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Help Me Choose!



  • hydra2hydra2 Posts: 114
    Your Grand Am is considered a compact car at 186". The Accord-189", Sebring-191", and Maxima-192" are considered midsize. The Intrepid-204" is full size. The main imports in your size range would be a Subaru Legacy-184" or a VW Passat-185". Smaller, would be subcompacts: Honda Civic, Mazda Protege, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Subaru Imprezza (all 174-178" and thousands cheaper with similar room, but less power than the mid and fullsize models).

    If you want looks, go with the Sebring or Intrepid. If you want reliability go with the Accord or Maxima. Power is a tossup with a slight edge to the Maxima in base form and the Accord bringing up the rear. All will be fine in the winter, but if you are obsessed about winter (and willing to pay just a little more for the peace of mind) buy one of the Subarus (great winter grip with standard awd, well equipped, but with standard 4 banger engines in the econo price range)

    Have fun test driving them all.

    BTW, I strongly recommend you give the Chevy Impala a look. Its reliable, well equipped, great power and handling, good financing terms, huge trunk and its only 200" (Its considered a midsize). A lot of car for the money. Its not the best looker, but it grows on you. You might decide to give GM a second chance.:.)

    You can find good deals on any of these, just remember that if you want the lowest possible price, you probably won't get all of the features,the biggest engine or biggest car.
  • verozahlverozahl Posts: 574
    Civic and Sentra are hardly 'subcompacts.' The Civic has grown so much!

    silvercrown, I said the A-Plan was worthless if you're looking to buy a nice, sporty, reliable, good-looking, value-packed car. The S-Plan is different; Mazda is always a consideration! >:)
  • porknbeansporknbeans Posts: 464
    Hydra has given you some good information and I would just like to add my opinion. The Chrysler and Dodge are attractive, but I wouldn't choose them because of maintenance issues (I own a Durango). The Accord and Max are very good vehicles that are both having fire sales right now because new models are coming out. What am I getting at? Based on your recommendations and the prices being offered right now, I would look at 1) Accord 2) Maxima 3) Subaru Impreza

    Grand High Poobah
    The Fraternal Order of Procrastinators
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    If you're careful not to check off too many options, the Altima can be a good deal. They're nice looking, roomy and powerful. If you skip the V6, Altimas can be bought for under $20k.
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 854
    Get the Accord. Now is a good time to buy the 2002 since the newly-designed 2003 will be out in September. It will have several improvements. If you wanted to wait for it, the price will be higher for the first several months than the 2002. The 4 is fine for normal driving and also for winter driving. The 2002 is one of the very best cars for all-around driving according to "Consumer Reports" and others. The Nissan will be more money and not nearly as economical. The new and bigger 6 is not as efficient as the older 6. I hope this helps you.
    Go to This site (front page) has a picture and an article on the new 2003 Accord.
  • ritavritav Posts: 3
    I appreciate all your suggestions/opinions. I guess I will test drive a few more cars! By the way, the Intrepid is probably off my list--I don't
    need such a big car anyway! I will now concentrate on the Accord, Civic, Maxima, Sentra (& maybe the Altima!). Do you recommend any more if I decide to stay around the same size or a little smaller than the Grand Am, and if I give GM a second chance!!?

    I am truly grateful!
  • verozahlverozahl Posts: 574
    Well, if you want to go with a Detroit brand, there's the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Taurus, and Ford Focus that would fit at least some of your criteria. Smaller than a Grand Am is a Sunfire or Cavalier. Don't go there! There, of course, is always Saturn if you dream of a "GM car aping Toyota or Honda" feel.
  • ritavritav Posts: 3
    It seems as though Honda and Nissan are at the top of most of your lists (cars I hadn't even considered 2 weeks ago!) Since I've read so many postings, my choices have also changed. By the way, there is no Subaru dealer around here.

    What I'm getting at is: In your opinion, what is THE BEST ALL-AROUND CAR out there (MIDSIZE and COMPACT--but not too small)?

