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What Car is Right For Me? Help Me Choose!



  • A few posts back someone wanted a good, reliable family sedan with V6 and good resale, but not much in the way of frills. He wanted to stay in the ballpark of an Accord LX V6. As oppossed to an Accord LX V6, people have suggested the Alero, Impala (base), Malibu, and 300M. They are fine cars, but he said reliable and good resale. A 2000 base Impala carries a trade in value of about $9566. A 2000 Malibu has a trade in of about $7417, an Alero GLS is worth $11,442, a 300M will trade in around $18,003. A 2000 Accord LX V6 has a trade in of about $14,107. The 300M carries a new MSRP of $28,340 and a new Accord LX V6 has a MSRP of $22,600. The 300M dropped $10,337 in value to the Accord's $8493. As far as reliable goes, the 2000 base Impala had no recalls, but 111 Technical Service Bulletins written for it. The 2001 Impala did better with still no recalls, and only 52 TSBs. The 2000 Malibu also had no recalls, but 104 TSBs. The 2001 Malibu improved to only 55 TSBs. The 2000 Alero GLS had no recalls and 115 TSBs. The 2001 Alero GLS improved to only 53 TSBs. The 2000 300M had 4 recalls and 36 TSBs. The 2001 300M improved to 1 recall and 20 TSBs. The 2000 Accord LX V6 did have 1 recall, but only 36 TSBs. The 2001 Accord LX V6 had no recalls and 6 TSBs. I guess Honda figured out what went wrong with the 2000 model. Again, I think these other cars are fine, but the Accord LX V6 definately meets his requirements better.
  • splattsplatt Posts: 328
    I do agree, that for the money, the Accord is the best value around. Personally, I'd say the VTEC 4Cyl engine. It's several thousand less and has enough pickup for day to day driving.

    However, it's got one problem - even as Edmunds posted for several years ;) It's got the personality of Al Gore. My wife almost got one, but she just wanted something with more looks.

    If you are concerned primarily with resale, Honda or Acura are great. Toyota's not too bad, but the fully loaded Camrys go well over $30k nowadays.

    As for the discounts - there are all sorts of special promotions going on now for the M. $6-7k off sticker should be easy. You could prolly get up to $8k if you push it. Try some of the online places to get quotes - edmunds has one they link to. Plus the 0% is a big savings.

    I'd just recommend you drive one. You'll either hate it or love it :)
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I am confused as to your obsession with the Accord. As I mentioned clearly in my post, Accord clearly has higher resale value than the cars I recommended. However, I have compared the cars side-by side and offered some real-world insight. I assume that is what the person with the question was looking for.

    For example, although I would not choose the Malibu, it is the closest match to the Accord. While it's resale is not as good, it also costs a cool $5,000 less (with rebate). For a person looking for a no-frills car, it saves you serious money up front and still offers superior cargo capacity (extra 3 Cubic feet).

    While the Malibu has fewer recalls and more TSB's than the Accord, I do not feel it is unreliable due to the experience of my peers. TSB's, while quantifiable, are not absolute indicators of your ownership experience. My 1993 Ranger had more TSB's than all of these vehicles, yet I have not been to the shop once.

    Personally, if reliability and resale statistics are your main criteria, I would take a Camry over the Accord. In addition to it's known quality and high resale, it offers more cargo capacity and better looks...all for the same price.
  • I'm not married to the Accord. I just think it's the best fit to the requirements. I don't even own a Honda myself. Just trying to help.
  • I am the mother of two boys, ages 5 and 3. My mother just bought a Volvo S40 that has a very cool feature in it, integrated child booster seats. The rear seats fold up and eliminate the need for a booster seat for children who are too big for a car seat, but not large enough for adult size seat belts to be safe.

