By on April 11, 2019

What happens when specific used car requirements combine with some old fashioned encouragement from TTAC staff?

A one-way road trip spanning five states, that’s what.

The car and the price seemed right, but the location was not quite down the street. For those regular followers of these pages, you already know the story here. The decision to sell the decade-old Infiniti M35x was accompanied by a narrowing down of its replacements and a decision in favor of the 2015 GS 350. It was almost inevitable, given the rather strict specifications I’d put on the car search, that I’d end up purchasing a car somewhere far away.

After suspending the search for a couple of weeks due to life’s distractions, I returned and scoured eBay, AutoTrader, and Cars.com again. At the end of another search, I had seven tabs open on Chrome. Those were narrowed down to two GS 350s — both of which were already on the spreadsheet I’d made weeks before. Combined with a third option that was still available, every GS ended up roughly equal. They were all white and similar in specification, price, and miles. One was in Florida, and the other two in Texas. One of the Texas dealers was the first choice, as their car was the only one I found with the desirable Luxury package and Mark Levinson audio. They turned sketchy relatively quickly, so I moved on.

The other two choices lacked the Luxury package and optional stereo. One had a light grey interior while the other was flaxen. Both the Tampa and Austin dealers were communicative and answered questions quickly. Neither of the two were willing to move on price, which is apparently a thing in online car sales these days. I started to lean toward the GS in Austin — it had a slightly better CarFax history, and was wearing nice new Continental tires. The figurative distance between Austin and Tampa grew as the Austin dealer informed me it did not charge any fees for out of state customers, other than a $50 inventory management fee. The car located in Tampa was slightly more expensive, had a few more miles, and the dealer layered on a non-negotiable $349 documentation fee. I had a winner.

Meanwhile, I’d requested shipping quotes from Austin to Cincinnati. The quotes poured in, and all seemed to be in the $650 to $800 range. There had to be a better, cheaper way. The TTAC Slack channel piped up last Wednesday:

“Go fly out there and get it!”

That’s when I learned that discount airline Allegiant flew direct from Cincinnati to Austin a couple times a week, and for $92 all-in, I could be on the ground in Austin on Monday evening. Flight booked, deposit on car placed, PTO request approved.

After a turbulent flight, I landed in Austin to find the Uber I’d been sent was… not there. It arrived 20 minutes after it was supposed to, and was a different car than stated on the Uber app. Whatever. Every road in Austin seemed to be ripped up or shut down entirely, and I arrived at the dealership well after closing time. The car was ready, and so was the paperwork. It could’ve been a bit cleaner. Though someone rinsed it off and vacuumed the interior, the leather was far from spotless. In the 600 miles the car had traveled since arriving at the dealership in September 2018, it seemed 520 of them were with someone wearing slightly dirty pants in the seat. The service department was closed, and I was told “It’s hard to keep light colored leather clean.”

Not really, says I.

After a test drive in the setting sun, all seemed well; the slight seat filth wasn’t enough to put me off. I signed on the line and wrote a check (which felt archaic) for the balance. The entire exercise was running behind schedule, and I didn’t hit the road to the overnight halt until around seven in the evening. At least the dealer provided a full tank of fuel. About five uneventful hours later, I’d pressed every button in sight and adjusted the driver’s seat about 15 times to get it right. The overnight stop was the second-finest hotel in Texarkana, according to TripAdvisor: the Country Inn.

Day one complete.

The next morning, your sleepy author climbed out of bed with five hours’ sleep and contemplated the 772-mile drive which lay ahead. A quick breakfast and fuel stop, and I was on the open road to the northeast at 8:30. That day, the GS accompanied me through five different states, and around Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville. The weather for most of the day was in the low to mid-80s (like the speed of travel), and sunny.