    As I've mentioned, it has to be RELIABLE (practically maintenance-free). My '97 Grand Am has been giving me various problems: wiring, continuous flashing high beam light, ABS brakes, alternator, and considerable paint chipping!
    It also has to start well on very cold days (Grand Am great for this--never has to be plugged in!), and handle well on highways (we get long winters with many bad snowstorms) because I do a lot of highway driving.
    Finally, it has to be reasonably priced--I can't afford $600/mth. payments!
    It would be nice if it had a few options (not totally loaded but not basic either) and was "roomy" enough (that's why I don't want to go VERY SMALL if I look at compact cars, too).

    I'm looking forward to your suggestions and thank you all again!
  • verozahlverozahl Posts: 574
    Rita, depending on what exactly you are looking for in size, check out the Civic and Accord. Reliability tops, and "best all around" is the Honda trademark... nothing what I would call exceptional in any area, but Honda has the packages with the best combination of good handling, efficient engines, quality interiors, and ease of maintenance.

    Camry will give you a softer ride; Altima will give you a sportier ride (both compared to Accord).
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    Just rented this car for a trip to Tampa and back yesterday and all I can say is I wish I owned it! Plenty of room for 5 adults, good gas milage, a kick to drive. It cruised effortlessly on the interstate and passing was never a problem. The cruise stayed where I set it. What else can I say, awesome car that I don't want to return tomorrow!

    The Sandman :-)

    ( P.S. If I had $20k and needed a new car, this is what I'd buy, period! )
  • verozahlverozahl Posts: 574
    You can argue this all day until your face goes blue. I think both cars are excellent. Camry offers a more comfortable ride and the Accord is a bit stiffer/sportier... when the 2003 Accord comes out, then you can do a 'new generation' comparo of Camry vs. Accord vs. Altima to see what the best is that Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have come up with.

    The last generation Camry (before 2002) was a very nice car. Effortless to drive, good interior.
  • hydra2hydra2 Posts: 114
    Clarify "roomy". Most cars are roomy enough in the front. The back seat is where you tend to lose the most room in smaller cars. This is not so importantant if the back seat is used only by pets or small children, more important if you carpool or have have teenagers with long legs. If you have children, take them with you on your test drives to try out the size of the back seat. They might tilt your decision.

    Compacts: Passat, a comfortable, roomy, good looking and handling car but a bit expensive and with questionable long term reliability. You nixed the Subaru Legacy based on no subaru dealers. That only leaves maybe the Olds Alero which is similar in size and reliability to your Grand Am. It does have a long warranty. It is being discontinued.

    The Accord is probably your best bet in the midsize although a little noisy. The Altima is faster with a rather plain, but roomy interior and a beautiful exterior. Some say that it is noisy and has a firm ride. The Camry is quietest and rides most comfortably but does not handle as well as the others. The Maxima is fast, handles well, but has a rather firm ride. All are reliable with the Camry probably the most and the Altima the least, which is still excellent.

    Btw, most people purchase these cars with 4 banger engines, except for the Max which has a 6 cyl. standard. The fours have plenty of power, get great highway mpg and are much cheaper to buy. They are not as quiet or as powerful as V6 engines.

    Check out the subcompacts if your money is really tight. Most of them are less than a foot shorter than your Grand Am. Their front headroom and front legroom is basically the same as the midsize cars and they get much better mpg because their 4 cylinder engines are smaller than those in the midsize cars, but since the cars weigh less they still perform well.

    Go test drive those that interest you. Its your money and in the final analysis, you'll need to make up your own mind. Remember to give the Impala or maybe the Monte Carlo a look.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I agree with Hydra about checking out the Impala...almost wish I had bought one.

    That said, I noticed that most of this discussion omitted the Alero. With the new engine (2.2 ecotec) and standard 5 year/60,000 Bumper to bumper warranty, it is a great car. In my opinion, it is better looking than the Grand am, and reliability has improved.

