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The first, and closest Honda dealer that I went to (repeatedly over a couple week period), had lack-a-daisical sales staff that were entirely indifferent to my desire to give them money for a new Honda Element. After much frustration, they offered me extreme bottom-end Kelly Blue book trade-in for my 2yr. old, very clean truck. and were going to have me wait 6 wks for a GG Ex 4WD E. to come in.

The second dealer, in a smaller town, had a loaded SOP Ex autotrans 4WD E. in stock with 9 miles on the OD for not terribly much more than the first place had wanted for a loaded 2WD manual shift E. in a color that I didn't want. When I saw the Sunset Orange version, I pretty much knew that I wanted it anyway, and this one was loaded with just almost the exact right features already. Then, they offered me $2K more for my trade-in Toyota Tacoma than the first dealer had been willing to go, and on top of that, didn't try to charge me for processing fees and other nonsense. I test drove the SOP auto EX on Sat. and picked it up today. I totally love it, so far!!

Kudos to Burlington Honda in Burlington, NC for having what I wanted in stock and giving me a good deal with no pressure and no hassle.

Big fat raspberries to Crown Honda in Chapel Hill, NC for having little in stock and giving me the runaround. !!!!

Another cool thing Burlington Honda did was that they got me a loan rate less than the already low rate that I could get through my credit union.

I don't have a lot of experience with buying new vehicles, since most of mine have been used, but my advice would be that if your dealer doesn't feel right *for any reason*, try another. Print out the Kelly Blue book ratings for both trade-in and retail for any trade-ins and print out what you can get your new Honda delivered to your door through one of the internet services like carsdirect, and take it all into the dealer with you. Show it to them and see if they'll do biz. If not, go elsewhere.
 

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it does pay to shop around. I live within 5 minutes of a Honda dealership who had a good salesman but the managers and other people where terrible. I drove 60+ miles and into another state to I-79 Honda Mazda in Mt. Morris PA. And wow it was a great experience. The service was second to none. I have never had a better experience at any dealership. I HIGHLY recommend them to anyone.
 

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I simply had to have a manual transmission in my Element. It is so rad sticking out of the dash and shifts very well.

The problem is that these things simply do not exist on car lots in our area (western NC). No car dealer within 50 miles could promise me anything for several more weeks. I got the impression Honda had made a few and stopped.

Finally, by looking at dealer inventories on the internet, I found one at Crown Honda in Chapel Hill and drove over there last night and bought it. Drives great. It irked me that the dealers don't really know (or will tell you) what the other dealers have. I could have had this car a couple of weeks earlier if I had thought to go directly to the internet instead of waiting for a couple of dealers to look around.

Caution: one dealership had a manual 5 speed listed on their inventory with a stock number and everything. Unfortunately, it had not been delviered, and would not be for a few weeks. I made the dealer in chapel Hill go out onto the lot and physically see the car I eventually bought before I drove 150 miles to get it.
 

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Seems like we have a few Tarheels here!

I went to Crxxn in Chapel Hill and got the same feeling as natural wonder. Plus they only had one GG in stock that they were lining people up to test drive. I wouldn't want to buy that one after all the people I saw who were waiting to drive it!

At least Lxxth Honda in Raleigh has held one expressly for test driving. But I won't buy from them because the last time I shopped there they "lost" the keys to my trade-in for an hour. I don't play games, so I jotted down my address and told them to mail it to me as I whipped out my other key and started to drive off. Funny how fast that key was found...

Cary Auto Mall has the most stock and they seem to get new stock every week. I haven't spoken to anyone there yet because I only get down there on Sundays when they are closed.

Bxxd Honda in Henderson was the nicest I've dealt with so far. The sales guy gave me the vehicle tour and seemed to know the 'E' very well. I didn't let on that I already knew everything about it. I told him I was looking for a particular model and color and he said as long as it has been built he could get it in within 3 days. I don't know how true that is, but I may put him to the test when I get ready to pony up.

As far as the internet sales go, I would always call to be sure that the vehicles they have listed in stock are actually there. A dealer in Rocky Mount has had the same SOP 2WD listed as the only Element that they have ever had in stock since sometime in January... just checked, they finally updated their inventory! But I have no idea how old this new info is either. It's never a bad idea to call.

On a sad note, I was going to be shopping for my 'E' in the May/June time frame. But it looks like I might end up getting a 2004 model. I can't see my situation becoming favorable until the November/December timeframe. But I might get to drive a 5 speed 4WD by then!

Dealership names diguised per Admins instructions not to name names- but if you live here you know who I'm talking about...
 

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One more note about checking inventory: Honda requires at least some dealers (maybe all, I don't know) to keep a demo on hand for 6 months, so though an E may show up on an inventory list, it may not be available for them to sell. Unless they fed me a line....
 

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[quote:6a7800a3e8="foxtail"]One more note about checking inventory: Honda requires at least some dealers (maybe all, I don't know) to keep a demo on hand for 6 months, so though an E may show up on an inventory list, it may not be available for them to sell. Unless they fed me a line....[/quote:6a7800a3e8]

This is true. We are given one "demo" Element to keep for six months. Can't sell it no matter what and we always have one to show. Always call ahead of time. Always get the dealers price with tax, title and license to make sure you're not getting hosed on the dealer fees.
 

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Greetings from Durham!

Alein, You're on the right track with Boyd. They gave me $800 off of a Silver 2K3 Pilot for my wife. Pretty unheard of. I had some trouble getting them to keep their word on some work after the sale, but they came through in the end, so we're cool now.

FYI: I have never had good experiences at Leith on Capital Blvd in the past, but the rep that I'm working with now is a joy. He's let me test drive both Elements (AT/MT) twice, has shown me the results of dealer inventory searches, has given me no pressure (I've walked away from test drives twice now without anyone running after me to try and close a deal), and has generally been very very pleasant to deal with. His name is Nehru Williams (pronounced NA-RU).

Good luck in your search. I wish that I was patient enough :( to wait for the 5SP/4WD -- it might be the best E yet. But by then, summer will be half over! :)

-d
 

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I wish that I was patient enough to wait for the 5SP/4WD -- it might be the best E yet
My patience isn't by choice! The economy is killing my ability to move funds into the right places so I can afford a new vehicle! Not to mention my wife has been out of work for awhile now. But it will happen eventually... just have to hang in there!

I actually want an automatic 4WD, but I would still like to test drive a manual to get a comparison. My Suzuki Sidekick 4WD automatic is woefully low on power, while my GMC V6 5 speed pickup is balls-to-the-wall in acceleration. So something in between would be good!
 
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