Car Buying Advice - Serious Car Buying Advice Needed (Long Post)

jdsrunninjdsrunnin Member Posts: 17
edited June 2017 in General

Well, I signed up here because I really respect the commenting environment on here and really need good advice from a neutral forum.


I apologize in advance if this is WAY too long to read.


I am having a bit of a dilemma, related to indecisiveness on choosing a vehicle, that I will be satisfied with long term and not want to get out of so quickly.


I'm a guy in my mid-20s.


I'm wavering too much between something I can go off-roading with versus something with good performance behind it, with a modicum of refinement. Like a muscle/pony car. No more tuner cars for me (finally gotten it out of my system).


Has to generally be in the $35K to $45K range, preferably a manual transmission (save for Raptor). Cannot be from a luxury brand, for personal and professional reasons.


I feel I suffer from what I call "Goldilocks Driver Syndrome" or a serious case of "Musical Cars" in regards to car ownership. I can never find the right vehicle for me, in which I quickly get tired/bored of whatever set of wheels I buy and then covet/pine after others.


I currently own a 2014 Focus ST2, which I've had for exactly 2 1/2 years now. At the time when I bought it in December 2014, I had just come from test driving a CPO 335i M-Sport 6MT and 435i 6MT for kicks (to see if worth the financial sacrifice). As well as the then-new Lexus RC 350 coupe, by a very hospitable staff that didn't care I wasn't serious about it.


Going to a Ford dealer afterward, I had been mostly interested in a 2015 Mustang GT Premium 6MT with Performance Pack. But getting one though just wasn't happening during that late 2014 rollout of the S550s, with everything I wanted and seemed outlandish in terms of budget.


A second choice was in the refreshed 2015 ST was months away from release (March or Apr 2015), so when I came across a customized pre-refresh 2014 Focus ST in their used section, I came the next day to test drive the car and fell in love with it.


Felt like the best handling FWD car I had ever laid my hands on.


Back then I had both an SVT Raptor and a 2014 Tacoma V6 SR5 4x4 6MT, which the former had been recently bought to replace the latter truck (I hated).


I hated my Tacoma, as I was strong-armed into owning it (deceitful dealer) and it wasn't to my liking equipment wise (couldn't find TRD Off-Road 6MT in San Antonio,TX of all places) and required too many mods to get it to my taste. Having regular Tacoma seats versus TRD Sport seats irritated me a lot, a Raptor was a welcome upgrade.


Fast forward to today, that beast of a Raptor is gone (plus Tacoma) and I miss it, tired of my Focus ST in some respects.


Factoring in the obnoxiously loud Roush exhaust, plus some other pre-ownership mods that I'm "ignorant" of, I can never be "relaxed" or at ease while driving the ST.


I stupidly chose to keep my ST over the Raptor last autumn in financial downsizing to one vehicle, but now regret it massively.


I had decided earlier this year, I had wanted to get into a more "mature" vehicle, that I could still have fun with and sell off the Focus ST.


Last month, while browsing Nissan USA's website, I configured a Frontier Pro-4X Crew Cab 4x4 6-speed manual. Surprisingly, I found two locally at 1 of 3 Nissan dealerships. I quickly rushed over and test drove one. I knew very well it was dated in many aspects, but just wanted to get a feel for it and cross-shop it against the latest Tacoma and JK Wrangler.


For some BS reason, stupid Gulf States Toyota has made it that for Texas, the 3rd generation Tacoma is not available as manual and never on any lot, save for special order.


Because of that, I cannot drive one first and then decide if I actually like it enough, to commit. I have heard great reviews about the 2016 and 2017 Tacoma 6-speed manual gearbox, yet I cannot find one to sample nearby me!


I always see them for sale in the West, Midwest, ABQ-Santa FE, NE, and Eastern regions of the country, but never in my neck of the woods.

As someone that owned a 2nd gen Tacoma 6-speed, I HATED the post-2010 6MT, which my '14 was dreadful. Driving 2005-08 and 2009-10 Tacoma 6-speeds, especially in Access Cab form, always seemed much better. Even the FJ Cruiser's 6-speed, was not as rough as the later 2nd gen Tacomas manuals (maybe TMMTX was a factor).


Anyway, the next day I ended up taking another Frontier Pro-4X 6SPD home to my disappointment, after being strong-armed by the dealer (they refused to cancel "agreement", even though I never saw the truck, let alone drove it).


Feeling dejected and helpless (in refusing it), sucked it up and took the Frontier off-roading the very next day, over the period of a week. Found out that it sucked in the desert (compared to my Raptor and Tacoma), almost putting a friend of mine and me in serious danger in a secluded area. On my way to refueling/detailing it a week later, I was shockingly hit in my first accident (side-rollover) and it was deemed a loss by insurance.


