New Ride


We bought a new car: a 2010 Toyota Rav 4. Although a few people told us we could get by without an SUV in El Salvador, most people we talked to said having an SUV was helpful — particularly for venturing outside the capital.

toyota rav 4, foreign service cars, good cars for el salvador, diplomat car

I don’t have a lot of experience driving SUVs so we didn’t want to get anything too huge; we were deciding between a Rav 4 and a Honda CR-V, as both makes are relatively easy to service anywhere in the world. And Koons Arlington Toyota had good deals on a couple used Rav 4s.I have to admit: This was my first experience buying a car from a dealership. Before I married Kail (and inherited joint ownership of his car) I hadn’t owned a car since 2007 — a 1999 Ford Escort that my parents and I had purchased used from the owner when I was in college a few years prior.I really was not looking forward to the whole car-buying experience, which I imagined would take several trips over multiple days to different dealerships. But Kail did all the research online ahead of time and we targeted two dealerships to visit Saturday and, if necessary, a couple more to visit on Sunday.Given that we don’t exactly have a lot of time before we pack out, we knew we’d have to make a decision pretty quickly. I think it also helps that neither of us are “car people.” I really don’t care about cars at all, and would continue to not have one and rely on public transportation/Zipcars if that were an option. Neither of us had our hearts set on one particular car; we just wanted to cross this off our long list of Things to Do Before Departing for Post.So off we went to one Toyota dealership, then another. Compared models and mileage and prices. Test drove a car. Came home and “slept on it” (I took a rather lengthy Saturday afternoon nap — Kail might have been doing something useful like checking out the Carfax reports for the two cars in which we were interested).When I woke up, he had made up his mind, and I concurred. A couple hours later, we were cruising around town in this bad boy:toyota rav 4, foreign service cars, good cars for el salvador, diplomat carI feel like I was completely off in my expectation that buying a car would be a bad experience. Do you have any interesting car-buying stories to share?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

12 thoughts on “New Ride

  1. Nice! We bought an ’02 Rav4 before heading to San Salvador, and it was perfect.We actually started our search a few months before leaving, scouring Craigslist and going to dealerships. We found the perfect Rav4 on Craigslist – great price and it even had some minor dings in it, which to us meant the price would be lower. So, we bought it, drove it around a bit, it worked. Then we were on our way to Maryland for some mountain biking and the car just decided it didn’t want to move anymore (at 80 MPH). Long story short, the rear differential had gone out, so we got the car towed to a service station in Hagerstown and then begged a friend to come pick us all up… which required two trips since said person’s car couldn’t fit 3 bikes, 4 people, and camping equipment. Like a week and $2,500 later, we were rolling again… so, basically, we paid about the same for the car + rear differential as we would have paid for the car from a dealer. It’s been great ever since… we even got someone in San Salvador to pull out the dents and fix all the scratches for $150. Money well spent.When are you heading out, anyway? Looks like you’re going to miss Bolas de Fuego! ¡Qué triste!


    1. Phew — for a minute I thought you were going to conclude by saying buying a Rav 4 was a terrible decision. Glad to hear you had a good experience! Did you ship the car to Istanbul (that’s where you are now, right)?We are finalizing our packout/travel plans as I type this (and by we I mean my husband). But hopefully we’ll have some news this week. But sadly, it looks like we won’t make it in time for Bolas de Fuego this year!


  2. John and I went to CarMax on Saturday! We are trying to decide between a Toyota Highlander and a GMC Acadia. I love going to CarMax because they do not haggle AT ALL.


    1. You took John car shopping on his birthday?! I guess that would be a good gift … I also saw that you went to the Lego exhibit!We looked at CarMax prices online, and they were higher than what was available at a couple local Toyota dealership (at least for the Rav 4s). It might be worth checking out the Highlanders at least. The dealership we went to is right off Lee Highway near the 66 interchange (near the Italian Store, more importantly).


      1. I vote Toyota! I love our 4runner. They are great cars. Then again, I dont know anything about cars so…..


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