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Dating Your Car? Car Buying is Like Searching for Your Significant Other

Many of us have dated, some of us have married, and there are those who have gone through divorce. There has long been a correlation drawn between who you are as a human being and what automobile you drive (kind of like dogs look like their owners). But can a parallel really be drawn between what automobile you drive and how you’re wired biologically?
Good Looks
First, let’s lay our cards on the table. Anyone who tells you that looks aren’t important is probably lying to you (or they themselves aren’t that good looking?). I can remember an automotive executive once saying that automotive manufacturers are really part of the fashion industry (or the entertainment industry), it just so happens that they sell vehicles… and I think he was right.

For some reason I’ve always drawn correlations between my personal relationships with the opposite sex and automobiles. Looks, comfort, reliability (trustworthiness), behavior/etiquette (road manners), security, brainpower, and yes, performance. They even have their own personalities and character. There are fast cars and fast women. Those that you would lease but never buy (Those that you would date but never marry). You may even have a list of criteria that need to be met, a list of must have options that you know that you can live with for years to come. But every vehicle, like every person, has their flaws. The key is finding the one with the right options and the flaws that you think you can live with. That’s the one you take home.
There may be those who are more interested in status, an ornament or trophy. Still, there are others who rush into the decision or simply don’t know or don’t care and they don’t find out until it’s too late. Things don’t usually work out and this often leads to a separation or divorce …
Let’s face it, leasing is like dating. It’s fun, new, exciting, less commitment, you can usually get someone out of your league (lessees usually lease a car two vehicle classes higher – more expensive – than they would buy)… but it can get expensive and it usually doesn’t last or work out (unless you pop the question). Buying is probably more like marriage. You make a long-term commitment, there is usually a honeymoon period, you tend to take better care and pay more attention to maintenance.
The Bottom Line
In the end, whether searching for a significant other or looking for a vehicle many of us will look for the most sought after trait in human beings: Trustworthiness. That’s probably why Toyota will pass GM in terms of volume this year (even with GM’s new 100K-mile warranty). Yes, it’s true many will fall for good looks rather than reliability. Some may be lucky enough to have their cake and eat it too. Even though people are drawn to what they can trust (which plays into quality, dependability and longevity) looks (and performance) have often trumped things like value, safety, security and even trust. With the divorce rate in the U.S. now over 50%, maybe people are not placing quality, dependability and longevity at the top of their list. Is there a correlation between people’s relationships with significant others and their relationships with their vehicles?
Keagan's Tacoma SV.jpg
Keagan makes some very valid points here that are validated by AutoPacific’s annual research with new car and light truck buyers. But what makes Keagan tick? The purchase of his first NEW vehicle this past weekend tells us a lot. First, he got a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Crew Cab (Trustworthy) with the TRD Sport Package. Nice truck. But when he first drove it to the office we noticed that it had not been cleaned at the dealership. Didn’t want brush marks from the car wash, you see. Still had the factory stickers on it (didn’t trust the dealer folks to remove the stickers cleanly). Then his cloth seats were covered with towels (until the seat covers came in). Under his floormats were more towels (the carpet is a bit too cheap so the nobbies on the floor mats might hurt the carpet). Parked it in the shade (car cover hasn’t arrived yet). He claims he’ll have to hire a flatbed to meet him at his uncle’s ranch to take the 4×4 pickup up the dirt road to the ranch house.
Keagan's Tacoma F34.jpg
But you can understand where Keagan is coming from. His relationships with vehicles is for the long term. He intends to pass this Tacoma to his grandchildren someday (25 years) – with 300,000 miles on it.

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