Friday, April 23, 2010

Return to the Acura

New cars for us only come around once every decade or so, so I'm excited to show off my new ride, a 2010 Acura MDX! It is still so shiny and pretty. My favorite feature so far is the automatic rear lift gate, where the trunk opens and closes automatically with a push of a button. The car has already visited Trader Joe's twice, and having the automatic trunk with an arm full of groceries has been great. We were looking for a car that comfortably seated seven people, as we often have family around, plus it is handy for our ski trips and carting around our two silly dogs. The MDX is super easy to drive so far, with lots of handy features such as voice activated technology, including navigation and bluetooth telephone. It handles great and has a decent amount of power; my only complaint would be the blind spot by the driver's side, which is ameliorated by some unconventional mirror settings. After 2.5 weeks, there's only just over 100 miles on the car (60 of which were put on when the dealer drove the car from Ventura to Santa Monica). I don't usually drive that much, particularly during the week; I prefer to ride my bike around town or simply walk. Plus, it has been raining a bit and they are paving the road outside my house, so I don't want to get the new ride dirty :).

We bought the MDX from Santa Monica Acura. They were ok to deal with; car dealers will always be car dealers. They were being a bit difficult on the trade in value and wouldn't move on the price of some accessories that we wanted to add. But, they did meet the price that we were willing to pay for the MDX and it was convenient to work with a dealer only a couple of blocks away. We did negotiate and set the price over the phone. I found it a lot easier to do it this way; you can get internet quotes without even talking to anyone from pretty much every dealer. We narrowed the dealership list down by consulting their Better Business Bureau ratings. After getting a bunch of internet quotes, we talked to a couple of dealers to see if we could do better. Ultimately, with the help of Edmund's True Market Value pricing analysis as well as its message boards discussing actually prices paid, we were able to come out with a price that we were willing to pay, and we called the dealers that we were already talking to, to match it. I found it easier to do over the phone, before setting foot in a dealership, because once at a dealership, you are a captive audience and they can try to negotiate around you and really haggle. We found it difficult to get them to compromise on accessories and the trade-in value once we were at the dealership, whereas they were willing to meet the price on the car pretty quickly over the phone.

We were in a hurry to buy a new car as our 02 Nissan Pathfinder registration was expiring in days and we could not renew it because the car was failing its biennial smog check. Ah silly California; any other state and the car would be perfectly fine. It would have been an $800+ fix to change out the o2 sensors and evaporative canister (which don't even affect the driving performance of the car), and at that point, we weren't willing to invest more money into an 8 year old car which had been put through some pretty rough east coast conditions. We sold the Pathfinder to CarMax, which offered $500 more than the dealer would for a trade in. CarMax was quick and easy to deal with. Had we had the time and energy to deal with putting the car up on Ebay, maybe we could have gotten $1,000 more, but maybe not. It was a tough situation as we couldn't sell the car in California, as you can't transfer a car without smog certification.

We also test drove the Honda Pilot and the Ford Edge (ok, so I just test drove the Edge for a free Mammoth lift ticket). I found the Honda Pilot a little too bit and bulky and it seemed a little underpowered. I did not enjoy driving it as much as the MDX. I also found the accessories inside the car to be a little cheaply appointed; I did not feel like I was in a luxury car, it was more truck-like, like the Pathfinder. With all the options that I would have wanted, the Honda Pilot would have been just a little cheaper the MDX. As for the Ford...well, it felt like a Ford (no offense). It was pretty easy to drive, but it wasn't really refined. Like the Honda, the interior just felt a little cheap and plastic-y. As soon as I got into the MDX, I knew it was the one. Love at first sight. There is a certain nostalgia factor as well; my first car was an Acura, the dearly missed Acura Vigor. All in all, it's a great car and I look forward to driving it for the next 10 years +.

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