For the last three years, I have been driving what could probably be termed as the worst late-model real estate car: a Nissan 350z two seat coupe. Featuring poor visibility, no in-car navigation, and a punishing sports car ride. But, boy was it fun to drive. We usually managed to make do sharing our other car, a Volkswagen Touareg, but occasionally had to rent or borrow a second four door vehicle when we had two sets of clients in town at the same time.
It took nearly a year to decide what we felt was the best Realtor vehicle. Four doors and built in navigation were non negotiable. Other factors:
Gas mileage: we’ve put 45,000 miles on the Touareg in 24 months. Forget the Hummer family!
Luxury versus economy: it took nearly 1800 hours to put 45,000 miles on the Touareg. That’s a lot of time behind the wheel and we feel that our clients deserve/expect to be driven around in something nice. Luxury wins out.
Size: the hybrid sedans are attractive but are really too small when you start thinking about putting four or five people in the vehicle at once. What they lack in luxury could be made up by the coolness factor of the hybrid technology. The 3 series BMW, the Acura TL and competing cars at this tier are a little crammed in the back seat as well. We had pretty much decided on an Acura RL a few months back as the best combination of features, price and comfort but then put the car buying thing on hold when we took on the Lovejoy remodel project.
SUV versus sedan: the Touareg has been a great “client” car. Its shortcomings come mainly at the pump, even for the V-6 model. It slurps premium gas. The thought of pulling up to the gas station in a second SUV was painful.
Today we took ownership of a Lexus RX 400h SUV. It seems to be the perfect real estate car in today’s market. It has the environmental benefit of the electric motor (no, you don’t have to plug it in) paired with the gas engine found in the Lexus 330. It pumps out more horsepower using less gas than the 330. In fact, at low speeds, it can run entirely on the electric engine which gives it higher EPA city mileage (31) than highway mileage (27) and trumps the Acura RL’s 18/26 predicted economy and the Touerag’s 16/20.
So only time will tell, but for now, our clients will get the benefit of that new car smell.