Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Plan

So I am back to considering selling the pilot again, but this time with a new plan.  My new and improved plan is to :
  1. Sell the Pilot, pay off some credit card stuff and have a few bucks left for a downpayment on a less pricey vehicle but something half interesting but fuel efficient. (I am thinking golf wagon or subaru impreza wagon).
  2. Once the four year lease is up on new inexpensive vehicle all of my other outstanding debts will be paid off so then I get my dream car.  Meaning I wouldn't have to be so fussy at that point, I will just go get myself whatever I want within reason (most likely a new black BMW).
Simple plan hey.  As you know by now my plans change from month to month and sometimes week to week but that's my new plan.  So I am going to put the pilot up for sale to see if I get any bites.  If I do then I don't know if I will actually go through with it......

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Buick Regal CXL Follow Up

So I went back and took the Regal out for a bit longer of a test drive.  Just like most of the reviews say, this thing just has NO fun factor.  You can floor the accelerator and there is just no real get up and go. It's a really nice looking car, you don't see many around so it is kind of unique, really nice leather seats, very quiet cabin but I think the turbo model would have to be the way to go.  The local dealership has two 2011 demo models available and the total lease payment is only $411 a month which is very good for the car you are getting but it just needs a bit more fun factor for me.  That is about $100 a month cheaper than similarly equipped Accords or Camrys, not to mention more upscale vehicles it competes with like the Acura TSX which will run you almost $200 more.

The salesperson being new and all really didn't help sell the car either.  I think it was due to the fact that I knew way more than him about the car so he felt useless to some extent.  He was nice enough though about it all......

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My interesting car of the week - 2011 Buick Regal

New week.... new car that catches my eye.  This week it is the 2011 Buick Regal.  I just happened to go to the local Buick dealership because it is close to my work, its one of the few places I hadn't looked around so far.  It's technically a GM product.... well it is a GM product but its not at the overcrowded GM / Chevy dealership so I didn't mind going there.  I had read some decent reviews and although the word Buick conjures up thoughts of 80 year old men drivers I figured I would give it a shot. 

The new Regals look nice but the major knock against them is the underpowered motor, it only has 182 HP, but there is a turbo model with 220 hp.  For 2012 there is even a more spirited GS model with 270 HP, now that one may be able to call itself a sports sedan. 

So I went in and asked what the deal is on a four year lease.  The sales guy didn't know what the current deals were so he went to ask the manager person.  The sales guy told me he has only been there a month and a half.  It was clear they are not used to people asking about the Regals.  They sell a LOT of GMC pick up trucks at this dealership and their lack of knowledge about the Regal's really shows.  Anyway he told me they have a $1,500 rebate from GM, $3,000 rebate from Terra Nova Motors and the Connect and Win thing where you get a minimum of $1,000 off any vehicle.  So right off the start they are offering $5,500 in rebates..... now I was interested.  On top of that they were offering 0% interest on all 2011 leases.  Of course any good car shopper knows why they can bottom out the lease rates at the end of a year run..... well don't you???

It's because the residual has probably dropped substantially from when the car first went on sale so you are basically paying off more car but at a lower rate.  A total car pricing nerd like myself would go to the Buick website and see what the residual is on an equivalently equipped 2012 regal and it is about $2,000 more than the 2011 model.  To use an example, if you have a 2012 regal that costs $30,000 the residual is about $12,000 after four years so you are paying for $18,000 worth of vehicle.  For a 2011 at $30,000 the residual is about $10,000 so you have to pay for $20,000 worth of vehicle.  In an approximate world, the 0% rate on the 2011 is equivalent to about a 3% rate on the 2012.  In any event a 3% lease rate on a  new model or 0% on an older model is a good deal. 

If you put the 0% together with all the incentives I was quoted a $445 lease payment over 4 years.  That is a good payment, compared to say $500 for an Accord EXL, the Buick in my opinion has much better styling and driving feel than the accord.  Of course the other sport sedans from Acura, Audi, BMW and Volvo were up around $700 per month.  All of those were also smaller cars with the exception of the TL.  Don't doubt me, I have the numbers to back that up.  They were well ahead in the power department though, but not $250 a month worth.

So the next step was a test drive, which I lined up with my nice but totally unknowledgable sales guy.  He was kind of funny making jokes where possible, nice guy who just needed to read his Buick Regal book a bit more closely.  I knew way more than he did about the vehicle, it was almost embarrassing for him I figure.  So me and oldest son went for a short test drive, sales guy came along (I don't know why they do that).  Anyway it was a really nice ride, underpowered yes compared to sports sedans but enough power to get around for sure.  Nice leather seats and plenty of room for my tallish son in back.  Nice dash layout, just overall a really nice ride.  The 2011's came with 18" wheels standard which are nice, the only thing missing was a sunroof on the one I had out.  I actually had the demo model, it had 7,000 km on it.  They told me I could have an extra $1,500 off which brings my payment down to about $410.  Wow, perilously close to $400 a month all included for a really nice 2011 Buick Regal, and they still had wiggle room left, I could sense it.

So I expected nothing from my Buick visit and end up with a VERY tempting offer on a nicely equipped 2011 Buick Regal.  I could probably sell the Pilot and be able to pay for the entire lease.  Of course I wouldn't pay off a 0% lease when I have all kinds of other way above 0% things to put money on but you get the picture.

Buick Regal..... sounds old and stodgy but they are actually nice looking vehicles that drive really well.... I mean what old guy would want 18" tires???

Oh also I got $1,225 on the connect and win so that's $225 more off the vehicle, down to $405!!!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lexus es 350 - possible purchase

On NL Classifieds this week something caught my eye, check it out here:

This is a 100% loaded Lexus mid sized sedan, if you were to buy a 2011 model with all these options you are looking at $52,000 + tax and whatever else the dealer piles on top (admin fees, warranty etc...).

