Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Recommendation for nice daily driver and commuter car


Thanks for your help. I am looking for a nice, very dependable, fairly economical car for a primary vehicle (so style would be nice) and commuter car - daily drive 100 miles interstate 5 days a week. Price range is around $15k. There is a 1999 BMW 325 vert for sale with 119k miles- but not sure about age and reliability. I’d consider a BMW 3 series or Toyota Avalon or Solara. Domestics - maybe a Monte Carlo. I’d appreciate feedback on near luxury sedans that would meet my needs as well as other recommendations. Thanks again!

A 1999 BMW is not a nice daily driver and a commuter car! It’s age and resultant lack of day to day reliability rule against that. And driving 500 miles a week will quickly put you in the poorhousr from the repair bills. I’ve seen diehard BMW enthusiasts own 2 of these, so that they had one available when the other was in the garage!

Having said all that, Any good used Honda Civic or Accord, Toyota Corolla or Camry, Mazda 3 or 6 and Hyundai Sonata or Elantra is a good daily driver and commuter car.

If you like a BMW, the Mazda 3 comes closest. They are fun to drive, frugal, reliable, and not too expensive to buy.

I’d pass on the 11 year old BMW. That’s just asking for Trouble.

Toyota Avalon / Solara: Yes, good picks.

If you look at the latest car issue of Consumer Reports (not sure if its out yet, if not then it should be out very soon) it will give you a comprehensive list of “good bets” and the ones to avoid, and its further broken down in to virtually every price range.

Also consider a nice used Lexus IS-x, Infiniti G35, Honda Accord, or Hyundai Sonata. Also the Crown Vic seems to be a popular choice. And the new Mazda 3’s start around $17k so you should be able to find a nice used one in your price range.

Food for thought, I drive my 11 year old Accord approx. 260 miles on the interstate weekly and I have yet to have any issues with it. And for 15k you can get one thats a lot newer than mine is.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the advice. If I wanted to go the domestic or European route, are there any
stylish (sporty, a bit luxurious perhaps) models I might consider? Any of the 2004-2008 BMW 3 series models?
Volvo S60? Jaguar X or S types? Ford Mustang? Any Mercedes roadster or even Honda roadster?
I’m trying to combine style for a primary (only) car and a commuter car. Thanks!

I would go with the Lexus, Solara or Avalon. The Honda Civic and Accords are nice cars but usually over-priced. I would stay away from the European cars because of the high cost of repairs. The domestic car lines are in a state of upheaval right now so I’d hold off for now.

What about a 2006 Honda Accord EX V6 coupe, or the 2007 EX-L V6 coupe? I have a 2005 EX V6 sedan. I’ve change fluids and pumped gas; that’s it. And subscribe to XM/Sirius (the car comes standard with it). It’s worth it for the long drive. And this is a domestic car. It’s built in Marysville, Ohio.

For that money, you can get the previous generation (not ugly) Acura TL.

BTW, did you buy the Allante?

3 and 5 series BMWs are great motor vehicles BUT, you see a lot of them for sale at around 100 to 120k miles. That is the point where they should be transferred into the hands of do-it-yourselfers. If you pay someone else to maintain pretty much any European car with over 100k miles, they are cost-prohibitive to own.

I gave both my daughters '97 328 BMWs to drive at college. One I have owned since it was three years old, and it now has almost 200k miles on it, the other I bought at 175k miles and it now has almost 275k miles on it. These cars are beautiful, fun, safe, fast, get great mileage, and are absolutely reliable. Neither has ever been towed since I owned them. Neither has ever had the engine or transmission opened up further than replacing the valve cover gaskets.

My wife has put 30k miles on her 2004 BMW since she got it. I have replaced tires and brake pads, changed fluids, etc. Tires were expensive, but beyond those normal maintenance items, the total cost to repair things that have broken has been less than $50 in 30k miles. If I had taken it to the dealer for these minor failures, I would have spent at least $1000.

BTW, my wife and daughters LOVE their cars. As I pointed out to one of my daughters, a brand new Toyota is only a brand new Toyota for about a month, but a BMW will always be a BMW. Also, a sport sedan is not a sport sedan unless it it rear wheel drive.

Look at the consumer reports used car buying guide. If you want a slightly upscale sedan, and you don’t like ordering parts off the Internet and doing your own repairs, I would steer toward the Lexus/Acura/Infinity side of the car lot. All those are good cars.

If you want to go for a BMW and you have 15k to spend, that will get you a 2003-2004 with relatively low miles. Get a 6 cyl, not a V8. The 3.0 liter appears to be a better engine than the 2.5 liter of that vintage, but we won’t know for sure until a lot of them have hit the quarter-million mile mark. If you don’t do much bumper-to-bumper driving, get a stick shift. A sports car should have a stick shift.

Hyundai Azera