Saturday, September 23, 2006

So Much Joy

So little gin.

Did you know that right now, you can get a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan with pretty much every option made for about $7000 less than a similar top-of-the-line '06 Honda Odyssey? I know this.

At this point, you're thinking one of three things:
  1. I'm not at all surprised that CherkyB knows this. He is, after all, a master of minutae.
  2. Oh dear God. The Mrs. is getting her new minivan for her anniversary despite all that.
  3. I wish blogger had some kind of crap filter on their "next blog" queue. My hand is starting to cramp up from all the clicking.
And you'd be right no matter which of these you were thinking. That's the great thing about being a regular reader of Me, CherkyB. You end up smarter. Not smart enough to generate all that much ad revenue, but smarter than the average bear.

After the trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, during which the old Montana shimmied and shook and generally made the kind of racket that 7-yr-old General Motors products are infamous for, it became apparent that we needed some change. So I began the arduous task of researching new minivans online. I had it narrowed down to the Grand Caravan and the Odyssey in a day or so. Mainly because I already knew I hated the GM products (minor sheetmetal facelifts of my 7-yr-old Montana, which was just a renamed 2-yr old Trans-sport model when we got it), the Kia, and the Ford. One of the joys of traveling with a family is that you get to rent a lot of different minivans and learn that you hate them all. Except I didn't hate the Grand Caravan.

As for the Toyota and the Honda, they don't show up in the rental fleet at Hertz all that often. All I really had to go by was numerous rides in Scooter's Lunchmobile, which is a previous-generation Odyssey, and one single ride to the safe store in StinkyJ's Toyota rental. And there is really no comparison. The Lunchmobile's seat warmers far outpace those of the Toyota, which were downright tepid in comparison. And, let me tell you, nothing settles Taco Bell better than a good butt warmer.

So I had it all narrowed down to two winivans, and I even had figured out all the option packages. The Mrs. got up Saturday morning all riled up for a new van. I hate when that happens. I talked her down off the ledge by telling her I needed to send email to the local Dodge and Honda dealers (two of each) to get some price quotes from the internet sales doods, since those guys always give you a better (or at least, easier) deal.

I fired off the emails, using the interface at Edmunds.com for getting dealer quotes. This way, they know I've got the Edmunds numbers already, so they need to match that at least.

Then I learned that the email interface for Edmunds.com to the dealers is retarded. You spend all this time configuring the car with the option packages you want, get the price, then click, "Get Dealer Quote", and it doesn't forward to the dealer any of your option choices. It just gives them make and model. Then the dealers email you back asking for option choices. Wow, is that ever stupid.

So I fired off the emails, and replied to those that got back to me right away with the options I was looking for, then I went out to clean the van so's we could get a decent trade-in. The Mrs., bless her heart, does not keep a very tidy van. I emptied out a giant box of junk, removed the seats, shop vac'd, cleaned the seats with leather cleaner, cleaned everything else with Meguiar's cleaner, and shampooed the floor mats. I never got to the windows. But it looked and smelled much nicer.

During all this, I had been running in and out responding to various emails, mostly from Dodge dealers. They found me one and only one van in the area (actually in Cheyenne, WY) that came close to the options I was looking for. Both dealers were trying to sell me the same exact van, as they provided VINs on their quotes. The Fort Collins dealer was a bit ahead of the Loveland dealer in price, and he also had an email response time of about 15 minutes compared to an hour for the other.

One of the Honda dealers called me in the middle of all this to see if I was interested in the thing he had in stock that wasn't the model I wanted. I sent him off to locate what I was looking for from another dealer, having already an email from the Greeley dealer saying he had one in stock. Since Honda makes roughly 5 configurations of the Odyssey, as opposed to the 3 models plus 20 different options on each of the Dodge, it's not hard to find the exact package you're looking for. The only thing you really need to search for is if you need a particular color.

In the meantime, The Mrs. talked on the phone to her mother. She talked for like 3 hours while I cleaned the van. During that time, her mother convinced her that she didn't want a minivan because they were unsafe in the winter and prone to rollovers. She came out and said, "I think I want something safer in the snow. Like an Xterra."

I see. minivans roll over too easily, so we should get an SUV? This is why you should never take car advice from you mother-in-law. Or from your wife, for that matter.

Once again, I had to explain to The Mrs. about how she could never possibly live without a minivan, and how minivans are perfectly safe in the snow.

Then, about an hour later, The Mrs. is fresh from another round of conversations with her mother, and demands, "The only thing I think we should consider is how safe the minivan is. I don't think we should look at anything else when deciding which one to get."

So I had to show her that inthe gub'ment crash tests, they were all identical. Then she started asking about safety features, and I had to admit that the Dodge did not have stability control available, whereas both Honda and Toyota did.

That little sentence cost me $7000.

Thanks a lot, Fat Moother.

3 comments:

Speaker for the Dead said...

why would I sell tee-shirts?

FAT MOOTHER said...

Nothing is too good for my daughter and my grandbabies! You are quite welcome Oh Esteemed Son - in - Law! ljnmxf

The JohnnyB said...

CherkyB - you can't blame it on Fat Moother.

(a) You should know enough to kybosh any conversation she has with her daughter on what kind of car to drive, and (b) should have shut-up after showing you're wife the government crash test reports.

You walked right into the stability control thing - once you brought up the safety feature, you had to get it.

Sometimes the easy pitch down the middle lets you hit a home run. Sometimes you just swing and miss, and look like an idiot. Not the pitchers fault you look like an idiot!