Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Florida Vacation - and a Lamborghini!

So I just got back from a week down in the sunny south.... if you are planning to go to Florida stay somewhere on Siesta Key, it's great.

So I learned a few things on this trip to Florida, things I didn't pay attention to in the past.

#1 - I can now understand how people get such great fuel economy.  The roads are straight and flat, you always travel around 70-80 km per hour and a nice 110 on the freeways.  I was never stuck in any great amount of traffic and I got around 25 mpg in the Nissan Altima we had rented (which actually had push button start).  We drove about 240 miles and used a whopping $38  in gas for the week.  The rental itself was only $170 taxes in for the 6 days we had it.

#2 - There are a LOT of Lexus / BMW / Audi / Mercedes in Florida.... but mostly I noticed Lexus.

#3 - Almost everyone are good drivers there.  They go with the speed of traffic, fast people stay to the left and slow to the right.

#4  - No one will give you  a break, you have to make your breaks.  Half the drivers in St. John's would sit for hours trying to make a left out into traffic there, they would have to pack a lunch.  Also..... be VERY careful crossing the street, you are literally taking your life in your hands.

#5 - When you think of drinking and driving here, it is dangerous.... if you drink and drive in Florida you will most likely end up DEAD.  You really need to be on your game there, especially on the highways.  No time to text or cell or anything else either.... way too dangerous, but some people still do it.

Now for the best car moment of my trip.  We went visiting the local BMW dealership... which had about 50 certified used 3 and 5 series, compared to the 2 over priced ones we have here.  But tucked in behind the BMW dealership was a LAMBORGHINI dealership...... I was thinking they might throw us out but NO they were very nice and let us take a few pics.... There were three cars there but only one for sale, here it is at only $251,000 sticker price!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One month in - Kia Optima EX Luxury review

So I am one month into the Optima and figure its time for a preliminary review.  Getting 11 l/100 km fuel economy consistently still which is good but will only get better the summer.  The vehicle is great, I am still very happy with the purchase and still can't find any downside other than the definite need for winter tires, the all seasons are really only meant for non-snow seasons.  The little bit of snow we have had really does the job on handling with the all seasons.

I had to get used to putting things in the trunk as opposed to poking it into the vast expense of the Pilot, but that's no big deal.  My youngest son had some adjustment and got a bit car sick initially with the low ride and new car smell but is getting over it.  The ride is on the firm side for sure, I like it but if you don't like a firm ride then this car is not for you.  Lots of power, feels like even more than the 200hp stated, probably because the vehicle is relatively light.  I can't see you wanting or needing more.

The heated seats are great and rear heated seats for the kids in back is a great bonus in winter.  One thing I didn't expect is how nice the heated steering wheel is.  It just feels great to have warm hands on our freezing cold days.

The stereo is fantastic, bluetooth integration is nice for playing my blackberry songs and I can store songs on the hard drive once I figure out how to do it!  I am not fussy on the serius satellite, it cuts out a fair bit and plays the same songs over quite a bit I find.  I like the hair metal station but the song rotation seems limited.  I have free subscription for 3 months but won`t be renewing for almost $20 a month.  Radio, CD, and blackberry songs are suiting me just fine.

One thing I decided not to use is the comfort access where the seat moves back once you turn the car off to make it easier to get in and out of.  When you start it up it moves back to your last position.  I just prefer to have the seat kept where I like it.  If you had two different drivers I could see it being more useful.  It also has a memory driver seat which is great for switching drivers.  I find the seats really comfortable and the rear seats are kind of reclined a bit which the passengers seem to like.  It also has a power passenger seat which is a nice option.  Some articles say the seat bottoms are short but I don`t find that, maybe because I am fairly short myself.

So that leads me to my only possible minor criticism.... not for me but if you are over 6 feet tall I think you may have some headroom issues with the sunroof.  I have enough clearance but with another 3 or 4 inches it would be tight I think, same with rear seat headroom.  On the sunroof by the way it is a fantastic option, it really brings tons of light into the cabin with the glass in front and back and the shade can be closed if you don`t want to see it at all.  It has to be the best sunroof going on a non-luxury vehicle.

The brakes are great (upgrade for luxury model), I like the steering, it has decent feel and handling is really good for a non-luxury vehicle.