So I made my way up to Capital pre-owned to check it out, they have a new building so I was also interested to see what it was like.  When I went in I saw three guys sitting at desks all out in the open, they took open concept to the extreme here.  I think it looks horrible but what do I know about the car selling business, no reception area, no anything but the three guys and their desks.  The three guys were regular joe type guys, no slick salespeople here.   They sell mostly used Hyundai vehicles, the same family owns the bwm / hyundai / mitsubushi and subaru dealerships in town.  Thats why they all take up adjacent hunks of land on kenmount road.

One guy approached me and I told him I had been in email contact with one guy already so he pointed that guy out to me.  I had mentioned to guy #1 that I had been looking at vehicles a long time and out of curiosity what did he think I could get on a trade for the pilot.  He asked me what I wanted and against my better judgement I told him $15,000.  He told me that they would only sell the vehicle for that.  Again, I hate to call car salespeople lyres BUT they have 2 2007 Honda CRVS on their lot right now for $17,000 with close to the kms my pilot has.  So what he was telling me was that they would sell a Honda Pilot for less than a Honda CRV....... I am doubtful.

Anyway I went over to see guy #2 and he was all ready with the keys or rather key fob for the Lexus.  Man this vehicle is loaded to the hilt.  Beautiful heated and ventilated leather seats, touch screen navigation, panoramic sunroof, top notch sound system, push button start and on and on.  It does have a wood steering wheel and console but it is nice looking not cheap or ugly at all.  Anyway car guy asked me if I wanted to take it for a run and of course I did.  He came along (I am not sure why some come along and some don't but I prefer when they don't).  Went for a quick run and this thing has plenty of power and is very comfortable.  Not sporty like the BMW but it is like driving on air, you don't feel and bumps and the cabin is absolutely silent.  Very different than the sports sedans but very very nice ride.  And it gets excellent fuel economy to boot with I think 270 HP.

Anyways that was that so I said I liked it and then went back to plan out the litany of questions I would be asking.  I asked for the VIN so I could do a CarProof on it, with no intentions of paying $50 for the car proof and sure enough not only did he give me the VIN but gave me a car proof for the vehicle with a work order for the work they did on the vehicle when they got it in.  I found out that they get the trade ins from BMW which explains the few nice cars mixed in with all the elantras on their lot.  They also have a nice 2007 Acura TL and Volvo XC70. 

The work order showed new brake rotors on front and indication of an oil leak.  I asked about the oil leak and they said it was not a leak but the mechanic over filled the power steering fluid and they mistaked it for a leak.... hmmmmm.  I asked if they were open on the weekend and he said no so I emailed back to see if I could take the vehcile for the weekend (you never know).  He said there is no way the MANAGER would let the vehicle go for more than an hour.  So it appears to have an oil leak and they wont let the vehicle go for more than an hour, at this point my spidey sense is tingling.  Most car places could care less how long you take the car out for if you are a serious buyer. 

Now you might also be wondering why a $52,000 four year old vehicle with only 60,000km now is selling for $20,000.  Aside from standard depreciation, the options depreciate almost to nothing after a few years.  This was a fully optioned Lexus for $20,000, if they had a lesser optioned one it would probably still be around $19,000.  You can really get a great deal on optioned up cars used some times.  The other reason for the good deal I figure is that it looks a LOT like a Toyota Camry.  Of course Toyota makes the Lexus so that makes sense, it has the same underpinnings but the body and interior is higher quality, it has a lot more features and rides much better.  But it doesn't look flashy at all, quite boring actually.

From the work order I could also tell that this vehicle has been on their lot for 3 months now and with winter setting in could be there much longer.  The oil leak thing worries me as well, and they told me I could get up to $13,000 for the pilot on a trade for it..... not enough.  Second last time the sales guy emailed me he said and I quote "

Anyway we will see how it goes, but that was a really nice car and the price was reasonable.... makes me think there is something wrong with it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Car's I wouldn't buy.......

Normally I am very decisive about things, I size up the options, make a choice and stand behind it.  I think I make the right choice about 80% of the time, for the other 20% its easy enough to change your mind afterwards.  But when it comes to car buying I am really struggling with not only if I should get a new car but what type I would get if I was going to get a new one and after which type then which model, options etc....

I think part of it is that once you buy a new vehicle there is no changing your mind for at least a few years unless you want to throw away a bundle of cash.  One of the reasons I have always leased is that after 3-4 years you get to start over and try something new.  You can do the same thing if you purchase but then you have to try to sell the vehicle yourself or trade it in and take a beating that way.  The only sensible way with vehicles is to buy one and keep it for 7 or 8 years but that's no fun.

So I thought I would narrow down my vehicle options for if and when I go to buy a new vehicle by considering the vehicles I wouldn't buy.  Some of the reasons for not buying a certain type of vehicle are good and some are just me being silly but either way it gets some off my list, so here goes.

  1. Anything over $50,000 - I just can't afford it, actually I can't afford anything over probably $30,000 but I won`t let that stop me.
  2. Any large SUV vehicles - Once I get rid of the Pilot I won`t be getting any large SUV`s, they are just too hard on gas and I don`t really use the extra capacity anyways.  Cheaper to rent a moving truck for that one time every couple of years you need cargo capacity.
  3. Suzuki - The local suzuki dealership is absolutely crummy looking and you never hear many good things about suzuki.
  4. Mitsubishi - I don`t like the look of them and someone at work just had the engine go in theirs after 160,000 km.
  5. Non-certified used vehicles - Had bad experiences in the past with used vehicles but may consider certified used because you get the extra warranty.
  6. Gm - Something about Gm that I just can`t get into, the dealership is just too large.  The GM website for car pricing is horrible as well. 
  7. Dodge/Chrysler - Never hear anything good about them in reviews although they are getting better it seems.
  8. Anything with less than 23+ mpg fuel economy - Most vehicles are well over this now, I get about 15-16 from the Pilot.
  9. Nissan - My father wasn`t impressed with his nissan or the service there so that's good enough for me.
  10. Compact sedan or smaller - We have a 2010 Mazda 3 2.5 which is a really nice car but I think our family car should be a bit bigger than that, need to be able to fit 5 in a pinch.
I think that's a good start.  If I could just decide between SUV/crossover or family sedan then I would be a lot further ahead.  Part of the reason I like the BMW option is that it is a nice sedan with AWD.  There are not a lot of AWD sedan options out there.  If something like the Sonata came in AWD it would be a great option for us who live up north. All the suv/crossover vehicles come with AWD as an option and some of them look cool as well (tucson / sportage / BMW X1).  Of course the sedans are almost always better fuel economy and less expensive than the SUVs, especially the Sonata and now the new Camry is the family sedan fuel economy leader.

