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What's the best vehicle for my needs?

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  • yeah the only thing I can say to the unknown factor is the mercedes I saw the carfax for and it had a very clean history except for one battery change; I did have the 86 mercedes for about 8 yrs reliably (and it wasn't in the most ideal shape when I got it since it had been leaking coolant and oil for years) and it was only around the 22-23 year mark I started having problems

    so I would hope these cars if in without any problems right now would last at least that long, I suppose there is also the option of spending a bit more money and upgrading to something newer however
  • I've driving a lot of miles these days and my gas bill is getting pretty high. I have a 2006 Toyota Tacoma V6. Gas mileage isn't terrible as trucks go, but I'd like to get some sort of sedan that gets 30+ highway miles. Don't want to spend anymore than I can get for the truck. Need something reliable and good for hauling two kids around. Doesn't need to be pretty. Was thinking of something like a mid-2000s Accord but that's just because it's the first thing that came to my mind. Would love to hear suggestions from knowledgeable folks. Thanks!
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 947
    For reliability you can't go wrong with a mid-2000's Accord or Camry. Camry might have a larger back seat and bigger trunk if kids and hauling are objectives. The 4 cyl. Camry easily gets 30+ mpg highway. Higher used cost than domestic cars but I think it's worth it.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,268
    edited October 2011
    Tough to get too specific without knowing what you can get for you truck.

    Are you thinking of doing an even trade with a dealer or selling the truck privately first? What kind of money are we talking about? How old are the kids?

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

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,232
    Assuming your Tacoma is a 4x4, the demand is usually pretty high. Agree on the Accord as well. It doesn't sound like you're too picky just make sure you get the 4cyl as the V6 isn't as reliable or efficient obviously.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,235
    If you're talking a mid-2000's midsize sedan, not just Accord and Camry, but pretty much all of the offerings are decent. Fusion/Milan, Sonata/Optima, Malibu, and so on can all be good options in 4 cylinder guise.
  • robbiegrobbieg Posts: 327
    I am all over the place with cars. Initially, was thinking SUV but lately I am thinking AWD sedan. Want to go used and pretty new 2009-2010. Since, I am going used Subies are out. So, what is left? The way I look at it a new Legacy can be had for about 22,000 so I want to spend less than that. The only car that I can think of is a Fusion/MKZ and I don't know if an MKZ can be had for that price. Am I missing something? Most AWD cars are more expensive brands BMW, Audi, Infiniti, etc. The only other options are a Taurus but man are those things (the new body style) pricey, or the Chrysler 300 but that is pricey too. What else is there?

    Now, I know that snow tires on a FWD car are better than a AWD with all season tire but my wife wants AWD which means that I need AWD.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,232
    I've been all over this one too as I could get by with a car a lot more often than I do if I went AWD. My biggest problem with the AWD cars is the horrendous gas mileage. I mean for what you give up they're not much better than SUV/Crossovers. But if you want the performance increase the car obviously wins out. I won't buy a Subaru new or used and they've pretty much got the market locked up. I think they're good cars and the awd is far better than most of the run-o-the-mill AWD's...but I just don't like anything they have to offer.

    I think the Fusion/Milan is about the only choice in that age/price range. I would want to hold out for the 2010 on that model. The MKZ is still a little pricier and I can't see paying extra for the same car with a Lincoln name on it unless there's a specific feature you want. Gas mileage is a stinky 17/24 (for a mid-size V6 it's stinky).

    If I do it I'm really leaning towards the Charger RT. It's expensive but I get the performance I'm looking for and mpg is 15/23. V8 under the hood of a bigger better performing vehicle and I'm ok with a 1-2mpg penalty. In the end...I'll probably just keep pumping gas into my Pathfinder. Performance isn't bad and I don't have to dump $30k+. I'm getting cheap in my old age.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,654
    Not cheap, just a bit more practical. Everybody has a different point where it pays to swap out a vehicle over keeping the curent ride. We're in a similar situation...the wife's '05 Mazda 3s is almost at 97.4k miles and we had to decide to keep the car and buy new shoes for it or to trade it in on a new car. She needed new tires like "now" so we had a decision to make...keep it & buy tires or plunk down about $20k or so on new. Problem is that the supply of cars she'd like isn't there and she has a pretty good short list to test drive. And we hate to rush into this big of a decision and to spend that kind of $ on when she hasn't tried everything and have a chance to discuss it with me.

