Back in October, I wrote about the cars I’ve owned over the years. At the time, the list consisted of a 1987 Eurosport, a 1991 Pontiac Firefly and a 2002 GM Tracker. Well, it’s time to update the list.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the tailpipe on the Tracker was a bit loose, so I visited Active Green + Ross on Bank Street who worked up an interim solution for me for free. That was meant to tide things over until I had a more permanent repair made. Replacing everything from just behind the catalytic converter to the tailpipe would probably have cost a couple of hundred dollars. The Tracker was also due for a brake job and an alignment (several hundred more dollars). And I’d been thinking that the battery was probably due for replacement after seven years of service.
That’s about when I stopped adding up things and started looking at new vehicles.
I still wanted an SUV, but I wanted one that had a full backseat and a little more cargo space. So, I grabbed a copy the Consumers Reports car issue and looked at the reviews for all the SUVs on the market. One in particular, the Hyundai Santa Fe, caught my eye. It was very highly rated and the only negative thing they could find to say about it was that particularly tall drivers might find the models with a sunroof a bit tight on the headroom.
The next day I visited Myers Hyundai in Bells Corners and took a Hyundai Santa Fe GL for a test drive. From the moment I sat in the driver’s seat I was impressed. Taking it out along Timm Road, I stepped on the gas and it just leapt forward – lots of power! Handling was great and it was so much quieter than my Tracker. The features that would be optional on most other vehicles were standard, even in the base model. These included heated side-view mirrors, heated seats, XM satellite radio, and vents for the people riding in the back seat. The price was reasonable, the financial incentives were impressive and the financing options were very good.
Doing some due diligence, I headed next to the GM dealer I bought all my previous vehicles from and test drove a GM Equinox. The Equinox is similar in size to the Santa Fe and both have six-cylinder engines. But that’s where the similarities ended. I took the Equinox out on the Airport Parkway and stepped on the gas. It thought about accelerating before increasing speed. The location of some of the controls, such as the buttons for the windows, was awkward. And the button that controlled the sunroof actually had a sharp edge where you hooked it with your finger to open the roof. Overall, I thought it was an under-powered, unrefined vehicle, with financing options that had interest rates several times that offered by Hyundai. Another strike against it was the low rating from Consumer Reports. If the North American car manufacturers are all making vehicles like this it’s not surprising they’re in the dire financial straits that they are.
I spent the next couple of days doing a little more research and budget calculations, during which I decided that I wanted to buy a Santa Fe GLS, which was the same as the model I tried except it had a power adjustable driver’s seat, a sunroof and leather seats.
Heading back to Myers, I took a look at the Limited Edition Santa Fe, since they didn’t have a GLS on the lot. Taking to the salesman, I said if he could get the price of the Limited Edition down a bit closer to the GLS that I’d take it.
We headed back to his computer and played what-if with the numbers. They gave me a generous trade-in credit for my Tracker along with the financial incentive from Hyundai, but it was still a bit higher than I wanted. He went >tappity tap< on the keyboard and the number dropped to within $3 of my target payment. Close enough! We shook hands, signed some forms, I gave them some money and scheduled pick-up for a few days later.
I took the intervening time to clear out everything from the Tracker and (semi-)patiently awaited Delivery Day.
Time passed – slowly – but Delivery Day finally arrived and I found myself the proud owner of a shiny new burgundy Limited Edition Santa Fe with tan leather. I’m thoroughly happy with it, even though I’ll have to buy cars with leather seats, sunroofs, satellite radios and all the options available for the rest of my life. But, it’s worth it!