Last post on Dec 08, 2013 at 7:13 PM
You are in the Sedans
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Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Maxima, Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Lexus IS 250, Acura TSX, Car Comparisons, Sedan
#2395 of 3640 Re: Car expert opinions needed! :) [mattsk42]
Sep 24, 2011 (2:01 am)
If I was shopping within your parameters, there are three cars that would make it on my short list-
2008-2009 Nissan Altima 3.5SE (Coupe or Sedan)
2009-2010 Mazda6 s Touring/Grand Touring
2008-2009 Subaru Legacy 3.0R
All of them are fast (0-60 in the low 6-second range or below), reliable (rated above average by Consumer Reports for reliability) and you can find them for around $20k with under 50k miles.
The Altima will be the most plentiful and easy to locate. The only thing I don't like about it is the CVT (rather than a conventional automatic transmission). But that's a personal preference and they sell like hotcakes anyway. It would be hard to go wrong with one of these.
My personal favorite would be the 2009-2010 Mazda6 s. It's the best looking (inside and out), best handling and most fun to drive of the bunch. It also has a sweet 272hp 3.7L V6 (courtesy of Ford) that pulls like a locomotive! =)
The Subie is also a great car, but harder to find. It has standard AWD and a probably the nicest interior of the bunch.
Hope this helps....good luck!
#2396 of 3640 Re: Car expert opinions needed! :) [mattsk42]
Sep 24, 2011 (6:22 am)
You are basically looking at a full size, overbuilt car. GM or Ford, due to the price range and the desire for a higher power engine.
Front wheel drive...
The best car for you is to get a Buick Lucerne CXS, used.
It's as reliable as a tank, it's quick enough (Northstar V8 in it), and repairs are much much less than on a typical import. The suspension is also lifted from a Corvette (CXS model only), so it handles quite well. Prices are quite reasonable and if you get a low mileage one, it'll last ten years quite easily. The transmission on the first two years is also the older more reliable (and dirt cheap to fix) 4 speed automatic. With a V8 behind it, you don't need 5 or 6 gears as there's plenty of torque.
A second choice would be the Cadillac DTS, which is the softer suspension model of the same thing, basically. These can be had for well under $20K, used. These are basically a front wheel drive version of a police car, but without the stigma and ugly looks.
Note #1 - this coming from the most knowledgeable transmission person I know of in all of Los Angeles: The most reliable transmissions in the world (for passenger cars) are made by GM. The lowest cost and most reliable model from GM is the plain vanilla 4 speed automatic that they used for 20+ years in multiple cars. He's also the only person I know of who correctly identified the actual design problem with the Honda Odyssey's transmission, because he repairs them all the time. Yes, he's the guy everyone in the San Gabriel Valley (So Cal region) sends their transmissions to get rebuilt instead of replaced.
Note #2 - If you asked for a list of the most reliable engines in the world made in the last 20 years, from any actual automotive engineer, the Northstar V8 would be in the top five. The GM 3800 series would also be in the top ten of all time.
The key to reliability long-term is to choose a good engine, and reliable transmission, and to buy something that is overbuilt so that you barely stress it while driving it.
My dad's similar V6 powered Park Avenue Ultra is going on 16 years now. He did have to have the original transmission replaced at 15 years old (solenoids gave out, not actual wear). $1600. Hardly anything has gone wrong with it aside from minor crap like the power antenna and normal maintainance items that fail like water pumps and starters and so on as it got over ten years old and well over 100K miles.
Same story with most GM full-size cars. Big, last forever, and while the looks aren't great, the cars are very reasonable to own. The good thing about the Lucerne CXS and Cadillacs, though, is that the suspension is a lot better than a typical rental car. Also, the rental companies boughty exactly zero CXS models as they were $35K+ new.
Certified, $20K. Same story with the DTS - tons and tons of examples under $20K.
#2397 of 3640 $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles
Sep 24, 2011 (9:38 am)
Looking for a car for 17 year old son. The wrinkle is he'll be putting ~ 500 miles a week (20-25k/yr). This is 2/3 Highway 1/3 Country roads in Ohio Snowbelt. "Beater" sounds good in theory, but we also need safe in this case...and the beaters I'm seeing ain't lookin' too safe. Given the miles involved, a high mpg would be great, but we'll give that up over safety & price if necessary. Was hoping for $5-$6k. Any ideas?
#2398 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [podunk1]
Sep 24, 2011 (9:55 am)
Probably my best suggestion is a Mazda Protege. Much much cheaper than the Hondyota equivalents and just as reliable. FWD takes care of the snow problem with good tires. Should be able to score one with quite low miles in your price range.
#2399 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [podunk1]
Sep 24, 2011 (9:56 am)
Can't get much for under $6k these days. If you want something with good fuel economy, one idea is a Saturn SL or SC. The steel cage construction is good for crash safety (for a small car), and you can find them under $6k with a lot of life left. If you can find a Protege in good condition, that would make a nice car for a teen also.
If you don't mind something bigger (more gas), you could look for something like a Taurus or Century or Malibu. Not exciting, but pretty safe and lots of them around for under $6k.
#2400 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [qbrozen]
Sep 24, 2011 (1:24 pm)
We've been looking at the Protege (well the kid is hoping for a MazdaSpeed*..yea right) Haven't been able to secure one without massive frame issue from the rust...we abuse our roads with salt 9 months out of the year. But I'll definitely keep it on the radar. How old in years & miles do you estimate we can safely go? Thanks, really appreciate the input.
#2401 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [backy]
Sep 24, 2011 (1:29 pm)
Our indie mechanic was worried about turnaround time for Saturn parts. Figured we'd probably need a few things replaced...is this a valid concern or is he over reacting?
I'll look into the Century & Malibu, thanks. As long as we can get another 50k or so out of it I'll be satisfied.
#2402 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [podunk1]
Sep 24, 2011 (2:11 pm)
If you are near a GM dealership, should not be too hard. There's the salvage yards, plus when Saturn wound down GM paid suppliers to make parts that were unique to Saturns. If it's a concern, stick to something like the Taurus or Century or Malibu... lots of those sold, for many years.
As for salt... the Saturn SL and SC have those plastic body panels.
#2403 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [podunk1]
Sep 24, 2011 (4:28 pm)
Well, 2003 was the last year for them, and those certainly fall within your budget. The LX models are crossing the block at auction right around $3k with 100k'ish miles. So $5k would be more than enough to buy one from a dealer. Find a private party and you should be able to score it for $4k. Lower miles the better, of course, and you just pay a little more.
Add about $700-$800 for an ES model.
A 2003 Level 2 Saturn Ion sedan with 100k'ish is right there at the same pricing as the Protege. Not a bad choice, but for the same price, I'm getting the Protege, personally.
Don't know what to tell you about the rust. You are just going to have to keep looking. Hell, buy out of state if you have to.
Was just talking this evening to my in-laws about their daughter turning 17 and needing her first car. Discussed the Protege and Saturn with them, too. I also have them looking for a 325i. Early '90s examples with low miles can also be had for the sub-$4k range. Not sure how those fare in your neck of the woods.
#2404 of 3640 Re: $ budget auto for teen driving LOTS of miles [podunk1]
Sep 24, 2011 (6:49 pm)
The previous generation Altima with stickshift and the 4 cylinder engine would be close to ideal. Yes, he may complain, but manual is a valuable skill to learn and he cannot get distracted as easily with a manual as he has to keep his eyes and ears (and hands) in sync the car.
A previous generation (or so) Accord with the same setup would also work well. Good mpg and a nice manual that's almost as easy as a video game to use.