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Good or bad, Toyota or non-Toyota dealer, what has been the best/worst experience you've had?

A couple of years ago my wife was looking for a new car so we went to check out a Camry that she had her eye on. My wife can handle her own in situations like this but I still wanted to keep her company. Even though we made it clear with the salesman the car was for her they guy kept talking to me and pretty much ignored my wife. Despite be trying to shift attention back to my wife he couldn't be bothered.

He stepped away to grab the keys and we both knew we weren't going to give him the business but still went on the drive anyway. To top it all off there was a loud rattling noise the entire time that the guy tried to play off as nothing or just road noise. Needless to say we never gave that dealership any business.
 

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Best experience for me was buying my focus ST. Small car lot, they let me drive it 20 minutes away and have the car for a few hours while I combed over the whole thing on a lift. Zero push to sell at all. I just came back with the car and wrote them a check. Easy peasy.

I've only bought 2 other cars from dealerships and while the experiences weren't great, they also weren't bad.
 

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A long time ago, my wife and I visited a Mazda dealership in our mid/late 20's. We had a Mazda, so we were hoping to get some sort of loyalty discount - and as someone who was always interested in performance hatches, I was considering the Mazda 3 hatchback at the time. When we walked in, it was basically just a group of bros chatting it up and having fun. They pretty much ignored us. When I finally got someone's attention, the salesman acted like we were huge inconveniences. They likely decided right off the bat that we were too young to buy a car, or something. We basically immediately decided to never buy a Mazda...haven't stepped foot into a Mazda dealership since.

It was probably for the better - we bought a different car we liked more (with cash) the following week.
 

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Went down to the Subaru dealer when the BRZ was fairly new, they hemmed and hawed about a test drive and finally relinquished after taking all my information. They let me drive it two lights down a busy straight four-lane road, do a u-turn, and come back. Maybe 0.7 miles total. No sale was made that day.
 

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Tesla, walked in and less than 10 minutes later was in a car out for a test drive without any time restrictions.
Porsche, every single dealership I’ve gone to (in various states), pleasant and knowledgeable sales staff (most sales guys know nothing about cars in other brands) and east test drives (always on your own, they always have an excuse such as “here, take keys, I’m too busy to come with you” even when no one else is there).
Carmax, way too much paperwork for a test drive. Too much of a factory.

Worst experience so far, Ram/Jeep in San Jose. Went in to check a Power Wagon or TRX. They asked for huge ADM, no test drives, no knowledge about cars, tried to rip me off on trading… bought a brand new Gen 3 Raptor at MSRP from another dealer. The Ram dealership called me a few times after my visit trying to get me to come back “we have a great deal for you”.
 

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A vehicle buying story, in three acts.

I. The truck.

While shopping for my very first new vehicle, I ended up at a Toyota dealership in Parkersburg, West Virginia. I'd given up hope of ever finding a worthwhile pickup truck with the features I wanted. While dejectedly walking off the lot, I spied a truck near the end row and (for only the second time in my life, after the MR2) fell in love with a vehicle at first sight. A dark green Toyota Tacoma Xtracab. The interior was one of the worst browns I'd ever seen, but the outside just sang to me. I went inside the dealership to ask about the truck, and for the first time in my search, got the textbook hard sell. I almost laughed in the sales guy's face with how hard he pressured me. I walked out 10 minutes later.

I couldn't get the truck out of my mind, so as a last, desperate move, I called an internet car company to see if they could get me a similar truck. They searched my region, and in the 15-state area, found only three trucks that had 1) that color green, 2) a manual transmission, 3) bucket seats, and 4) an interior that wasn't brown i.e. grey was the only other option. I bought the truck sight unseen, and the internet company had the truck driven from Tennessee to a dealership in Cincinnati, Ohio. I bought the truck for $500 under invoice, which was a few thousand under MSRP. Both the online company and the Cincinnati dealership were great to work with.

Plot twist: that was 2002, long before buying anything on the internet was the norm, let alone something as significant as a car. Colleagues were horrified that I dared to do something like buy a car over the internet, and to be fair, I couldn't blame them. Nevertheless, I got almost everything I wanted with that truck, and more. A real 12 out of 10 experience, just fantastic.

I drive that truck to this day. The truck turns 20 years old in several months, and just broke 175K miles.

II. The impossible replacement

I knew nothing about vehicles. In 2017, I started to go shopping for a replacement for my truck. I loved driving a stick, but nobody sold them anymore, so I figured I'd go looking for a good automatic. All I wanted was a responsive vehicle with good seats like my truck, and some form of all wheel drive because I live in Ohio, the land of slush, mud, and orange barrels. Should have been simple enough to find, I figured. ...I figured wrong. Several disappointing test drives over the course of 18 months made me wonder why I was struggling to find a decent vehicle. I wasn't in a hurry to get something new because my truck ran fine, but I was long since over driving a pickup.

Early 2019 saw my hopes rise with the introduction of the Mazda CX-5 turbo. One finally appeared on a frigid winter day at a Columbus, Ohio dealership, and I hustled there to give it a shot. While I understood I was comparing apples to oranges, I couldn't express the magnitude of my disappointment with that car's performance. From zero to 40 mph, that 250hp, 310lb-ft SUV ran slower than my (at the time) 17-year old 150hp, 177lb-ft pickup truck. Sure, the SUV had way more passing power than my truck once the SUV got going, but getting off the line and out of the way of legendarily distracted Columbus traffic was no better in the MX-5 Turbo than my old truck. Props to the easygoing, no-pressure Mazda dealership -- they treated me fine. Regardless, I left bewildered and dejected.