Anyway I think that helps me out a bit, I will have to try and narrow it down a bit more though.

In case you are interested has a great article on the new 2012 BMW 3 series, you can find it here:


Saturday, December 3, 2011

December rates

Figured it was time for a rate update.  Not a whole lot of changes over the last little while but it is obvious that leasing is getting more and more back in the good books of the dealerships.  Mazda have come out of nowhere with 0% to 2.9% three and four year lease rates, they must be trying to build up their certified used fleet.  Hyundai lease rates have come down a bit over the last couple of months as well while Subaru rates have gone up substantially with the introduction of the 2012 models.  I included both the 2011 and 2012 Camry rates so you can see what happens when a boring outgoing model overlaps with a not so boring better fuel economy newer model.  On top of the rate difference there is also a $2,500 discount on 2011's because they couldn't put the purchase rates any lower than 0%.  Overall car rates are still very low on all fronts.  As a general guide, a 1% drop in rates can mean anywhere from $20 - $30 a month less on your monthly payment.

Here are some of the current rates:

4 yr lease5 yr purch
2012 Honda Civic       1.99        1.99
2012 Honda Accord       3.99        3.99
2011 Honda CRV       0.90        0.90
2012 Subaru Impreza       5.90        5.90
2012 Subaru Forester       4.90        4.90
2012 Subaru Outback       4.90        4.90
2011 Camry SE       1.90           -  
2012 Camry SE       4.90        4.80
2011 Rav 4 4WD       2.90        2.90
2011 BMW 328 I X Drive       1.90        1.90
2012 Mercedes C Series       3.90        1.90
2012 VW Jetta TDI       5.90        4.90
2012 VW Jetta   2.5 L       3.90        2.90
2012 Jetta GLI       3.90        4.90
2012 VW Passat TDI       5.90        4.90
2012 VW Passat 2.5 L / 3.6 L       4.90        2.90
2012 Acura TL AWD       3.90        5.90
2012 Hyundai Elantra       2.99        2.90
2012 Hyundai Sonata       3.99           -  
2011 Kia Optima        3.90        1.90
2012 Mazda 6       1.90        0.90

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 2011 New Car Deals

I have started my monthly scouring of car sites to see if there are any interesting deals for December 2011.  Toyota has a great deal on 2011 Camry's if you don't mind driving the most boring looking car in existence but at the same time a vehicle that holds its resale value well and it know for great reliability.  The 2011 Camry's have $2,500 discounts in addition to 0% purchase rates over 5 years on the XLE model and lease rates of 1.9% for 48 months.  You can get a well equipped Camry SE for just over $500 tax included on a 5 year purchase or just over $400 on a four year lease.  That's a good deal by any standard.  A similarly equipped 2012 model will cost almost $100 more per month, of course they are totally redesigned for 2012 and look much better, but still not great. 

Honda have Civics going out the door with 1.9% purchase and lease rates along with a $1,000 bonus.  A Civic EX with sunroof (but no heated seats) can be leased for $300 a month or purchased for $440 over 5 years.  If you want heated seats you have to bump up to an EX-L which will be $355 and $513 respectively.

Nissan are offering $2,500 discounts on the Rogue and $3,500 on Altima along with 4 months of deferred payments.

Mercedes is offering 1.9% financing over 5 years and 3.9% lease rates over 4 years on the 2012 C Class Sedans along with 3 months of waived payments up to $1,350 for leases.  These are not just deferred like Nissan, you actually don't have to make the payments.

That's it for now, may be more updates later.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Nov 26 2011 Update - AWD sedans

No fancy names for my update this week.  If you haven't already checked it out, you should go to, they had some good articles this week on upcoming vehicles including the Chevy Orlando (looks like a squished caravan), Mazda CX-5 (looks like a Rav-4, CRV mix) and Kia Optima SX (cool looking car). 

Subaru's new generation of Impreza's are out, touting the best fuel economy for an AWD in existence with 7.5 L/100 city and 5.5 L/100 km Highway.  That's roughly twice as good as my Honda Pilot, actually probably  a bit better than twice as good, and its an AWD.  I actually like the look of the hatchback model, but the sedan looks boring in my opinion.  As with all newly released vehicles the rates are up to 5.9% for 5 year purchase and 4 year leases.  Last going off the 2011's were down to 0.9 % I think, so this would not be a good time to buy one, just wait until the spring.  They are getting the increased fuel economy (30% better than the outgoing model) by lowering engine output to 148HP, adding a CVT transmission and making the vehicle a bit more aerodynamic and lighter.  They are saying it actually gets a better 0-60 times than the outgoing model even with the significant loss of engine power.  In any event you wouldn't buy one of these for the zoom-zoom factor but the fuel economy is fantastic for a AWD vehicle and it looks pretty good.

I don't understand why more companies don't make AWD sedan type vehicles or at least provide it as an option.  If you want an affordable AWD vehicle you can either buy a  Subaru anything or a Ford Fusion AWD.  Nothing from Honda, Toyota (well a Matrix is AWD but not a sedan), GM, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia  etc...  All the luxury sedans come with this option and they sell far less vehicles than the mainstream would. 

It might be due to the fact that the luxury automobiles are generally designed in climates where it actually snows, which I don't think it does much in Korea, Japan or the southern US.  I asked on an auto forum websites why people would drive an AWD somewhere that it doesn't snow and they said it helps with traction in the rain..... how fast are they driving in the rain anyways??

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NEW 2012 BMW 3 series

Finally, do you see it.................

