Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Volkswagen Passat

Since Claire was born, our 2002 Honda Civic had been a little bit undersized for family travel given the giant rear-facing car seats that exist nowadays.  Last Fall, Claire was upgraded to the toddler-sized rear-facing car seat which meant it became impossible for the three us to ride together in the Civic, unless the front passenger likes having their knees in their face.  So I decided it was finally time to stop procrastinating and get a bigger car.

After doing quite a bit of reading and looking around, I decided to focus on family size sedans with decent gas mileage.  I was also interested in wagons, of which there are hardly any made anymore.  While looking at Jetta wagons at the Boise VW dealership, I stumbled upon a 2008 Passat wagon which seemed like exactly the type of car I was looking for.  Some subsequent research led me to the fact that 2010 was the last year these were made and that there was a low mileage certified used 2010 Passat wagon available at Sheppard Motors in Eugene, Oregon.  After some indecision and eventual phone negotiation, I got a good price and decided to go ahead and buy it.  On December 30th, I flew one-way to Eugene, rode a taxi to the dealership, bought the car, and drove it home.  Fortunately the roads were clear of snow and ice that day, although that didn't prevent a horrific bus crash from happening earlier in the day along I-84.

This "distance buying" approach at first seems crazy but in retrospect I think it's a great way to get exactly the car you want, particularly if you have very specific wants.  The negotiation was much more straightforward than the usual face-to-face shenanigans that occur at the dealership.  Of course the key is that the dealer's sales department is comfortable with Internet sales and can be straight with prospective buyers.  I had a great experience with this particular dealership and wouldn't hesitate to do this again in the future.

Of course, once I got home from Eugene we now had three cars to shuffle around.  I first fixed some bumper damage on the Civic and then listed the car on, eBay Motors, and craigslist.  I started the price pretty high and brought it down over time.  This wasn't the best strategy in retrospect because it just wasted time.  Once I got the price near the Kelley Blue Book value, the leads started pouring in.  On Super Bowl Sunday, a couple came to our house to look at the car.  After test driving it, they informed me they had cash on them and were ready to buy.  After writing up a bill of sale and signing the title over, they left us with a stack of benjamins and one less car.  The whole thing took less than an hour given the right buyer!

My biggest lesson from selling the Civic is that and eBay are a waste of time for selling a car.  craigslist generated all of my leads including the eventual buyer.  In my opinion, cars that are in good shape and priced right are pretty easy to sell on craigslist due to the volume of buyers that watch it. seems to cater more to dealerships and I found the experience of listing on their site unpleasant.  eBay has two types of listings and I chose the "free classified listing" which is somehow locally targeted.  I couldn't tell that the eBay listing generated any interest whatsoever.

I apologize for all of the blather.  In short, we now have a new car and so far we're both very happy with it.  The Passat is the best driving car I've ever owned and it's really is fun to take out somewhere.  The 12-way adjustable drivers seat is also the most comfortable car seat I've experienced.  Oh, and I can sit comfortably in front of the rear-facing car seat, with even more legroom than our Ford Escape!  Plus it's nice to have all of the modern conveniences in a car like bluetooth, built-in sat radio, an iPod dock, trip computer, etc.

Our 2001 Ford Escape is getting old too, so I'm already starting to think about its replacement.  I'm hoping to keep it at least a year longer, depending on its maintenance burden.  Maybe there will be a blog post about that one day!

Old Civic:

New Passat:

So old

Well my 34th birthday has come and gone.  This year my birthday landed on Presidents Day which again made me wish that holiday was taken more seriously.  Fortunately I did not work on my birthday (yay for that) but I was feeling pretty bad due to a cold and opted not to do a fun outdoor activity, despite the favorable weather.  Instead I slept in, went on a nose-blowy run, and spent the day with Katie and Claire.  We had a very nice dinner at Flatbread Community Oven and in lieu of a cake I also enjoyed some cupcakes from Sugar Rush Cupcakery (thank you Katie!) before opening presents.  Thank you everyone for the gifts!

It was a little disappointing to be ill on my birthday, but it could've been worse.  It finally broke on Wednesday and I'm happy to report that I now don't feel any older than I did a week ago!

Katie and Claire at birthday dinner: