A Tale of Two Dealers
The Ford Focus ST and Subaru WRX were the two finalists in my new car search and the Focus ST seemed to be winning out due the extra incentives that were being advertised. I emailed a few Ford dealers in my area to negotiate an ST2 and a few Subaru dealers to see if they were offering any discounts that were not advertised.
The 2015 Focus ST might appear to be the best deal if you go by the advertised prices, but the 2016 WRX ended up being a great deal after talking to a few dealers. I was interested in the ST2 model of the Focus and got quotes of about $24,800 on a 2015 and around $26,700 on a 2016 based on all the discounts for which I qualified.
These quotes put the 2015 about $4,000 below MSRP while the 2016 would be about $2,000 under MSRP. The main sticking point pushing me towards a 2016 was the addition of SYNC3. Although, I mostly listen to podcasts while driving, I saw how much better SYNC3 was when I got to test it recently and figured it would help with resale value later on.
I was interested in a base trim 2016 WRX since I did not want a sunroof, but I was looking to get some other options. I found a few that matched what I was looking for with an MSRP of right around $28,200. I jumped on the Subaru forums to see if there was a friendly dealer that offered competitive pricing and found out that Heuberger Subaru in Colorado was offering pricing below invoice.
I picked a 2016 WRX on their site that matched what I was looking for that had an MSRP of $27,885 and emailed them for a quote. Their internet sales people got back to me very quickly and offered a price of $25,477. Suddenly, the WRX was in the running. I checked with a few auto transport brokers I had used previously and got a quote of $800 to ship a car from Colorado to my driveway, so my total price would be around $26,277 if I bought from them which still put that car about $200 under invoice.
My first stop locally was Flow Subaru in Winston Salem, NC. They had two models on the lot that were similar to what I was looking for and a few more on the way according to their website. I arrived on the lot and checked out the two models they had up front. Surprisingly, not a single salesman was in sight for the first 10 minutes I walked around them. I decided to walk inside and found myself standing at the entry watching a few people talking in their cubicles but no one really turning their head my way. I walked over to the cubicles and asked if I could test drive one of the cars. After playing hot potato with the keys, one salesman finally decided to walk out with me.
During the test drive, the salesman was pleasant enough and discussed a few points of the car with me. Once we got back, I gave them keys to my Cadillac so they could appraise it and was instructed by the manager to go back to the salesman’s cubicle while they worked out the pricing. I went back to the cubicle with the salesman and sat for about 25 minutes while the manager worked on the pricing.
A third person finally brought a sheet of paper with the full quote. The offered price was $27,437 which put at about $760 below MSRP and about $1,000 higher than the Heuberger quote even when shipping is accounted. The trade-in amount on the Cadillac was within the range of what I was expecting. I told the lady that handed me the paper that I would take the quote and compare with a couple of other offers before getting back to them. She told me that the sheet with the quote was not to leave the building. The salesman tried to make a save and offered to write down the selling price on his business card. I took the business card and thanked them, but their customer service had already ruined any chances of making a deal.
I went back online and decided that I wanted a blue car so I searched for all the World Rally Blue and Lapis Blue models in a 100 miles radius. I emailed all of the dealers and asked them to compete with the Heuberger quote. Johnson Subaru in Cary, NC responded with a very competitive price. Their model had about $300 more in options but they were willing to match the Heuberger price to the dollar. This put the price of their car even lower than Heuberger as I did not have to account for shipping costs.
I was pleasantly surprised with the communication from the team at Johnson Subaru. Once they saw that I was ready proceed, they transferred me to Vincent, who is one of their salespeople. I told him what I was looking to get for my trade and filled out their credit application so we could look at financing options. Subaru is currently offering a 2.9% interest financing special, but I knew that my credit could get me a better rate at the credit union so I wanted them to shop me around to a few banks and see if they could beat it.
I went ahead and got pre-approval from the credit union, but I would not need it as the dealership was able to get me a rate below 2 percent. I told them to send me the breakdown of all the pricing we had discussed and, since everything looked great, I made a plan to go ahead and purchase the car. I cleaned out the Cadillac, grabbed the title and prepared it for its final journey. Later, I picked up my dad and one of my best friends to join me on the 80 mile trip to Cary.
We arrived at the dealership about 10 minutes before closing and found the World Rally Blue WRX parked right in front and a smiling Vincent waiting for us. I gave him the keys and title to the Cadillac and went inside to meet the finance guy, Braden, to finish the deal. My cheerful mood came to a screeching halt when I sat down at the desk and Braden pushed all the paperwork to side. He told me in a serious tone that we needed to discuss some changes to the financing.
My first thought was that these guys were playing some type of long con but my fears were quickly alleviated when Braden informed me that my actual interest rate was about a quarter of percent higher than what they estimated earlier in the day, which would cause my monthly payment to be about $3 higher than the earlier estimate. I smiled but he still apologized and offered a discount on maintenance for the difference. I told him that it was not necessary and that we should proceed with the deal.
We were done with the paperwork in short order and I was sitting in my new WRX only 22 minutes after I had arrived at the dealership. Vincent came over to ask if I had any questions and brought over one of their delivery specialists to go over the car and assist me in pairing my phone if I needed it. I told them I was ready to head out and they gave me a few more quick tips before we were on our way.
I happily drove my new WRX from the lot and over to a nearby restaurant so that we could get some dinner. All three of us have experience in the dealer and service world and we discussed how the experience was smooth and easy.
In the end, I got a car that I am very happy with for almost $900 under invoice and am now back in a Subaru for my daily driving duties.
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Schweet! I love new cars. That dealership sounds like the best in the universe. Report back on any service experiences. I'd have a WRX in my garage if they hadn't killed the hatchback. I keep hoping!
"The sheet with the quote is not to leave the building." What, precisely, would they have done to stop you (or I)?