Recommend a new/used car

I drive ~25 miles to work every day, mostly on back roads. My current commuter car, a Hyundai Accent, is nearing its last legs at 170K miles. I enjoy working on vehicles, so instead of buying a new car with a payment, I’m considering buying a used car, which I can do minor repairs/maintenance on and will take to my mechanic for major stuff. If my current care weren’t a Hyundai Accent, I’d consider keeping it and eking out another 150K out of it.

I’m looking for something that is (in roughly order of importance): fun to drive, relatively efficient (>20mpg), not embarrassing when visiting clients (not an Accent), somewhat reliable and/or cheap/simple to repair. I am considering everything from a brand new Accord to a pre-GM Saab 900. Either way, I’d figure on up to $5000 to spend as downpayment or to buy a used car, and $400 month in either repairs and upgrades (used car), or a car payment, or some combination thereof.

So just wondering if anyone has any suggestions or recommendations. Personally I think it would be much more fun to get a used car that I can fix/upgrade, but I need to convince the wife. I can telecommute and have a Jeep CJ as backup transportation so reliability is not all that important.

Any thoughts? I’m considering:

– an E30 or E36 BMW

– a pre-GM Saab 900

– brand new Accord or Camry (boring)

– brand new Saab 9-3

– used Honda of some sort

– Used Volvo of some sort

Anyway, just looking for thoughts or recommendations. I’m sorta partial to European cars, but really looking for something that’s fun to drive and not too much $$ to keep on the road.

I cant tell you what to buy or how to buy it but I can tell you that if you get a car payment dont go over 2 years. It gets real hard after two years of plunking that money out every month, month after month and on and on.

It is really difficult to make a suggestion. What is fun for you may be boring to me. What looks good to you may look silly to me.

 [b] My current commuter car, a Hyundai Accent, is nearing its last legs at 170K miles.  [/b]   There is no reason a Hyundai can't last to 300,000 with proper care and it appears you have been providing that.  Sure some things will come along, but they will be cheaper than buying a new car.  However if you decide you want a new car anyway, then fine, don't let me stop you.

Ambarrassing? Here’s A Thought!

I don’t know what part of the country you live in and what sort of clients you have, but every car on your list, would embarrass many of my clients and make me wince. I’m pretty sure you are too far gone in this thinking that these Asian and European cars are somehow sportier or more reliable, but for a lot of we Americans these cars won’t hold a candle to good old U.S.A Iron.

I operate several Dodge, Pontiac, and Chevrolet cars in my family. Many are sporty and fun to drive. They represent good value, reliability (regardless of trash talk), are safe, and don’t turn into rust heaps in short order, where I live. Even if this were not the case, I’m an American and not at all embarrassed to drive cars that symbolize America. Let me say before anybody tells me that all cars are now international, Asian and European cars made in the U.S., etcetera, I know where these companies have there corporate offices and where the money ultimately goes.

America, what a country!

Depending on how many clients you travel with, I’d recommend a CX-7. It has the same engine in it as the Mazdaspeed 3, a 244hp 2.3L turbo charged 4cyl.

BMW is most reliable for Euro makes and absolute hoot to drive. Parts can be pricey but mail order helps things significantly.

Volvo/Saab(least reliable) is on par with Honda in fun to drive may be slightly more. Toyota Camry is an appliance on wheels but very reliable.

– an E30 or E36 BMW -Fun, but can be expensive for parts
– a pre-GM Saab 900 -Quite unreliable, some folks don’t mind
– brand new Accord or Camry (boring) -Try driving an Accord EX 4cyl - you might not be bored
– brand new Saab 9-3 -Pretty expensive for what you get, I’d get a BMW 1 or 3 instead.
– used Honda of some sort -see above
– Used Volvo of some sort -nothing fun here, not very reliable

I suggest that you contact your insurer to see how much your insurance will go up if you replace your Accent with a 2003 BMW 325i sedan, say. It will likely be a lot more than you pay now. And you must have a sedan to entertain customers. I know that I would not be even slightly enthusiastic about crawling into the back of a coupe, no matter what it is.

Maybe you should keep the Accent for most of your commuting and drive the new car on days when you take care of your customers. If that works, the new car can be listed with your insurer as driven infrequently, and the insurance rates will be a lot less. You don’t have to tell them that you drive it to work sometimes; it won’t be your primary commuter. I’m sure your customers would not appreciate the CJ, either, so get a new car if you need to ferry the meal tickets around.

Is that 25 or 50 miles per day? I can’t tell if you drive 25 miles each way or that is your daily total. Do you live where it freezes or snows in the winter?

Its all nice and fine that you think your cars are great.
I also think my '07 Nissan Altima is a great car.

I bought it new just before Christmas of '06, and I spent two weeks running around with my friend, test driving every car that was in my desired list of vehicles, that were in the same price range.

The American cars that I test drove (Saturn Aura, Ion) were identical to other GM cars, so I didn’t feel the need to test drive the Chevy, Pontiac, or Buick versions, but I learned pretty quickly that the Aura had horrible brakes, a transmission that would only take your throttle inputs as a suggestion, and handling that reminded me of my parents '76 Chevy Caprice Estate wagon.

The Ion, while much nicer in the ride and accelleration, had a 3 foot distance between first gear and second gear with the manual shifter. The brakes were only slightly better than horrible, and the interior was blah. The Aura did have a nice interior.

I test drove the Mazda 6, and the brakes and handling were much better, but the performance of the 4 cylinder left alot to be desired, and the V-6 was pushing a price range I didn’t want. So that there ruled out the Ford and Mercury versions of the Mazda 6.

I have owned an '81 Pontiac Grand Prix, an '82 Chevy Monte Carlo, and a '92 Buick Park Avenue Ultra, and put way more money into fixing up those used cars than I ever should have, so you can’t even ATTEMPT at calling me un-American.

My money is mine.
I worked hard for it, earned every penny, and you have no say over how I spend it, and no right to tell me I’m un-American for buying a non-US branded car.

And just to finalize, my Altima has more US and Canadian content than the Saturns I test drove. All the dollars that went to pay for the different parts of my car to assemble it in Missouri went to American and Canadian contractors, instead of to the lowest builder in South Korea, or in Malaysia.


Give the Mazda3 a shot too. It’s sporty like many of the cars on your list, but a new or very slightly used one is definitely in your price range.