Mid size sedans... of these 3, how to choose?

KamCottageKamCottage Seattle Member Posts: 7
edited February 3 in General
I am looking at buying a used Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima. Roughly around 3 or 4 years old. I am having trouble comparing because lots of specs have changed over the last several years on all 3. So it's hard to compare, say, a 2017 Sonata with a 2019 Altima or a 2018 Optima. I have to set up basically 12 or more comparisons to really cover everything in this group of choices. Is there an easier way to do this?

Basically I am looking for the most reliable of these 3 with great mileage and good repair ratings. They are all very close I realize. Also, when it comes to used inventory, which is limited to begin with, I don't want a black car, or a black interior, which seems the most common. So that reduces choice even further. I haven't test driven any but the Altima. So I am feeling a bit overwhelmed about choosing. Also trying to decide about shopping for President's Day weekend which is a traditionally good car sale weekend. Or wait until more used inventory comes on the market since it was low during the pandemic. My Honda Civic has 179000 miles on it so I am anxious to do something soon. Thanks in advance for any advice you might have.

Comments

  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,683
    1. Scratch the Altima. Nissan's CVT has reliability problems.
    2. Forget any "holiday sale." It is a total farce, ESPECIALLY for used cars. It isn't like the dealer's profit margin suddenly shrinks a few days a year for special occasions.
    3. A used HyunKia is a good value. If you can find CPO, then you get the 10yr powertrain warranty, which is nice peace of mind.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • KamCottageKamCottage Seattle Member Posts: 7
    Hey thank you qbrozen. Those are things I had not yet run across in my research so I appreciate the heads up. Will continue to research. My hope is to find the right combo of good spec years and price.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Member Posts: 18,676
    I don’t think any of those cars will be as reliable as your Honda but having said that I agree with qbrozen’s advice. Just curious, have you considered a domestic model like a Malibu or Fusion? Sometimes you can get a better price on those.

    On any car do a search for known problems. Sometimes just choosing a different engine or trim level can make a difference between a reliable car and a money pit.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • KamCottageKamCottage Seattle Member Posts: 7
    edited February 3
    Oldfarmer50.... Good question about domestic models. I have tended to be a snob about American cars (which probably reflects, among other things, my age of 61). If domestics have gotten close in quality and reliability to the other models I mentioned that would be good to know. I have not had to get a car in 21 years so have not kept up. LOL. I could possibly drive my Honda up to 250000 miles but that makes me a little nervous about going any farther than an hour from home. :smile: Not to mention the repair costs surely to come on it.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,683

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Member Posts: 18,676

    Oldfarmer50.... Good question about domestic models. I have tended to be a snob about American cars (which probably reflects, among other things, my age of 61). If domestics have gotten close in quality and reliability to the other models I mentioned that would be good to know. I have not had to get a car in 21 years so have not kept up. LOL. I could possibly drive my Honda up to 250000 miles but that makes me a little nervous about going any farther than an hour from home. :smile: Not to mention the repair costs surely to come on it.

    Relative quality of domestic brands is a much debated issue but I’d like to think they are the equal of the cars on your list. Certainly the perception that Asian or Korean cars are better will drive the price upward. Why not go on one of the online auto sites like AutoTrader or AutoTempest and compare prices.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • andres3andres3 Southern CAMember Posts: 12,648

    Oldfarmer50.... Good question about domestic models. I have tended to be a snob about American cars (which probably reflects, among other things, my age of 61). If domestics have gotten close in quality and reliability to the other models I mentioned that would be good to know. I have not had to get a car in 21 years so have not kept up. LOL. I could possibly drive my Honda up to 250000 miles but that makes me a little nervous about going any farther than an hour from home. :smile: Not to mention the repair costs surely to come on it.

