Car Acquisition advice for my daughter

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 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 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.

Very good advice.

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Just find something you’re comfortable in, that can accommodate you, your husband, and my granddaughter comfortably.

I can definitely agree with that advice. However when it comes to used cars, I have to disagree with everything you mentioned before giving that advice. Sure much of it is true, for example you can’t go wrong with most Toyota cars. Yes you may pay a little more but remember they retain their value better than almost every other manufacturer.

No matter what you may have read in regard to value, reliability, maintenance, etc. when it comes to buying a used car just remember, It will always be a case by case situation. There are good Toyota’s and there are bad ones as well.

I find that when buying used cars, to me it’s just as important from whom I purchase from. But that’s just me.

Either way, hope everything works out fine in Seattle and you get to see your granddaughter soon. All the best…

Just a note… Kia and Hyundai are essentially the same company. Much like Chevy and Buick. Parts are shared, engineering is done mostly by the same people and the differences are to create the brand differences. If the cars are maintained at least, if not better than manufacturer’s recommendations they seem pretty reliable.

I understand the rationale behind leasing and I’ve done it a few times but I would not recommend someone get on that merry go round. It assumes stability in your finances, work and personal situation for 3 or 4 years. Not every one has that situation.

Were talking only new cars here.

Fortunately, she’s got that stability.

Your thought is very good. We leased for a while, but now own. I retired and we wanted to travel, and now have 2 cars and no travel plans except to the cabins due to covid. Have a 2017 rav4 and 2017 acadia limited for boat towing. Leasing is a good option, as long as mileage will not be a concern. Had our 2003 windstar, total cost over 11 years was $218 a month, leased an Optima for $206 a month, so with no major repairs leasing as can be feared with a purchased car.

The general rules are fine, but it also varies from model to model and yr to yr. Hyundai and Kia have some serious issues with their Theta II engines. But they are good value. I own two Hyundai’s.

If buying used, what is available is also an issue. Right now I am shopping for a used 2017+ Tucson but inventory is very low. Since our teens are going to drive the car too, wife wants blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. This really limits my choices. The Nissan Rogue has these standard since 2018 and the used inventory is much better and better priced than the Hyundai, so I might bite the bullet on the CVT and get a Rogue and just maintain the CVT and keep my fingers crossed.

I also had a 2018 RAV4 that had some driveability issues, so you can get a bad Toyota too.

My point is, it is not always that simple.

True, but I only get new and so will she. If she gets one she doesn’t like, she’s only stuck with it for three years

We bought out the lease on our 2017 rav4, 18k, used ones had a 22k to 24k price range for 18k miles, made it simple no brainer for me. So if you like it well enough, hopefully the price can turn out better. It was 32k list, paid 11k in lease so it did not work out too bad for me. Yes If we hated it it would be nice to be done with it. Her Kia got rear ended 2 months into the lease, $2200 in damages, was not a problem turning it in at the end of lease but could have been a problem if we owned it and tried to sell it. Don’t forget gap insurance if you lease! $5 a month I think.

They don’t make that anymore. 2020 was the last year for the Continental. It was sort of a baffling decision to even put it in production in the first place as the MKZ was nearly mechanically identical and even looked similar.

I’ve had several 4WD vehicles (all trucks or truck-based SUV’s) and have never had to shell out any money for 4WD-speciific repairs. I also kept them for either 15 year or 250k miles. 4WD is one of those things that you don’t need 99% of the time, but the times you do need it, it’s invaluable. Incidentally my dad (who grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania) has also held the opinion that 4WD is something that “you don’t need”. Despite the fact that the last two times we’ve had significant (by central VA standards) snow and the roads typically don’t get cleared until 3 days in or so. That me and my 4WD truck have had to drop off groceries at his house because his sedan doesn’t have the ground clearance to make it more than a few feet from where he parked it and his 2WD truck (which is kept beside his garage in the back yard) just spins a wheel (open diff) on the snow-covered grass. If you live in an urban area where the city keeps the roads clear during inclement weather, then you can probably get by without it. But if you live out beyond the suburbs where your roads aren’t high on the priority list, then I’d definitely consider it.

If I were giving someone advice on buying “a car”. Particularly someone who doesn’t really care much about cars and just wants something reliable that’s easy to live with. My list would go something like this (new cars).

  1. Toyota Corolla
  2. Toyota Camry
  3. Toyota Avalon
  4. Subaru Impreza/Legacy/Outback
  5. Mazda 3
  6. Mazda 6

Gap insurance, plus “wear and tear insurance” costs me $11 a month on my wife’s Hyundai.

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A 2020 Lincoln Continental starts at 46500.00 . I have driven one and I just don’t see the value there . You can find lots of vehicles that are more practical for a lot less money . Besides it is not that attractive .

I think you should add Mazda to the list. They’ve been getting good reviews lately.

As for leasing, I think to be impartial you need to point out that the unbudgeted maintenance costs that you’re worried about are likely to be lower than the higher cost of leasing, although of course this isn’t guaranteed.

If you are worries about maintenance costs, why would you get rid of a Kia Or Hyundai after 3 years when they are warrantied bumper to bumper for 5 years or 60,000 miles? If you drive over 12,000 miles a year, you have no business leasing a car.

I personally don’t think any one should lease a car, but then, unlike mopar guy, I don’t like changing cars. If it was not for rust, I would probably be driving my 66 Valiant. Changing cars every three years as the most expensive way to go eiyjer leasing or buying. Makes sense only if you are using your car to impress someone.

Good advice except you’ve forgotten the “demographic and emotional” side of the equation.

Most young families prefer a SUV (today’s station wagon) for the ease of entry, size (strollers, diaper bags, etc.) and image, “It’s outdoorsy and everyone else drives one”.
Further, considered the intended use (grocery store runs, kid hauling, sippy cup drops, etc.) I’d imagine that in 3 years it’s going to be in less than pristine condition so I’d eliminate leasing to avoid getting nailed at turn back time.

So unless you enjoy talking to a brick wall I’d limit my suggestions to SUVs, try to get them to focus on the long term operating costs and insist that they purchase gap insurance.

Well, my daughter did her research and narrowed the choices down to a Honda Pilot or hyundai palisade. I got her to promise not to commit to anything until she’s moved, and can rent each of those SUV’s for a week.


You are a tough master. My daughter liked the KIA soul, I said fine and cosigned the loan. Seemed to be an ok car. Still doing well 3 years later. Paid it off after year 1, bugging her at 70k to do a trans service.

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My daughter bought a 2020 Pilot and is very happy with it. Don’t buy a 2019 leftover if there are any. It uses the 9 speed transmission. Starting in 2020, there is a 10 speed. The 9 speed had a lot of problems and Honda accelerated replacement because of that.

She’d get a 2021.