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Feel Conflicted about Car Purchase? Consider Readers' Advice

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
On the one hand you're daring yourself to go for that SUV or sports car. As the "why not?, what the heck!, and you only live once" arguments swirl in your head, they're tempered by your voice of reason, which cautions you to be more practical. You're stuck, are devoting a lot of energy and time to your purchase decision, but are not reaching a clear decision. What to do? Maybe your fellow readers, who don't have an emotional stake in your decision (but have their own biases, of course), can help you with your decision. Just describe your dilemna, and evaluate the comments and suggestions of your fellow enthusiasts.
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Comments

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,141
    I'm in the market for a new car, I know I'm going to be facing a dilemma. I want to try a small, economical car. The only problem is, I've been raised on pickup trucks and full-sized cars and still sometimes get the mindset than anything smaller than an Intrepid is a compact! :P

    I guess I just don't know how to "do" small cars! I've thought about just taking the easy way out and getting a Civic. I've sat in them at auto shows, and find them to be pretty comfy.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,442
    Have you ever thought about a Mazda 3? Well thought out little things.

    I think they are technically bigger than a Civic but you never know how that translates into sitting comfortably behind the wheel until you try it.

    This would be more of an issue for you than it would for me. Cars are never too small for me - some are too big.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    In a previous message you indicated you like the new Altima 2.5. While the Altima is a midsize, by the current definition, it is smaller and more fuel efficient than your Intrepid 2.7. Since you're agreeable to the Nissan brand, it might make sense to evaluate the new Sentra, and even the Versa. I understand the Versa has very generous rear seat leg room, but, of course, driver's seat comfort, which is an individual thing, is a requisite. You might conclude that the cost of ownership savings between a Sentra or Versa over an Altima wouldn't be a worthwhile tradeoff, but if you're not opposed to considering the Civic, then it makes sense to check out the Nissan small cars too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,141
    Have you ever thought about a Mazda 3? Well thought out little things.

    I think they are technically bigger than a Civic but you never know how that translates into sitting comfortably behind the wheel until you try it.


    I remember sitting in the Mazda3 at the auto shows when it first came out, and being pretty impressed. It felt pretty roomy up front, but the back seat was very tight IMO. It's not all that often anymore though, that I'm hauling a full load of backseat passengers around, so while I appreciate a car that has a comfy back seat, I don't consider it as important as I used to.

    Isn't the Mazda3 a bit of a guzzler though, compared to something like a Civic or Corolla? Oh, on the subject of the Corolla, I've never been able to get comfortable in my uncle's '03, although I was able to tolerate it enough to drive ~115 miles up to PA in it once. However, one thing I noticed is that the nicer trim levels of Corolla have an adjustment that lets you ratchet the seat cushion down a bit in the back, giving it more of an angle. My uncle's car doesn't have this. From what I've noticed sitting in them at auto shows, that little ratchet adjustment makes a huge difference in comfort.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,442
    Yeah, your basic Mazda 3 with an automatic gets 26 mpg / 34 mpg. OK but there's better out there.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,141
    While the Altima is a midsize, by the current definition, it is smaller and more fuel efficient than your Intrepid 2.7. Since you're agreeable to the Nissan brand, it might make sense to evaluate the new Sentra, and even the Versa.

    Yeah, I really sat up and took notice with the latest iteration of the Altima, which is EPA-rated at around 26/34 with the 2.5/CVT combo. In contrast, the old 2.5/4-speed in the previous model was rated at 23/29 I think, while my Intrepid is 20/29.

    I've sat in the Versa and Sentra, and they're not bad little cars. Oddly though, it almost seems like Nissan put a bit MORE effort into the Versa than they did the Sentra. It's hard to put into quantifiable terms, but the Versa just seemed a bit nicer IMO.

    Anyway, hopefully this purchase will be a while off. My Intrepid has about 131,000 miles on it and still seems like it's got plenty of life left in it. In the past I've always liked Chryslers, but I don't really care for a lot of their current offerings. Not too crazy about the Caliber. If I'm going to get something that small I want better fuel economy. And I don't care for the new Sebring/Avenger, either. I still like the 300 and Charger, but next time around I just want something a bit more economical.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,713
    that's the whole fun of it, that being researching new cars on the net and on paper and in person, and taking in the information and figuring up your own personal situation and then making an informed decision on all of that. I love the whole process and don't even loathe the buying process at the dealer! OK, it's stressful, but let's just say I like it more than my wife does. ;)

    I have found that my own research and test driving means a whole lot more than what another person's opinion is on their experience(pretty much a DUH!). I often disagree with auto writers, though, after they have test-driven a car and given their best summation of it. So it is a very, very personal thing.