    Good luck!
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    I rented one this past weekend and all I can say is "outstanding"! What a pleasant car to drive. We crossed the state of Florida from Lauderdale to Tampa and back and what a car. It did everything wonderfully in a very understated way. The only bad thing were the Bridgestone "Poortenzas" which had over 14k on them. They were real squirrelly during the downpours we experienced throughout the drive. Other than that, the car did everything asked of it with no fuss or muss.
    And to be real honest, isn't that what a car should do? For good bang for the buck, this is one awesome automobile!

    The Sandman :-)
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Hard to justify the Camry IMO in view of the side impact rating, only 2 stars for driver side as I understand it.
  • As far as the safety goes, I don't know about the government scores; but, the IIHS not only scored it a best pick on frontal impact, I believe the Camry is the only car ever tested that did not have the windshield broken upon impact. Plus it received no damage in the bumper bash test.

    That being said, I am no huge Camry supporter. Going back to the tires and the rain handling--how can you be so sure it was the tires making you unsteady in the rain? Maybe it was the car itself? I would be willing to bet that had the rental car in question been a Sonata, the review would have been: "Never buy a Sonata. When it rained, the car was all squirly and unsafe at any speed." Just my guess.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    on the tires, you are wrong. I have spoke to others on Edmunds who also have had the same problems with the "Poortenzas" and they were on different cars. I don't care what car they are on, I think that they're crappy tires. I will agree that at 14.5k miles on them, the tread wasn't the greatest. I even mentioned this to the Hertz rep when I inspected the car prior to delivery. He assurred me all would be fine, not! If I ever do rent a car again, I will insist on a car with decent rubber, or I will go somewhere else, period!

    The Sandman :-0
  • coolguyky7coolguyky7 Posts: 932
    Not a broken windshield? That's pretty good.
  • I'm sure you're right about the tires as the Camry is a quality car. My point, though, is that the public perception of the Camry is that it's the best sedan and so any problem must be the result of something else. I believe that people would be looking for things to be wrong on the Sonata; and, if something outside of the control of the car itself went wrong, people will still blame the Sonata as being junk. That's all I meant. I guess it has nothing to do with "Help me choose" anyway.
  • A short while back, I posted a message here regarding advice on a buying a small car to possibly replace my 2000 Camry V6 to reduce my expenses. I was thinking about a Civic or a Protege (neither of which I have test driven yet). A couple of people suggested the Corolla. I rejected that idea because I haven't really been a fan of its looks in recent years. The older ones were okay, though.

    I am driving a 2003 Corolla for today (while my Camry is having its 30K maintenance) and all I can say is: dang, this is a Corolla? I haven't driven it a whole lot, but it has really impressed me so far. It is very roomy for a small car, it handles well and accelerates like it has a V6 engine or something. The ride is also very smooth, not quite like my Camry, but very close considering its size. The interior is very nice, it's nicer than my car with wood trim and a higher quality cloth upholstery. Double Dang. :-)

    As is my prerogative, I have changed my mind about the Corolla. If I ever decide to buy a small car, it is at the top of my list, based on my experience today. Plus, it has leather and alloy wheel options that still have a TMV under $18K. It is not only like a baby Camry, but approaching a baby Lexus with more luxury than you would expect. Triple Dang.

    Even the styling, which is very similar to the new Camry, seems to work on this car. Personally, I'm not fond of the Camry's new styling, but it actually looks pretty nice on the smaller Corolla. It's actually kinda cute. Or maybe my opinion has been swayed by how nice it is otherwise.