I noticed several things about the GS over the next few hours. The quantity and coldness of the air moving through the vents at low fan speed settings impressed. The ventilated seat did a nice job of moving air around most of the seat bottom and back, seemingly even pushing a small bit out against my neck. It took a while to get used to operating the mouse for the infotainment system. Overshooting icons was a common occurrence, and the pointer would sometimes land at the next icon on the wrong part of the screen. The navigation did a nice job of displaying junctions and exits along the way, and offered to reroute me a couple of times when traffic situations arose ahead. It gave about a 20-mile lead time on issues, which was enough time for me to second-guess it with Google Maps (the car wasn’t wrong). One irritation with the various screens of information was how the system would return to the map page after about 30 seconds of inactivity. Happily, there’s a setting for that deep within the menu — of which there are too many. The seat was firm and comfortable for several hours before noticeable soreness set in. There’s no sunglasses holder anywhere but the center console; seems like an oversight. The former button drawer from the 2006 GS is still there, except now it’s empty and lined with velvety material.

Hours and states passed by, with the drive seemingly interminable. In case you aren’t aware, it takes a long time to drive in a northeast direction across the entire state of Tennessee. And Memphis has really crap road quality. The roads were on my mind when I passed by the glass pyramid Bass Pro Shop. Traffic issues around Nashville meant I was headed through Louisville around six in the evening, but I got lucky with traffic there.

After the fourth major city, the finish line was in sight, the roads more familiar. One more fuel stop after reaching Cincinnati city limits, and the bug-splattered GS carried an exhausted traveler into the driveway shortly after eight o’clock Tuesday evening. The GS was a good long-distance companion, and felt plenty familiar after the longest road trip I’d ever taken. After 1,125 air conditioned miles at about 80 mph, the trip computer relayed 29.2 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. I kept track of the budget too, since that prompted this whole voyage.

Airfare $92.00

Lodging $89.27

Fuel $75.74

Food $18.09

Grand Total $275.10

You can save a bit of money with Do It Yourself Shipping, LLC. Just be prepared for a bit of back and leg pain when you’re finished.

[Images: Corey Lewis / TTAC, Google Maps, CarFax]

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112 Comments on “Where Your Author Makes a Quick Purchase (and a Long Trip)...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece!

  • avatar
    brettc

    Very nice, congratulations on your find!

    I’m considering doing this to pick up either a southern 500 Abarth or a Fiesta SFE hatch at some point.

    • 0 avatar

      I might recommend dragging someone with you so you have someone to switch off driving.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      You read my mind. Hundreds of miles a day in a buttery Lexus land-whale is one thing. Hundreds of miles a day in a car with narrow seats, short wheelbase, and a stiff suspension is another. Plus, making it a multi-day trip without too many miles per leg lets you explore and enjoy places, instead of just passing through them.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wish you well.

    It would be hard for me to get the 6 when 8 is available.

    • 0 avatar

      Not in 2015 it wasn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Then I play taps quietly for a car that only held my interest when it was a sporty alternative to an LS.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          @Dan:
          I think every TTAC commenter has replaced their vehicle over the past 20 months so you pretty much have to do it now too.

          • 0 avatar

            Make no mistake, the GS F is still a thing, and it still has a 5.0.

            It’s $84,000.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Ajla – I agree.

            Last payment will be made at end of May on my current ride. Being a Toyota appliance I’m sick to death of it. I find myself in idle moments wandering to dealer websites, AutoTrader/Cars.com, and “Build Your Own”.

            However I’m also house hunting right now and can’t make a vehicle purchase until a deal is done and closed.

            Given that we’re renting right now and my son’s crib is in Mom and Dad’s bedroom… Daddy wants his room back before he gets a new ride.

            August looks like it will bring an Ohio road trip and I’ll be more than happy to give a round trip ownership report.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Great story, Corey. Well done.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Road trips are always fun, especially when the reward is a new car. Good goin’

  • avatar
    redapple

    IF you enjoy driving AND if you wanted to see something on the way, the long drive is cool.

    700-275 ~ $400 saved.

    BUT you added 1100 miles on the clock. And 16 hours of driving.

    I would have had it trucked.
    Different strokes for …………..

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not much of a story though!

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Agreed.
        Great story. I liked it. All respect.

        (but you burned a day of vacation too.)

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I agree – since you’re going to look at the car in person before you buy it (for this kind of purchase, you definitely would), you might as well drive it back – I don’t get the idea that you would save anything but time.

