3 Good Choices, What to do?

So my girlfriend and I are looking for a used car for her to drive around, mainly for commuting, but also for road trips with the two of us. We have found 3 cars that we like all at the same price point and roughly the same features, $13,000 out-the-door. One is a 2005 Solara V6 with 49,000 miles, one is a 2006 Honda Civic LX Sedan with 35,000 miles and one is a 2008 Mazda 6 4 Cyl with 20,000 miles. All are in “Good” condition according to KBB. Any votes for one over the other? I do think that the Solara is not as much fun to drive as the other two but the Solara is much quieter and has better interior materials.

The Civic will return the best gas mileage, but the Solara will be nicer to drive on the highway.

Who’s money are we spending? Which vehicle does the future owner prefer? That matters more than what others think.

Personally, I’d rank them:

  1. Civic

  2. Solara

  3. Mazda6

Do you have any maintenance history on these vehicles? How they were cared for so far goes a long way to determining how long they will last.

We are splitting the cost. We have enough between us to pay cash but we’ll probably take out a loan just to help the credit score and keep our reserves up. I think we’ll probably wind up putting about 10,000 miles a year on the car or less. There is some maintenance history available. The Solara was a rental for one year and privately owned for another. It had its 30,000 mile service at 34,000 miles according to its carfax sheet. The Mazda hasn’t had its 30,000 mile service yet and the Civic is theoretical at this point since there are several available. Also, is it worth buying an extended warranty from an independent dealer? The guy selling the solara offered 4 yrs/48k miles with a hundred dollar deductible for 1500 extra

No, it’s not worth buying an extended warranty. These things are just profit generators and you’re better off keeping the money yourself.

If you’re splitting the money then you’ll have to hash it out and decide which car suits your needs best.

You’ll get many different opinions here.

I think they fit our needs equally well. The requirements were that it should be inexpensive to purchase and maintain, and it would have 5 star front side and frontal offset ratings, which they all do with side airbags. I don’t know about the quality of the 6 since I have no experience with that car. I own a camry right now with 184000 miles on it and no problems, so that’s defintiely a vote for toyota. I enjoy driving the civic more but I’m not going to be driving it most of the time, and she doesn’t care as much about that.

They’re all good choices, she’ll be driving it, and I assume you’re happier when she’s happy…let HER decide!

Besides, then if the choice works out well she’ll be able to be proud of the selection and like you for letting her make it, and if it doesn’t work out you’re “off the hook”.

I have an '03 Civic and very happy at 90K miles. The Honda recommended service is much less than Toyota. Toyota recommends a pretty major service every 30K miles. Honda says the coolant, plugs, and timing belt are all good for over 100K miles.

Civic #1 for least expensive to own, to maintain, and to fill with gas. Solara #1 for comfort and quiet ride. The Solara will cost more to own but will hold up equally well as the Civic and has good retention of value over time. Mazda 6 is nice car but #3 in all respects. More costly to own with more repairs and greater depreciation and they are not very fuel efficient either.

The choice really is Civic vs Solara. Very different cars, spend some time in each and you make the call.

Well I guess we’ll have to think about it some more. The most significant difference in cost of ownership seems between the honda and toyota seem to be the gas mileage but we will probably drive it so little that the difference would work out to about $450/yr if gas cost 5 dollars a gallon, which it doesn’t right now.

We tried out the yaris - rejected because the seats were too hard, the new corolla, rejected because the steering felt weirdly soft, the fusion, rejected because it was too big and neither of us fit in the drivers seat very well, and the 07 elantra rejected again because the steering felt so dead and that particular one was really beaten up.

I am slightly worried that I just don’t want to pick a car because I’m having too much fun test driving them :slight_smile: Is there any model we should consider that we haven’t?

You can get a brand new Scion for about the same price. Perhaps even a new Yaris or Honda Fit.

Have you considered these options?

Yes but she doesn’t like the Yaris’ seat and I thought the Scion would be just as bad, and as for buying new, I don’t really want to pay for that huge off-the-lot depreciation

“and as for buying new, I don’t really want to pay for that huge off-the-lot depreciation”

Take a look at a Pontiac G5 or a Chevrolet Cobalt. There are great incentives now, and you can probably negotiate down even more, especially on the Pontiac. The G5 and Cobalt are essentially the same car, so they share many parts. These cars with an MSRP of $17,500 are routinely selling for $13,000. Test drive both. If you don’t like them, don’t buy one. The Cobalt will likely be built for many years to come, even though the G5 won’t.

Of the 3, I’d say the Mazda 6 as it’s newer and should have some of the factory bumper to bumper warranty left.
Though jt does make a good point with the Pontiac brand. If you can find a dealership that’s closing, you could practically steal the car

That’s a good idea, I hadn’t thought of looking at GM car

Someone mentioned a technique to me and I actually tried it out on someone who was trying to decide between 2 cars.

In your case, once you’ve narrowed it down to 2 choices, tell your girlfriend that you want to flip a coin to decide which car to buy. “Heads” is Car XX, “tails” is Car YY. Flip the coin and (don’t tell her ahead of time what you’re going to do next) while it’s in midair quickly ask your girlfriend which side she wants to land up…she will probably blurt out an answer that really is her preferred choice. In the back of her mind she was likely leaning one way ever so slightly and she just now vocalized it. At this point it really doesn’t matter which side of the coin lands up. You’ve found her preference.

So after sleeping on it and debating a couple nights, we decided the Solara would be the best. And we bargained down to $10900 for one. We then found another identical car for $9900. I just had the cheaper one inspected and it needs new brakes. It was leased for four years and the mechanic said that other than oil changes no maintenance was performed on the vehicle. The $10900 one has new brakes and since it was a rental had regular maintenance. But, it was a rental. Does the more expensive car sound better? I’d have to have it inspected as well, although the dealer does have the inspection sheet he got from the first time it was inspected.


with no other maintenance performed on it, I’d take the rental over the cheaper one, heck, bargain down another grand on the rental and see if they bite

10900 is their absolute rock bottom price, that was their counteroffer to the 9900 one. But if the 9900 guys lower their price maybe I’ll get some leverage

If you take out a loan, won’t you have to pay for collision insurance?

My personal preference would be.

  1. Mazda 6 - it’s a very good car, and often overlooked. The highly praised Ford Fusion is based on this car.

  2. Solara - It’s probably the most comfortable and easily the most powerful of the bunch. But it’s Camary and it’s boring and uninspiring to drive.

  3. Honda Civic - Smaller than the others and less comfortable. It’s a very reliable car though. But at $13k it’s not a great value.