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Wow! It’s Wednesday! Escaping to a Hybrid


So last week I was wringing my hands about whether CH and I should buy a new car to accommodate our growing family sooner because dealers have great specials on cars during this time of the year or later because we wanted a Ford Hybrid Escape, and Ford’s price might completely tank later on.

Well, this weekend, CH was doing his usual general online stalk of all the things we’ve talked about getting and found a 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid at the CarMax in Burbank.

Now, I actually used to reside within walking distance of a CarMax back when I was living in North Hollywood, but I never really knew what they were all about. So after the jump, here’s my account of our experience, just in case you were thinking about buying a car through them.

Apparently at CarMax, the price that’s advertised is the price you get, and CH liked the price of the Escape that they were selling when he first saw it online. I liked that there was no pressure at all from the door, just a “Can I help you” from a friendly sales guy named George in a blue CarMax polo and khakis, and then he was walking us to the one silver 2007 Escape Hybrid that they had on the lot.

hybridmirrorWhoever had bought the car in 2007 liked her or his amenities, b/c it came with just about everything, including a navigation system and leather seats.

However, it is a Ford, so it didn’t have as much storage space in the console as my Echo or radio controls on the steering wheel like CH’s old Lexus or a great sound system.

But it did have all the other things I’d been wanting in a car for a while now: power steering, power locks, and back-up notification — according to the chipped paint on my bumper I need this. So we decided to take it for a test drive.

I prefer small cars, but this SUV was pretty much perfect. It wasn’t so big that I felt like a hulk on the street, and it was narrow enough, that I wouldn’t have to say a little prayer every time I drove it through the alley-like streets of Silver Lake.

We decided to buy it, which meant we had to go home for the checkbook in order to make a down payment. Also, I had to clean out my Echo, since we needed to trade it in.

The only unpleasant bit of the CarMax experience is that we didn’t get nearly as much for my Echo as we wanted. However, when we weighed the hassle of selling it on our own versus trading it in, we decided to just trade it in. As it turned out, the only thing I’m more miserly about than our money is our time.

Also, we came in with our own bank loan, so it took just about forever to get through all the paperwork.

Still, it was a great and fairly straightforward experience. Our sales guy, George, was a really affable guy who actually seemed to like his job, and at no point did he try to pressure us into anything. Thanks to a great interest rate from our bank, we’re only paying $22 more than I was dishing out for my Echo payment, but getting a ton more car. In fact, the Escape gets the same great gas mileage that my Echo got, so it feels like I’ve switched up to a car that fits in more with my current lifestyle, more than taking on a bigger car burden.

And perhaps, most importantly, unlike when I bought my Echo from Miller Honda in Culver City exactly four years ago, I didn’t feel traumatized when I walked out of there – especially since I had the peace of mind of knowing that I could return the car anytime over the next five days if I wasn’t completely satisfied with it.

I realized that often with car buying, it’s not getting the best deal, but feeling like you got a good enough deal and not feeling horribly violated by the whole experience. I also realized that I did like everything wrong when I bought my Echo. So my advice for women like myself buying cars:

1)    Take someone with you. Even if you don’t have a partner, we all have friends that love cars. Take that person with you. Actually take any person with you, it doesn’t matter if they like cars or not. Just don’t go in alone. You need a separate voice of reason.
2)    If you hate the dirty feeling of negotiating on price like I do, scout out what you want beforehand online and go with some place like Carmax, where the price is set beforehand.
3)    Don’t bring your checkbook. This will give you an hour of driving home and back to decide whether you really want to make this purchase or not.
4)    Don’t trade in if you can help it.
5)    Save up for a 20% down payment if you can.
6)    Get a loan from your own bank if poss.

I hope this has been helpful. All in all, I would highly recommend Carmax, if you, like us, don’t believe in buying cars new.

Any other tips for buying cars? Let us know in the comments.

. photo credits: CarMax sign – Theron Trowbridge; Hybrid – super-structure