Well, that was easy. Last week [I blogged](http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/2005/06/which_car_shoul.php) that we were going to replace my car with a minivan. We have 60 days after we move to reregister our cars, and it’s silly to register my Intrigue in New Jersey only to have to register the new car after that.
Yesterday we had some time after we finished our last errands in Connecticut, so Eric and I did some test driving.
First stop: Honda. The salesman at this dealership knows my parents. Turns out that not only did the man sell my parents their cars (Mom drives a Honda Accord, her second), but he went to high school with my father! They didn’t know each other in school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but they were there at the same time. He did a wonderful job of demonstrating the features of the [Odyssey EX with Leather](http://automobiles.honda.com/models/specifications_descriptions.asp?ModelName=Odyssey&Category=2) that I want, but he was honest about features that we probably wouldn’t need that are in the Touring model. At first he was surprised that I wanted the navigation system, but after I explained that I would be moving to a new state and driving with my kids without a passenger-side navigator, he agreed that it’s not a bad idea.
How did I like the drive? In a word: Wow. Earlier in the day I drove my mother’s Accord and I was amazed at how similar the Odyssey felt. Same handling, same acceleration and braking. I didn’t feel the Odyssey’s size **at all**. It turned beautifully, felt solid and well-made and had every possible feature I could want. Eric kept kicking me not to show the salesman how much I liked this car. It has storage and safety features that were amazing. The dealer demonstrated that if someone’s hand is in the way while the side doors are closing, it bounces back like in an elevator. The navigation system shows a rear camera when the car is in reverse. The instrument panel is beautiful. I’d love to find something critical to say about this car. I can’t.
We went inside and talked pricing. Eric played hardball (a bit of unintentional “good cop/bad cop” going on). With trade-in, we’re talking $30K which is at the very top of what we wanted to spend, but we can do it. I swear, if I had they money in my pocket I would have put it on the table.
Clearly, the bar was set very high but we wanted to test drive the other models we were interested in: The Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country and the Toyota Sienna. Next stop was a Dodge dealership. The salesman was uninterested in making this sale which didn’t help. The lot was so cramped that we had to negotiate around cars 3 levels in just to open one of the minivans. I looked inside and in comparison to the Odyssey which was only slightly more expensive once you added in the features I want, the Grand Caravan and Town & Country looked like a tin can. The seats looked small and felt cheap, the doors were light & flimsy, the dashboard unimpressive. We could have saved maybe $5,000 by going for one of these, but I wouldn’t have been happy with our decision. Didn’t bother with the test drive.
Next stop, Toyota. This time, the salesman tried harder. We explained what we were looking for and we took a Sienna out for a spin. The fit & finish of the Sienna was similar to the Odyssey, but Eric and I were not impressed with the test drive. Where the Odyssey felt like a car, the Sienna rode like a truck. The acceleration was so-so, the engine noisy. After returning to the dealership, we thanked the salesman and left. No point wasting anyone’s time. We’re clearly buying the Honda Odyssey.
Now we just have to wait to get our New Jersey licenses at the end of the week, and we need to decide **where** we’re buying it. I’d love to do business with my mother’s friend, but this dealership is 2 hours away. Maybe we can get similar pricing at a dealership a little closer to home.
**update:** [Eric’s take on the situation](http://www.9to5andotherwise.com/lifeoverip/archives/2005/06/honda_and_the_d.php). Isn’t it nice when you have nothing much to do other than sit on your laptop and blog while you’re waiting for a FedEx delivery of your job offer to arrive? We’re enjoying the downtime while it lasts. 🙂