CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Car buying blues

I’m the guy who posed the Camry Hybrid reliability question.
Updated info:
That was motivated by the idea of buying one to replace my 03 Avalon which I would give to my son (new driver).
I am totally freaked out by used car prices. It looks like you have to spend $10,000 to get a car without serious issues.
So, I test drove a new Camry Hybrid. Bumpy ride.
Test drove new Avalon: not really any better than my 03, and a slightly worse ride (probably due to the 17 in wheels and skinny tires).
And of course high dollar.
What to do? I guess I will keep searching for a used car…

Test drive a Fusion hybrid.

Melott: You have my sympathy on the expense issue!
Texases is right – the Fusion hybrid is worth considering, and the new model may be worth waiting for. We have an '06 Escape hybrid, which uses a first version of the battery and drive train system which are found in the new Fusion, and it has been completely trouble-free (so has the car, so far, based on a sample size n=1).
ONe thing to check out on any hybrid or car which has one – the CV transmission, although generally reliable, is extremely expensive to fix and/or replace. On other forums, a few hybrid owners have complained about this, but I would complain too if I had to replace one, so it is probably not a good indicator of overall quality (I would sure have it checked out on any used car I bought, though).
Our local Toyota dealer once tried to fob off a used Prius on us at higher than the cost for a new one, so full hybrids are just going to be expensive. Consider a new one if you can afford it (choose a color you like because you may want to keep it longer!). BTW the larger wheels and low-profile tires always seem to give a poor ride, and they are often an optional extra, so you might be able to find one without them.
Good luck!

You need a car for a new driver. Your '03 Avalon would be fine, but it is a nice car. You’ll be sad to see what your new driver does to the Avalon. I’d suggest getting the new driver an older and less nice car. My son got an '00 Camry 4 years ago and is driving it at college as he finishes his Jr. year as we speak. The Camry has been fine. We paid about $8K for it. There should be some decent '03, '04 Camrys out there. Get a basic one if you can, the 4 cylinder is fine for a new driver.

It sounds like you really don’t need a new car for yourself, so find a decent used one for your son. Keep an eye on car insurance costs, some models are much more expensive when driven by new young drivers.

Something for consideration here. Is it possible that the ride on the new car seems rougher than normal to you because you have become acclimated to a softer ride due to aged struts and shocks on the current 10 year old car?

Lower profile tires can also have an effect no doubt but I’m just throwing the aged compared to new factor in as something to think about.

I agree with the Camry recommendation. The 02 and above Camry’s have gotten bigger and probably close to the size of your Avalon. They are priced in $7-8K+ around here, but usually have over 100K miles on them. If you get lucky you can find one that is being sold by the owner. The I4’s are known to develop cylinder head coolant leak, so make sure you have the car checked by a mechanic.