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Best vehicle for $40,000

calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
I want to consider new and USED vehicles, in this analaysis (gasp!).

What would you buy if you had 40k burning a hole in your pocket? Your needs are: sporty, yet comfortable on the highway; 4 seats minimum; over 28 mpg. (yes, we also want reasonable reliability)

Our discussions always focus on new cars, but shouldn't our discussions START with price (and thus include used cars, as well)?


  • fljoslinfljoslin Member Posts: 237
    I dont think that many if any vehicles at the price you have are going to give you real mileage over 28 mpg. I would look at some of the smaller sedans. Good luck.
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    true - it doesn't seem that there are ANY cars at the $40k price point that offer >28 mpg, though some do come close

    Do I really have to drive an econobox to get >28 mpg? I want to drive something NICE!!!
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
    1997 Porsche 911 Carrera (the kids will fit, really!)
    2002 BMW M3
    2004 Audi S4
    2006 Subaru STi (and treat yourself to a '97 Miata with the change!)
    2006 Volvo V70R (don't forget the 3rd row jumpseat option!)
    2006 Pontiac GTO (see the STi note above)
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    nice work digging out a few used cars!!!
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Member Posts: 351
    If you consider HWY MPG vs. total MPG, I'd think that a 2003 530 might do the trick. I get 30-31 MPG on road trips at 80+ MPH. Mine has been faultless over the 3 years I've had it and is a joy to DRIVE. A low-mileage off lease car that has been CPO'ed might fit on your list...
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    great suggestion

    do you think a 2003 530 is a better value than, for example, a 2006 CTS or Acura TL?

    We so often get sucked in by the new cars, that we forget that just a year or two ago we were raving about a car that is no longer on our radar screen.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Member Posts: 351
    I would. Most of the front-end depreciation has occured in this terrific and highly rated car (2003 530). It is also the last year of the e39 platform, which was engineered to perfection... even CR gave it glowing reports.

    Find an off-lease low-mileage CPO'ed car and just take it for a drive. It will answer your CTS/TL question. To me, still the finest interpretation of what a BMW sedan should be... well, the new 3 and 5-Series are really nice ;)
  • fljoslinfljoslin Member Posts: 237
    The Honda Odyssey Touring Model is very close to $40,000 and get a rated 28 mpg highway.
  • starman98starman98 Member Posts: 119
    Talk about a large range of cars...vans, cars, SUV's?
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    well, I can't imagine buying a van, I admit. But what's the real difference between a Lexus RX400H and a 3-year old 5-series BMW? They'll both be fun to drive, though the BMW will be more fun. They both will have decent luxury. There aren't any SUVs in this ballpark other than the RX400H.

    And this really isn't about ME. It's as much about what you folks think of cars that might be close to meeting this set of parameters. I might not have thought of a3-year old 5-series if one of you had not pointed it out, for example.

    I'm not sure there is that much worth driving that gets this high MPG. I likely have to lower my MPG figure to 25 mixed. That will give me way more cars to choose from.

    but I'd really like a high MPG vehicle

    I just don't want to give up all the performance (and comfort)

    I guess what I am wanting is an entry-level luxury performance sedan (or coupe or oncvertible) that gets really good MPG.

    the only car that meets that need may be the RX400H, which is more than 10 grand too much.

    (then again, I'd be buying it for the long term, planning to plug it in within 5 years, and then getting some great miles/$$)

    so....a used 525?

    I'm too mature for a 3 series. ;) I have toyed with a used 3-series convertible, but my buddy wouldn't sellhis below high blue book...so it's sitting in his garage waiting for me to love it....at $38K???)

    the Accord hybrid piqued my interest, but I've heard mixed reviews (from owners, not simply from naysayers)
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Member Posts: 3,118
    The RX400h?

    It fits the entry-level luxury description, but it is a far cry from fitting the performance or sedan category.

    Really just an overpriced Toyota Highlander, isn't it?
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    A buddy of mine just bought one and he loves it. Everyone that drives them seems to love them. And it's gonna be a whole lot nicer than what I'm driving now. But, no, I don't expect it to be the same driving experience as the 5-series. But in a few years I WOULD be able to download a software patch, change ot some batteries, and plug right into to my house and get a lot lower cost to run the beast. Then again, by the time I can do that with the 400H, there will be a much cooler hybrid (perhaps the GS?), and that could be wired from the factory to be plug-in, if desired. I just find it very hard to believe fuel prices won't be going up, short-term and long-term, so I want to get decent mileage, but I don't want to give up a decent ride.
  • ezshift5ezshift5 Member Posts: 858
    >I just find it very hard to believe fuel prices won't be going up, short-term and long-term, so I want to get decent mileage, but I don't want to give up a decent ride.