While it felt like a blessing in disguise, the whole process is taking such a long time and now I am at a crossroads, of waiting to pay the deductible and first month's payment for my Nissan, plus order bank closures for the 2017 model year with some of chosen potential purchases.


Before getting roped into this Nissan, I had been considering many vehicles, but due to serious indecisiveness, could not (still cannot) narrow down what I wanted. I have vowed to myself, that I cannot have 2 late model cars in my name ever again, only one (previously had 3 new cars at once).


My choices were between a Challenger (6MT) or Charger R/T, 2017 Wrangler Big Bear or Winter (no to Unltd), used SVT Raptor, or 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro. At the top of my list has been, a 2017 Ford Mustang GT Premium.


Due to leasing considerations, I had favored an FCA product, plus now even my insurance company is offering FCA-related discounts. I have always wanted a Wrangler more than anything, but previous trucks negated that possiblity.


The Charger offers so much for what it is, but I really do not like the aspect of an automatic w/paddles. The Challenger I had my eyes on, but feel that my seating positions in the Charger are actually more favorable (if FCA made a 6MT Charger, I'd take it).


Today in fact, I parked next to an unlocked R/T Daytona in gray at a dealer, where I had come to fulfill my back-to-back Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited test drive. Too many aspects of that discounted fully loaded Daytona, plus leasing offers are too hard to ignore.


After driving the two Wranglers (Winter editions 6MT Unlimited and 5AT 2-door), I was glad to see that the 2-door won't be too uncomfortable.


I hated the Frontier, on the basis of serious lack of comfort. I had spoiled by my Raptor alright, but even my seat position in my Tacoma didn't cause such body aches like the Pro-4X cloth seats.


Previously at another Jeep dealer, I had test driven a 2014/15 JK Rubicon 2-door 6-speed manual, that had me in equal discomfort as my 2017 Frontier.


Yet, a Rubicon Hard Rock w/leather seats seemed more comfortable, with the salesguy citing that it was because the "shorter wheelbase" made for a rougher feel.


As polite as he was, I read that as some BS, as I have driven quite a number of manual JKs and TJs, never feeling so uncomfortable in their seats at my age. Clearly that one had issues, as the automatic 2017 Wrangler Winter I drove was okay.


I love the seating position of the Wrangler and off-roading capabilities, plus the less flashy aspect of it compared to the Mustang GT Premium I'm considering.

Best Answer

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Answer ✓
    Nobody here is likely to be able to help you.

    I did read your entire post and I honestly believe that whatever you finally settle on will be a short term event and once the novelty wears off it'll be down the road just like all the others.

    This is a VERY expensive folly you are wrapped up in!

Answers

  • jdsrunninjdsrunnin Member Posts: 17

    However, I am really having a very hard time signing for a vehicle at the end of its life.


    The JK is something that was in development by 16 years ago and already half-baked 14 years ago, now about to replaced by a new product.


    I am tired of waiting on necessary information about the JL (stupid FCA), as I am beginning to wonder if it makes sense for me to buy something that is so old, even if they have kept it much fresher through updates, than the Frontier.


    2017 JK ordering ends next Friday, even though there will be a short run of 2018 JKs. I have opted for a Rubicon instead, but still do not know if either Winter or Rubicon Recon will be omitted from the package choices for 2018, plus some desirable options.


    On another end, I had been in love with the Tacoma TRD Pro, which is essentially a Tacoma Limited with better styling, serious off-road capability, and the choice of a highly rated manual transmission.


    Many people cynically try to write it off as just "overpriced sticker upgrades", yet forget how much a fully loaded TRD Off-Road costs, not even accounting for some of necessary additional mods to get it to the same level as the TRD Pro spec-for-spec. It makes the Pro a very sound proposition, when sold at MSRP.


    Every local Toyota dealer tells me, that I would have to wait 3-4 months for a special order and pay a deposit. The problem with that is, I have not even had the opportunity to sample a Tacoma with the 6-speed manual.


    This frustrates me, as it reeks of the distrubtor manipulating inventory too much and making my decision making process harder. I live in a desert metro area of Texas with prime off-road areas, so I don't understand this at all. 4Runner TRD Pros are a dime a dozen over here.


    Also, since the Tacoma might be getting some major changes in 2 years, there might some minor changes for 2018, which will be on sale this October and I would have to fully know what they will be, before I even commit.

