Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Car Shopping: Revenge of the Sith

We had another marathon car shopping session yesterday. My husband has been doing a lot of calls to the local dealers sniffing out leads. He is also constantly online searching and comparing prices and models. He had not though of trying the Nissan Quest (thanks for the tip Cammie) so that was first on our list of cars to test drive. While we were at the Nissan dealer we also tested a Saturn Relay.

The Quest was nice. It had all the features that the Toyota and Honda had (fold flat seats ect.). The big drawback is that the newer used ones seem to be going for higher prices but as they get older the value drops off pretty sharply. The dealers in our area seem to be trying to inflate car prices and are not willing to bargain with us. Through internet research my husband has found much better deals in the more populated areas south of us. Now that we have driven the vans that we would consider buying it will be a lot more productive to search further distances away and when we find a deal we like we can make the drive to the other dealership. It is very frustrating that the local dealers are being so hard nosed about prices, it is not like they were crawling with customers when we were looking around.

We actually looked at two Quests today, one was at a Ford Dealership. The price they were offering us would have ended up being (with financing costs, tax ect.) almost as much as a new base model Sienna with 0% financing. For a few thousand more we would have driven home with a brand new van versus a older one with a rather beat up interior. It kills me how the salesmen are always insisting that they are dying to sell us a car and they are giving us the most discounts that they can and yet the prices are still so high.

I think we would have been a lot more tempted by the first Quest that we looked at if it had not been white. We really want to get a colored car. Oh and the price of the much newer and lower mileage white Quest was actually lower than the higher mileage beat up interior (yet the price was "as low as they could go") Quest. Explain that one to me because it makes no sense at all.

We are big fans of Saturn's one price business model and we love their cars so much that both of our cars are Saturns. I was in love with the idea of having brand loyalty which is why I was so excited when the Nissan salesman showed us a fully loaded Relay (which is no longer manufactured). My husband frowned the entire time we were looking over the van, so I knew it was not to be. He claimed that the interior was less roomy than the Mazda, but quite honestly while it was smaller than the other minivans we had driven it did not seem nearly as cramped as the Mazda had been. Another nail in the Relay's coffin was that it did not have fold flat seats (an absolute must in my husband's mind). My husband also was suspicious of the maintenance that the previous owner had given the car. It was a very new trade in, so the dealer had not had a chance to do much work on it. The tires were worn unevenly making it clear that they had not been rotated properly and tire rotation (as we knew first hand) is a part of the regular however many mile check ups they drag you in for when you buy a new car. We kept our appointments for our the Saturn that we had bought new and our wheels were rotated on schedule, these had not been. Who knows what else they may have been skimping on? So we passed.

It really amazes me the things that are crammed in to the fully loaded cars. The Relay had those electronic seat adjusters which, while nice, were completely unnecessary. I mean how much effort is it really to manually adjust your seats? Plus that is one more thing that can break. And seat heaters, why do you need your seats heated? Won't your bum do that naturally? Yeah it takes a bit more time but come on people. The salesman hyped up the DVD player in the Relay not knowing that he was actually playing up a feature that I did not like. Do my kids really need to have more screen time? Yeah they are nice on trips, but we have a nicer dual screen portable DVD player for long trips. If the one in the car breaks it will be a big hassle to get it fixed or replaced. If the one we already have breaks it will not be nearly as big of a deal. We can shop around, find a good deal and get one if we feel the pressing need to have a portable DVD player. Now that Evan is had had his surgeries the main reason that we even had the DVD player (entertainment in the hospital) is gone.

Evan got to sit in his dream car today while we were out and about. Evan goes nuts over PT Cruisers. He has a matchbox version of one and that is one of his favorite cars (he tells me that they are "so cute"). He loves to point them out as we drive around town, so he freaked when we saw one at the dealership. While my husband was jawing with the salesman I decided to give him a thrill and opened the door of the PT Cruiser so that the boys could hop on in and try it out. Evan did ask me to take it our for a drive but I had to tell him no. I was tired of moving the car seats around from car to car and did not think that giving him a joy ride would be good enough reason to yet again have to do the car seat shuffle.


chelle said...

wow. I am not sure I am ready to car shop!!!

My MIL drives a PT and loves it.

I so do not want a dvd player in any vehicle, I would much rather have the option to take it in and out.

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

Car shopping is a pain. At least you aren't in a huge rush. You have the option to walk away.
I remember our last car purchase. Mike took in info he got from the internet and said he wanted this car at this price. of course they "could not do it."
So Mike thanked them and we got up to leave.....

And suddenly they COULD do it. (sigh)

Zephra said...

I used to think the heated seats were a load of crap too until I sat in my friends car with them on. H-e-a-v-e-n-. Fold down seats and automatics are a must on my next van. The quest is nice but I had a lot of front end problems with ours. Our Kia actually is holding up better then the Quest did. I am shocked by that.

*Michelle* said...

We spent half of yesterday looking at vans, too! :P The prices are ridiculous!!! Even with a large down payment, we're still going to have to get a 5 or 6 year loan to afford the payments in our budget. Ack. I think we're going to go with a Kia... my sister & bil and one of my best friends all have Kia's, and they love them. The vans are a bit smaller than some of the others & you have to take out he 2nd row of seats if you need to haul something huge (how often do we do that? Not often!), but the price is right & it felt "comfortable" to me-- not like sitting in/driving a bus! It might actually fit in our garage, too! Your DH is very thorough! LOL!

Tama said...

Ahhhhh car shopping! (sigh) so much fun.

Gina said...

Car shopping does indeed suck. And I too have noticed that used cars are going for not much less than a new one. That is insane.