    .....realizing this is a Honda Accord thread.....(so ultimately you just might expect something like this....):

    ...for 40 large, the well-engineered, extremely fuel efficient (see my two-week AcDuTra to Luke AFB transit: Gila Bend to Yuma, AZ segment) AV6 6MT remains at the top of my list.

    ..The BMW unquestionably remains a fine automobile. Personally, the reliability/longivity aspect carries such importance that I must forego the pleasure.........

    ....and the 15 large surplus? Spend it any way you want. Call it an incremental reward.

    all the best, ez......

  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    Just a quick note - this isn't a Honda Accord thread, it's about all the vehicles listed at the top of the discussion, and ultimately, about $40,000 vehicles. :)
  • haefrhaefr Member Posts: 600
    2006 Sport sedan? BMW 330i
    2006 Luxo sedan? Mercedes-Benz C280

    Anything else is an also-ran wannabe. ;)
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    When you say AV6 6MT, do you mean the Hybrid or the normal V6?

    Am not sure why the HAH (hybrid) hasn't been successful as the Prius or Civic. I always thought there'd be a market for hybrids outside of the traditional green market, but that doesn't seem to be the case. At least not yet.

    I found your Gila post - 39 mpg - nice. That's got to be the hybrid.

    I odn't know if the Accord Hybrid will be "sprty" and "luxurious" enough for me. I need to go drive one.

    Will it drive nicer than an RX400H?

    Of course, I could add a lot of bling to a V6 HAH with the money I'd save by nt buying an RX400H. (25 grand?)
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    will the 330i or the C280 approach 28 mpg?
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Member Posts: 351
    I get 30MPG in my 2003 530 on the HWY at extra-legal speeds!
  • ezshift5ezshift5 Member Posts: 858
    When you say AV6 6MT, do you mean the Hybrid or the normal V6?

    I have a "normal" (which is to say - IMHO now - far above normal) Honda Accord V-6 EX Six-speed manual shift coupe........

    I found your Gila post - 39 mpg - nice. That's got to be the hybrid.

    Honest man (I double checked the calcs....); this "normal" V-6 actually performed as posted.......

    I tried again: Castaic to Stockton calc'd out at 37.99.

    ..upon my word of honor as an officer and gentleman.......

    holidays best, ez..........
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    ez: given your results with the regular V6, I wonder if the hybrid would bet you over 40 (more likely the hybrid would help more in the stop and go driving)
  • elvis4prezelvis4prez Member Posts: 85
    $40K will get you a nice brand new 2006 Acura TL with Navi.
    This will include all TTL and leave you with 3-5K in "change".

    As for MPG, I got 32 on straight interstate driving back home (though only about 18 city -- cold and mostly 3-5 mile short trips since).
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Member Posts: 4,716
    I'll second the TL suggestion. 30mpg at 80mph. I'm averaging 23mpg in my mixed highway/local 40 mile/day commute. Lowest I've experienced is 21mpg.

    If you do go for a TL, with the large chunk of change you keep in your pocket you can buy me and Elvis a present!

    Thank ya. Thank ya very much.

    '21 Dark Blue/Black Audi A7 PHEV (mine); '22 White/Beige BMW X3 (hers); '20 Estoril Blue/Oyster BMW M240xi 'Vert (Ours, read: hers in 'vert weather; mine during Nor'easters...)

  • michael_mattoxmichael_mattox Member Posts: 813
    For $40,000 you can get an 01 or 02 Lexus LS430...shop carefully and get one with less then 35,000 miles and you will have the most comfortable, safe, quiet, luxury car that $40,000 can buy...MORE IMPORTANTLY IT WILL BE VERY RELIABLE...like buying new or better...from a dealer you will also get it CERTIFIED which is the equilivent of an 3 YR new car Warrenty.

    The car is so good You will not care that it doesn't get 28 mpg...JUST DRIVE ONE...THERE IS NOTHING ELSE LIKE IT.
  • ezshift5ezshift5 Member Posts: 858
    ...no question: the Lex SC430 is a superlative offering...

    ..best suited for the left foot motor skill challenged (or those whose appreciation for the mechanical nirvana of a well-engineered clutch/transmission system has waned.....)

    ..but I agree with you....

  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    his recommendation was the LS, not the SC

    It's a good recommendation, and I really appreciate folks considering used cars

    but if I am willing to drop the MPG down to 25, there are a whole lot more options than if I want 28

    which is why I limited the discussion to 28 - I'd really like to see if there is a high-mpg car that fits the bill
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    maybe I can wait for the GS450H......

    and maybe a bag of money will fall from heaven.....

