Purchasing a New 2017 SUV – Part Two
Moving on from Part One (see earlier post), at the end of the day it came down to two candidates – the Kia Sportage and the VW Tiguan.
We’d been considering the vast array of offerings in the mid-size SUV market for a few months. For sure I was spending most of the research time, but Susan went with me to the Seattle Auto Show and listened patiently while I discussed my constantly shifting opinions. She also has keen insights about cars and about what she wants.
We had a few absolutes, which would probably not apply to most people. From Susan, the color had to be black. I could envision other colors, but it would be churlish to insist on any of them, as she has been so accommodating and even eager to embrace my wilder automotive and motorcycle plans for the past 44 years. We both prefer a windshield that is fairly close to the driver, which does not seem to be a concern for many of my friends. We both insist on a sunroof, and it needs to be placed as close to the windshield as possible. Susan wanted the car to be as small as possible, for her ease of mind in wheeling it around, and of course price was a consideration.
Those four requirements eliminated almost all of the worthy candidates, and subjective opinions about appearance eliminated the rest. I love the Audi Q3 – too expensive. The Mazda model wins almost all of the road tests, but I was not enamored of the styling, and the sun roof started too far back. The Ford Escape, the early favorite, was a skoche too big, and the instrument panel looked like a prop from a Star Wars movie. The Toyota Rav4 is undoubtedly a fine vehicle, but it just did not move me at all. Nor did the Hyundai. All the Subarus and the Honda CR-V were eliminated because they have CVT transmissions, which I hate!
The VW Tiguan was one we did not look at when attending the show, because the appearance seemed a bit boring. Later I realized that I was thinking of the previous model. The 2017 looks much different, and it was added back into the mix. We did look at the Kia Sportage at the show, and it was mightily impressive.
We visited Totem Lake VW and looked at a 2017 Tiguan loaded to the gills. The top spec model, and in lustrous black. Salesman Bob Hansen impressed us with his calm demeanor, and was not put off when I told him we would not be purchasing for another two weeks, as I was aiming for the week after Christmas. I really liked the car, although it was causing our financial window to bulge just a bit.
Of course, buying any VW today has to include consideration of the elephant in the room, that being the recent worldwide scandal over VW cheating emissions regs by having their diesel engine cars only meet the standards while in the test mode. There are two ways to look at this.
My oldest brother has a PhD in chemical engineering. He spent a long and successful career working on energy production and conservation for a think tank in California. As an engineer and someone passionate about the environment, the VW hit him right at the core of his existence. As such, he has sworn never to have anything to do with VW products for as long as he lives.
I certainly respect his position, but I choose a different course. First of all, there are rumors that VW was not the only manufacturer who cheated. They may occupy the lonely position of being merely the first to be caught. This story has not ended. Secondly, we are not purchasing a diesel engine car. Third, the crimes against nature were committed by a small fraction of the employees, and especially by members of the high command. Have you ever worked in a situation where members of the upper echelons of the organization took actions that caused you to determine that they were corrupt? I have. It gave me a profound disrespect for them as people, but it did not alter the way I chose to do my job, and their various acts of misfeasance and malfeasance did not intrude on my job performance or expectations. Surely that is true for 99% of VW employees across the world.
Last, it seems to me that VW dealers are currently REALLY eager to sell their cars, and will work very hard to make and retain loyal customers. Advantage me.
When we got home from a short family adventure to Tahoe just before Christmas it was time to put boots on the showroom floor and try a test drive or two. By now I had done more research on these two cars, both in print and on various web sites. I had also checked a used car site to get an idea of what our 2005 Honda CR-V would be worth. There is a big difference between the trade-in value of a used car and the retail price, of course. Dealers refer to this as “profit.” On the other hand, we would be paying sales tax on the new car minus the amount of the trade-in, which is not an amount to be sniffed at. Selling our Honda on my own was a potential headache, or much worse, that I did not want to deal with.
We also paid a visit to the teachers’ credit union I have done business with for 47 years (!), and were quickly approved for pretty much anything we wanted.
My “plan” was to try the Kia first, thinking that Susan might not like it, increasing the odds of purchasing the VW Tiguan, which I preferred. Of course that did not work out very well.
I also strove mightily to bear in mind that we did not have to purchase a car that week, or at all for that matter. Our Honda CR-V was still a fine vehicle. We wanted a new car and could afford it, but there was no sensible argument to be made that a purchase of a new car was mandatory. Buyer’s lust get thee hence!
We went to Lee Johnson to check out the Kia Sportage, and they had just what we wanted. The top of the line loaded model, and in black. Black cherry metallic, to be precise, although you would only notice the cherry metallic in strong sunlight at the right angle.