    So we decided to buy the new shoes and keep the car for another year at least. Hopefully nothing big will happen where the car needs some major $ thrown at it. We'll do the 100k mile stuff...new plugs and radiator service and possibly a tranny service. But nothing else and hope we can get her a 2013 model. By that time supply will be back up and we'll have test driven everything on the short list. Time to think while accumulating more $ in the bank to purchase it outright, unless they bring back the 0% financing.

    This is the practical, financially smart thing to do to achieve the ultimate result of purchasing her a great new car. And then, by 2015 or so, it'll be my turn. With the way I'm putting on mileage now, my Civic should have under 50k miles and there will still be pretty good value left for the next owner...they will be getting a very sweet, well careed for ride. A win/win for everyone concerned!

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

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

  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,663
    I had an '07 Fusion AWD until about 6 months ago.
    It was one of those 80/20 cars.
    I liked that it did not feel front driveish and was very smooth on the highway.
    The engine sound was bad, especially when started cold.
    After that it was pretty quiet, although nailing the gas didn't sound that great either.
    The interior showed some obvious cost cutting, but the back seat had plenty on legroom and headroom for a 6ft+ adult, even with sunroof.
    Mine was rated 18/27 under the old rating system and on a long trip I could hit the highway rating. Overall, I averaged 22.25 mpg.
    The MKZ has a larger 3.5 engine.
  • hambonecampanahambonecampana Posts: 7
    edited December 2011
    I'm looking to purchase an inexpensive, older convertible (ideally a 2 seater) that I can keep for years to come as a second car. I'd like it to be reliable, fun to drive, won't plummet in value, and a car that, if something breaks, there's information out there to teach me how to fix it. I'm pretty young, and I don't know a whole lot about cars (although I am pretty handy), but if I learn on the way that's great. I don't want it to start out as a project car, but if over the years it gives me some projects, I'm okay with that. I'm thinking about an older BMW Z3. According to edmunds prices a 96 would should come in at about 4-5k. I'd also consider the Honda S2000, although the entry price seems to be about double what I could get a Z3 for (although it would be a newer car). I thought about the MR2 Spyder but heard that it has an unpleasant exhaust note, the Audi TT, but given Audi's reliability that thought concerns me, and the Miata really doesn't do anything for me visually. Are there any other cars I should seriously consider? Would appreciate thoughts from some that have gone before me. Thanks all!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,268
    edited December 2011
    Well, since you shot down the miata, the z3 is your car. Unless you want to spend the dough on the Honda, the bimmer is the only other reliable and easy to work on model. Stick with the 6 cylinder, IMHO.

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

  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    Totally agreed-- the early year 4 cylinder Z3s were terrible. Compare the inline six to the S2000s and see what you find out. I doubt the gap is as wide as you think, and the S2000 is a much faster, more sporty car than any except the M Z3 which I doubt is on the table.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You absolutely want the S2000. The resale value on BMWs is poor because they are pretty sad things used, especially the original Z3s. The Boxster also has similar engine and repair cost issues. Both drive great, but they aren't simple or basic cars. ie - they are a 2-seater convertibles and not really a light and agile roadster.

    Plus, the reason S2000s don't depreciate is because they really were instant classics.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,268
    Well, if we are comparing old ones, it doesn't amount to a whole hell of a lot. And s2ks certainly do depreciate.

    2000 z3 2.5. Original msrp 31,300. Current trade-in value with 100k miles is $4900. 15.66%
    2000 s2000. Original msrp 32,000. Current trade-in value with 100k miles is $5800. 18.13%

    That seems to hold pretty steady through the years. An '04 s2k, for instance, is worth a grand more than an '04 z4 2.5. Both were right around $33k new.

