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Midsize Sedans 2.0

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  • m6userm6user Posts: 2,996
    Yes, I think you're right. I do like the new Regal though and I think it is very classy and materials are good. I would love to buy another Buick and hope they do great with it but it does lack some bells and whistles that I personally like and I think the powertrains are one step behind in regards to power/mpg when compared to others. I just saw an article today about the the Regal GS and it will be about 255 hp or something like that. That is the highest hp engine of the three that are being offered and the hp and mpg lag behind several others in the midsize class.
  • the current Malibu is based on the old Epsilon I platform along with the Aura and Pontiac G6...the new Regal, Lacrosse and the next Malibu are based on the Epsilon II platform though GM has various sizes of the platform available. the New Caddy XTS will be based off this platform as well.

    The OLD Regal, if I remember correctly was based off the same platform as the Century, Intrigue, Grand Prix and Impala...I admit that I could be wrong about that though.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,717
    Ah, now I remember the article I read recently. It said the Malibu is based on a "heavily revised" Epsilon platform. So not quite Epsilon II, but not really the same as the G6 or Aura.
  • The only time I think of that I "need" to go from 0-60 is when I need to merge on to the freeway from at dead stop. Even in that case, 0.1 seconds or 0.5 seconds really wouldn't make a difference. 0-60 should never be the determining factor when buying a car which brings me to my next point.

    I am looking to buy a car within the next 2 month and as the time draw closer the reality hits harder. Things that seemed minor when I'm just shopping gets magnified into key factors. Let's take warranty for an example, a 5/60K one is vastly superior to a 3/36K one when I plan to own my car for at least 6 years. MPG that I ignored because my commute is only 10 miles round trip now bugs me in the case that I have to relocate or find a new job. Monthly insurance premiums, maintenance costs, after warranty repair costs and a whole list of things that hits when you are about to take money out of your bank account. It's nice to be able to talk about them without any worries but as a responsible adult I simply cannot buy a car without a way to resolve these issues.

    So what's my point? What ever different in performance number that matters in a comparo can kiss my behind because I need the money where else. Things like crash test ratings all the sudden becomes a high priority since as we all know a dead man can't drive.

    In short, the same car can yield very different opinions depending on how the person is viewing the car.
  • rdm925rdm925 Posts: 46
    Hi, I need feedback. We need to look at a compact to mid size car for daughter w/ 4 & 5 yr old grandsons and under 20k if possible. What is the best choice. So far it is either the Mazda 3 (my choice) or Ford Focus (cheaper but ughly) or maybe good deal on Mazda 5.
    Thanks, :shades:
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Well, if they are to be in the rear seat, that means that they need to not be wedged against the sides in case of a side impact. In short, you need to get a larger vehicle to be safe. That said, there are loads and loads of mid-size vehicles out there that get good fuel economy.

    1 - let someone else eat the initial depreciation. Even a Hyundai or similar is now pretty much problem-free for the first decade or so, so buying a certified or similar vehicle with 20-40K on it is a fantastic way to save money.

    2 - domestics, while band and boring as a rule, depreciate the fastest. This can mean a 2-3 year old 25-30K vehicle for the price of a new Civic. That buys a LOT of gas. Case in point - I recently bought an old Crown Vic to get around town in. At the price I bought it for, it will take me three years to spend the difference in gas versus a smaller 4 cylinder Toyota. Sometimes the best economics isn't the most efficient vehicle. It's big and can seat 6, so it makes for a great car to put kids in. Way better than a Minivan in any case. That would have just *completely* crushed what's left of my soul versus denting it a bit driving this beast. :P (minor note - you can get a 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis fully loaded for $25K new and half that 5 years old)
    http://www.automotive.com/2005/09/mercury/grand-marquis/index.html
    That's roughly $2K in gas to burn through before you get to the price of even a stripped-down Yaris with automatic.