Its a functional cup holder............ in a BMW!  Check out this article on the new 2012 BMW 3 Series,

You can actually find quite a few good articles out there now on the new BMW.  Besides for cup holders, there will be a turbo 4 cylinder available with more HP and more torque than the current model, more leg room, more head room and a standard display screen.  So you get more HP, more torque and 20% better fuel economy.  You can bet BMW dealers will be pushing hard to get the 2011's off their lots because they will NOT sell any once the 2012's arrive.

There is no radical departure from classic BMW styling but the changes made are nice in my opinion.  My new dream is to get one of these suckers in the spring of 2013.  At that point the Pilot will need new summer and winter tires, I will have gotten some good use out of my new brakes and my oldest son will be 17 and possibly have his own vehicle, something cheap I am thinking. 

But will you just look at that beautiful cup holder.....

Another good article:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Online Car Buying

I was reading a Globe and Mail article today about a new online car buying site for Canadians  Its, you pay a fee of $47 for them to send your car request to dealers in your area, the dealers submit offers and you get to choose if you want to accept one of their offers.  You pay a $250 deposit to hold the deal and the dealers do all the paperwork and whatever else needs to be done to get you into the car for your agreed upon deal.  This is the best thing I have ever heard of in car buying.  Of course it is basically useless for us here in NL, one bacause I don't think any dealers have signed up for the service yet, I tried using my postal code and two because there really is just not much competition here for most dealerships.

I used the old Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2M9 postal code I remember from watching Circle Square 35 years ago and found 10 BMW Dealerships within a 50 KM radius, meaning you would have 10 dealers offering you the best deal on a BMW.  You would have to save thousands of dollars in a situation like that, for a cost of $47.  The service also provides you with dealer invoice costs so you can figure out how much the dealership is still making off you if you accept their offer.  Maybe next time around I will give it a try just to see what I can save for $47 bucks.  If nothing else you can probably take those offers to the local BMW (or whatever type of car you are buying)  dealership to see if they will cut you a better deal.  I am guessing they won't but it might put a scare into them at least.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New 2012 Honda CRV and 2013 Ford Escape

The new CRV and Escape were revealed at the LA auto show today and you can find all kinds of articles and pictures online now, for instance the Globe and Mail had an article on the CRV today  and here is a random on on the Escape

You will notice a couple of things, or at least I did.  The new CRV looks a little but more rugged, I mean honestly I think the current CRV is the most womanly looking vehicle there is, not that there is anything wrong with that if you are a soccer mom or are married to a soccer mom.  There is one friend of mine that I probably just insulted but he will get over it I am sure.  The 2012 still looks a lot like the old model but it comes loaded with all kinds of good options which you can read about in the article.  I wonder if they have fog lights included now, I could never figure out why they never had them.... oh yeah the CRVs are womanly and it is not a womanly option.  Heated seats for some reason don't come standard, now if there ever was a womanly option it is heated seats, my wife totally agrees with me on that, but you need the middle trim to get heated seats.  I guess it is just a good reason to get people to upgrade to the middle trim.  Also, you should note that the 2011 models are going at an excellent bargain now, very low rates for leasing if you are so inclined.  The local Honda dealership is absolutely loaded down with them.

Now the 2013 Ford Escape is just the opposite, it looks a lot less rugged.  I fact, the Escape which was the opposite of the CRV has now become a CRV.  Just look at it, its like the Ford guys looked at a CRV 4 years ago and decided they wanted to copy it.  Ford sells more Escapes than Honda does CRV's...... why would they turn the Escape into a CRV???  Like the CRV's, the current Escapes have great deals on them now, its your last chance to get one before they turn into CRV's.  Personally I am not a big Escape fan either and if you drove a Pilot for 5 years and then drove an Escape you would know why.  Escape's are good economical  4WD vehicles, just not really comfortable in my opinion... and they have poor fuel economy, not Honda Pilot bad but very bad for a small SUV.

So to summarize.... both the new CRV and Ford Escape look like CRVs.  Maybe everyone should drive a CRV, actually on most parking lots it seems like everyone does drive a CRV, just go to Costco and count the CRVs on the lot at any given time.  There is a new RAV4 coming out soon........ they are giving up on the side opening door and going with a CRV type door, it will be interesting to see what it ends up looking like.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Update Nov 12 2011

Unfortunately I am putting my car buying on hold..... I have gotten new brakes ($800), new bushings ($100)new radiator ($600), new air conditioning parts ($750) and now I am told the air conditioning compressor needs to be replaced because is has a slow leak.  Honda says it will eventually run out of coolant charge but still seems to be working fine.  I don't feel right selling it like it although no one would know the difference.  I took my ads down, never got any calls for the day or so it was up so I probably wasn't going to get what I wanted for it anyway.    Replacing the compressor will run me over $1,000...... no thanks.

In other news, if you google "nl car buying" my blog actually shows up in the top ten!  I can't imagine a lot of people are actually googling nl car buying so in retrospect calling my blog "new car buying in NL" may have been a better title.    But one person did find my site today with that search!

I am rotted with all of a sudden having these problems with the pilot, a radiator and air conditioning unit should not die after 4 1/2 years.  The brakes are understandable although this is the second time I have had them replaced.  I was hoping to get a few good stories from my car selling so I am going to have to give some thought to some new material..... I am open to suggestions.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Selling the Pilot

I am already having second doubts about selling the Pilot.... I just sunk $2,000 into it to get AC, radiator and brakes done which I will never recover ... I think the fact that I am already having doubts means I should not sell it.  I think it broke itself so that I wouldn't sell it.  Maybe I put way too much thought into these things.  The fact that I actually have a blog about all this is a good indication I do indeed put too much thought into it.  I would appreciate anyone leaving a comment to let me know what they think!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

She's going up!