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

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    But you'll note that almost all of the lower-priced Z3s are automatics. The repair costs will also crush your wallet. And to add insult to injury, I've seen old Buicks with better interiors than a typical 10 year old BMW. They seriously don't age well. Mind you, Mercedes are also similar, so it's not specific to BMW. The S2000 is so simple that there's nothing to really break. And the engine is pretty close to bulletproof.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,268
    I don't know why you think the repair costs are any more than a Honda. I've had both and find no difference. Of course, I don't go to the dealer. Anybody who does go to the dealer has no right to complain about the cost.

    As far as "typical interior," well, I guess the one I have is completely atypical. The 30-year-old bimmer we had had bad seats, but that is typical of any convertible with black leather. They were actually still in better shape than my 30-year-old Italian leather (Alfa). I have no interest in any buick of the past 30 years, so I have no idea what those tend to look like.

    Don't know if I would call the S2k simple. Anything with a redline that high is actually fairly complex. Oil burning issues aren't terribly uncommon with the early cars. They are both fine cars. I would say their reliability is virtually even. You also stand a better chance finding a z3 that wasn't raced. The s2k is better looking, though.

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

  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    edited December 2011
    I agree with the majority of your posts, but good grief. BMW maintenance and repair costs suck compared to a Honda. I've had a few of both. For starters, my BMWs seem to trash their brake pads and rotors every 30K miles. On my Hondas and Acuras, I tend to average about 100K on a set of pads. I've never driven one long enough to wear out the rotors. BMWs are horrible on consumables, from brake light bulbs to tires to just about anything as compared to a Honda. Plus, BMWs require more frequent and usually annoying repairs.

    Plus, I can reset the darn maintenance light on a Honda without a special tool.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    As for the interiors, specifically in a 3 series, the E30s are really durable, the E46s are somewhat durable, and the E36s have crap interiors.

    I base this on my personal experience, looking at tons of used cars, reading Bimmer, reading BMW specific forums, etc.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    And the E36 is the platform that the Z3s were based upon, especially when it came to electrical and interior construction. They really do tend to be worn-out and full of problems as they age. And what a miserable piece of Tupperware the interior is. The Z4, that's a whole other animal, though. But even then, it's really expensive to own one. I would have suggested a Mercedes SLK as well, but they are incredibly expensive to fix. $2000+ clutch jobs and so on.

    A 30 year old BMW or Mercedes? They were still making them with a lot of quality, especially for the upper-level models. So they really can't be compared to the newer models.

    A S2000 is as simple and straight forward as a Miata. But it drives and looks a whole lot better. Nobody cares about a Z3 but you will get some looks with a S2000. ;)
  • apavapav Posts: 1
    I need to get a car to get me back and forth from school for this year only. I will only need it for this semester (I am staying home for this semester and then going to finish my undergrad on the other side of the country, but I'll be back for breaks). My parents are buying the car for me, but I have to buy gas.

    I'm currently looking at 2 cars: a 2009 Toyota Corolla 4dr Sedan LE and a Suzuki SX4 Sport Touring FWD Sedan.

    The Corolla was nice, but it had many MANY scratches on all sides, even on the front and the rims. One side looked like it was sideswiped, because there were more scratches on that one side, on top of the clip of the front right bumper sticking out and condensation in the right side headlight. I am using the past tense because the dealer was getting someone to buffer out the scratches, fix the clip, and do a touch up with some paint, but we haven't seen it yet so I'm not sure what to think yet .I popped open the front hood and didn't see any parts crumbled, so I know if it was involved in any sort of accident or whatever to cause those scratches, it didn't effect how the vehicle runs. I test drove the Corolla. The ride was smooth, the tires didn't veer to one side if I let go of the steering wheel, and it had a nice pick-up for a four cylinder engine. The Corolla also has much better MPG and mileage compared to the Suzuki. The Corolla has about 30,000 miles and gets an estimated 27 City/35 Highway, while the Suzuki has 42,962 miles and gets an estimated 22 City/30 Highway.

