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Simple fact: I take care of my cars. In the 17 years I have been driving, I have only had three cars. I am currently driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. I bought the first run of this car during Employee Pricing. Despite some issues with the fit and finish I have no serious complaints. But now after seven years and 120 thousand plus miles there are some issues. I can no longer ignore the fact that it’s time for a new car, and therefore the hunt has begun.

This weekend I test-drove three cars: The Chevrolet Cruze, The Ford Focus, and The Honda Civic. My experience at each dealership was as varied as the cars.

Lets start with Chevy Cruze. My husband and I drove onto the lot and quickly found the Cruze. We walked through and peeked in at a few. Then the salesman arrived. I will call him Junior Joe. He was full of energy and knowledge and was very excited; he actually reminded me of a puppy. I went for a test drive and I was honest that I was not looking to buy today. Today was all about test drives and gathering info. Junior Joe never pushed me, and before I left he gave me a brochure and his business card.

At the next dealership, we drove around and did not see a single Focus, so we decided to walk around and look at Fusions. While we were perusing, no one came over, so we walked next door to the Honda dealership. We barely stopped at the Civic when salesman Safari Sam approached. He was not overly knowledgeable about the car and barely knew any incentives. Before I left Safari Sam gave me a brochure and his business card.

While at the final dealership of the day, we found one Focus. We hadn’t even gotten out of the car when the salesman came over. I’ll call him Mafia Max. He kept pushing me to drive it and then during the test drive tried to insist that we stop so my husband could also drive it. This was problematic to me because I had made it very clear to Mafia Max that this was to be my car. We got back to the dealership and he tried to push for the sale but I stood my ground informing him yet again, that I am only researching. Before I left he gave me a brochure and his card.

We arrived at home and that’s when the true comparisons began. Of the three brochures. Ford was the worst, containing no specs and no details. Chevy and Honda were both comparable.  As I was looking at the brochures I realized the Honda wasn’t for me and I quickly crossed the Civic off my list. Now it’s a duel between the Chevy and Ford.

As of now I have yet to make up my mind, but there are various factors to weigh before making my decision. Obviously this includes the features available for each of the vehicles, including fuel economy and safety. But, I have found myself also analyzing my decision based on the salesmen themselves and the experience they provided me while I was at their dealership. I have many factors to consider, but after reading this I’m wondering, which dealership would you choose?

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 24, 2012 at 8:04pm

Kimberly, if you were in Southern California and ad visited one of Ken Grody Ford's wo locations, your experience would have been completely different and vastly improved.  If you were in Phoenix, and had gone to Courtesy Chevrolet, your experience would have been very positive, probably not like being waited on by a puppy, much more professional... My point is that the dealership experience has little to do with the brand in most cases, especially the top 5 volume makes.  Both the Cruze and Focus are great cars and neither would be a bad choice.. My choice would be mostly influenced by how well my over-size body fits in the vehicle, probably not one of your concerns

Comment by Tom Pfeiler on July 24, 2012 at 12:41pm

Just a quick question for you. Who was the salesman that sold you your Cobalt? Did you think of contacting him when it was time to replace it? If he did a good job, why not look him up? People are quick to criticize the straight commission salesperson who doesn't make a dime for test driving and giving their time freely when they will probably never hear from you again. When you tell a salesperson  that you are test driving today with no chance of him earning a living, what do you really expect?

Comment by Ashley Poag on July 24, 2012 at 9:32am

Were you presented any personalization options? Are there any you would be interested in like remote start, body side molding, or iPod adapters etc.?

Comment by Ketty Colom on July 24, 2012 at 7:56am

Out of the 3 cars you mentioned, I would go with the Chevy Cruze. 

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