Jennifer checked them out locally and I went one Saturday afternoon to literally just sit in one and make sure they hadn't changed something that made it too torturous to fold myself into it. Then the hunt for our Odyssey began.
I'd been reading some posts on Clark Howard's website about buying new cars from both Clark and James Bragg. A note here- Clark and other smart people like Dave Ramsay recommend buying a used car so you're not paying as much depreciation. Smart advice, but when you look at the resale market for Odyssey's, the ones with low mileage are priced pretty near the cost of a new one. This is because Odysseys last so long they depreciate pretty slowly. Plus, with a minivan, I like to know the mess is from my kids! James Bragg's articles, like this one, were interesting enough that I was willing to spend $40 on his pricing information and advice on how to purchase a new car from his website.
The approach is pretty simple- do your homework, line up your own financing, then call the dealerships you're willing to drive to and get quotes from their internet sales manager. I started with 14 dealerships- the 3 in Austin, Cleo Bay in Killeen and Gillman in San Antonio (because they both had good reputations on price), and 9 more from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio that looked to have quite a few Odyssey's in stock in the version we were looking for. The internet is very handy in seeing what they have in stock, plus, the Honda corporate site lists contact phone numbers for the internet sales manager in each dealership.
Bragg's process has you make calls twice- once to get an initial price, then a second call to give dealers one chance to counter the best price from round one. The difference between the highest quote and the lowest in round 1 was $4,600! Certainly, worth the couple hours of time to make some calls! The second round saw about half the dealerships decline to counter. The winning bid came in about $450 less than the round 1 best offer, plus it was in a color we preferred (though we would have taken other colors) and had some dealer add-ons (none of which were on our must-have list, but the 2nd best deal was pretty much as-is off the truck from Honda).
We drove to Spring Branch, had lunch with my brother and sister-in-law and picked up the new van. Overall, worth the time and drive to Houston. So far, we're very happy with the new addition which has been named Reveille.
Some summary tips:
- You get better prices from dealerships that don't advertise "no haggle" pricing
- You get better prices calling than from just getting a quote over the web
- Just calling and asking for a quote is nowhere near the hassle that being on the premises and playing all the dealer games is
- James Bragg's service at Fighting Chance was well worth the $40. Maps out the whole process, why it works, when in the month is the best time to call and more.