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Help Me Choose!



  • asparagus33asparagus33 Posts: 3
    edited August 2013
    Hey all. I've had a lot of trouble deciding on what I want for my first car, so I was hoping you guys could maybe help me out. I'm looking for mid to full-size used sedan in for around $5000-6000. I am an 18 year old guy so insurance is a factor and I can't go for anything too sporty.

    So far I've looked at some Pontiac Grand Prixs and I really like them, but my mom's very worried about the safety ratings on them (she's the one paying for most of the car). The frontal driver crash ratings seem ok, but the side impact crash ratings are pretty poor from what I've seen (link title). I'm kind of new to the car market so I'm not really sure how important these ratings are. Of the other cars that I've looked at I've also liked the Acura Integra, Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Impala (although I've heard that these don't hold their value too well and while I like the exterior and the way they drive, I don't really like their interior), and Infiniti G35. I've also been inside an Audi A4 and I really like those as well, but they're probably a little too expensive for me to maintain at this stage in my life as I will be a college student next year. While I've liked all these cars I also haven't really found any that click like the Grand Prix. I also really really like the Pontiac G8 (outside my price range), so if there's a car similar to it that I have overlooked, I would probably like that as well.

    So down to the more specific criteria. As far as styling goes I like cars that have kind of sporty exteriors like the G8/Impala and sleek interiors like the Audi A4, G8 or Grand Prix. Fuel efficiency doesn't matter too much as I won't be driving the car very far all that often, but I don't want a real gas hog either. I also don't really want car older than a 2000. The car also needs to be fairly reliable as I can't afford to spend too much money maintaining it. It also needs to be pretty safe as I've mentioned before. Finally I should mention that I'm going to avoid any Volkswagens right now as my family has had a bad experience with them in the past.

    Thanks in advance for any help in narrowing down my choices. I'm having a lot of trouble.
  • gmanusmcgmanusmc SoCalPosts: 436
    edited August 2013
    Hey Craig - how are ya? You know that I hold you in high regard and my observation is that you are an honest straight shooter. If you were still in the business and nearby, I'd probably be doing my Honda buying/leasing from you. What I have found these past 5-10 years is that the better dealers have established and operate effective Internet Sales Departments. The ones that only go through the motions and try to put on a face are easily exposed by the way they interact with customers. You know from your experience that it is difficult to conduct negotiations over the phone and all too many dealers put on the hard sell while you are at their location because they know when you leave you may not return. I prefer to work my way to a target price via email now - there might be a couple phone calls along the way but I won't go to a dealer until the numbers are nailed down and I have written confirmation in hand. And as I say, after you've done this for awhile, it is fairly easy to pick out the good Internet depts from the not so good (the way you were probably able to distinguish the buyers). I realize that the way you've described the store you worked at, it sounds customer friendly. But for the most part, dealers still put buyers through the wringer (especially the inexperienced ones) if they show up unprepared.

    Thanks for listening,

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 923
    At that price point your first criterion is a trouble-free car that runs well. Of the vehicles you mentioned, I would suggest an early 2000s Maxima. Those are great cars but they do require premium fuel. But you might take a look at a Toyota Camry or a Buick LeSabre. They are not the most exciting to drive, but they will run forever and parts are plentiful. Any car at that price will have around 100k on it, so have it checked out very carefully before you buy.

    A smaller hatch you might look at is the Pontiac Vibe.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Besides the Impala, everything you listed will likely be expensive to insure. The grand-prix might not be terrible but sometimes just "looking" sporty will cost you big money. I have no clue what state you're in or what other factors you have for insurance, but since you mention that cost is a factor, I think you should discuss this with your (moms) insurance agent.

    Buying a $5k Acura/Infiniti/Audi is likely a very bad idea anyway due to potential repair costs and it doesn't sound like you're ready to self-mechanic. Those can be ok investments if you're handy with tools and have access to salvage parts, but otherwise you'll spend a fortune paying someone else to do it.

    I actually like the Impala idea if you like it. They're relatively reliable and cheap to buy/operate.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited August 2013
    If you find yourself interested in the Vibe or Toyota Matrix (same car basically) then avoid a manual transmission. Your price point would buy you one ready to blow up as they were a poor design. I have been unable to confirm if Toyota Corolla uses the same manual transmission as the Vibe, but suspect they are also to be avoided.
    The autos in all 3 were fine.
    But these are a bit on the small side given your size requirements.
    In order to help keep insurance costs in check, avoid 2 door coupe types, and basically any model that many young drivers are drawn to. Statistically, there are more insurance claims with those types and the premiums reflect that. It was good advice to check with your insurance agent prior to a purchase. Any offer to purchase should always have a clause along the lines of "subject to my financial ability to insure".
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,822
    I rarely feel comfortable telling someone else what choice *they* should make. After all, I'm not sure what your financial situation is, and I'm not sure what would make you happier, and I'm also not sure how long you intend to keep the vehicle.

