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What Car is Right For Me? Help Me Choose!



  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37
    Thanks for all the great inputs and advice on my rather strange choice of cars. For what it is worth (perhaps not very much), perhaps I can explain how I arrived at these two choices:

    - The Mrs likes SUVs and her input does make a difference--the only one I could find that I felt comfortable with the price and reliability was the Subaru. The CRVs ( a bit too expensive), XL-7 (expense) and Sportage (reliability and size) were others that I considered but ruled out. The Forester seems quite nice but a bit small. I just don't like the whole aura that surrounds the SUV and its drivers

    - As for sedans, if I were to buy one, I want one that is fun to drive. I have had a few Accords and as much as I liked them, they strike me as really dull (no offense to Accord owners). I like the looks of the new Altima quite a bit but they are selling at a premium right now. I have not looked at the Alero but plan to so thanks for the input on it. The reason I've focused on the Sonata is that they seem to be drawing raves from everywhere I've checked--the fact that I can get a V-6 leather sedan for under $19K is amazing to me. I hadn't heard very much in the negative column though the comment about 2001 used Sonatas selling at 40% of MSRP scares me I must admit.
    Is the Sonata a case of you get what you pay for or is the timing right to buy one considering that it is starting to be mentioned in the same breath as the Honda (without snickering)?
    I'm still torn but am in no rush--thanks for everyone's thoughts for this schizophrenic prospective buyer

  • or a Grand Marquis/Crown Vic;
    1) They're cheap esp. program aka rental cars
    15995 for an '01 loaded GM
    2) They ride great!
    3) The engine will last! Look how many CV's are in use with police!
    4) The T/C is great and good bargain too;!
    Rear wheel drive

    Hope it helps
  • hjr2hjr2 Posts: 105
    i have a 1999 loaded sonata, 70,000+ miles in 27 months, and plan to keep it at least 2 more years, that should be over 100,000+ easily(by end of 2002).

    now, you do take a hit if you are into trading every 3 years. If you kep your vehicles at least 4+ years, Sonata is the way to go.
    (or you drive 35,000 miles per year like us).
    No matter what car you get, you go over 100,000 miles in 3 years, you ain't gettin' much for sale or trade-in.(we have owned Nissans and Chevies and same goes for them, over 100,000 , low resale).
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    DAVE, I feel your pain trying to satisfy your wife. You need to do what some of us do...analyze everthing repeatedly and include your wife on your findings. Soon, it will overwhelm her and she will just tell you to get whatever you think is best!

    That said, I agree that the Forester is the best for your criteria if you must have an SUV for the wife pleasing quotient.

    While agree with Suburbank about the Crown Vic (I'd love to drive a grand marquis), etc, Not all people like the cushy ride (sometimes I think they just don't like the ludicrous old fogey stigma). The RWD does not have the winter traction of FWD...which seems to be a problem for women drivers, and I personally never buy used cars.

    A nice car for your range might be a Grand Prix SE. Definitely sporty, Very solid, and lots of room. The SE does not have all the body cladding of the other models. I have a feeling your wife might like the looks too. I'm not a pontiac guy, but it really impressed me. I'm not a fan of orange dash lights and probably never will be, but they do stand out. GM just announced $2002 cash back, so it will be well below 20,000.
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37

    Thanks for your messages on this. Do you know my wife :) ? I am so anal about collecting information and it tends to drive her crazy.

    Well, I think I finally convinced her that a sedan would be okay. I don't know why I have had such a hard time thinking American but the GM rebate and your comments have me looking.

    I am still intrigued by the Hyundai--road a few this weekend and was extremely impressed with everything from price to performance. The comments on these boards are equally convincing.

    Fortunately, I am in no rush. Again, I sincerely appreciate your thoughts

  • Dave: I'm in a similar position of considering unlike cars, only I can't blame anyone else for my indecision. With me, the choice is down to Forester or something like a Maxima or Altima. Without getting into my problems, let me suggest you wait about three months to see what the new Forester is going to be like. My inner adult has already decided that the Forester would make more sense for me than just about anything. The inner child is pouting, holding out for a Ferrari. But I hope the new Forester is going to be so appealing that the inner child will fall in love with it.
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37
    Storyteller: I just heard that a new Forester is coming out. I am excited about it as well. Do you have any idea on the price range?

  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235

    When it comes to cars, I think most women have a bit in common. I'm fortunate enough to have a wife who trusts my judgement more than her own impulsive nature.

