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RESALE Value and general quality of these vehicles .... your help appreciated

I drive approximately 100 miles per day, five days a week for my job. I am searching for a car that can serve as a commuter car to work for me as well as a weekend car for enjoyment, errands, even weekend getaway. I have been looking at the 2013 Dodge Charger SXT Plus (31 hwy), the 2013 Chrysler 300 S (31 hwy), the 2013 Hyundai Sonata (35 hwy) and the new 2013 Cadillac ATS (33 hwy). I would like your input on the quality of these cars and their potential resale values. I plan to trade in 18 months to 24 months and typically put 25K miles on a car in one year. Which cars are dependable? hold their resale value better? Both criteria are important to me. Thanks!

As a driver, I’d prefer the Charger. As a mechanic, I’d prefer the Sonata. Granted, I usually start to service and repair cars after the initial warranty runs out (other than oil changes and routine maintenance), but my anecdotal opinion is that the Hyundai will age more gracefully than the Chrysler products.

I think any of these will be reliable and serve you well. I think the Chrysler vehicles are rear-wheel drive, at least if you get the V8, and as such will handle differently in the snow. RWD vehicles can be a handful in inclement weather if you’re not used to them. Not sure what the Caddy is, but never liked the styling or interiors much. Hyundai has come a long way, but it’s hard for me to not think of them as disposable vehicles, kind of like the Bic lighter of cars, like they used to be when they first came to America. But you’re essentially seeking a Bic lighter to use for a while and get rid of, so maybe that’s a good match for you. The 300 is easily the best looking vehicle IMHO. (but I’m biased as I own a 2006) The newer Chryslers also have very nice interiors and a well-designed touch screen system. If you like the Chrysler vehicles but don’t want quite as large a car, maybe consider the 200 as well.

You’re going to trade these in 2 years. Not very cost effective, but to each their own. You’d be hard pressed to find ANY vehicle these days that won’t go 2 years with little to no problems. And naturally you will have a warranty. If you have a long commute each day, I’d pick the car that you like the most and has the best seats. Since you don’t plan on keeping the car for long, maybe it would be better to find a lease with acceptable terms instead of buying–leases were meant for people who switch cars often.

Resale value and reliability both go to Hyundai. The Cadillac, like any luxo-car, is going to lose a LOT of its value very quickly because new models with upgraded luxury features will come out and people shopping for a luxury car will want them. The Charger and 300 will lose value because Chryslers (and GM’s for that matter) have a reputation as not being as good as Asian cars (deserved or not) and so their value on the used car market is lower.

That said, if you’re driving 25,000 miles per year, your resale value will be in the toilet anyway, because there will be plenty of lower mileage 2013 cars available on the used market whenever you decide to sell yours. So based on that, and based on the fact that I’m not driving 100 miles a day in a car I hate, I’d get whatever I liked best.

Asemaster, I’m surprised you don;t feel exactly the opposite. I’m surprised that as a mechanic you don’t prefer the Charger (more repairs, more revenue) and as a driver the Sonata (lower cost, fewer repairs).

Well, for the money he’s looking at spending on that Charger, as a driver I’d substitute a 2013 Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track edition. That, is one sweet car for the price.

What about a 2010 Mustang GT? Buying a 3 year old car will wring a lot of depreciation out of it already. You should be able to find a low mileage car with about 25,000 to 30,000 miles on it. In you case, I wouldn’t worry about resale value at all. By the time you’re finished with it, it is likely to have too many miles on it to worry about resale. If you really want good mileage, get the 6-cyl.

@thesamemountainbike, ahh, you misunderstand me!

As a driver, I prefer the Chryslers, since to me there is no substitute for a big engine and rear wheel drive to make driving fun.

As a mechanic, the Hyundais are good cars for me because they’re generally easy to service, don’t require many special tools, and increasingly the folks who buy them plan on keeping them and therefore keep them up. On the other hand, I need a scan tool and a calibrated dipstick to check the transmission fluid on a newer Chrysler.

While @oblivion is correct in theory, he is not in practice. Most leases go up to 15k miles per year and charge extra for each mile over; figure out how much more 10k miles would cost.

I’d throw my vote in for a Mazdaspeed 3. It’ll get lower MPG, but should hold its value more since they don’t usually sell many of them, and a fully loaded one will be about $25k brand new.

