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Help Me Choose!



  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,733
    Yeah, very few Grand Marquis were bought by fleets. Another sure-fire used bet is a Mercury marauder, which is a decked-out and more aggressive suspension version of the same car. In back, it looks very nice, actually.

    If you need to get from A to B at any cost, you're either looking at a big GM or Ford car, or a late 80s Toyota truck. Maybe a late 80s Volvo 240 as well.
  • What sedan would you buy brand new that is in the mid $20k range. Here are some I've tried:

    1) HYUNDAI ELANTRA / SONATA: Love all the tech in the 2012. Wasn't impressed with bluelink in sonata. I do like being able to send to gps from google maps to my garmin gps, but looks like the sonata doesn't support this feature. The Elantra seems to be similar yet costs $6-8k less. The acceleration and the noisy rpm grind for both leaves much to be desired. I can't seem to find a comfortable sitting position in both cars. In my current Audi I like being able to see the hood of the car to get a sense of how far I am from the car ahead. With both these I need to crank up the seat height quite a bit till the top of head is mashing up against the roof of the car and I'm not that tall either. If I lower the seat i get a slightly more comfortable position. The rear view is limited as well. On the other hand, the braking of this vehicle (along with all the tech abs/ebfd/esc/etc) are great and should safer on turns when it rains and even with some snow on the ground. The other car I had driven way back was a pontiac g6 that was fun to drive back then (probably cause it had v6, I guess). Currently leaning on the elantra but I want it in white exterior, beige interior and navigation + rear view dimming, and this is a hard combination to get in the new england area (or so I'm told by the dealers here). One offered to get one for me but there goes my negotiating power plus he wants a $500 deposit which he claims he will refund even if I don't buy the car. But this means I'm paying full MSRP, forget trying to get amex zag pricing. OTOH, if I get one in stock then i could possibly save about $800, but it won't be the color i want. Also I dislike the lack of automatic climate control on the elantra. At the same time I can't justify the additional $6k for sonata to get the climate control. There is a $500 incentive through motozuma/Hyundai but I have to wait 30 days to buy (which i can).

    2) FORD FUSION : Love all the tech, or so I think. I haven't been able to test drive one with a navigation unit as they all seem to be reliant on a chip manufacturer in Japan that is still reeling from the tsunami. Seems odd, but this is what the dealers tell me. The non navi unit I drove was a SEL without v6. It also seemed somewhat noisy to me. I did prefer the front window view and rear view on the ford from the driver seat. Not quite as cramped as the Hyundai. I like the fact that v6 is an option but haven't test drove one yet. Availability appears to be very limited. I dislike the fact that if you add navigation you're leaning closer to $28k, or $30k if you add v6. I do like that owner satisfaction is high in Consumer reports. For such a tech car it is a shame they don't offer key less entry.

    3) NISSAN ALTIMA: Similar to Ford fusion, once you add the navigation/ tech, you're close to $30k but with incentives it brings it down to $28k. The financing is great on this car. 2012 for 60 mos at 0.9% plus an additional $500 for recent college grad is great. However, similar to ford fusion I can't get navigation currently because everyone seems to be out of it. I have yet to test drive the altima. I'm not particularly fond of the external appearance but do not weigh that as much. Keyless entry is a plus

    So what car would you get from the above?

    Items on my would like to have list:
    (a) quiet / comfortable ride
    (b) navigation
    (c) stability control / anti lock break / ebfd / other safety tech
    (d) send to gps from google maps would be a plus
    (e) moon roof
    (f) tech - key less entry would be nice
    (g) would prefer HID lights
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    If I had to pick one of these, probably the Sonata SE, although I like the Fusion too. But if I were you, before plunking down $25k on a car, I'd drive others in this class, including the Optima (has advantages over the Sonata IMO), Mazda6, Accord, Passat, and (available very soon) 2012 Camry. With quiet/comfy ride a key criterion, you might really like the Passat and Camry in particular. Might be hard to get a new Camry or Passat with nav for under $25k, but could you live with aftermarket nav?

    The Elantra is in a completely different class. If it meets your needs, great, you'll save a few thousand, but the same could be said for cars like the Cruze and Focus.
  • twitchhdtwitchhd Posts: 10
    edited September 2011
    I did goto the Toyota dealership and looked at the camry briefly, just not very interesting. The 0% financing on it is great though. The lack of technology isn't very enticing either. I have aftermarket nav on my current Audi and use it only during unplanned times. It does crash and leave me in the middle of nowhere with no where to turn. A terrible feeling. The radio reception is terrible, even with hd radio. I used to have a mazda 6, and never grew fond of it. Dad has the accord. audi and VW, trying to stay away from. Haven't looked at the optima. Will take a look. Thanks.

    EDIT: From consumer reports on the kia optima : Lows - Ride, road noise.

