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Santa Fe
Limited - Deleted Sat Nav
It was "Cash for Clunkers" and we were still driving the 1993 Aerostar with over 300,000 miles. It had been hit so many times that I had a branded title. NADA said it might be worth $200 as a trade in. They were just being nice. The deadline was winding down an the temptation to buy a new car was just too much. I went to Edmunds and played through their "Pick the right car for you." I was shocked when it told me I was Hyundai Santa Fe material. Not insulted, but I just hadn't thought about that option. I had to pull the boat so I knew I needed some torque and enough mass that the boat didn't pull me, but it just hadn't been on the menu. I'd thought about Rav 4, CRVs, Pilots, Explorers, CX-7s, etc., but unless I radically changed my input to get, say a Miata, it kept coming up Santa Fe.
We went out and drove cars all day. The Rav 4 felt and sounded like a tin can, and it was smaller on the inside than it was on the outside. The CRVs 4 cylinder wasn't going to pull the boat out of the lake and up the canyon wall. The Mazda was a blast Zoom! Zoom!, but cramped and the 4 cyl turbo had speed, but limited torque (and the salesman kept telling my wife to slow down). Then we drove the Santa Fe and were impressed. It was much nicer than the Hyundais I had seen in the early 2Ks. Respectable power, good feel and because I needed towing and the only ones already hitched were Limiteds I would have to put up with the Infinity Sound System, the leather, the butt warmers, etc, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love luxuries, but I don't like to pay for things that break. The only disappointment was gas mileage, which meant that I only got $3,500 for the Aerostar as the difference was too small (if they had used the true gas mileage of the Aerostar I'm sure I would have done better, but I was just happy nobody had mentioned "branded title" in the legislation. Then there was $1000 incentive rebate, the $400 college grad rebate, the customer loyalty rebate (huh, I never owned a Hyundai before but I had driven a friends Sonata to the dealer for the "negotiations" and the "dealer under the table cash" that I thought should go against the price of the car instead of into the dealer's pocket. There was just no way any other option was going to come close the price I was working on here. I was also reassured by the 6 year/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty and the 10/year 100,000 drive train. Their secret weapon was they sent their Hispanic salesperson who spoke limited English. Her method was to pretend not to understand the buyer's jabs and keep showing the offer the sales manager had put together. My secret weapon is that my wife is Cuban, aka "Jews of Caribbean" (please don't be offended, I think it's a compliment). Finally they came back with paperwork close to what we wanted, but I thought it would be neat if we wiped another $350 off the price to get a nice round number. They had already run the loan for the full sales price, too, but I had financing at 1%. They said, "no" to the $350. I counted out 120 $100 bills, put them on the desk and said to my wife, "Let's go get ice cream while they reconsider this." We took the salesperson with us. When I got back to the dealer I had a $17,000 loan paying me 1% (I kid you not!) over 6 years. We signed the papers and bid a tearful farewell to our Aerostar that had raised 4 children with all the vomit, snot and french fries that raising kids entails.
The next day we drove to Disneyland from Bend, Oregon and really enjoyed the Infinity Sound System, leather seats and the comfort and quiet that were remarkably missing in our Aerostar days.
As I check prices and values, it seems we made a much better decision than we thought we were making. It's held its value well and still has only 70,000 miles after 7 years, kind of a record for us!
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe (Silver)


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