        And then, after I see it, I’m going to give it to somebody to put it on a truck and bring it to me…and I’m unable to see this guy and how he operates before doing that – ? No way. sign the papers and I’ll take it from here, thanks…

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        My first long drive was when I picked up my car in Providence RI and drove it to my Navy base in San Diego. That took me 4-1/2 days, each day taking me about as far as your full day trip, 700 miles +/-. It wasn’t much of a story since I didn’t have leave time to waste (the Navy is kind of strict about AWOL).

        The back and leg pain I remember vividly. The lodging and gas dollars were similar, though I stopped four nights and drove nearly 3200 miles. That’s what 1971 prices will do for you.

        My trip back after my enlistment was up would have been a better story, if I could write, since I took the long way to see the sights, and stopped at little out of the way places. If you had the time, you would have had a much longer story, maybe a book! I know I met people that I’ve never forgotten, some of them no matter how hard I tried.

        If you ever have another long trip planned, consider taking your time and stopping along the way. You’ll have an experience you can really sink your writing skills into.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      TTAC should reimburse the travel expenses. If not, then claim as a business-related expenses on Schedule C.

      Good choice on the GS – Can’t go wrong with Lexus!

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      You miss the best part then, putting quality miles on a car you just bought. These big sedans eat up miles and really shine on a congestion-free interstate.

      Nice trip mate!

  • avatar
    Big Smoke

    Corey – Would this author normally not have bought food, if not on this trip? This should be taken off the spread sheet.
    Airfare, Lodging, Fuel, story. approved

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Mmmm…pretty good. At the hotel in Texarkana, you did find an end parking spot, which is correct, but you want to cheat it over closer to the curb on the passenger side, so the person parking on the driver side doesn’t door you, also not so far back over the sidewalk that you’re just asking for someone pulling wheeled luggage to do a job on your rear bumper cover.

    You appear to have some Defensive Parker potential.

    But that Carfax – just under 40k miles and 8 service visits – ? But but but this is a Lexus…?

    • 0 avatar

      It was dark back there and I was more tired than anything. I did scoot too far back though. Nobody parked near me!

      The owner was religious about service visits.
      https://imgur.com/a/B6tA7D0

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        That’s a feature, for sure.

        You might want to find out if the former owner bought a service contract on your car – turns out my car’s first owner did, and the contracts on Audis are transferable.

        I get the 35,000 and 45,000 mile services gratis, which is a good thing – those are no-joke expensive. Plus I get a free loaner for the weekend. I think I’m going to tell the nice lady at the Audi place I’m longing for an S4 or A5 Sportback and see if they’ll hook me up.

        • 0 avatar

          Wonder how I would find that out.

          A5 Sportback super rare! Only seen one.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Call a Lexus dealer and give them the VIN – they should be able to look it up. An Audi dealer did it for me, which turned out to be a key selling feature for the car I bought.

            LOVE the A5 Sportback. Just gorgeous. But I’d probably take the upcoming Arteon instead – same basic concept (same platform too, as I recall), with more HP and a lower price.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Yeah – I don’t trust those checklist things the dealers always put on there…they’re meaningless. Filled with nitrogen…and as if that wasn’t useless enough, they added more 3 days later. And at 39k, what was the point of rotating the tires on the same visit in which they replaced them all – ? But at least they checked the transfer case fluid…

        That’s a real nice car, though – well-purchased, too.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      Defensive Parking is a must.

      I usually have a massive PIG up Truck next to me.

      Ha Ha! $4-5 /gallon gas coming.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Should be here next week!

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’ve always parked on the end of rows when possible with my current car. It’s mostly worked; my main scratch was the morning last fall that I was sitting in the car listening to the end of a radio segment before walking the quarter-mile to my office, and a woman pulled in next to me, got out, and went to grab something from her back seat, and I thought I heard something, but didn’t think anything more of it as she walked away.

        She was carrying a HUGE handbag with metallic decorations on it, and the noise I heard was when she turned around with said handbag over her shoulder, which hit the side of my car!

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      So, you’ve seemed to have stayed in hotels before, heh?

