Highlander Car Buying – Part 2

In the first part, I told you how we outgrew the Accord, the vehicles we were looking at to replace it with, and how we picked the Highlander over many other mid-sized SUVs available in the market today. In this post we will go over the most dreaded part of the car buying process, going to the dealership.

Inconsistent Prices

My wife stayed at home while her mother and I drove to the dealership. We used the TrueCar service to ensure we got the exact vehicle and specifications we need. This gave us the flexibility to know exactly how much we will pay when we got to the dealership. We met the salesman, who whisked us to the back to give a quick look-over of the car. It was exactly what I wanted!

So pretty

We took a test drive and it was wonderful. Once we got back to the dealer we sat down to talk numbers. For some reason, the prices from the TrueCar paperwork and the actual vehicle cost were not adding up.

Added ‘Features’

I reviewed the spec sheet for the TrueCar order and the Highlander, and some items had been added which I had not requested. The dealership had added VIN window etching, clear coat, door protectors, and the towing system I wanted had been upgraded to a more expensive one. I mentioned this to the salesman, and he said he would be right back. After about an hour of looking over the paperwork waiting, a new salesman came over. I would classify this guy as ‘The Closer’ of the dealership. We argued multiple times about why these features were added, and what we could do about it. It was apparently my fault for not telling them correct. Each time he would leave for about an hour to talk to the ‘manager’, leaving us sitting and waiting. Initially he said he was able to knock $700 off the price he ‘found’ in the advertising budget. I finally got an inch, so I conceded.


At this point we had been in the dealership for about 6 hours, much longer than we had planned. They were offering much less as a trade-in for the Honda than CarMax. I wasn’t worried since I had an active offer that I was comfortable with. I knew that the financing desk is where they push hard to up-sell additional services, so I was ready. Luckily, the finance employee did not push too hard. I think he saw us there for so long and took pity. He showed me what they offered, asked if I wanted it, and that was that. I declined all the services and was just ready to get home. After signing the paperwork, my mother-in-law and I had to find the nearest CarMax to drop of the Honda. Car buying complete!


As I knew that I was trading in the car that day, I had not filled up the fuel, and the light was on. My mother-in-law drove the Honda, and I the Highlander. She worried that we would run out of gas, but we got to CarMax with no issues. They checked the offer, called the bank, I handed them the keys and a check, and we were off. All in all, it took about an hour. Everything was looking good as we traveled into the sunset back home on our brand-new Highlander.