    I will be in the market for a new car in the near future (I currently drive a 1991 Honda Accord with 204,000 miles on it), and I want to know why more manufacturers don't offer this booster seat feature. Also, it doesn't appear as one of the options on the Edmunds' site for the 2002 Volvos. Does Volvo even still offer it? If the answers to these questions are no, does anyone have any idea why?
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    Good question magerber! I seem to remember this being offered on Dodge caravans a long time ago. I remember thinking this would spread and become standard equipment one day. I look forward to anyone's insight on this.
  • I don't know why they seem to have disappeared. I don't think Dodge and Chrysler have offered them for a while. My mother-in-law has one in her Buick. I guess they died off because people realized they had a limited "shelf life" and decided to to pay for them.
  • They were dropped because they did not sell that well. My brother had them in their 98 Grand Voyager, but does not in his 2000. His 4 daughters outgrew them, I guess.
  • I meant to say "decided NOT to buy them." I figure you could have guessed that. With the Grand Voyager, I think that's exactly it. It was like a $200 or $250 option and they can't be used very long. You can buy 2 car seats for less than $250.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    Alero: you said it had more cargo room than an Accord. That's true on paper, 14.1cu vs 14.6. On a recent trip to the airport, I easily fit all our luggage into the trunk of a Camry (14.1cu and nearly identical trunk design of the Accord). However, when we arrived my Alero rental wouldn't hold it all. If I remember correctly, the Alero had a very low shelf in the back and I couldn't stack my bags as I had in the Camry. Just a little tidbit because .5cu isn't much especially if the entire design isn't user friendly. I really liked the Alero though otherwise. It was loaded with leather, cd, moonroof, alloys. Nice car. Could've used some more oomph, but not bad. Kinda noisey, but alot of the roads in HI are grooved so it's hard to compare. Drove more like my wifes Galant V6 which is to say more entertaining than the Camry/Accord.
  • mvargo1mvargo1 Posts: 298
    I would suggest at least taking a look at the new 2002 Altima. Very nice car, roomier and more powerful than either camry or accord. It is also a much more interesting car. It has considerable more style than most Japanese cars, and is more fun to drive
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    You may want to check the Camry trunk size again. It is my understanding that the Camry trunk is 16.7 cubic feet. I didn't have a chance to check it today, but that's what I seem to remember.

    Was it an older Camry? I agree that .5 cubic feet is not any real difference. My point was that even the little alero had as much cargo room as the accord.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    It's a 97 Camry which is smaller than the newest one. The Alero is definetely smaller than my Camry and at the time I felt the trunk was much smaller than the Camrys as well. But then I looked at specs and as you noted they are very close as far as specs go. 4 bags went into the Camry trunk without thought, only 3 would go into the Alero. Had to stick one of the large ones in the back seat.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    The Alero is definitely smaller inside then the Accord but it's a smaller car overall. At least 5 inches shorter. Make sure you check out the backseat of the Alero. It has decent leg room but it's not the most comfortable seat and fitting a booster seat is ..well...try it for yourself. Going back to the original post of reliable no frills car. the Malibu is a viable option to the Accord. But if re-sale value is important then youhave to take the malibu, Alero, Impala and 300 M out of the equation. Their re-sale value is no where near the Accord or Camry. Quite honestly the Camry re-sale value took a hit last year. I think it had to do with leasing so many cars over the past 4 years that the used car market is loaded with them. In newspapers around here, the same year and mileage Camry's (LE vs. LX) are selling for about $1000 less then the Accords.

    Good luck with your purchase.
  • Some time ago I posted an inquiry about two vehicles that I was having a difficult time choosing between, the Max or the Accord. Just to let everyone know I chose the Accord. In Canada they are building a Special Edition V6 with all the EX features except leather. Great lease rates at present and the Nisan dealer could not match the price. I realize some are going to say the Max is more car but the difference was not worth the additional cost. I'm looking forward to picking up the Accord this week. Have a good Christmas everyone.
  • splattsplatt Posts: 328
    Yes, the accord is a lot of car for the money. You could get a left over 01 EX with the VTEC for $20k...
  • Sorry I didn't respond earlier, holiday stuff got me busy; WOW! I didn't realize the reliability diff. bet. the 2 cars was that much; Also, I found out the 2000 TC has side Air bags, ABS,and Traction Control STANDARD! Also, the '03 CV will come out quickly according to, so there goes resale value;
    One minor question to you; I live in KC MO, and we get ice/snow during winters; Does TC or CV handle better? Tips/Tricks?
  • Accords to me are very over-rated cars. In terms of performance (for a family sedan) there is nobody better than Maxima plus it is just as reliable as a Honda these days although none of these two are as reliable as a Toyota. (SIDE NOTE: I AM AN ACCORD OWNER). The other day I went to the REVIEWS section here on EDMUNDS and I found the 2000 Maxima out scored Accord in most categories. It would have came second or first (on the list of the TOP TEN FAMILY SEDANS) but it only got 58% of the Editors recommendation. WHY? ITS A MYSTERY TO ME.
  • 4apexs4apexs Posts: 36
    Need advice...
    I live in upper midwest, travel 40k/yr, 80% interstate, 70-80mph, want to get 150-200K out of car. Getting old so comfort #1, dependability #2, gas mileage #3, some snow, so fwd #4.
    Considering new base model of Avalon, Maxima, Passat.
    How comfortable is driving - 200-500mi/day?
    Real world highway mileage is?
    With good maintanance, will it live to 150-200K?
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    For that kind of driving (similar to my pattern) I recommend a Chevy Impala. Even the Base model, with the 3.4 is a great highway cruiser. The engine is quiet, has lots of power and is very reliable. You can't beat the highway MPG either, 34MPG or more. I drove this for 2 weeks in Atlanta during July...Air was on all the time and got 34 highway, 32 mixed driving.