    Yes, it's a silly example :) But new just doesn't make sense any more - unless maybe it's a gift or something like that, which would be a factor to consider.(I think anyone with a family would be just as thrilled at a CPO vehicle, TBH)

    3 - many larger vehicles get better efficiency than their smaller counterparts. As vehicles get larger and larger, compact cars' tiny engines have to work harder, to where the MPG difference between, say, am Impala(as a random example) and a Mazda 3 is only a few MPG. (19/29 vs 25/33) But that little 2.0 engine in the base 3 is a horrid and weak thing. Moving up to the S solves that, but mpg drops to 20/29 - no real gain versus the larger and safer vehicle.

    So the question should be - what mid-size 2-4 year old CPO domestic vehicle is the best? Well, we need to be a bit more specific. Are there any features you must have or desires like cargo space or certain brands you won't consider?
  • m6userm6user Posts: 2,996
    Well, we need to be a bit more specific. Are there any features you must have or desires like cargo space or certain brands you won't consider?

    Yeah, maybe they just want to buy and drive a new car! Ever thought about that?

    When are you going to get off your soapbox about buying a 2-3 year old depreciated vehicle? Nearly every time someone comes on here and asks for advice you get on your soapbox instead of asking them what they want. How about asking them if they want to buy new or used. Then if they say used is ok, knock them out with your vast knowledge in fiscal responsibility. However, be warned, most everybody knows to buy used is probably the most frugal financial decision to make. But to many, obviously not you, buying a brand new car is a dream that only a brand new car can bring to fruition.

    There are some drawbacks to buying used that(besides not being brand new) that people worry about.

    1. Was the car crashed/flooded/bought back under lemon law etc.? I realize we are supposed to be able to determine that but there are reports of fraud in these areas all the time.
    2. Was the car maintained?. Again, records could show this but how accurate are they.
    3. Are there new safety features on a brand new car that on the used vehicle or just weren't available a couple of years prior.
    4. Is the warranty as good as a new car warranty? Hard to tell sometimes with deductibles and fine print.

    I'm sure there are more that I can't think of until I have more coffee but you get the jist.
  • Let me help in actually answering the question (instead of the battle of new vs. used).

    The Mazda3 is a fun yet practical compact, with good space for child seats in back. Whether you opt for the sedan or 5-door, it should offer good space, and still be a reliable, fun-to-drive vehicle.

    The Focus is well past it's prime IMO, in fact, it's riding on a platform that's been around since it's intro in 2000 (and which the Mazda3 is on the newer-gen, and vastly superior, platform.) The Focus is due for a complete redesign next year, and if you can't wait, then I'd remove it off the list.

    As for the Mazda5, it's more of a minivan than a sedan, and as such, it's versatile and got plenty of room for child seats, it's also on the same platform as the 3, and shares it's drivetrain and most suspension components.

    I'd go with the 3 or 5.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,717
    edited November 2010
    Another thought is to consider the cars that are in between compact and mid-size, i.e. have compact exteriors but mid-sized interiors. Those might be a little handier when wrestling with car seats in the back. Cars in this class include the Elantra (can probably get a good deal on one now because the next-gen model is coming soon), Sentra, and Versa. The Versa in particular has a really roomy back seat for two, especially considering its size which is actually sub-compact in length.

    Other small cars that are pretty roomy inside if not officially "mid-sized" include the new Cruze and the Forte.

    Any of these have considerably more back seat room than the Focus or, particularly, the Mazda3. The Mazda5 is a good choice if you don't mind more of a mini-van style, lower fuel economy than a small sedan, and can live with the very cramped back seat (albeit very roomy accommodations for 4). If you prefer more a wagon style, the Elantra comes in a very roomy wagon called the Elantra Touring--huge amount of back seat room and lots of cargo room. The Versa has a hatchback style available too, and the Forte offers a hatchback for the 2011 MY.
  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    I really like the suggestion of the Elantra--it's a very nice car and a tremendous value, plus CR says it's pretty much tops in the class in reliability. As for the Versa, the one thing that would stop me is the poor braking performance, especially on the versions without ABS.

