This weekend my wife Gabriele and I picked up a new 2015 Jeep Cherokee. She had been leasing an Infiniti FX37, but decided she sacrificed too much interior space for the sportiness. We had bought a Toyota Highlander back in 2011, which had lots of interior space but wasn’t much fun to drive.
As the end of her current lease approached we did a lot of research. It’s the age of the enlightened buyer and there is so much information available to people willing to do their homework. Initially she was interested in the Dodge Durango, which seemed to offer a lot of space and performance for the price. She liked the ones we saw, but decided she liked the looks of the Jeep Grand Cherokee better. Jeep and Dodge are both Chrysler brands and the two vehicles are very similar mechanically.
For the first time we used two online pricing services, TrueCar and Edmunds. Both of them deliver supposedly guaranteed price quotes to you, in exchange for sharing contact information with local dealers. The car we leased wasn’t one of the deals delivered, so I can’t vouch firsthand for the accuracy of those prices.
I can say that a lot of the online pricing you see takes every conceivable rebate into account, without knowing whether a particular buyer qualifies or not. I don’t think any number is truly “official” until you negotiate it at the dealership. But it’s good for the customer to have dealers competing for the business and to have a number with which to start negotiations.
We found the right car at Lustine Dodge Jeep in Woodbridge, Virginia. It’s a deep blue exterior/black interior Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, which is the midline trim level delivering lots of nice things like remote start, exterior chrome, anti-theft, heated seats, USB ports, rearview camera and premium sound. On top of that it had what Jeep calls the Luxury Group II package, which brought more options including upgraded leather and HID headlights.
The experience at Lustine was pretty good. We liked Matt the sales guy and quickly got to some test drives. There wasn’t a lot of time wasted. Not having a trade-in simplified the process, and we were open to buying or leasing. The initial offer was a little high, but then they offered a slightly reduced price for a lease. The money factor (cost of financing) was really low, well under one-half percent, along with a decent sized rebate. It was a good deal, and less than what we were paying for the Infiniti.
I thought we could do a little better, but we would have had to be ready to walk if they refused to budge. I looked at Gabriele, and her eyes said this was her car. (Maybe the finance manager across the table could tell that too.) So we declared victory and accepted.
The most important thing is that Gabriele is psyched about her new ride. We didn’t go in set on leasing, but there are a lot of pluses. We’ve got full warranty protection for the entire 36 months, Gabriele might want something new again in three years and who knows what car technology will offer by 2019?
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