One of the cars we had been driving was a 1999 Toyota Camry. Not that it hadn’t been a good car to us, because it had, but it had gotten to the point where it was no longer reliable and that was a huge concern to us. Especially when it came to driving kids to and from school everyday. The last thing that we wanted was for the car to break down on I-40 in the middle of rush hour traffic with the kids. It was stressing us out, but so was the idea of having another car payment. We decided to start looking into our options, just in case, though.
The Car Search
We decided that we had a few parameters if we were going to dive into this process. The first three on the list were the most important, but the others were wants as well. They consisted of:
- 3rd row seat (to fit the entire brood on the weekends)
- Good gas mileage
- Smooth ride
- Low on maintenance costs
Our first stop in the search was Consumer Reports, because that is always my jumping off point if I am unsure what I am looking for yet. I put in the information that I knew was important to start my search, aka 3rd row seat vehicles. We wanted a smaller SUV that would fit us all, which narrowed down our field considerably. The next biggest thing that narrowed down our field was price. Of course we could buy a Chevrolet Suburban, Infiniti QX60, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Lincoln MKT or an Audi Q7, but NONE of these were even close to our budget for this large purchase, so they were out.
We were looking for something in the lower 20’s or even high teens, which probably meant that we were looking for used, which was perfectly fine with us. Therefore, our search left us with 2 possible cars that sparked our interest. Either the Kia Sorento or the Nissan Rogue looked like the clear winners. We could get either car for $25,000 or under, and they both had pretty decent gas mileage for an SUV with that many seats.
Once we narrowed it down to those two, we needed to take a look at them and test drive. We are lucky in that I have a personal friend who is the used car buyer for a local dealership. Therefore, any time I am looking for a car, I always go to him once I have gotten this far. He can tell me if they have what I need to look at and test drive or he can keep an eye out on his buying trips and bring one back.
We actually went to his dealership before I even contacted him this time to test drive them both. Unfortunately, neither of the models with the 3rd row seat were on premises. We did test drive the Nissan Rogue, in a hurricane, because that was the only time that we could carve out for this. We never got to the Kia Sorento because it was a a bit more expensive and gas mileage wasn’t as good, so we were leaning towards the Rogue.
After we test drove it, I contacted my buddy to ask him to keep an eye out for either car with a 3rd row seat. We told him that used would be perfectly fine because we were looking to keep costs down. He said that he would be in touch.
We weren’t in any particular hurry but my buddy contacted us about a week later to tell me that he found both at auction and was sending them back to the dealership. We never actually saw the Sorento because it sold before we could, but he also knew that we were leaning towards the Rogue. About a week after he got the cars, we were able to finally lay our eyes on the Rogue. The 3rd row seat is a bit tight with the leg room, but they let us take the car home for the night to see how the kids fit and to make our decision.
The kids LOVED it! They thought it was so cool to all be able to fit in one car. The biggest thing that they fought about is who is going to sit where. Go figure! The ride is smooth and quiet, and the car doesn’t smoke when you’re driving it. Huge bonus! This model ended up being a 2015 Nissan Rogue with the family package (3rd row seat) with 23k miles on it.
The big moment came when we had to decide if we could afford it. We knew that we planned to keep it and drive it into the ground like we had the Camry, which was one factor in our decision to lease. The second, and biggest factor, was the monthly payment. We know what our monthly budget is, which is the reason why we were unsure if now was the right time to do something like lease or buy a car. But when it came down to it, leasing was the way that we could more comfortably work out a purchase of this size.
I actually LOVE to negotiate with car dealerships, but because of my buddy who brought the car in for us, I didn’t get to do that this time. He told them what we were going to pay for it ($19,000), which was well under what the car was going for at other dealerships. The biggest deciding factor was the monthly payment and for how many months.
We went in knowing what our credit score was because keeping the credit score in mind is important since it affects the interest rate, which in turn affects the monthly payment. This all comes back to keeping tabs on your credit and making sure that you jump on it as soon as you see an issue, so that it won’t affect something big like purchasing a car or a house.
For more information on checking your credit, check out this article: Fact vs Fiction – Busting 6 Credit Myths
We are extremely thrilled with the newer car, not just individually but as a family. Whether you lease or buy, sometimes a newer car just becomes a necessity and you just have to decide the best way to work it out financially.
What is the best deal that you have gotten on the purchase of a newer vehicle and did you choose to lease or buy?
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