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Sweet Buick ;-)

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    I’ve always wanted to do this but it seems like it would be tricky. I assume you need the dealer to issue you a transport tag of some kind since the most you’ll be doing before you leave the lot is calling your insurance company to get them to fax over a temp policy card?

    It would be great to do something like this with a private seller but if the places that issue transport tags aren’t open you’re pretty much stuck doing this dance with dealers only.

    • 0 avatar

      Dealer just issues a temp tag. The Texas ones are good for 60 days.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      I did it on my latest car. Showed private seller proof of insurance for the car on my name, a copy of my driver’s license, and a link to my publicly available webpage (anyone can look me up). They had zero problem letting me drive the car off on their plates. After I gave them a personal check! [They cashed the check without trouble, and I mailed their plates in two three days]. It’s kind of a crazy story, but it’s kind of not. Different state, unknown seller.

  • avatar
    ajla

    0. What kind of Continentals?
    1. What octane are you planning to use?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’d say this is an excellent way to spend your first couple of days with a new car, especially one as damn fine as that Lexus. Cheers!

    (BTW, I’ve heard Allegiant sucks royally…)

    • 0 avatar

      The plane I was on was an A320, which could’ve been a bit cleaner. 3×3 arrangement, with somewhat narrow chairs and a wide aisle. No recline. No water or snack offered, everything costs. $2 for beverage, $5 for snack. No wi-fi, and none of their planes have screens.

      I can see doing it for a couple of hours, but it would be rough for a cross-continent flight of six hours or something. My flight was only 2.5 hours.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Corey

        A380 is the massive – bigger – than a 747.

        I think it was a A 320 or 319.

        PS- I do like that car. (and the color)

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I flew an Allegiant A319 to Vegas last year. It’s a sweet little plane (and has never had a hull loss accident) but they really pack them in. I’m a big guy and was against the window for the ride out and very uncomfortable. I learned from that to always pick an aisle seat near the back of the plane so I can muffin out into the aisle and be near the lavatory. Also, if there are any empty seats they’ll be in the back. Coming home, the wife and I had an empty seat between us and it was much better.

        Allegiant was $500 cheaper than United and American and the only direct flight from my airport.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I’ve done that before. Bought a Wrangler on ebay and flew out with plates and drove it home across 3 states, all in one day. Great fun!

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Very nice Corey. Depending on when you were near Little Rock, I wasnt far away as I was working in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

    I love a good road trip, and driving a new (to me/you) car is some very thick and sweet icing on the cake. Congratulations on the purchase, its certainly the best looking GS body-style in my opinion.

    I have been contemplating doing something similar. I have considerably less to spend than you (about $2,500) and every thing I like around me seems overpriced for what it is. I almost bought a 1992 Explorer XLT 4 door 4×4 5 speed last week when I was working near Shreveport, but it fell through, unfortunately. That was “The One” right there, but oh well.

    Near me, my choices are:
    1997 Oldsmobile Bravada AWD
    1993 Ford Explorer XLT 4×4 automatic
    2000 Mercury Sable LS (I certainly don’t need it, but it’s super clean with every option and less than 140k)
    2007 Ford Focus ZX3 5spd (would be a work car)

    Nothing really lights my fire.

    I like the looks of the Bravada, but dont trust it.
    I like the Explorer, but would rather a manual in the same truck.
    The Focus would be a decent work car but already has over 180k on it and is a bit pricey.
    The Sable would effectively serve the exact same purpose as the 1995 Taurus I’m not getting rid of. It’s too nice to drive to work, but I could use it during off time while I am restoring the Taurus (yeah, but I could also use the SUVs or my pickups for that…).

    I’m thinking I may have to go off to Austin or Atlanta to find something I really want.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks! I think I just drove around the southern loop of Little Rock – city never came into view.

      I can’t get with the 16 refresh grille, it really bothers me. Plus that year difference translates to about $6k in price for the same car.

