Thursday, April 23, 2009

Introducing the Baby-mobile

Four car dealerships in four days (and a particularly rough work week) nearly fried my patience and interest, but I think the time, effort and research paid off. We were looking for a small SUV that got good gas mileage, and we had it narrowed down to the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Saturn Vue Hybrid and the Rav4.

The Ford Escape Hybrid was our first choice (it's rated really, really well both as a hybrid and a small SUV), but a visit to the dealership informed us that Ford offers zero incentives, rebates, discounts or financing specials on its hybrids. And we simply didn't want to pay $32,000 for a car, no matter how great the gas mileage is.

Next up was a visit to Freedom Toyota. God bless new salesman Preston, who introduced us to the Rav4 and walked us through the different models and options for 2008 and 2009. But we allowed ourselves to get trapped in the "what kind of monthly payment are you expecting" conversation, rather than focusing on sticker price. Ultimately, we got them to knock $1,600 off the $26,000 Rav4 Limited. Long and unpleasant story short, the big-balls manager who snuck out to hard sell Brian while I went to pee drove us (me) out of the dealership and made us (again, me) decide not to return. He was arrogant, and belittling, and the jerk-off never even introduced himself to me. You know, the little lady WE'RE BUYING THE CAR FOR. I feel bad for Preston, because he was a nice guy, trying his best. At least when he called me to follow up this evening (ironically while I was sitting in Faulkner Toyota, waiting to sign paperwork to buy a Rav4) I had the opportunity to thank him for his time and let him know he lost the sale because of the other guy.

Last night we visited Saturn and test drove the regular Vue and the Vue Hybrid. Brandalyn was wonderful -- she really knew her stuff -- and I'm a big fan of the no-hassle-no-haggle approach. By the time we left we decided the hybrid wasn't worth the extra $5,000 or the worry, considering the Hybrid Vue isn't rated all that well compared to other hybrids. They offered $2,500 to trade in my SC1, a $1,000 discount through PSECU and zero percent financing for five years. We figured paying about $20Gs for the car was fair, although we both liked the body style of the Rav4 better.

Then we headed down Paxton Street to test drive the Rav4 at Faulkner. We drove a base model and determined that was good enough for us, and it got the best gas mileage. But Brian wanted the four wheel drive, so that was our one upgrade requirement. The fancy upholstry, trim and extras on the Limited and Sport versions weren't worth the extra price to us. But we decided to come back a day later to talk about price, since it was 8:30 by that time and we hadn't yet had dinner.

Fast forward to tonight, when John (salesperson) and John (manager) sat down to hash out a deal with us. Once all was said and done, they knocked $1,200 off the sticker price on top of the a $500 rebate (which put the price $400 over invoice), gave us a $1,400 extended warranty for $1,000 and offered $3,200 for my trade-in. They also gave us each a “gold card,” for handful of discounted services and free inspections for our new car and Brian’s Diamante. AND, they were pleasant and never pushy.

So the total price came to about $20,000 before tax and tags. Roughly the same price as the Saturn, for a car that’s rated much better. We can’t get zero percent financing through Toyota, but we figure the extra cost is worth the reputation and quality the Toyota name brings with it.

Our silver Rav4 will hopefully be available early next week, so I have a few more days left with my blue coupe. I'm excited for the new family car, but I'll be sad to see my first big solo investment go. And having a car payment again will kind of suck, but maneuvering babykins in and out of my "wing" of a back car door just wouldn't have worked.

So I think we're happy with the deal we've bartered. Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I just hope I feel the same way tomorrow morning, once the excitement has worn off.

No comments: