Heck on Wheels

My New Car Buying Experience from H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks

A few weekends ago, I suddenly needed a new car. My dream had been to live car-payment-free as long as possible and run my Honda Pilot into the ground, years from now. The dream ended suddenly, when it started to have trouble accelerating. The dealership said it needed a $4,000 transmission. Sadly, the car itself was not worth $2,000. The prognosis was it could be 2 weeks to 2 months before it would go. Driving it home, I knew it would be about two days.

I get it. I’m hard on cars. Case in point, when I was cleaning it out before trading it in. I found a blackened corpse of a banana peel in “the way back.” The last time I remember handing my kids back a banana was 2008. You get the picture.  

We decided we shouldn’t to sell it to an individual. A dealer would know what to do with it. Since the transmission was fading fast, we had one weekend to trade in, pick and purchase something new.

We started by making a short list of SUVs with third row seats for practicality, a second list of smaller SUVs for fuel economy and daily commuting. Our top choices included the Toyota Rav4, The Accura RDX, Nissan Rogue and a 2016 Honda Pilot. And then I started a list for style and color. I came across the adorable Jeep Renegade in Orange, a subcompact SUV. It was super cute and super practical, especially if I was a college co-ed with no kids—but regardless I added it to our lists.

On Friday night, for sport we drove a Land Rover. No, they don’t make one in our price range. But they were very polite about it. We also drove a Mercedes. They have used ones in our range. And Chris our associate was fantastically laid back, helpful and cool. But as I said earlier, I’m hard on cars. It does not make any financial sense for me to have a super nice one.

Saturday morning, we drove to a nearby Toyota dealer armed with our “true price” assessments from our bank. All I wanted to do was drive my choices but it took an amazing amount of time to check out the keys and be ready to drive. They had the true pricing but not the colors as it said online. We drove the Rav4 first. Believe me, I wanted to like it for its great price point, dependability and cuteness, but couldn’t. It wasn’t in my top color choices.

My husband wanted us to check out the Acura RDX. We stood around there too. Though it drove well, it looked like 1000 other SUVs on the road. I wasn’t that interested. We asked the dealer to give us an estimate on our trade in. He drove it and came back. He was extra kind to us after that like we were impaired. Very kindly he said, “How does $500 sound.” We cringed. I could now see my Pilot from another’s perspective. I really had driven it into the ground.

Then we drove to the Jeep dealer. After more standing around and talking, he pulled out the Orange Renegade from the back to test drive. I smiled. It was cute and certainly orange. It drove like you’d expect a Jeep to but was soup-ed up with heated steering wheels, Satellite radio and more. It was love. My husband however, did not love it. He felt it might not be as reliable as a Pilot. (I did get 11 years out of it before the transmission gave up the ghost.)

We decided to take a night to think about it. Our friend Charlie came over to drop off Boy Scout popcorn with his boys Louis and Marty.

“I want a Jeep too. It’s on my bucket list,” he said. “I used to draw them all the time as a kid.”
“Did you draw them in the shop?” asked my husband, “because I think that’s their natural habitat.”

On Sunday, further driving of several additional cars yielded a high level of frustration for me. The car buying experience is hell. I’ve done my research, just hand me the keys.

I came home frustrated. I had to make a decision. My husband had Monday off and would negotiate which ever one I decided on.

I opened the websites of all my top choices. And then I opened the Jeep Renegade again. There was a silly commercial and it played the popular “Renegade” song. 

“You know everyone in that commercial is under 30,” my daughter said, pointing out that my car was really designed for the young. 

My husband too said I’d be “twinsies” with ever other teen in town who had a Jeep.

But the Jeep smiled up at me from the site. It was cute. It was fun. 

And it looked like you could strap your canoe, kids and husband to the top if needed.

“Let’s get the Orange Jeep,” I said. 


And I love it. You only live once.

Margee Moore is a marketing professional, sucker for orange cars, mother of two and author of Sleeping With the Laundry. You can follow her on Facebook on Sleeping With the Laundry.


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