When an Auto Writer Buys a Car: Part IV

By David Thomas  on July 13, 2007

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Now that I knew my wife would be happy owning either a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Subaru Outback, it all came down to one last factor: price. I got back onto the good old internet and sent out quote requests for an all-wheel-drive Hyundai Limited (expecting to get a discount similar to the one I saw on the Mazda CX-7) and a 2007 Outback 2.5i. I had learned in my earlier visit to the Subaru dealer that our chances of finding an ’07 3.0 or XT Outback would be very slim, as even the new ’08s would have limited stock of them.

Again, the quotes came flooding in from local dealers. Most came via email, but we got a few phone calls. One Hyundai salesman called me while I was on a business trip in Colorado. He was shocked that, at 2 p.m., not only was I too busy working to talk to him about the email request I had asked for, but that I was out of town. I don’t know exactly why. He wouldn’t email me a quote, saying he was “too old” to email his info, so I said maybe I’d call him back when I got back to town. That didn’t happen.

Most of the Hyundai Limited quotes came in at about $27,000 or $28,000 with destination, nowhere near the discounts Mazda was offering. I could have moved down to the SE for about $26,000 with destination and still gotten the more powerful V-6 Hyundai offers. There were no rebates. Unlike the Hyundai, Subaru was in the middle of turning over its model year for the Outback from ’07 to ’08 with only minor changes for the 2008, including a slightly different grill and heated fabric seats standard.

There was a $1,000 rebate on the 2007s, and the first Subaru dealer who gave us the test drive quoted a price of $22,500 for a 2.5i including destination, all rebates and dealer cash. MSRP was $24,595 before a $625 destination charge. So basically I was getting the invoice price, or another $1,500 off in dealer cash or other markdowns on top of the published incentives. Two other Subaru dealers came in at almost identical prices, so I figured I’d just deal with the salesman I already liked. Now what to do…

Staring at about $4,000 and a car I preferred driving a bit more than the Hyundai — my wife could take a flip of the coin at this point with which one she got — I was pretty much sold on the Subaru. 

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What came next was a bit of a surprise: There were only a handful of 2007 Outback 2.5is within a few hundred miles of Chicago. Only one was in a color we liked, Willow Green. The dealer wanted a small deposit so he could drive to Wisconsin and pick up the car for us. Unfortunately, we were leaving for a week-long vacation and I couldn’t get a check to the dealer. When we got back it was gone.

This was the only time I felt pressured by the dealer. They could get a silver 2007 right away, or a black one with more equipment — like a trailer hitch — that we didn’t want. I was bummed. I thought I’d save $1,000, but I didn’t want to get stuck with a color I didn’t like or equipment that would eat away at the incentive. That’s when I said let’s go with a 2008.

I figured I’d at least get our first choice of color, which was black, better resale value and a few more standard features for the $1,000. The salesman said he’d give me the same price as the 2007 — without the extra $1,000 cash back, of course — so that was $23,500. MSRP was still $24,595 before the $645 destination charge. The salesman included destination in all his prices — Cars.com lists it separately — which I appreciated because there were fewer surprises when the final numbers got crunched.

Now he just had to track down a black Outback. Unlike the CR-Vs at the Honda dealership, there wasn’t an Outback in every shade and trim at hand. Luckily, we were in no rush because we had to wait until our Jeep’s lease ran out on July 7 before getting the new car. I also knew that the current Subaru incentives ran out on July 2, curiously close to the Fourth of July holiday, which is usually a prime time for incentive offers. I asked the sales guy if it was OK to wait to sign the final deal until after the Fourth because of possible new incentives, and he said sure. He called me when our car arrived and said there was a new $500 offer for July. Wouldn’t you know, this job pays off sometimes.

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The day finally arrived, and the paperwork went smoothly in about an hour. We financed with the automaker’s financing at 5.9% for five years. They matched the quote we got from our bank and what was published a few other places. Overall, I was pretty impressed with how smoothly things went. We didn’t meet any completely awful salesmen, and I only got a few unsolicited emails beyond the quotes I had requested. I think we got a good deal, too.

We put about 100 miles on the Outback in the first 24 hours visiting family, and they all remarked positively on it. The only complaint from my wife so far is that the radio doesn’t display the song title text from radio stations like her Jeep did. Trust me, that’s a minor one I can live with. We’ll see how it holds up over the long haul. Check out the photo gallery at the link below for more shots of our new Outback and some more comments.

2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i Photo Gallery

When an Auto Writer Buys a Car: Part I
When an Auto Writer Buys a Car: Part II
When an Auto Writer Buys a Car: Part III

Hyundai Subaru Car Buying


Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David