I live in Colorado and just returned from a trip to Los Angeles where I bought a 2016 Volt from Rydell Chevrolet. I am thrilled on multiple levels. I really have two stories to tell. The first involves the purchase experience and the second involves the car.
By way of background, the 2016 is my fourth Volt. First I bought a 2012. Then my wife wanted a Volt of her own so we bought a 2014. A year later I replaced the 2012 with a 2015 just because I wanted the latest and greatest. That brings us to the present, when we sold the 2014 and bought the 2016. For all you folks who may think that I was throwing away money buying instead of leasing, I really do not like leasing cars. I did it once and decided to never do it again. Moreover, contrary to what some people think, Volts are really inexpensive to buy and trade for a new one. The reality was that each of these cars only cost me around $2000 - $3000 per year to own after-tax. That is helped along by the fact that Colorado has a generous $4500 tax credit. Nonetheless I doubt there are too many other cars that you can buy and sell after two years for that price.
Back to the story. I highly recommend Rydell Chevrolet in Los Angeles and here's why. First, a little background. I knew I could not buy a 2016 Volt here in Durango based on what I had read but my dealer said he would try. So we priced the car and he agreed to sell it at $500 under invoice, after adding back the advertising fee. He tried to place the order but, as expected, it would not go through. We had also discussed a trade for my 2014 Volt and even though I could not buy a car from them they agreed to buy the 2014 from me for the trade-in price. Because of the nature of our market here, which is very small, my limited effort to sell it on my own was unsuccessful and trading, or selling to the dealer was by far my best option.
I first contacted another Los Angeles dealer. I'm not going to name names but I think some of you may know who the other large dealership is. Cutting to the end of the story, I did not do business with them. There were three reasons. First, communications were not particularly good. Secondly, the original price of $500 under invoice seemed to go up as time passed. But the last item was the kicker. I knew going into this that I was going to have to pay California State sales tax, which is 7.5%. (You can have the car shipped rather than drive it out of state and not pay the sales tax. But I did not want to do that.) As in other states, local jurisdictions such as cities and counties impose additional sales taxes on top of the State sales tax. In Los Angeles County that additional taxes 1.5%. Well, as we were working on the deal the dealership said that I was going to have to pay a 9% sales tax, 7.5% state and 1.5% LA County tax. I told them that since I did not reside in the county and was not going to register the car in the county I was not required by law to pay the county portion of the tax. I met resistance to my position. I then researched the issue further and sent them the relevant section from the tax code, including the nonresident declaration I would have to sign. The law is clear that if someone buys a car in County A but not reside in County A and does not register the car in County A they are not liable for payment of County A’s sales tax. My salesman kicked the issue up to the store manager who, without talking to me or apparently giving the issue serious consideration, conveyed the message that they have always charged the full sales tax and that's the way they were going to do it.
This was the trigger that sent me looking for another dealership. Yes, I was put out by the prospect of spending an additional $550 but that is not what gave me a slow burn. What really bothered me was that I was being dismissed as some loony and they were more than happy for customers to pay an additional tax charge because "that's the way we've done it for 30 years." I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it with me.
At that point I contacted Rydell Chevrolet. I dealt with Mark Van Loo whose name I actually had gotten from a posting here from a woman who lives in Washington State who bought a car through him. Mark was great. We quickly identified the exact car I wanted in stock and he quoted me a price of $2000 below MSRP which is less than $500 under invoice and substantially less than what the other dealer was going to charge. That price was quoted notwithstanding the fact that I am not eligible the Chevrolet discount to California residents of $1000. in addition, because of the effort of a couple of individuals here I was able to score a private offer of $1000 which gave me a net price of $37,220 on a car with a MSRP of $40,220.
But here's where the real big difference came in. When I talked to Mark about the 7.5% versus 9% sales tax he said that they had always done 9% but he would kick it up to his boss. I talked to his boss, Fred Alvarado, and he was fantastic. Yes, initially he told me that they had always done it the other way but when I explained everything and referred him to the documentation he said he would look into it. I told him that that was all I could ask and I would be flying in the next day to pick up the car. As long as he looked into it I would be buying the car with or without the dispensation on the 1.5% tax. He told me he was going to work on resolving the question and if within the next week he found out that I didn't owe it he would send me a check for the difference.
Now here's what's really amazing. At 8:30 that evening, and this is the evening before I'm flying out at 6:00 in the morning, Fred called me and said I was right. He had verified with the California Board of Equalization that I did not owe the County tax and consequently I would only be charged the 7.5% State sales tax. He also said the taxing officials did not advertise this point and we chuckled about that. But I said this gives him a bit of a sales advantage for any other purchasers from out-of-state since they will basically get a point and a half discount on the net price of the car if they buy from Rydell.
