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Help Me Choose!

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  • I'm a first time car buyer (previously drove a car I inherited for 10 years til it died.) I'm new to this forum and wanted people's opinions (and realize car ownership can be VERY subjective.) I'm hoping to hold on the car for a long time (I just drive for pleasure and usually only do about 3000 miles a year, but most of it is on highways.) Am looking to spend roughly $20,000.
    I'm considering 3 cars (all with automatic transmission):
    1) Subaru Impreza hatchback
    2)the new Hyundai Elantra GT
    3) Volkswagen Golf (4 door)
    Am planning to buy in the spring, but am just starting my research and am planning on doing test drives for all three--and, if possible, renting them to really check them out.
    Aside from the obvious pluses for each (AWD for the Subaru, great warranty for the Hyundai) I'd love opinions from folks as to which car (out of the 3) they prefer and why.
    Many thanks in advance!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,520
    considering your buying/owning habits, I think the 10 year warranty on the hyundai would serve you well, so that would be my suggestion.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    First, unless you get much snow, I'd move the Impreza lower on your list as it will cost more and exacts a bit of an mpg penalty for AWD. But I think it's a very nice car... I live in Minnesota though.

    I think the Elantra GT is very nice also, but for $20k you'll be looking at a base model with AT and that's it. Doesn't look like Hyundai plans to ship many of these over here, so prices will probably stay up even next spring. BTW, similar problem with availability on the Impreza... hard to find any selection in stock.

    Re the Golf... keep in mind the Golf VII will be here sometime next year, so if you buy a Golf VI in the spring, it will be a generation old overnight. So you could wait for the Golf VII, which is supposed to have a turbo engine standard and better FE, or... you could get a slightly used, VW Certified Golf VI. You could get a very nice one including an extended warranty for $20k.

    Based on your looking at these cars, two others I think are worth a look for you are the Mazda3i Touring hatch (Skyactiv), which is a blast to drive, and the Focus hatch, also fun to drive albeit I'd stay away from the auto on that one, but reportedly Ford has worked out the kinks on it, or most of them at least.
  • Thanks for the replies! And backy, thanks so much for such an in-depth one! Great points. I live in NYC and nearly never drive in snow so I will cross the Impreza off my list. Re: the Hyundai, I'm actually fine with the base model with AT. But I will also check out the Mazda 3i touring Hatch (I have heard really good things about that as well!) And great points re: the Golf VI & upcoming VII. Thanks again. A lot of food for thought!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,520
    considering how long you plan to keep it, I certainly wouldn't worry about what is around the corner in terms of redesigns.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    Why not? If a redesign will get much better fuel economy than the old design, for example, that is a big benefit for long-term ownership. That is certainly the case for the current crop of compacts--the latest redesigns tend to get much better FE than the old ones, and sometimes with more power to boot. There's also the safety factor--the newer the design, the more active and passive safety features tend to be included. For example, the latest Elantra design, the GT, has 7 airbags, and the current gen entire Elantra line has ESC standard--that was not the case with the prior design.
  • bhmr59bhmr59 Posts: 1,598
    3,000 miles per year indicates that MPG shouldn't be a high priority. As long as the MPG is reasonable, a difference of a few MPG shouldn' be a concern.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    edited July 2012
    Nor safety either I suppose?

    3k miles a year for 10 years is 30k miles. At 25 mpg, that's 1200 gallons. At 30 mpg, it's only 1000 gallons. At $4 a gallon (very optimistic for a 10-year average I think), that's $800 in my pocket if I go with a newer design with better fuel economy. All else being equal, I'd take the $800.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,520
    And you may pay $800 or more for the newer model year.

    Even if you didn't ... for $80/year or less than $7/mo, I wouldn't be concerned.

    But, hey, if the OP can afford to wait, all the better.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    You are in an area known for high auto insurance rates, so I suggest you run a few models past your independent insurance agent. It is likely that one model could save you more in insurance cost than in fuel economy, considering that you estimate a low 3K per year (what I drive in 6 weeks).

    I would not eliminate the Impreza so quickly. The AWD has advantages in rain and you never know when the weather will change if you travel. Also the flat 4 cylinder engine design has a lower center of gravity. My subarus have had low insurance costs relative to some other cars in my fleet. In contrast, Hyundais often have high insurance costs.

    The only current generation Golf I would consider would be a TDI, but that's 20-25% over your budget.