    I was not prepared to like this car (quite the opposite, actually) and it has exceed all of my expectations. Maybe I'm easy to please (NOT!) but I like this car. It is not my father's Corolla. LOL

    I'm leaning toward refinancing my Camry and keeping it. I think it would be too costly to try and trade it. But my next car just may be a Corolla. Especially if it keeps getting bigger and better over time.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    Just got my Motor Trend in and saw the new Accord. Nice looking but the back is a little funky. The picture of the dash looked really cool! It was a 6 cylinder model, will be interested to see the 4 banger model close up. Will probaly give the Camry a run for the money.
    But really, the Camry and Accord do set the standard for the American family 4 door sedan hands down. Having owned 2 Camrys in the '90's and now a 01 Altima, I can attest to this fact. We drove the Camry, Accord, and Altima back to back within a 2 hour span and the wife chose the Altima to buy, said after 2 Camrys, wanted a change. We were both underwhelmed by the Accord, go figure. And I really wanted to like that Accord!

    The Sandman :-)
  • I believe that people would be looking for things to be wrong on the Sonata; ...

    True. Because Sonata does not have the track record of a Camry. Why is it so hard to understand?
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Impala safer than Accord or Camry and better value so it gets my vote for the American standard for sedans.
  • verozahlverozahl Posts: 574
    I'd rather have an Intrepid than an Impala. Better looks and finish inside and out.
  • Either I failed to explain myself; or, you misunderstood. I was not comparing Sonatas to Camrys (I believe there are better threads to do that), I was referring to the impression of one poster. He had never (at least I don't think) driven a Camry before renting one a couple of weeks ago. He came here with a glowing review and said he would buy one today if he were in the market for such a sedan with no quesions asked. He then said that the only bad thing was the bad handling in the rain--and said the issue was the result of bad tires. My contention was simply that had the rental car in question been a Sonata and everything else was exactly the SAME, the review probably would have read "Don't buy a Sonata, they are dangerous to drive." But, as I said before, it doesn't matter anyway. Not trying to start another "Hyundai vs." thread.
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    I am the one who made the review of the Camry with the worn tires. Please sir, don't assume what I would have said if the car had been a Sonata! Personally, I like the new Sonata and would love to rent one for a weekend to try it out.

    The Sandman :-)
  • sandman46sandman46 Posts: 1,798
    We also have owned 2 Camrys, a '93 LE and a '96 LE. Both great cars, until the dreaded "gelled oil" in the '96. Proper maintenance at the dealer, but that's another story!

    The Sandman :-)
  • I understood you correctly the first time, but you misunderstood me. My point was simply that it is human nature to overlook faults when the product has a long and good track record and likewise, nitpick and find fault at the slightest opportunity when the product has a shady past. That is why even the exact same shortcoming would be interpreted differently based on the product. Hope this is clear.
  • staryonstaryon Posts: 2
    Hi guys

    I need desperately your help!
    For many months, I have been thinking about what car I could buy. Finally, I've decided to
    buy a 2001 VW Jetta. I love how the car looks like, and the quietness while you're driving.
    I have to drive 90 miles every day, so I thought that this is the car for me.

    However, I have been reading many user reviews about this car, and I have noticed that there is
    a very common complaint about that the car sometimes rattles at a specific speed. Also, other minor

    Now, I'm completely lost! I don't know what to do. Do you guys recommend me this car?
    What other options do you think I should consider? I don't want to spend more that $15000 for
    a car (used). I don't see other cars that I like! People have recommend me to get a Honda or Toyota, but
    I haven't found one of them that really satisfy me.
    Ford Mustang was another option... but I need to drive a lot every day, and maybe this is not the
    best car for me.

    Thanks a lot for your comments.

    PS Thanks to claywaterfill for his comments in the other forum :)
  • sara27sara27 Posts: 1
    I'm trying to decide between the Civic EX and the Jetta GLS (2.0 liter). There's a pretty big price difference, so I don't know what to do! I love the design of the Jetta and thought the ride was smoother. I learned to drive on my parents' '90 Accord, so I feel comfortable with Hondas. I've thought about the Corolla, but our local Toyota dealership isn't the greatest. Does anyone have any advice? Why should I spend $2500 or so more for the Jetta?

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