    After tax and additional fee's, I'm looking around $11500 for the Corolla and $9500 for the Suzuki.

    I have yet to see the Suzuki (am going to take a look tomorrow), but assuming everything with the Suzuki is perfect (no scratches, I like how the car drives and looks) what do you guys think would be the better car?

    I'm not sure if I trust Suzuki cars, because they are less known, and to my knowledge are considered the economic-bargain cars. Also, since safety should be the highest priority, I would think Toyota is leaps and bounds ahead of Suzuki in that fashion. I'm not sure about this, but I think Suzuki doesn't have great safety ratings.

    Which car would you pick? Would you still pick the Corolla over the Suzuki, despite it still having noticeable blemishes/potential safety issues?

    If anyone is interested, the link to the Suzuki from the dealer is here:
    http://www.southshorehyundai.com/VehicleDetails/used-2009-Suzuki-SX4-4dr_Sdn_Aut- o_Sport_Touring_Pkg_FWD-Valley_Stream-NY/1491029763

    The Toyota was never listed on the dealer's website, but I listed the trim.

    Thanks guys!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,268
    The Corolla will have far far better resale value down the road.

    that being said, the Suzuki is an amazing deal if that really is your total price including taxes and all fees. That car would fetch $8k at dealer auction. Sounds like you are buying it for darned near that price.

    the Corolla actually has a similar gap. About $10k at auction... but that's for an average one. Sounds like this one may be a bit below average. But as long as it fixes up to your satisfaction, nothing wrong there.

    Make sure they have clean carfaxes!!

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

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 947
    Whichever one you choose, make sure to get it checked out by a mechanic first. Especially you want to find out how damaged the Corolla might have been. You can't tell just by looking under the hood. A mechanic will look for frame damage.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,407
    Are you an active duty or retired member of the U.S. military who recently bought a new or used car from a dealership? Do you feel like you got a better deal because of your service? Or did you ever feel that the dealer tried to invoke your military experience as a way to butter you up for a bad deal? A reporter is interested in hearing about these experiences, both positive and negative. Please send a brief overview of your experience and your contact info to pr@edmunds.com by February 5th, 2012.

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • I am having a really hard time deciding what car to get. I am in the market for a used car, the most I am looking to spend is 19000 (including a 3K trade in). That does not mean I want to spend that much but I definitely do not want to go pass that. What I want is a sporty fuel efficient hatchback (if that is even possible lmao). Cars I have considered: Golf TDI(2010&^), Toyota Matrix(09&^) and the Mazda 3(09), Honda CR-Z. Any opinion on this would be great.

    My question is when does a fuel efficient car end up costing more than buying a cheaper not as fuel efficient car. Any sites I can compare this at? I ask this because the VW TDI cost more than my other choices but it has better MPG. I drive the average amount.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,232
    I'm a huge fan of VW TDI's past....but the new ones just seem to be a big risk. They have had problems with US Spec diesel causing major damage to the fuel system. My neighbor needed $10k in repairs and spent a ton of time fighting VW before they would make it right. I guess there's an investigation by the feds into these problems as well. A used one would be a huge risk in my book.

    Matrix might not be bad but I guess we would need to clarify what you want by "sporty"....looks, acceleration, handling...None you've listed are necessarily great in the acceleration dept.

    I'll throw out another option: MINI Cooper. Lots of fun, less common on the streets, and the S-version has good performance and economy when you're not hot-rodding it. Maybe not the most reliable option (quirky perhaps) but no risk of major problems like say the TDI.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,235
    My question is when does a fuel efficient car end up costing more than buying a cheaper not as fuel efficient car.

    Use a spreadsheet & compare models yourself. If you don't have Excel/MS Office, you can download OpenOffice for free at http://www.openoffice.org/.

