Sunday, August 09, 2009

New Insight

And again, it's been two weeks. I have a valid (at least I think it's valid) excuse this time, and I'm going to write about it today.

Since my back problems started up, I've been having issues getting in and out of the Cobalt Bomber. It's an awesome car, but it's just too low to the ground for me. I started doing research into the existing hybrid cars on the market, and I kept coming back to the 2010 Honda Insight. Even with the mid-range package (the EX model), it's cheaper than the Toyota Prius. But price wasn't my only concern. My major concern was comfort. I'd already done all my research online, so it was time to visit one in person.

I called Koon's Honda in Manassas VA (close by the house) and set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon, August 1st, but we didn't take the Cobalt Bomber, we took my wife's minivan. When I called, I made sure they'd have one I could at least sit in. The reason I checked is because when I was shopping for the Cobalt Bomber, we didn't even get to test drive the standard transmission version. We were sitting in the car and a sales rep sold it literally out from under us. They walked up and said "Please get out of that car. We just sold it". We ended up buying it in Maine at Blouin's Honda in Augusta. We saved money, and got a 3 day vacation out of the deal.

But back to recent times. My appointment with Josh Bond (I bet he hated being called James as a kid) went well. Josh seemed impressed with our knowledge of the car and had limited knowledge of the older Insights, but that's OK because they weren't selling them anymore. The first test was sitting in one. I was impressed. The seats were very comfortable, and the driver's seat was adjustable in all three dimensions. My wife and I also tried the back seats and found them comfortable, too. During the fall and winter, my mother-in-law and her sister live with us, and I wasn't about to get a car that wasn't comfortable for them, so we called them up and asked them to go to a Honda dealer where they are in Maine and try out the seats for them. A few days later we got a call back saying not only are they comfortable, but my mother-in-law's sister would actually consider buying one for herself!

So, the decision was made; we were going to buy the 2010 Insight. Now we needed to figure out where and how.

We do most of our banking with USAA, as well as our insurance. We went to the USAA website, logged in, and noticed they have a car buying program through We went to the special website for the program, put in our zip code, selected the make, model, color and special features, and we got an email from for three dealers in our "area" that participated in their program, and pricing for that specific car. Then, the dealers contacted me either by email or by phone to discuss my particular needs. The only problem was that Koon's Honda doesn't participate in that program. I was disappointed, but I had a plan. I spoke with a representative at Hendrick Honda in Woodbridge VA and got what they called the "out the door" price, to include tax, tags, and other fees. Now that I had their bottom line, I could move forward with my plan.

We also needed financing, so we noticed that we were "pre-approved" for a new car loan through USAA, so we put in the bottom line number we got, rounding up, of course, and I clicked the "Apply" button. My wife was watching over my shoulder. "So when do we hear back?" she said. "That's it. It's done. We're already approved." It was that easy. Too easy. (ominous background music to show foreshadowing).

The following Saturday, August 8th, we got a 1:00PM appointment with Josh to discuss the deal. We left the house a little early so we could grab a quick lunch at McDonalds, across the street from the car dealer (this is an important point. We ate lunch literally 100 yards from where we would buy the car). We had cleaned and vacuumed the Cobalt Bomber that morning, so she was looking good for her appraisal. As I pulled into the parking space at McDonalds, I heard a sickening sound, the sound of fiberglass rubbing on concrete. The guy in the car next to us looked at us and pointed down and forward at the front of the car. I slowly backed the Cobalt Bomber away from the front of the parking space, turned her off and got out. The bumper cover and air dam on the front of the car had caught on the concrete edge of the parking lot. When I backed up, the piece, in its entirety, broke free of its retaining clips and fell to the ground, with only one of the about eight clips still holding on. My heart sunk. We couldn't believe it. We had just cleaned the car, so there were no tools, no supplies, nothing to help fix the problem. We stood and stared at the bumper and air dam, dumbfounded. We're right across the street from the dealer! What do we do now? How do we hold the bumper on the car long enough to get it over there so we can trade it in? It's like she KNEW we were taking her for our last ride with her, and she didn't want to leave.

I remembered the Valet key. Any time I took the Cobalt Bomber in for work, I would leave the valet key, and they would put the tag for the service on the key. When it was done, I'd remove the tag, but leave that little metal ring on the key. Now I know why I did that. I pulled out the valet key and removed four of the little rings. I put one ring in one of the holes for the retaining clips. I put another in the corresponding hole in the bumper cover. I used the four rings together to tie the bumper cover back into the car. It wasn't a permanent solution by any means, but it would hold it to cross the street.

After lunch, we drove across to Koon's Honda. We met up with Josh and asked what he could do to help us get into an Insight that day. He had our car appraised, and came back with numbers for us, but they were much higher than what we were quoted from Hendrick Honda. We jockeyed for position, playing the pricing game that new car dealers play, and then I took out my ace in the hole; my quote from Hendrick. Josh took it back to his manager, and came back with a comparable offer. They would have to drive one of their Insights to Leesburg and trade for the "Atomic Blue Metallic" color that I wanted. While Josh was getting the car in Leesburg, we talked to the Customer Care representative and a Finance representative. We added on the Honda extended warrantee and got a better financing deal through Koon's network of lenders (ultimately PNC bank). I took six hours, but we left that night with a new car that I could drive and get in and out of!

I have nothing but good things to say about Koon's Honda and Josh Bond, our sales representative. They all worked very hard to make sure we were happy with our new car and that the deal was the best we could do. I've been having service done at Koon's Honda since we moved into this new house three years ago, and I'll continue to work with Koon's Honda. They're all good people there, and they work to ensure the customer is happy.

My new Insight doesn't have a name yet, but I'm working on it. Here's a picture of it before we left Koon's Honda last Saturday. So far, I've driven it to work and to church, and I'm averaging about 45 miles to the gallon. Not the 60 I was getting, but for a four door car, it's great!


Phil Stratton said...

Just a quick update. I drove in to work this morning, and with light traffic, I got 55MPG! Awesome car!

Anonymous said...

Hey Phil. I don't know if you saw my last comment, but I'm wondering if you are the Phil I used to know when we went to the University of Maine at Orono back in the 80's. If I remember right he was in the Air Force ROTC program. He was in a christian campus singing group called His Kids. His wife's name is Marie. I'm just wondering if that's you.

Phil Stratton said...

Yes, I am he. We are they. That's us! You are correct except for the AF ROTC thing. But that's ok, cause I did go AF eventually!

I don't remember too many Anonymous people at Orono, though! LOL.

Anonymous said...

This is Mark & Martine St. Thomas. We live nearby in Martinsburg WV. We'd love to get together with you to remember the good ole times. My email is For some reason I cannot sign in to get your email. Have you been in contact with any other Kis Kids members? I guess any further contact can be done via email.

Shawn said...

Hey Phil,
Congrats on the new wheels, looks sharp and has fantastic gas milage! I have been watching this one since I first saw the ads early last year. I have an 08 Civic Coupe and I love it, though it only gets around 35mpg tops (not a hybrid, but my next prob will be). Gotta love Honda.