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Need help choosing a car

Hi folks,

I’ve been a regular listener for a long time, but this is my first time in the forums, so please forgive me if I’m violating any protocol. I’m in a bit of a pickle. I need to buy a new (used) car and I’m having a hard time deciding which one. As of right now, I’ve narrowed down my choices to two. I drive a lot, so I need decent/good mileage and since most of these miles are highway miles, I need a car that is very good on safety/reliability.

Here are the choices:

  1. 2010 Nissan Altima 2.5 S - approximately 18K miles for about $16K.
  2. 2005 Volvo S60 - approximately 62K miles for about $12.5.

I’ve compared the two cars on Cars.com (http://www.cars.com/go/compare/trimCompare.jsp?acodes=USC00NIC041B0,USB50VOC171B0) and I’m unsure about which is the better value and choice.

With about 30-35K miles being put on the car per year, which car is going to last longer? Which is safer? Which will have value if I try to trade it in after 5-6 years?

Any input would be appreciated!

I would not get a Volvo, more problematic. So that leaves the newer Altima. But make sure you like the seats (that’s one Volvo strong point). Forget about trade in, after 6 years and 180k miles neither would be worth much.

Really? My current car is a Volvo S60 and I absolutely love it. What about it don’t you like? Are there other similar cars that you think might be a better fit (mid-size, safe, efficient)?

Older Volvos can be expensive to repair, but it looks like the 2005-2007 S60 does pretty well (‘better than average’ overall) on Consumer Reports. So if you’re happy with an S60, then have the one you’re considering carefully inspected.

Why are you selling your current S60?

Have you considered a used Lexus ES350?

The Volvo will be more expensive to repair when repairs are needed. That’s just the way it is for luxury cars. Since you own one, you should know that already. Also, the S60 is 8 years old and the Altima is 1/3 the Volvo’s age. Age and mileage determine the life of a car, not just mileage.

Edmunds says the repairs and maintenance on a 2007 S60 will average at least $13,000 over 5 years. A 2010 Altima will cost about $5500 for R&M over 5 years. The Edmunds True Cost to Own feature only goes back to 2007 for the Volvo, and that’s the value I gave above. If you extrapolate out the extra 2 years (straight line), the 2005 S60 R&M will average $15,000. Either way, the R&M costs are up to 3 times higher for the Volvo compared to the Altima.

If you still want the S60 despite these issues, go for it. At least you know them.

Thanks a lot, jtsanders, I didn’t know that feature existed. I’ll look at it now. I’m also now looking at a 2010-ish Toyota Camry.

texases, I’m not selling my current car. I do love it tremendously and would heartily recommend it to anyone, but I’m aware of the high cost of maintaining it and used Volvos are hard to come by and are comparatively expensive.

I wouldn’t buy a used Toyota or Honda because the resale value is so high. You can buy an equivalent car, like the Altima or especially a Chevy Malibu 1LT, for a lot less. BTW, I own a Honda (bought new).

BTW, the 2011 Chevy Cruze 1LT is a very nice car and dealers will sell them for less than $15,000 with under 20,000 miles. My daughter has a 2012 Cruze LS and loves it. Drive one and see if you like it.

If you could come up a little bit in price, you might be able to find a left over 2012 Altima on the dealer lot for a couple grand more.

Mazda 3 will get you 40mpg on the highway, if you could stand a slightly smaller car, and will be about 19k starting out. A new Hyundai Elantra or Sonata are good choices as well, and come close to the price of the 2010 Altima

I was just looking at the Mazda 3, but it’s a bit too small. I definitely want a car with a trunk. The budget, unfortunately, is at the upper limit of what I can afford, but it seems as though the Altima is a worthy recommendation from many. Would you put it in the same class as the Camry/Accord or slightly above/below?