    If a true midsize is on the agenda, go looking for a Ford Fusion.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,717
    All but the base Versa have standard ABS now, so it's not as much an issue as it used to be.

    One vehicle I forgot to mention is the Rondo. Probably the main competitor to the Mazda5, and a lot of room for its size--based on the current Optima platform. Seats five or, with optional rear seat, seven. I think it made someone's (CR's?) list of most overlooked vehicles.

    Fusion is a very nice mid-sized car, but it seems this buyer is looking for something a little smaller outside. My favorite in that regard is probably the Elantra Touring. Positively limo-like rear seat leg room plus a huge cargo area, all the standard safety features including ESC, in a trim exterior. And a little more Euro-like in handling and styling than the Elantra sedan (since the Touring is based on the European i30).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited November 2010
    New vs CPO aside, the real issue is the fact that car seats are very wide and you can fit two side by side with about an inch between it and the door - and each other towards the middle. I know this, tested it in a Focus, actually, years ago. Barely fit two in the rear - and made worse by the annoying tendency of the seats to sag outwards. The center pad doesn't compress as much and the effect is a 10-15 degree tilt which places the seats almost touching the C pillars.

    Just no extra space in case of a crash. They don't need something larger so much as about 8-12 inches wider. But a SUV or Minivan just kills the MPG gains. A midsize car with good gas mileage is a good option, IMO(Mazda 6? - $18K for a 2010 (NEW) with automatic 21/30mpg ). But not the only one. Some crossovers like a Subaru Forester are also nice, since they have fairly boxy dimensions.

    I guess it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I just cringe every time I see a tiny car with kids in it.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,717
    edited November 2010
    Check out the cars I mentioned. Most are rated highly in crash tests. (And side impact tests are irrespective of the car's size/weight--not true for frontal of course, but that's not where you were going.) Also, the Forester is based on the Impreza's platform, and isn't that wide (just 0.2 inches wider than a compact like the Elantra, and narrower than some other compacts e.g. Sentra).

    Not everyone can or will drive a Crown Vic. That's what you'd need if you want another 8-12 inches in width and don't want a big SUV or full-sized minivan. (e.g. the difference in width between the mid-sized Mazda6 and compact Sentra is only 1.9 inches)
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,458
    well, the OP said the kids wer 4 and 5 at this point. So you are basically done with the big beastly car seats, and into some sort of booster. WHich means they are way more compact.

    I actually think the mazda5 is a perfect option in this cse. Lots of cargo room and flexiblity, but still gets good MPG while being compact size. The 3 is really pretty cramped in the rear seat. May not be an issue now, but could be a few years down the road as the kids grow!

    also, the other debate along with new/used is size. At the 20K price point, you can get a relatively loaded compact or a base model mid size.

    say, a Civic EX (with moonroof, etc.) or an Accord LX (with hubcaps and no luxo goodies). Probably the same issue with a loaded Elantra (do they make those?) vs. a strippos Sonata.

    I will also 2nd the idea that the Elantra touring is a very nice car, and pretty darned roomy. But not really that cheap, especially if you get the higher line model with more features.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The Forester since it has fairly vertical sides in the rear and and more bench-like seats keeps the boosters/car seats more upright. So there's a proper 4-6 inches between the kids and the sides of the car.

    Of course, there are also mini-SUVs as well. The RAV-4 is a fine vehicle that fits every criteria and gets decent MPG. Perfect for a family of 4. But to stay in that price-range, they'd be looking at 1-2 years old.

    Budget Mini-SUVs that might work for under $20K (and get high MPG ratings) are:

    Jeep Patriot - $16,500 optioned out.(least expensive option) Very good incentives on 2010 models and under-appreciated, IMO. Actually is fairly reliable, unlike most Jeep models. Huge cargo area and nice driving position.

