August 04, 2014

A Girly Girl's Guide to Car Shopping

*Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on cars or shopping for cars. I just thought I'd share my experience!


Four years ago, I bought my very first grown up car. By grown up car, I meant a car that I selected and paid for on my own. Now, Foxy, my trusty '08 Civic was extremely reliable even when I constantly leave her headlights on. However, after a string of small unfortunate events, my side mirror getting hit twice and car battery dying, I decided it was time for a new ride. 

Four years ago, my only requirements were a moon roof and navigation (lol), but perhaps I've gotten wiser in my days.

Here are my requirements this time around:
  • A car compact enough to fit in the residential spots in San Francisco
  • Something eco-friendly. I wanted to do my part to save Mother Earth
  • A hatchback trunk 
  • Safety
  • Awesome interior with functional compartments and technology 
Here are my top choices. Thanks to the rule of deduction, I was able to narrow down to my perfect car. Here's how I was able to eliminate the other three.

Mini Cooper 
Ever since I can remember, I've wanted a Mini so badly. In fact, for brief period in time, I had driven a "Mini"-- minivan that is!

Reasons for elimination:
  1.  Not eco-friendly. Though it's not exactly a gas guzzler, it takes premium gas. So maybe the better term is that it wouldn't be pocket friendly either!
  2. Two-door body style. Since my Civic was a coupe, I was hoping to change things up with a 4-door car.
  3. Reliability. I've heard way too many horror stories about minis breaking down after a few years.

Fiat 500
In my mind, the Fiat 500 is the less attractive version of the Mini, but an ideal city car. Not only because it's gas efficient, but finding a parking spot would be a breeze.

Reasons for elimination:
  1.  Since the car is so teeny and light, it'll likely be blown back and forth during rain storms in SF. Since rainy season for us lasts for a few months a year, not sure if this is the right pick.
Toyota Prius
I absolutely loved the Prius when I had taken it for a test drive years ago. It gets great gas mileage and the cabin is comfortable and roomy.

Reasons for elimination:
  1. I took it's sexier sister, the CT 200h, for a drive and fell in love.
  2. Power. I'm not a speed car racer, but I wasn't exactly a fan of how slowly the Prius accelerated.
Lexus CT200h
Last but not least, the Lexus CT200h. If you haven't already guessed, this is the ultimate car that I went home with. The reason why I call this the sister car to the Prius is because they share the same motor. I'm still not a fan of how slowly it accelerates, but I've come to terms with it. I guess that's just one of things about owning a Hybrid. Guess that's the downside of getting 41 miles/gallon!

After my test drive, I was in love. I mean, it's a Lexus and feels like a Lexus, what's not to love? I had originally doubted that the CT would be in my price range, but luckily, I did my homework and got myself a pretty sweet deal.

Here's what I love about the CT.
  1.  I get 41 miles/gallon and it runs on regular gas
  2. The cabin is spacious and luxurious
  3. The back up camera is God's gift for those who cannot parallel park
If you're considering the CT, here are a few things to look out for.
  1. The visibility. There are two pretty big blind spots on the back that takes some getting used to.
  2. Navigation. Although it's definitely a high tech car, the navigation isn't touch screen and uses a joy stick. While it's design is ergonomic, I still prefer a touch screen system. 
  3. Trunk space. Yes, it's a hatch back, but I was disappointed to find that the trunk space is still limited.
Meet Fiona, Fifi for short!

If you're in the market for a new car, here are some tips from my experience!
  1. Do your research! It helps to get an idea of the out-the-door price that other people were able to get. Also, keep an eye out for certain special events happening at dealerships.
  2. Give yourself options. I was so sure that I was going to go with a Mini for so long, but the idea of filling up a tank of premium gas was too much for me. So I widened up my options. 
  3. Don't walk in to a dealership with a stubborn mind of walking out with a car the same day. If it's not in your budget, it's better to walk away!
What are some tips you've learned from car shopping?


Amy said...

I'm actually planning on purchasing my first car within the next year, so this guide was very helpful!
xx, Amy || Coral Native

RetroStreetStation said...

such a cool post!!

Maybe we can follow each other on GFC , facebook and Bloglovin, if you want? Let me know :)


Coco Cami said...

Great guide :) I love your blog and I have followed you with Bloglovin, if you ever get the chance to check out my blog I would e delighted, thanks!

Camille xo

Amy said...

The white one is so beautiful :)
Hope that you'll check my blog :)

Kate said...

The Lexus is a gorgeous looking car. Great choice! x

Kate Louise Blogs

Diane Wilson said...

That’s true. Shopping for a car can be challenging at times. But if you know exactly what you want, it will become easier and save you time from visiting one dealership to another. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. And I hope you’re having fun driving your new car!

Diane Wilson @ Fletcher Chrysler

Byron Walters said...

Oh my! I love the requirements you set up for yourself, which are all practical and thoughtful of the environment. I also like how you applied the process of elimination in your car selection. Kudos to you for picking the best car out of the bunch! I hope you have tons of wonderful memories with Fiona. Hahaha! Drive safely!

Byron Walters @ Bob Dunn

Colin Morton said...

Experience is best teacher, yes? Thank you for your simple yet helpful tips! I’m pretty sure your readers can use those advice when they go car shopping. Anyway, I do hope you already found the car that suits your needs. I am looking forward to reading your post about it. Keep safe!

Colin Morton @ Sea Port Auto