    I second the suggestion to look at a Mazda 3i SkyActive. In fact, that should probably be near the top of your list.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    And you may pay $800 or more for the newer model year.

    Which is why I said "all else being equal."

    Sure, if you have to pay more for the later design and its advantages aren't worth the extra money, get the old design. Even get a used car, as I suggested. For 3k miles a year, it really doesn't make sense to buy a new car. Let someone else take the big up-front depreciation. The only reason to buy new in that case is... to get the latest design.
  • Thanks for all the feedback, you guys! A lot of food for thought. I actually priced the insurance for the models I'm thinking about and they're not tha high. I definitely will also look at the mazda3. After doing rental cars for the past few weeks I also realizing how important doing the test drives are. I'm noticing a lot of the newer cars have less visibility (I was used to a large back window vs some of the much smaller ones on newer models) A lot of food for thought all around!
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Yep, I totally agree with you newcargirl regarding the visibility issue. No matter how experienced a driver we may be, having B and C pillars in the way, coupled with short height windows challenge the aging driver and are not good for new drivers. That is why I am honing in on the Honda Fit and will wait to see what the redesigned Versa looks like. Good visibility is as important to me as good brakes.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    I agree about the visibility. There are some moves - such as merging to the right into the fast lane from a left hand entrance ramp, that can be white-knuckle experiences in some vehicles. I always enjoyed the visibility of my subarus with their large "old-fashioned" rear windows. But when my beloved 09 Outback was totalled when a young driver slammed into me at 60-65 mph while I was stopped at a red light, I found a less expensive (smaller) model with visibility as good or better - a Suzuki SX-4. Not only is the visibility good when glancing over the shoulder, but the mirrors seem to be a perfect shape. And best of all, the car is a bargain. Last time I looked, www.fitzmall.com showed a new 2012 equipped like my 2011 for as low as15.2K with 0% for 72 months (an auto trans + a few options and you'd still be under 17K). (disclaimer - I am not connected to fitzmall except as a very satisfied repeat customer).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You really need to get a CPO or slightly used car. The economy is tight, and it's simply bad economics to not let someone else eat the initial 40-50% depreciation.

    To make the point, for $20K, you can get a 3-4 year old Cadillac CTS. Or a 3-4 year old C class. Let alone a used Accord for $15K, or my favorite, older GM cars for 12K. Sometimes two years old.

    You drive so little that you really should get a larger mid to full size upper-end car if you can. After all, a used Camry is always going to be a better car than a brand new Yaris. Not only in safety and features, but also reliability, as everything is just built better. CPO is of course, preferred, as you get a warranty and some peace of mind.

    If you absolutely have to have a new car, there is one that is a great deal, is $20K , and gets great MPG. The new Ford Mustang. It drives great, gets 30mpg highway, and with year-end incentives (wait 8-9 weeks), 20K for a base model is quite easy to accomplish.

    Note - I went to Cars Direct and selected:
    - 2013, a normal color (dark blue looks great)
    - the option package with the fog lights, poser seats, and tech upgrades
    - limited slip diff.
    (did not select the 19" tires as it just makes the car ride like a rock)
    $23,837 including a $795 delivery charge. By the end of the year, $20K will easily be possible with some haggling.
  • Thanks for all the tips, you guys! And plekto, I actually don't like sedans. I want a hatchback. CPOs for the hatch's I'm looking at aren't super low/worth having less time on the warranty.

    I actually had a long conversation last night with my cousin who's owned a Subaru for 16 years and it's still going strong. She was raving about it (as did my neighbor who has the Impreza.) The Impreza is starting to look like a front-runner for me (love the idea of AWD--while I don't drive in the snow that often, things might change in a few years--I have a small cottage in the woods and it's completely inaccessible in the winter without either AWD or 4WD.) Can't wait to start test-driving!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    Another plus on the Impreza is that visibility is good compared to several other cars in this class.
  • I'm looking at getting a either a 2006 GS 300 or 2007 or 2008 IS 250 Nav., both CPO. Which car is going to hold it's value better, cheaper to maintain down the road, and will have less mechanical problems after 100,000 miles? Thanks, having a hard time deciding!
  • mr_gonemr_gone Posts: 50
    Hard to predict cost of ownership differences between the two, given that they're both Lexus products and fairly similar in underlying mechanics. The IS is essentially a trimmed-down GS. I'd dig pretty deep through consumer discussions on these two vehicles and see if there's anything that influences your decision one way or the other. A quick look on Edmunds shows a lot of unhappy IS owners in recent reports compared to GS owners, but that make be a fluke.

    Seems to me that the IS is kind of a fake BMW 3-series, in that it doesn't have much of a sporty character despite its packaging. In the long run, I would guess that would hurt its resale value more than the GS, which doesn't pretend to be anything but a luxury car.
  • Thanks, anyone else have knowledge on this issue? I like that the GS is bigger, but the 2006 would have less tech than the 2007/2008 IS with nav.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited August 2012
    I'd actually look at other cars, because if you are looking at something used, you'll be wanting to find something that suffers as much depreciation as possible so that the first owner eats most of the car' value. It's a bit mercenary to view it this way, but it's just how it works in finance.

    Lexus depreciates too slowly at first - mostly driven by dealer greed. But once they get to about 6-7 years old, the value drops sharply.(CPO isn't an option that old, so everything is priced off of base/auction price, pretty much)

    I'd personally recommend something from Mercedes if you want luxury, or something like a 2008 CTS. You can get a better quality car a couple of years newer for about the same money. Also, the Cadillac is significantly more sporty than the Lexus, and better equipped as well. (it should be, considering what it originally cost).
  • I am looking for a used car from the years 1987 to 2002, My price range is from 1,000 to 3,000, I like 2 Door cars that look sporty, my favorite cars in these category are Integra, Paseo, Sunbird, but my favorite car of all time is Eclipse 1990(found one at a decent price of 2,000, you guys/gals think it's a decent price? The only bad part is the paint is a bit faded but that can be fix later on I suppose), So if you could recommend me any cars in that price range and as cool looking and sounding of the Eclipse 1990(also, it has to be automatic and fuel respectable), please let me know, thanks :) :confuse:

    Also on a side note, let it be clear, I don't know anything about cars, I just like a few, drove a few and the few I drove I loved, so if it ain't to much trouble, it be nice if you could tell me if the Eclipse '90 decent enough to maintain, I know its not new so it will have its trouble shots. Thanks again.
  • mr_gonemr_gone Posts: 50
    Danger! Danger! The combination of not knowing anything about cars and trying to find one priced between $1,000 and $3,000 is one that can lead to some serious regret later on. The Eclipse may be fine, but it may need a lot more than paint -- and you can't tell unless you've had a mechanic do a thorough inspection. So if you pay $2,000 and face $3,000 in repairs, you're suddenly way beyond your budget. The Integra and Paseo I would guess to be more reliable than the Sunbird or Eclipse, but none of these are guaranteed to be anything close to trouble-free when they're all obviously old and at the end of their lives.

    More important than the car is the seller in your case. If you can find someone who is honest and straightforward and can give you a good idea of what might need fixing soon and what has been replaced, buy it. Otherwise, keep looking. Probably a private seller who is a friend or family member is your best bet. Good luck!
  • mr_gonemr_gone Posts: 50
    The new Impreza is much improved for fuel economy vs the old ones. So I'd eliminate that as a reason to skip it.

    Surprised no one has mentioned the Honda Fit? You can get a very nice one for your price and have both a fun car and one with a lot of carrying capacity thanks to the clever way its seats fold down in the back.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You're basically going to be looking at big boats. IE - a Buick LeSabre/Park Avenue or a Crown Vic. Find something that was NOT used for a fleet or rental and you should be fine. $3K should get you something that is fairly reliable.

    Anything else will be a complete money pit or be a total DIY project.
  • I understand that, that is why i am taking my uncle, he is a great mechanic, he will go with me, turn on the car, test drive, check the engine, i am a smart shopper i think, If i see its just a young punk, i know the car has been through hell, that is why, when i look for old cars, I try to make sure the seller, is honest and a age adequate to the car, I also like the Mirage from 95 to 2000, but mostly they are own by young kids wanting to BRROOOM BRROOM all day and sell the car cause they broke it enough hahaha, But can you recommend any other car? Like I said, aslong as it as the look of a Integra, RX7 or Eclipse(1990), I will try it, i've loved those box design cause they look good and respectable
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited August 2012
    The problem with those cars is that they age very poorly. The RX7 is a nightmare to maintain once it gets past 10 years old or so (which they all are approaching *twice* that age), the Integra of that age is basically a fancy Civic, and overpriced versus, say, a used newer Civic, Mirages in that price range are all generally falling apart or close to it (good cars but poor interiors as a rule), and an Eclipse that old is... you might as well just buy a used 280ZX and fix it up.