    Rows:
    Purchase Price (include tax, finance charges, etc.)
    Fuel economy: X MPG
    Anticipated life: Y miles
    Anticipated gas price: Z $
    Lifetime fuel cost = Z * Y / X

    If you're really trying to determine costs, though, add additional rows for things like:
    Insurance. The sporty car might cost more to insure. Call your agent.
    Maintenance. Frequency of oil changes and is synthetic a requirement, other routine maintenance, possibly a timing belt replacement, etc. Example: a car with a 5,000 oil change interval will need 20 oil changes over 100K miles while a car with a 7500 mile interval will only need 13.
    Odd/expensive size tires.
    License registration fees if they vary by car in your state (some do, some don't).

    Add columns for each car under consideration. At the bottom add a row for Total Cost.

    Beyond cost, though, consider other potentials. As sebring95 noted, VWs might have higher maintenance costs. Which brands do you consider to be more reliable? Which car is more fun to drive? You want a hatch. If that's for cargo capacity & not looks, does what you want to haul fit?
  • Hi all,

    I'm new to used vehicle buying, so would welcome any advice! I'm currently driving a 99 Subaru Forester that was pretty much a hand-me-down. It has 290k miles on it, and is in pretty good shape, but some rust damage will probably limit my trade-in value.

    I'm looking for something a little more fuel efficient and sportier. I'm looking to spend around 10k.

    In the past, I've driven a few VW Jettas/Passats and have really enjoyed driving them. I've also heard only good things about them. However, their dependability ratings are atrocious. What is the merit to the claims that these VWs are unreliable?

    I'm inclined to go with the VW for its great reputation, but if that reputation is misleading and I'd be better off with a Hyundai Elantra (which has excellent reliability ratings in the same sedan class) I'd like to know.

    Thanks!
    -Ben
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,232
    VW's tend to be quirky at times, but if you can do the work yourself or have a great private mechanic they're not bad vehicles. I had a Jetta Diesel for 250k miles that treated me well. It had a few issues here and there but nothing major that I couldn't fix myself. If you have to take the car to a VW dealer.... I've heard a lot of horror stories about that. Their labor rates tend to be up there with other Euro manufacturers that all happen to be luxury brands.....so paying luxury labor rates on an economy car can be hard to swallow. Parts are also pretty high and some have rather significant maintenance schedules.

    I would have a hard time picking a used Elantra over a VW, but I do prefer the way the VW's drive (particularly the older models...the newest ones have been over-Americanized in my book).

    Don't even think about trading that Subaru. A dealer won't give you anything for it compared to a private party. It will be an easy sale privately.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    IMO and IME, the easiest way to upgrade a car to be more sporty is to get a car with a manual transmission. Now, I'm not talking a nasty rubbery mess like found in a lot of domestics and smaller brands but something that is almost video game easy to deal with.

    Unfortunately, most everything made in Japan is as bland as a toaster oven. Subaru and Mitsubishi are notable exceptions as they haven't quite fallen into the vanilla ice cream (aka fleet sales) trap yet. Of the stuff made in Japan, I'd look at the Impreza and the Lancer if you want sporty. Reliability is fine for both.

    If you want something from Europe, then it gets a bit trickier as the main problem with cars (especially from Germany) is that their government places stiff rules and regulations on imported parts. Why is this important? Because while the hard bits are built like no other, the electrical systems and accessories are often third rate additions. It's not the engines on a VW that die. It's the GPS, the windows, the heated seats, the right speaker, and so on. Also, since literally every car over there with automatic that's not a luxury model or SUV is used mostly for rental fleets and taxis, automatic transmissions are an afterthought. Usually poorly built and hideously expensive to fix or replace.

    A good car to consider would be maybe something like a base model C230K. Manual transmission, and even manual seats if I recall. Cloth seats is the giveaway, though. Very very little to actually break. You can also get a 3 series set up similarly, and even VWs are fine (just avoid the turbo and V6 models entirely - stick with 4 cylinder or TDI only).

    Also, another way to deal with this is to get something fancier for 6-8K and save the extra for repairs. This could be a classic, and old Porsche or BMW (like a near mint 318 or E36), Volvo (back then they made them in Europe), or similar.
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