If you’re in the market for a new or used car, I feel sorry for you. While prices for your vehicle are at an all-time high, the microchip shortage means that new cars are in short supply, and used cars are bananas pricey. That means that those tips that I gave current and future car salespeople have been thrown out the window in a frantic attempt to sell cars. It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows my writings on the Hooniverse, or my social medias, that I am once again car shopping.
Oops, I Did it Again
Obviously the good part about all these inflated used car prices is that you can get top dollar for your car. Once again, I put a VIN for one of my cars, this time my 2016 BMW M4, into the search bar on Give Me The VIN, and once again they gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I reiterate, I have no affiliation, I get no perks for mentioning them, it’s just a great site with good service. I dropped my car off about 25 minutes away, signed a couple of docs and walked out with a check. A very good check.
So with that, it was time to car shop. And I freakin love car shopping, it’s like a drug. Only this time, I got a bad batch. Since the BMW sale not even two weeks ago, I have been racking my brain to decide what to buy next. I have spent literally hours hunched over various automotive aggregators. Cars.com, GarGurus, AutoTrader, AutoTempest, whatever I could find. I’ve even got notifications set up on Japanese Classics. The criteria seemed pretty simple, but it wasn’t.
Chasing (Comfortable) Speed
In the beginning, I thought I knew what I wanted. The M4 was too small, so I wanted something that seated five relatively comfortably, that was fast (or at least interesting), and reasonably reliable (or at least came with a warranty). On paper, I was initially pretty sure it was a Kia Stinger.
Even though I was there in Detroit when it came out, I had actually never driven a Stinger, the press loaner that I was supposed to get went to a colleague when I tore my achilles. So my first test drive was a brand new 2022 Ascot Green Stinger. I was warned that, other than the dealership experience, there was no reason not to!
The image above is a visual representation of the dealership experience. But it was worse than that. Aside from the “adm”, which means “Additional Dealer Markup”, it took me awhile to find my salesperson, and of the three or four employees in the showroom, no one asked me if I needed help. And then…the car literally looked like someone was living in it. The salesperson opened the hatch…and there was a necktie in there. I opened the center console, another necktie, plus some random crap. I guess someone at the dealership was driving it home at night? They certainly didn’t earn their “adm“.
The bigger issue was that the Stinger just didn’t give me the “fizzy” feeling down below. It is quick, it’s nice inside, it generally had the room I was looking for, but even in “Sport” mode it was too quiet. Too dull. So it was removed from the list.
As you can see in the tweet, at one point my wife said “you literally review cars for a living(ish), how is it that hard to pick something”. She was right, it was clearly fear of better, or more, options. FOBO, FOMO, YOLO, whatever the kids are saying. I started a spreadsheet at her behest, listing out the criteria in a rank-ordered fashion. I also spent way too much time on Twitter asking for advice. Which was a mistake.
Weird Car Twitter Delivers
Then I Got Some Good Ones
Car Shopping Continues
So, where does all of this leave me? Well, it leaves me without a car. Thankfully I just got a press loaner bump that will take me to early December. I’ve been test driving and literally trolling through new and used car lots looking at options.
- 2021 Mustang Mach-E – I recently called it “The best all-around car I’ve ever driven” and I stand by that. But they are hard as hell to find, at least in Premium trim level, and the ones that are available are marked up well above the budget.
- 2018 Audi S4 – Very clean CPO, decent price. Rear seat was a little small for three kids (one of which is taller than me) and while it felt quick like the Stinger, it still lacked some pizzazz.
- 2021 Charger R/T Daytona – Sounded good, plenty of space, and (surprisingly) $6,000 off sticker, but I just didn’t love it. With all the noise, it didn’t actually get moving all that quickly and just didn’t feel right.
- 2018 Porsche Macan – Nice looking CPO option, but the back seat was too small. Also hard to commit to a four year old car at new car prices.
- 2021 Mercedes CLA 35 AMG – Great interior, it has MB’s latest wide screen. But in the end it was pricey for the size and not all that quick.
- 2021 Genesis G70 – Loved it, just drove it a press rally. However, it’s still a bit subdued like the Stinger (no surprise). I also drove the GV70 and it’s damn good, but not cheap and I just didn’t see myself loving it long term.
- 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti – A bit small, and I’ll always wish it was the Quadrifoglio.
That last bit was important to my car-buying brain. I looked at CPO Audi A7s, and they were great, but it wasn’t an S7. I didn’t want to spend $50K and have regrets.
So, stay tuned. I’m still cranking through this process. It’s actually been pretty enlightening, and not just because I realized most of my Twitter friends are idiots. I realized I’ve been chasing comfortable, reliable, speed on a budget, and that’s just about the hardest thing to do. What would I get, money no object? Probably an M5, maybe an E63 wagon? And those can be had under $50,000, but I really don’t want a project, I don’t want to fiddle with engine lights, broken bits, or major mechanical failure at that price (or any price right now).
The realization that I wasn’t going to satisfy my need to go fast, comfortably, with room for five, and have it be reliable set in this weekend. So I went and test drove a Land Rover Defender. I’ve owned several Jeeps, and honestly would have just bought another one if I wasn’t looking for something that rode a bit better. Well, the Defender rides very well. They have a base 4-cylinder coming in December in Pangea Green. It’s not fast, but it’s definitely interesting, and meets every other category (ok, it’s a little over budget).