    Don't get me wrong, I didn't mean to steer you to an american car. Like I said, the legacy is a great car. For your price range, the domestics offer alot of car for the money.

    I look at all cars, and am pretty stingy so I judge by personal experience...not popular perception. I realize that people's first impressions of a car are based on looks and price.

    One thing I have against the korean cars are overall quality and repair costs. I'll never get over the cost of brakes and other routine maintenance parts (fuel filter, etc.) for 2 Korean cars I worked on. THey were at least 2 to 4 times more expensive than domestic parts. I always heard japanese cars were that way, but I never had one to work on.

    Another thing I have against hyundai's is the poor fuel economy in relation to their engine performance. For example, the 3.1 in the grand prix gets better economy than a 2.7 sonata, despite being a heavier car. An impala 3.4 gets even better mileage.

    Happy hunting!
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    The big problem with both of these cars is (going back to your original post) neither car can seat 5 comfortably and neither is fun to drive esp. in an automatic.

    The Alero is nice but again the seating for 5 is tight (very tight). Take a serious look at the Chevy Impala Base esp. with the $2002 back. Also you may want to consider a used Accord (99-00). You may even be able to get a V6 for $18-$19k.

    This is a tough one. I understand your commitment to staying under $20k. Went through the same process in JUly with the same financial restraints. I ended up buying a Chevy Malibu LS. I'vm very happy with that purchase but it may not fit your longterm reliability. Bought it for $17.1 with $1500 back from Chevy. Also look at the Saturn L200. I believe that goes for less then $20k. Compare those to the Sonata. I imagine they all will come out about the same. One may ride better then teh others. Or one may handle better then another. In this price class most cars are similar except they may have different characters. The reliability is hit or miss outside of the Toyota and Honda fields.

    Good luck with your searching. Keep us up too date.
  • dmarzo1: No, no rumors about price. I'm expecting a price increase in line with usual increases. Power will be up. There is some speculation that the platform will move up from Impreza to Legacy, which would increase size (and cost) a bit more. Someone on the inside has posted to the effect that we're gonna love the new one, but he won't say why. We'll know by April. Meanwhile, people who post on the Subaru boards are so friendly and helpful you wonder if you have to pass a personality test before they agree to sell you a Subaru. Buying a Subie is like joining a club of cool people.
  • hjr2hjr2 Posts: 105
    read Hyundai SF is ok on some gravel and minor dirt backroads,trails(without boulders or whatever,in the pathways)..
    good for foul weather, and can save about $5Grand vs forrester,or more(?)

    I do not drive suv, and have not driven a santa looked good in showroom, and the above comments were in car and driver,etc, 2002 models reviews.

    I do not care for Accents,either, but is sounds like you either need a family car or xuv/suv thing. Just keep on test driving, or do as i did a few yrs ago(before digital odometers) I owuld see a Hyundai, look at odometer in the parking lot and see alot of 70,000-113,000 mile vehicles witout rust, or torn up interiors,etc....

    I figured after looking at 20 or so of these higher mileage cars, running daily, looking good after 3-8 years, and dierent models, they couldn;t be as bad as they said...or they wouldn't make it to 70,000-113,000+ miles without rust, or looking almost like new interiors,and i even checked tail pipe....see if there was excessive soot....!! No joke.
    I even looked on the under carriage of 5 of them, the older ones, or holes, rust, damage....

    onbe problem, if you live reall far from a dealership, or only one in 100 miles...that could be a big deterrent, or anything you decide on. I know we have 2 subaru dealership in a 120 mile radius, and about1 0 Hyudnai dealerships(abou 100 GM/Ford,of course).

    The 3Hyudnai dealerships near us are 37-55 miles away..the rest are 80-120 miles. See what I mean?
  • hjr2hjr2 Posts: 105
    same as LX nowaday. Like one guy said, it is up to your personal preferences.

    Our sonata has 70,319 miles as of today, in 30 months....CD player was damaged in a 55 mph wreck, it will be fixed. The check engine light came on at 58, was the timing belt getting ready to go(60,000 miles is recommended change out time) they replaced it FREE, under warranty.
    the dealership was kind of lying, though, I didn't knwo(now i do) that they are supposed to give you a FREE rental or warranty items, yet they charged me $32. Needless to say, we got our Tiburon somewhere else after that,and go to one tha will give you a car for major tune ups,free, or warranty items.
    Be sure to ask dealerships about this issue, it 'd be nice . the 60,000 mile tune up took about 6 hours, you could drop off car before work, drive a free rental to work, o wherever, and returnb when work is done.
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37
    Well, thanks again for all the great comments. I had the itch to buy and decided to make a purchase tonight. I went with Hyundai but decided against the Sonata--going with the Elantra hatchback instead. I feel very good about the car--I think it meets most of my requirements. It is definitely fun to drive (IMHO) and I feel good about the potential of it lasting 150K miles (don't laugh at me). It will fit 4 comfortably but 5 will be cramped but we have a van so that is no big deal. Gas mileage is not quite as high as you would expect (24/31 I believe) but a bit better than the CR-V I am turning in. Insurance will rise $60 per 6 months but that is okay by me.