The Pilot is going up for sale.... not sure if it is a good idea or not but I like the 17 month lease takeover on the bmw 328.  The BMW X1 looks cool too and has great gas mileage.  Check out Nl Classifieds and Autotrader tomorrow..... or !!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

BMW lease take over

Another potential BMW option has become available.  One of the local used car sites has a BMW lease takeover advertised, it is the  2009 328 i X Drive in black with black interior, same model I was considering leasing from bmw.  There are only 17 payments remaining, the owner needs to up size due to small children issues.  Payments are $695 (a bit more than the $657 I can lease a new one for) but includes winter tires and an extra set of all seasons.  Seller will also throw in $500 and of course pay all the lease transfer fees.  So you only have to commit for 17 months and then can either bring it back or ..... buy it out for $20,000.  Right now BMW are selling 4 year old models for $30,000 so there may be opportunity to make a couple of bucks on the buyout.  Of course there will be brand new models out next year which will make the older models a bit harder to sell but I would think I could definitely get more than $20,000 for it.

I still have to commit to selling the Pilot of course, I am currently waiting on a part to get the air conditioning fixed which will be done on Thursday.

Anyway just another option to consider.

I went back to Acura to show better half the car on Saturday, they were not busy at all as usual but still not willing to go out of their way for a deal.  I told them the deal bmw was offering on the 2011 328i and they said it was lower because it is a 2011 and the acura is a 2012 so I wasn't comparing apples to apples (I hate that saying).  I pointed out that the msrp on the bmw was actually higher than the Acura and the difference was that the bmw rates were much better.  Anyway they mentioned something about doing a bit better but I couldn't get to the $657 payment bmw were offering.  I think I am almost commited to the bmw if I am going to get anything.  That 17 month lease is really looking good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Acura TL AWD Test Drive

I heard back from the Volvo guy but he said “he didn’t think there was much he could do on price”, which I interpret as he can do something on price.  Anyway I was back on
Topsail Road
today for a visit to Acura.  Acura’s are basically upscale Honda’s; they are made by Honda and use Honda Financing etc.  The bottom two model levels are like really nice Civics and Accords but I was interested in the TL-AWD, which has 305 hp, and is not like a civic or accord.  The first thing strikes you about the local Acura Dealership is what a crappy dealership they have.  Seriously it is leftover from 1985, cramped, dark, two cars barely squeezed into the showroom.  This tells me there are deals to be had, these guys have to be hungry.  They have a surprisingly nice variety of vehicles for such a horrible dealership set up.  So anyway the sales guy was one of the nicest yet, older gentleman but very easy to talk to, no flash and dash, no shiny forehead, no fake smile, just a nice guy.

Anyway he was more than happy to get me in for a test drive and I accommodated as usual.  I love driving nice cars, so free drives of new nice cars are right up my alley.  Anyway I got into a TL-AWD with Technology Package which includes navigation and upscale stereo for an extra $3,500 (not for me).  It was black, which I like, and it had this super nice umber leather interior, I’d call it dark brown.  Whatever color it was, it was very nice and the seats were very comfortable.  So the interior was well laid out, the controls were kind of complicated but not overly.  Center console had a little storage and a couple of hidden cup holders.  Overall I really liked it but for some reason there are no folding rear seats which you think would be automatic.  There is a small pass through in back but it has a smallish truck so cargo space is very limited.

Anyway who cares about boring stuff like storage space, off I went and this machine could move.  There was a slight delay before the engine kick in but it’s only very slight.  The only vehicle I didn’t get this hesitation in was the Volvo, it had instant response.  Anyway this vehicle drives really smooth and of course it’s quick.  Handles really good and the seats really hold you in well.  I would say it was on par with the Volvo and acceleration was better than the bmw 328 but not the 335.  It is prices closer to the 328, the 335 BMW is about $5,000 more expensive so dollar for dollar, the Acura is a good value.  So I wrapped up my test drive and headed back to talk dollars and cents.

Acura has a 25 year anniversary thing on where they have 0.25% financing for 25 month leases with 25 months free maintenance.  The lease payment works out to around $800 for the 25 month deal which is not bad for such a short term lease.  The 48 month lease was $692, but here are a couple of irritating things I found at Acura.  They charge $299 for some strange rim insurance that the sales guy could hardly explain and $199 for nitrogen in the tires….. what is all that about, gimme some free regular air please, and $100 for admin fees.  I think they were actually charging $399 for admin with that hokey rim insurance but they just call it something different.  So I guess that means I have to get winter tires on rims because I wouldn’t want to let the $200 air out of my tires.  That’s $400 at least I have to get back from them.  They have a 3.9% four year lease rate or $3,000 off with 5.9% lease rate, the $3,000 off route works out to about $15 less a month or $750 in total. 

So $692 is my starting point for the base TL-AWD on a four year lease.  Salesguy indicated they will do a bit better when it comes to deal time, I’d be expecting them to come down to $650.  I am not sure how it works if I showed up with cash from the sale of my beautiful Pilot to put down on a lease but I will send an email and see how it all works.  If I can get the $3,000 off plus extra off and not have to pay the 5.9% rate it might be worth it.

Anyway I liked the Acura, I like the look of the Volvo a bit more but it is a bit more costly and they don’t have the free maintenance thing going.  The BMW is still right there though………

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Volvo S60 Test Drive

Volvo S60

Had some free time on my lunch and decided to check out Volvo having no idea what to expect there.  Well they have this really nice looking S60 AWD sedan with 300 hp turbocharged engine.  So in I went and set myself up with a test drive.  They also have 1.9% lease rates and free AWD ($2,200 rebate) I quickly found out.  So sales guy was more than accommodating, never even took a copy of my license just told me to go have fun and show the car to whoever wanted to see it…. Now this guy knows how to sell cars.  So it has the standard upscale sedan keyless entry and push button start…. which is a cool feature.  I really liked the leather seats, they were very comfortable, on par with the bmw seats.  Nice interior layout, had a few more buttons and gadgets than the bmw, which can be good and bad.  The BMW is for driving, not for button pressing.  I actually had a hard time figuring out how to change the radio station on the Volvo, seriously, it is not intuitive at all.  There is a nice little video screen for all the audio but I could see someone really struggling to get their favorite channel on.  Imagine trapped in a Volvo with nothing but country music to keep you company…..

