Editor's note: This is the latest in a series. Read all of the Patch Drives installments here.
This car-shopping, test-driving experience is changing me.
As I search for a replacement for my full-size van, I’m caring about things I never thought I would care about. I know things I never thought I would know about. I want for technology that I didn’t even know existed: Whatever car I end up choosing must sync with my iPhone, for starters.
This week, when I walked into the dealership with (dare I say) a bit of confidence — or maybe it was cockiness — I declared “I’m here for the Patch Drives series” and waited. I waited for the “Oh, of course my lady, let me get your car for you.” Alas, they didn’t know me. And the one person who was expecting me had called in sick.
Ego in check, all my auto insecurities came rushing back. The people at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge were very nice, but they weren’t really throwing out a red carpet or even attempting to give me any kind of sales pitch. They did set me up with a very nice car to test drive overnight: a 2012 Dodge Journey.
But I am that soccer mom
“It’s for women who don’t want to be stereotyped a ‘soccer mom,’” said one of the salesmen who stopped to answer a quick question.
“I totally get that,” I laughed along with him.
But inside I was feeling defensive.
You know the I-can-make-fun-of-my-family-but-you-better-not-say-anything-about-them feeling? I was feeling protective of moms and defensive of my soccer mom status (or baseball mom, in my case) even though I am the first one to make fun of it.
When they pulled up the car, my first thought was that no way would my family fit inside. My next thought was what a nice change of pace a smaller car would be.
I let go of some of my doubts and was willing to have an open mind. Coolest thing about this car was that it was keyless: with the push of a button the car started. Maybe the Journey would work out after all. Synced up and ready to roll, I left the lot feeling a little less like my baseball mom self.
It's small — maybe too small
I cruised the construction-filled streets of Rochester with ease, zipping (I mean, merging) without worrying that I would run over some small eco-friendly car. I didn’t squint while driving down a small side road like I do in my giant van, just hoping I fit through the small space.
The Journey was definitely a nice change.
My joy ride through town sans kids quickly ended, and it was time to head over to the elementary school’s car loop — once again, the ultimate test for any family car. I was worried about how this little car would hold up.
It was a much friendlier car loop in the Journey because I didn’t hog the lane. Without fail, at least every other day when I pull up in my giant van I get one mom or dad who looks at me with exasperation for taking up so much room.
While I enjoyed the reprieve from strangers’ eye rolls, the Journey just didn’t work for the kids. The only way to get to the third row seat was to literally climb over the second seat. Yes, the top folded over, but it was still a climb. And with car seats, it was a mess.
Once the kids were inside the third row, I didn’t want to let them out because it was too much trouble. The third row seat had very little leg room, and the car didn’t have much storage.
Let’s see how the Journey measures up with my checklist:
- Was there chemistry? I liked the smallness. I liked the way I zipped around the roads. Yeah, there was some chemistry. It wasn’t love, but I would go out with the Journey again.
- Appearance? It’s a great looking car. The interior wasn’t leather, but it was a cool mesh-looking cloth.
- Lifestyle? This car does not fit a family of six. My kids range in ages from 2-10 and they barely fit in the car. I can’t imagine having four tweens or teens in the car. The limited storage would be a problem for my family’s long trips or even short ones.
- Affordability? It is more affordable then some of the bigger, tricked out cars I’ve driven in the past couple of weeks. Saving money on gas would be oh- so nice, too. The price of the car I drove was $33,995.
Overall, the Journey is a good smaller car for a smaller family than mine.
Throughout this whole process, I am learning a lot about cars and about myself. Like maybe it is pretty cool after all to embrace the whole soccer mom, baseball mom, gymnastics mom or minivan mom label society will give me.
Because ultimately the cool thing is to have a car that fits my family. (Oh, yeah — and one that syncs with my phone).
Next week: Hmmm. This smaller car thing gives me a wild and crazy idea. Stay tuned.
Angela shopped for her Dodge Journey at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Rochester Hills. The dealership is open 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and closed Saturday and Sunday. To build your own Journey or to check on the inventory at a dealer near you, visit www.dodge.com/en/2012/journey/
Patch Drives is an editorial series. The cars Youngblood chooses to test will be at her discretion and not affiliated with any advertising relationships.
Other Chevy dealers in Patch towns: