Choosing Lincoln vs. Lexus

Dear Car Talk:

I read your column every Saturday in the newspaper. Today you responded to a letter with the answer for “Romanticizing cars of decades past”, which prompted this question.

I plan to replace my 2006 Impala which I bought new. It now has 148,000 miles.

My body shop tells me most six cylinders are good for about 200,000 miles and recommends getting rid it by 185,000.

My late husband’s 1988 Lincoln Town Car was a great highway car. I kept it for 27 years until it was getting too expensive to maintain. In 2015 I donated it to charity. I also had 2 others previously, and they were super road cars, too.

My question is that I would like that same ride experience of the old Lincoln Town Cars, but my mechanic is trying to steer me away from Lincoln and recommends a Japanese car. He thinks they are built better.

I have been drooling over the new Continental, but he thinks it is a bad choice.

I also have to make the decision to lease or buy. When I went to see the Lincoln salesman, he said nobody buys luxury vehicles - they lease them.

Between Lincoln and Lexus what would be the points I should consider when making my decision?


Your best bet is a new Lexus. It has a great ride and is the most reliable luxury car made! The minuscule difference in possible ride comfort does not compensate for the reduced reliability and higher ,maintenance costs as the car ages.

A fellow down the street has a 400 model Lexus that’s 12 years old and still rides like new.
Lexus has many models so you want to make sure you test drive the most luxurious one for the best ride.

Happy shopping!.

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Thank you for the sound advice. A Lexus is the better choice.

If you can get an extended warranty 7 year 70k for the Lincoln and love it better after extended test drives I would not be too worried. Pick the one you like. and in years look again. Leasing is a fine option in my mind.

I’d go with a Lexus ES350, good ride, high quality. The new Continental has nothing in common with your old one. I got one as s loaner, wasn’t impressed.

How long will you need a car? More than 3 years? If so, I’d buy. The salesman is trying to get you into a more expensive car.

PS-I had an ES300 for 15 years, very satisfied. I replaced it with a Lincoln MKZ hybrid. It’s fine, I like the mileage, but it’s a little rougher around the edges.

The better choice is the one you like best after a test drive . At this point why would take advice from total strangers on the web and possibly regret the Lexus purchase when you seen to be infatuated with the Lincoln Continental . They will both have very good warranties .


Unfortunately Lincoln no longer builds rear wheel drive cars like the 1988 Town Car. But if you were happy with the Impala, which is front wheel drive, either car should be fine. I am biased, I prefer American brand cars.

Unfortunate ? I think that is a good thing .

I’m going to go against the grain here. You apparently drive 11,385 miles per year, which means that your current car should last at least another 4.5 years before it reaches 200,000 miles. It is fully depreciated at this point, and likely will not bring in even $1000 as a trade-in or more than $2000 as a private-party sale. Therefore, the smart thing to do is save your money and keep driving it until it breaks down and needs a very expensive repair.

In general, that isn’t bad advice, but for someone like the OP–whom I perceive to likely be an elderly woman–a sudden mechanical breakdown in a place that is neither convenient nor safe could be… not such a good idea.

Many of us have gotten to our older years with enough financial resources to not have to pinch pennies any longer, and as a result, comfort, safety, and convenience rule the roost. I no longer deprive myself of anything that I want, and if the OP is of a similar frame of mind, I would advise her to take extended test drives in both models, and then to simply buy the one that she likes better, regardless of the opinions of anonymous people on the internet.


Take both for a long test drive, at least 20 minutes and preferably longer. This will help you decide which one is more comfortable. I did this a couple of years ago, and it eliminated one car from contention. Either will give you good service. If you can get the Lincoln for a good discount, it is comfortable, and it meets the remainder of your needs it might be the right car for you. “Most reliable” means little to me since almost all vehicles are relIble these days. Buy what you like.

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I appreciate your advice. I hadn’t thought about a longer test drive.

Back when I was growing up, the AMC dealer would let my parents take a car for a weekend test drive. Those days are gone.

If a dealership rejects your request for an extended test drive, that is a sure sign that you shouldn’t buy your next car from them.

Those days are not gone, you just have to ask! Used car 4 day trial, new car, take it for the weekend!

If a dealer doesn’t want to offer a long test drive of a new car, maybe a used car test drive could be arranged. The vehicle would have to be from the same generation and the same trim level. The problem with long test drives is they put miles on the car. Get over something like 400 miles and the car becomes a “used” car. Not technically a used car, but certainly not the typical used car. I can understand why dealers limit test drives for that reason. I bought a new car with a little over 400 miles in 2009, and it had a significant discount or the mileage.

A warranty isn’t everything. If you’re making the choice between a new Lincoln or Lexus, you can probably afford repairs anyway, so the warranty is just a nice extra. But if that warranty gets used a lot, that means you’re farting around driving back and forth to the dealership a lot, and dealing with loaner cars, etc etc. My mother learned this lesson; against my advice she bought a new BMW. “It has a warranty!” Yeah, and she used it, a lot, and it drove her nuts. She dumped it after 2 years for an Acura.

I’d buy a Lexus. The quality will be better.

Of course!

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How about a Toyota Avalon . . . ?

It’s a good-sized car, which you obviously prefer

And it should prove to be quite reliable

Not to mention value retention, which comes into play when it’s time to trade in or sell


I would generally recommend the Lexus, but then you don’t seem to drive that many miles and the Lincoln should be fine too. Just test drive them, maybe see if you can rent those cars for a few days.

For me, the reputation and location of the dealer is a consideration. For example, in 2003, we decided to o buy a Toyota 4Runner. The dealer was a stone’s throw from our house and also handled Buick and GMC, didn’t seem to know much about the 4Runner. We bought a 4Runner from a dealer 20 miles away. We had a problem just after we took delivery. The dealer where we bought the 4Runmer, didn’t solve the problem in three trips. I gave them a 4th opportunity to either repair it it buy it back. The manager knew I meant business and the problem was solved. In 2006, I bought a Chevrolet Uplander from a Chevrolet dealer that was also close to my home. Now the 4Runner has a good reputation and the Uplander doesn’t. Yet the service I received on the Uplander was great. The Uplander now belongs to our son and has gone 240,000 miles without a major repair. When I was ready for another minivan, I would have purchased another Chevrolet minivan from that dealer but in its great wisdom, GM quit making minivans.
In the meantime, the Toyota franchise changed hands. The new dealer opened a mile and a half from my house. I have purchased two Toyota Sienna minivans from.this agency. The service has been great. The independent shop that had serviced our vehicles got a new manager and the service went downhill. I now have both our Sienna and 4Runner serviced at the new Toyota dealership. The service department treats my wife with respect. In fact, we had both vehicles serviced on the same day. My wife was going to pay with one check. It turned out that the day we had the vehicles serviced was Ladies Day and since she was paying the bill, we got a discount.
What I am saying is to consider the dealer as well as the make of the vehicle.

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