    As for the cars again, a Mustang has been my dream non-luxury car since I first saw the 2003 concept, that previewed the 2005 Mustang. When I heard about the S550 years ago, I knew I would have to get one someday. After wondering if an S197 5.0 GT or earlier 4.6 would cut it, I have finally decided an S550 is what does the job.


    I am seeing that ordering ends on June 30th, for 2017 Mustangs. I hate the 2018 front end with a passion, after being thrown off so much back in January and can't imagine what has been happening to Ford design since J Mays left (F-150 refresh sucks too).

    I am having a hard time narrowing my choices down between the Charger R/T Daytona I saw, special ordering a Wrangler Winter 6MT (cannot afford $1k cash deposit over other priorities, only $500), or rushing in my order for a 2017 Mustang GT Premium with PP, Recaro, and 401A.


    Which one do any of you recommend? Cannot decide if I want the rarity of the perfect Tacoma in a Cement Gray TRD Pro, tech-laden sleeper in this gray Charger Daytona as a lease, my ongoing dream choice in the Mustang GT, or a discount off-road beast in the Wrangler JK.


    Waiting to hear concrete info on the JL Wrangler, puts me in a really difficult position, as it means my ideal Mustang goes out window, if I change my mind too late and decide I don't want a Wrangler anymore.


    I am having a real hard time, passing up the opportunity to go off-roading whenever (like with my Focus ST), in focusing on my prime choice of a Mustang GT.


    At the same time I feel, a Charger R/T Daytona lease makes the most financial sense (not my problem after 3 years, under $500), has the most features and is the most comfortable, but I hate the automatic-only factor.


    The Tacoma TRD Pro has no local examples for me to even sample and then decide on concretely if it's worthy of choice against my other considerations.


    Do not want to wait months, for something I might get bored of later on and lament not getting a Wrangler (as usual). I haven't had to opptortunity to sit behind the wheel of my desired configuration, so I can't easily cross it off the list (like I did a used Raptor).


    Despite loving the high seating position and windowsill fit for my arm on the Wrangler, plus the off-road potential, I can see myself eventually getting tired of it after 1 year or novelty of it wears off at a yet to be determined time during ownership, in not having a sportier alternative alongside it.

    Whenever I go from something sporty/nimble, into an offroad-oriented vehicle, I then start lamenting the desire for good on-road performance and then the whole "trade it" process starts all over again. Same vice-versa, where once the Raptor was gone, I missed going to certain off-roading spots and barely returned to them with that Frontier (Focus ST wasn't an alternative).


    Ideally, having both a Wrangler and Mustang would work for me, but it is not financially sensible.


    I have to keep whatever I am getting through 2020 at least and be truly content with it.


    I have vowed to myself after owning 3 cars at once (in my early 20s), that only one suffices and I will not own a second vehicle again until certain life goals are met. I am really tired of getting myself into vehicles, that I won't like in the long term and then swapping each out for another.


    I want to choose something for once that I am happy with for years to come and doesn't wear me out in daily driving, to start looking for an escape. The only one the list that might wear me out daily, is the Wrangler honestly. Will the fact that I want a GT Premium Mustang the most, over all these 4 other choices, avoid any later regret? Please help me decide, thanks.


    2017 Ford Mustang GT Premium Performance Pack w/401A and Recaro 6MT

    2017 Jeep Wrangler Winter or Rubicon Recon 6MT

    2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 6MT

    2017 Dodge Charger R/T Daytona

    http://tinyurl.com/yatsako6 (Charger Listing)


  • jdsrunninjdsrunnin Member Posts: 17

    Nobody here is likely to be able to help you.

    I did read your entire post and I honestly believe that whatever you finally settle on will be a short term event and once the novelty wears off it'll be down the road just like all the others.

    This is a VERY expensive folly you are wrapped up in!

    Thanks for responding to my question! I did go yesterday and test drive the Wranglers of my choice in automatics and came to the conclusion, that I am better off buying a next generation JL down the road.

    Went to Toyota, but saw my chosen dealer was trying to ask $50k for a specially ordered $41,955 Tacoma TRD Pro Manual or put me in an automatic "In Transit" for $46k. Crossed that Tacoma also off my list. Will just get an ATV instead or cheap 4x4 later on. Too bad dealers are so greedy

    Looks like either a specially ordered Mustang GT Premium or the Dodge Charger Daytona (in stock), will be what I commit to. The only vehicle out of my 6 to 8 vehicles since 2007, that I really did enjoy was my SVT Raptor, in it being an excellent comprehensive package (good utility, moderate four wheeling, decent road manners, very comfortable and refined). Shouldn't have sold it over the ST.

