I have been ready to purchase a new car for several months now, because my 2013 Chrysler Town & Country has 225K+ miles on it. That is probably another blog post, but just know that I was ready to have a newer car that I could use when not driving back and forth to work in the van. I had been looking at the Forester last fall, however, I was concerned about the ability to tow my small utility trailer, and the overall comfort of the 2 kids that we will have left at home after my son goes off to college this fall. So, I decided on the Subaru Outback, and I thought I was going to wait until the 2020 came out, because of the shiny new LCD screen, and the fact that it was going to be the first year of the new redesign.
However, I started looking into the 2019’s just to see if I could get a “great deal” on the older model. I did some searching in the Subaru Outback Forums (https://www.subaruoutback.org) and learned that Subaru was offering some incentives to purchase their outgoing model year. I went to my local Subaru Dealer and after driving decided that yes, I could go with the 2019 if I could get a great deal. In the forums, I started reading that Grand Subaru (https://www.grandsubaru.com) offers the best pricing available. I submitted my request for a quote, and received an email from Nealy with the price if I wanted to pay cash or if I wanted to leverage Subaru’s incentive financing.
The price was extremely low, and by then I was emailing with a few different dealers in Michigan, so I asked if they could get close to the price. The answer was no we can’t match that price, and every dealer made it clear that the price was “too good to be true” and that other people have had issues like the car getting switched on them etc. I read a little more in the forums, and another person from Mid-Michigan talked about how he had a car delivered for $400 with no issues whatsoever. I didn’t feel comfortable with the delivery, so I decided to go pick the car up, so that I could see it first hand and then drive it home.
I worked with Nealy to have a couple dealer options installed, and to get a final price. I then secured financing from my local Credit Union, and Insurance Coverage from my agent. We setup a pick-up date, and I told her I would take the train on a Thursday Night, and then she could have a driver pick me up on Friday morning at the hotel. My Mom had never been on the train, so she wanted to go with Teresa and I to pick up the car…
We rode the train from Michigan to Union Station, and then took the Blue Line from Union Station to O’Hare Airport where we grabbed an Uber from O’Hare to our hotel. Side Note: Nealy had told me that people fly into O’Hare all the time, and they pick them up from the airport to take delivery. That may have been more convenient, but Mom was up for the adventure, and let’s be honest it makes the story more entertaining.
Friday Morning I was pretty nervous, because all these other dealers had said such definitive comments about this dealership near Chicago. Did I waste my time, or was there going to be some “hidden fee” that I would need to pay? The driver picked us up at around 10:50 AM and took us directly to the dealership. Nealy met us, and gave us a place to put our bags in her office. She then pulled the car around, so we could take it for a drive, before we continued with the deal. The car had 6 miles on it, and then we drove it and stopped at a store, so that I could go through my “checklist”. The vehicle was great, the extra options were installed, but the detailing wasn’t complete (which Nealy had indicated when we arrived earlier). We drove back to the dealership, and she had the car finished in the detail shop. I met with Nealy to discuss some extended warranties, and then it was time to go to the Business Manager’s Office. Everything had gone smoothly, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is where the “hassle” begins?
The Business Manager was great and we talked through the Extended Warranty Options that I declined. He validated that I had the check for the correct amount, and provided me a receipt. He told me how they collected the Sales Tax on behalf of Michigan, and then they would send me the paperwork for the Title. I suggested to him that they should reach out to the hotel I stayed at to setup a “special rate” for people doing car deliveries (I had used Marriott points), and he thought that was a great idea.
After meeting with the Business Manager we waited for the car to be pulled back around, and we were off. The delivery took two and a half hours, and that seemed reasonable to me, because we took it for a test drive, and then had to finish up the paperwork. We then proceeded to Portillo’s (https://www.portillos.com) for some lunch before heading home. The drive home went fine, and we have been enjoying the new car.
Here are my comments about the experience… It was the best car buying experience I have ever had. I didn’t need a bunch of information about the car, because I had researched it and test drove it prior to deciding to buy. I hate the haggling, because I just want to buy what I want at a good price without playing the games. The communication with Nealy was over email and texting which was much preferred over talking on the phone. Grand Subaru has figured out how to be two dealerships in one, and that was evident by the way their dealership is setup. They had “regular” salespeople with cubicles on the floor, and they had internet salespeople with offices in a separate area. It is clear to me that they have empowered their internet salespeople to act differently, because I never had the classic car buying statement, “let me go see what the boss can do on the numbers” where the salesperson tries to convince you that they are working on your behalf. The reality is that the price was several thousand dollars less than anybody else, because I did all the work. I researched what I wanted, and how I wanted it configured, and all they had to do was actually sell it to me. It was great and I would totally do it again. I just hope that more dealerships take note, because the world has changed, and kudos to Grand Subaru for taking a “disruptive” approach to selling cars.