Used car

I am in the market for a good used car and would appreciate some help. I haven’t purchased a car for myself for 10 years. I drive a lot (3,000 or so miles/mo) and would like a comfortable car with decent gas mileage and some pickup. I need a 4 door or small SUV and can spend $25,000 - $30,000. If you listen to these guys you must have something on the ball; any help would be really appreciated. Thank you

Rather than taking random car recommendations from strangers with varying (and unknown) agendas, the best advice is to go to Barnes & Noble or another large newsstand, and purchase a copy of the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide.

This comprehensive publication lists ALL makes and models of cars that have been available in the US marketplace for the past…8 or 10 years. It provides historical reliability data, gas mileage info, price data, and all of the other info that you are looking for. It also contains hints on what to do before spending any of your hard-earned money on a particular vehicle.

What are you currently driving? What do you like and dislike about it? Do you have children/pets/bikes/equipment to haul? Why used? (at your price range, you can afford new)

For $25-30K I’d be looking at something new. Again, get the CR at the local bookstore and peruse the options.

I’d get a new 4-cyl intermediate, Fusion, Camry, Accord, etc. Test drive each to see which you like.

For that price range I’d be looking at a new Hyundai Sonata or a 2011 Azera. In your price range, brand new, 60k full warranty, 100k powertrain warranty.

SUV that has pickup or SUV that gets good gas mileage. Pick ONE.
And at 25~30k used, are you expecting to look at Mercedes? That will get you brand new Ford Escape, Mazda Cx-7, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Tuscon, Chevy Equinox, Subaru Forester, Toyota Rav4, or Subaru Outback,

If you are going to keep the car for 10 years, buying a new one makes sense. By then, you will have 360,000 miles on it and resale value is very low anyway. Another advantage of the new car is that you know it has been well maintained, since only you were responsible for it. If you want a luxury car for $25,000 to $30,000, then consider a 2010 Infiniti G37 Sedan. The Journey, X, and Sport are all in your price range. Repair costs are very low on the G37. Compare it to a Lexus ES350. According to Edmunds, repairs on both cars will be about the same in the first 5 years, but the ES350 will cost about $2300 more for maintenance. That $2300 difference is $500 to $600 more than the total estimated repairs for the first 5 years. Maintenance costs are more important than most repair costs.

But I’d still but a new car. You might consider a compact car like a Chevy Cruze. With the 1.4L, it gets 26 MPG city and 38 highway. You can get a well equipped one for less than $20,000. A mid-range Camry sedan will cost about $3000 - $5000 more, and get a bit lower mileage (25/35). Since you seem to drive a lot on the highway, you will get about 10% better mileage with the Cruze. Test drive compact and intermediate cars and see if the larger car is worth the extra up front expense and higher gas cost.

On your budget, I would agree that a new intermediate with a 4 cylinder engine would be your best choice. I would settle for either a Hyundai Sonata or a Toyota Camry. Both are very comfortable, quiet and not hard on gas.

Both have a potential to go 400,000 miles with careful maintenance. The Ford fusion and Mazda 6 wouild also fit the bill, although I doubt the Fusion will reach that mileage goal without major breakdowns. The Mazda 6 would be the most fun to drive.

The Mazdaspeed 3 would be even more fun to drive, provided you can drive a standard, but would get SUV-like fuel mileage(~25mpg highway). It’s a hatchback

Thank you; I appreciate the comments; they are helping me narrow my search. I looked at the Camry and a Ford Fusion (my company has a purchase program with Ford). We normally keep our cars until they die; but I wasn’t sure if I would get more car if I went with a used car. BSCAR2; I understand that it is not practical to get both pickup and good gas mileage; I was wondering if there was something that did better in both areas.

It sounds like the Sonata, Camry or Cruze are a few of good choices for the miles I plan to drive and that I should look at new. I will need to buy my wife a car in a year or so; maybe I will wait to buy an SUV. My mechanic said the Toyota Highlander was a good bet (cheaper than the Lexus RX and just as good).

Thanks again for your comments; I am going to pick up a copy of Consumers Reports and look at that as well. I think the Car Talk community is a great resource and trust you guys. I figure if you are willing to spend time with this group you must love cars. Our kids are getting out of the house and we can afford to get a decent car; I just want to make sure we get the right one.

One last question if you don’t mind. I would like to get my wife a luxury car. If we had a slightly higher budget ($35,000 - $40,000); would a new high end car make sense? I looked at a new Volvo and have also looked used BMW’s and Mercedes. Just curious about your thoughts. Thank you again; if I get no responces I have learned a lot.

Used luxury car is a money pit. Most of the users of this discussion would not touch a BMW, Mercedes, or Volvo with a 10 foot pole!

You were on the right track with a Toyota Highlander–or check out the Venza which is similar but a little more car-like and less truck-like.

Keep in mind that the Cruze is much smaller than a Camry or Sonata. The comparable Chevy is the Malibu.

Will You Be Paying For It (Cash) Or Charging It (Financing) ?

It is a “sellers market” for used cars at this time. Also, I believe that financing a used car often carries a higher interest rate than new cars. So, be careful and compare used with new.

Paying cash for cars, as I do, often tips the scales toward buying used. I buy slightly used (about a year old, less than 12,000 miles) cars, but in this market, I’d have to be careful as well.

While shopping used cars, don’t overlook manufacturers’ “Certified Pre-Owned Cars.” These cars generally come with much better (manufacturer’s) warranty coverage than a generic used car. I have purchased these and saved 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of new with virtually the same “new car” warranty.

"I drive a lot (3,000 or so miles/mo) and would like a comfortable car with decent gas mileage and some pickup.
I would shop for a larger size vehicle for comfort, but I wouldn’t get something with a 4-cylinder engine. You’ll have the car for quite a while. Get something comfortable with the guts to go when you want to. Larger car are generally safer cars and almost all cars get decent mileage these days.


For your wife a Lexus ES350 would be worth a look-European cars are not my choice for long term ownership

A used higher end car is like a money pit. You get to do all the maintenance the person didn’t do because it was a short lease, and even the smallest repair costs a fortune. Also, the insurance on the car can be a shocker.