So, where were we? Ah, yes. I was soliciting the opinion of the B&B on my next car. Sharper-eyed connoisseurs of the family-sedan segment will note that my son and I are standing in front of something that, strictly speaking, was not any of the listed choices.
Yesterday was the forty-third day since I totaled the not-quite-invincible Town Car in an accident that fractured nine of my favorite bones and gave my front-seat passenger a chance to purchase a $17,800 helicopter ride to a hospital in downtown Columbus. I’d like to spin some sort of tale about taking time to spiritually heal and/or learning to face the world of driving again, but the fact is that my insurance company didn’t pay off my loan on the TC until this past Monday. At least they gave me a fair price for it and sent the check via FedEx once they managed to process the thing.
In the month since I’d asked our readers to help me make a choice, I’d given the matter an almost irrationally large amount of consideration before coming down firmly on the side of the Accord Sport with six-speed manual transmission. A quick re-read of the post two weeks ago changed my mind when I saw the experience “carrya1911″ had with his Accord Sport. It all sounded good, except for the comments about the stereo. That sent me to a variety of Honda owner forums, where I saw that the stereo from the EX was superior. For a relatively low bump in price, the EX had a sunroof and keyless entry to boot. Sure, the wheels would be smaller, but that was something about which I genuinely did not care.
That shifted my focus to an Accord EX six-speed sedan, retailing for $25,670 after destination fee. Allow me to take a moment to bitch about the “destination fee”. The Honda Accord is built fewer than thirty miles from my freaking house. If I paid to have an Accord towed from the end of the production line to my front door, it would cost about a hundred bucks. Nothing I can do about it, however.
A quick check of AutoTrader showed a few Accord EX stick-shifts in my preferred non-color, “Modern Steel”, within fifty miles. Did I mention that Honda, in its near-infinite corporate arrogance, doesn’t offer manual-transmission sedans in actual colors like blue, red, brown, green, yellow — or, indeed, anything but black and “steel”? I mean, why would they do something like that? There’s no chance that the kind of person who would drive a STICK-SHIFT SEDAN in the YEAR 2014 would be the kind of free spirit who would want any kind of ACTUAL COLOR. Oh, no. Clearly the only reason Honda sells manual-transmission vehicles to anyone is because they are slightly cheaper, right?
Well, if I didn’t like it, I could buy a Fusion. Except. I’d have to order a manual Fusion and wait eight weeks. My insurance company was willing to make an additional payment to me of nearly $1300 to cover my sales tax on the new vehicle, as long as I did it within thirty-three days. This seemed a little uncharitable, giving me less time to buy a new car than it took them to print a check, but they make the rules. So were I to buy a Fusion six-speed, which already costs more than an Accord EX when equipped the same way, I’d also take a haircut on my insurance benefits. Back to AutoTrader to check out the Hondas, then.
It was about that time that the devil on my shoulder started to complain about the Accord EX sedan. “It doesn’t have heated seats,” the devil said.
“I don’t care about heated seats,” I responded.
“It’s not about you. And what about the fact that the stereo still isn’t great?” (Warning: Link NSFW for language)
“If I wanted a great stereo in an Accord, I would buy a TSX.”
“Except you can’t get a great stereo in a stick-shift TSX. But you can get a decent one in the Accord EX-L.”
“Which doesn’t come with a stick.”
“Yes it does, if you buy the V6 Coupe.”
“Too expensive, and plus the car seat won’t fit.”
“Why don’t you sell a guitar or two to cover the difference and then check to see if the car seat will fit? Plus, you get the V-6, which runs a flat 14.0, just like your Boxster S when you candy-ass the launch.”
“Ah, um, it would be irresponsible of me to have four two-door cars.”
“Says, um… people.”
“JUST LOOK AT THE EX-L V6 YOU COWARD! RUN!”
“When you yell at me, devil, you sound like Sinistar.”
After a week of thinking about the issue, I was convinced that I deserved the full-boat Accord coupe, retailing for $31,450. I sold my Chinery Blue Heritage Super Eagle guitar to cover most of the price difference. A quick drive-by check of the local dealer showed that there was more than enough room for my child seat of choice, the Britax Pinnacle 90. Now all I had to do was wait for the money.
When it arrived, I contacted two local dealers, both of which had an EX-L V6 in stock. My first call was to Roush Honda, which is one of two employee-owned Honda dealers in the United States. The Internet sales manager, Patrick Hannahs, made me an aggressive offer on their Crystal Black coupe. It was, frankly, a staggering deal and I was tempted to just drive over and pick it up. I also liked the speed and professionalism Patrick put into the negotiation process; as a former car salesman and someone who’s bought about twenty new cars, I’ve seen it done wrong more often than I’ve seen it done right.
The problem was the color. Crystal Black is a known scratch magnet, and this Accord wouldn’t be joining my pampered Porsches in the garage; it would be an everyday car for me and my son. I wanted Modern Steel. Roush was willing to order me one, but the same problem that kept me from the Fusion also applied here. Time to look elsewhere.
“Elsewhere” turned out to be Honda Marysville, a few miles away from the Marysville Assembly Plant where the Accord is built and where I once did contract labor as a senior sysadmin before leaving the company in disgust and holding a giant party called “Huck Fonda” in a tip of the hat to the often moronic decisions made by the information-technology management. Frankly, it was difficult for me to even consider buying a new Honda based on how much contempt I have for a few of the higher-ups there, but I reassured myself that the balance of payments between Honda America Manufacturing (HAM) and myself had been firmly on my side since the middle of 2006 or so.
I made the deal on the phone and drove out with my check to sign the papers. My salesperson, Jeff Hawk, was a brilliant, funny guy with a technical background in the auto business and he pushed my companion’s wheelchair around while I told a bunch of stupid stories about export-model Accords and whatnot. I experienced no surprises, no upselling, no pressure, and no drama at Honda Marysville. I’d recommend them with the same fervor that I would recommend Roush.
Last night I brought the Accord home, loaded the Britax into the center rear seat, and went to pick up my son from school. “Find my new car,” I told him, but in a school parking lot completely full of SUVs he knew which one would be mine. Then we drove home and he agreed to pose for a few photos, on the condition that a) he be allowed to show off his Nerf Rapidstrike CS-18 in the photos, and b) he be allowed to make a “T-Rex face” where the Rapidstrike was not close to hand. So here he is in the Britax Pinnacle 90, showing how easily it fits in the back of the Coupe:
Yes, the scratch under his eye is because he got into a fight at school a few hours earlier. I don’t know where he gets his contentious demeanor.
Let’s review John’s list of requirements, and mine, together and see how closely I conformed to my original mission statement:
- The car be a Porsche — no, sadly. But it will be on the road when the last Panamera is junked.
- And also a race car — no, again, although if any Honda is “race-y” this is it
- And faster than police cars — The Accord Coupe beats all the police-spec cars tested by the Michigan State Police in the annual evaluations, so YES
- And that it play loud music — The stereo is surprisingly good, so YES
- Four doors — NO, oops.
- Brand-new — YES
- As reliable as possible — I’d say so.
- Above-Town-Car fuel mileage (defined as >23mpg in mixed use) — Yes
- Manual transmission if possible — Yes
- Not a penny above $30,000 — My price was $28,117 against invoice of $28,800 and MSRP of $31,450. With my insurance sales tax kickback, my total cost was $29,189. So YES.
I’d say most of the goals were met. Thanks to the B&B for setting me on the right path here — you voted “Accord” most often in the comments. My little grey coupe might not be an Audi S5 or a Mercedes CL55 or a used Ferrari, but right now, I think it’s exactly what these two dudes need.