    Nissan Rogue - $19K for a 2010 model. CR-V competitor, IMO. Very nice and also off of most people's radar.

    MItsubishi Outlander - $19K in base trim. Just squeeks in under the 20K limit for a base model. Reliability is a plus here.

    Mazda Tribute - $19K optioned out (2010 model after incentives) - Finding one is the trouble. A 2011 without incentives is about the same price as a CR-V, which is a better option.(ie - 22-23K, well past the original poster's budget)

    Others exist, but they either get SUV MPG ratings or are well over 20K unless you get a stripped-out base model with zero options on it(and often a manual transmission as well) Hyundai makes one but it's almost as ugly as the new Juke - so it's really not a viable option.(the Santa Fe is too expensive - now well over 20K) Honda and Toyota are over 20K now as well. Even Ford is 21K. I omitted Suzuki, because, well, I'd rather have a Daewoo. Suzuki is probably the least reliable and enjoyable vehicle out there. They just need to give up and make motorcycles.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,752
    One vehicle I forgot to mention is the Rondo.

    Rondo has been discontinued in the states. May still be some left on lots.
    The Mazda 5 will be all new revision in the spring. You might be able to get a great deal on one right now.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,717
    edited November 2010
    The Forester since it has fairly vertical sides in the rear and and more bench-like seats keeps the boosters/car seats more upright. So there's a proper 4-6 inches between the kids and the sides of the car.

    The Forester has 1/2 inch more rear shoulder room than compacts like the Elantra and Sentra, and less shoulder room than mid-sized sedans. So I don't know how a small SUV like the Forester can keep booster/car seats more upright than any other vehicle of about the same size.

    In fact, I don't know how this got into a discussion on SUVs... and whether they are ugly or not. :confused:
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The issue is Ford's crummy rear seats. The center of the rear seat is very thin and as a result, very much harder than the softer side positions. This makes the boosters/child seats actually tip outwards. Ie- the "bottom" area of the cushion is sized for a normal child or small adult and not something harder and more square-ish like a booster.

    And the head area is severely sloped, so that the area between the shoulders and the roof comes within a couple of inches on a normal adult. The upper edge of a booster seat ends up basically resting against the C pillar after a couple of weeks of use due to all of these factors and the seat/cushion wearing in. Hatchbacks and most small cars suffer from miserable back seats like this. It's not uncommon to see a full sized child's seat so cramped that you can't actually lift the arm rest assembly fully upwards and almost have to slide the kid in from underneath it.

    The geometry is just not designed with car seats in mind in any position other than just one in the center rear. The solution is, of course, a flatter and taller seating area. The Fit is a perfect example of this done right.(and is a FAR better car overall for kids than a Focus for that reason). Great cargo area, too. But that's also relative. in a crash, it's still a tiny little thing and a CRV or similar crossover type vehicle or even an Accord/Mazda6/etc would be far safer and also drive more comfortably.