    Or, I just don't place value on the particular item that this person does. I have noticed that the main magazine report for the consumer in America has done a very poor job in the past of reviewing my historical favorite, Kia, and their vehicles. They have not gone to the trouble of even putting an up-to-date picture of the MY rig they're writing a review about. I'm not saying they practice this type of thing, but I have found it to be true. If you have any of their mag's from around the fall of '02 look for their Kia Spectra review. They show a 1998-2001 model era Kia Sephia picture when Kia had designed a brand new body design(a lot of the internals didn't change that much, true)and that was a whole lot of the fun of reading about the new Spectra, seeing the new body design. They went down like a Zeppilin made of Led on that particular dumb decision. Spikes. And those hideous circles. Yikes. That is one magazine that really needs to be read with a grain of salt IMHO. I think this opinion of Kia is changing yet I find that I read their magazine in a fog because of all the same blather that didn't change for so long. They've basically not earned any credibility with me.

    I would say this. Do all the research you can(on my latest purchase, a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS w/CVT and the Sun and Sound package, Rally Red in color, I spent literally dozens of hours...maybe more =;) researching and studying every little tidbit I could get my hands and mouse on)and feel free to test drive as many times as you need before buying.

    I just feel that, yes, life is really pretty short, and cars are being built much better these days. They're there, waiting for you to try them out. But don't just bow to family pressure when shopping. Research and study as much material as you can and drive, drive, drive.

    I love cars!! :D

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    If I had to get a small car, I'd get something small but nice like a Cadillac CTS.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    The CTS is small compared to other Cadillacs, and compared with the other cars you've owned, but it's closer to midsize, at least in terms of its outer dimensions and weight.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,744
    Since your commute is pretty short why switch to something smaller since the gas savings would be relatively minor. Perhaps you are finding the
    'Trepid to be annoying to park in the suburban environment,(I know I would)?

    At some point I will shop for something smaller than my E39 Fiver. It's a fabulous car and delivers decent gas mileage but there's nothing like a small car for slicing thru traffic and for ease of parking.

    I'll be shopping everything from Minis to Boxsters. :shades:

    Andre you might want to consider a small CUV like a Vibe or a CX-7.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,141
    Perhaps you are finding the 'Trepid to be annoying to park in the suburban environment,(I know I would)?

    Nah, it's not that. Parking is a breeze. Big yard with lots of room, and a big parking lot at work. If I had to, I could probably get by without the Reverse gear!

    I think what's happening with me is that I'm just getting to a point in my life where I don't want to spend a lot of money on a car. Both in purchase price and fuel. I'm not going to trade a perfectly functional car just to get better fuel economy, but when replacement time comes, I'm definitely thinking more economical. And they're finally making small cars these days that I feel fairly comfortable in, so I'm willing to give one a shot.

    I actually kinda like the Vibe/Matrix, but there's just something about the CX-7 that bothers me. There's something in its shape that to me kind of suggests a gigantic sex-toy on wheels.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,182
    LOL. That's not the first time I've read that analogy...

    Oh, and the Vibe/Matrix are good cars, not great though. My buddy has one and while the drivetrain is solid, there has been a lot of problems with it. Everything that is Toyota works fine, the GM parts on the car are what break. :lemon:

    I think he's got like 40k (2003 or 2004 model I think) on it and he's already looking for something new...

    I'd recommend the Mazda3 myself, but my little Subaru Impreza is a great little car for the money (I got mine or $16,500, 2.5i wagon). I also used to work with a kid who got an HHR for 14 grand (bare-bones base model) which is a lot of car for the money if you can trust GM reliability/quality.
  • carthellcarthell Posts: 126
    When I became very conflicted over which first vehicle to get (nearly paralyzed, in fact, into doing nothing), I eliminated a lot of the grief by looking over the inventory at the fixed price dealerships. In 2001, there were three; one nationally-recognized chain had just opened up a store in my area; one regional dealer was a bit too far away (although still in-state), and the last national chain was offering a price a bit too high for what I was looking for. Picking up a car at the the dealer I chose was as painless as buying a can of corn.

    My sister is now looking for a new vehicle, but she's not looking forward to going through the process. I kinda feel her pain, because her primary factor in the shopping (until today) is the monthly payment, not the price of the car! :cry: I think that's how she managed to pay more than sticker for the Cavalier she bought a number of years ago.

    Well, this time she's done a little more research and figured out what type of car and equipment she wants. I'm trying to convince her to spend more "seat time" at home running a few figures, then using the details to get a good price from the dealerships that she might be interested in buying from.
  • elroy5elroy5 Posts: 3,741
    If you want an economy car with some quality, and room inside, try out the Honda Fit. The Fit Sport has received some great reviews.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,442
    "I actually kinda like the Vibe/Matrix, but there's just something about the CX-7 that bothers me. There's something in its shape that to me kind of suggests a gigantic sex-toy on wheels."

