I am on the cusp of buying a car, because the old Element is looking at some repair work and new tires. The expenditure might prolong its utility, but it’s 14 years old and it’s not like it will evolve the ability to regenerate parts. Don’t really want the expense right now, what with college looming.
Went to the Ford dealership, because I saw a car the other day that made me stop and take note. This is rare. Most cars bore me. Same, same, same. I don’t know why this one did it, but I made a note: Ford Edge. I’d looked at the Ford Escape last year, but the ads and brochures made it rather clear it was for women - sorry, Ford, but that’s what you wanted, and mission accomplished. It also had a prominent CD player slot on the top of the dash, which is like finding a car that accepts Edison Cylinders, and the display screen was poorly integrated into the dash, sticking up like an iPad instead of flush-mounted. And the resolution was bad.
You may think: what an odd thing on which to base a major purchase. The screen resolution. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t be sharp; if it looks like a VGA monitor from 1996, what else sucks?
So I went to look at the Edge. The salesman was low-key. I suppose that’s the new model. But I mean, really low-key. Friendly enough, but lacking in go-getter enthusiasm. I drove the Edge, and it had nice pick-up and all, but two things bothered me:
No gear shift. It’s a knob. Rather cool, in a way, but I want a gear shift lever, even if it’s a vestigial nod to the days when I drove an automatic.
It had glossy plastic on the interior, which seemed a bit . . . TV Buck Rogers. And it’s going to show fingerprints. And I’ll scratch it.
There are so many small ineffable emotional reactions that go into this decision. It has to do with love. Your heart has to sing when you see the car driven down the ramp for your first drive. If not sing, at least stir - this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I mean, when I first saw the Element - possibly the ugliest car by normal standards - I was enraptured; it was BRIGHT GREEN. It was boxy, F-U boxy, and it had suicide doors. To this day I love that car. The very idea of selling it . . . even thinking about taking out the title before going to the dealership feels like a betrayal, like thinking “I’ll meet my new co-worker for a drink, it’s just a drink” but taking your wedding ring off before you enter the bar.
The main impression I got from the salesman was this: if I didn’t buy the car, that was fine with him. Up to you, dude.
I went to the Honda dealership, and got another young salesman. This was his first car-salesman job. He was knowledgeable and answered all my questions and could explain the trim packages and so on. But again: no passion.
At one point he asked if I wanted the used department to take a look at my car, and summoned a guy in the triage department. Now this guy had the knack. Big grin, strong handshake, a line of patter, and we instantly did that thing where you’re breaking balls because this is what men in the process of arranging an automobile transaction do.
I spilled some coffee on a road trip, don’t knock off a grand.
No problem, did you get more coffee?
Gotta have the java for a road trip!
I considered the CR-V, but I don’t need that much car anymore. I’ve no small child to tote around in the back, no daughter-cohort to transport. Plus, the new CR-V has wood-grained trim and you can’t opt out. I hate wood-grained trim.
Then there was . . . that other car.
Tomorrow: the test drive.