    If you can find a recommended good Honda mechanic/auto shop in your area, I think that would alleviate your fears. I see no reason you can't get your Honda to 250,000 miles cheaply if you've maintained it well.
    '15 Audi Misano Red Pearl S4, '16 Audi TTS Daytona Gray Pearl, Wife's '19 VW Tiguan SEL 4-Motion
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,697
    Depends how old, while the Altimas have CVT problems the HyunKias have engine problems. Check out Carcomplaints.com for these models.

    I'd go for a Camry SE.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,683
    edited February 3
    texases said:

    Depends how old, while the Altimas have CVT problems the HyunKias have engine problems. Check out Carcomplaints.com for these models.

    I'd go for a Camry SE.

    OP stated 2017-2018.
    Not sure that site supports your choice.





    Looks to me like the Optima is the way to go, using just these data.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,697
    Good point, I skipped the years comment. Can a second owner pay to get the 100k warranty? That would be another plus.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,683
    texases said:

    Good point, I skipped the years comment. Can a second owner pay to get the 100k warranty? That would be another plus.

    A CPO gives the 2nd owner that 100k warranty.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • KamCottageKamCottage Seattle Member Posts: 7
    texases said:

    Depends how old, while the Altimas have CVT problems the HyunKias have engine problems. Check out Carcomplaints.com for these models.

    I'd go for a Camry SE.

    Thanks all for your thoughts everyone. Regarding the Camry, I couldn't edit this post since too much time had gone by but my other cross post says that I need at least 45" of front leg room. But not a truck. And can't afford the Lexus types.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,697
    Don’t trust listed dimensions to decide on cars. You have to sit in them.
  • KamCottageKamCottage Seattle Member Posts: 7
    edited February 3
    texases said:

    Don’t trust listed dimensions to decide on cars. You have to sit in them.

    Really? Can't you at least use them as a general guideline? Otherwise you'd have to sit in dozens and dozens of cars to see what fits. Franky I would rather have a Toyota or Honda but the husband is 6' 4 " and cannot drive the Civic without his knees being up around the steering wheel.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,697
    Drop by a CarMax and try out a lot of different models. I'm 6'5" and have been surprised at cars that fit, and those that don't.
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 15,099
    I drove an Optima(Kia bribed me with a $25 gift card), and I was pleasantly surprised. If I was looking for a FWD sedan that is probably what I'd go with.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2018 330i xDrive

  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,683

    texases said:

    Don’t trust listed dimensions to decide on cars. You have to sit in them.

    Really? Can't you at least use them as a general guideline? Otherwise you'd have to sit in dozens and dozens of cars to see what fits. Franky I would rather have a Toyota or Honda but the husband is 6' 4 " and cannot drive the Civic without his knees being up around the steering wheel.
    @texases is right, the dimensions mean very little. It is the seat that is important. Just about anything with an 8-way (or more) power seat should work. There are some exceptions, of course. But, to put it in perspective, an Accord with a 4-way manual seat is less accommodating for tall folks than a Civic with a power seat. I'm 6'5", BTW.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • andres3andres3 Southern CAMember Posts: 12,648
    edited February 4

    I drove an Optima(Kia bribed me with a $25 gift card), and I was pleasantly surprised. If I was looking for a FWD sedan that is probably what I'd go with.

    Ha! It isn't terrible. After all, I leased one for 3 years after test driving one. The 1.6T is very unrefined and coarse though. Doesn't sound good at all. Also, the 7-speed DCT was lackluster at best.

    Lastly, in those recent CR mags I read the other day, there was an article about disputing the constant, regular, and numerous error prone ways of the 3 big credit bureaus. In the article, it suggest that if and when you lose a dispute, that you can hire a consumer affairs specialized lawyer to sue the 3 credit agencies and get your way to have the record corrected, and that the lawyer fees will be billed to the losing party.

    Almost made me want to revisit my case with Kia Financial and the inaccurate credit bureaus.
    '15 Audi Misano Red Pearl S4, '16 Audi TTS Daytona Gray Pearl, Wife's '19 VW Tiguan SEL 4-Motion
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