Car Buying is Even Weirder Right Now

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.

This was a very popular Twitter post with almost unanimous support!

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.

Car Buying Bernie is back, and he needs your help.

Weird Car Twitter Delivers

Early suggestion…
Technically this Fiero does seat five
Thanks Zerin…
I kinda like this one.
Tempting…
C’mon Jeff!
OK, I actually seriously looked that Aston Martin up, only minor damage that’s been “mostly” repaired.

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).

Tempting.

Stay tuned…

21 Comments

  1. I’m fortunately-unfortunately stuck with a minivan for the moment, waiting for my family to outgrow the need for it. Given the market situation, I’m glad I’m not car shopping any time soon. However, I would be interested in an old fixer-upper/beater car, and those shouldn’t be as difficult to find.

    In your case, I don’t see anything wrong with a Genesis G70 that a good aftermarket cat-back system wouldn’t solve.

    1. Yeah, I came up with that. I got the “we’re not spending fifty grand to then need to spend another $500” response. haha

      1. Ooh… I understand and sympathize. I’ve been down that road before, too, but on a much cheaper vehicle. It was more like a “we’re not spending FIVE grand, to then spend another $500.” In my wife’s defense, that was a 10% after-purchase expense, not 1%, but regardless I’ve seen that argument before!

        I would love to snag one of those G70 2.0T manuals before they’re all used up, given that they’ve since dropped the option.

  2. Interesting – given how you have solidly cemented your position as the CUV/SUV/AnyLetterUV-guy at the Hooniverse, it’s pleasant to see the professional interest is not followed up by personal indulgence. What happened to the suggested Volvo S90? Probably too subdued, too, but it’s still a competitor to the Genesis’, at least. And there are a solid internet points to earn along the Korean-Swedish Axis of Different.

    As a resident can’tshutupper, I have chronicled my family’s quest for a new car in the friday comments for a while. We’re only looking at EVs and have so far tested the Polestar 2, Tesla 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia e-Niro and EV6. Most of them are good cars. All of them have some issues that are so…oof…we’ll end up in that exact same position: Why spend about a year’s worth of pay for something that isn’t perfect? It’s an idiotic question, because we may end up buying nothing at all with that approach.

    But, really, even our cheapest, clapped out cars have functioning cruise control, while Tesla’s TACC panic-braked upon semi visuals. The dealer replying: “You can just turn off cruise control when you meet trucks”. Yeah, right. The popular Polestar built to accomodate only people up to 1,80m in the rear seat, excluding half of Scandinavia. The only rationally built car, the e-Niro, sacrificing sound insulation for better boot space – something I’d do, too, in theory – ending up louder than our gas cars. Stuff like that drags down the shopping experience.

    Good luck!

    1. “Why spend about a year’s worth of pay for something that isn’t perfect?”
      This is a really good question, though I assume you mean “something that has everything that we want.” I’ve never bought a perfect… anything, I don’t think. Certainly not a perfect car. It doesn’t make any sense to spend a huge amount of money on a car that’s lacking key features that you want (or one that includes features that you don’t want).

      Funny your comments about cruise control. I’ve never been one to use regular CC, much less the more advanced adaptive systems– I just tune my ear to the engine speed and hold steady. I don’t like systems that remove me from control of the vehicle, or which intervene when sensors determine that I’m not paying attention or doing something stupid. It took me a long time to even get accustomed to antilock brakes, even though I know they’ve saved my ass a few times.

      It’s a shame to hear the e-Niro is noisy, because I actually like that car (on paper at least).

      1. Yeah, I hear that a lot. My preference for CC is probably down to 3 things: 1) Tired a lot – especially after work, when I intuitively drive too aggressively if I don’t cease control, 2) It’s the most efficient way to drive an EV, 3) My road profile with long stretches of even speed – that’s pretty much all I drive daily. YMMV, but CC is something I have come to appreciate a lot the last couple of years.

    2. “Why spend a year’s worth of pay (on an new car)”. Is this why everyone except our household has shiny new cars? We would never even consider spending even 50% of an annual salary on a depreciating vehicle purchase. Guess that’s why we buy used and have low payments. I often wonder how people make the monthly payments. Even at something ridiculous like 84 months, these things are damn expensive.

  3. I picked the worst time of my life apparently to buy my first new car in 14 years. So far on my end, it seems like it will cost me a couple of grand (have to pay MSRP…no bargaining), and an extra month or two of wait. Since it’s an auxiliary vehicle for me, no big deal. Some of the stories I read on the g80 forum are quite incredible. Currently, BMW has 0.9% financing OAC, and there are stories of dealers marking that up a percentage point, even as it’s being advertised. This is an addition to some of the ubiquitous ‘market adjustment’ that is happening out there (Sandia BMW told me they automatically add on a $5k market adjustment for any M car being sold to an out of state buyer…and then they tried to sell me a used M4). I seem to have stumbled into a fairly workable dealer, but, the shitshow is certainly out there, and if you’re forced to buy something NOW, there may not be a way to avoid it.

          1. “The official car of Butt Drugs?”

            Hmmm, I had just kinda assumed it was a Ford Probe….

  4. I think you owe it to yourself to see how much your old M4 sold for.

    Also, I wouldn’t wait too long to replace it as used car prices seem to be going up a couple of percentage points every month.

    1. Good point, but I was at the MB dealer not too long ago and he said they had dozens of 2021s waiting at the Port of Baltimore for chips. He said once they come in (as they will at other dealers across the country) they’re going to have a fire sale of 2021s. That should normalize the price of used cars.

      And yeah, I’ll be searching the VIN for the M4 to see where it ends up!

  5. Go buy a 6 liter GMT900 Tahoe for fifteen grand. Put the rest of the dough in the market. When the new car market gets closer to normal, sell the Tahoe for the same fifteen grand you paid, and buy what you’d like.

  6. How about a used 2018-2020 Accord Sport with the 6 speed manual? While not the thrill of an E63 or S7, it is a very solid performer that’s roomy and bullet proof.

    That’s around $30K. Then spend the rest of your budget on something really interesting for when you don’t have the kids in tow. An early Boxster, a 996 911, an E46 M3, a Miata plus mods, or even a Fiero. 😁

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