Murano Part 2

We left off where our intrepid couple had embarked on a mission to find a suitable vehicle to replace the 2016 Ford Edge they’ve been not driving all that much over the last three years.  Hilarity and boredom ensues.  Continue at your own risk.

Having taken the Murano for a test drive, my wife and I, and our salesperson moved into the dealership building to discuss dollars and sense.  We’d still not been completely open with him about our budget, and since we had test driven the top of the line (Platinum) edition of the model, he was thinking we might need to consider going for something less pricey.  Well, we’ve been ‘settling’ for less pricey for most of the last 20 years of leasing, and my wife was in the mood for spending a little more to get more, and I wasn’t about to stop her.  One doesn’t often get the opportunity to ‘own’ something that’s way outside of your own personal price range, so why not do a little ‘mad money’ sort of thing once in your lifetime when the opportunity arises?

Finally coming clean with the salesperson (Doug), we informed him that we were interested in the Platinum model, but the color scheme didn’t really appeal.  I told him that I had looked on the dealer’s website a few days prior and saw that they had the aforementioned Gun Metallic Murano, and after checking my phone, I saw it was still listed as available inventory.  I gave him the VIN and dealer #’s and he was off to the races to see if indeed it was still on the lot.  Now if it had been me?  I would have used the terminal sitting on his desk to see where it was.  The dealer just happened to have a satellite lot about 40 miles away, and it could have been there, since the dealer’s website list didn’t specify which lot it was on.  Just that it existed, and it was available.  But being new, Doug was trying his best to do it right, so he looked in this place, then that, and I think he finally went to one of his superiors and asked if they knew about it, because soon after I saw him leave the building and go out to where they were all parked and start looking at individual vehicles.

Upon his return, he said that indeed it was on the lot, we had just missed it when we were looking at the cars initially.  Although as I recall, I had looked at one that said something about “Graphite” and the color seemed to be about right on the outside.  At the time I had dismissed it thinking the reference to graphite meant the color of the car, not the color of the interior, which is what it turned out to be.  So I actually had looked at it, just not realized it was the one all along.  Regardless, we were delighted to find it was there, so we directed Doug’s energies towards securing it for us, if possible.

Soon after the sales manager came over with numbers and a couple of questions about credit. My wife, being the careful sort, had set up a ‘freeze’ on hers so that no one could open a new account in her name without her knowing about it.  The only problem was, when she had set it up initially several years ago, the company had requested a username, and sometime since, they had gone to an email address/password combination and she was unaware of that.  Consequently,  she was trying to use a username to access her account and getting frozen out (no pun) from being able to access her account to unfreeze the account, so the dealership could check it.   It took about 45 minutes before we left for her to get someone to fix it, and even now at the dealership they were having a little trouble accessing it. One reporting company they could access, but the other (Experian) was still showing the freeze.  So they were only able to get some of the information they needed.  The company she was doing business with had given her a PIN # over the phone, but neither she nor the sales manager had any idea where to input it.  So again there was a small impasse.

Even so, when he ran the credit on the available reporting company, the results came back so stellar they were immediately aware that we weren’t going to be a credit risk at all.  Consequently, things could move forward.  Now came the big question.  How much to put down?  The sales manager had run numbers in the down payment/monthly payment ratio based on the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of the vehicle and our initial suggestion of amount created a monthly payment that was pretty steep.  Of course that can be changed if one puts more down initially.  Since we’re not buying the car, just leasing (borrowing, essentially) the sticker in the window that gets you in the door is based on purchase, not lease.  So what you may have seen as being a possible $21,000 car is actually a $28,000 one, since the sticker on the windshield is for purchasing purposes.  That was something I’d forgotten, I was working under the assumption of what the windshield said, not the sticker on the side window.  Oops.

But fortunately, my wife has no debts at the present time with the exception of our mortgage, and the Edge’s lease was paid off earlier in the month.  Too, she makes more than I do, even in retirement, so she’s a bit more flexible in what she can spend at any given time.  In that vein, she was able to toss a number to him that worked out well on both sides and kept the monthly payment from being too astronomical.  Armed with that information, the sales manager left, and we Doug took that opportunity to call our insurance agent to make them aware we were getting a new vehicle and our insurance needed to be adjusted to reflect that.

However, once he had talked to the secretary at the agency for a few minutes, then handed the phone to me and walked off, the conversation with the secretary took an interesting turn.  She asked me if we were adding the vehicle to the policy in addition to the Edge, and I said no.  She then asked if we were getting new plates for the new vehicle.  Again, I said no, because we were just going to be transferring the plates, since it’s not a commercial vehicle like a pickup, which has its own requirements for plates.  In New York, if your pickup has no cover on the bed, it’s considered to be a commercial vehicle and requires that sort of license plate.  With a cover, its folded under the umbrella of a passenger vehicle or SUV.  Even a Tonneau cover will do, anything that semi-permanently covers the bed of the truck allows this distinction.

(continued in Part 3)

Adventures in Vehicle Shopping

Our lease is coming due next month, and we have to start getting serious about what ‘comes next’. To that end, Friday on my day off, we did a little vehicle shopping at a dealership about 40 miles from us. Just so happens to be in vicinity of both a strip mall that we shop at, as well as a standard sized mall across the Interstate, which is catty-corner to both Red Lobster and Olive Garden, places we like to get a meal.

