Used Car Shopping Evolves

2008 Audi Q7

“Well, let’s go get some dinner and think about it,” I said after test-driving a 2008 Audi Q7 with my girlfriend.

Our salesman and the sales manager stood with us, hoping to entice us into the next room, where we could discuss numbers. Upon hearing my desire to leave, the salesman shot a glance at his manager, who just smiled, nodded, thanked us for coming in and wished us a good night.

We went on our way and discussed the merits of the car over sushi, quite impressed with the lack of sales pressure and the overall pleasant experience at the dealer.

If all experiences were like that, there’d be no reason for change. Yet change is happening.

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Big Money and High Technology to Fix an Old Problem

McLaren P1

What’s the best way to spend the most money to fix a simple problem?

Assign a supercar engineer to the task.

Here’s the problem:

During inclement weather, falling condensation in the form of oxidane can accumulate on the windscreen of a vehicle, thereby creating visual impairment and putting the driver and occupants at risk. Additionally, when exposed to freezing conditions, said oxidane can transform into a solid state and create an even bigger problem for drivers by rendering the windscreen opaque.

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For $30,000: New CLA-Class or Used C-Class?

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is doing something all automakers dream of:

Bringing younger buyers to the brand while selling in numbers that can be described only as an overwhelming success.

Car and Driver says,

The CLA is the least expensive Mercedes-Benz available, but its swoopy “four-door coupe” styling and cool interior make it one of the most stylish cars on the road. The CLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with front- or all-wheel drive.

There’s a problem with this success, though.

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What Car Would You Buy Tomorrow?

Porsche Cayenne, black

The car question posed last night wasn’t as easy to answer as I expected. I mean, I think about cars every day. In fact, I think about cars for multiple hours every day.

So when asked what I would replace my current car with if it suddenly died, I thought my answer would come swiftly and succinctly. Suddenly, though, my mind flashed with all the possibilities. I put myself in the mindset of this not being a hypothetical question and wondered what car I’d go buy tomorrow if I had to.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I was roaring through town in a new Jaguar, but after careful consideration, that’s not the car I ended up with in my fantasy purchase. I thought it would be.

Thinking about buying a car, even hypothetically, is a funny thing. It starts out as a simple thought, but sooner or later I end up browsing through the used listings and checking prices on cars I might, hypothetically, be interested in driving.

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The Most Promising Cars of 2014 (So Far)

2014 BMW M3

Photo courtesy of The Telegraph

It’s that wonderful time of year again: Snow is on the ground, holiday music fills the air, and automakers have started revealing all the fantastic cars that will be in people’s driveways come the new year. Although 2013 saw some fantastic cars come our way—cars like the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2014 Mazda3—we can’t help but look at 2014 with wide eyes, as some of the most promising cars many makers have turned out in generations sit just beyond the horizon.

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The Best Engines of 2014

2014 Chevrolet Corvette

The engine in my car never has, and never will, win any engine-of-the-year awards.

The 2.5-liter V6 in my 2004 Jaguar X-Type produces 192 hp and pulls the 3,400-pound sedan to 60 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds (when the check engine light isn’t on). My last tank of premium unleaded delivered 22 miles per gallon.

None of those numbers are even the least bit impressive by current standards. The truth is, they weren’t all that impressive in 2004, either.

One thing the engine has proved to be is reliable, as a mostly trouble-free 124,000 miles have rolled by so far.

Reading about the latest list of Ward’s 10 Best Engines sure gives me an inferiority complex, though.

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Could Volvo Storm Back from Obscurity?

Volvo Concept Coupe

The small blue Volvo pulled out in front of me in heavy traffic. I was doing about 40 miles per hour and had to slow to about 15 to avoid hitting it. I don’t think a collision would’ve hurt me much—it probably would have been more like a bug splattering on the windshield.

The Volvo was s-m-a-l-l.

I have no idea what model the old car was, but I swear its driver was none other than Mr. Bean. Or maybe Mr. Bean’s dad, because he had gray hair and much larger ears.

For all I know the car was a Volvo 66, of which only a handful exist. One of them has been seen running around the Seattle area, so perhaps I should have had more respect for the slow-moving dwarf-car directly in front of me. Instead I jerked into the neighboring lane, passed it and carried on with my quest to arrive at the nearest Starbucks in a timely matter.

I thought about that little Volvo yesterday after reading a little bit about the future of the brand. Volvo doesn’t get a lot of time on these pages, but that could change with some of the concepts lurking just around the corner.

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Honda Ridgeline Gets Discontinued and Reborn

The 2005 Honda Ridgeline...

The 2005 Honda Ridgeline…

Some say it’s a truck in appearance only, used only by men who want a truck but who also have wives determined to keep that from happening.

The Honda Ridgeline has, for nearly a decade, stood bravely in the shadow of real trucks and pretended to be just as good. With looks resembling a cross between a Chevy Avalanche and a Subaru BRAT, the Ridgeline shook up the truck world when it went on sale in 2005.

In the years since, sales trailed off, and plenty of people relegated the truck to the “I’m sure it’ll be discontinued soon” list.

Like a real pickup in the depths of an unescapable mud pit, it pushed on, slowly, toward its ultimate demise. Two years ago news surfaced that the Ridgeline would finally, mercifully, be put out of its misery.

But then something crazy and unexpected happened.

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For Almost $300K, a Used Aston Martin V8 Vantage or Two New Ones?

1988_Aston-Martin-V8-Vantage

I enjoy dreaming about exotic cars as much as the next guy. Normally used ones, especially 1988 models, are at least somewhat affordable, if affordable means roughly the same price as a new Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

The guys over at CarThrottle found a real gem of a used car, an ’88 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but it’s priced at nearly 300 grand. What’s so great about it to justify such a high price?

Aside from looking like a Ford Mustang from some angles, I honestly don’t know.

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No More Chevy in Europe – Would You Miss It Here?

2007 Chevrolet Kalos

There’s probably not a lot of mourning happening right now across Europe after Chevrolet announced the demise of the brand there.

How do I know this?

It’s an assumption, of course, but one based on experience.

I was in Europe back in 2009 and drove a Chevy Kalos for 10 days through monsoon rains and puddles that were only slightly smaller than the Atlantic Ocean.

Had I been in an American Chevy, like maybe a Silverado or even a Malibu, the puddles might have looked like nothing more than a small collection of raindrops. The Kalos, though, couldn’t navigate through the waters, and my trip’s itinerary changed dramatically as a result.

Aside from having the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car and shifting through the gears with my left hand, the little Kalos struggled through the hillsides and slowly churned and whirred its way through the winding Irish countryside.

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