Thursday, August 29, 2013

Please Re-Lease Me

Twelve months after leasing our 2012 Buick Regal Turbo, we are still in love. Every time we drop it into third and let the turbo sing, every time we quietly cruise in isolated comfort, and every time a passer-by or valet gives us a thumbs-up, we are reminded of solid choice we made in adding this car to our driveway.

GM and Buick have proven to be good partners in this transaction, too, after a recent service appointment nearly resulted in some out-of-pocket expense. With a few calls and tweets, GM covered the expense, reinforcing the fact that they value relationships with their owners.

This is my first lease, and it's already been quite a learning experience. I made some mistakes, mostly in the negotiation and fees departments, but also in grossly underestimating the amount of driving we do. Here we are at the halfway point in a 2-year/20,000 mile lease and the odometer is pushing 18,000. This leaves us with a number of options:

1. Buy more miles from GM at 20¢ per mile
2. Buy the car for about $24,000
3. Pay off the lease and get into something new

None of these thrill me. We would have to buy about $4,000 in miles if we do a comparable amount of driving in the next year. Buying the car would result in a monthly payment close to twice what we pay for our lease (but far less than the final cost of buying miles). And early payoff would cost $2,700, plus whatever we are required to put down on the subsequent vehicle.

And speaking of subsequent vehicles, changes in offerings from some of our favorite brands have created some new opportunities that didn't previously exist for us, and fulfill the needs we compromised on in our 2012 Car Search. Namely, all-wheel-drive. Here's what the early contender landscape looks like in my head:

1. 2014 Buick Regal GS AWD - Sticking with the family that has made us happy this last year seems like a good idea. We really wanted the top-of-the-line GS back in 2012, but shied away from the expense. For 2014, Buick has actually dropped the horsepower a bit on this model, but has added a bevvy of safety features, cool gadgetry, and all-wheel-drive to the mix. Getting into a GS would give us everything we wanted back in 2012.

2. 2014 Cadillac ATS AWD - Cadillac's new and highly acclaimed 3-series fighter offers everything the Regal GS has, and more. While a slightly smaller car, the same engine and transmission combo from the Buick is tuned for another 20 horsepower in the Caddy. And, well, it's a Cadillac. I've always wanted one. The main obstacle is the price. Building one with content comparable to the GS commands a $50,000+ price. YEESH.

3. 2014 Volvo S60 T5 AWD - The S60 and Regal were a dead heat for me last time. But our lust for a manual transmission led us to Buick. While I still adore choosing my own gears, the T5 is now available in all-wheel-drive. I loved everything about the Volvo last time, so I already consider it stiff competition.

4. Wildcards. In 1996, I set out to buy a Jeep Wrangler and came home with an Infiniti G20. Who knows what I'll see at the next car show or read about online that will become a must-have?

So we evaluate. And calculate. And once again mediate our own heated debates about the convergence of what we want and need in a car. I saved a seat for you, as a new blog begins, soon!