My husband sighs, “I’m still bummed about the Cayenne.” We’re at a stoplight and out the driver’s side window is a beautiful, sparkling, silver Porsche Cayenne. About a year ago we were hot in the market for a new car. We had studied the Audi brand, the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Magnum, and this model neighboring us, the Cayenne. We had been looking for the best combination of function for our family, and power for on and off road — the kind of off road where we could be able to take that enticing road-not-taken.
It turns out the Porsche Cayenne is the same platform as the Volkswagen Tourag and the Audi Q8. The Porsche name and all the horsepower in the world (2006 Turbo S has 520hp) can’t change the fact that the degree of body roll (a term referring to the stiffness of the body frame) makes its handling less precise than a real, top-notch performance car. Basically, this SUV is just the same as any gas-guzzling SUV: it just has prettier trim and a classier badge on the hood. Thus, this, and most of these other cars, were not the cars for us.
So what is the Porsche Cayenne? It is what my husband so deftly labeled, a Real Estate Car. Real estate agents are in the business of presenting themselves as well-off. Real estate agents are a positive complement of the homes they show. Real estate agents need to turn heads. Most real estate agents don’t require high performance from their vehicles in the fifteen minute drive across town, but instead something that exudes confidence and prestige. This psychology works not only in a real-estate market, but in many professions that use cars as status symbols: people who have a car that looks and rings “class” louder and clearer than the car in the reserved spot one over in the parking garage.
So how do we uncover the secrets of this real-estate car phenomenon? For one, when researching, check to see what cars are cross-platformed with a car you are interested in. Most every car has an equivalent with a pricier badge or an ugly cousin, but made with similar components. This means that you can get a great car without paying for the symbol that’s plastered to the hood, or you can get the flash while avoiding the hot-rod motor.
Pay attention to who manufactures your car: Jaguar is, for now, manufactured by Ford, thus you can’t get for your dollar now what you used to get in power and performance. It’s not the same car. But you can still own a Jaguar.
Pay attention to who designed the components of your car: Mercedes designed the transmission that is in the Chrysler 300. If you’re armed with that information, you can compare cars with Mercedes transmissions in general, or at least you don’t say “Whoa! This car shifts as well as a Mercedes!”
Finally, know who the target audience is for a particular model. The H1′s little siblings the H2 and H3 will never be what the original, off-road truckin’ Army Hummers ever were. They’re built for civilians on the highway and will perform much like a Tahoe or Colorado with a buffer-looking bod.
And for anyone with the question still in mind, we actually bought an army-converted 4×4 full-sized van: space, on-and-off road versatility, and a whole lot of fun. We aren’t in the real-estate business, but we manage to turn heads all the same.
Image courtesy of sjoerdtenkate