I finally bought the new car. Most of you know we’ve been in market for, oh, 20 months or so. That’s a lot. We finally got our act together. On the advice of a random internet person from the Straight Dope Message Boards, I sent this message to eleven Toyota dealers in my area:
I would like to buy a new 2007 Toyota Sienna. I am looking for a Sienna LE, base model (no options package), 8-seat version. Tan or silver is preferred, other light colors are acceptable.
What is your best price for a car with these specifications? The price should be a final drive-out price (so it would include the $1500 rebate, taxes, etc). There is no trade-in or financing involved with this transaction.
I will write exactly one check. If I come in and the final amount is different than your quote by even one penny, I will walk out of your dealership forever.
Please note, I am ready and willing to close this transaction this weekend. I am writing this same message to several dealerships. Whoever has the best price will get my business.
bla bla bla
I heard back from four of them. Interestingly, they were the exact four that have the most new car inventory. One of them was eliminated quickly, because their price was highest. Also we’ve browsed there twice, and they’ve been complete and utter sales scumbags both times. World Toyota, I’m looking at you. Grow up.
Here’s how the other three broke out, in no particular order:
1) A good low quote, but for a car that included one of the basic options packages we didn’t want.
2) They don’t have any 2007s, but they have 2008s. Here’s a price for the 2008 version, and it turned out to be a very good one.
3) The best price by far. They don’t have it in stock, but they are positive they can trade for it.
First we eliminated #3. He was probably being completely truthful, but (a) this strategy only works if you hold the cards. If we agree, and have to wait for him, he holds the edge. This is important because (b) there was a $1500 rebate program that expires on October 1st.
On Saturday night, we went visit #2. We had hired a babysitter for other reasons, they were open, so we went to check it out. A major roadblock comes up when Mrs. Muttrox argues that the 7-seat model is better for us than the 8-seat model. There’s nothing bad about this except all the quotes are based on the 8-seat model, so we may have to start fresh. The dealership offers to let us take one home for a day. Oh, they’re smart. Sure, we say, and drive the 7-seater home. After that, it was no real contest, we were hooked.
We did call #1 back to see if they could match the price. But the person we had talked to wasn’t there, the new person hadn’t seen my original email, didn’t know what was going on, etc. So heck with it, we went with #2. And the winner is… Toyota of Roswell!
We spent today juggling kids, cars and carseats while making sure we weren’t getting screwed somehow. We had the loaner car, which we moved the seats into. I dropped the family off at Monkey Joe’s down the street, and brought the Sienna in. I took the carseats out. They took it for the final detailing/washing/cleaning, and lent me a Highlander for the next few hours. I put the carseats in the Highlander, went back to Monkey Joe’s until the Sienna was ready. Then we went back, and put the seats in the Sienna, gave it the ol’ once over (as if we’d ever be able to notice anything that was wrong), and went over to finance to close it out.
We were a bit nervous, seeing as how this was our first new car, and the biggest check we’ve ever written, but it was smooth. Except for when they almost sold us the wrong car. Finance had all the paperwork from the 8-seater, an honest mistake. They were kind of amazed when I said the VIN was the wrong one.
So how did the money turn out? I guess we don’t really know. I think we might have been able to chisel a few more bucks out, but we are satisfied. We feel like we may not have gotten the best deal ever, but we know we didn’t get screwed. Good enough for us. We had a couple things going for us. The 2008s had come out the month before, so the dealerships were trying to clear their lots. And it was the last day of the month and the quarter, so it their last chance to make quotas. According the finance person, he made nothing, and the two salespeople who helped us made $37.50 each. Of course they want to make us feel like we got a great deal so we’ll come back. According to Edmunds, we were a fair amount under invoice. It’s enough to make us feel good about the whole experience, particularly considering how little time it took once we finally got going.