So, it drives great, looks great, excellent fuel economy, I have no regrets.  If I go with another Kia after this though I think I will go to a different dealership if possible, just because the local one was so annoying from beginning to end.  I took the opportunity for one last shot across the bow though.... here is my email from last week.... which they didn`t respond to I might add.
Hey car sales guy,

Just got the thank you card in the mail form you guys and it reminded me to email you about my customer survey response. I gave you guy really good marks for everything but not perfect because a few small pdi items were missed, the seatbelts had some plastic and elastic bands still on them and there was a grease or some type of stain on the back seat. No big deals but just letting you know.

I have a few people asking me about my vehicle, just keep in mind if anyone says I sent them give them a price without all the extras and let the nice finance lady worry about the upselling!

I love the car, you guys will sell tons more once you move the dealership into the 21st century I am sure! You should check out for some tips, I post there all the time.

Thanks and good luck with it all... busy season is right around the corner

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fuel Economy - Tank #2 + tailight pic

On tank #2 I got 11.0 l/100 km, which is not bad.  In case you have never been to St. John's it is VERY hilly here, so you would never get great fuel economy no matter how you drive.  I figure once summer hits and the engine is properly broken in I should get 10 or under no problem which is just fine by me.  We got another 5cms of snow here today so I back to a dirty Optima again......

Here is a pic of the rear LED tailights.... aren't they cool?  I know it is not a great pic, I will get some better ones once the snow goes away again.

Friday, March 9, 2012

After the storm......

So 2 days ago we had a blizzard that delivered 25 cm of snow...... today it was 12 degrees Celsius and I gave my new baby her first hand wash lunch time.... you will notice the contrast from the pic two days ago!!!  Only in Newfoundland!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Germany - Thanks!

I feel like I need to thank whoever is visiting me from Germany.  I seem to have a strong German following and just wanted to say thanks for checking the blog!  Would be great to get a comment, if it was in German it would be extra cool.


Mazda - Interesting Articles and CX-5

I was browsing the Globe and Mail Drive articles today as usual and came across an interesting article on Mazda

You should check it out but I really can't see Mazda becoming a luxury brand.  They have been going for affordable zoom-zoom for years now.  One thing that doesn't happen in the car business from my experience is a normal brand becoming a luxury brand or vise-versa.  I can't ever imagine myself paying a BMW price for a Mazda.  It's one thing to upscale your brand but all of a sudden you find yourself playing with the big dogs and not selling a single car.  I mean I love my Optima and it is a great vehicle but also about $15,000 cheaper than a similarly equipped BMW, which is why I bought it.

The other good article I saw was on the new Mazda CX-5

It looks like a great buy if you are looking for a nice fuel efficient compact SUV.  The thing about compact SUVs is that once the new Escape and Rav-4 hit the showrooms later this year there won't be many new models for several years with Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Hyundai and Kia all having new vehicles out.  I have no idea what GM is doing these days.

This new sky-acitv technology really seems to have some teeth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Winter Driving in my Kia Optima

So winter made a return visit to St. John's today.  Just when all the snow was about gone we got walloped with 25 cm of fresh snow, luckily most of it fell on the other side of the street due to the accompanying 100 km winds.  As you can see from the pic my driveway is basically snow free without any shovelling on my part while they are bogged in across the street.

Everything was closed up this morning due to the blizzard but by lunch time everything was all clear and I made my way into work.  I am definitely going for the 16" winter tires next year.  Traction control came on about 8 times on the way to work, which is only about 5 km away from my house.  I liked the heated seats and steering wheel though.  I never had any real problems with the snow but big difference than the Pilot, definitely recommend winter tires!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Response to comment Optima vs Forester Part 2

Dear T,

I wouldn't be worried about space with one kid, ever with all the unnecessary crap people take along with kids these days, the Optima has a huge trunk and very spacious back seat.  The kid will love the heated rear seats when he gets it sit on them!

If you go to get prices on both make sure you ask for the non-extra pricing as a good starting point.  Then if for some reason you want over priced extras you can add them on after.  Just ask what the price of the vehicle is and do your own loan calculations at home once they give you some numbers.  I had extensive email trails I could refer back to so get them to put all the details you want in email, it's a good bargaining chip if nothing else.  Don't fall for the slickness of the salesperson either, it's all smoke and mirrors.  Go home and do the numbers yourself. 

Are you trading in a vehicle or just buying new, if you are trading, don't mention that until you get a price, then if you get a trade quote ask for the before tax trade value.  I found Subaru were VERY low ball on the trade but it might just have been their starting point, I never got into serious negotiations with them.  Not that Kia were much better but they were slightly better.