    The GS450H would be perfect.....if MSRP was 20K less

    luxury, sporty, high MPG

    over 300 HP and (likely) well over 25 mpg

    I wonder if it will have an AUX input for the iPod
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,920
    Given the desire for sportiness, I'd opt for a manual tranny TL ... OR maybe even the new manual tranny Accord V6 sedan. You could get it with the voice-activated Navi and still have ALOT of change left over.

    I'd also be looking at the Volvo R cars, but you won't achieve your mileage number.

    Maybe not sporty enough for your tastes, but you could try to track down a used '05 Benz E-class diesel for near your pricepoint (edmunds says $41k private party with some options, but their pricing is usually on the high side anyway). And, heck, at 27/37 mpg, it might be worth it to you to up your budget $1k.

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    I'm in California. If I drove a diesel, someone would pour blood on it.

  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    a used 2003 530i sells for between 30K and 40K (depending on mileage, etc.)
  • fljoslinfljoslin Member Posts: 237
    Get a Blood Red one!
  • pg48477pg48477 Member Posts: 309
    Why would enyone would get used 5 series? To much problems.

    BMW owner.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 32,920
    why is that? better mileage and cleaner than alot of regular gas burning cars.

    Are Cali folks just uninformed?

    '11 GMC Sierra 1500; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c; '20 S90 T6; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel; '97 Suzuki R Wagon; '96 Opel Astra; '08 Maser QP; '11 Mini Cooper S

  • jarrettwjarrettw Member Posts: 14
    Calidave, I bought a new 2005 CTS Feb 05. Recently I went on a 2000 mile trip that I broke into 3 segments. San Diego to Salt Lake City, SLC to Reno, and Reno back to SD. On each segment I averaged between 28 and 29 MPG with the cruise and 75-85 MPH. The car was comfortable and great to drive. I have been very pleased. Good luck with your decision. Jarrett

    I want to consider new and USED vehicles, in this analaysis (gasp!).

    What would you buy if you had 40k burning a hole in your pocket? Your needs are: sporty, yet comfortable on the highway; 4 seats minimum; over 28 mpg. (yes, we also want reasonable reliability)
  • celica8celica8 Member Posts: 42
    Buick's got the reliabity, I would check out the Lucerne CXS.
  • abfischabfisch Member Posts: 591
    You know what really disturbs me about this segment. It's not only the price of a 40K piece of metal, but you can take a 30K piece of metal,plastic, and electronics and put enough packages, cause you have to have it, and make it to the 40K limit. Same car, but now you just blew another 10k. And to make matters worse, most of this is computerized gizmos, that you know are not going to work in 10 years, especially those that keep their 40K machines exposed to the elements.

    Almost as bad as my son, souping up his Lotus Elite on his video game, and the game allowing him to put 200K into the car by twin turbo charging it.


  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    Dude: it's a GAME. You are actuall concerned about what your son does to his car on a GAME?

    When he starts doing it on his real car, give us a holler.

    As to your basic point, yes a Cadillac has 10K of stuff that a Buick does not have. If you don't want that stuff, you can buy the Buick. But don't pretend that the Buick is the same car as the Caddy. It isn't.

    I wish more people would mention used car choices here. I find it odd that a car that people loved at 50K two years ago, is not loved at 40K, used, today.
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Member Posts: 1,978
    "Buick's got the reliabity, I would check out the Lucerne CXS."

    LOL, Only if you are older than 70 (seventy) do Buicks make sense. They are the old folgy car of the old folgies.


  • robchemistrobchemist Member Posts: 37
    I guess that I forgot my age, since we just bought a LaCrosse and I am in my 40's. Oh well, must be early onset Alzheimers. ;) In just less than a year, it has proven to be an extraordinarily quiet and comfortable car to ride. In its price range, there are no other cars that offer as quiet a ride. Since the Lucerne employs similar sound damping technologies and is a slightly larger car, I would anticipate the Lucerne to be even quieter.

    Even if your statement were half correct, it is not as terrible of a strategy for a car company as one might think. While the over 70 cohort may not buy a lot of cars, our somewhat screwed up entitlement system guarentees that they will have significant disposable income, and compared to other age cohorts, over 70 is going to be the fastest growing group for probably the next 30 years.
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    for those of you who thought this analysis was more useful at $30,000, please see

  • smu1976smu1976 Member Posts: 110
  • goodegggoodegg Member Posts: 905
    This isn't the 'wouldn't be caught dead drivng in' discussion. Altho if I had bought a Kia I might end up shooting myself cause of the admission that something in my life went awfully wrong.

