New car story

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 25, 2010, 10:52 PM | comments: 1

Yeah, I caved. I wanted something new and shiny. With Toyota taking a beating in the press, now was definitely the best time to go for it.

I was prepared to walk away if I didn't get what I wanted. The plan was that I wanted to not spend more than $250 a month on a car, regardless of the actual cash flow or payment involved. My Corolla was six years old, but it was overdue for some of the bigger maintenance events like the timing and serpentine belts, and I was concerned about some of the problem body areas after five winters of salt and brine. In particular, there were a few points around the windshield that were showing rust. I've wanted a Prius for years, and for the first time since it has been around, people are getting them close to invoice and they have financing deals.

But there were two factors that had me considering a lease. The first is that Toyota is reportedly pushing for a plug-in or all-electric model in the next few years, or at the very least, planning to switch to higher capacity lithium-ion batteries. Not sure I'd want to commit too long if that's on the horizon. The other issue is that there's no way I could buy a $24,000+ car at a true expense of $250 a month. Even no interest at 60 months that would be $400. Given these factors, a lease not only made sense, but I'd almost be silly not to with the amped up residual prices and crazy low money factors.

I hate negotiating, but especially in Bellevue, they're used to dealing with educated people, and I think they understood that they're generally not going to get crap passed people. They're also one of the high-volume dealers like Metro was back in Cleveland, which always helps. With my credit rating, I was able to get the .00075 money factor (equivalent to around 1.8% APR for traditional financing), and the residual percentage was 69%, meaning the car is their estimation is worth 69% of sticker after three years. That's nuts. So with those things going for me, it was going to come down to the price of the car and the trade.

I got the new car down to a couple hundred over invoice. I'm not convinced that I couldn't go lower, but folks on the Intertubes seemed to be generally reporting something half-way between sticker and invoice. Most of those were people not trading in, so I suppose it's not an apples comparison really. I really wanted about $500 more for my car, but just could't get them to budge. Doesn't look like they deal in a lot of low-end (i.e., Corolla) trades, and they turn them around quick to auction and wholesalers. I feel like I should have stuck to my guns a bit more, but I don't feel bad about it.

The final deal put me at a total cost of $259/month, meaning my monthly payment, money down, tax, plates, and the value of the trade, so I missed my target by a little. But from a cash flow perspective, the payment is only $108, which is pretty kick ass. If I would've got the next $500 for my trade, I might have flirted with $100. Again, I'm pretty content with the deal. Oh, and as a repeat Toyota customer, I've got two years free scheduled maintenance, plus another year's worth from the dealer, so no cost for oil changes, filters, etc. for the life of the lease.

So all things considered, +1 for Toyota of Bellevue. Ask for Gus if you shop there. I think they still got a healthy little profit from me, but as with anything else, I don't have a problem paying for something if I feel I get what I want, and I'm treated with respect.

And the car? Got a black one. The 2010's are pretty sporty looking, and this is far more car than I've ever bought before. It's one of the "III" models, which is more than adequate. The "IV" and "V" models all have the navigation systems, rear-view cameras, radar assisted cruise control and maintain-your-lane steering, which are all neat, but really? I just can't justify another $10k worth of car for that stuff. At least, not when I'm trying to unload houses and save for another. The one I got still has perks I probably wouldn't actively pursue, like a disc-changer (what's a CD?), alloy wheels (never understood the appeal) and the Bluetooth phone deal (actually a plus since it's illegal to drive with hands in Washington).

If you don't have the tech/nav stuff, it doesn't have the big LCD in the middle of the dash, which I actually kind of like better since it seemed distracting in the other people's that I've been in. It still has the energy plant diagram and the other mpg-gaming stuff, but it's in the LED display up next to the speedometer, cycled through with buttons on the steering wheel. I drove a little out of the way to do almost the route of my normal commute, and the fuel efficiency for the trip was 70 mpg, so I can't wait to see what it is with regular use.

Lots of little interior features that I like, even if the wrap-around dash and center console is a little odd. It's really comfortable. It doesn't feel as cheap as some of the 2nd-generation cars I've been in. I can't believe how enormous the cargo area is when you put the seats down.

The driving is interesting too. It's still wild that they put a bigger engine in it, and yet it gets better fuel economy. They have several modes you can use to cheat. The EV mode let's you go all electric for a few miles at a time in stop-and-go traffic. I don't know what the "eco" mode does yet. The power mode gives it more balls for aggressive driving, and oh my God does it jump when you push the gas (insert runaway Prius joke here).

Overall, I'm happy with the deal I got, even if it could've been slightly better, and I really look forward to seeing just how much I can squeeze out of a gallon of gas. Tomorrow we'll take the boy out for some lunch and another set of usual tests at the hospital.



March 26, 2010, 5:41 PM #

Yeah it jumps ... nothing is like the instant torque of an electric motor. Enjoy

Post your comment: