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What's the best vehicle for my needs?



  • trailrunztrailrunz Posts: 8
    Just test drove a Sonata - loved the engine, almost no road noise, but agreed on the head room issue. I'm 6'3'' and my head almost touched the ceiling - whats up with that Hundai? The backseat was awesome, but I won't be back there. I will check out the Fusion - although I'm leary of GM/Ford - I'd prefer to stick with a foreign car.

    What do you all think about a 2-3 year old Acura TL in the 40-70k mileage range? Seems like I would be getting the comfort/luxury, keeping fairly decent gas mileage, and staying in the price range.

    I'll be driving 30-40k/year at the new job, so I might want to avoid the initial depreciation of a new vehicle.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    I'm not sure I'm in favor of a used vehicle with as much as 70k miles because you will be over 100k in your first year. Yes, absolutely, the Acura TL is a well-built and reliable car. But you don't know how it was treated by previous owners and no matter what, no car is immune to mileage.

    I would expect the TL to star incurring maintenance fees in the 100k range and it is very unlikely to make it to 200k without at least one relatively expensive repair.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    IMHO...they're all pretty reliable these days. I don't shop reliability (and I drive 30k/year) as I'd rather have something I'm happy with and deal with a few issues than something I don't care for that's rock solid. I have a Nissan Pathfinder right now as my daily and it's been pretty decent but Nissan really doesn't have the reliability of Honda/Toyota either.

    The problem with Honda/Acura is they don't depreciate much until they get quite a few miles on them. But otherwise I agree...used is a great way to go particularly since you'll be piling the miles on. I usually shop carefully and find something a year or two old with low miles. I picked up my Pathfinder with 15k on the clock and saved about $7k off a new one. I've seen some nice '09-'10 Malibu's with <30k miles for sub-teens and you get the 100k powertrain warranty. I was averaging 33mpg with the last rental Malibu I had and it had some around town miles on it. Road warrior car in my book and you don't have to worry about expensive maintenance or premium fuel (as the TL requires).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738

    My top mileage cars ever were Toyota, Mercedes, Volvo, and Honda in that order. My Toyota had 390K on it when I sold it - and it still passed California Smog and got its factory rated MPG.

    70K - maybe if it was a Daewoo, Suzuki, or Chrysler, you'd have to worry. But even the crappiest GM econobox will last 150K these days.
  • trailrunztrailrunz Posts: 8
    Thanks for the great notes so far.

    I test drove a TL from the used Acura lot and it was a real beauty - I've never driven a car like that! I'm new out of college so I've only driven pretty old cars (my Sentra is by far the nicest car I've owned). I didn't, however, consider the premium fuel cost of an Acura and after exhausting an internet search yesterday you are absolutely right that they don't depreciate much until they get to 100k or more.

    I need to check out the Malibus now that they've been mentioned a couple of times.

    Anyone else have an opinion on a really comfortable car? It definitely has to do with the drivers seat for me - my brother has an old Mitsubishi Diamante and there is such a difference with the seats on a luxury car than the econo-seats they put in the Sentra/HondaFit/Corolla.

    My dilemma right now is whether to suck it up and drive the Sentra for a year or two and sock away the extra mileage compensation I'll be receiving and then possibly crack into the $20-25k new car range when I get more money saved (I don't finance), or to get something I want now that I'll be happier driving in the new career.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    To me, any of the Euro cars have the best drivers seats. My old VW Jetta Diesel (probably smaller than a Sentra) had one of the best drivers seats (i'm tall) with more leg/head room than many much larger cars. Of course you could put the drivers seat back to the point it touched the rear not good as a family car but perfect as a commuter. But VW's are a bit finicky (maybe an understatement) but from a comfort perspective it was hard to go wrong. I'd go for a pre 2010 Jetta if you were willing to take on that animal. Mileage isn't the greatest but it's a very nice car to drive. I would still recommend many other vehicles over these...but if we're just talking seat comfort those would be pretty high on my "affordable" list.
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    That's very interesting and all, but average people driving average vehicles can expect to put some significant money into a car as the mileage piles on.

    I don't suppose you would have suggested that the OP purchase your 390k mile Toyota for his 30k-40k mile per year job?
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653

    whether to suck it up and drive the Sentra for a year or two and sock away the extra mileage compensation

    That indicates to me that a "nicer" car is not a job requirement, for image, so I would recommend that you wait on the purchase, for at least 6 months.

    New jobs sometime don't work out, for a lot of different reasons. It is still a very weak economy. Keeping the cash and the Sentra offers more options if things do not work out as planned.

    You can ALWAYS buy a nicer car later. :)
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    No - heh. But I did put 15K-20K a year on my old 4Runner and it could have easily made another 100K on its engine(2nd engine admittedly, though they are only about $1600 total, rebuilt and installed). Replaced the transmission once at 320K. The gears simply wore out from nearly a billion revolutions. Tossed in a Marlin Crawler unit for $1200 and ran it another 3 years.

    I'd buy a Toyota or Honda with 70K on it and consider them to be barely broken in. I *would* recommend one for a commuter, but... the thing is, that there are better, cheaper alternatives.

    Back to the OP's last question:
    I need to check out the Malibus now that they've been mentioned a couple of times.

    Anyone else have an opinion on a really comfortable car? It definitely has to do with the drivers seat for me - my brother has an old Mitsubishi Diamante and there is such a difference with the seats on a luxury car than the econo-seats they put in the Sentra/HondaFit/Corolla.

    My dilemma right now is whether to suck it up and drive the Sentra for a year or two and sock away the extra mileage compensation I'll be receiving and then possibly crack into the $20-25k new car range when I get more money saved (I don't finance), or to get something I want now that I'll be happier driving in the new career.

    Oh, lord, you don't need to do that. You want cheap, fun to drive, and well built. This means an entry level luxury sedan that is about 3-5 years old. You should be able to get something in the 15K-20K range that will last you 5 years or more just fine.

    But what to get? (note these are specific years and model combinations for various reasons - get the recommended year or newer. Most are the last year off a production run before a refresh)

    #1: The simple fact is that Chevrolet is mediocre. Buick is a good alternative, and the older LaCrosse, while a bit "rental" feeling, is a superb highway machine - like the Malibu, but with the softer seats, and all of the frills. And a bulletproof engine that was actually the 2nd most reliable V6 after Toyota at the time. It's also old-school. The GM 3.8/4 speed transmission combo that they used for almost 25 years is $1500 to rebuild and hardly ever breaks. Parts are cheap for the car as a result.

    Depreciation is also steep. You can get a certified 2008 LaCrosse for $15K. Some old guy drove it and it has 30-40K on it and 2 years of the 100K drivetrain warranty, no less. Perfect solution, IMO. And while people moan and complain about GM, compared to a Sentra, it'll feel like you stepped up 5 levels. You can get 27-29mpg realistically on long highway commutes. Not bad for a 3600lb car. Oh, it's also tons safer in a crash, obviously, than a Sentra. The reason that older people drive larger cars is that they trade mass and safety for economy. The problem is that the people who commute the most and can least afford to have something happen to them (young people essentially) drive cars that are tin can flimsy in a crash.

    Me? I've driven trucks or larger cars since day #1. Been in several accidents and only suffered some minor back issues and scrapes. In something tiny like a Sentra, honestly, I'd be afraid to go on the freeway these days. So I feel your frustration. ;)

    #2:If you have a bit more money, though, GM builds a better car, and that's the Lucerne/DTS(same platform, just different treatment) - The DTS is a superb floaty couch on wheels and commands a fair chunk of real estate. MPG isn't as high as the Sentra, though, so the smart person's DTS is the Lucerne. The 3.8L engine in it isn't anything to write home about, but it does get good MPG and is a nicer car than the LaCrosse by far. Depreciation is also fairly steep, so used models are already well under $20K. Originally they sold for almost 35K after options and are a tremendous used value.

    #3: Wait until this fall and get a 1 year old Mustang - the new model with the 30mpg V6 in it. Very nice car - very fast, very solid, and you can also get a manual in it, which I highly recommend.

    #4:If you really really want high mpg over everything else, then that means you need to get a manual or a diesel. But there are no reliable diesels, IMO, other than maybe the Mercedes line, but that's expensive for parts and resale value is too high for what you get. That leaves something with a manual that's not a base model.

    It's a short list. A few do stand out, though.
    A: 2004 Pontiac GTO. 30mpg highway, 300hp corvette engine. Only made this year, and only if you get one with manual. The best "sleeper" car I know of. :shades:

    B: 2005 Mercedes C230K Sedan. With manual, it easily tops 30mpg highway. Beautiful little supercharged I-4 engine. In this case, you DO want the base model as it has nothing to break on it. Needless to say, it has nice seats. Only get this year, with manual, and no options other than maybe leather seats and the panorama sunroof. Any other combination will make you cry in the end.

    C: Volvo S40 sedan. This is overlooked by many, but it is a nice car that fits every criteria. It also gets good mpg with manual. Depreciates very quickly as it's off of most people's radar. Gets high reviews in Europe and repair costs aren't actually much higher than a Toyota these days. IMO, it drives like an upscale and improved Accord. It has that "Euro" feel to it in the turns that I like.

    D: 2007-2008 Acura TL. Yes, they made these with manual! Of note its the 2007/2008 TL type S, which has a more powerful V6 engine but a 6 speed manual. So it gets the same MPG as the standard 5 speed model on the highway. It can get 30 mpg on long highway cruises - just check the forums here. Overall, it gets about 3-5mpg better than the G35 but drives almost the same. Again, a total sleeper that's off of everyone's list.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    A reporter seeks to interview someone on how parents factor carpooling into their car choices. Does the parent with the big car unfairly do the most of the driving? Are the five-passenger car parents left out of carpools? Do you ever wish you had something bigger than/smaller than what you have? Does the price of gas or environmental concerns compete with the need for space? Please email [email protected] no later than Tuesday, July 12, 2011 with your daytime contact information if you care to share your story.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 23,833
    I'd like to append subsection C of the above. ;)

    Since the issue seems to be seat comfort, the S40 seat is greatly inferior to that of the S60. A FWD 2.5T can be quite reliable, although the mileage suffers a bit compared to the competition.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Yeah, you really have to get one with the manual. Old Saabs were like that as well. Automatic means a turbo or larger engine, which means more weight, and so on... and suddenly it drives like everyone else's box on wheels.

    I still remember my manual Volvo 240. That thing was actually quite fast. You just had to not be afraid to rev it to 4K between shifts.
  • selmselm Posts: 122
    I have firm price quotes on 3 cars, a BMW 328i sedan, a Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited, and a Subaru Legacy 3.6 Limited. For the same lease price essentially (I only want to lease), I can get a 328i with no options, or a loaded legacy 3.6R. Or I could really save money and go with the 2.5 Legacy still loaded with options. I am a BMW guy historically as I have done European Delivery, and I just have an emotional connection with their cars, but am willing to look and see what is out there.

    My dilema is the 328i drives the best (especially because I found a manual transmission which I love), but it is missing so many creature comforts, moonroof, power seats, split rear bench, etc. Think base, base car. But it really puts a smile on my face to drive, but I notice that it is missing things it should have included.

    The Legacy Limiteds I love for all of the technology and equipment, but lacks the drive. The 2.5 feels a bit slow, but adequate I guess. The 3.6 is the best compromise between my choices, but the savings against the bimmer is almost completely erroded which had me looking at subaru in the first place.

    What would others do in my place given those options? I am looking for a new way to look at this as I can't seem to reconcile this problem.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,513
    I don't want to be one of those people pushing a different vehicle that you haven't even expressed a desire for, but is there a reason you are limiting your choice to those three cars? I can think of other small sedans that might be require less compromise than the ones you are currently looking at now. Do you drive a lot and for long periods of time? The lack of those amenities will be glaring. On the other hand if your commute is short they might not matter so much.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • selmselm Posts: 122
    I don't drive a whole lot (only 10k miles/year). I have looked at some other cars too, but these seem to be the ones I have liked thus far. I have driven the sonata, the acura tsx, the accord, and the mazda 6. I had to draw the line somewhere so I narrowed it down to the BMW and the subaru.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 23,833
    Oh, you NEVER have to draw the line. Make sure you check out everything or you'll always wonder "what if."

    Sounds to me like the BMW is the only true sports sedan you've driven out of all you've listed. I strongly suggest getting out there and checking out those that might compete better, such as Infiniti, maybe a Caddy CTS, Lexus IS, Audi A4, etc. I don't know what any of these lease, but take a look.

    On the Subie front, if you want a manual trans, why wouldn't you be looking at the 2.5GT?

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,052
    I think the Audi A4 is going to offer the closest comparison related to driving experience. I'm a fan of Infinitis, but I haven't seen any great lease deals.

    I'd take a drive in an Audi before making a final decision, and, of course, look at the lease deals they offer.

    If the OP is intending to purchase at the end of the lease, my opinion is likely to change!


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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 23,833
    If the OP is intending to purchase at the end of the lease, my opinion is likely to change!

    Oh, absolutely!

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 23,833
    Ya know, come to think of it, you might consider purchasing a CPO bimmer. You'd get more options for the money, full CPO coverage, and you could very likely sell it after 3 years and it would have cost you less than a 3-year lease on a new one.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    edited July 2011
    "My dilemma is the 328i drives the best (especially because I found a manual transmission which I love) ... it really puts a smile on my face to drive."

    I think that says it all. Do you want to smile or have more "creature comforts"?

    I think that gbrozen's idea of a BMW CPO purchase might offer the best solution. :)
  • selmselm Posts: 122
    I want to say no to a CPO bimmer because of the maintenance costs. I have already been there and done that when I bought one new and owned it for a long time. I actually did the analysis and I would have been better off having leases over that same duration of time. When it went to the shop, I never left with anything less than 4 figures.

    And regarding other "luxury cars" I can by far get a better deal with the BMW as I have the Team USA $1000 offer and a $500 Car club rebate, plus good residuals, a decent money factor, and a good selling price I have negotiated. The equivalent Audi, Infiniti, etc. is going to cost me a bit more in actuality (plus the maintenance included is really nice).

    But, I think all of the posts have helped because just in posing it, I see that driving is more important to me than if my power seats can warm me up on the cold Southern California winters.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    Unless you have a reason for AWD...I can't come up with any reason to buy a Subaru. Based on lease deals I've seen...the 335 is about $60 more per month...justify it with the moonroof :P
  • colin_lcolin_l Posts: 591
    A lower mileage BMW Certified Pre-Owned car will actually have a better warranty than a new one.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 23,833
    edited July 2011
    I agree with Colin. If you are talking 4 figures for a trip to the shop, then you are talking about more than just maitenance. Anything expensive is going to be covered under warranty. The warranty is 6yrs/100k miles. So if you bought even a 3-year-old model with 36k miles, you'd be covered for the next 3 years until you sell or trade it.

    Let's see.... an '09 328i premium with ~30k'ish miles is going to run you roundabout $28k CPO. At a reasonable rate on a 5-year note, with only paying taxes/tags up front, you'll be right around $525/mo. After 3 years, if you do a 5-year note, you'll owe ~$11,500, but, if historical values hold up, the car will be worth a couple or few grand more than that.

    What kind of lease are you talking about (numbers)?

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited July 2011
    You will kick yourself for not getting the BMW.

    That said, while the "deals" are the same, the fine print in the books at the dealerships will allow you to pay a couple of dollars more a month to get one or two options if you have to have them. Personally, all the 3 series really needs from the base model is a proper aftermarket stereo.

    Terrarium roofs are not my favorite thing, either. ie - does it actually OPEN all the way? (ie - a proper sunroof?) A piece of glass, well, that just acts like a magnifier on your skull in the summer heat. That flimsy sun shade over it doesn't do much at all.

