Finally upgrading? Looking for input

After much discussion and debate, we’re finally thinking about upgrading one of our vehicles. Currently running a 97 Taurus and 98 Camry, both in good shape, but both are also high mileage, lacking in modern safety features, and we have a growing family that we’re getting more protective of. :slight_smile:

So, that said, our short list of 4-cyl models under consideration right now consists of 2008+ Ford Fusion / Merc Milan, 2010+ Ford Fusion / Merc Milan, 2009+ Mazda 6, 2008+ Honda Accord.

We’re torn.

Pros/Cons of each model we’ve seen, apart from general reliability, which seems to be good for all of those listed:



Price. The only one with a price low enough to consider buying new. The local dealer offered a brand new 2010 manual for $15k, trying to get a similarly good deal on the auto.

Comfort. Not too soft, but not too devoid of road feel.

Fuel economy. By owner reports at, the highest of the three

Trunk space. huge.

Safety. Highest marks of all, if built after 4/10, otherwise just equal to the others.


Tightest backseat of the bunch when I get in the driver’s seat. Not miniscule, but tighter.



Styling. Easily the best of the bunch

Handling. still nice, though a bit looser than the previous generation.

Trunk. huge

Space. Backseat is huge.

Fuel economy. Not as good as the Fusion, but still rated 2nd best of the bunch.

Price when used. 09s running the same price as the 10 Fusion with same age/mileage, and less than the Accord.


Ride: more bumps than the others

Honda Accord:


Passenger space. Very good all the way around.

Warranty. If bought certified, a very good warranty (best of the three) is offered.

Ride. Soft like the Fusion, but ever so slightly better dynamics, it seems.


Trunk space. Significantly less than the 6 or the Fusion

Fuel economy. Worst of the bunch.

Owner complaints. Honda just settled a class action lawsuit over the brake systems on these wearing prematurely. Bad enough to make it the second worst vehicle by # of complaints at Obviously not a scientific measure (you can easily spike these ratings, and they don’t correct for sales rates), but they have 1241 complaints recorded for the 2008 Accord, compared to 3 complaints so far for the 2008 Mazda 6 (none listed for the 09 so far), and 4 complaints so far for the 2010 Fusion (1 for the 2008).

Price. Asking prices for 09+ Accords are still too high…

Styling. Easily the ugliest of the bunch, IMO, but this matters little. I currently drive a car that looks like a fish and I don’t care.

Right now, I’d say the Accord is last on our list, due largely to pricing. Then next is probably an 08-09 Fusion or Milan, then maybe a 2010 Fusion or Milan, with the 09+ Mazda 6 at the tops… but that rank order is VERY tight and we’re indecisive. :slight_smile:

Anybody have particular insights to these models? Experience?

When faced with several excellent choices, like these, personal preference wins. Just make sure you take an extended test drive in each, 10 minutes isn’t enough. Accords often get criticized for their road noise.

Avoid models with rubber timing belts and interference engines. These will present you with a $700-$900 repair bill at 90K miles or so…Who needs that??

And another $600 when the water pump that you proactively replaced during the timing belt replacement fails on you prematurely, just out of warranty, causing you to have to do the job again, like happened on our Camry.

Thankfully all these 4 cylinders use chains.

Used; have a mechanic check it out before you buy it. If you can’t take it anywhere to be checked out(certified used or not), walk away and don’t look back. The one with the best maintenance history(they have receipts for everything) and checks out great is the one to buy.

New; I love my Mazda so far. Have you considered a Hyundai Elantra or Sonata?

  1. Why would anyone get a repair bill for maintenance?

  2. Timing belts aren’t made of rubber. They are made of composite materials that include either steel or ceramic webbing.

  3. If you are paying a $700-$900 maintenance bill for a timing belt job, you didn’t shop around enough. I got mine done, along with the water pump and all the other belts for less than $550. At 90,000 miles the timing-belt-only job was about $350 at a Honda dealership.

Caddyman, I give you the “fearmongerer of the day” award. Congratulations.

The Hyundai Elantra is FAR, FAR, FAR too small. I’m 6’6", and I can’t fit comfortably in the front seat, much less get a car seat behind me at the same time. The three I listed all work just fine in that respect. I considered the Sonata but the wife (who will get to drive the car most days) would have nothing to do with it. The new ones are too expensive… the old ones are in the right price range, but again she won’t have any of it - too many of her friends bought Hyundais (mostly 10 years ago) and had horrid problems, and she finds the old model too “boring”.

If you intend to keep the car to a ripe old age or live in a smaller town or city, buy the brand from a dealer closest to your house. I noted on a recent trip to a small town in a midwestern state, most people drive Ford, GM or Chrysler brands. The closest Toyota/Honda dealer is 45 miles away.

Fortunately we do have a selection of dealers to choose from (city of 2 million)… though not all are honest, of course…

The question isn’t so much on how to buy… but on what people know about the vehicles on the list and likely problems or high/low points.

If the price of the new Fusion is attractive I’d go for it over a used '08 or '09. It looks like you have the Accord ranked properly given your priorities and information.

I’d see if you can get a Mazda dealer and a Ford dealer competing for the business and take the best deal you can get on the Mazda (since you seem to like it the best) if they can get close to the Fusion price. If not, a new Fusion sounds ok to me.

It may be a bit of “fearmongering”, but in all reality, timing belt changes have cost me more on my Camry than ALL powertrain maintenance and repair on my Taurus combined. Timing belts may be maintenance and not a sign that the car has any problems, but they do cost money. If all else is equal, or close to equal, you might as well avoid timing belts. And personally, I truly despise timing belts on interference engines. Belts do fail prematurely now and then, and you really shouldn’t have to worry about losing your engine at the same time.