D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

More Adventures In Car Shopping...

Saturday, November 10, 2007 4:28 AM
Had a few more test drives...narrowing down the vehicles...

Back to Saturn...
So the Outlook is a nice vehicle, but way too big. I took an 08 VUE out for a spin and had a very positive experience. The 08 Vue is totally different from the 07 model. GM went to a European manufacturer, Opel, to design the new Vue...and it does look entirely different from the 07 model (less boxy, more euro-like).

The V6 engine was refreshing compared to the Torrent's, and the size of the vehicle was comfortable: not too big, but not Jeep Patriot small. Lots of great standard features and space. However, there may be a deal breaker on this one: it doesn't *appear* that the new Vue's have an option for a sunroof. Are you serious?! Still though...nice vehicle...although it made a weird noise out of the wheel well when we were leaving the dealership...but didn't occur again.

I went in to look at the Rav4 just to I could cross it off the list. Toyota has some of the highest financing rates currently, and their vehicles tend to be a higher price point than the competition. The sales experience was very pleasant. The guy I had was very straight to the point but friendly. The entire discussion was about the vehicle, not about monthly payment or any other typical sales-man-ish lines of questions. And the vehicle...

I went in to cross off the Rav4, but it ended up shooting to the top of our list. The 08 Rav4 has a huge amount of space...it felt very roomy in the back and front seats. Toyota doesn't have as many gimick features to the vehicle, which strangely added to the allure of the vehicle. I thought the cruise control lever would have been awkward, but it was very easy and intuitive to use. The V6 engine had great horsepower, and the AWD system has been the most superior out of all the vehicles I've driven:

AWD kicks in either when you need it (sensors determine you need the extra wheels spinning) OR whenever you start from a stop. So you get in your car and back out of the driveway...you're in AWD. You're at a stopsign in a foot of snow and its time to move...you're in AWD. Also, you have the ability to engage AWD if you need it (under 40 kms/hour), so if you're going down a snowy street with a 50km/hour speed limit, but you're worried about getting stuck, you can kick it in before you "need" it. Great feature.

There is a TONNE of space in the back of the vehicle...lots of little features that add value to the vehicle. The version I drove was the base model, and for a base model there was a tonne of must-have features. The sport model has the sunroof.

Odd piece to the sales process: the salesman never actually asked my name!

My last stop was at the Hyundai dealership. I had a nice sales guy...older, retired and selling cars as a side thing i guess. So we took the Sante Fe out for a spin, and to be honest it felt like a poor man's Rav4 with the V6 of the Torrent. This vehicle was a big dissapointment for me, I was expecting alot more. The interior was alright, and it shared many of the same features as the Rav4 (ability to engage AWD manually in certain situations being the key one). The running lights are this amazingly bright light blue...its actually very kewl. But the machine was gutless...i had the pedal pinned on the highway and we sloooooowly accelerated; a stark contrast to the Rav4's engine. I couldn't get excited about this vehicle...not like the Vue or the Rav4.

A note on Nissan Rogue and Honda CRV
There are two other vehicles that I consider in the same market, but that I won't be pursuing. The Nissan Rogue comes in a 4 cylinder motor only, so its off the list. The Honda CRV is a nice enough vehicle, but with a paltry 166 horse power engine...waaaay below the Vue and the Rav4.

So we're getting closer...round two of test drives will be coming up next week.



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