Susan really liked the car, although I was a bit put off by the seats. The center sections were black, but the side bolsters were a gray. Attractive now, but in a few years there would be dust and dirt outlining stress creases.
It’s always interesting to see what “angle” a sales person will use. In rare cases, there is no angle, of course, and those people are always more successful, at least with me.
Susan’s technique is to smile and agree with everything the sales person recommends. I keep my mouth shut and frown a lot. Besides, Susan is a beautiful woman that men love to talk to. She chatted years ago with an eager young man who talked a Nissan Pathfinder from 18k up to 28k before he was done, even suggesting we replace the stock leather interior with a much better one from his friend down the street. Susan nodded and smiled at him as it got more and more ridiculous. We did not purchase a car from him.
At Lee Johnson the fellow trotted out his favorite angles. When he first came to work there he was allowed to drive all of the products from Chevrolet and Mazda and Kia before picking the one he wanted to sell, and according to him Kia was “no-brainer.” In addition, the SX model we wanted was the top-shelf SX model, and they were rare, according to him. The one we test drove was the only one on the lot in black, and he had one more on the way but it was already spoken for. Of course, if we wanted to purchase that car before the person who had requested it… I did mention under my breath to Susan that there are other Kia dealers, but other than that I managed to keep my mouth shut.
So I was not all that impressed. We asked him to write up his best offer, that we were off to look at the Tiguan, and that we would purchase one or the other. After the sales manager drove our Honda, they made a very reasonable offer. They offered $500 more for the Honda than I had guessed, pointing out that it was in excellent condition.
Susan loved the car and was ready to buy it on the spot, but this is not her first rodeo and she knew a visit to the VW dealer would not hurt.
We developed a system of sorts for this sort of thing years ago when I explained that the salesman would say some things that were mostly but not entirely true, and that I would respond in the same fashion. She is very good at smiling at the salesman and not saying anything if what I say sounds a bit bent.
And so, off to Totem Lake VW. On the way there I told Susan that I would opt for the VW if they could get to within about a $1000 of the Kia price, as I felt the VW was a much more substantial and refined vehicle. As we walked in we were greeted by Bob, and he welcomed us by name and asked how our trip had gone. Ten points and a gold star to Bob! I could not have done that.
The more we looked at the VW the better it got, and the test drive impressed. The panoramic sunroof extended for most of the length of the roof. The leather seats were all black. The 2 liter turbo engine has sufficient power for our needs, and a sport setting for the shift pepped things up a bit. It did not have the paddle shifters of the Kia, but I think those are kind of silly in an SUV.
It had more gizmos and techie do dads by far than any car we have ever owned, and probably more than all the cars we have owned added together. Which is fine if they do not break… All in all it just seemed more complete than the Kia, and of a much higher quality of fit and finish.
We got down to numbers in a timely fashion. Although they offered about $900 less for the trade, Bob also decided to not charge us for some of the little add-ons dealers install so they have more haggling room. We did not really need the tinted windows, but they would be nice. The 3M paint protection on forward facing surfaces would be nice as well. There was also a pulse gizmo that flashes the 3rd brake light when you first step on the brake.
The end result was just a hair over $1000 more than the Kia, and we opted to purchase.
The after-sale paperwork was pleasantly devoid of the usual boiler room pressure to add on this and that, possibly because this model is so loaded there is little to add. While this was done a lot assistant took the car away to fill the fuel tank to the brim and make sure everything on this clean car was spotless. The General Manager spent some time thanking us for our business, which was nice. Bob gave us a tour of the dealership, which is supposed to happen in every dealership and often does not take place, and threw in a VW hat for good measure.
I am sure we could have saved some money if I wanted to play the “bad cop” game and spend a lot more time, but he had done his job and reached the price I was willing to pay. I would much rather be a nice guy if I can afford it, as that can pay dividends further down the road if something goes awry.
In this case, that happened right away. As Bob was synching Susan’s phone to the car (we chose to skip my flip phone for this!) he also showed us how some of the dash controls worked. Oops. Something was wrong with the sun roof. Rather than asking us to bring the car back, which would have been OK (how often will we use the sunroof this month?), he insisted that we wait in the comfy showroom while he took the car back and had a technician figure out the glitch and fix it.
Since then I have been happily returning time and again to the 372 page (!) owner’s manual. Bob also sent us an e-mail with a link to a Tiguan web page, where entering the VIN will get you to a menu of videos to show you pretty much everything that is in the owner’s manual. A nice touch, as some are more visual learners than readers. He also responded by e-mail to a couple of minor questions I had.
All in all, we’re ecstatic with our new car, and if you want to purchase a new Tiguan or other VW I can recommend Bob Hansen and Totem Lake VW to you.
Copyright 2017 David Preston