I got a call from a sales rep at my local dealership within a couple days of my service visit.
With my 2011 Jeep Liberty in need of a nearly $1,000 repair, I decided to consider other options. About a week later, I got the keys to a new 2021 Jeep Cherokee. By my estimation, I spent less than an hour inside the store.
That was on purpose. And it might be the easiest vehicle purchase experience I've ever had.
Some background: I had never bought a new vehicle before. Until now, I was a devoted used-vehicle buyer. I largely based my past purchases off price and payment, which was a solid plan for a 20-something driving solo — but that 20-something is now in her mid-30s with a higher income and an almost-8-year-old passenger. I'm willing to pay a little more for safety and convenience.
Truth is, I'd still be a used buyer today — if I could find what I wanted to buy. But my monthslong search for a specific model with driver-assist features yielded just a vehicle or two, all of them outside my immediate market, which defeats the purpose of establishing a sales and service relationship with a dealership close to home.
By the time the sales rep called, I already had the exact VIN for the vehicle I wanted, but the monthly payment was still out of my comfort zone. My Liberty trade had been valued after my service visit and I'd applied for financing on the dealership's website, so I had a sense of real numbers. I asked how much I could do before going into the store, and then the negotiation and numbers-crunching on incentives and protection plans all happened on the phone, by text message and through email.
I went to the dealership twice — first, for a test drive, and then to sign documents and take delivery. I never waited in a lounge or sat at my sales rep's desk. By making an appointment to pick up the vehicle, my paperwork was printed and ready when I arrived, and the entire in-store process took less than 45 minutes. It would have been neat to sign forms ahead of time and have the Jeep delivered to my driveway. But I can't complain about the time saved.
The experience wasn't completely digital, but I wasn't looking for it to be. It was convenient. And to this buyer, that matters.