    My last vehicle that had a moon roof forced me to put the AC vents pointing upwards to the ceiling to keep from getting heat fatigue in the summer.

    Concentrate on the driving. Fluff and interior B.S. is just a distraction.

    That said, CPO and owning it can be a better option. As for alternatives, take a look at the C class. It's a fine car, and Mercedes has some really crazy incentives and rebates going on. And a great European delivery program as well. Comparing the C class (especially the sport model) or 3 series to something like a Subaru...

    Yes, a fancy Seiko will keep time just fine. But it's not a Rolex.

    Get a BMW or Mercedes. Nothing else compares to those two unless you spend a lot more money.
  • Hi there. I'm new here and haven't owned a car for 11 years so I'm *really* out of the loop.

    My small family (myself, husband, and toddler) need to buy a used car in about ten days. We only have about $4500 total (tax and fees, etc) to spend. We don't need much. Good gas millage, good reliability, and four doors (Sedan, Hatchback, or Wagon) is all we need. I thought we needed something like a 2001/2002 Ford Focus, 1998/1999 Toyota Corolla, or a 1996/1997 Honda Accord. Based on my research using the Edmunds TMV I thought these would be good bets for our price range and for what we needed. I also thought that since these are popular cars there would be a lot of them on the market to choose from.

    This has really not been the case. We live in San Francisco and every place I've contacted will come nowhere near the TMV value for these cars. I'm guess maybe they are so popular, the dealers don't have to worry about selling them. There's no need to give me the price I'm asking if they can sell it for 1-2K more tomorrow or next week.

    I need some suggestions on what to do and where to start. What cars should I consider to get what we need at this price? I'm really at a loss.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. I posted this in Sedans as well, but I think this might be a better place to find an answer.
  • fushigifushigi Chicago suburbsPosts: 1,425
    The problem your seeing is that used car prices in general are simply higher than they were a few years ago. It's good in that it means cars aren't depreciating as fast as they used to but it's bad for the used car shopper on a budget. Anyway, you asked for suggestions ..

    2001 or newer Hyundai Elantras are worth consideration, as are 2000 or newer Sentras & Lancers/Galants. Probably the Mazda 3/Protege as well. A Subaru would be good though hitting your price point is tough and their fuel economy hasn't been a strong suit. Avoid the Neon/PT Cruiser and Cavalier/Cobalt.

    You might also look around at private party sales instead of dealers. That would mean checking your local paper or AutoTrader mag, Craig's List & eBay, etc. Ask your friends & neighbors if they know anyone with a car for sale; through casual conversation I managed to put together a deal for a coworker of mine to buy my wife's car. They're picking it up tonight.

    Generally a PP sale will be a little bit cheaper than the same car on a dealer lot. Just verify scheduled maintenance was performed and try to make sure you're not buying a car that was in an accident (use CarFax or another service). Or, if you do by an accident victim, make sure the price you pay is reduced accordingly. Have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic if you can.

    Run, don't walk, away from any car with a Salvage Title.

    I'll suggest that at your price point, the miles car has been driven and how it's been maintained are probably more important than the brand.
    2017 Infiniti QX60 (me), 2012 Hyundai Elantra (wife)
  • Thank you so much for your suggestions. I haven't paid any attention to car prices in so long, it was a shock to find that they are so high.

    We have been asking everyone we know if they know anyone selling their car. No luck so far. but it's coming down to the wire and we have to get something soon.

    I have never bought a car before. How much should I reasonably expect to be able to go down from the dealers asking price? What number should I start my negotiations at?

    Thanks for the help. I need as much help as I can get. :)
  • One more question - what about Volkswagens? Are there any that I could look for? The reason I ask is that there seem to be a glut of them at the used car lots. My husband says that they are expensive to repair though.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,350
    Love your user name.

    Just a thought - try your local craigslist. Pop in senior owned or senior driven as search words and you might get lucky. A lot of the time it will get you big, gigantor cars or things that aren't the bargains you want but you can find a jewel in there sometimes.

    I remember my SIL finding a low mileage Camry that way.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
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