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Too small. Too big. Just right. Looking at Mini-vans.

Monday, February 25, 2013 Leave a Comment

We are looking at mini-vans.

Yep, the time has come.

Two kids who tend to get sick on car trips, carpools, a dog... it's getting crowded in our wagon.

We figured we have a few options:

1. We could head to CarsDirect.com (or any number of sites like it), tell them what we're looking for, give away our emails, and be inundated by every dealership in a 100 mile radius with a deal. Gone are the days of negotiating a price: the lowest bid wins.

2. We could try to buy a used car on Craigs List (or, erm, wherever you buy used cars from). Or go to the good ol' Denver Post classifieds - which has transformed to ColoradoDrives.com.  However, we're just not that educated about buying used cars so that process is too intimidating.

3. Or we could go to an auto broker and let them do the negotiating for us.

We went to Dan at H.M. Brown and here's what we learned straight away.

1. The used car market is at a premium right now. Something to do with Hurricane Sandy, and there is just not enough supply to keep up with demand. Our 8 year old Subaru with low miles is worth a lot of cash right now.

2. Which brand is right for me? Instead of a bunch of trips to different dealerships, Dan gave us an unbiased opinion on which brands are best for our needs. Takes the emotion out of it. If you like the Toyota and the Honda, he can bring in both for you to try, side by side.

3. Leasing vs. buying. This is a third party who has no vested interest in your decision, but can help analyze what's best for your situation.
Pathfinder  SV
I'm still not sure about the whole mini-van, so I wanted to check out the Nissan Pathfinder. It's all new and fancy and redesigned, and guess what? I drove it and I didn't love it. It felt... claustrophobic. I know, that's not really a rational reason, and I couldn't explain it, but I didn't have to because Dan doesn't care one way or the other if I buy a Nissan.

Salsa Red Pearl
Next we drove the Toyota Sienna.

It was big. As in, L-A-R-G-HUGE.

I liked it. I couldn't bring myself to get too excited about it, though.

(I kept thinking of my friend with 4 kids who said she hated her mini-van when she test drove it, and hated it even more once she bought it -just for being a mini-van.)

The thing is, we have two kids.  I grew up with six kids: we NEEDED the van. Two kids does not exactly make a mini-van a necessity.
Shoreline Blue Pearl

So Dan brought out the Highlander.

It's the SUV for people who just aren't ready for the mini-van.

In fact, it IS the exact same car but with regular doors instead of fancy automatic opening and shutting sliding doors. Bucket seats, third row, all the same bells & whistles. I can fit the carpool. Grandma can come along comfortably. Hopefully no one will get carsick. It's still the car for the soccer mom - and hey, I'm proud to be one - but just felt more... manageable. Maneuverable. Parkable.

On the test drive, Dan said: You are smiling. In the mini-van, I thought my conversation was boring. But maybe it was the car.

He was right.

This is the first really enjoyable car-buying experience we've had! Thanks, Dan!

So how about you? Did you get the mini-van or not? What was your deciding factor?

(I have no idea how H.M. Brown makes their money, but however it works out in the end, they were worth every penny!)