      I’d worry about the Bravada because of that AWD system, which was not as sturdy as the 4×4 of the Jimmy and Blazer. They were typically better maintained because of the ownership profile, but that’s largely worn off by owner 2-3 as they are now.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I worry about it simply because “1990s GM Quality (or lack there of)”. My 1995 Blazer and 1997 Hombre were both POSs, and my 2004 Sonoma needed an engine at ~160k (along with plenty of other minor but ridiculous issues, like failing door pins, etc). I’m thinking I might’ve screwed up with the Sonoma, but at least its value (and what I’m into it) is such that I can sell it for a profit once it’s fixed. I haven’t decided if I’m going to do that yet. I’ll have to drive it for a little while and then decide.

        I know Explorers arent perfect, but they’re far ahead of similar GM SUVs as far as quality and reliability are concerned (as well as other areas). Plus, I’m much more familiar with Fords, so working on it would be easier for me.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    We did a fly and drive to Chi., worked out well but we didn’t bring the kids obviously so we were in a hurry to get back so no time for finding interesting places to eat on the way back to KC.
    I once took a train to STL, the metro link shuttle to Lambert where the owner of the Fox Mustang picked me up.That trip probably took as long as fly and drive from Chi, as the train stopped no less than 5 times.
    I’ve had cars shipped from Bossier City , Houston,Chicagoland,Cinn., met a dude at KCI from South Dakota-he drove and flew back, all with good results.I never used the same transporter more than once. Most were set up by dealerships.
    I think of it as an inconvenience- but necessary if you’re picky and buy used cars often

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    >>The next morning, your sleepy author climbed out of bed with five hours’ sleep and contemplated the 772-mile drive which lay ahead.

    Worst car trip I made was on ~3 or 4 hours of sleep and driving from Asheville, NC to Grand Rapids, MI – all in one day. Luckily my wife drove half the time but I never got any extra shut eye on the trip back. That was a long, long day.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I had to do one of those last Thanksgiving after my daughter’s flight was canceled. I left the office at 3 PM, drove 600 miles until 12:45 AM, slept until 5:30 AM, then drove 150 miles to her school. Spent 10 minutes there, then turned around and drove 760 miles home, arriving at 10:15 PM. You do get a bit butt weary. I averaged just under 50 mph including the time sleeping.

      It does give me a lot of respect for how good modern cars are, and how effective the interstate highway system is

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Man, five full hours of sleep would be so good right now! I sometimes go three weeks with that much, tops. I’m not bragging, I’m complaining.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Nice job….too bad a GS-F wasn’t doable, those things are magic.

    Now go and get some Leatherique and go to town on those seats!

  • avatar
    loner

    Beautiful car, and a nice choice. I had never given the GS much thought until the past week, but now I’m thinking my next vehicle may be a GS 350 – although not as new as yours.

    I had my eye on a well-maintained, one-owner 2006 GS 300 yesterday, but dropped that idea pretty quick when I read about the piston ring issues on that model.

    I’ve done two fly-n-buy trips. Both were a lot of fun, and I’d always consider it an option if the pool of local car choices isn’t very deep.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    “Neither of the two were willing to move on price”

    I’ve bought a couple of used cars in the last few years, and I’ve experienced what’s called an “internet price”. If you saw it on Auto Trader, Cars.com, or the dealer’s web site, you can ask for the internet price, which is not negotiable. My latest purchase was a 2017 Escape that my daughter had her eye on, but I though was overpriced. I checked back every day, and sure enough, the day came when the dealer lowered the price $1000, so we made the purchase the next day. The “internet price” was the listed price minus the dealer fee, and was about $500 less than Edmunds’s valuation once the inescapable dealer fee was added back. Fair enough.

    Speaking of dealer fees, here in the Atlanta metro area they average $400 – $600. When visiting the dealership, that’s the first thing you should ask when talking price.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Agreed about Atlanta dealer fees. I almost bought an early 90s Acura Integra 3 door 5 speed several years ago (10+) at a Suzuki dealer in Atlanta, but the dealer fees were outrageous and it killed the deal.

      I dont get the high dealer fees. Paperwork? That’s part of doin business. If you want to sell a car, you’re going to have to do paperwork. It doesnt make sense to charge $600 for the pleasure of selling me a car. Screw that.

