Monday, October 7, 2013

Gigantic Savings? Generous Speed? Gorgeous Syle?

40-Large-plus for a 2014 Regal GS, Cadillac ATS, or Volvo S60 T5. Even with the sharpest bargaining skills, neither the Cadillac nor the Volvo, equipped as I would want them, could ever be negotiated down to the price range I was looking for. That left the Buick.

The 2014 Regal GS can be had with a bevy of previously unavailable safety equipment, on par with the likes of Volvo's offering. These camera- and radar-based technologies are expensive and awesome. The new all-digital gauge cluster, reminiscent of Cadillac's CUE system, is also brilliant and fun. But thinking back to our first Regal GS test drive, what we loved more than anything was the power. Probably in an effort to offset the cost of these new technologies, Buick switched from three engine options in 2013 to two for 2014, giving the Turbo and GS a common mill. This move was a boon for the Turbo, which gains 30 horsepower. But it costs the top-of-the-line GS 20 precious ponies.

As I write this, year-end clearance season is in full swing. And as I perused the online inventories of dealers coast to coast, most of the 2013 GS's I found weren't being offered at much of a discount off of the $38,000 sticker. Perhaps I was among the many for whom power was a major selling point.

The stars aligned, however, when my mouse found a Crystal Red Tintcoat 2013 GS with sunroof, navigation, and all 270 glorious, turbocharged horses, at an outstanding price. In Idaho.

IDAHO? Great Spuds. 

75 miles outside Spokane, Washington is Kellogg, Idaho. Home of Dave Smith Motors. Dave Smith sells Buicks, but their real claim to fame is being the worlds largest Chrysler dealer, with a specialty in Ram trucks. This GS was priced aggressively and I knew it wouldn't last long, so I didn't hesitate to call Tyler Smith (relation?) in Sales.

Buying a car you've never driven, sight-unseen, from strangers, would have seemed outrageous 20 years ago. But now, especially when dealing with a fully warranted vehicle, any risk is greatly mitigated. And dealers like Dave Smith are experts at making the experience seamless. With a little negotiation, Tyler and I struck a deal. A GREAT deal. Two FedExes and three days later, the German designed and engineered GS was mine.

Gute Scheisse.

Flying to Spokane and driving back east was out of the question. So I set about the task of finding a shipper. After falling victim to a site that gave up my email and phone to countless shippers, I was inundated with robo-calls, texts, and emails of quotes ranging from $1,000 to $1,800 for an Idaho-to-Connecticut trip. The only non-robot to contact me was Mike from Safeway Car Transport. Mike is a straight shooter and patiently fielded my thousand questions. His price was a reasonable $1,115. Even with the cost of transport, this GS was significantly cheaper than anything else I researched.

Four days later (and two days ahead of schedule), the trucker showed up with our new baby, in first-unload position. She was covered in 2,600 miles worth of road filth, but what newborn doesn't arrive without a little residue?

Hours earlier, Anthony had taken our white 2012 Regal Turbo to the car wash. When we returned with the GS, the car wash guys went nuts. While the Turbo is a handsome and refined sedan, the red GS is a outright stunner.

37 years ago, my Dad came home with an Independence Red 1976 Buick Electra Limited 225 Landau, with black leather. It was one of several Buicks he would own in his lifetime. I'm happy to continue that tradition, with a brand that has redefined itself through smart, continental offerings, traditional quiet and comfort, and a hefty dose of adrenaline just beneath the right foot.

Genetic Succession.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Easiest Catch

It's almost as though my favorite brands were listening to my dreams. Cadillac brought the ATS to market, Volvo brought AWD to the S60 T5, and my beloved Buick added tons of safety equipment, gadgetry, and AWD to the Regal. Still, none of these are available with that elusive combination of AWD and a manual transmission. Oh well. What is life without dreams?

Frankly, while we LOVE driving cars with manual transmissions, the reality is we do lots of around-town driving, and our typical highway hauls involve volatile routes rife with congestion, construction delays, and toll booths. Clutch-and-shift it for an hour in line for the Midtown Tunnel once or twice and one finds himself longing for something simpler.

That said, we embarked on a new search, starting with a visit to our friend John Beckish at Parsons Buick in Connecticut. Though live examples of the 2014 Regal GS wouldn't arrive for a month or two, he was able to share some literature on the 2014. AWD, digital gauge cluster, and new safety features like adaptive cruise, collision braking, lane departure alert, rear cross traffic alert and more. They basically injected Volvo-level safety features, which we love, into a car that we already have and love.

Next we got online to configure a couple of other contenders on our list, starting with the Cadillac ATS. This new, smaller Caddy competes with the BMW 3-Series in size and performance. It can be had with the same engine and transmissions as the Regal GS, but in a rear drive format. It's a beautiful car, and the critics are raving about it. It's available with all of the features and safety gear as the Regal, but comes with the added prestige of GM's top brand.

Last up was the Volvo S60 T5 AWD. In our car search last year, this was a finalist. It's something about that heritage of safety, the solidity, the great power, and the gorgeous aesthetic that is so enticing to me. Savile Grey with Beechwood leather is a STUNNING combo that makes me wish the Americans would open their minds to more advanced color palettes.

Then, like a waking nightmare, reality set in. The 2014 Regal GS, equipped as we wanted, would run about $42,000. A comparably equipped Cadillac ATS—$45,000. An S60 T5 AWD? Over $47,000. Taking into consideration that we know leasing is not for us, the spend was just too much across the board.

So where did that leave us? Never underestimate the power of thrift genes. A few hours online and I found something beautiful. Something we would ABSOLUTELY love. And a deal that would make my Scottish mother proud.