    I suspect it is hard to step down from an audi to a more affordable car yet still retain some of the benefits of an audi. The elantra/sonata comes very close, except for the weak engine. The SE trim on sonata is notorious for road noise.
  • I'd like a list of 3 or 4 cars to choose from, with these as the guidelines. I'm not opposed to any other suggestions, but I've already decided on a few things, so don't be offended if I say no.

    Can NOT include:

    1. BMW, Mercedes, Audi, VW - Where I live these just don't have the service/parts I need in case of a problem. I've had many friends forced to drive 500 miles to get what they need.
    2. Rear wheel drive - No chance at all to buy one of these
    3. Anything more than $20k or 50k miles


    1. Front wheel, 4 wheel, or all wheel drive (MUST)
    2. Fast - Faster than a stock V6 on similar cars
    3. Dependable - "well I've personally had one for 10 years and never had a problem" doesn't count. Need reports of some kind.
    4. $20,000 or less - Used or new
    5. No more than 50,000 miles

    Don't care about: (bonus factors, not determining factors)

    1. Gas mileage - meh
    2. Exterior Appearance - Not going to sway my opinion at all
    3. Interior "materials" - Leather, nice trim, all extras for me. Nice, but I don't care enough to make it a real factor
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    >3. Dependable - "well I've personally had one for 10 years and never had a problem" doesn't count. Need reports of some kind.

    That is going to be a difficult category. You're going to be relying on hearsay from magazines, rating services, etc., who have different values than you likely do. In some cases they have downright prejudices for certain vehicles.

    I think your better method for finding a car requiring less service is to find a brand that has a quality service dealership AND/or local mechanics who know those vehicles and can usually fix them well.

    If you look at the recall lists and problems of varied and many cars, you'll see they all have their short comings. Some highly vaunted brands have problem posts in topics here on Edmunds. I always chuckle when someone says that they bought brand XXX because of their reputation--reputation is last year. What you buy this year is where they cut costs and quality or changed supplier for certain parts.

    I recommend listening to the reputation of certain brands' garages and independent repair shops to find a vehicle you will be more satisfied with when something does go wrong. Really great is a garage that will tell you that something should be replaced or maintained 10 or 20K miles in the future so you can plan. That is opposed to the garages who try to add on extra maintenance items when the car is in so they can increase their profit for the week or month.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,150
    stick or automatic?
    does your rule against BMW also rule out Mini? (although even a Mini S is not as fast in a straight line as your standard V6 family sedan)

    G35/37x sounds to me like your car.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • Subaru Forester 2.5XT. Turbocharged with 220hp or thereabouts, under 7-second 0-60 times. Not sure about reliability because of the turbo, but Subes generally are among the more dependable brands.

    Not much else will have this combination of power, 4WD and affordability. They've been making them since 2003, but even so they might be hard to find because they're just aren't that many of them around. You'll notice them by the scoop on the hood.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,150
    Well, not sure why you would just limit to the Forester in that case. Legacy GT or even WRX would qualify, too.

    However, and this is why I asked if we're talking automatic or stick, I wouldn't suggest a turbo subary with an automatic, personally.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    This was the 2012 (all-new) Camry you saw? I didn't think they were at dealers quite yet.

    The Legacy has a smooth ride also, since that seems to be your chief criterion. And they are pretty reliable.

    200 hp is a "weak engine"? Then you must be looking for a V6. That will be hard to do in a new mid-sized car with the equipment you want.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 790
    edited September 2011
    If I was shopping within your parameters, there are three cars that would make it on my short list-

    2008-2009 Nissan Altima 3.5SE (Coupe or Sedan)

    2009-2010 Mazda6 s Touring/Grand Touring

    2008-2009 Subaru Legacy 3.0R

    All of them are fast (0-60 in the low 6-second range or below), reliable (rated above average by Consumer Reports for reliability) and you can find them for around $20k with under 50k miles.

    The Altima will be the most plentiful and easy to locate. The only thing I don't like about it is the CVT (rather than a conventional automatic transmission). But that's a personal preference and they sell like hotcakes anyway. It would be hard to go wrong with one of these.

    My personal favorite would be the 2009-2010 Mazda6 s. It's the best looking (inside and out), best handling and most fun to drive of the bunch. It also has a sweet 272hp 3.7L V6 (courtesy of Ford) that pulls like a locomotive! =)

    The Subie is also a great car, but harder to find. It has standard AWD and a probably the nicest interior of the bunch.

    Hope this helps....good luck!
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,733
    You are basically looking at a full size, overbuilt car. GM or Ford, due to the price range and the desire for a higher power engine.

    Front wheel drive...

    The best car for you is to get a Buick Lucerne CXS, used.

    It's as reliable as a tank, it's quick enough (Northstar V8 in it), and repairs are much much less than on a typical import. The suspension is also lifted from a Corvette (CXS model only), so it handles quite well. Prices are quite reasonable and if you get a low mileage one, it'll last ten years quite easily. The transmission on the first two years is also the older more reliable (and dirt cheap to fix) 4 speed automatic. With a V8 behind it, you don't need 5 or 6 gears as there's plenty of torque.