That test drive launched my true vehicular education. I spent months falling down YouTube holes learning about transmissions, differentials, tires, turbo lag, NA and forced induction differences, the effects of extreme temperatures, traction control, and countless other subtopics that eventually explained what happened that day at the Mazda dealership. And I learned just how lucky I was to get my particular truck back in 2002.

III. The GR Harbinger

The rest of the world saw the debut of the GR Yaris, and I couldn't have been more envious. And we missed out because the US version of the Yaris was actually a rebadged Mazda 2? Our only hope came from a Toyota exec throwaway comment about how it would be a shame to develop that 3-cylinder engine, and only use it in one car.

And here we are.

On paper, the GR Corolla will give me everything I want. Like my truck, I figured my wants were pretty simple: 1) a manual transmission, 2) comfortable seats, 3) some form of all wheel drive. I had no idea those three desires would make my search so difficult, nor so enjoyably interesting. Other cars also looked good on paper, but nothing wow'd me like my truck first did when I first saw and drove it in 2002. The GR Corolla feels like it has a real shot.

I don't know how this story ends, and I've seen more interesting cars release in the last several months than I've seen in the last five years. The last hurrah of engines and stick shifts is shaping up to make a great closing decade. With any luck, 2023 finds me in a black, core GR Corolla with the performance pack, carving through tree-lined Appalachian roads.
 

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When I was in my early 20s and went to look at a lightly used toyota FJ cruiser. I told the salesman specifically that is what I was looking for. He goes to grab the keys, comes back and tells me "that one is marked at (i dont remember, lets say $30k for the sake of this story) you cant afford that, but II grabbed the keys to something similar you may like" he comes back with the keys to much older frontier that is a base base base model and he tells me "we can get you into this" I thanked him for wasting my time and walked out. Next week I went across the street and bought an evo 8.
 

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My worst experience was Ed Bozarth Chevrolet here in Colorado. Before I bought my 4runner I initially wanted either a Raptor or a loaded Silverado 1500 6.2 witht he optional BBK, 4runner was my 3rd choice at the time. The Raptors were all marked up +20K ADM so that was too outrageous. Next I went to the Chevy dealer to look at a Silverado. I was looking around the showroom for a bit and was hoping someone would have come by and helped but all the salespeople ignored me, probably because I was 31. An older couple walked in about 10 min after me and was immediately helped so it was very obvious. I gave them a few more min but they continued to ignore me. during that time the old couple blew smoke up the salesman's ass and walked out without buying anything. They still refused to assist me so I walked out. The desk person told me have a nice day as I walked out, at which time I told them it was unfortunate no one was willing to help me for over 30min in an almost empty showroom as I was ready to order one in cash that day. A couple salespeople overheard and starting running over at which time I just gave them the finger and walked out.

Week after that I went through Costco auto program and got referred to a dealer for the 4runner. Went in and they treated me great, let me test drive KDSS and non-KDSS versions, told them what I wanted and they had one still wrapped in plastic with 0 miles. Paid and left that day with it. They even taught me how to use all the crawl control features before leaving. In the end I am glad I got the 4runner as it is a much better car, but still shows the horrible customer service of some dealers. I do think that the level of service varies between brands as I am sure Toyota has a reputation to upkeep and makes sure their dealers are up to a certain level of service.
 

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When I was in my early 20s and went to look at a lightly used toyota FJ cruiser. I told the salesman specifically that is what I was looking for. He goes to grab the keys, comes back and tells me "that one is marked at (i dont remember, lets say $30k for the sake of this story) you cant afford that, but II grabbed the keys to something similar you may like" he comes back with the keys to much older frontier that is a base base base model and he tells me "we can get you into this" I thanked him for wasting my time and walked out. Next week I went across the street and bought an evo 8.
That's awesome. I would've driven the evo through the lot and made sure to make eye contact with him. lol
 

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Went to test drive a 2017 manual mustang gt at my local ford dealer once. Anyways, after sitting in the showroom a bit a salesperson finally comes up to help me and immediately acted like it was such a chore to be helping me. I had to tell the guy to sell it to me if I was going to be spending money. For the test drive, the car was running on fumes so any eager acceleration was met with criticism. Anyways, he must’ve been able to tell he did a shit job, and at the end of the test drive he told me some quirk about the indicators. I do like quirks but it just wasn’t enough
 

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Worst was the then-new Civic Si back in summer/fall 2017. I called up a nearby dealer to arrange a test drive over my lunch break. They said sure, come on in, we'll have it ready and waiting for you, you'll just need to bring your drivers license and proof of insurance. I get to the dealership and I can't see a single Si on the lot (but it's pretty big and I didn't look too hard), much less one pulled up front "ready and waiting" for me. I head inside and sit down with the sales guy I talked to on the phone. He asks for my ID and insurance and also tells me to fill out this credit application while he goes and gets the keys. I refuse to sign a credit app because while I'm a serious buyer (if the test drive goes well) I'm not ready to buy that day (I was cross-shopping it with the GTI, BRZ, and Mazda3 hatch and hadn't driven any of them yet). I tell him to get his manager and remind him that this never came up when we talked on the phone. Anyway the manager comes over and says nah you have to fill out the credit app before you test drive because he doesn't want a bunch of kids abusing his cars. I just turn around and leave.

Still have no idea if the last generation Civic Si is a good drive. The VW dealer next door tossed me the keys to a GTI and told me to let them know how I like it (it was good but felt sterile). I ended up buying a Mazda3 hatch and it was a great all-arounder (it really just needed an LSD and it would have been perfect).
 
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