Look...buying a car ought to be fun. You never get the chance to spend this kind of money, and you're doing it on something you will be spending alot of time with.
Go...pick out the three best rated cars you like the looks of.....find the nearest dealership to you....ask the receptionist who is the best salesman at the car dealership .... Seriously...she knows....tell that person you want to see the car, hear why it's a good choice, see why the dealership is a good choice...i.e. service department etc...drive it on a good test drive to see if you are going to enjoy it.....and only then discuss money if you are ready. Start with the least expensive model that meets your needs, as you can always go up in price it it's hard to come down if you start looking too high.
Then just talk price...not payments. The lowest price is going to get you the lowest payment, but focusing on payment could lead you to not discussing price at all, and paying too much...from your perspective.
If there is a lease deal advertised understand that it's the lowest priced unit on the lot, and has the least number of options, generally. But still focus on price AFTER you ensure that the salesperson, dealership and car are going to meet your needs. You will pay a little extra for the best of all the above. A good salesperson and dealership are useful to you down the road, and enhance your ownership experience. You can always use a good car connection.
Once you're in the "box" with the finance manager, after you have settled on price, then understand its that persons job to sell you insurance and service contracts and other stuff as well as a rate. Go forearmed with a rate from your bank, and know what all their advertised offers are. If they can beat your bank then great. I not then write a check and they'll hold it till your bank funds the loan. If they have a special rate make sure you read the fine print and will qualify...usually you have to have excellent credit and a down payment. Same for leases. Learn the lease formula (found online) so you can double check their math. Remember dealer doc fees and the lease acquisition fee charged by dealers and banks everywhere. It's not a cheat if they tell you about it, and everyone really does pay these things.
Feel free to email me and ask about these things.
Smile, be friendly, have a good time....be prepared to walk away if you're not getting the deal you want, but understand that dealerships have to make a profit, and that if you take care of them they usually value you and take care of you. Ask for references and be friendly, knowledgable and in charge of the process.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?