    I wish my car had a tachometer because it seems like it is hardly running at 70+ MPH. Surprisingly, it is finally getting good reviews from various enthusiasts. For a small upgrade you can have the 3.8L engine.
  • Good idea! The big GM comfy seats would make for a good highway cruiser. Of the cars listed, would think Avalon would be the best bet--just my opinion, though.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    If you must pick from the cars listed, I'd take the Avalon too. I love the interior layout and it's a nice ride.

    However, try the Impala and I think you'll be sold. I too think the seats are very comfortable...especially for base seats. Not that this is a big deal, but the RDS is great for road warriors! It works great here in the Northeast, not sure how well it works in the west.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    I've heard some complaints on the Avalon seats, but you really need to do the sitting yourself. One car can be completely comfortable to one person and bad for another. The Avalon I drove was very comfy.

    I've had several Impala rentals and they are great cruisers and meet all the requirements you listed. Bench seats not the greatest IMHO. We drove an Impala LS for quite awhile and the leather buckets with heat were much better. I'd spring for the 3.8L over the 3.4L. The 3.8L isn't as smooth as the Toyota/Nissan V6's, but it's pretty good. Power is good and very quiet cruising. If you're offended by some silly plastic assembly & visible screws here and there then maybe you won't like the Impala. But I would definetely at least consider it. Very comfy for long trips, excellent reliability from what I've seen, 30mpg should be easy, traction control is available, and the price is very appealing.

    The Max is a good car, but smaller than the Avalon. Not going to be as comfortable (ride, room, etc.) but still a good car. VW is a beautiful car, but not practical to plan on 200K trouble free miles. I'm not saying it can't be done, but they just seem to be more "needy".

    Your talking about driving 50K per year minimum. You also need to consider maintenance costs. Avalon requires timing belt changes, spark plugs @ 60K, and other items Impala won't need as often. I used to drive that much and ran 200K up on two Camry V6's. Looking back the extra maintenance costs were worth it because I had very little in repair costs and was never stuck without a vehicle. However, I think the Impala is very capable and a much better choice over what I was picking from in the early to mid-90's. My 3rd and newest Camry V6 was a bit of a flop and an employee has been driving it since around 50K. Still no major problems at over 100K, but just not screwed together like the others were. If I was going back to the days of running 60K per year I'd be looking closely at the Impala just from a practical standpoint.
  • 4apexs4apexs Posts: 36
    Thanks for all your responses.... I would have not considered the Impala - last one I drove was a 1970!! I've posted same question on several sites - based on comfort being #1 - majority seems to favor Avalon.
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37

    This is probably a rather strange choice I've come down to in my car shopping but would appreciate any thoughts. I want to purchase a new vehicle for under $20K and have narrowed it down to two choices: the Subaru Forester and the Hyundai Sonata. I can get a base-level Forester 5-Speed for $19,200 and a top of the line Sonata for $18,900 (with antilock brakes). My requirements are as follows and for the most part are rank-ordered:

    1. Want something fun to drive. Our other vehicle is a minivan and it just doesn't excite me so I would like to get something that I can look forward to driving

    2. Want something that I can reasonably expect to put 150,000 miles on. I plan to pass this on to my son when I finish paying for it in 5 years

    3. Need to be able to reasonably transport the family of 5 though that is primarily what the van is for.

    4. We get 2-3 snowstorms here in Northern VA per year and I would like to feel comfortable driving in it though this is not a big deal

    5. Everything else: Warranty, good gas mileage, reasonable insurance, etc

    I am leaning towards the Sonata at this point but my one concern is that I have been driving a CR-V for the past 3 years and have heard it is hard to transition back to a sedan after driving a sports utility. On the other hand, I think SUVs are overrated.

