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Now some of us lament this day when it comes. My own father has said that he would rather undergo a root canal than go car shopping. I'm not sure that most people would go this far. I am sure, however, that most people fall closer to that end of the spectrum than the other side. The side where car shopping is your ultimate joy in life. Don't tell me these people do not exist. I know they do. I am married to one.
No matter how you find yourself feeling at this point, you can gain some solace in being as prepared as possible. In my case that involved researching vehicles, configuring different models, and reading reviews before I even set foot in a dealership. I, however, am notorious for taking a long time to purchase a car. I spent two years from starting to look to finalizing the paperwork on one of my current car. It's just a Honda Civic.
I am now looking to replace that car with a new one. My Civic is still working fine, so this car purchase is most definitely a want situation. I have wanted a more comfortably riding car for some time and just a few months ago I finally started test driving. I am considering some of the luxury car brands for the first time, and I thought I would share some of my experiences thus far.
I decided this time around I wanted an SUV, but nothing huge. So, I have settled on the Luxury compact/crossover SUV segment. Now, not everything I looked at strictly falls in that category nor did I look at everything in that market. Here are the vehicles I did consider:
- Porsche Macan
- Audi Q5
- Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
- Jaguar F-Pace
- Volvo XC60
- BMW X3
- Mercedes-Benz GLC
A few clarifications before I start. No, I didn't test drive the Macan because seeing it in person it just didn't suite my needs. The Q3 obviously would be a better small option than the Q5. However, when I drove it months ago I was still considering Lexus, Audi, and Acura, but then I excluded those from my list. I decided I wanted purpose built luxury with a lot of features and they just wouldn't quite get there for me. I went for the X3 over the X1 because I don't care for the X1s styling and it doesn't have some of the features I want. The same can be said of the GLA versus the GLC.
With all of that said, here are the things I've learned/experienced shopping for luxury: First, don't expect to go in and drive something new right off the lot. Not saying that this isn't possible. Especially if you are in a situation of need rather than want. If you are willing to be very flexible on options, this could be a great route for you. I, however, have very specific wants for this car. Almost every dealership we went to said that I would most likely be ordering one. They did mention checking delivery inventories as another option. That would entail me giving them my desired configuration and having them search the country for one being delivered elsewhere.
This fact made the entire shopping process so much less painful. There was no talk of 'taking one home today.' Of course, they wanted us to order one, but none of them really pushed the matter. Clearly, in the market I live in at least, the sales people expect you to walk away with a card and some information. Oh, and some water bottles. Always good to check out the snack bar for when you will be bringing the car in for maintenance.
Second, this means that if you are shopping in this market you have to be very patient. Each dealership gave us delivery estimates and most of them were several months. The BMW being an exception as all X3s are assembled in Greenville, SC. Therefore, new X3s can arrive much sooner (four to six weeks where I am, according to my BMW Sales Representative). From my previous experience, I know it's not the manufacturing that takes so much time, it's the shipping, time in port, transportation, etc.
That brings me nicely to my third point which is that you can get a vacation with your new car. Volvo was the first dealership we visited to mention their Overseas Delivery option. Included in the purchase of a new Volvo, you get two round-trip tickets to Sweden, a one night hotel stay, and insurance on your Volvo for up to fifteen days. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche all offer European Delivery as well. Obviously, these experiences are not applicable on everything. For example, the X3 wouldn't qualify as it is only produced in the United States. From my research, it appears that Land Rover does not have a delivery program in the US. They do, however, offer the Land Rover Experience here, which will basically take you off-roading where only a Land Rover could.
And finally, my fourth point is about the ludicrous amount of options. Everything you can think of and more are available in these cars. To an almost absurd level. Your seats will be adjustable in more ways than you thought possible. You will have cameras on top of your cameras on top of sensors. The softened suspensions will make you wonder how you ever managed a road trip without a broken back. And you will learn that not all leathers were created equal. For example, one Land Rover Range Rover Evoque was equipped with an umbrella holder under the passenger seat (note the list price doesn't include the umbrella). Or better still, in the Mercedes-Benz GLE, there is an optional brushed steel door pin with black AMG logo. That will cost you $50. Per door pin.
Overall, I would say owning these cars is meant to be an experience. The sales people didn't start with questions about budget and financing. They wanted to get you into the car so you could feel what they feel about the brand. There is devotion and dedication to these car manufacturers. I think that's another reason why the sales teams felt less pushy than in my previous experiences. They know their vehicles speak for themselves. At Land Rover especially, you got the feeling that once you bought one, you would be back for another. It was a completely different dealership experience for me. One that I feel overall is much easier. It was a question of 'what do you want?' and 'how can we get it there for you?' The hardest part is deciding which one to go with and what features. I like that.