As promised, a second post on the topic of our new Subaru. In part one I talked about our choice of a new car; now I’m going to talk more about it, but in the context of shedding some light on the daunting task of buying a vehicle.
Needs versus Wants
As obvious as this should be, always weigh your requirements and desires carefully when selecting a vehicle. Make sure ‘head’ and ‘heart’ are meeting at reasonable place. It goes without saying that it’s not wise to buy the car you really want without heed to your needs, but I’ll go out on a limb and echo what my dear Caitlin talks about here – don’t buy the most by-the-numbers and practical vehicle if you find it dull and it makes you despondent to be associated with it. If you don’t enjoy being in a car, you won’t be as attentive when driving it or taking care of it. You can pay thousands of dollars for therapy, but there’s no sense to paying that sum to be driven into depression. Also consider not just your needs for now but also those for later. If you’re planning on starting a family soon, there’s no sense buying a car that you can’t comfortably open and close all the doors of while holding a screaming infant in one arm. For Caitlin and I, the fact that the Crosstrek can tow up to 1,500 pounds was a strong selling point even though we have nothing to tow yet; we expect that to change.
Once you’ve established what you want out of a car, make sure those priorities are in the right order, and – forgive me for being authoritarian about this – efficiency and environmental impact always have to be near the top of the list. It is, collectively, our responsibility. I’m going to shock some people, however, and say that it shouldn’t be your very highest priority.
Your highest priority should always, always be safety. You can plant trees, turn down the air conditioning and take transit whenever possible to minimize your ecological footprint. You can’t replace a loved one. In my case, this was another point to the Crosstrek. Despite having an identical structure and the same safety systems as the Impreza, the extra elevation means that if, heavens forbid we were ever broadsided by a large pickup or even a dump truck, the impact would be at the level of the rigid body structure – not the windows and our heads.
Simply put, always do it. Read and watch the reviews, investigate common reliability problems and maintenance issues. Even look up the dealership you’re planning on buying from; you can often find reviews on whether the staff are trustworthy or if they’ll try to walk all over you. Something that I touched on in a previous article is the value of doing your research in-person – we originally discounted the Crosstrek based on criticisms of stiff suspension which I found to be misplaced when I drove it in person.
Time and Trust
It goes without saying that you should never rush into a commitment like a new vehicle without making sure you’ve come to the right decision. Even if your time frame is very tight – I effectively had a week to purchase a car to be able to take a new job – there’s still time to do enough research that trust your judgement and that you’re making the right decision.
You should also feel like you can trust who you’re buying it from. I’ve talked at length before about how you can gauge the professionalism of a sales representative, so what I want to mention here is a more specific to our experience with the Crosstrek and the topic of taking the time to do things right. If you feel that the salesperson is trying to get you to close the deal before you’re comfortable, don’t let yourself be rushed. We had the good fortune of dealing with the man who I met when I first drove the Impreza. As well as being willing to run back and forth and crunching numbers on every combination of deposit and rate till we settled on one we liked, he also gave us time to discuss things in private without pressure. If whoever you’re dealing with doesn’t give you that breathing space, just walk away.
My recommendation? If you’re interested in a Subaru and live in the Toronto area, absolutely go by Downtown Subaru and ask for Scott Mitchell. Aside from being incredibly courteous (he drove us to the station so we could catch our train), I’m fairly confident he’s the only salesman with a Lando Calarissian figure on his desk.