Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hanlees Hilltop Volkswagen

Bought a Golf TDi at Hanlees last weekend and it was a surprisingly smooth and pleasant experience. I'd been in the market for a car for the last few months and taking my own sweet time. We'd narrowed it down to a Golf TDi or a Subaru Impreza. Different cars but both fuel efficient, reasonable compact and about the same price. 

Then my current car got undriveable so I rented a car and visited a Subaru dealership in Albany because we hadn't had a great experience with our local dealership in Oakland. They were fine but on the second test drive the car just didn't make me feel excited so I decided to retry the Golf. We'd previously been to the VW dealership in Oakland and worked with a nice salesman their but since Hanless was close by we decided to drop in and see what they had. Their website said they still had some 2013 Golfs but we didn't think they would. To our surprise they did exactly like the website said.

We worked with a sales guy Juan while we were there and he was helpful, not pushy, and answered all my questions. We spent about an hour doing two test drives and then decided to get the cute red TDi they had. It's not the perfect car for us - if it had leather, backup camera and a sunroof that would have been it but there is no such Golf available in the US. Yes the Impreza has all those but it lacks the interior refinement and very peepy and pleasing engine of the Golf. Really that TDi is a fun car to drive and the 6 speed manual is a pleasure to shift. Plus the dash, electronics and looks just made me happy, Impreza felt cheap and utilitarian. Believe me if the Impreza drove and felt like the Golf I would have bought it because AWD is a great bonus and the 36 mpg of the Impreza is excellent for an AWD vehicle.

Anyway, this is not a car review...

After deciding we then went through the "what price are you going to pay" process. We were helped by the fact that I brought with me three prices from TrueCar to them for comparison - even though they don't actually participate in the TrueCar system. There wasn't a huge amount of spread between those prices but we got Hanless to beat the lowest of them by $100 with only a couple of trips to the manager's office by Juan. I'll never know what we left on the table since there wasn't really a lot of back and forth but since we were paying a lot below MSRP and invoice I feel like we got a decent deal and with a few little extras (eg. an extra set of mats) thrown in. And you know when you're spending $20k+ on a car beating yourself up because the sales guy might have gone down another $100 or $200 is kind of silly. On the scale of what you will pay and put into the upkeep of the car over its life time it is peanuts - even the tax is 10x that!

After shaking on the price we had to sign a few documents I drove with Juan to get it filled with gas - they paid - and then waited about 30 minutes while they prepped the car and printed all the documents. Then it took another 30 minutes to go through the paper work with the financial guy. That was a smooth process and he answered all my questions and was friendly and helpful. There wasn't a single penny of extra charge beyond the agreed price. 

At one point he did try quite hard to sell me on the benefits of a LoJack system with the offer of a heavily discounted system and that I could save 15% on my car insurance. But I politely told him I would look into whether it made economic sense after talking to my insurance agent and maybe come back to them. 

Overall I found the experience of buying at Hanless just fine with nothing to quibble about and that puts them head an shoulders above most other dealerships I've worked with where you feel just kinda icky at the end of it. I've read some of the other reviews and didn't experience any of the negative aspects they talk about although of course I haven't had my car serviced there (and probably wont since it is a long way out of my way to get there). Yes they are in the process of taking over the building from the previous dealership that was there. The place isn't looking super fancy and definitely had some old school trappings from the 90s still around. But you know I'd rather they focus on being a good dealership than spending a bundle on a fancy interior and exterior. That stuff all costs $$$ and is something you'll end up paying for when it comes to naming your price.

Thanks Juan and the team for selling us our car, you made our day. Bottom line - would I buy at Hanless again? Yes, definitely. Would I recommend them to another VW buyer? Sure, I see no reason not to, they made us feel welcome and like a valued customer. What's not to like? " 
-  Simon W. 01/28/14

Simon, we are happy your experience went smoothly. We appreciate your time taken to leave a positive review and recommendation. We hope you continue to be satisfied with your new vehicle and welcome to the Hanlees Family.