    I went with the Elantra because it was $4K cheaper than the Sonata I wanted and I did not think the difference to me was worth that much money. The Elantra actually has better headroom than the Sonata. I got a deal that was about $700 below the Edmunds TMV so I feel great about that as well.

    Would have liked to have seen the new Forester but I just can't see spending $22K. Am anxious to see it though. Will let you know my impression on the Elantra as time passes.

    Thanks again

  • First, the Sonata GLS V6 and the LX are not the same. The LX has leather seats, power seats, and an automatic climate control system. If you've ever had or been in a car with automatic climate control, you know it does not compare with manual! No real biggie as the major mechanicals are the same, but they are not the same car. Dave--sounds great on the Elantra GT! It seems like everyone who drives one buys one. That has to be great for the whole line. Congratulations and enjoy!
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Congratulations on your purchase, dmarzo1!!!! I'm sure you'll be happy with your purchase. Not a car from your original post but all that matters is that you and your wife are happy with it. Plus you save $5000 from your original budget. Go buy your wife a nice present...or better yet get yourself a new set of golf clubs.

    Good luck with the Elantra.
  • If a set of clubs costs $5000, then that must be why I don't play! :)
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    Now there is a demographic schism...A hyundai owner with a $5000 club set! For that much money, you could get...let me see...a year old hyundai! Sorry, had to let loose on the resale.

    Let me guess, hyundai owners also keep some grey poupon in the glove box!
  • dmarzo1dmarzo1 Posts: 37
    No $4000 set of clubs for me! But maybe a HDTV big screen?

    I still have a few mixed feelings about Hyundai, but I haven't enjoyed driving a vehicle as much as this Elantra since my 89 Celica (have since had a 4-Runner, 2 Accords, Saturn, CR-V and an MPV) Plus there is plenty of room for a $4000 set of clubs if I had them. I think this will turn out to be a good purchase.


  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I think you will be fine with the Elantra. Even if not, you only paid $13k for it. and you have a great warranty.

    happy driivng.
  • hjr2hjr2 Posts: 105
    i was speaking of the 1999 GLS-V6 we own, it has leather, 8 wya power seats,yadda,yadda. I meant ot say that the 2002 LX is= to the OLD 1999 GLS... they had SOnata and the trumped up GLS , leather coulkd be added or not, to the V6 package, not for the 4 cylinder(Base model, in 1999).

    Today, in 2002, GLS is cloth, from what I have in order to get leather(?), you NEED LX??
    I did see a special order Elantra GLS, it had tan leather seats,etc, for aroun $16grand(msrp)...not bad.
    The GT was ok, i like dit, but the bottom seat cushion on the car we test drove felt hard compared to the GLS Elantra leather, or even Tiburon's leather for some reason? Maybe a bad seat cushion(really, both front seats felt hard, bottom cushion, the seat backs were fine).

    Gt is a nice car, except for the seat cushion(s) in the one car...maybe I'll see at the autoshow in March if it was just that on car with bum-seats?
  • Oh, okay--I get you now! You are right, though about 2002 models. The LX has standard leather and the GLS as cloth. Though, like the Elantra you saw, if you are willing to pay for it, I'm sure they would love to have leather installed in a GLS!
  • Actually there are many great cars under 20K. I just went shopping for a mid-size sedan with the same price limitations, and came home with a 2002 Mitsubishi Galant ES (4 cylinder) for $17,500. For the same money the Sonata V6 was extremely tempting, and I could even have bought an Accord LX ad stayed under my budget (about $19,000 for an LX 4 cylinder).

