Replacing the Dreaded Dodge Caliber with a Ford Escape

Way back in 2001, I bought my very first new car. It was a little Mazda Protege with a five-speed manual transmission. I loved that car and had every intention of driving it until the wheels fell off. Unfortunately, after driving it for eleven years, someone driving a pickup truck pulled out in front of me and the car was totaled.

Despite the other driver admitting complete fault, I spent roughly two weeks without a car while the insurance company did their thing. During that time I was forced to borrow my in-laws car to get back and forth to work.

When the check finally arrived, I had to do some quick car shopping. I didn’t want another car loan so my options were somewhat limited. A dealership gave me a Dodge Caliber on a free two-day rental. I didn’t like it nearly as much as my Mazda but it had the room I needed with an infant (those car seats take up a ton of room).

Within just a few short months, the car was in the shop getting repair work done. I bought the car without a warranty and it wound up costing me quite a bit. I drove that car for about five years and without fail, it needed something every year. Repairs were costing me between $300 and $900. I hated that car and couldn’t wait to get rid of it.

Last month I made a change – leaving a company that I was with for 11 years and accepting a position elsewhere. There are a lot of country roads between my home and the new company so 4WD was going to be necessary come winter.

My wife and I sat down and figured out what we were willing to spend, picked a few cars online to look at, then went looking. I’ve wanted a truck for years – something with a crew cab and 4WD. The cost associated with those trucks just wasn’t working for us. We found several in our budget but all of them came with more miles than we cared for.

While standing on a used car lot, I told my wife that I didn’t think this was going to work out. Between the cost, the mileage, and the fuel economy, I just didn’t think we could make it work. That is when my father-in-law (who we asked to come with us – he own a body shop and has a knack for seeing problems) suggested I look at a small SUV / Crossover.

I have a friend that is very happy with his Ford Escape and I’m kind of fond of them – so we took a ride down to the local Ford Dealer to see what they had in a Certified Pre-Owned Escape. I took a 2014 SE for a test drive and was impressed.

We left the dealership and sat down to do some research on different Crossovers. About two weeks later, we went back to the dealership to look at 2014 and 2015 Escapes. As we began combing through the inventory, a Grey 2014 model caught my eye. It had 22,000 miles on the odometer (which was a little higher than I had hoped for) but it came with a couple of upgrades that my previous test-drive did not.

When we sat down to talk numbers, we were about $1,000 different than what I had in mind between the purchase price and my trade-in value. I made him one last offer (asking him to knock another $500 off the purchase price) before walking out on the deal. The salesman did the usual “Let me talk to my manager” thing before coming back to shake my hand.

When it came time to sit down with the financing guy, it turned out that we had a couple of friends in common (I was wearing a Stowe Archers shirt and we spent the first few minutes talking about bows and hunting). He got my wife and I a good deal with an extended warranty – so I signed a bunch of papers and walked out the owner of a 2014 Ford Escape.

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