    I need to be a bit more decisive and stop flip flopping between vehicles so much, as yes it is becoming a little expensive folly (lol). I think whatever I get now, will be kept till 2020 at least. I have X Plan possibly with Ford, while my insurance company is offering me a $2k to $4k discount on any FCA vehicles.
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 209,603
    jdsrunnin said:

    Nobody here is likely to be able to help you.

    I did read your entire post and I honestly believe that whatever you finally settle on will be a short term event and once the novelty wears off it'll be down the road just like all the others.

    This is a VERY expensive folly you are wrapped up in!

    Thanks for responding to my question! I did go yesterday and test drive the Wranglers of my choice in automatics and came to the conclusion, that I am better off buying a next generation JL down the road.

    Went to Toyota, but saw my chosen dealer was trying to ask $50k for a specially ordered $41,955 Tacoma TRD Pro Manual or put me in an automatic "In Transit" for $46k. Crossed that Tacoma also off my list. Will just get an ATV instead or cheap 4x4 later on. Too bad dealers are so greedy

    Looks like either a specially ordered Mustang GT Premium or the Dodge Charger Daytona (in stock), will be what I commit to. The only vehicle out of my 6 to 8 vehicles since 2007, that I really did enjoy was my SVT Raptor, in it being an excellent comprehensive package (good utility, moderate four wheeling, decent road manners, very comfortable and refined). Shouldn't have sold it over the ST.

    I need to be a bit more decisive and stop flip flopping between vehicles so much, as yes it is becoming a little expensive folly (lol). I think whatever I get now, will be kept till 2020 at least. I have X Plan possibly with Ford, while my insurance company is offering me a $2k to $4k discount on any FCA vehicles.
    I'll make a suggestion ... you should head over to the "Chronic Car Buyers Anonymous" thread here at Edmunds. It's filled with folks like you, who are completely indecisive and are always on the lookout for the next great deal, or an itch to scratch.

    We'll offer you our opinions (solicited or not), and help you spend your money.

    We have an informal competition each year where we guess the numbers of 'punches' (purchases) for the group for the calendar year. If I'm not mistaken, we are somewhere between 25-30 and the year isn't half over.

    C'mon over; we won't cure you of your addiction, but it'll be fun to discuss it nonetheless.

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  • jdsrunninjdsrunnin Member Posts: 17
    Michaell said:

    jdsrunnin said:

    Nobody here is likely to be able to help you.

    I did read your entire post and I honestly believe that whatever you finally settle on will be a short term event and once the novelty wears off it'll be down the road just like all the others.

    This is a VERY expensive folly you are wrapped up in!

    Thanks for responding to my question! I did go yesterday and test drive the Wranglers of my choice in automatics and came to the conclusion, that I am better off buying a next generation JL down the road.

    Went to Toyota, but saw my chosen dealer was trying to ask $50k for a specially ordered $41,955 Tacoma TRD Pro Manual or put me in an automatic "In Transit" for $46k. Crossed that Tacoma also off my list. Will just get an ATV instead or cheap 4x4 later on. Too bad dealers are so greedy

    Looks like either a specially ordered Mustang GT Premium or the Dodge Charger Daytona (in stock), will be what I commit to. The only vehicle out of my 6 to 8 vehicles since 2007, that I really did enjoy was my SVT Raptor, in it being an excellent comprehensive package (good utility, moderate four wheeling, decent road manners, very comfortable and refined). Shouldn't have sold it over the ST.

    I need to be a bit more decisive and stop flip flopping between vehicles so much, as yes it is becoming a little expensive folly (lol). I think whatever I get now, will be kept till 2020 at least. I have X Plan possibly with Ford, while my insurance company is offering me a $2k to $4k discount on any FCA vehicles.
    I'll make a suggestion ... you should head over to the "Chronic Car Buyers Anonymous" thread here at Edmunds. It's filled with folks like you, who are completely indecisive and are always on the lookout for the next great deal, or an itch to scratch.

    We'll offer you our opinions (solicited or not), and help you spend your money.

    We have an informal competition each year where we guess the numbers of 'punches' (purchases) for the group for the calendar year. If I'm not mistaken, we are somewhere between 25-30 and the year isn't half over.

    C'mon over; we won't cure you of your addiction, but it'll be fun to discuss it nonetheless.
    Lol, thanks Michaell! I definitely sound like a chronic buyer! I always seek some good seat time in a different vehicle every now and then, which probably needs to be reigned in a bit. Finally placed my order and laid a deposit down for a Mustang GT Premium. Only hope things go smoothly from here on out and everything is made to my liking.
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