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Car Buying for TwoHe wanted muscle; she wanted safety. Here’s how they came to a resolution of which car to buy.


Red sports car inside a shopping cart.The art of buying a shared car is a lot like the art of ordering Chinese food for two. You need to reach a consensus on what you’re looking for or you’ll be overwhelmed by the myriad choices and end up deadlocked in a pissing match over the incontrovertible gastronomic superiority of the #111 Kung Pao with three hot peppers over the #113 General Tsao with two hot peppers. When you are dealing with cars instead of chicken and horsepower in lieu of hot peppers, the back and forth vitriol shifts into sixth gear.

Our situation was this: We only needed one car. I work from home and need a vehicle only on occasion for meetings outside the city and golf outings. My wife is a professor and has access to her school’s motor pool if there’s ever an overlap in our schedules. Our car conflict was almost clichéd in concert with every gender stereotype in the book: I wanted power and muscle; she wanted crash test ratings.

Sitting across the desk from another car salesman, still stuck in neutral in our hunt for the ideal compromise car, we experienced a shared epiphany when the visibly perturbed salesman, employing Sun Tzu’s divide and conquer tactic, blurted out “Who is the decision maker?!” My wife and I exchanged a knowing glance. While the salty salesman’s attempt to find out who wears the pants in the relationship stung, the off-colour question was a wake-up call.

There was no point playing tug-of-war anymore. This wasn’t going to be “my car” or “her car”; it was going to be “our car.” We’d been to many dealerships by this point, had test-driven a fleet of shiny, sculpted metal machines from every manufacturer under the sun, and had inhaled enough new car smell to experience withdrawal symptoms between fixes. What we lacked was perspective. Later that day on a return trip to another dealership, we found our compromise—an extremely responsive, peppy silver all-wheel drive Subaru Impreza—and have no regrets.