    What you want is something that is seen as a old person's car, depreciates like a rock, and is built to actually still be running in the 15 year old range or so. Like I said, this means something either so simple you can work onit yourself, or something that was overbuilt and is a big tank. You can actually get perfectly good working 2002 Crown Vics for $3K. You can get a ~2000 Buick LeSabre for about that price. It'll likely have been owned by an elderly person who didn't abuse it. Note - my mom's 2000 LeSabre will go 80mph quite easily - it's deceptively quick. 27mpg highway is also a nice bonus.

    If you want sporty and old, here are a few to consider:
    - 1993 Volvo 240. This was the last year and they are extremely reliable and simple to keep running. They handle quite well for their age. Also consider a 940, which is a 240 with a better exterior and fancier options. Get with manual.

    - 4 cylinder Toyota Rav4/Tacoma/4Runner with manual. This is indestructible and works. Volvos and Toyotas are well known to last 300K+ miles. Avoid 6 cylinder models. Avoid automatics.

    - BMW 318Ti. This is a specific BMW that is cheap to run and actually is quite reliable. Because it's a hatchback, it was panned by Americans (much like the Mercedes C230K hatchback was). This means very low prices. Upkeep is more than the other options, but it's worth it in the end. Manual, naturally. Drives like, well, a BMW.

    On manuals - manuals make you a better, more in-tune driver, and they cost a few *hundred* to put a new clutch in.(or $150 if you DIY) Automatics on ancient cars run $1500-$2000, typically. GM's big cars (Buick and Cadillac) and the Crown Vic are notable overbuilt automatics that I'd recommend 10 years old. BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo were almost entirely sold with manuals in Europe. It's the only way to but a European car, IMO. As little to break as humanly possible, and a manual gearbox.

    Other than that, get a classic car for $2500 and work on restoring it. If you get something with carbs and pre-smog, as well as pre-computers, you can actually keep it running for a very long time with elbow grease. Your uncle will likely like this option, actually, as he can help you fix things quite easily compared to modern 15-20 year old cars which are usually a mess of crumbling wiring and aging computers and sensors.

    But my first choice of all of those above? Get a used 4Runner. You can save a lot, btw, if the thing has a few places with rock rash and dings, which a lot of them have. 4WD, of course. Look for a Marlin Crawler transmission and/or transfer case if it has one fitted to it.
  • Hi All,

    I had written about a month ago asking opinions on buying a new car.

    Well, I've narrowed it down to two choices now:
    1) The Subaru Impreza 5 door Premium
    2) VW Gold 5 door base model with Convenience package (which adds bluetooth, etc.)
    I've been renting a bunch of cars (sadly neither one of those models yet) and have realized a couple of things. My old car had a v6 engine and while the hp was 134, the torque was 180. I've been finding that I'm not crazy about cars with lower hp/power. Also, my old car had pretty tight steering, which I prefer. That puts a bit of an edge on the Golf for me. So before I head off to test drive these my main questions are:
    Which car is more expensive to maintain after the warranty? Which car lasts longer all things being equal? (I take REALLY good car of my cars, keep them garaged, keep up with maintenance and do about 3000 miles a year.)
    Thanks again all.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,746
    edited August 2012
    Given you drive 3k miles a year and you take REALLY good care of your cars, keep them garaged etc., I don't think you need to worry about longevity in either of these cars.

    One thing to consider is re the CVT on the Impreza, if you are going that route. I am not 100% sold yet on CVT reliability, although I drive a car with a CVT today (2010 Sentra)--but it has a 10 year, 120k mile warranty on the CVT.

    If I were deciding between these two cars (and they are both on my shopping list for next year, albeit I hope the Golf VII is out by then), I'd definitely go with the stick on the Golf. It's a great shifter, has a tall 5th gear for low revs on the highway (less noise, better FE), and will likely hold up better in the long run than the automatic. And it's more fun. :) For the Impreza, I would tend to go with the CVT based on driving both the 5-speed and CVT and finding the CVT to be much quieter, lower revving, and having better FE.

    And of course the Golf has much more torque than the Impreza--also likely lower FE, esp. compared to the CVT Impreza. But considering you drive 250 miles a month, the difference in FE on these two cars is moot.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    it appears as though Nissan is sticking with the CVT. I drove a Versa hatchback the other day and was blown away by the CVT. I can't wait to buy a used one. As for the aforementioned two choices, I would go for the Impreza. For me, I would never, ever buy anything built in or containing parts from Europe.
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