@bscar2: That’s why I said if he could find a lease with acceptable terms. Pretty much any new car is going to be trouble-free for at least a couple of years. It’s up to the buyer if they can handle the severe depreciation that buying a new vehicle that often will bring, regardless of make. If he likes the Hyundai, he should go for the Hyundai. The market trends set the depreciation rate for new cars. I have little doubt that a Hyundai (and most ‘foreign’ cars) hold their value better than domestics, with the possible exception of Ford these days. But it’s set more by perception of a brand’s value than reality. Nearly any choice of car will last well beyond what he’s apparently willing to keep it for.

Personally I’d rather have a car that I like instead of a soulless appliance, not that I enjoy spending money on repairs.

Asemaster, you’ve confirmed my long held belief that there’s far more to one’s choice of a car than simple logic. It’s a truely subjective choice.

You are talking about quality and resale value and the discussion does not include the likes of Honda and Toyota compared to the fine brands you have mentioned ?

I’d have a longer list. A 2013 Accord with a V6 would perform equal or better to several of those, and far exceed them on resale/reliability.

@thesamemountainbike, of course, just like anything else in life. What’s the point of having an economical, reliable, functional car if you can’t stand driving it?

Buy whatever you like best. It doesn’t really matter what you buy, given that you are buying new and plan to put 50k miles on it in two years and sell it off. None of them are going to be worth half what you paid for them when you get done with them, so drive them all and buy whatever you enjoy driving the most. Anything should hold up well for two years of commuter service.

Amen, asemaster.

Mark, I agree.

I consider myself very blessed. Through no fault of my own (it was not my first choice), I’ve ended up with a reliable, economical, paid-for car that I really enjoy… and it’ll likely be the last car I ever buy have to buy. I plan to cruise into old age with grace. The issues of depreciation no longer apply to me.

I wish you all the same such luck.

Buy the car from the company that might buy whatever it is that you do. I’d go for the ATS. The highway driving steering stability reminded me of a Pontiac G8.

Personally, I’d say that if you’re only going to keep the car two years max, you won’t be looking at reliability problems with most any vehicle. Really, the differences are VERY small.

If you’re then going to look to cost, it isn’t resale value that matters - it is $ in depreciation that you’ll pay out. For example, a $60,000 Audi with a resale of $35,000 after 2 years costs you a heck of a lot more than a $20,000 Chevy with a resale value of $10,000, even though the Audi’s resale value and % value retained are higher. The only way to properly analyze this cost is to look at the actual cost to purchase and subtract out the fair market private party value of a 2 year old version of the vehicle. That said, I think the Sonata is likely to be the lowest depreciation expense of the vehicles you list.

You also point out mpg - and I would strongly recommend you look at owner reports at and other sites first before believing those numbers. My last 3 rental vehicles have been a 2010 Ford Fusion, a 2012 Hyundai Sonata, and a 2011 Ford Escape. Those vehicles were rated 33, 35, and 28 mpg highway, respectively. I actually achieved 38.1, 33.5, and 32.6 mpg highway, respectively. The differences between what I got and what the vehicles were rated was quite significant. If I went by sticker, the Sonata would win, but by my experience, the Fusion won that head-to-head. 25k per year on highway would have given me $315 lower in costs (@ $3.5/gal) in the Fusion, though the sticker said it should have been $151.51 per year lower in the Sonata. That’s a swing of nearly $500 per year.

My wife accuses me of overly liking every car we have ever owned and regretting parting ways with them all. In reality, the one single feature I put above all else, is seating comfort and dumping them as the seats aged and bottomed out was easy. I may be remiss, but I would guess that seating comfort may be a big factor in resale value and right up there with reliability.

In the immortal words of " acemaster" , " what’ s the point of having an economical, reliable and functional car if you can’t stand driving it ?"

You really want 100,000+ reliable, low maintenance miles and decent trade-in value. That means a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, for the best combination. Other cars like the Ford Fusion will have more repairs and lower trade-in, while the Mazda 6 will be a good car but also suffer at the trade-in.

Personally, I would drive 4 years and put 200,000 miles on the vehicle, since these miles are very easy on a car. Limousine services and other types of vehicles go as high as 500,000 miles before they are disposed of.