Saturday, May 15, 2010

Carmax Redux

We planned to stop by and see what they would give us for the 2002 Nissan which, with 130,000 miles on the clock was ready to move on to it's reward. I was sorry to see it go, it has been a good car until lately when reliability has become an issue, but I loved it's V-6 engine and what I thought was reasonable 28 mpg even with fuel polluted by ethanol. We ended up saying goodbye to the Maxima when Carmax offered us an astonishing $3500 for it.
The beauty of shopping at Carmax is that everything is simple and straightforward. They list the price of the car, and you decide if you want it or not. You wander the lot at will, select what you want to test drive and make up your mind at your own pace. Cheyenne could have stayed here all day but in the end we were in and out in just under three hours.
I am not fond of corporate slogans but this is no lie. They really don't hassle you at all.
This young man saw us wandering outside the fence of the lot at 11:30 and even though this was Sunday and the store wasn't due to open for thirty minutes he got us in and looking ahead of time. He was impressed we had come all the way from Key West to look around.
We had tried to buy new or used in Key West but our attempts generated no interest at all so when we arrived at Carmax and Alivet ushered us in and gave us free rein to wander around we started to remember why we bought my wife's Sebring at this same place. We came prepared to buy...And we had apparently fallen into the right hands to make this all as easy as possible.
In the end we looked at a Nissan Altima (2006 $17,000) and a Mazda 6 (2007 $15,000) but settled on the car I had seen on line in the first place, a 2007 Ford Fusion SEL, 4 cylinder. With the trade in and including tax and fees our final cash bill came to $12,385.18. My wife had budgeted $13,000 plus trade in and so it went. Unfortunately the bank in Key West didn't have enough $100 dollar bills for our needs so we ended up hauling wads of twenties into the sales cubicle. But we got the job done, counting it all three different times.
Half the money was a low interest loan from my wife's sister so we bought the car free and clear. In these weird times this had become more important for my wife, who, every time we had previously gone out to buy a car had quoted a dictum of her long dead father about only buying what you can pay for. Finally we did it- cash on the nail. Cheyenne thoroughly approved (I think).
She joined us in the test ride, sitting patiently in the passenger well behind the driver's seat but we had everything necessary for her ride home in the new-to-us car. Alivet was astonished by her easy going nature. I kept impressing on him the importance of getting a dog from the pound and walking it frequently and far. I even showed him how to use a plastic bag to be a responsible dog owner. He nodded and looked like he understood. Then it was back to counting cash. Adrian gave it a shot.
Stephany followed suit while we signed papers and gave away the Maxima and put the tag on the Fusion. In Florida tags belong to people and when you sell a vehicle you can move the license plate to your new car. Ours was important to us because it says "Monroe" on the plate which means we can park in residential spots in Key West.
We planned to spend the night at a friend's place so we had all kinds of crap to transfer from the Maxima (good bye old friend) to the Fusion (here's hoping...):
Cheyenne seemed content though the Fusion is a little smaller (and more economical happily) than the Maxima.
We drove away, air conditioning blasting (though my wife wanted to try the sunroof immediately). We discovered the rear passenger windows roll down all the way which is excellent for Cheyenne when she has to stay behind in the car and the sunroof also provides added cooling breezes for her when the car is parked in the shade.I like the look of the car certainly, but it has been well reviewed and it drives very nicely, even for an aggressive driver (by US standards) trained in Italy like me. More about that later. We have a new car with 33,000 miles on it and all the stress of the past few weeks has rolled away. Yes, I know it's hugely ironic that as oil continues to gush in the Gulf I am enjoying a new set of wheels. Chalk it up to the human condition and the nagging need for mobility.