      And, yeah, removing applicable fees to advertise an “internet special” is another dirty trick. Ran into that when helping a friend buy a new/newish car recently.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        In addition to the dealer fee, they also charge the buyer what the county charges them for registration. The dealer fee is nothing but markup, and when you go shopping, you have to allow for it.

        Georgia is a pro-business state, and it really shows in things like this.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Congrats and welcome to the White Lexus Club. There sure are a lot of members.

    I bought my GTO on ebay back in 2012 sight unseen in Florida. I contacted the seller, just some guy, and made arrangements for him to pick me up at the airport in it. There were a couple snags getting the title straight since he owed money on it and paid it off with me right before heading to the DMV. But it all eventually got straightened out and I headed just over a thousand miles home. I had planned to try to do it all in one day but it just wasn’t going to work since I ended up not getting on the road until after 5pm. I spent the night just across the Georgia/SC line in Hardeeville. The trip was largely uneventful since I was trying to keep a low profile with paper Florida temp tags.

    I looked into both shipping it and taking the Amtrack Auto Train. Shipping was not unreasonable but I figured I could do it cheaper and I ended up leaving too late to make the last train out. When I tallied everything up, it seemed to come out a wash. However dealing with an individual rather than a dealer would have made shipping it much more of a headache. Plus then I would have had to deal with the shipping company and I was worried something would go wrong. So I got to have an interesting life experience. Now, had it gone awry my tune would certainly be different.

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    Very nice!

    I had almost the identical situation as you. I had a 7-year-old RWD G37 that I wanted to replace with something with AWD. So I was shopping for 2015 GS300s or 2016 MB E350s. Lots of good choices out there, but I found a good (and local!) CPO E350 even before I got to test drive the GS in earnest.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I bought my 2014 C7 Z51 3LT Corvette in NJ and drove it home to FL last summer. Total was 1,207 miles in 2 days. We averaged 27 MPG with a high of 33, not bad for a 6.2l V8. The wife and I shared driving duties and it was a great way to get to know the car. We got the seats and mirrors all set, programmed radio presets, synced phones, etc. So by the time we reached our driveway the car already felt like “ours”. Thanks to my job the trip only cost me gas and food since airfare and hotel were covered by points earned. I flew into Philly where the sales guy picked us up and drove us to the NJ dealership about 40 miles away. I had already negotiated the price and payments so this was just a vehicle inspection and test drive. If it didn’t work out I would have grabbed a free flight home, the risk was only wasting my time riding around in an airplane – and I do that monthly for work anyway. Basically I was giving up a weekend in exchange for the car I identified as best of the best.

    This is the second time I’ve done the NY/NJ to FL trip – the first time was in a rental car due to a missed late night flight. The airline couldn’t guarantee getting us home by the next day, so we just drove straight thru – 19 hours. Not fun but after 2 weeks in Europe we had to get home.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Well done, Corey. Looking forward to future reviews, including of the Levinson stereo.

    I found myself in a similar situation back in January when my wife settled on a used XC90 as her next car. I was set on finding one with the B&W stereo and knew what we wanted to pay. After lots of time on autotrader and back and fourth with dealers sort of close to me, the right car at the right price surfaced 950 miles away in Central CT. I had even worse luck with shipping (quotes were $950-1100 and I am still getting emails from logistics companies somehow) so we decided to just go get it. Like you, I found the dealer process slow and we got on the road late, but it gave us to chance to get familiar with the car while saving over $500.

    Cheers to you and your new ride. If I ever grow up and get tired of constant issues with my current car, the GS is at the top of my list.

    • 0 avatar

      No Levinson! It was one of the very rare options like the Luxury package. Only the one I saw had it, at the shady dealer.

      The easy way to tell if you have it is the Levinson branding on the center of the stereo. It’s on the plastic removable panel which hides the SD slot.

