So… We’re Buying A Car Part 2



The post about us buying a new car has been pretty popular so I’ll keep you informed about what’s happening.

A recap- This car is mainly for my wife Mariko who at 5’1″ is on the petite side. She is not an automotive enthusiast. She wants something practical, comfortable and reasonably priced.  For years she has not paid attention to the cars I bring home because she simply doesn’t care about them.  She’s into gardening and since I can’t tell the difference between a petunia and an azalea, she figures we’re even when she doesn’t know if she’s in a Chevy or a Toyota.  Point taken.

Her biggest problem is visibility. Because many windshield pillars are swept back these days for aerodynamics, it blocks her left side view.

Two cars have been immediately taken off the list for that reason, the Toyota Venza and Kia Sportage. I consider the Kia to be a great value and a terrific design so I have to admit I’m disappointed there. I have had a Honda CR-V as a press car recently and she’s fine with that but considering it’s three months away from a new generation she’s less likely to go for it. Mariko likes the photo of the concept and will wait to see what it looks like in person.


I have showed her a bunch of stuff on the internet and have been pointing cars out on the road and as I have brought them home the past few months. I’m a HUGE fan about trying things out so I’ve told her we’re going to climb in and out of a lot of cars. Test driving can be time consuming so to winnow things down we’re just going out to dealerships and sitting in them to see if she likes the look (inside and out) and whether the visibility works for her.

Just a mile or so from our house there’s a VW and Subaru store right across the street from each other. We show up half an hour before closing so there’s really no chance to drive them. First up is VW. We check out the Jetta SportWagen which she likes. Visibility is good and she likes the interior plus the trunk is roomy. It stays on the list even though she thinks it looks a little plain. Then it’s the Tiguan. This car seems custom made for her. The interior and driving position really connect with her. She’s less happy with the trunk since it’s definitely smaller than the Jetta and the V70 she’s been driving for 11 years. Still AWD is a big plus so it also stays on the list.  She also likes the exterior design (though it’s due for a refresh in the coming weeks).


The salesman then leads us across the street to the Subaru showroom (same owners). We peek into a Forester and an Outback. AWD is great for slippery Seattle roads and the prices are in line with what she wants to pay. After the VWs though, she feels the interiors are blah and plasticy looking, especially Forester. Still she can see fine and and the cars have the utility she wants. Ultimately she keeps Outback Limited on her list but drops Forester, mostly because of the interior quality.

What We Have Learned- First she’s more discerning than either of us imagined.  After 11 years of driving the V70 she likes the interior quality of the VWs because, and I quote, “that’s what I stare at all the time, it’s important”.  Smart woman. She’s beginning to understand that there’s a reason why some cars cost more than others and that it’s not just marketing and a badge.

She also learned that it’s not just a car she’s shopping for, but the dealership as well.  This is something she never deals with since I do all the maintenance. Our salesperson did a good job of listening to her, even ruling out the Touareg after asking her about her needs and budget. No up sell or hard sell. He was very patient and stayed with us 15 minutes past closing to explain certain features.

We’re set to hit up 9-10 dealerships in the next day or two to see what she likes. Then we’ll look at the notes and and test drive her favorites. Stay tuned!


  1. langleyhs2013 says:

    any new updates

    • TV says:

      Working on it. Have been particularly swamped the last two weeks and haven’t been looking too much.

    • Robert Sauchelli says:

      One car you skipped over at the Subaru dealer was the Outbck Sport or the Impreza 5 door. It is similar to the VW Sportwagen but with 4 wheel Dr. They are changing this model soon and sweeping back the windshield like the civic. However the current 5 door may have what you are looking for at a geat price. Check it out. NOW The regylar Outback seems bloated – too bad.

      The Elantra Touring may be anoither posibility. But the engine cries and whines.

      I’m a current owner of a VW TDI Sportwagen. We looked long and hard. This car is hard to beat. NO SUV comes close in overall dynamics. The design and mileage are great but the test drive is what sold me. This car handles like a DREAM. Smooth, Quiet, Rock Solid , Secure and Fast. Front Wheel Drive woeks fine for us in NY and NJ.


  2. Elliot says:

    The small upright MB GLK350 might fit her. It’s tad pricey but nice. How about the Ford Escape? An older design but that can sometimes be a good thing.

    • TV says:

      She’s a little funny about the premium badges, doesn’t want people to think we make a lot of money. Easy, since we don’t. Ford Escape is too long in the tooth for my taste.

  3. crash says:

    I think you need to look at the CX7…I have one and adore it. It’s not too large that it’d be too big for her. I like the visibility as well.

  4. langleyhs2013 says:

    Can you pls review the Volkswagen Tiguan also the Touareg, and also whats the differences between these and the Audi variants

  5. kty0608 says:

    I’ve always been a subaru fanboy.
    I have a friend (car enthusiast) who has a 1990 legacy wagon which has 275km and with 95% of it’s parts stock.
    Much of the members on the forum he is on have well over 200km on their cars. Subies are very reliable.

    Yes their interiors are sub par..not one of their best areas.
    but price wise, visibility wise, it’s great. also very roomy.
    like you said, the new CRV is coming soon..but i guess it can’t be helped that we can’t get it sooner.

    I don’t know about the states, but VW service has a notoriously bad reputation in Canada.
    If i were in your shoes, I would honestly get the Outback.

    I think your perfect car would be a Subaru Outback Limited with Tiguan interior and the VW 3.0TDI haha.
    best of luck!

  6. dravi says:

    If she likes interior quality she is going to fall in love with the Audi. The interior on the Q5 is one of the best I’ve ever seen (and thats partially why we changed our minds to buy one of those). Of course its expensive, but so is the Tiguan. The Audi also has many more options that are standard for a few K more.

  7. tenstringer009 says:

    Thanks for the update; I have always enjoyed the researching stage of a car buying process more than any other part, so getting to see it play out is fun.

    On a different note, over the past year or so I have probably dealt with over a dozen different car salesman, and what always astonishes me is the lack of knowledge a lot of them have with their product. I understand it’s tough if you’re looking at a used car of a different make than the dealership it’s at, but otherwise it’s very frustrating to deal with uneducated salesmen (which seems to be the majority of the time). However, it looks like you lucked out at the VW/Subaru dealership you were at. Maybe it’s a SF Bay Area thing…

    Good luck the rest of the way and keep the updates coming!

    • Toaster says:

      I totally agree. Most of the time when you go shopping, if you’ve done a bit of research you find yourself knowing more than the salesman. I don’t mean in depth mechanical knowledge either …

      When I go car shopping, I expect a salesperson to know how much horsepower a car has if I ask without them having to look it up. I expect them to know whether it’s got bluetooth standard, or if I have to pay extra for it, etc. In fact I often ask them what I consider to be simple questions that I already know the answer to, just to see if I can believe what they’re telling me. If they get it right, great. If they have to look it up, that’s not so bad because even though I think they should know it, at least they give me the correct information. If they just make up something, or guess wrong then I walk. If I can’t trust them to admit they don’t know or to get me the right information for a simple question then I can’t trust anything they’ve told me.

      When I got my current Nissan Sentra SE-R, the sales guy was young, but had been a Nissan fan for years and it showed. He had a picture of himself as a young boy with his father’s old early 80′s 300zx on his desk. He knew everything about that car, it was like he’d completely memorized the sales brochure and the stats page. Not to mention he was friendly and engaging and I will definitely buy another vehicle from him again (hopefully it’ll be a 370z or GT-R next time I visit the Nissan dealership …)