So tonight I drove a very nicely equipped 2005 Mazda 3. I talked the dealer down to $17,200. I really liked the car, even though it has some things I don’t necessarily want (automatic transmission and nav system).
I’ve been looking at numbers. The same dealer will give me the same car except brand new, for about $20,500. That’s a $3,300 difference. Which is a lot, but it’s not as big a difference as I thought there might be.
If I go with the brand new one, here’s what I get for my three grand that I wouldn’t get otherwise:
- A much better sound system (this is big)
- Heated seats (I’ve gotten used to having this in my wagon)
- Automatic climate control
- Automatic lights
- Automatic rain-sensing wipers
- A built-in MP3 player jack
- Electronic stability control
- [EDIT] The possibility of getting it in black.
All of the car buying wisdom I’ve ever heard says that buying brand new is for fools with money to burn.
On the other hand, some of that stuff would be kinda nice. The question is, is it worth the extra ~$70 a month?
(Does anyone know anything about aftermarket car stereo equipment? I think it might be difficult to upgrade the stereo system in this car because the stereo is totally integrated with the console, there’s no replaceable stereo component the way there is on other cars. But I don’t really know much about the subject.)
ADDENDUM: My decision is complicated by the fact that I’m making an effort lately not to automatically do the “wise” thing, and to do the “fun” thing instead now and then. The sensible answer is obvious: pinch pennies! But if I really wanted to pinch pennies there are much cheaper cars and/or trim levels I could be looking at. So I’m already allowing the desire for Nice Things to influence my decision. The question is, where to draw the line?
ADDENDUM 2: I guess one way to look at it is: assuming a $70 difference in monthly payments, what other nice things could I get if I went the cheaper route? That’s a new outfit, or a stack of books, every month. An X-Box in two months. Stretch it out longer and it becomes an electric guitar, or a new PC. Used starts to look better and better.