      You could swap a regular one with a Levinson plastic and nobody would be the wiser. I don’t think the speaker grilles were branded with Levinson.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Back in 2015/2016 when I was considering a new car, Mr Kyree Williams on here suggested that I should look at a used Lexus GS450h. I can’t remember what conversation prompted the suggestion, but I remembered it. I wound up with a ’16 Mustang Ecoboost instead which I don’t regret. But I admit that sometimes I still take a peek at autotrader looking at GS450h’s. Especially after a long commute home in merciless stop’n’go traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure the take rate on the hybrid GS. It was the most expensive, and was supposedly the most relaxed with the CVT.

      The CVT thing sort of put me off, but additionally I didn’t really run into many (or any) hybrid 2015 models for sale.

      The hybrid also had bamboo wood inside, which is not my cup of tea.

  • avatar

    Congratulations with your new car Corey. Did you have a plan B when planning the trip? It is a used car and what if something went wrong with the car in the middle of trip? I understand it is Lexus and all but still it is recommended to have your mechanic to look at it before making purchase (having warranty probably invalidates this scenario though). BTW Carvana and Carmax provide about week to return car if you changed your mind and in case of Carvana they ship car to your doorsteps and you can refuse to take it if it does not match your expectations, but you have to pay for shipping of course in both directions.

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t have a plan B really, there weren’t any other cars in the area I was interested in. If it went horribly wrong I was just going to fly home, I guess. I felt like the photos and the CarFax as well as stellar dealer reviews were enough assurance for me.

      I was not at all worried about reliability. It had just had the 30k service done at the dealer not that long ago.

      Carvana has high shipping fees between stores – I found one there but it was going to be $795 just to get it local so I could have a look. That’s too much money.

      • 0 avatar

        Lease may be okay, but if car is slightly used rental – all bets are off, even if it is Toyota and regardless of CPO 165 point inspection and just performed service dealer claims he performed – CPO is a big lie – except of good warranty. I am telling that because I had experience with former rentals including Toyota, and every single one had some issues. If it is Ford – most likely it will be defective torque converter (piston clutch). Regarding Toyota – it is cheaper to buy new one that CPO. Regarding Ford CPO warranty will fix all issues and in the process you will save 6-8K compared to new car.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’ve done the “buy and drive it home” a couple of times, both over 1000 miles. Other than the problems we had with the old car following us and having a problem keeping up, it was fine, and we had a couple of really good meals along the way. One place near Atlanta in 1986 we stopped at had an amazingly great deal on a Catfish dinner. 3 big whole fish, choice of 3 sides, none out of a can, all the rolls and butter you could eat, and refilled drinks was $7.99. We ended up stuffing ourselves to the point we got a motel room and slept dinner off for 6 hours. Because of that, it took longer than expected to get home. The other time, we ate fast food and stopped to grab food and gas, and then got back on the road and ate on the interstate and we averaged almost 65 MPH ave speed. Following a mile or so behind a Mercedes driving insanely fast really helped get that average up!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Latest Proposal to OEM’s Which Will Not Be Adopted…

    “Road Warrior Edition” or model or option package or what have you:
    – Plan the headroom and the legroom around say a 6’6″ individual rather than, say a 90th percentile male. Then the car will be more comfortable for *all* of us – and especially on long trips. (And yeah I know this isn’t just an option package.)
    – Plan the fuel tank size around a mega road trip. Then it will be more convenient for *all* of us *all* the time.
    – Plan the seat comfort around a long stint at the wheel. Someone somewhere knows about seat comfort – for example McDonald’s purposefully installs chairs which become uncomfortable after something like 12 minutes. How much can it cost really to upgrade the seat foam or add more in strategic areas? And by the way, why does vehicle seating still even look like that when everyone designing it or approving it sits in a mesh Herman Miller Aeron?

    Thought experiment for the brave: Take the top (backrest/headrest/seat cushion) off an Aeron and mount it in the driver position of your favorite 2-row vehicle. Do that again for the driver side rear passenger position. What just happened to legroom? [Booom!] What happened to mass? Now am I saying do a direct replacement? No. But if you had some imagination…

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    Nice purchase Corey. I fully agree with going to get what you want – wherever it may be – come car purchase time. I live in MD but three out of the last four vehicles we have purchased have come from NC, OH and KY respectively.

