Saturday, July 08, 2006

Our new Odyssey

After months of thinking about how best to replace our aging Windstar, we finally bought a brand new Honda Odyssey 2006 EX-L. We bought it at Honda Auto Center in Bellevue, Washington from their Internet salesman, Craig Jorgensen.

The car is wonderful, and I’m sure we made the right decision, though I am disappointed with Craig and I don’t recommend him or the dealership because of their last-minute bait-and-switch tactics (read details here at the OdyClub forum).

We considered buying a used one, on the theory that “you lose thousands of dollars in value just driving it off the lot”, but eventually concluded it doesn't apply in our case. Why? First, because used low-mileage Odysseys are harder to find and more expensive than you’d think. Almost by definition, a two or three year old car will have tens of thousands of miles on it, yet unbelievably the prices are only a few thousand dollars lower. Since we plan to own it for a long time (at least seven years, which is how long we owned the last one), the difference in remaining warranty coverage practically pays for the depreciation. I really wish we had bought a Japanese minivan the first time. The price when you buy a car is not nearly as important as the resale value when you ultimately sell it, and Hondas hold up so well they easily justify any extra cost.

Here's what else I learned in the experience.

  • Don’t bother with Consumer Reports' car buying service. Their reports had the same invoice prices that are posted for free at
  • Definitely read the Edmunds article written by a journalist who worked at a car dealership undercover. Gives you a whole different perspective on how sleazy car dealers can be.
  • CostCo is not a good deal. Their no-hassle car-buying club gives a standard discount that in our case worked out to about $1500 above invoice. We were able to get $500 above invoice through normal Internet channels.
  • Sell your old car yourself. I found Expo Live to be a reasonable way to generate hits and with some effort you'll get a lot more money than the dealer will give you. If that's too much hassle, at least do yourself the favor of convincing the dealer that you are willing to make that be your alternative if he doesn't give a good deal.
  • Get a Japanese car. Nothing else comes close to the reliability and resale value.

    Anyway, we are very proud of our new Odyssey and now understand why you see so many of them on the road.

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