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Keep 2003 Avalon or 2003 LS?

I have inherited a 2003 Avalon XL with 58k miles (leather, power seats and JBL sound). I have a 2003 Lincoln LS V6 Premium with 41k miles. Question is which car to keep? I bought the Lincoln new and it is paid for. I bought the Avalon for a relative a year ago for $12,000 from a single owner. The estate of the relative will reimburse me the difference between what I paid for the Avalon and what I could sell it for today. I do have the option of selling the LS though, if I wish, and simply use the average private sale estimate of Edmunds, KBB and NADA as to what the Avalon would sell for as to the reimbursement. It would seem the LS is worth less than the Avalon now, is probably less reliable in the future as well, and has already cost me $900 in plugs and coils, and now has an oil pan leak that is a real pain to fix and costly too. Both cars are in otherwise very good condition. I drive cars for an average of 13 years, as the LS is only my 3rd car in my adult life, and I intended to drive it for at least another 5 years. If I sell the Avalon, I get the 12k cost back in hand. If I sell the LS, I will likely be out money, give or take, to keep the Avalon. Carmax lists these cars at very much the same asking prices, but listings are much lower and the Avalon there seems to command higher asking prices. The estimate sites put the values even lower and has a spread in favor of the Avalon by about 3k. Will the LS likely cost me that or more in the next 5 years to operate? Will there be a significant value difference between the 2 in 5 years when I need an new car? Will they both be as easy to sell in this market, or will I have a tougher time selling the LS? I live in Orlando, FL and in my searches, I find very few of either of these 2003 cars for sale. I only drive about 6k mile a year, as I travel a lot for my work. Having the 12k back in hand right now would be nice, but is that the right choice long term? I do love the LS, but I am concerned it is going to have even more issues as I go along, and I am a fan of Toyota products too. The wife drives a 2003 and it has been worry free. Quite a pickle but any astute and experienced advice is welcome. Hate to keep paying to insure them both so I need to sell one or the other soon. Thanks.

Does your wife have a third car or does she prefer driving the LS or Avalon?

Maybe try asking the right side of your brain: “Which car do I enjoy driving more?”

There are several factors to consider here.
As just two examples of what you should consider:

The LS is much more of a “driver’s car”, whereas the Avalon is the Japanese version of an older Buick sedan, i.e.–softly sprung with only mediocre handling. If you enjoy a “spirited” style of driving, you will be sorely disappointed with the Avalon. On the other hand, if you want a driving experience that is essentially disconnected from the road and from the outside environment, then you might really like driving the Avalon.

Then, there is the reliability factor. The Avalon should be much more reliable over the long term, but its maintenance history is the key to its reliability and longevity.

If you have the maintenance records from the first owner and from your deceased relative, and if you can confirm that the car has been maintained at least as well as Toyota prescribes, then it will be more reliable over the long term than the LS. However, if the previous owner(s) were the type who consider simply changing the oil to be a panacea for all automotive problems, then the Avalon could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode on your wallet.

I haven’t driven either model you are asking about, but on terms of less cost to own in the future the advantage goes to the Avalon. The Lincoln isn’t bad as far as maintenance and repairs, but the Avalon is excellent in this area.

Cost to own does involve the $12K however. That will fund some repairs on the Lincoln and give you some money to invest. Since neither car would appreciate over time, this favors keeping the Lincoln.

How to weight the factors is difficult. If you really need the 12K that moves the weight to the Lincoln. If you don’t then it swings the other way.

In the end it comes down to which car you enjoy driving more and which one fits you (literally, seat comfort, etc.) best. That pretty much puts the decision back on you. I don’t think you really lose either way. This isn’t a bad problem to have.

Sell the LS and keep the Avalon. If you want to drive this car for years to come, the Avalon will be a much more reliable choice. If you do have to repair the Avalon, it’s parts are shared with the Toyota Camry and will generally be more available and less expensive than parts for the Lincoln built on a Jaguar platform. The Lincoln is already becoming a money pit, get rid of it asap.

Another factor to consider is the type of winter weather in your region.

If you live in an area that typically gets snow and ice on the roads, then that is another factor that favors the FWD Avalon over the RWD LS.

Even though I believe that winter tires are a good idea for winter driving, whether you use winter tires or not, a FWD car will have a definite advantage over a RWD car in terms of winter traction, as long as they are equipped with the same type of tires.

At this age, I would make my decision based upon availability of service and condition of the body. If you depend upon the dealer and one is significantly more reasonable, let that make your choice. if you use the same independent for both, I would choose the one with most “life” left in the body.

I live in a rust belt, you may not so my outlook may be different. I like my Toyotas but find they need rust preventative measures equal to or exceeding that of many other makes.

VDC makes some good driving points as well. I would advise not being too “practical” as money is not all its cracked up to be; who said that ?

I agree to keep the Avalon, but disagree with “it’s parts are shared with the Toyota Camry” they don’t share an engine,brakes, or transmission. Maybe they share a couple buttons on the dash but nothing major. But I may have missed something.

I believe a lot of the statements that the Avalon would definitely be more reliable are overblown. If you look at the list of common problems with the LS and the Avalon, you’d see their records aren’t that different.

That said, UncleTurbo makes an excellent point to consider the resale values. If you can get $10k for the Avalon and $7k for the LS (made up numbers, I didn’t look up blue book values), that $3k goes a long way to pay for repairs and I’d be tempted to sell the Avalon, if all else were equal (maintenance history, body condition, etc).

However, if the prices you can get are close… (do NOT look to Carmax for this, as I’ve found their asking prices to be ludicrous. They want more for a 2009 Mazda6 i Sport with 39,000 miles on it than I paid for a NEW 2010 i Sport with identical equipment, and they don’t negotiate on price…)… well, if the prices are close, and the cars are in equivalent condition, I’d sell the LS and keep the Avalon.

Why? The LS runs on the DEW98 platform. The only cars to use this are the LS, Thunderbird, S-type, and XF. That’s maybe 400,000 sales, tops, with almost all of them coming 5 or more years ago. Chassis parts may end up being hard to find. Some engine parts for the V8 Thunderbird and LS are already near impossible to find, being a low volume engine. The good news is that the V6 LS used a tweaked engine and transmission that are VERY common among Fords, and should be easy to find parts for. But the chassis parts could end up being nasty to find, and that would make the Avalon easier to service.

One of those brutal things about lower-volume cars… I could walk into just about any parts store and find what I would need for (now sold) 97 Taurus or 98 Camry in stock. I would have seriously hesitated about my 10 Mazda6 because of its low sales volume if not for the fact that (most of, if not all) the chassis parts are shared with the Fusion and the engine/transmission combo is VERY common…

Why not sell both and get something different?
edmunds lists the Avalon for about $8500 and the LS is close to the same price for both being in “clean” condition. So, you might get 15k from both if you manage to sell both, and that can be used for a good down payment on a nice new car, or buy a slightly used model out right. Heck, Mazda has a 0% finance for 60 months on a 2010 Mazda 6 till the end of this month. So, if you managed to sell both in time, you could use that money for a down payment and get 0% interest on the rest you’d have to finance.

Which one do you like best? If you have the wherewithall to generously provide your relative with a $12,000 car, I suspect that you can afford to keep either. You can likely drive the Avalon for a few weeks to help you decide if it is right for you. Give it a thorough test drive and keep the one you like best.

Mazda also is offering rebates in lieu of financing, though they aren’t advertising it. If you offered to pay cash, you should be able to get a new 2010 Mazda6 i Sport with automatic transmission (and nothing else) for about $16,800 +ttl. If you got $15k from selling both, you wouldn’t have to finance much of anything.