Based on our past needs and preferences, I’d made a list of what vehicles appealed to me that we could look at. We’re generally in the market for what’s called a mid-size or ‘crossover’ style of SUV, since that’s the successor to what used to be called the ‘station-wagon’. Too, we don’t normally go for something that’s basic, we like to have the ‘bells and whistles’ that are available, with the probably exception of a tow package, light machine guns or rocket launchers, as they tend to be a little too bulky for our specific needs.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re going to be leasing, and we’ve had Subaru’s before, so the first dealership we went to sold them. Driving around the lot, we noticed a gaggle of ‘vultures’ (my wife’s term for the salespeople) hanging around one of the entrances to the main building, so we avoided them until we needed one. Driving around, oddly enough, I didn’t see too many Subies. They seemed to have a lot of other brands, but not them. So we parked at the Cadillac side of the dealership (multiple brands) and walked over to where I did happen to see a few Foresters. But they were all used, or ’16s, ’18s and earlier. Finally giving up, we acted lost and one of the vultures detached from the gaggle and came to see if he could help us.

‘Bill’ introduced himself and asked what we were looking for. I introduced myself and my wife and told him that we were in the market for perhaps an Ascent (the new Subaru model out this year) or a Forester. He informed me that I was looking in the used section, that the newer vehicles were in another rank. We began with small talk as we walked over, and he showed me what the Ascent looked like. Oy, big damn vehicle! Almost taller than me, which proved to be too much vehicle as soon as I looked inside. Anything that has three rows of seats or appears to be suitable for toting a small pachyderm around comfortably, is going to be too much hassle for just the two of us. Next!

Mr. Bill asked if we might be interested in an Outback, as he had lots of those. I informed him that back in 2010 we looked at one, but for me it was too cramped in the cabin. Just for the hell of it I sat in a 2019 model and…same result. It’s a nice vehicle, but for someone with my large frame, it feels too cramped. So it’s either going to be a Forester, or something else from another manufacturer in the same size range. Bill informed us that Foresters are a limited commodity this season, as they’ve been heavily advertised and people are snapping them up, much like what happened when the Prius originally came out. There used to be a waiting list of several months for them, but that died down over a year or so as the supply train caught up with the demand. So getting a Forester might be a lost cause, since most of the ones he has on site, or coming in over the next month are already spoken for.

We looked at a few more possibles and then went on our way to the Nissan dealership on the other side of the Interstate, near the mall. This time we didn’t engage with any of the vultures, we just looked at vehicles from the outside. I liked the look of the Pathfinder, I think that’s going to bear more investigation. On my list of ‘possibles’ was a Rogue, but I think that’s going to be a wee bit too small for our needs. Not Outback small, but the size of the vehicle was a little too squashed, I think would be the better way of putting it. A co-worker has a Rogue, and he raves about it, but I don’t think it’s going to fit our requirements.

The dealerships we went to didn’t have several of the other vehicle brands I’d made a list of, so we shelved the shopping trip in view of both of us being hungry. A trip to Red Lobster assuaged that, and after being filled up on seafood we headed home. We have some more research to do online before we make any decisions, and on Sunday we’re going to a dealership near us, that has Chevy vehicles as I want to look and measure an Equinox and Traverse, to see how they measure up to what we currently have. We still have time for narrowing down our possibles, so by the middle of next month we’ll be better assured of what we eventually are going to be driving for the next 3 years.

A ‘midsize’ conundrum

For the past 20 years, we’ve leased all of our vehicles.  It’s just been more practical as well as financially feasible, considering we don’t ever drive all that far over the course of a three or four-year period (the length of a typical lease).  Over those years, we’ve had the following:

  • 2000 Ford Ranger
  • 2003 Subaru Forester
  • 2006 Jeep Compass
  • 2010 Subaru Forester
  • 2013 GMC Terrain
  • 2016 Ford Edge

With the exception of the Ranger, they’ve all been SUV’s of the mid-size or ‘crossover’ variety.  It was while we had the Ranger that we figured out that we needed something that was like the truck, but was a bit better for transporting people and things. (more things than people as we rarely have company that we need to take from Point A to B)  Every lease we swapped choices.  I chose the 2003 Forester, my wife picked the Compass, though we discovered that was a poor choice, as it was a very new model of Jeep and the frame was very stiff, it didn’t take a bump very well in the road.   The second Forester was sort of a toss-up as I recall, we were looking for a vehicle and our lease on the Compass was coming up pretty quickly.  After looking at different SUVs, we happened to be at a satellite lot of the dealer that we’ve been using, and they didn’t have the ‘one’ we were looking for.  The one we ended up with was ‘close’ and the sales guy sort of talked my wife into leasing it, because he didn’t want to look for anything that wasn’t on his lot.  If he had to ‘share’ his commission with someone else at another dealership, well he wasn’t really interested in that.   He threw in a few bells and whistles, made it amenable for us to drive it off the lot that evening.  We went to Red Lobster, had dinner and by the time we got back, we dropped off the Compass and drove the Forester home.

The last two vehicles have been my choice.  I think my wife got tired of choosing, to be perfectly honest.  I spend a good amount of time looking at vehicles, can read the technical aspects and for the most part understand them and I do the lion’s share of the driving.  She really only has a few preferences that she wants each vehicle to have.  So long as they have a moon roof or sunroof, heated seats, and they’re comfortable for riding, she’s happy.  When she’s happy, I’m happy.  Me?  I like to have a good sound system, rides well, a back-up camera and the ability to interface with my phone.  I have had an ongoing subscription to Sirius XM radio since we had the Terrain, so I expect any vehicle we get to have that, so I can just transfer the subscription.  I don’t need a nav system installed as I have a Garmin GPS, and that can be plugged into the 12V port.

I’ve been looking into different vehicles for the last couple weeks and have my preferences narrowed down a bit.  I’m not looking for a brand that I’ve had previously, although Subaru has come out with a new model called the Ascent.  It’s a little larger than the Forester, and I’d be very interested to take one for a test drive.  It’s been 3 years since I’ve checked out new vehicles and I’m itching a little to try out the new doodads that have been coming out tech-wise.