“I think we should replace your car.” He said. I had just lugged the last of the groceries in while he finished up a business call and was transferring the pile of chicken quarters I bought on sale, to the freezer. “Um, ok.” I kept on putting groceries away. He outlined his reasoning and as he spoke, it became apparent he meant we should replace my car that day!
It wasn’t a total shock, we’d be talking about it off and on for a few months. His truck and my Honda CR-V were very close in age. Mine had decidedly more miles and wear an tear and was starting to show it’s age. Nothing insurmountable, just some squeaks. With a minimal amount of TLC, it would easily give us at least another 60,000 miles or about 2.5 years the way I drive.
Without a car payment, I was enjoying watching our savings grow every month and REALLY liking the lower insurance and lower tax bills. Still as my husband shared his thoughts, it did seem to be a good idea to at least look more seriously.
I had done research online and narrowed my choices to three cars. Were it not for the need for more space, I would have definitely purchased another CR-V. I loved that car and it served me well. The redesign added a bit of space and I liked the new look, but as the kids have grown, our needs have changed.
We are an active family. We bike, we ski, and I kayak. In the summer, we spend our weekends up at the lake and that means lugging coolers, bikes, kayaks, buckets of clothes, the dog and assorted guests. That time is family time and to me, that includes the trip. We have gotten to the point where we needed to take two cars and that takes some of the fun out of it. First criteria, was seating for at least six plus cargo space.
We live on a dirt road and New England winters and the mud seasons that follow can be brutal. The world doesn’t stop because it is snowing, so all wheel drive was another requirement. I’m frequently carting precious cargo, mine and other people’s kids, so safety was important too. Decent gas mileage was also high on the list. That said, one does not get seating for 6 and a V6 engine and get 35 mpg. The CR-V got 20-21mpg local driving and closer to 24 on the highway. I knew I was going to take a hit in this department.
I am a function over form person. Thus why I spend my life in jeans and danskos 🙂 I don’t really care about appearances, I am more concerned with how things work. I spent some time on ConsumerReports.org and talked with friends who had the vehicles I was interested in. It came down to the Ford Flex, the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.
I have friends who have all three cars. I even had a chance to drive a Highlander under real world conditions. It has a smooth ride and handles well, but there are cargo issue with all the seats occupied. You can have people or cargo, but not both. A friend who got the Flex a few months ago just raved about how much she could carry even when she had extra passengers. The Pilot was the car I knew the least about.
The Ford Dealer was first geographically. Keith met us and listened to our requirements. He also talked to ME. A rare experience with a car salesman. It’s my car dammit. My husband has some input, but the bottom line is I’m the primary driver. From the get go, Keith got that and addressed my interests and concerns. He showed us the Flex and also the new Ford Explorer. “It’s ugly.” My husband said of the Flex. “It’s smooshed.” I said of the Explorer.
Keith lead us to the other side of the lot and showed us a few pre-owned cars including a 2009 Flex that was loaded with features, I’d never go out of my way to pay for, but are nice to have in a car.
We drove the Flex first and everyone, (we took the kids on this expedition), loved it. Even my husband said, “It is still ugly, but I don’t have to look at it from the inside.” We took the Explorer and before we even left the lot, my husband predicted I’d hate it. I tried to keep an open mind, but he was right. The sight lines were awful and because it was more contoured, it had less space than the Flex.
We went into this with our eyes open. We’d done our research, we knew the prices of the cars we were looking at, what my CR-V was worth and we also knew the pre-owned versions of all three models were hard to come by. A-Man and I talked and eliminated the Highlander from the equation because of space. Of my original choices, we were down to the Flex and the Honda Pilot. We knew if we wanted THIS Flex, we had to move pretty quickly. Keith wasn’t pushy, he didn’t have a mythical buyer waiting for the car, but we knew it wouldn’t be around long. Still, I wanted to at least drive the Pilot, due diligence and all that.
Auto Fair has both a Ford and a Honda Dealership, so we all piled into the Flex and drove over to Honda to test drive a Pilot. Driving the Pilot was like driving a larger CR-V with more pick up. I knew where all the controls were, it handled exactly as I expected. I liked it. When we got back to the lot, we parked the two side by side and started to dismantle the Pilot. We put the seats down and took a good look at the space.
Hands down the Flex had more useable space. Pre-owned meant less money, and because it was two years old, it would also mean slightly lower insurance and taxes. The Flex had all the things we wanted plus leather seats, a fantastic sound system, sun roofs (four of them!), the Sync system (digital media and blue tooth) and it the sticker was about $8,000 less than we’d budgeted for a new car.
Auto Fair made us a fair offer for my car and they also wiggled a little on the cost of the Flex. It was a good transaction. If it had come down to buying a new Ford Flex vs. a new Honda Pilot, I suspect I’d have gone with the Pilot. My cursory research showed me we’d get more bang for our buck with the Pilot, but THIS Flex was just too sweet of a deal to pass up.
On the way home, my daughter pipes up, “I like it, but it sort of looks like a hearse.” I laughed out loud, because you know what? She’s right. A few days later as I was carpooling to chorus, one of her friends said, “It looks like a limo.”
We’ve had it three weeks and it is exactly what I wanted in a car. It carries 7 comfortably, and handles well. Call it what you want, I love it.
I wrote this post to share my experiences. I was pleased with the transaction with liked working with Keith Osowski an Auto Fair. I did not receive any compensation. If you are in the market for a Ford, contact Keith at first initial, last name @autofair.com and tell him I sent you 😉