    Small SUVs and crossovers entered the discussion because, like it or not, they ARE safer than a typical budget compact car - some some are basically a SUV version of the same maker's compact or midsize sedan. Just lifted and with added features and space- a win-win in terms of a compromise between MPG and a bit more utility. I don't consider them to be true SUVs, so they kind of fit in several categories - part car, part wagon, part mini-van.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,693
    The thing is, the question was about mid size sedans, so it was posted in the right forum.
    There are plenty of mid size sedans available for less than the price of a small SUV.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,458
    a 4 and 5 year old are not in full sized car seats anymore, so not really an issue for the OP.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Isn't there a trade-off on the rear seat design? When they are very flat and thus good for child car seats, then aren't they usually not so comfortable for regular passengers?
  • rdm925rdm925 Posts: 46
    First of all thanks for all the input and discussion. Secondly since the grandchildren are 4 & 5 they are still regular seats now but will soon upgrade to booster seats. Thrid my wife is currently driving a 2003 Tribute ES AWD. We thought about giving it to my daughter and getting her a CX-7, but the price of a CX-7 is to high. I like the Mazda 5 but we are not considering it. It looks like a Mazda 3 will win out. I'm concerned about spacesince she is currently driving a 99 Venture which sounds like it's going to throw a rod, but I'm letting the women work it between them. You know Mom & Daughter thing. Thanks for all the help and advice. :shades:
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    I have 2, a 3 and a 5 YO, and have the convertible car seats that become boosters when they get older. I have a 2010 Fusion,and both seats fit very well in the rear, plenty of room between them so less likely to have to say, dont make me stop this car, when they are beating the crud out of each other. Fusions can be had for under 16K new depending on what you want, and the Milans may be even better deals. My fusion has on it, nearly 30K trouble free miles, in 14 months of driving. I used to have a Camry Hybrid, the seats fit in the Fusion much better. I used to have a Prius, the seats fit better in the Fusion.

    As for the other poster regarding the Crown Vic. Those are probably the best used car you can buy today. Lots of room, very safe, very cheap, and get 21 MPG. They just scare non drivers because of their RWD. They are also very reliable cars, pretty much bullet proof. Police love the Vics, hate the chevy's, maintenance crews love the vics, hate the chevy's. I have had a couple myself, drove them into the ground, one had over 300k on it, before rust killed it. Not once have I ever had a problem in snow with them either, unlike with the Veracruz last year, where it darn near ditched from the rear end breaking loose in slushy snow. When that happens in FWD, game over, at least RWD gives you some control when that happens. Now I have AWD, so doesn't matter anymore.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited November 2010
    Yeah - I got it precisely because I needed a reliable tank for very little money. The Buick Roadmaster was also designed like this - in an attempt to win back the police and taxi market from Ford(and failed, though they are still good used cars)

    I'd rather have one any day over a minivan, but it's certainly not for everyone - it parks like a whale, drives like a whale, and is zero fun to drive. (well, other than when I pull up behind someone at the local Carls Jr at 12am and they do a double-take... ) It also does hold 6 people. And that's without anyone inside. :P

    Honestly, the trunk is almost the size of my uncle's Forester with the back seat down. Having driven it for a while now, it also is a LOT more stable and handles better than a typical minivan. Front wheel drive, square(wind?), and drives like a truck vs a big rwd sedan... no contest which is better at 70mph+

    http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=p&car_id=288314078
    Three years old. The original owner must have passed away or something, since $15,500 for a three year old car with 6K on it is insane.. Of course, I have my eyes on a Pontiac GTO, but that's a whole other story - the Crown Vic is just an interim choice until next fall when the age/price points line up to within my budget. :shades:
    ****

    That said, I've actually driven mostly mid-size sedans and these too have their gems. When I see the dealer blowing out 3 year old GM sedans like a Grand Prix with 20K on them for $12K, It makes me shake my head when I see people drive off with an Aveo or similar instead - just because it's "new". It's a boring, bland, soulless car. But it's still worlds better than a stripped down econobox.

    http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=u&car_id=284172815
    And it still has the remainder of the factory 5/100K drivetrain warranty. Not that anything ever goes wrong at under 100K on these 3800 series engines. Something like this is the perfect choice, IMO. Compared to a broken vehicle that soon won't run at all, they'd be overjoyed I'm sure.

    ****
    What I would do is one of two things:

    1 - give them the current vehicle and get a replacement for yourselves - something CPO for under $20K. I can get used Mercedes and BMWs for under $20K, so it's literally pick whatever you want and enjoy the replacement. It won't be any older than your current vehicle and your daughter will at least know the history as well as save a ton on registration/transfer fees since it's between family members.

