Background: My daughter went to college in NYC 2002, and continued to live there after graduation. She had no need of a car there. Then, she eventually got married and moved abroad, where she also didn’t need a car. She and her husband are now moving to Seattle, and she asked my advice on getting a car. I’m planning to send the advice below. Curious about what everyone thinks about my advice.
Thoughts on cars
From a broad-brush perspective, what I like, don’t like, and why:
I no longer have any love for American car brands. Chrysler, since their “merger” with (acquisition by) Fiat, is building junk. Fiat has always had the lowest quality reputation in the industry, and it has infected Chrysler. Ford’s quality and reliability has slipped greatly in the last few years. The only noteworthy product they have now is the Lincoln Continental. General Motors, while better than a few years ago, is not great. Buick is the only one of their brands that has decent reliability, per Consumer Reports. European brands (VW, Volvo, Audi, BMW, Mercedes) do not have good reliability ratings, and demand a very high level of very expensive maintenance. That leaves the Asian Brands:
Toyota and Lexus: Produces the highest quality cars in the industry. Everyone has figured that out, so the prices (new and used) are high for what you get.
Nissan and Infinity: Formerly good cars. Their build quality and reliability have slipped badly, particularly in the case of their automatic transmissions.
Honda and Acura: Formerly Great. Reliability has also gone downhill lately.
Hyundai and Kia: I’m very high on Hyundai right now (not so much Kia). Their design quality has impressed me, their build quality has been perfect, and I can sum up my thoughts in the Sonata review I sent into Hyundai, “As good as a Camry for $10,000 less. Take a look at https://www.hyundaiusa.com/us/en to see what is out there. To get all the safety stuff like Mom has, you would need to get the “Limited” trim line on any of the vehicles.
Auto Insurance- To get an idea of what the cost would be, check AAA.com on the web. AAA of Washington has a very good insurance department.
As you know, Mom leases a new car every three years. This is to ensure her car is always covered by the new car “bumper to bumper” warranty, and thus we have no maintenance expenses other than routine oil changes. You’ll always have a lease payment, but never any unbudgeted maintenance costs. You’ll need the following lines in the transportation category of your budget: Lease Payment, Gasoline, Insurance, Maintenance, Registration, Uber or Lyft ( for when you want to leave the driving to someone else). When deciding which car to get, you do not need 4 wheel drive. It adds weight, cost, complexity, and thus, unreliability. You won’t get much snow in seattle, and if you should, you can both work from home. Just find something you’re comfortable in, that can accommodate you, your husband, and my granddaughter comfortably.