QOTD: Buying Without Wheel Time?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

We’ve all eyeballed a pair of pants in the store, assumed they’d fit just fine, and took them home — only to discover that our waistlines aren’t as svelte as initially thought. Ignore the fitting room at your own peril.

Big-ticket purchases can also backfire, especially if they’re ordered online and come with “some assembly required.” But for the most part, large transactions — houses, cars, furniture — occur only after you’ve parked your ass in it for a little while, given it a once-over, and declared the pending purchase A-OK. For the most part, anyway.

Thanks to the internet, it’s not unusual for collectors or plain-old used car buyers to purchase a cheap, historical, or oddball vehicle without ever slipping behind the wheel, but would you do this with a new car?

The reason I ask is because of this:

Friend tried to buy a Model 3 in Cleveland. Tesla store didn’t want to give him a test drive. “Only buying customers get test drives.”

He would’ve bought that deal. Tesla experiences vary just as much as traditional dealerships.


— Chad Kirchner (@chadkirchner) August 28, 2019

Tesla’s retail stores are not as plentiful as they once were, and it seems there’s a bit of a Wild West thing going on at those that remain open. Anything goes. In this case, a mandate to only offer test drives to those who’ve already signed away their cash on a Model 3?

While this could be an isolated occurrence (certainly, the move to online sales and culling of storefronts makes Tesla test drives more of a rarity these days), it begs the question: would you buy a brand new, full-price vehicle without ever driving it? Without ever sitting in the driver’s seat, adjusting the rake and reach of the steering wheel, fiddling with the switchgear, gauging the front- and rear-seat legroom, or soaking up the driving dynamics?

How would you respond to a retailer that wouldn’t let you take it for a spin?

Weigh in below.

[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • IBx1 IBx1 on Aug 30, 2019

    I would have to test drive before buying anything, with the one exception being my '08 M6. Flew to Florida to buy it and drive it back to Texas; one of just 376 manual V10 convertibles ever made and with just 19k miles on it. I knew it was the car I was going to buy and I had never driven one before.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 04, 2019

    Not sure it was a great idea for Tesla to get rid of commissioned salespeople. "You can keep your job but now you just answer questions and look over the customer's shoulder while they use the computer. Also we cut your pay by a third. Remember to keep being nice to customers!" I was just invited by email to a ride and drive event by Tesla. It seems like they're trying to encourage group test drives by appointment. Interesting approach.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.