As far as Kia losing 80% of it's value, that is the OLD Kia.  If you could get a 5 year old Kia Optima EX Luxury in good shape for $6,000.... I'd say buy it.  I have no idea why anyone would pay substantially more for a 5 year old 2011 accord over a 2011 Optima that has been under warranty for 5 years.  I think the honda/toyota vs Kia reputation gap is closing fast, I mean the Optima was car of the year I think that speaks volumes!

Lemme know how you make out with it.

Response to comment Optima vs Forester

I had a comment left from someone considering either an Optima or Forester.  I had similar considerations along the way and really this is a fundamental question you have to ask yourself when buying a new vehicle.  Do you want practicality and convenience of AWD or do you want the better driving experience, creature comforts and fuel economy benefits of a mid sized sedan.

A lot of the decision will be based on your current family needs.  My kids are older so I don't need a massive amount of cargo room any more.  If you have small kids with car seats and whatnot then an SUV may be the way to go.  You can get a decently loaded forester (touring trim) for around the same as the Optima EX Luxury.... but here's what you get on the Optima you probably won't get on the forester:

  1. heated and cooled front seats
  2. heated rear seats
  3. 530 watt infinity stereo
  4. panoramic sunroof
  5. leather seats
  6. 18" tires
  7. voice command
  8. heated steering wheel
  9. 5 year bumper to bumper warranty
  10. better interest rate 0% vs 2.9%
  12. a vehicle that is not very common yet
  13. about 20% better fuel economy
  14. A wicked looking ride

Here's what you get on the forester that's not on the optima:

  1. AWD
  2. More cargo space with all the seats down (the optima does have a large trunk though and folding rear seats)
  3. Way more boringness

If you need AWD then the Optima should be off your list, other than that it should be on it.  I just plan on buying a good set of winter tires next year, I mean until 5 or 6 years ago most people drove cars as opposed to SUVs and they got along just fine.  I would go 100% with the Optima over the Forester unless you have a couple of small kids.  I will keep you updated on how the Optima holds up in the snow tomorrow!  We are expecting 30cms!

Monday, March 5, 2012

More rate drops - SUBARU

Just looking around and Subaru have dropped most of their 48 month lease and 5 year finance rates from 4.9% to 2.9%.  Looks like all the dealerships are getting ramped up for the spring push!

Kia Optima EX Luxury - Week 1

So it was my first week of new car ownership in about 5 years, I posted proudly on at,77967.msg772876.html#msg772876

There are a lot of things to like about this car:

Heated and cooled front seats
heated rear seats
Nice leather seats and interior
Heated steering wheel
panoramic sunroof
530 watt infinity stereo
beautiful 18" wheels
auto-dimming compass mirror
dual zone climate in front with vents for the back
xenon headlights
led taillights
5 year bumper to bumper warranty with roadside assistance
It looks wicked!

It has great power at 200hp for a relatively light mid-sized car, gets great gas mileage, has ECO mode for better fuel economy if you want to surrender some power and has manual shifting.

True, there is less cargo and carrying capacity than the pilot and it is not AWD but I knew that going in.  It is at least 200X more fun to drive and next winter I will hook myself up with a good set of winter tires to get me though our 5 months of winter.  I think I will go for a nice set of 16" winter rims and tires.... no ugly black rims for me.

Anyway one week in and I am loving it.  My first tank was just under 12 l/100 km as opposed to 16-17 I was getting on the pilot the last few weeks.  And that is on a brand new unbroken in engine.  I should be able to easily get under 10 by the time the summer rolls around.  Half way through my second tank I am already down around 11.  And I don't exactly drive gently.

It looks beautiful, drives really nice, is comfy and fun to drive.

We are supposed to get 20cm of snow in 2 days....... I think that should make for some interesting blog fodder on Wednesday.  I am looking at my nice 18" tires thinking they are not intended for slippery surfaces...... probably not much snow in South Korea.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Buying my new vehicle - Part 4

So Mr. Kia salesman called me back and said the best they can do is $279 bi-weekly.  Which of course was more than the $259 from Grand Falls.  I told him there was no way I was paying $20 bi-weekly for the same car.  He then asked if the Grand Falls car was an EX Luxury and I said no it was an EX+.  Well he said their $283 was based on an EX Luxury.  Now I asked him at least twice what their showroom model was and he said EX+ although I thought it was a Luxury because it had the Infinity stereo.  

