We Bought A Car!

We Bought A Car!

We Bought A Car!

Well, technically we're leasing the car but you get the idea 😂. I wanted to share our car buying/leasing process, the cars we were looking at, and why we went with the 2021 Kia Telluride.

Boy, home buying is getting expensive lol. Coming from the city we really didn't have much that we needed for suburban life, but slowly and surely we are checking things off our list. And this past weekend we finally got a car! For the past few weeks (and years in general) we were always borrowing Andrew's mom's car when we needed it. They used to pick us up in the city for the weekend and we could run errands, look at houses, go grocery shopping ... the usual.

For our move and the first week we were in the house, we had his mom's car (what a gem she is!). But we knew it wasn't a long term solution so we started to look at cars about a month before we moved. We both  have the same dream car (Tesla), but knew it wasn't really a smart financial decision for us at the moment. We were pretty much open to anything for this first car.

If there's one thing you should know about us, it's that we love Consumer Reports. 

Andrew's dad has a membership to their service that we use and we search for everything on there. It really is such a wealth of unbiased knowledge -- no ads, no promotions, just real and honest reviews from people. And so when we were looking for cars, we started there.

We were really up for anything: buying a used car, leasing, buying new -- whatever worked best for us and fell into line with what we wanted. My only real requirements were that it had leather seats, AWD, and was a SUV. Andrew's requirements were that I was happy (aww) and "I guess safety?" -- when asked. 

Like I said, we were really up for whatever. 

We decided to just start with one car because we honestly don't need two right now. Maybe down the road when his office opens back up or when we have kids, but for now, I doubt we'll be driving much over the next couple of months as things start to shut down again. 

I had a few cars in mind to look at on Consumer Reports: the Ford Explorer (what I had in high school and college), the Toyota Highlander (I saw the new 2021 in Nantucket and loved how it looked), the Jeep Grand Cherokee (my sister and so many friends have this and love it), and the Volvo XC90 (the official 
mom car of Fairfield County).

Again, we kept our search pretty open so we were looking at all cars under the mid-size, large, entry-level, and luxury SUVs, which is  83 cars in total. Consumer Reports breaks down and ranks each by category and then gives every car an overall score based on reliability, owner satisfaction, road-test score, and a ton more. It's really in-depth and I recommend looking into it if you haven't already. 

So of the cars mentioned above, these were the overall scores: 

1. Ford Explorer -- 42
2. Toyota Highlander -- 84
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee -- 67
4. Volvo XC90 -- 62
(and the Tesla X was a 65!)

The scores were kind of shocking (and of course, take them for what you will, they are not the end all be all for cars), but what was even more shocking was that there was only one car that hit a 90 or above: the Kia Telluride, with a score of 97(!!!!) the next best score being 86. 

I had never heard of this car before so I was skeptical. The only thing I really knew about Kia was that I didn't like their commercials (the hamsters?? wtf!) and therefore didn't like them. I was very "judge a book by its cover" with Kia as a brand and dismissed it almost immediately. I am very brand loyal and go based on IRL recommendations (almost to a fault lol) and I didn't know anyone who has a Kia or loves theirs so it was a hard no for me.

At this stage in the car buying process, we were researching cars, reviews, and watching a ton of videos about them. We really wanted to keep our time at the dealership to a minimum so we did most of the shopping online with the goal to test drive and see 1-2 cars. 

I forget where we were going, but about a week later Andrew and I were walking into midtown and -- with car buying on the brain, looking out for all the cars around me -- we spotted this really good looking car in a parking lot and realized it was the Kia Telluride. I was pretty taken back by it honestly. It was a good looking car. So my heart was telling me no but my eyes were telling me yes.

After about another week of researching, I kept seeing the Telluride pop up on the top of every single list and finally decided to give in. 

I binged all the videos I could find and everyone said the same thing: the car is top to bottom amazing. It has great safety features, has a stellar warranty and it's super spacious. The only drawback people would share? The fact that it's a Kia. They're really not known for their footprint in the SUV space but I have a feeling that is all about to change.

When it finally came time to test drive and see the cars in real life, we ended up picking out the Telluride and the Highlander. Both had great reviews, were within our budget, are safe, and had leather seats. And weirdly, both had a third row. Do I need a third row? Absolutely not, but it just so happened that both the cars we were looking at had them so we said why not lol.

My reason for wanting an SUV is that I've always had an SUV and like sitting up high and having ample trunk space. You know how some families are *insert car brand here* families? My family is just an SUV family. I also knew that we'd be furnishing the house, moving things in and out, making post office runs, and eventually having my family out to visit, so I wanted the space in the car to not be something I worry about. 

Both of the test drives went great and we were able to narrow down pricing options for leasing or buying on the models we wanted (the model S Telluride and the Hybrid XLE Highlander). 

Comparing the two, we had these thoughts:

-They drove about the same. Felt like an SUV, was quiet on the highway, the Telluride had a bit more of a truck feel/sound to the engine. 
-The Telluride was quieter in the cabin
-All Telluride options had leather seats and AWD where you had to go up in model in the Highlander
-We liked the hybrid option for the Highlander
-Both were good looking cars, I slightly preferred the look of the 2021 highlander, Andrew liked the Telluride
-Both had three rows but the Highlander was MUCH smaller in terms of space in the second row, third row (by a lot) and trunk area.
-The Telluride had an amazing built-in warranty 10-year/100,000 mile power train and a 5-year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty (Toyota was an additional cost).
-The Telluride was cheaper in terms of buying or leasing, but Toyota had options for used cars
-I think the Highlander only had the option for bucket seats in the second row which we didn't mind but also didn't care for

With all of this, we were leaning toward the Telluride for our car, but if you know anything about the Tellurides, they are nearly impossible to come by! Since they are rated and reviewed so highly, they are in serious demand and any dealer that can keep them in stock, are selling them over sticker price and not budging. 

