the great new car adventure

Why a New Car Now?

Driven in part by my retirement, my wife and I are in the process of shifting our personal car ownership around and picking up a new (to us) car to support us for the retirement phase of our life. Both of our 2012 Priuses are getting a bit long in the tooth, and my Prius has 107,000 miles on it, about 30,000 more than my wife’s. We’re attempting to sell mine via Carvana, an online car store that buys, sells, and trades cars. I put mine up on their site and they offered an initial quote to purchase of $6,400. I’ve pulled together the physical title and sent it in along with other proof-of-ownership documentation. Now I just have to sit and wait on them to get back to me, hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

I had thought I’d “sell” my Prius to my oldest daughter and son-in-law so they’d have a second car for him to commute with, but my car is old enough that it demands a new battery pack just on mileage alone (they’re only guaranteed to 80,000 miles as it turns out). The cost of a replacement battery pack, including labor to swap it, is around $4,000. I don’t have that kind of money and my daughter and her husband don’t have it either. After spending a premium on the original cost of the Prius for the privilege of driving a hybrid, to turn around and have to spend that amount of money to put in a new battery pack is bullshit. I know the pack can and will be recycled, which should bring down the cost of replacement considerably, but apparently not. In any event I’m moving on from any hybrid. The next car we get will be an efficient ICE (internal combustion engine) car, and we’ll keep our carbon footprint low by not driving so much. Since I don’t have to commute anymore, that’s quite doable.

The Car Hunt Begins

My wife hates to haggle with dealerships. So we went with the Costco service that is supposed to provide a no-hassle discounted car purchase. We have been looking at and considering the Honda Passport. Why?

  • It’s more than big enough for us and with the middle seats folded down it has considerable interior cargo space.
  • It can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the tow package installed.
  • It has what my wife calls “safety features”, which consist of lane drift warning and collision avoidance, especially while driving on the highway. Backup warnings and cameras are also part of the package.

The local dealership that Costco chose based on our zip code was Coggin Honda or Orlando on South OBT.

The Honda Experience

My experiences with Honda have been mixed at best. In the beginning it was good. While living in Atlanta, my first two “new” new cars were a 1978 Honda Civic Hatchback CVCC followed by a 1982 Honda Civic CVCC. They were excellent cars and I was a totally confirmed Honda fan. After marrying and moving to Orlando, my wife and I were expecting our first child. It came time to trade up to a bigger vehicle, so we went with a 1986 blue two-tone Nissan Van. We were then blessed with a second child. Along the way our family of four went through a used Volvo period (a 240 off lease and then a 940 off lease) and then several Kias. Once the daughters moved on my wife and I finally bought the 2012 Toyota Priuses (I actually had a 2009 before trading to the 2012).

We’d already been to a number of dealerships looking for a mid-sized SUV that would generally meet our requirements. For us that meant looking at Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, the brands we’d had experience with, and generally trusted. After a bit of research we settled on the Honda Passport. We were experiencing a bit of sticker shock so we decided to try Costco’s so-called no-hassle car program that was also supposed to give us a discount. That meant being sent to a Honda dealership based on our zip code. For us that meant Coggin Honda.

I’d been to Coggin many years ago when I was looking to purchase a Honda Fit. That was a bad experience that pushed me to purchase a 2003 Kia Sorento. When I was in the market for my first hybrid in 2009 I started at Classic Honda on Colonial Dr. I’d heard about the re-release of the Insight and was looking to purchase one because of its promised great gas economy. They had one on the show-room floor, but none to sell. So I put down $500 to hold one. After a month of waiting I went back to check if they’d gotten any in, and was told no. They apologized but by then I’d lost my desire to own one. I drove a block east on Colonial to Toyota Orlando (before it moved over near Millenia Mall) and in less than two hours bought my 2009 red Prius. I drove my brand new red Prius back to Classic Honda and got my $500 deposit back.

I was therefore in no mood to be messed with when I went out to Coggin. And what I feared might happen, did happen. In spite of Costco’s claims about no hassle buying, we were considerably hassled by the Coggin sales person. They eventually showed us the vehicle quote with the Costco discount, but by the time they layered on other “features” and “packages” the price went back up again. When we talked about trade in value for the two Priuses, we were offered an insultingly lower price that what we found everywhere else via our own research. They tried their damndest to sell us the vehicle, with the salesman pulling in his “sales manager” in order to double team us into buying. We said no thank you in no uncertain terms, then left. My wife later sent an email to the salesman saying we were not interested in buying at this time. As to be expected, we heard nothing back.

As you can see I have no love for Honda dealerships in Orlando. We tried a different dealership, Headquarter Honda out in Clearmont (way west of Orlando on Highway 50/Colonial), where we actually sat in a Honda Passport for the first time (this was before the trip out to Coggin). They were actually quite civilized. If we’d been allowed to stay with the Headquarter Honda, we might be driving the Passport now.

What’s Next?

Everybody who’s heard our story keeps advising to buy “off lease”. As I noted earlier we purchased two off-lease wagons from Volvo in the past, and in both instances they turned out great. So we’re now looking at off-lease (as well as used but well cared for) from at least Volvo and Lexus. In addition to checking for the key features we want, we also need to do what my wife calls the “derrière drop” to check how it feels while sitting in it. One big reason for getting rid of the Priuses and not buying a new Prius is how those cars now feel cramped and uncomfortable to us. We’re now in our mid-to-late 60s and we have discovered we need a bit more seat and back cushioning than when we were younger, especially if we’re going to use the car for long personal road trips in the future, such as traveling to visit our girls. That comfort will be combined with the driving safety features to make our traveling as safe and reliable as possible.

But as of this point we’re done with buying new from the usual auto manufacturers (Honda, Nissan, Toyota, et. el.). It’s nice to be retired in that we can take our time and carefully consider our options. In the mean time I just save up more money for that eventual purchase.

Update 26 February

The Coggin salesman did get back with my wife, and in an exchange of emails, he apologized and told my wife that when we were ready to purchase a car, to come back and talk to him. Points for the professional and courteous email response.

4 thoughts on “the great new car adventure

  1. A mere 130,000 miles on a Toyota? Bah! That’s nothing. I had over 300,000 miles on one of my 4Runners. If the axle hadn’t broken during the forest fires I would have kept it and fixed it and drove it more. My Highlander Hybrid has over 200,000 kms on it now and still going strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear that about the Highlander. Unfortunately, driving in Florida with its heat and humidity is a far heavier load on a system than up around where you live. Even though I took the car in faithfully at its 5,000 mile/8,000 km mandated checks it’s time to move on. And as I said, this tired old ass of mine needs better support while sitting which the Prius doesn’t quite have anymore.


      • I’d expect it’s the salt air that affects your vehicles down there the worst. Up here it’s the -40 Winters and +40 Summers with extra UV every time the sun shines, due to the elevation.


  2. If you haven’t, you should try sitting in a recent-year Subaru Forester (ours is a 2017). Best visibility of any car I’ve ever driven. Easy to get into and out of – don’t have to climb up or get down low. No clue how they compare in price, sorry.


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