So once I figured all the buttons out and set the heat up to nice and toasty I promptly opened the sunroof, put the window down and set out down
Topsail Road
to the highway.  You can feel the 300 hp, it is not primarily rear wheel drive like the bmw so you don’t get the huge push from behind but this thing is really quick, definitely quick enough for going to Costco and back.  It does feel a bit heavier (and it is a couple hundred pounds heavier) than the bmw so it’s not as nimble but it handles great all the same.  I really liked the interior, lots of great features and a couple of decent cup holders to boot. 

So the test drive was a success and I asked sales guy to email me some 4 year lease quotes and a purchase quote for a 2011 they had leftover, he said they were discounting it $5,000.  He said they couldn’t lease the 2011…. Go figure.  So sure enough later on today the quote showed up, and it was a bit high at $740 a month to lease the 2012 over 4 years, the 6 year purchase on the 2011 was $800 at 3.5%.  I checked into the lease and part of the reason it is at $740 is because there are $2,700 in useless (to me anyway) options included such as active headlights ($1,200), blind spot info system ($750), nav prep ($125) and rear park assist ($600).  I have 300hp, if someone is in my blind spot I will hit the gas pedal and get rid of them, no big deal.  Anyways I haven’t gone back to ask for a better deal yet but I will of course.

I was more inclined towards the 6 year purchase, he discounted the vehicle $6000 but of course they already have $2,200 discounts on the 2012s and lower rates so really he is not giving me that much of a deal…. Yet.  Overall I really liked the Volvo, right up there with the bmw but it is $80 more a month to lease so that’s not going to work.  So I am going to go back and see if he can do a better deal on either.

In the meanwhile I posted an online poll on to see what type of car people would buy if given the option, check it out and vote:,76236.20.html

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Audi test drive and BMW Rates

So the first of the month is always an exciting day for car nerds like myself.  Its the day of new rates and promotions.  I checked out a few sites and found a couple of interesting items.  I will check out the other sites during the week to see if any new deals are out there.

1. Mercedes has lowered their 4 year lease rates to 3.9% from 5.9% or 6.9%, I am not sure if they still have the deal where they make the first three lease payments up to $450 per month for you or not.

2. BMW put the 5 year certified used car rate up to 2.9% from 1.9%, the sales guy told me the rates would go up so I was expecting it but it still sucks.  So dollar and cents wise this means most of the certified used just went up about $15-$20 a month.  This means I will now have to get about $1,000 off the price to make up for the rise in rates.  These rates will be in effect for the full month so November will this will probably be deal or no deal time for me until April.

So Audi had a 2008 A4 up for $27,900, a bit less expensive than the bmw but it had 80,000km on it so about even all things considered.  I arranged for a test drive and was not impressed at all.  It was a nice vehicle with a very smooth ride but just no fun to drive.  It has 200 hp but our Mazda 3 is just as peppy in my opinion.  The engine was also loud and rough when idling.  The back seat seemed very tight as well, the bmw is not cavernous but it did seem a bit larger.

I just dropped the keys back and let the sales guy know I wasn't interested.  Funny enough they don't have a single 2011 A4 left in stock and it isn't until spring they get 2012's in, I just don't think they sell very many of them.  The dealership just kind of sells them off the side of the VW dealership, no big shiny building like BMW.  Even though BMW has the huge building they only have 2 salespeople..... go figure.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BMW - Test drive #3

Today, myself and my two older kids set off for BMW to test drive the 335i.  I called ahead so they would have the car ready.  I asked to speak to a different customer sales representative and they were very accommodating.  The guy was busy when I got there so the nice reception lady made me a great cup of coffee with their fancy coffee machine, this coffee was top notch.

So after about 5 minutes sales guy came over and said he had the car all ready for me, he asked if he wanted me to have him come along and I said no that was fine.  Just then the previous sales guy came over and there was a moment of awkwardness as he says “I’m free now”  as if he was going to take over again.  I sort of looked at new sales guy and he said to give him a second.  The two sales guys went off and the new guy came back.  I felt a little bad about it all but not overly, not sure what he said to the previous sales guy but he never came back.

Anyway we piled into the 335i and headed straight for the highway.  This machine is fast and it clings to the road, it is beyond a pleasure to drive.  Overall it is identical to the 328i but it just accelerates quicker.  I like to concept of having a 300hp car and it is really fun but I’m not sure if it is worth the extra $5,000.  When you are going to buy your next car, even if you have no intention of buying a BMW you should take one of these out for a spin.  I think I will go for the used 328 over the 335 just because it is $5,000 cheaper and will probably save me a few speeding tickets.

So the kids like it, I like it, now its decision time on selling the Pilot……

Friday, October 28, 2011

BMW - The Saga Continues

So I went to Audi today and actually saw a nice Certified 2008 A4 on the lot so wandered inside to see what the story was.  List price is $27,900, it is the Special (or they call it S) edition which means it has full leather and a few styling additions.  They also have 1.9% financing for 5 years (same as BMW right now) and the same certified used vehicle warranty.

So now I go off on a tangent about certified used vehicles.  Here is how it works…. The luxury brand guys figured out they could make another few thousand bucks off vehicles that come back off lease if they certify them.  This basically means they make sure the brakes and tires are in good shape, fix any broken parts and resell the vehicle for about $8,000 more than the lease end residual from what I can figure. 

For example, the 328xi I was thinking about leasing had a residual after four years of $18,000 and BMW currently has a 2007 (4 year old) 328xi for $29,500.  So someone is making money here…. serious money. 

The upside to buying certified used is that you get a 6 year 160,000 km warranty on the vehicle from its initial service date.  If the factory warranty is all gone you get an extra 2 year 80,000 km warranty.  If you have a warranty job though you have to pay $50 to deter people from getting every little minor thing fixed.  I would just save a few up and bring it in for the $50 fix up.  It’s a good warranty if you plan on keeping the car a couple of years and moving on, which is probably what I would do.

Anyway the Audi looked nice but the back seat was really cramped, I checked a few reviews and they all agreed.  I never drove it but it only has 200 hp and 201 lb/ft of torque…. No BMW, but it was a good comparison shop.