    2 - Get them something like that Grand Prix ($14K if you insist on Certified, for a 2008 model) for the price of an econobox. Let them drive it until the wheels fall off a decade from now. My extended family has had four vehicles with that GM 3.8 engine/trans combo in them and they all were bulletproof - actually, about 20 if you count all of my relatives - not one was a lemon. Comes with traction control, maybe leather and a sunroof, the stereo plays MP3s... And it averages a consistent 25mpg in mixed driving.

    The Grand Prix is essentially identical to the Buick LeSabre of the same year, other than styling. But being the "Pontiac" which is out of business (whatever - they share most of the same hard parts), they're being sold off for fire-sale prices. If you want a GM midsized car, this is the bargain of the decade. And, yes, it IS better than a Mazda 3 similar. It should be, considering it cost nearly 25K new.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,185
    edited November 2010
    The Grand Prix is a W-body midsized. The Impala is another W body.

    The leSabre is an H-body and is full-sized.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I did say that the bodies were different(kind of obvious, too). But it's virtually identical under the hood to a LeSabre from that era - bulletproof engine and drivetrain and parts aren't an issue.

    note - the new Impala from 2006+ has a different engine and drivetrain combo and is substantially different than the 2008 Grand Prix, which shared more DNA with the previous generation Impala(2005 is too old I'm guessing). And of course, finding one with the 3.8 engine is a little more difficult.

    In any case, most any midsize GM sedan with the 3.8 engine in it is a good choice. It gets you from point A to B and doesn't cost you a fortune to do so. Shoot, I just drove my mother's LeSabre to Las Vegas (family trip) two months ago and it was more than adequate, even at nearly 10 years old. You could also get a Buick, but they have a significant premium over any of the Pontiacs.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,693
    edited November 2010
    it would be more helpful to the poster looking for advice that you are trying to help if you confirmed the facts ahead of time, rather than having to back pedal on one thing after another.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited November 2010
    Still, the advice to consider mid-size sedan a couple of years old is perfectly valid. No matter what you say, a tiny car like a Focus or a Corolla or similar is just a lot less stable, reliable, and not as nice to drive as the same maker's better offerings. Nobody here would debate that a Camry, for instance, doesn't just flat-out beat a Corolla in every way except for maybe parking ease. And as they age, the better vehicle also tends to show said age to a far smaller degree. This means that a 2-5 year old medium or full size sedan will still often drive better than a brand new budget car.

    http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=c&car_id=288676132

    Something like a used 2007 CTS is going to blow a Civic out of the water for the same money, despite being 4 years old. This also is a favorite car that I like to recommend - just a blast to drive and perfect for a small family.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,235
    Smaller cars will tend to cost less to buy, cost less to insure, cost less to operate due to better fuel efficiency, and potentially cost less to maintain (4 cyl. v. 6 cyl. costs, for instance). Being narrower they'll be less susceptible to door dings. Being smaller they'll fit better around all the stuff that gets stored in garages.

    The Focus & Corolla are hardly "tiny". You might make that argument about the Fiesta & Yaris, and certainly could say that about smart's offerings, but not the modern compact sedan. I know an Indian family that went from an Odyssey in the US back to India where they bought a sizeable car for their area - a Hyundai Verna a.k.a. Accent.

    I'll agree that buying a "gently used" car v. new is worth considering, but there are lots of factors that can impact the comparison. That CTS you linked to, for instance, gets 15-16 city, 24-25 highway depending on engine while a same-year 4 cyl. AT Camry gets 21/30 and a same-year Corolla w/AT gets 26/35. I'd bet dollars to donuts that the CTS will cost a lot more to insure as well. If you're on a budget - and if you need to seat three kids then you're definitely on a budget - the CTS is a poor choice from a cost perspective.
  • rdm925rdm925 Posts: 46
    My apologies Plekto and all the others. I haven't had the time to monitor the forums like I should. We (my wife & daughter) have decided on the Mazda 3 sedan for a variety of reasons. The discussion of best cars for child seats has been very helpful.
    Thanks, for the advice and help.
    :shades:
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