I drive a 2009 Nissan Rogue, base model. While it isn’t flashy or sporty, I’m not a “car enthusiast”. I don’t care about whether it can do 0 to 60 in 3 seconds, I just want to know if it has enough power to pass three cars on a two-lane highway or not. I honestly care more about reliability and cargo space than styling or engine displacement.
Since the car is now 8 years old, I’ve been thinking that maybe, sometime soon perhaps, I may start to see big expenses creep into the picture and the big giant decision will start to loom:
Fix or ditch?
Transmissions are often big-ticket items, but mine was covered under warranty and replaced about 20K back, with a new warranty on the replacement. I’m good for a while.
We’ve done brakes a few times.
Nothing gigantic looming.
But I had a small issue recently — my back shocks started leaking until they were completely dry.
I talked to my father-in-law who has probably forgotten more about cars than I will ever know, and he felt it was likely time to think about a new car too, which was the way I was leaning. I had planned to run it into the ground, but that ground was getting closer (literally with the shocks gone).
During the evaluation of what needed to be done, I did a test drive of the 2017 Rogue, looking at a step up in level, and it is like night and day. Moon roof availability, relatively the same handling, interior upgrades, tech packages. Overall a much nicer car than we have currently, and that was part of my thinking too — I spend a lot of time in the car, and I want some perks added to the package. One that I would love to have is 360 degree cameras that show the side line-up for parking between lines in parking lots, front and back cameras and proximity alerts, etc.
Then the quote for repairs came back around $2K, and we were now in the realm of ditching the car in favour of a new one.
The Nissan Rogue was an obvious contender. The existing model meets my needs relatively well, so why change? We looked at a few options, including a demo model with full styling packages, and it was a viable choice.
But if we were going to do a real search, we wanted to do a real search.
We checked out hybrids at Toyota. We calculated the added cost to go hybrid, and as long as we were keeping the car longer than about 3-5 years, the higher purchase price would be compensated for by lower operational costs. In the end though, I just didn’t like the feel of the car.
We tried to check out the Honda CRV. We went to the dealership, and while I hadn’t made an appointment, I wasn’t expecting any problem talking to someone. It was a weeknight and the showroom wasn’t busy. We went in, went straight to the vehicle, opened it up, climbed in and out, took out our measuring tape and measured things with seats up and down, forward and back. Anybody would see we weren’t kicking tires, we were actively seeing if this car would meet our needs. Serious sales potential. When we were done, I had a concern about the interior styling as the one area jutted out into my leg space, and I wanted to know if it was that way in all styling packages. I have no idea the answer as nobody would come help us.
We were there for 15 minutes and nobody came to see if we wanted anything. When we were done, we walked out into the middle of the showroom, and were clearly looking around for someone to talk to…but three people hiding in little cubicles saw us and ignored us. A guy was coming back from talking to the receptionist, and walking straight toward me. I went to ask him the question, clearly looking to engage him, and he turned, walked towards the manager’s office and ignored me. WTF? Your business is that good that you can intentionally snub and ignore customers? Really? I wouldn’t take a car from them if they PAID me to take their vehicle. Ass hats. I decided that when we bought the car, we would take a picture (we always do) and send it to them to thank them for ignoring us and steering us to their competitors. I was tempted to send it to head office too.
Next up, I wanted to try a Subaru. Partly as so many of the Subaru owners are passionate about how happy they are with their purchase. We were in an elevator at work the one time, and a coworker mentioned they were looking and considering the Outback. Another woman, someone none of us knew, turned and said that she had bought an Outback, and it had CHANGED. HER. LIFE. It was actually a little bit creepy.
Anyway, I tried the Outback and fell in love. I grew up driving big Buicks and Le Mans and Le Barons and basically large land boats with power steering. While the Outback isn’t big and clunky, it had the big solid feel I grew up with, and I was totally comfortable driving it. Great rating out the wazoo, very comfortable, all good, except for one thing. The seat height from the floor is only about 13 inches, compared to the 15-16 inches in the CUVs. Basically, it’s a car with car seating, not a CUV. Andrea really didn’t like the seats, and while the rest was probably enough to compensate for it for me, I didn’t disagree. It was likely going to be out.
The Subaru Forrester by contrast wasn’t quite as comfortable for sheer driveability, but it was pretty good. Great styling, good tech packages (backing up, driver assist, but not sides).
While we were considering the Forrester, we decided to try the Santa Fe Sport. I was doubtful there was as much room in the backseat for Jacob (the online specs showed less room), but it turned out to be equally spacious. With more pep for the acceleration. I confess though that I’m still a bit leery of Hyundai’s quality. Some friends in the know said that it is much better now, but I wasn’t convinced. Some of the ratings are good, but I didn’t feel like it was as solid a build to drive. Small, but persuasive.
We made a decision. We would go for the Forrester. We even made an appointment with the salesman to go in and discuss the final financing.
But there was one niggling detail. We weren’t entirely convinced we needed a new car yet.
I know, I know, you’d think we had already decided that, but it was a bit in context. I was willing to let it go, even if I felt it might have another year or two left in the old girl. And the repairs could be done for a bit less, closer to $1500, and one of them was just an irregular tune-up cost since it was overdue. Which meant I was looking at a bill of about $1200-$1500 to fix it, vs. the big financing option to buy.
What was the deciding factor? It was two-fold.
First, I was a bit grumpy with the salespeople. The Rogue isn’t in bad shape, pretty good actually, nothing really wrong with it, and the online book value puts it somewhere between $5K and $5500. Sure, those numbers can be a bit high, and you’ll see less to sell it in the end, but north of $4500 for sure. Plus, I had winter tires and summer tires for it, on rims, and they were both only a year old — almost $2500 worth of better-than-average tires, call it discounted to about $1200. Which would put me back squarely in the $5000-$5500 range.
Except none of the dealers were offering us over $3K. One came close and then said, “Oops, not we’re not doing that after all”.
So I would give up a $5K car and take the $2K hit; I would get the new vehicle and with financing, shell out $5-6K per year for about five years. Not including a substantial down payment.
Or I could spend up to the same $6K per year and keep enjoying the financing-free premium of owning the car outright right now.
Second, two friends came over for dinner and in discussions with them, while they agreed with the desire to buy a new vehicle, they basically mentioned how frugal
cheap they are and that they prefer to eke out every last drop of value from the vehicle before they get rid of one.
And separately, Andrea and I were convinced. We didn’t need to buy the new car, although we could. I had it e-tested, just to be sure, and yes, we could keep our current vehicle. While we won’t be driving across the country in it, it’s fine for daily use and short-hauls.
So we got if fixed. And we’re exploiting the crap out of it for now. It seems strange, but after long conversations on FB with people, we decided that our new car would be a 2009 Nissan Rogue that was already in our driveway.
But at least we know where we might start looking in two years when I’m willing to let the current car go on trade-in for whatever they choose to give me.