New Car!
We got a car!! This morning we drove to Anderson to take a look at another Vibe GT that was in dealer inventory. It had all of the features we wanted except for the side impact airbags, and it was silver instead of blue. It was nice, and we took it for a drive, but the instrument panel was impossible to read in the bright sun. The dash is completely illuminated in a deep red color. None of the display is painted on, so in the glare, you can't read the red. There was no way we were going to get a car that we couldn't read the display, so we asked the dealer if he had any of the 2004 model year Vibes in stock. Sure enough he had one. There is a HUGE different on the 2004 instrument panel. All of the numbers and indicators are now white. The display was much more readable.

We were pretty sold on the 2004. We could get exactly what we wanted, and we would be able to read the instrument panel. Unfortunately, this also meant losing the $2000 factory rebate. The salesman did mention that there was a $1000 rebate on the 2004 Vibe GT. Another problem was that, in order to get what we wanted, we may have to order from the factory. That could take 4-6 weeks, or longer, and since the sale is closed on delivery, it might push the sale into August. After July, we wouldn't be able to use the GM Employee discount along with the GM Card discount we had saved up. So now we were back in the same pickle of trying to find a '04 Vibe GT with all of the options we wanted, in the right color. Dang!

Earlier in the day, Jenn had mentioned that she wanted to check out an Oldsmobile Bravada. I currently drive an Olds Alero, and I love it. I've had great luck with the car*, and I really like the local Olds dealership for their service department. I've always like the Bravadas, as well. We hadn't looked at any true SUVs to this point. We didn't like the low gas mileage they typically got, or the high price, or the poor safety ratings. We wanted a well built car that we could get a child seat into easily, and that would get decent gas mileage. Well, we figured we were out looking, why not stop in at the dealer. Couldn't hurt.

We get to the Hare Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealer in Noblesville and talk to David. We let him know we are interested in checking out a Bravada and he takes us back to a fully loaded one in green. He gives us the keys and lets us go. Wow! Nice car. Leather interior, sun roof, heated seats, electronic seat controls with 2 driver memory, six disc CD changer, Bose audio system,..... It had the works. And the sticker price showed it: $40K!!! This was way way way out of our price range. Jenn had already said we weren't spending more on a car than she made in a year. We both took turns driving around in a bit, and waxed on how cool it was, but didn't seriously consider getting one. When we got back to the dealer, we let him know that we were very impressed with it, but that it had more options than we really needed, and that it was out of our price range. I asked if he had any deals going on, and if he wouldn't mind writing us up a quote on something with only a couple of options. So we head back to his desk.

We told him that the only options we were really looking for were the side impact airbags, heated seats, and a sunroof. He asked what color. The green was nice. We liked the green. Blue wasn't an option. The salesman says that he has one just like that in inventory, and goes to get the invoice for it. When he gets back, the invoice reads $37,800. Still way more than we were willing to pay, but at least a little less than the fully loaded one. We let him know that we get the GMS discount, so he checks that price: $32,800. Wow again! That's $5,000 off the sticker for the car. Next, he starts telling us about the deals. They currently have a $3,000 factory rebate, a $250 GM trade-in rebate, a $1000 rebate or a 5 year, 60,000 mile warrante (the standard is 3 years, 36,000 miles). So we start to do the math: $4,000 trade in + $5,000 GMS + $3,000 + $250 trade-in bonus + $2400 GM Card discount = $14,650 off the price of the car. That's the cost of some other new cars! This leaves us with a $23,150 that we need to cover with a loan. We told the salesman that we would sleep on it.