Now about BMW, I checked their certified used and saw they have a 2008 335 xi on the lot, and it’s black, with Dakota leather and premium package for $34,500.   Now as you would have already read, the 328 xi was fun at 230 hp, the 335 has 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque…….. 300 HP!  Yes I will be test driving this vehicle and let you know what it is all about.  So basically you pay an extra $5,000 to have 300 hp compared to 230, I consider that a great deal.

On a happier note, when I emailed BMW today to ask about their used vehicle rates, the sales manager replied to me so I email him back about my lease rip off concern:

I will probably drop in the weekend.  I was previously considering leasing new but am leaning towards a certified used now, I see you guys have a few nice ones there to choose from.  I was dealing with Mike Roche but he didn't reply last time I emailed him about the lease program you guys are currently running. 

Maybe you can answer a question I had.  I was reading that you guys had free automatic and $4,000 discount on the 2011 328XI but he was saying the free automatic was included in the $4,000 discount, which is not how it reads or is portrayed in the globe and mail article from a couple of days ago. 

Anyway I am moved on to the certified used and will drop in to see you on the Saturday if you are free.”

And he was nice enough to email me back:

I apologize for the breakdown of communication that is not acceptable.

Totally acceptable response and I am back to being a BMW fan.  So I think certified used may be the way to go…… the thought of 300 hp makes me happy, I’ll get some barf bags for the kids and we will be all set.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SUV Buying Info - Part 2

I was going to do this yesterday but I got carried away with rambling about my second trip to BMW.  The BMW guy still didn't email me back, I'll take that as a no.  Just for kicks I emailed a Toronto BMW dealer and he said he could get me into a BMW 328i Xdrive for $600 a month for 48 month lease, which is almost $60 a month less or almost $3,000 over term of the lease.  I asked him to forward me the details of the deal so I can see where he is making up the extra, I will post that when I get it.  It's just a shame that the local guy won't make me the same offer, or even bother to email me back.

Anyway on to part two of SUV buying info.  My plan was to talk about cross-over vehicles a bit but I realized I have already discussed a bunch of vehicles that can be classified as crossovers.  I think just about all SUV type vehicles are crossovers these days which is basically an SUV that rides like a car on a car type chassis…. Also know as a station wagon.  Crossovers include Ford Escape, Edge and Explorer, Honda CRV’s, Toyota Rav-4’s, Mazda CX-7 and 9, Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan and Touareg, Subaru Forester and Outback, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Chevy Equinox….etc etc.

So what is not a crossover….. Jeep Cherokee and Landrovers from what I can see.  I refuse to call my Honda Pilot a crossover but I think it might be, at least the new ones are. 

I can understand why these vehicles sell well here in Newfoundland, I mean 4WD is useful here for our winters but why would they be so popular in warmer climates?  Maybe they just sell a lot of the 2WD versions down there.  It wasn’t that long ago that no one drove a 4WD and now 50% of the vehicles on the road are an SUV of some type or another.  Gas prices are starting to dent the SUV trend I think but the engines are becoming more fuel efficient to combat the rising gas prices.  Most people who live in the St. John’s area probably only drive a few hundred KMs a week anyway so gas prices are not as impactful here.  You are looking at a difference of about 5 or 6 mpg for a standard SUV compared to a mid sized sedan on average or 7 or 8 compared to a compact sedan.  That’s just a rough estimates but fairly accurate.

SUVs (also including crossovers) have the advantage of being able to hold more crap in the back on top of the 4WD option over most cars.  Some cars do offer 4WD, most notably sport sedans like BMWs and Subaru which must have had a Newfoundlander on staff when they decided to have AWD on all vehicles.  You have to ask yourself, how often do I need the extra crap room, and do I need 4WD.  If you need room often and want 4WD then I guess you need an SUV.  Of course they cost more than a nicely appointed sedan and have 20-30% lower fuel economy.

Now I have myself thinking about that BMW again…. I checked out the Audi A4 today and they look nice as well and can be leased for $40 less than the BMW a month.  I wonder if they will offer me any kind of a deal…. I’ll check it out and let you know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Test Drive BMW 328i - Follow Up

So I went back to take the BMW out for another spin, this time I drove the model I would buy if I bought one which was similar to the one I previously drove but with no Navigation and the wheels were a bit smaller.  The previous one I drove was the "Executive" model but it wasn't worth the extra $3,000 to me.  Besides it had plastic wood trim inside which I would pay NOT to have.  The 328i X with premium package was the one I took out the second time.  I figured I would take my better half out for a spin to see what she thought.

Anyway the drive was very nice as I assume it will always be, excellent acceleration, braking and handling.  It's a car for drivers, not so much for practicality but I could drive this thing all day.  So I took out better half, she liked it and I headed back to the dealership to see what better offer I could get out of them.  To my surprise the guy didn't offer me so much as a free car mat.  He just said the deal is already good so we have nothing else to offer.  He went over the $4,000 discount and the 1.9% lease rate which are good but my cat could go in and get that offer.... seriously .... meow..... Oh look $4,000 discount and 1.9% rate.  They also advertise free automatic transmission, and sales guy said that was included in the $4,000 discount, well not according to the Globe and Mail yesterday (

So again I found myself feeling like I was being cheated by a car salesperson, well in actual fact I was being cheated out of the free auto transmission.  So all of a sudden I never felt the same about the BMW, the salesperson was making me not want the car so much, he was actually getting in the way of the sale.  I emailed him earlier today to mention the globe and mail article and guess what.... he never got back to me.... as  I expected, maybe he was busy, I will let you know what happens tomorrow.

I went over to Mercedes for some comparison shopping and they cover the first $450 of your first three lease payments and have $800 discounts but have really high 48 month lease rates.  The 36 month lease payments are actually only $850 a month on entry level C Series sedans..... but its not a BMW for a fun drive.

So I'm not sure what I will be doing now, maybe go back to looking at Sonata 2.0T with 274 HP, they look fun to drive..... but its not a BMW.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SUV Buying Info - Part 1

Back in February I started tracking various car prices and among those I tracked were some of the more popular SUVs.  The only thing I could decide on for a Pilot replacement was that I didn’t really want a GM, Mitsubushi, or Nissan all for different reasons.  The local GM dealership just has too many different vehicles and the service center reminded me of an overfull hospital on my one and only visit.  Also I don’t find their website very user friendly or well laid out, juts my opinion.  I have never heard anything good about a Mitsubishi and my dad had a Nissan and didn’t like the service there so I am boycotting.

