The Details

Now, for the rest of the story…

Last Wednesday afternoon, we picked Henry up from soccer class and drove north. An hour and change later, we arrived at Sims Honda in beautiful Burlington, Washington. We met Don Grant, Sims’ Internet sales guy, and took delivery of a 2006 Honda Odyssey. Yup, a minivan.

Our Passat is only three years old, but after Charlie was born we gradually came to the conclusion that it’s too small. With Charlie in a big rear-facing car seat and Henry in a booster, we can’t really fit a third person in the back seat. This year, we’ve been carpooling to preschool, which has meant removing and re-installing Charlie’s car seat several times a week. Ugh. Of course, there’s also the minivan rule. You know, “when you have your second child, you must buy a minivan.” We really had no choice.

So last fall, I started looking into bigger cars, minivans, and even SUVs. It didn’t take long for me to narrow the field down to two: the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. Henry and I went and checked out each of them, and surveyed the other options again during the Seattle Car Show. The Sienna has a more luxurious and polished interior than the Odyssey, but also has one fatal flaw (a flaw it shares with a number of other contenders): I can’t sit in the second-row seats without hitting my head on the ceiling or reclining the seat way back. So Honda it was.

When we were down in California at Thanksgiving, Kathy and I left the kids with Grammy and Grampy and went to the local Honda dealer to test-drive an Odyssey. We were sold. The Ody was quiet and comfortable with great handling and power to spare. As an aside, our rental car down there was a Kia Sedona, which provided an interesting comparison. It was a surprisingly nice van. The interior seemed a little cheap and the engine was pretty unrefined and truck-like, but the vehicle struck us as well designed and well built. I understand the new 2006 will be even better. Kia has come a long way.

Anyway, we decided to buy sometime in the second half of January. I read up on the Odyssey on the forums and learned which Northwest dealers to avoid. I also learned that unfortunately the Seattle area is not a good place to buy a Honda on the cheap. Others had ventured to Yakima or even Spokane to save some money. I wasn’t prepared to do that, but when I started contacting dealers through the Honda web site, I didn’t limit myself to local ones. Right off the bat, I got the best quotes from dealers to the south (South Tacoma Honda) and north (Lynnwood Honda and Sims Honda). Sims was by far the best, though, and they even had the color we wanted in stock. A couple of the dealers nearby never did quote a price for me and one didn’t reply at all until the day after we bought our van.

We had a great experience at Sims. We agreed on a price by phone and email. When we arrived, the van was ready and waiting for us in their heated and well-lit delivery room (a table along the back wall held an impressive arrangement of fresh flowers). Our salesman reviewed the van’s features with us and made sure everything was in order, before we took a short test drive. Back at the dealer, he reviewed a few things in the owners manual before completing his part of the paperwork and passing us off to the finance guy. All the usual dealer add-ons were mentioned, but with no pressure. We were done and out the door in no time.

What about the van? We bought the top-of-the-line Touring model, with the Navigation system and Rear Entertainment System. It’s got dual power side doors and a power tailgate, parking sensors, backup camera, leather seats, and Michelin PAX run-flat tires. It has a three-zone climate control system (driver, passenger, and rear). It also has an engine that automatically deactivates three of the six cylinders when they’re not needed in order to save fuel. Pretty cool. It’s by far the best equipped car we’ve ever owned. Henry loves it (especially the Rear Entertainment System) and so does Charlie… and so do I.