    A second choice would be the Cadillac DTS, which is the softer suspension model of the same thing, basically. These can be had for well under $20K, used. These are basically a front wheel drive version of a police car, but without the stigma and ugly looks.

    Note #1 - this coming from the most knowledgeable transmission person I know of in all of Los Angeles: The most reliable transmissions in the world (for passenger cars) are made by GM. The lowest cost and most reliable model from GM is the plain vanilla 4 speed automatic that they used for 20+ years in multiple cars. He's also the only person I know of who correctly identified the actual design problem with the Honda Odyssey's transmission, because he repairs them all the time. Yes, he's the guy everyone in the San Gabriel Valley (So Cal region) sends their transmissions to get rebuilt instead of replaced.

    Note #2 - If you asked for a list of the most reliable engines in the world made in the last 20 years, from any actual automotive engineer, the Northstar V8 would be in the top five. The GM 3800 series would also be in the top ten of all time.

    The key to reliability long-term is to choose a good engine, and reliable transmission, and to buy something that is overbuilt so that you barely stress it while driving it.

    My dad's similar V6 powered Park Avenue Ultra is going on 16 years now. He did have to have the original transmission replaced at 15 years old (solenoids gave out, not actual wear). $1600. Hardly anything has gone wrong with it aside from minor crap like the power antenna and normal maintainance items that fail like water pumps and starters and so on as it got over ten years old and well over 100K miles.

    Same story with most GM full-size cars. Big, last forever, and while the looks aren't great, the cars are very reasonable to own. The good thing about the Lucerne CXS and Cadillacs, though, is that the suspension is a lot better than a typical rental car. Also, the rental companies boughty exactly zero CXS models as they were $35K+ new.
    Certified, $20K. Same story with the DTS - tons and tons of examples under $20K.
  • Looking for a car for 17 year old son. The wrinkle is he'll be putting ~ 500 miles a week (20-25k/yr). This is 2/3 Highway 1/3 Country roads in Ohio Snowbelt. "Beater" sounds good in theory, but we also need safe in this case...and the beaters I'm seeing ain't lookin' too safe. Given the miles involved, a high mpg would be great, but we'll give that up over safety & price if necessary. Was hoping for $5-$6k. Any ideas?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,150
    Probably my best suggestion is a Mazda Protege. Much much cheaper than the Hondyota equivalents and just as reliable. FWD takes care of the snow problem with good tires. Should be able to score one with quite low miles in your price range.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Can't get much for under $6k these days. If you want something with good fuel economy, one idea is a Saturn SL or SC. The steel cage construction is good for crash safety (for a small car), and you can find them under $6k with a lot of life left. If you can find a Protege in good condition, that would make a nice car for a teen also.

    If you don't mind something bigger (more gas), you could look for something like a Taurus or Century or Malibu. Not exciting, but pretty safe and lots of them around for under $6k.
  • We've been looking at the Protege (well the kid is hoping for a MazdaSpeed*..yea right) Haven't been able to secure one without massive frame issue from the rust...we abuse our roads with salt 9 months out of the year. But I'll definitely keep it on the radar. How old in years & miles do you estimate we can safely go? Thanks, really appreciate the input.
  • Our indie mechanic was worried about turnaround time for Saturn parts. Figured we'd probably need a few things this a valid concern or is he over reacting?

    I'll look into the Century & Malibu, thanks. As long as we can get another 50k or so out of it I'll be satisfied.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    If you are near a GM dealership, should not be too hard. There's the salvage yards, plus when Saturn wound down GM paid suppliers to make parts that were unique to Saturns. If it's a concern, stick to something like the Taurus or Century or Malibu... lots of those sold, for many years.

    As for salt... the Saturn SL and SC have those plastic body panels. ;)
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,150
    edited September 2011
    Well, 2003 was the last year for them, and those certainly fall within your budget. The LX models are crossing the block at auction right around $3k with 100k'ish miles. So $5k would be more than enough to buy one from a dealer. Find a private party and you should be able to score it for $4k. Lower miles the better, of course, and you just pay a little more.

    Add about $700-$800 for an ES model.

    A 2003 Level 2 Saturn Ion sedan with 100k'ish is right there at the same pricing as the Protege. Not a bad choice, but for the same price, I'm getting the Protege, personally.

    Don't know what to tell you about the rust. You are just going to have to keep looking. Hell, buy out of state if you have to.

    Was just talking this evening to my in-laws about their daughter turning 17 and needing her first car. Discussed the Protege and Saturn with them, too. I also have them looking for a 325i. Early '90s examples with low miles can also be had for the sub-$4k range. Not sure how those fare in your neck of the woods.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,733
    The previous generation Altima with stickshift and the 4 cylinder engine would be close to ideal. Yes, he may complain, but manual is a valuable skill to learn and he cannot get distracted as easily with a manual as he has to keep his eyes and ears (and hands) in sync the car.

    A previous generation (or so) Accord with the same setup would also work well. Good mpg and a nice manual that's almost as easy as a video game to use.
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