So Jenn and I head over to QDoba for some lunch and start talking. We both LOVE the Bravada. It has so much more to offer over the Vibe. It would have more cargo room. It would have better equipment (leather standard, heated seats, side airbags), and everything we wanted was in the one sitting at the dealership. Then we started talking pricing. The Vibe started at $22,500, and with GMS Discount of $2,000, Rebate of $1,000, $4,000 trade-in, and $2,400 on the card, we were still going to be paying $13,000 or more for the car, if we found one that had what we wanted before the end of July. In either case, we were going to need to get financing for the vehicle. We knew that we could afford to put down $10,000, and if that were enough to buy it out-right, we were going to do it. But if we had to finance, price didn't really matter. We just wanted to get the right car that we liked. It was becoming more and more clear that the Bravada was the car for us. It didn't feel like we had to fight it as much. The car was right there on the lot, it had everything we wanted, and we both loved it.

But would it fit in the garage? We went back to the dealership after lunch and asked if we could take the one with the options we wanted for a drive and park it in our garage. The salesman said it wouldn't be a problem and rounded up the car for us. It was low on gas, so we took a short ride around back of the dealership to fill up. He took the time to show us a little of what the car could do. He demonstrated that, when put in reverse, the side mirrors would change position to give a better view of the curb and rear of the vehicle automatically. He demonstrated that, when the key is removed, the drivers seat will lower and slide back to allow for easier exit. He showed us how to set the memory for each key such that, when the key was inserted, the seat and mirrors adjusted to the saved settings. Cool! The Vibe couldn't do any of those things! He also spoke to us a bit about the other features, such as the On Star system, the compass, the different locking, lighting, and alarming modes, and so on and so on. This was the Inspector Gadget of cars. With some gas in the tank, the salesman hopped out and we headed for home. Both of us were getting huge smiles on our faces. We loved this car! We got home and found that we had plenty of room in the garage for it. We could even lift the tail gate without any clearance problems. Our neighbors popped in and we enjoyed being envied for a while. I grabbed my Consumer Reports : Car Edition to check the rating on the Bravada: not outstanding, but then again not bad for an SUV.

We were sold on the car. We drove back to the dealership and agreed that this was the car for us. We were thinking that we would have the salesman hold the car for us until we could get some type of financing in order. We let the salesman know our plans, and he invited us in to sit down. We started talking and getting the paper-work in order. He asked us why we didn't want to finance through them. We had heard earlier in the day the GMAC was only offering 7% on loans. We knew we could do better with the bank. He said that they could definitely beat the 7% number, and that they had a couple of different banks they could try. Great we thought! So we start doing the numbers on the car. The salesman asks in passing what I drive. Oldsmobile Alero I reply. The salesman's eyes light up, "Did you buy it new?" "I sure did." "When did you get it? Before December of 2000?" "Yes, " I reply, "January of 1999". He slapped his forehead. "There's another $1500 rebate for Oldsmobile customer loyalty! Didn't you get that in the mail?" Well, I guess I must have ripped that up, but I'm sure glad he asked. He then got on the phone with the GM Card and found out that we had another $200 in credit than we thought we did! This is great! it's like fate saying we were meant to have a Bravada. So we go through about an hour's worth of signing and reading and waiting. Our total discounts and trade-in amounted to a whopping $16,350! After tax, title, and license, we financed $23,000 at 4.64% for five years. We can either use our savings to pay it down, or just pay out over time. We'll probably pay out over time. The next thing you know, someone's pulling up the Bravada, freshly washed and full of gas. He hands us two keys. We couldn't believe it. We had absolutely no intention of buying a Bravada when we left that morning, and we drove home that night in a brand new one! Only 20 miles on the odometer.

So here we are with a brand new car in the garage. What's the next big thing for us? Well, we might try to refinance that house. Our current rate is 7.125%, and we've heard that some banks are offering 5.25%. Hopefully we didn't just invoke Murphy's Law with the Bravada. We got the car because we want to prepare for a baby. Hopefully this won't jinx that. So yeah, I'm going to bed tonight very giddy with the excitement of having a new car. I think we got an outstanding deal, getting a $38,000 car for $23,000. Since when do car dealerships have 1/3 off sale?!?! Woohoo!


Jade Mason