    Just bought an 06 TL. Had considered the G35, 325, EX V6, C280, and Azera. TL has a lot going for it.
  • billyperks1billyperks1 Member Posts: 151
    A lot going for it- Cheap leather seats, fading dashboard, harmonic vibrations and the list goes on.

    I like the car (I have the second generation TL) but Acura nneds to address quality controls.
  • goodegggoodegg Member Posts: 905
    Sounds like a lot of jealousy bro. You cite very minor complaints from a minimal amount of people about the TL. I took my time and asked anybody I saw getting out of a 04-06 TL about any complaints and nobody had any. Every car has issues and you can't make everybody 100% happy. Always gonna be complainers in life - like you. Check out this board - every car is nit picked to death.

    The 'harmonic vibration' is nothing - this happens in every car too. The seats are fine with me and the dash can be treated with protectant. I'm obviously 'taking my chances' with this car since I bought one, but read about the BS on these other cars in this comparo and ask why you'd buy any car.

    No Kia ever - even considering the $ saved. You only live once.
  • billyperks1billyperks1 Member Posts: 151
    Why would I be jealous over car that is practically the same car I own.The 2003 TLS is basically the same engine in the new generation TL-all Acura did was fine tuned it the engine and added some gizmos.I am looking to sell my TL in the summer when the note expires and step up to the upcoming Lexus GS 350 (AWD)so bro- please take back that jealousy remark.

    If you call those complaints minor in regards to the price you paid for the car, I would strongly suggest that you re value the way you spend your money.

    If you think Harmonic vibrations are normal and as you suggested, happens on every car, you got to be out of your mine.Personally, I think you sound like someone who works for Acura of North America with comments like those.

    I have owned several cars and never experinced any Harmonic VIBRATIONS, so go get your car checked out before it causes you serious damages.

    Another thing- you kind of remind me of me,I was just as stubborn as you are when I purchased my TL.A lot of posters were complaining about the Transmission failure and I actually ignored them and laughed in their face (so to speak).At 30,000 miles the transmission on my TLS went and I had to grin and bear it.
  • gordonwdgordonwd Member Posts: 337
    It's not only the price of a 40K piece of metal, but you can take a 30K piece of metal,plastic, and electronics and put enough packages, cause you have to have it, and make it to the 40K limit.

    That's why the manufacturers love selling these higher-end luxury cars -- it really does not cost them much at all to add the goodies compared to what they charge for them. Heck, some of them are just software upgrades! It really does not cost that much more for materials and manufacturing costs between an economy car and a luxury car, which is why they push the high end cars and SUVs so much.
  • minarets1minarets1 Member Posts: 49
    i just turned 25 and want a black on black Lucerne CXS...
  • ontopontop Member Posts: 279
    I get a kick outta all the negativism all over this board, as well as the nit pickin' about minor little nothing issues. A bad transmission - yea - that's bad, but your warranty will kick in and replace it. So you apparently got the one bad apple. But the 'harmonic vibration' crap is a joke. My dad's Lexus and my uncle's Jaguar aren't exactly whisper quiet. I don't hear 'harmonic vibration' in my car. But I'm not exactly driving around trying to discover what's wrong with my car. But if something pops up I'll deal with it. All cars have issues. Is this board here to just rag on the minor things as much as it is to crow about the good ?
  • calidavecalidave Member Posts: 156
    lots of harmonic vibration on new cars with sunroofs. Volvo has it bad with the XC90 (if we are talking about the same thing - "whoomp whoomp whoomp" with the sunroof open unless you crack another window. Caused, allegedly, by the cars being so damned aerodynamic and tight.
  • billyperks1billyperks1 Member Posts: 151
    First of all, I have the right to say what I say want about any car on this site, in case you didn't realize this site is for us to voice our opinions and experiences with autos.
    Lastly, you can't possible be sane to tell yourself that "ok, the car cost 333-35k, it has cheap leather seats that wears out in no time, the dashboard fades and there is a harmonic vibration coming from the engine but that's okay I can live with that its only 30+k I am spending.

    I am not bashing Honda, for goodness sake I drive an Acura, my wife drives a 04 Accord but the facts are the facts.Even on my wifes Accord there are several quality control issues.

    I test drove a GS 300 AWD and throughly inspected it, the car was absolutely flawless.Am I saying Lexus is perfect-NO.
    I know all cars have there anomalies but personally, I would not purchase the current TL unless these issues are resolved along with drivetrain and some cosmectic upgrades.
  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    Um, yeah, you can pretty much say what you want but you do need to be topical - and the topic here is cars for $40k, not what you are throwing down.

    Maybe you should move over to the Best new or used vehicle for $30,000 discussion.
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