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How To Buy A New Car – Part 1 of 3

buying a new car (out-of-state)

Well, after racking up over 136k miles on our beloved 1999 Honda CRV-EX, we decided it was time to buy a new vehicle. Being a “frugal” (alright, downright cheap) person I am, I looked around over 4 month period and finally settled on a 2010 Subaru Outback.

This article is mainly intended to describe in detail some of the advantages and disadvantages in purchasing a vehicle out-of-state.

Step 1 – Identify your needs

With over 2,000 cars and trucks to choose from, it can be downright frustrating and daunting to choose the “right” car. The first thing I did was to sit down with my wife and figure who will be the main driver, what we will be doing with the car (ferrying bunch of kids, transporting DIY project materials from Home Depot or Lowes, etc.)

Our needs were as follows:

  1. Safely carry 2 young children (= 5 star crash ratings with side air bags)
  2. Ample space to carry cargo (hey, a stroller, diaper bags, snack bags, a dog, etc. can fill up that space quickly!)
  3. Safe to drive in the snow (= all wheel drive)
  4. Heated seats and mirrors
  5. Excellent gas mileage (= 4 cylinder)
  6. Automatic transmission (we drove manual transmission cars but with kids taking up our attention during driving, we thought it might be safer to go with an automatic)
  7. Rated high in reliability (= high JD Power Associates and Consumer Reports ratings)
  8. Price under $25,000 USD.

Step 2 – Research vehicles

Based on our criteria, we headed over to our favorite website,, as well as Motor Trend, Car & Driver, etc. to check out what was available in the market. Also, if you want to find out what other people are paying for their cars, go to which is a site run by and select the vehicle you are interested in.

Our preliminary candidates were (in alphabetical order):

  1. Chevrolet Equinox (2010)
  2. GMC Terrain (2010)
  3. Honda CRV EX (2010)
  4. Subaru Forester (2010)
  5. Subaru Outback (2010)
  6. Toyota Rav4 (2010)

After test driving and speaking with bunch of sales people, we eliminated Honda, GMC and Toyota. We were on the fence with Subaru Forester but ultimately decided against it because we felt that it was too similar to our current Honda and we wanted something that was slightly larger.

We all know buying a car takes lots of research, patience and enormous ability to negotiate on your terms.

I’ve outlined my purchasing experience in hopes that you may benefit from them.f