so. The moron who put the sticker on the driver's side right where one checks for blind spot traffic is a moron. We didn't do the freeway this time, it was clear that the 160 hp in this car was not being taken advantage of.

Back at the office, Ken tag teams with finance guy David. I give Ken my keys so he can get an allegedly real trade-in estimate. KBB says a 2008 Corolla in one notch worse condition than mine should trade in for $7k. David offers $4200. Insultingly low. He makes the usual excuses, but I know they don't stay unsold long, and the ones on Toyota lots are selling for $12k-$14k. With the trade-in he prices the Fiesta at $18,500. He comes down to $17,300. Gag me. He says he really wants to sell this car Right Now!!! Not gonna happen.

Home, did a spreadsheet with the Toyota numbers, and at $5/gal, 10,000 miles a year (I have 52,000 after 6 years) it would take 5 years (50,000 miles) to make up the price difference between the Prius C and the Yaris. And I enjoyed driving the Yaris more.

That done, it was time to go to the Storytelling meetup in Campbell. A very nice woman named Lori hosted it in her little art studio, and 7 others showed up. All but the last latecomer told a story, the theme was travel. The meetup organizer started with an intro, and then people got up to sit in the tall chair in front of the semi-circle. Most of the folks have no idea how to tell a story, but they all said interesting things. I pulled an old story out from the 70s, and it was well-received. If they have another when I am free, I'll go.

Home at about 9:30, printed up some checks in case I have to write one tomorrow. Got the title from my Corolla out in case I'm selling it tomorrow. Went online to the Toyota dealership and found three Yarises which were a color I could live with and the features I want. All of them list for $1k more than the one I got the quote on, but that's okay. I figure I can suck that much out of them. Even without the trade-in I can still pay cash.

Plans for tomorrow:

Call Celine, tell her I'm coming in at about 11.
Buy a car
Sell  car
Coffee with Janice at 5:30

Tags: cars, food, meetup, shopping

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