Thursday, February 14, 2008

Europe '08, Revised

Once again, experience proves that a little research goes a long way!

Tuesday, John and I did not have classes to teach. It was Assessment Day (cue the choir) at JMU, the day when we see what our students have learned...or the day we see just how much they detest sitting in class taking long multiple choice tests when some of their friends have the day off...

And it was also Primary Day in Virginia. We dropped the girls off at school, voted (oh yeah!) and headed down I-81 to I-64 to Volvo of Charlottesville to check out the vehicles and the whole Overseas Delivery Program.

Pretty quickly, we settled on the Volvo XC90 because it seats 7 passengers. Even though the girls are just starting school, I've already seen the interdependence of the parent network around here. If you want people to be able to give your kids rides to stuff, you need to be able to reciprocate. It's only fair. So to get a vehicle that pretty much guarantees we could never bring a friend each for JieJie and MeiMei to the fair, the park, the mountains, or even just home from school...short-sighted to say the least.
We test-drove the xc90 and both found it comfortable, easy to handle (the thing has a gyroscope in the middle to keep track of "yaw"!) and with lots of extra little goo-gahs that make it feel extra luxurious. Knowing how much we'd save off the retail made it even more fun to drive.
We got some information about the Overseas Delivery Program. Basically you tell them when you want to show up in Sweden and what you want and they build it for you.
Just for fun, when I got home I made two different cost lists. One was the price of a new xc90 minus the OSD program discount and the cost of airfare to Europe. The other was the price of a Certified Pre-Owned 2007 xc90 and paying our own way to Europe.
Guess what? We come out better the second way!!! Especially when you take cash flow into consideration. A lower monthly payment is paramount. Once the euphoria from the trip wears off, there's that payment every month for five any trip worth eating ramen noodles half the month for? If we didn't have kids, maybe, but let's get real.
A brand-new xc90 is in the mid-40K range...OUCH. But a certified pre-owned '07 with 15,000 miles on it can go for just under $35K, and get this: the warranty is actually longer than it would be on a new car (6/100,000 vs. 4/50,000). Go figure! AND the used ones tend to be program cars that have some nice packages on them, but we wouldn't have to pay extra for those. The price is the price.
John says if the right one comes along, we could be driving a new-to-us xc90 in a matter of weeks, or even days. I'll let you know what happens, but FINALLY we have found a car that we both like, that has the mixture of sporty, practical, roomy, safe, and well-appointed that we were hoping to find. The gas mileage is not great (17/22), I have to say, but we really don't drive all that much, so it's ok. This car is the long trip-mobile, and it will be plenty comfortable. And if we can scratch together a decent downpayment, we can swing it as far as monthly payments go.
Next job...finding cheap fares to Europe. Good luck on that one, eh? If you see any deals from Dulles to Brussels or Amsterdam, lemme know.

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