    Would appreciate comments.

    Thankful that I have a choice

  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    The Forester is better built, more fun to drive and doesn't need a warranty. Ok, nobody builds a perfect car, but the Subarus can take a beating.

    Not that I buy vehicles for resale, but the Subaru is also better in this department.

    I agree with SUV's being overrated. (I own a car, minivan and truck) Are you open to any other choices?
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37
    jpelder-thanks for your comments on the Subaru v. the Hyundai. I am open to other choices. Your thoughts?

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    Sorry to do this but how about the new Altima? As far as your requirments go, an S-model 4cyl should ring in your price range. Has pretty decent options and you can pick if you want a manual or automatic. I've not driven the Sonata or the Forester but I'd have a hard time believing either one would put more of a smile on your face. I think the odds are just as good for the Altima hitting 150K as the others. It's a bit bigger than the others. FWD should do fine in the snow. Warranty isn't as good as Hyundai obviously. Gas mileage is proably better in real life driving. No idea on the insurance, I've never noticed much of a difference between cars once I hit a certain age. All within a few dollars a month.

    I know you weren't considering it, but it was recently released and thought maybe you hadn't checked it out. Your #1 priority was fun factor and it far exceeds the other in my book. Of course your idea of a fun driver could be totally different than mine as I guess we are talking family sedans. My biggest hitch with the Hyundai is resale value. I know you plan to keep it, but if you had to sell it you'd take a severe beating. And in 6-7 years you might not be able to give it away. I was at a dealer auction a few weeks ago and Hyundai's/Kia's were sooooo cheap it was kinda funny. '01 cars selling for 30%-40% of their new price. If you're really stuck on one, you could save $5,000-$6000 easily used.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    those are 2 very strange choices you have there: Sonata vs Forrester. Esp. after looking at your requirements. I don't think either vehicle can comfortably seat 5 people. The Forester rear seat is tight as well as the Sonata. And I wouldn't describe either vehicle as fun to drive. neither has a powerful engine. But with a family of five, how much fun can you have in a car. If you live in Northern VA and it snows, I'm guessign everything is shut down so driving in the snow is more an issue of having good tires on your vehicle then having AWD.

    As far as warranty, reliablity, etc., It will probably even out. The Subaru is more reliable but the Sonata has the better warranty. Plus you get more for your money with the Sonata. One option I would seriously look at is a leftover 2001 Accord. Good reliablity, spacious backseat, fun to but it will last you a long time and it has the best reliability and highest re-sale value in the midsize class.

    If you are sold on the Sonata and Forester, I would go with the Sonata. More bang for the buck. I can't make any claim it will last 150,000 miles but you do have anice warranty.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I too, was puzzled with your choices...mostly because you don't need a snowmobile and need to occasionally carry 5 people. With the criteria you mentioned, a couple of other cars come to mind.

    1. Yesterday I picked up a 2002 alero sedan. It is a fun ride, especially with my 5 speed manual. This has the same bumper/bumper warranty as the Hyundai, and is well under your price target. I paid 14,700(actually 11,500 after GM card points) straight sale.

    Since I too have a van, it is not my my primary vehicle, but can reasonably carry 5 as long as the rear seat is for kids. While the Ecotech 2.2 is considered reliable, I have no idea about the 150,000 benchmark. I prefer 6 or 8 cylinders for that kind of durability.

    2. A base Subaru legacy. It can be had for your price range, yet still has AWD. It has more room than the forester and can take a beating. I drove one of these for work and loved it. You can also get it with a stick...for added fun. 150,000 miles should not be a problem.

    3. You may be surprised that some v-6 cars get as good or better mileage than these cars. Some options are Malibu or base Impala...both lots of room and engines that will last. Neither of these are sports sedans though.

    I'm not sure how many leftover 01 cars are available, but the Accord fits the reliability catagory.
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