I’ve been a little out of sorts lately. Okay, okay, I’ve been obsessive. We finally decided that it is time to buy a new vehicle for me. This means hours upon hours of Google, charts, spreadsheets, and a subscription to Consumer Reports. After four years of living with the rebound car, the Envoy, a.k.a. The Cherry Bomb, we are finally moving on and getting back to where I want to be…

In a Sienna.


It all officially kicked off the day that Mom and I took off to see The Help and do a little car shopping for both of us two weeks ago. We started our day at a local dealership where I thought I might find a minivan or SUV and Mom would find a crossover. Since I can’t mention the dealership or the salesman by name for fear of incriminating the innocent, let’s just say that I went to “Wheels R Us” and talked to “Mr. B.”

Mr. B. met us with a smile and asked what we were interested in looking at. I told him I wanted to see minivans and SUVs.

“We don’t have minivans. Just SUV’s. What minivan were you interested in?”

My “I-have-no-bias-toward-any-particular-car” jig was up. I began to tell him all about the Sienna I had previously owned and loved before it was so wrongly rear-ended and totaled by a teenager with an inability to watch the road in front of her. “Ahhhhhh,” he said. “I used to sell Toyotas. I know the Sienna well.”

He proceeded to ask me what I liked so much about the Sienna, and as I explained the features and the handling, the roominess and the control, he nodded in understanding. And then he asked a very pointed question: “So why aren’t you over there at the Toyota dealership?”

I basically told him how I wanted to test drive everything in order to make an honest, open and informed decision. He basically told me I would be comparing apples to kumquats.

“No, really, I think I would be fine with an SUV,” I said, hoping I could convince us both.

“Ma’am, I’ve known you for twenty minutes and I can already tell you want the Sienna. I’ll let you test drive anything you want and I’d love to sell you a car. But I know already…we just don’t have anything here that is going to make you happy. Go see the Sienna. If it’s everything you remember, you’ll know that’s what you want. If it’s not everything you remember, come on back here and I’ll help you find a good SUV. I just think you owe it to yourself to start with what you know you loved.”

I did test drive one vehicle at Wheels R Us, but it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Plus, I was thinking the whole time about what Mr. B. had said. When we returned with the car, I thanked him, sincerely wishing I could buy something from him just because he had been so genuine. Mom and I had a movie to get to, so we scurried off.

After the movie and lunch, I asked mom if she minded killing some time at the Toyota dealership, “just so I can see if the Sienna is still cool.” She eagerly agreed. Moments later when we were standing at a Sienna, peering inside at all the gadgetry, cup holders and convenience factors, Mom looked over at me and chuckled. “You’re grinning,” she said, and I realized I had been smiling the entire time I looked at the van.

And that was pretty much that. I grabbed a shiny brochure and we headed home. For the next two weeks I would anxiously obsess over option packages, finance rates, and the god-forsaken trade-in-value of the Cherry Bomb. I had an Excel spreadsheet of about twelve pricing scenarios on the Sienna, the lowest and highest budget-feasible payments differing only by $40. I knew MSRPs and true market values. I knew the warranty options and anticipated all possible fees. I researched the Cherry Bomb to find its reasonable trade in value, and then I prayed that I could actually get that much for it.

I decided it was likely that I would buy my Sienna over the phone and drive to pick it up wherever it may be. But, fate stepped in and made me eat my own “I’ll never…” statement and I ended up making a decent deal with a dealership in town that I previously swore I wouldn’t buy from. During the negotiation process on Saturday, I even told my sales lady, “If this works out, I’m gonna have to take back all the mean things I said about this dealership.”

She broke out in a big grin and said, “Yes, ma’am.”

In under two hours we made a satisfactory deal, and they searched the Gulf States for my new van, telling me it would likely arrive in about 48 hours.

I drove the Cherry Bomb to the dealership today, handed them the title and breathed a small sigh of relief that the darn car lasted as long as it did for me. I was grateful for the Bomb when I needed it, but it wasn’t my Sienna, and I held a permanent grudge against it for all that it lacked as well as all that it represented. The day of the Cherry Bomb was an era unto itself and I’m sure we will remember it forever. Whether it finds new life through total purchase or parts donation, I hope that brand new rack and pinion steering component serves another family well. Note to next owner: Just keep the radio volume up and you won’t hear the ceiling rattle. 😉

So here it is, folks, my vehicle situation restored to its fullness. Can I get an Amen?!!