For the past four months, I've searched far and wide, high and low for my dream car, the car that embodies all that this website stands for: beauty, practicality, bang for the buck, reliability, low maintenance—a car that is the poster child of the Simply SV tagline: The Good Life, on Less.
The problem is, I have a strong affinity for many cars that don't check all of my value boxes. I adore Mini Coopers; but they aren't practical with 3 young children and all their friends and gear. I wax nostalgic for the Jeep Wagoneers of the 80's (I can't pass one without taking a photo); but they certainly aren't low maintenance. I'm drawn to the rugged look of Land Rovers, especially in army green with tan leather interior; but new ones are too pricey and old ones aren't low maintenance. Maybe I could get one of these dream cars if my husband or I were knowledgeable about car mechanics, but we aren't.
I'll spare you the saga of the deliberation and car borrowing that occurred during my car hunt process, and skip to the end of the story. I settled on a 2014 Chrysler Town & Country minivan purchased from Shift, a Silicon Valley start-up. (How could I resist? Had to be loyal to the culture of my homeland.) Shift's mission is to improve the way we buy used cars, and from my experience, they're doing just that. Thanks to cookies spying on my activities, everyone in the computer world knew I was used car shopping. I was hit with a Shift ad in my Nextdoor newsfeed that offered to BRING A CAR TO ME to test drive, for free. My eyes popped out of my head: could this be true? Where's the catch? I'd already reached my limit of used car lots; they're depressing places, I still hadn't found my perfect-match car, and Shift was offering to bring a car to me.
Well, here's the catch: they'll bring you one car at a time. I didn't have time for that. There were 3 cars I wanted to test drive, so they invited me to their San Jose warehouse to check out all 3. If I bought one that day, I'd receive $300 off.
Turns out I was the first customer to go to Shift's recently opened San Jose warehouse. The ability to easily transport furniture, bikes, and other large items is so important to me that I was considering getting a 4-door truck, but then conceded that I really needed more than 5 seatbelts for my soccer mom lifestyle. The Town & Country won me over with its signature Stow & Go seating—the 2nd and 3rd rows quickly and easily fold into the floor of the van, turning it into a cargo van. It's a transformer!
A few more highlights about Shift:
- The car I bought was $3,000 less than vehicles of the same make, year, and mileage at other dealers. Shift keeps their costs down by not having a showroom, and not owning the cars. You can read more about their business model on their very clear website.
- You have 5 days or 200 miles to change your mind and return the car, no questions asked.
- You have 30 days to return the car if there are any issues with the drivetrain. I didn't even know what drivetrain was; I now know it's the engine, anything having to do with actually driving the car.
With used car purchasing, there's always the fear that you got a lemon. I decorate my home with bowls of lemons, but car lemons have no place in my life. We're still within the 30-day drivetrain guarantee period, and I'm going to ask a car mechanic friend to inspect the insides of our van to confirm that we made a good choice.
Fun fact: our van was previously a rental car on Kauai, where my husband and I honeymooned 14 years ago.
Another fun fact: The Chrysler Town & Country was discontinued in 2016, they now have just the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Comedian Jim Gaffigan did some hysterical commercials with his family last year for the Pacifica. Check them out for a belly laugh (this sentence is linked to the commercials).