So we were in a bit of a dilemma. We really wanted this car and all of our negotiations were coming up short. We basically talked to every Kia dealer in NJ, NY and CT to try and find a reasonable deal on the car. We even looked into used 2020s and they were also over sticker price (which was just crazy) so we found ourselves in a bit of a jam. 

The issue is that COVID really messed with production of the 2021s. 

They are starting to roll in, but because demand is so high, so is the price. We negotiated back and forth with about seven dealers (all via email) for close to a month with little to no luck.

We decided to wait until December to see if they were running any special deals for the holidays hoping something would work for us. Andrew was checking back every day (bless him) and on December 2, a lease deal popped up and we took it. It was a model down, but honestly we didn't care too much (again, we're pretty easy with our car wants and needs). Andrew found a dealer on dealerrater.com and we were able to negotiate better terms and it was too good to pass up!

We've had it for a few days now, but I seriously LOVE it and cannot recommend it enough. It drives so well, has a ton of space and even the base model comes with everything we could want and need. It's a beautiful car and I was so pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoy it. We were showing it to his parents and his 6'1" dad fits in the third row -- knees nor head touching! The room in the car is incredible and I feel like they really did put a lot of time and thought into the design of the car. 

You can see all the features here on their website (they'll do a much better job explaining it lol) and I'll be showing the car in video form today on stories so be sure to check it out before it expires.

I never envisioned leasing a car but I think it actually works out really well for us during this time. Since we don't really know what we want or need, it'll be nice to play around with this car for the next few years and then see where we go from there. 

I like that there is no real long term commitment, that we are fully covered for the term of our lease and that the payments in total will always be the same (no random/extra charges popping up here or there). We were also able to come in under budget which has also helped with peace of mind. There are so many things that pop up in terms of costs when buying a house -- which we knew but we didn't really know. Especially now that we're couch shopping -- that may be more expensive than our down payment! Btw when did couches get to be so much money?!

I also told you guys to send in your questions about the car and our shopping experience that I wanted to answer if not already answered above!

What are your do's and don'ts for shopping?

DO a lot of research, ask around to friends and family, watch a lot of videos, know what other deals people got online, narrow down options to a few before going into the dealer. DON'T shop at only one dealer, accept your first quote, or spend outside your budget.

Did you go on a waitlist to buy?

No, thankfully! The Kia in Yonkers mentioned we might have to wait to get in the one we wanted but we found a Kia in CT that had the black on black we were looking for. 

How did you buy during a pandemic?

We only went into a dealer twice. Once to test drive and the other to pick up. Most dealers understand that coming in isn't really an option right now so they are more willing to negotiate over phone and email. The ones that didn't simply lost our business. We really cast a wide net on dealers so we were able to have options.

What would you compare it to?

The Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade, VW Atlas, Subaru Ascent, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. 

Were you able to haggle?

Only a little when it came to taxes/fees and the downpayment. It was very hard to negotiate with this car because of the demand but we got one quote from a dealer and presented it to another and they were able to beat it by a small fraction so we said yes!

Was it stressful buying a house and car so close together? How did you budget?

YES! I feel like we are spending money like crazy and we're both hyper sensitive to it but this was what needed to be done. We needed a car. So budgeted by figuring out the max payment we was each month and finding cars within that price range. We also didn't need or want to spend a ton of money on a "luxury" car. We're really not that into fancy cars (that comes with a fancy price tag!), especially right now in our lives. 

Was winter driving considered?

Yes! That is one of the reasons we wanted AWD. It has a couple really great snow features on the car that we're really impressed by, so excited to see how it handles in the snow.

Is this your mom car?

Not yet but it will be! We did keep in mind that with whatever car we got, we would hopefully would have a kid in it by the end of the term. So even if we have twins, we will be all good to go without needing something different. But also, speaking of moms, my sister has two kids and is looking to get a new car and I found out after we bought ours that she's also looking at the Telluride! What a small world. I think the word is out on how great this car is. Bravo to Kia!

Did you get a sunroof?

No, we didn't! Definitely not on our wish list. I have to say I don't know anyone who actually enjoys or uses their sunroof. I feel like it was once such a cool idea but my parents and sister have one and the shade is always closed.

Did you look at the Palisade?

We did for a brief moment. When I was watching reviews of the Telluride, I saw a lot of videos comparing it to the Palisade since (I didn't know this until recently!) Hyundai actually owns Kia. So they are super similar cars. It was in the back of my mind and we looked into pricing when the Kia wasn't looking to sure but it came out to more than the Highlander, which would have been our second choice, so we didn't look into it past that.

WHEW! This was a long one so if you're still here, thanks for reading along. I hope that this post was somewhat helpful and informative and not just me babbling on lol. I also hope you look into the Telluride if you're in the market! Don't judge a book by it's cover :)

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