What happens when an auto writer becomes an auto buyer?

lexus-rx330My wife’s car has given us trouble since the day we got it. 

This weekend we’re finally succumbing to the reality that we probably need to replace it before it leaves us stranded somewhere in the middle of Wyoming.

And so begins the process of shopping for a car. As an automotive writer, it’s easy for me to dish out advice and recommend certain makes, models, and strategies for getting the best deal. But when me-the- writer turns into me-the-consumer, things get more complicated.

My wife decided she wanted to look at a pre-owned Lexus RX 330 and a pre-owned Nissan Murano. After looking online at CarGurus.com and searching local listings, we headed first to the Lexus dealership and then the Nissan dealer. What a difference in experience between the two!

At Lexus, we were warmly welcomed, shown a few cars, and then asked to test drive one. The salesman quickly sent us on our way. We returned wanting to look at a few other older models that would save us some money. The Lexus salesman never put pressure on us and even asked us what we wanted to happen next. He’s crunching some numbers as I type this.

nissan-muranoNext we drove to Nissan, where the environment was completely different. We parked in front of a group of 5 salesmen and were approached by one before we even got out of our car. He showed us a few Muranos, but wouldn’t let us drive them alone as the Lexus dealer did. During our test drive they managed to take our car for a trade-in appraisal, assumed we were going to buy the Nissan, and acted shocked when we said we weren’t interested in it. 

Then they played the whole “let me go find your keys” game while we stood and waited as someone else tried to talk us into buying the Murano.

The idea of car shopping is exciting and fun. Actually doing it can be frustrating as heck.

Today we want to look at Mazdas, Subarus, and Volkswagens. I can only hope we run into more dealers like Lexus! Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on the deals I’m seeing and provide insights from the dealers on the state of their business. I’m surprised at what they’ve said so far!

What family-friendly domestic models would you consider buying? If you have advice or experience on car shopping, let’s hear it!

-tgriffith

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