    The Galant I bought is pretty much loaded,the only things lacking are ABS, side air bags, alloy wheels, leather and a sunroof, all of which things that I could have had on the LS model (still in my $20K budget), but didn't want to pay for. I also passed on the V6 for the same reason, I really see no use for it. The 4-cylinder has plenty of power, is so smooth and quiet I have to check the tach to make sure its even running, and has plenty of torque. The automatica transmission (standard equipment) is also a great match for the engine, with ratios well-matced to the engine's torque and power bands. This car is so competent in going about its business that it is much like a 4-cylinder Accord or Camry - so good at getting you quietly and comfortably from place to place that one tends to not even think about it.

    In domestics the Buick Century and Ford Taurus are also available in that range, and I would easily recommend either over the Chevy Impala, which has styling that makes me think (unpleasantly) of the old AMC Matador. The Buick has a very good quality reputation, and with GM rebates makes an attractive buy. I almost went for it, but the lack of a CD player in the base model pushed me away (I hate paying for higher trim levels).

    Congrats on the Elantra GT, that is a great car that is really a terrific buy, though it is in a smaller size (and correspondingly lower price) class.
  • Well, I've got a bit of a decision to make. I'm picking out my first company car. Here are the guidelines:

    $21k max invoice price with options (not including tax, etc.)
    built in N. America

    My company also has to have content in the vehicle but we do in most N. American cars anyway so they're virtually all available. I think rebates can be taken from the total invoice price, so a $2000 rebate would allow me to buy a $23k car.

    I've been considering:

    Nissan Altima
    Volkswagen Jetta
    Saturn L300

    but am willing to consider almost anything.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I wish I had your flexibility in choosing a company car...I get more money, but have to choose from chrysler.

    For a company car that will see highway driving, I'd go with the Chevy Impala. It is extremely comfortable and has alot more room than your choices listed, and even has better mileage. The current edition is still kinda new, but even the automotive press is waking up to it. You could even get an LS if you bargain well.

    Of your choices listed, I'd take the Altima or the Saturn. The Jetta is a bit small.

    What kind of work do yo do? Lots of highway travel?
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    You can get a nice altima for that price range. Great car if you like sporty driving. The Impala is also a great travel car, but it has to meet your taste. You'll either love the comfort/room or hate it. I could live with a Jetta but it is a bit tight. If you never have riders it would be my second pick. Of course not having to worry about repair or maintenance, the Jetta 1.8t might nudge out the Altima. Tough choice. You would have alot more to choose from if they gave you another couple grand. I've never met a Saturn I liked, sorry. I think you're on the right track. Go drive them and come back and tell us what you think.
  • My driving is fairly mixed .... probably 60/40 highway/city.

    What do people think about an Olds Intrigue GX. With the current rebate I could probably get one of those.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    A big part of this is styling (both looks and driving). I never seemed able to like the Intrigue. However, the objective side of me says it is probably one of best options, with the only downside that they are being discontinued.

    The 3.5L engine is one great engine and is now available on the GX. The car is a great value and lots of room.
  • Most company cars I've ever seen were of the standard, 4 door, American variety. People like having enough room to haul people and suitcases to the airport; and, be comfortable for taking clients to dinner. They are seldom flashy. Have you looked at Buick Century or Ford Taurus? They make great company cars. I would agree that the Impala would be an excellent choice. Size, comfort, and a little sportier as well. Good luck on choosing!
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,241
    The reason most company cars are standard, 4-door variety is because the companies are buying batches of them and essentially have to fit a large variety of needs (not wants). That was part of my duty when I worked for a major corp. At the time we were buying well equipped Luminas for $12,000 with an extended factory warranty. Those held up well for about 100K and then they'd be sold for about $2500 and replaced. I don't think many with a choice would spring for these types of vehicles and they are a far cry from fun to drive. Nobody was ever excited about getting a new lumina or taurus! Guys would always call and say hey can't I get a "X-model" that costs the same? No. We bought about 300 per year so every penny counted. My last couple years we were letting the salespersons order options if they paid 75% of the cost. "No you can't have the car you want, but how about a cd player?"

    Folks working for smaller companies have it easy because they usually have some say. When I first started out I made a point to be flexible. I let them give me a few suggestions and then we narrow it down. They really appreciate and take care of a vehicle they want as opposed to a POS they got stuck with. BTW, nobodys picked a taurus or lumina yet, although I'll be the first to admit they are MUCH nicer vehicles than they were in the early 90's. Well the lumina never really improved, but the Impala is a revolution.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I have to agree with claywaterfill about the Century. I didn't mention it earlier because it seemed too different from the cars on your list, but it is one of my favorite rental cars. I love the solid clunk of the doors, and it is the quietest of all the cars listed here.

    A very solid car, lots of room and impressive fuel economy.
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