    I tend to keep them awhile so I want what I want. No budging on options. If they don’t have it – I will find it somewhere else. I have some family members who think I am crazy. But, they usually don’t care as much about what they drive and sometimes are not as happy with what they end up with – but hey, they got it 5 miles down the road!

    I’d rather spend a day or two going to get exactly what I want (flying like you did) once every few years than living with something I wasn’t 100% about for several years.

    And, by the way, I am also considering a GS to replace my Eclass. Also considering a Genesis. So I will be interested to hear any updates you have down the road. Enjoy your ride.

    • 0 avatar

      Might do a 6-month update and see if I’ve found any kinks in its armor. I think that drive was about as far as I’d want to go. If I had it to do over, I’d plan a little further ahead and take another day to make it back.

      -Arrive to destination earlier, so dealership is still open and there’s time to check the car out properly.

      -Split drive into an afternoon/evening and then two days, make it feel a lot more relaxed. It’s nice to have a stopping point in advance planned as you watch the miles drop on the GPS. The additional time also means you aren’t forced to drive-thru status meals.

      • 0 avatar
        bpscarguy

        Agreed. When I went to get the Mercedes, I left on a 8:00 am (ish) flight from Baltimore, got to Louisville around 11, taxi’ed about 5 miles to meet the owner, inspected/handed over the check and got the keys by noon. Hit the road and was back outside Baltimore by 8pm.

        Granted, all of my buys have been East Coast(ish). Usually an early am flight and make it home late that night. I would still consider a longer voyage – just might want to take my wife or a friend for anything that was a longer trip back.

        Yes please do a 6 month update! I am interested to hear your feedback on the GS since our buying tastes seem to lie in similar circles (I had an Infiniti I35 prior to the Eclass).

        • 0 avatar

          And my first Infiniti was a white I30, from 97! No problems with that car.

          • 0 avatar
            bpscarguy

            Ha. Same with my I35. It was a great car. Gas/oil/tires/brakes repeat. I like the EClass, but it is for sure more needy in the maintenance dept, which is starting to irritate me. Sometimes I wish to have the I35 back.

            That’s why thinking GS/Genesis. (Was also thinking Q70 but…can’t seem to bring myself to REALLY like it)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yeah, I’d have been nervous about buying a car sight unseen, Carfax or not, Lexus or not. I drove my new car several times, AND had the dealer take it to a mechanic to give it a once-over. Unfortunately, the mechanic didn’t foresee that the HVAC system would malfunction (the mid-dash vents stopped working, but the defrost and side vents are fine).

        So, bad news, and good new:
        -Bad news: the A3’s going to spend a couple of days recuperating at the Audi dealer.

        -Good news: it gave me an excuse to drool over a red S3 they had on the lot. Daddy wants.

        -More good news: Audi Denver has a great snack bar and a very attractive barista.

        -Awesome News – Audi Denver also has A5 Sportbacks as loaners, and they hooked me up with one for free. Looks like I’ll have it for a few days. Reader review time!

        (Incredibly enough, as good as the A5 is, I think I like my A3 better – it’s a hoot to drive.)

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    How delightfully anachronistic!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Good going Corey!

    I’ve done a few long ones. Longest was San Antonio to Maine for my ’01 Range Rover. I did Oklahoma City to Maine for my ’00 Saab 9-5SE V6t wagon – that one had the most adventures along the way (but the only car issue was a bad battery). I bought a Volvo 745T in Birmingham AL and drove it home. A short one was my second ’91 318IS in Philly. Most recent was my ’91 Volvo 940GLE 16V last year from San Antonio to SW FL, after a friend drove it from LA to SA. Best way to get to know a new-to-you car.

    I will admit, I totally wussed out on driving my Peugeot 504D from Sacramento to Maine back in about ’98 – I had that one shipped. But I bought it on a business trip, turned in my rental car and drove it all over San Francisco before dropping it at the shippers – still an awesome trip!

    I am luckier than most for this sort of thing – from work travel I have bottomless FF miles and hotel points, and for both my current and previous jobs I get a ton of PTO and my schedule is largely up to me. Makes it almost too easy to do stupid car tricks, LOL.


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