I flew to Los Angeles the next morning. Mark offered to pick me up but I had an old high school friend who gave me a ride to the dealership. We did the deal in two hours and I was out of there and on my way back to Colorado after enjoying a great lunch with my old high school friend. While I was at Rydell, I made a point of speaking to the owner of the store to tell him how pleased I was with the professionalism and customer care exhibited by both Mark and Fred. Unlike the folks at other dealership, Mark and Fred were willing to listen when someone suggested that what they had been doing for the past 30 years may not be right. And they put forth the effort to look into it and reach the correct result. This is how businesses should run but all too often that is not the case.
Now on to the car.
I must say that while I had high expectations for the 2016 Volt, it exceeded all of them. I almost feel a little guilty heaping too many praises on the 2016 Volt because the Gen 1 Volt is a truly great car. But simply put, the 2016 is better in every way. And for those who have opined that Chevy de-contented the 2016 Volt, all I can say is they were driving a different car then I drove. Everywhere I turned, everywhere I touched, and everywhere I listened, I could see, sense, and feel that Chevrolet has added content both in the little things and big things. (The absence of Home Link is an exception, but in the scheme of things, a truly minor one.) This car truly does feel a step above.
The drive home was approximately 820 miles. The first day I went about 300 miles to the town of Needles, where I spent the night, and drove the remaining 500 miles following day. All the time I was driving in Hold mode. My speeds range between 70 and 75 mph and I gained a total of 7500 feet with many ups and downs in between. My gasoline mileage was 41 miles per gallon. The car is very comfortable. You never feel a single vibration and the ride is truly hushed. I think that once or twice I might have felt a slight stumble when going down steep descents when there may have been some change in the transmission, but it was so small I'm not sure I felt it and in any event it was far less than what you would feel in any normal gasoline car with an automatic transmission.
Most noteworthy, I did not have the hint of a backache after spending hours in the car. I have driven some truly exceptional cruising cars. My 1977 Peugeot 604, 1985 Audi 5000, 1998 Acura CL and 2004 Acura MDX come to mind. This car was every bit as comfortable all of those and was considerably quieter and operated much more seamlessly.
I have read some quibbles posted by some people about the 2016 Volt. I must say I share none of them. We all know about the improvements to the electric motors, the transmission, the gasoline engine, and the battery so I won't spend time talking about those. I do want to address some of the more intangible things.
The car is beautiful inside and out. No pictures do it justice. I have the Summit White with the Brandy/Black interior. The quality of the materials used is substantially improved over the Gen 1 Volt. It is obviously not the same quality as an ELR but it also cost tens of thousands of dollars less. But I daresay you simply cannot find a car in this price range that feels any better inside. The car is deathly quiet. The new tires are silent. There is virtually no wind noise. And even though I was in hold mode the whole way, except the very end, there was only one or two times where I think, but wasn't sure, I might have heard a little bit of engine sound. There was one thing was definitely missing also, the slight vibration one can sometimes feel in a Gen 1 when the engine is running. I have noticed it as a driver in all my other Volts, although I swear it diminished between the 2012 in the 2015, but it was never something that any passenger ever noticed. Well, In the 2016 it's not there for anyone to notice.
The build quality on my car is perfect. A couple of people have commented that the accent lights may not be working correctly. Mine work perfectly. A couple of people have commented that their hatches didn't close correctly. Mine closes perfectly. Speaking of which, now that the hatch spoiler is part of the body, rather than a plastic add-on, you don't get that hollow sound when you close the hatch. Someone mentioned finding a couple of screws somewhere, none were to be found in my car. Everything fits well is screwed together properly and the car is tight as a drum.
The car also definitely seems roomier. I am 6 feet tall and actually found that rather than having the seat all the way back, it was more comfortable moving it up one notch. I also have the seat up has high as it can go and I still have the same amount of headroom as I had in my 2015 with the seat lower. Go figure. I know the dimensions don't indicate this but the car definitely seems wider also. And the back seat is improved. There is not only more room for your knees but as importantly there is more room for your feet. As I said at the outset, I went in with high expectations and those expectations were exceeded on every level.
I could've waited for six months to buy a 2016/2017 Volt here in Colorado. I'm glad I didn't. This car is too good to pass up and the buying experience was terrific even if it did require an 800 mile trip. And if anyone from outside California is thinking about buying one in the Los Angeles area and driving it back I highly recommend you go to Rydell Chevrolet. You will not only deal with great people, especially Mark, but you will also get the lowest price on the car you will also pay 1.5% less sales tax then at other dealerships.