This weekend, it was time to examine the Toyota RAV4. The local Toyota dealership in town had a 2021 XLE Premium model on the lot, so I figured we could head down and at least take it for a drive to compare it to the Forester and CRV. The weather looked like it would soon take a turn toward some pretty bad storms, so we didn’t want to drive very far. Besdies that, I wasn’t interested in checking out anything else, so that made it extremely convenient.

Driving it felt like a cross between the Forester and the CRV, with a bit more play in the steering than the Outback, with a boxy kind of maneuverability. It may have been my imagination, but it seemed to accelerate better, and the layout of the center console seemed more logical than the Forester. The storage compartment in the center is much larger, and the cubby beneath the center console is wider so a modern phone will actually fit there. That makes sense, since higher trims put a wireless charger in the same spot. So it’s a better overall design in a lot of ways.

Like our CX-5, Toyota seems to be a fan of just slapping a horizontal tablet on top of the dashboard rather than how Subaru integrates it into the whole center console. I’m not a huge fan of that look, but that seems to be the predominant approach these days. Otherwise, it was about what I expected, and the road noise isn’t nearly as bad as some reviews had implied, so I’d be perfectly fine driving one of these.

Something occurred to me later that day in relation to how the Salesman just kinda went with whatever we said, and never tried to dissuade or persuade us in any particular direction. Is it because the market is currently in their favor, so they don’t have to try anymore? The vehicles sell themselves, so why bother? He didn’t ask what else we were looking at, didn’t try to push us in the direction of the RAV4 by suggesting it was better in some way, or imply there was something else on the lot that could satisfy our checklist.

And it was the same way when we went to Peoria last week. Only the Honda rep made a half-assed attempt to suggest Hondas are extremely reliable, and quoted us some generic statistics. But he didn’t follow up, downplay the other vendors, or recommend other vehicles they had in stock. I even left an opening by saying I was surprised they had a Honda Insight near the entrance of their building since they were being discontinued, but he just agreed with me and quickly moved on. The Mazda and Subaru dealers were just as feeble, giving up without any kind of fight. It’s not like I was even being resistant; they just didn’t even make any effort at all.

Where’s the salesmanship?! I don’t mean the aggressive and annoying kind you get from some cheap huckster that will lie and tell you whatever you want to hear. I mean having knowledge of your competitors, similar models and how they compare, and what your particular product may do better. Why not ask me what I want to accomplish, what I’m looking for, what features I’ve prioritized? Maybe tell me I could be interested in X or Y instead if I’m willing to compromise. Maybe I haven’t considered those options because I’m not as familiar with all the vehicles the salesman would be, since that’s his literal job. Heck, if it were me, I’d do whatever I could to try and gently convince a prospective customer that it’s worth reserving an incoming model rather than leave the lot. That’s just plain minimum effort right there.

It’s just sad to watch. Have some pride in your workmanship, people!

Until Tomorrow