Anyway some general comments about 9 months of price watching…. Guess what they don’t change much.  Well the msrp never changes but the interest rates and promotions don’t change much.  Just a few examples of purchase rates in various months:

Honda CRV EX
Toyota Rav 4 4WD
Hyundai Tucson
Ford Escape Ltd 4WD

These are just a few examples but most dealerships are consistent with the exception of when new models get released.  For the first while rates stay up to make sure they can move the previous year models out the door first.  As you can see Ford goes up and down but as the rates go up the discounts also go up to balance it all out.  So they appeal to low rate buyers for part of the year and to discount shoppers for part of the year…. Seems silly to me but the numbers don’t lie.

Purchase rates have been low all year on almost all popular SUVs, with the exception of whatever Ford has on the go.  So if you go to a dealership and they say they are not sure where rates are going next month….. unless they have a new model coming out they are not going anywhere more than likely. 

Kia and Hyundai have had gas card offers on and off over the year, even when that deal is not on you can probably get one thrown in.  Honda still has a few CRVs left and if you are thinking about leasing a small SUV the CRV is the way to go in you like the look of them…… I don’t but again that’s my opinion.  Due to high residuals and low rates you can lease a Honda CRV-EX for $445 a month tax included.  The CRV is actually bit more expensive than other similar sized and optioned SUVs but you can lease them for less in most cases.  One of the things I don’t like about the CRV is the engine power is noticeably low, and there is no 6 cyl or turbo option, just the one 4 cyl choice.  Also, fog lights are not standard on any trim, you have to get the dealer to install them as an extra, that’s kind of strange.  Most important to me, I like a peppy drive, this doesn’t have it.  If you want a nice calm family oriented SUV, especially if you are into leasing, you almost have to go with the CRV.  Honorable mention goes to the RAV-4.  If you like to have some power with your boring then the RAV-4 with the V6 is the way to go, it also has surprisingly good fuel economy.  You can also get a third row in the RAV-4…. It’s a small third row but you could potentially fit 2 small kids back there.

If you are looking to purchase something fun looking and well optioned, then forget the boring CRV and consider either a Tucson or Sportage.  They will have 0% or 0.9% financing for five years.  You will find that although these compact SUVs all look quite different the actual internal dimensions are very close, like within half an inch every way around.  So why not go for the one that looks the best to you?  If you want to lease the Kia and Hyundai are not really good deals as the residuals are low and rates are higher in most cases.

If you want something s bit bigger, the Santa Fe has 0% financing up to 7 years, you see these things everywhere now, again if you want nice family oriented transportation it is a decent choice. 

Tomorrow I will discuss cross-over type SUVs and SUV alternatives.

Monday, October 24, 2011

SUV buying info

I few people I know are looking for new suvs so I am going to interrupt my dealership blogging to post some info on current suv deals over the next couple of days.

Dealership Reviews - Honda

Dealership Review - Honda

I actually dealt with Honda before I bought my Pilot. About 4 or 5 years before the Pilot I bought a horrible used Ford Windstar from the local Honda dealership. You can look at my post on my vehicle history if you want any details on the Windstar but suffice is to say it was a horrible vehicle I have basically blocked from my memory.

So about 4 years ago I wandered into Honda looking to upsize from my Saturn, which was a decent vehicle but a wanted a larger SUV type vehicle, just like everyone else in the North America at the time. The only other vehicle I can remember looking at was the Saturn Outlook, which did seem like a nice vehicle…. But it was no Honda Pilot. The third row of seats was really appealing, my three boys were 5, 8 and 11 at the time so sitting them all next to each other in the back seat was not a fun time for any of us. I figured the Pilot would be too expensive but we went to check it out anyways.

The dealership has one of the smaller showrooms of all major dealers, actually probably the smallest now. Standard set up, manager’s office on one side with a good view of the whole area with salespeople offices scattered along the walls (no cubicle dwellers here). I asked the receptionist to see a sales person and a sales person appeared. I have heard a couple of people complain that they were not served in a timely manner at Honda which turned them off, but normally I just ask to see someone if I want to see someone rather than waiting.

Anyway salesperson was very nice, I asked what they had in Pilots and at the time they had a 2.9% lease rate on 2007s but the only black 2007 remaining was a demo. I like Honda because when you ask what they have in stock they look up their stock in the computer and show you exactly what they have…. No visits to the manager’s office…. No I think I haves…… They show you on the spot what they have and how much they cost. If there is a model you like they print out details of the vehicle, and details of exactly what is included in the payments. No cloak and dagger, no hidden costs, just details on what you will be paying including interest and taxes. Very simple and very customer oriented.

Once I saw the Pilot of course I knew I had to have it, so off to the Finance guys office we went. Since it was a demo they dropped a few thousand dollars off the price and in what I thought was a nice gesture offered an extra set of headphones for the dvd player since I had 3 kids but only 2 sets came included. So we went through the standard routine of do I want extended warranty or undercoating etc… but with no pressure at all and I answered no thank you as usual.

So in short order I was out the door as the proud owner on my new Honda Pilot. When I came back in for my first oil change the finance guy (who was driving the demo before I bought it) paid for my oil change and even (unknowingly I think) paid for a San Gen club membership that gave me 10 free oil changes. I was considering getting the San Gen so they were going to bill me for it, he said he would pay the bill so whether he knew it or not (I figure he had to know) he bought me a San Gen club membership.

I could not have asked for anything better in my buying experience at Honda. Sales guy was straight forward and honest, no 1970’s sales pitches. Over the years I have sent emails asking about pricing on other vehicles for my other family members and they are always responsive. The DVD player broke (it was not a dealer installed item) and they arranged for a new one no problem. I would say Honda gets an A+ from me for overall sales quality. They could use a bigger showroom maybe but that’s about it. I just wish they had some nice looking vehicles to replace my Pilot with…….