    However, if I were looking at those two options, it'd be the LS430 all day long. This is simply because I'd be perfectly happy with a used vehicle at a lower purchase price, and from everything I've seen (and those I know who own that vehicle), they tend to last forEVER. The Accord probably will too, but at a higher entry price.

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  • Sounds like we have similar perspective, don't care about "new" just quality long lasting reliable where most depreciation already out after 5-6 yrs. have a 99 ls 400 MINT only 84k mi (just did major timing belt idler pulley svc, and new plugs etc ) we love and need a 2nd veh for myself if I give the 99 to my wife. Drive about 12-15k per yr Tend to think 04-04 ls 430s last great ls before cost cutting etc and agree with sac they should last loooong time
  • Thanks for the help guys.

    I think I'm gonna go for an Impala or a Toyota Avalon. There's one in my price range nearby that I'm going to go look at.

    What do you think of an Acura Integra/RSX?
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    "What do you think of an Acura Integra/RSX? "

    Nice cars. Great for kids who's parents can afford the high insurance premiums. I had a relative that bought one for his 16yo son and I remember he ended up buying some cheap beater car to put as his primary car because the rates were sky high on the RSX.
  • Ok cool thanks for the help.
  • Meh, never mind. We already talked about Accents.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,623
    All I can say is we have a '08 in our stable for my kid and it's been almost flawless...they did replace a faulty brake switch last year and a battery. Besides oil change and rotations and new blades, that's it. Car has now close to 14k on the clock and drives extremely nicely. I cam honestly say that we'd buy any other Hyundai/Kia product in a heart beat and I predict next year, there will be another one in the garage here.

    The Sandman

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 923
    Great that you have good experience with one. Consumer Reports survey stats don't think much of them as a used car, though. They do recommend other Hyundai makes such as the Elantra and Sonata. I'd go with something else that has a better track record.
  • Thoughts on a 2008 Versa w 78k miles for $9,888?
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,675
    edited August 2013
    For the love of Pete! Lol! You'd consider that little econo dog whose life is probably half over, when for less than twice that you could get a brand new Mazda3, Corolla, or Civic, financed at almost 0% that would likely give you a decade of trouble free driving....In any case, you said you wanted a car that looked nice for your wife to be in. That one ain't it imho.

    The Versa is a small and rather unsafe car, which gets 27 mpg combined, compared to the larger and much safer Civic that gets 32 mpg. So you save about 300 a year on gas with a Civic, which over a decade means a savings of 3000. Plus, it's highly unlikely you'll be driving the Versa in the year 2023. Before that you'll almost certainly need to buy a another car costing more $$. A new car is likely to be doing ok in 2023, and have some ok resale value. I feel like this stuff is water going over a duck's back. But as you said, the paradox is that used can cost more than new in the long run of a decade. Are you sharing any of this with your wife? What about turning some of the decision over to her? Can you put her on the line? ;-)
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 923
    People here are happy to spend your money, aren't they? :) but truth is, the Versa doesn't have the greatest reliability ratings and was surprisingly poor on fuel economy for its day.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Man that seems like a lot of money for a half used up Versa. I assume it's at a dealer? What model? If it's a loaded SL that might be a starting point on the price. If it's just an S model it way overpriced.

    I don't know about reliability on these but it seems even the worst reliable vehicles these days aren't half bad. It's not like an '85 chevy where it's a gonner at 78k if you're super lucky.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,146
    yeah, that is crazy for that car, IMHO. Hell, skip the features and buy a new one for $12k.

    Just looking real quick, I'm finding '09 Versa SL hatchbacks with under 40k miles for under $10k.

    Slightly more interesting to me are the following few examples in that same range (under 40k, under $10k):
    '08 Scion xB
    '06 Malibu (LT v6, 29k miles)
    '04 Buick Century (43k miles for $7990)

    And with a few more miles:
    '04 Mazda 6i (55k miles, $8499)
    '05 Crown Vic (46k miles)

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

  • benjamin,

    Would you mind telling me what % of your net income you budget for transportation related expenses?
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