But the point was that at $283 bi-weekly they were no longer trying to rip me off.  If you use the online calculator ( you get very close to the same amount with allowance for admin fees of $399.  SO FINALLY they had listened to me and gave me the price on just the car without all the crap they try top add on.  Here is the list of ad-ons that they assume everyone wants and gets quoted up front:

Undercoating (why with a 5 year rust warranty and it costs $500!)
Fabric Protection (on leather seats???)
Tire warranty (say what??)
Globali Security blah blah blah (they can't even tell you what this is and it costs $300)
Gap protection (I have no idea what this is)
Life insurance
Freedom driving club (paying for all maintenance up front)

So all this stuff costs several thousand dollars and they assume everyone wants it.  Who out there has ever gotten their $400 worth out of a tire warranty???  I mean the tires only last 2 or 3 years tops.   But they assume everyone wants this and won't question paying for it because it is only an extra $20-$30 bi-weekly but that can add up to over $4000 over the 5 years.

Anyway I liked the car so we had a deal at $283 bi-weekly..... until I found out they still had undercoating included because they said it was already done, until I had them check it and it clearly wasn't so they cut me a cheque for $500.   Then at the last minute I added tinting so it crept up to $285.

Off to the finance lady I went and she tried to sell me all the stuff I didn't want in the first place.  They always put the attractive women in the finance shop, I guess so men won't say no to all the extras.  She she told me the tire warranty was very popular and 99% of people buy it, I said I am the other 1%.  Then she started on insurance and I told her not to bother with it all just give me the papers to sign.  So she printed all the stuff, I noticed she left out the 90 day no payments (how convenient) so she had to call the bank and redo the paperwork, I waited 5 minutes and the deal was done.  They still added in $80 in more admin fees for something but I let it slide. 

Anyway out I went to get my new car, the salesguy made a point of saying that I would be getting a survey from Kia and his commission was based on how I filled it out...... Oh I could be so mean but its not his fault the dealership tries to squeeze every cent out of unsuspecting customers.  They left some plastic on the seat belt and a small stain on the back seat but other than that everything was perfect.

Next post will be about my first week with my new baby!

If anyone wants more info just leave a comment and I will respond.

Friday, March 2, 2012

2007 Honda Pilot notification!

The Pilot page will be coming down over the weekend to make room for my 2011 Kia Optima EX Luxury page.  So enjoy the Pilot while you can!

The rates are dropping.....Accord and Camry

The rates they are a dropping on Camry's and Accord's, Honda now has 0.99% lease and purchase financing on Accords and the Camry rates are down a percent or two as well.  The same Accord that cost $607/mth over five years last month is now about $565/mth..... significant over the 5 years.

Also noticed the the Optima now have $1,000 discounts as opposed to the $750 I got...... it shouldn't bother me but it does!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Buying my new vehicle - Part 3

So you should start by reading my Jan 7 post entitled "Kia Optima - You will like this!".  I was at a point of extreme frustration because I liked the Optima but wasn't about to pay more than what the website advertised, and more to the point, the dealership couldn't tell me what I was paying for.

Anyway it was looking like the sale of my Pilot was pending so I had to make a move.  I still liked the Optima but was not going to pay a penny over retail and I didn't want all the crap they try to add on which they wouldn't even tell me about.

So I took a new approach.  I called the Grand Falls Kia dealer, got a firm price from him and went fully armed to the local Kia dealership.  In Grand Falls they had a black Optima EX + there for $259 bi-weekly, it was the right color and the price was right in line with the website.  The problem was I needed to do a re test drive so I figured I would go to the local kia dealership, act interested again and take an EX+ out for a test drive. 

So off I went lined up the test drive, took the car out and was convinced this was what I was going to buy..... well not the one I test drove but the one in Grand Falls since last time I talked to these guys I got the feeling I was trying to be ripped off.  I came back from the test drive fully expecting to leave and buy the vehicle in Grand Falls but I thought I would humor them and get a quote on the same vehicle.  In the showroom there was a beautiful silver EX and the salesguy told me it was an EX +, the same model as in Grand Falls.  So just for kicks I asked him to get me a bi-weekly payment and let him know that I already had a good offer from the Grand Falls Kia.

He came back at $302......... and asked me what Grand Falls offered and I said $259..... he said they couldn't get there but let him work on it...... on the weekend the deal gets done!