    And you rpoint would be?...... :P
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,919
    mmmm, let's not go there eh?

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • fezofezo Posts: 9,442
    I'll be good...
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    I took my 2002 Seville STS to the dealership last week for an oil change, alignment and state emmissions/inspection. While I was waiting, I saw a 2006 Cadillac DTS Performance with 7,700 miles on it sitting in the lot. This car is loaded with just about every conceivable option Cadillac had that year.

    I can get this car for $43.5K which is Edmunds TMV and can finance it for 60 mo @ 0%. My current car is paid for, in excellent condition, and has 65.5K on the clock.

    Should I go for it?
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    $43.5k for an old-school Caddy versus the world's best-kept, paid-off STS? What does the DTS have that the STS doesn't, and is it worth 40 g's to you?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,301
    That's a lot of money for a car not known to have good residuals. I have seen lower model 06 DTS for 25K locally. You might be happier with the STS for another little while.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    Things I like is that it has 20 extra hp, is slightly longer, has both heated and cooled seats, 18" factory wheels, power moon roof, and nav. It is the same nice "White Diamond" color as my current ride.

    I'm happy with my current ride, just feel like something newer. I was kind of hoping to hold onto my car until 2010 when Cadillac is supposed to come up with a big RWD/AWD car, but it doesn't look like that'll happen.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    Performance DTS just sounds like an oxymoron to me. I would hold onto the STS untill Caddy comes out with another good RWD/AWD car.

    That DTS has NO residual value once it is discontinued.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,332
    I wouldn't trade a pristine STS for a DTS, because I think the STS handles a little better, and 20 hp isn't significant. I might consider a similar deal on the new RWD STS, however. I'd only choose AWD if I lived in the snow belt. You don't get enough snow in the Philadelphia area for AWD to be necessary, in my opinion. I'd make do with snow tires in winter.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    I went to the Cadillac dealership on Friday and the numbers didn't add up. They low-balled me on my trade and didn't drop the price of the DTS to the level Edmunds and I thought was fair. The DTS wasn't so awesome that I'd want to go into debt over it. My ride has plenty of life left in it and if I want the DTS that bad, I can save the money, buy the car for cash if I want, and keep my Seville. It's not like I'm in the position where I desperately need a car. I'm doing well financially and don't want to make a stupid decision that will make life hard on me. No car is worth that kind of stress. I work a second job for the extra spending money and can quit at any time without consequence. I don't want to be in the position where I'd actually would NEED that second job.

    If I do get another car, I'm starting to lean more toward the STS. GM did some STUPID things to the DTS I absolutely hate. They give you more in some areas and then take away in other areas. Sure, the DTS had Nav, satellite radio, ultrasonic parking assist, etc. But it no longer has the automatic parking brake release like all the Cadillacs I've owned since my '75 DeVille. The lights on the vanity mirrors no longer have the sliding dimmer switch, and I can tell the the steering wheel is the same unit used in the Impala only covered with leather, (and very sloppy stitching) and wood trim. My current Seville has a MUCH NICER steering wheel!!!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 34,301
    I think you made a good decision.

    I too am one who really notices a good (or bad) steering wheel.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    the automatic parking brake release like all the Cadillacs I've owned since my '75 DeVille

    What does that do? Release the parking brake when you put the car in gear?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    Yes.

    It was bad enough I couldn't get the automatic trunk "pull-down" and rear window taillamp indicators on my Seville. Well, at least the DTS has an indicator for the ultrasonic parking assist in place of the old taillamp indicators. My 1989 Cadillac Brougham and 1988 Buick Park Avenue have them.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I couldn't get the automatic trunk "pull-down" and rear window taillamp indicators on my Seville.

    I thought those FWD Sevilles had the trunk thing? Or was it bundled with some stupid options package?

    What does a taillamp indicator do? Go on when the brake light bulbs burn out?
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,204
    It consist of two red lights in a small pod above the rear window. It is visible through the rearview mirror and blink with the turn signals or gets brighter with the stop lights. An unlit indicator can show a burned-out taillamp, stoplight, or turn signal bulb.

    The pulldown might've been on the 1992-97 Seville, but it was gone by the 1998-03 generation. It's stupid things like this that I don't like about GM.
  • canadaguycanadaguy Posts: 4
    I need some advice. I am looking for commuter-type car that has good fuel mileage, somewhat sporty and reliable. Yes, I want a little bit of everything. Right now I am considering cars such as the 2007 vw rabbit, 2007 nissan altima and the 2007 honda civic. I have driven all of them. The rabbit was fun, but I worry about VW reliability. The civic is my reasonable choice, however, the driver seat was somewhat tight (but got used to it as the test drive continued). The Altima was great as well. I would appreciate any knowlegde/ story people have about any of these cars. Thanks.
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