Hi guys and gals,
I've been shopping for a new car casually for the better part of a year and more intently the last few months. I am the owner of a 2002 Sedona Red WRX with 180,000 miles on it. It has been an awesome car and treated me very well for the last 8 or so years.
Last year it started to feel it's age a bit and the problems started to rear their heads. Some of these were just normal wear and tear accumulating themselves and some were bigger. Had to replace my intake/exhaust valves, fix the radiator, oxygen sensor, etc etc. I got it all fixed last year but I knew that it was just going to be the beginning of the end unless I wanted to keep dropping serious money into repairs.
So I began to shop, I joined these forums and others and studied and studied at places like Edmunds.com and the like to learn about the car buying process, how to get a good deal and what to look for.
In May my car finally started to exhibit the issues I knew were coming. After bringing it to my friendly neighborhood shop I got a laundry list of fixes to do that included: replacing clutch and flywheel, fixing a coolant leak, replacing brakes, fixing a misfire issue, fixing/replacing piece of my catback which had developed a hole, fixing my A/C and smaller stuff like replacing tires and fixing alignment. All in all it would have been north of $5k to do all these repairs and with that being well above the KBB value I knew what it meant.
So, this summer has been all about finding the right car. I had been waiting to find out what they were going to do with the 2011 WRX but nothing had been announced yet and I decided to comparison shop. I test drove a few different cars including an 08 STi, 07 BMW 335i, 04 Cadillac CTS-V and a 2010 Mazdaspeed 3.
Being a New England'er the RWD of the BMW and Cadillac turned me off even though I found some good deals on them. The Cadillac was more of a spur of the moment thing after testing driving the BMW. The BMW was a really nice car but the future repair costs and general maintenance had me worried about the true cost to own it. The Cadillac was just too much like a Cadillac. That monster V8 sure sounded nice and I'm sure it is a great car but it didn't feel right.
I shopped a while for STi's an Evo's but kept running into the same problem with both of them. The only way I could afford either would be used and both are notorious for being cars that have been beaten on mercilessly. The insurance costs also made me a bit nervous and I just felt like I would be gambling getting one of them as a daily driver without being 100% confident in it's history. The closest I came was that 08 STi which was priced at about $26k with only 30k miles on it. I came really close to biting the bullet on that one but ran into a roadblock. It was being sold by an Audi dealer that did not want to let me bring the car to a Subaru dealer to get it checked out. I told them, this would be like me buying an S5 at a Subaru dealer used and trusting their mechanics to know it's 100% good inside and out. Not gonna happen. The crappy attitude of the salesman and the dealership just turned me off and I decided that I didn't feel like gambling with my hard earned money.
Couple weeks later they release the information about the 2011 WRX's and I was glad I waited. There were upgrades to address some of the things that were nagging me about the 2010. More aggressive styling, wider track and tires, slightly less body roll, and some stereo options standard. Very cool indeed Subaru but I worried that it would also come at the cost of a price increase.
I shopped Mazda for a while and I did really like the Speed3 but couldn't get away from one thing: torque steer. The styling also bothered me a little bit because I didn't particular love the smiling face. Oh, and one other thing, I read from multiple Mazda owners that the engine was already sitting close to it's limits with the power it was putting out and that blown engines from even moderate tunes were not uncommon.
So, I wanted a 2011 WRX. I always kind of knew I'd end up where I started but now I know why rather than just going on a hunch. The next step though was to see if it would fit my budget. I was willing to go up to 26k before taxes and all that but really wanted to try to do 25k or under if possible. So, when I heard pre-orders were starting to be taken I started to investigate pricing.
I found that the 4 door and the 5 door model now cost the same. At least for the stock model which is what I was interested in plus a few options. 5 door cost the same as last year and the 4 door price was increased to match it. I want a 5 door, so that is what I concentrated on. Here is what I found:
These prices reflect a $725 destination delivery fee.
This got me excited because I realized that it was within my price range and with some carefully planned emails and discussions, I could get close to $25 before options. By the way, I don't know how much prices vary from state to state but these are accurate for Connecticut at least.
So now it was time to hunt. I crafted an email template up that included information about myself, that I was looking for a 2011 WRX, what I wanted to put down, what my credit score was and what my trade in was. Most importantly however, I made it clear that I was shopping aggressively and was contacting dealerships through the state to get the most competitive quote I could. I wasn't interested in wheeling and dealing, I just wanted a good honest quote and then would run with it. Compare it against what other dealers gave me and find the lowest I could.
New Englander's love their Subies so it was no surprise that I found several very high volume dealerships in my state. High volume typically means that they have more leeway to cut deals so that they can keep their numbers high and looking good. Several of these sites had attractive deals on their website, not necessarily for the WRX but for other models.
So, I modified the template based on who I was sending it to and shot it out to about 5 dealerships to start with. Honestly, it didn't take me very long to find a couple that were willing to play ball. There is one important element at play and let me make it clear:
If you are thinking of getting a 2011, pre-order now instead of waiting for them to hit the lots.
I firmly believe and it was confirmed to me that the prices I was quoted were so low due to it being a pre-order. Anyway, to cut to the chase, here is the best of what I was offered so you can get an idea of what ballpark you might be playing in while pre-ordering.
I asked for a quote on a dark gray 2011 WRX with the short shifter option installed. The short shifter is a $355 MSRP option. So MSRP would be $26,575 for what I was asking for. Invoice would be $25,308.
I was offered it for $24,725. I could have done cartwheels if I was athletic enough to do them gracefully. That is almost $600 below invoice! So, I tacked a couple extra options on there including the SPT boost gauge and an aluminum/leather wrapped shift knob. This offer came to be $25093 ($27,090 list). I wanted 25k before options and I got 25k after options. NOT BAD!
Next week I go to the dealership to solidify my deal. I think it's a smoking' deal and I'm very happy with it. While shopping for a car I always wished I could find a thread that detailed someone's experiences first hand with the whole process so I figured I would write up mine for the next person shopping for a new vehicle.