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Old 02-06-11, 11:03 AM   #1
MillCreek
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Replacing the wife's car

She has a 2004 Mercedes C230 with 65 K miles. In the past two years, in addition to the scheduled service, we have put $ 5,000 into it for a bad alternator, broken CD changer and now a leaky sunroof. We are waiting for a new sunroof cassette to be installed, and the sunroof problem alone is going to cost $ 3 K, for the four repair attempts over the past year. For the two most recent repairs, we are paying only for parts, since they are doing the labor under warranty. But a new cassette and sunroof motor are costing $ 2 K in parts alone. We take it to an independent Benz shop, but the parts and labor still add up. In contrast, my 2005 Ford Escape with 66 K miles has required no service other than the scheduled.

I now have her agreeing with the concept of fixing it and getting rid of it before the next expensive gremlin plagues us. The trade in value is about $ 8500 and she owes about $ 4,000 on it.

So she has a long list of amenities that she is looking for, and we are beginning to do some car shopping. Of note, if it does not have heated seats, it is off the list. . She probably wants a new vehicle for the warranty.

So far, we have the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion on the list. We went to see and drive the Fusion and the Sonata yesterday. The Fusion was a pretty bland generic sedan, we thought. But the Sonata was pretty darn impressive inside and out. Quiet as a church, smooth ride, great acceleration and impressive MPG. We can probably get it for the mid-$20's with all the stuff she wants going through the Costco Auto Program.

I still want to go look at the Optima based upon how well the Kia Soul has worked out for me. Any other thoughts on a mid-size sedan that we should be looking at? For the reliability factor, I am thinking Asian or Ford. She has pretty much ruled out the Camry and Accord. I am ruling out European models like the Benz, Audi or VW. I know too many people who are trapped in the cycle of expensive maintenance and repairs on the Europeans.
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Old 02-06-11, 09:40 PM   #2
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My nephew bought a Subaru Outback for his wife and she loves it especially the heated seats and four wheel drive. He says it get reasonable mileage to boot.
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Old 02-06-11, 09:45 PM   #3
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Time to buy a Subaru
Spoken by a man with many miles under his belt
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Old 02-06-11, 10:02 PM   #4
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Nissan Altima got Consumer Reports nod for best midsized sedan. Might be worth a look and the 2.5s with SL package includes heated leather seats for around 27K msrp.
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Old 02-06-11, 10:03 PM   #5
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Subaru or Toyota, I see them all as trade ins, friends don't let friends buy euro or for that matter most domestics. They are all nice at first but the proof is how they are 4 years down the road, and how the manufacture backs them.
Granted I am biased by my years with Lexus and Toyota, but most mechanics drive Toyota's that I know. Just sayin.
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Old 02-06-11, 10:14 PM   #6
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Are not the Optima and Sonata the same underneath?
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Old 02-06-11, 10:52 PM   #7
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+1 for the Altima, though I would probably go for the v6 as they seem much more refined. I owned a 2006 Altima Se-r for a few years and did not have one lick of trouble with it. Had I not gotten into an Infiniti, I'd probably own another.
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Old 02-06-11, 11:01 PM   #8
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Lexus has great entry level cars, they have the utmost customer service - they don't treat you like crap after you've given them your money - and they are true Japanese cars. Warranty on them covers more than anyone could want because they DO back up their products and have confidence that there won't be any issues.

If you are concerned about recent recalls, only a small percentage of the cars are affected but they do cover a majority of them just to be safe.

Oh and it has heated AND air conditioned seats.
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Old 02-06-11, 11:04 PM   #9
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Been driving Honda Accords since 1977. Owned 3 of them.
Current Accord: a 1997 station wagon (last year they built a wagon except for in England)) with 140,000+ miles on the odo.
Mileage in town is very hi 20s, lo 30s on the hiway.
Regular maintenance, nothing exotic like leaky roof or busted CD player. M/B and most other Eurocars are getting bad notices as of late.
Have owned Euro cars before 1977 and they cannot hold a candle to the Accord.
Just our experience.
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Old 02-06-11, 11:42 PM   #10
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Subaru or Toyota, I see them all as trade ins, friends don't let friends buy euro or for that matter most domestics. They are all nice at first but the proof is how they are 4 years down the road, and how the manufacture backs them.
Granted I am biased by my years with Lexus and Toyota, but most mechanics drive Toyota's that I know. Just sayin.
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Old 02-07-11, 09:03 AM   #11
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Subie, Toyota or Honda.
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Old 02-07-11, 11:36 AM   #12
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She doesn't want a Subaru, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. I mentioned the Honda and the Toyota in the original post, and she doesn't want the AWD and corresponding MPG hit of the Subaru. We have the AWD on the Ford Escape for inclement weather. She thinks the Avalon is too big for her needs and I am not sure we want to spend for the Lexus. We would like to keep this below $ 27,000.

I myself like Subarus, and if the Forester was just a bit bigger, would have bought that instead of the Escape.

We also have different views on cars: I buy cost-effective cars as an appliance to get from A to B, such as my recent purchase of the Kia Soul as a commuter car, and drive them until they are dead. She is more oriented towards style and comfort than I am.

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Old 02-07-11, 11:39 AM   #13
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That leaves only 2 reasonable choices
Something from Nissan
Something from Hyundi

Edit: actually that might rule Nissan out. They're a tad pricey.
And you could always go Mitsubishi but I've never seen an older Mitsubishi that looked in good condition.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:24 PM   #14
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You know, I had completely forgot Nissan. They seem to not have very much of a market presence in this area. A quick eyeball of the website shows the Altima as a possibility as Jsharr suggested above.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:39 PM   #15
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I have never had any issues with the fords I have owned. Couple mustangs,escape and a 2003 cobra. My boss has two fusions and loves them.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:42 PM   #16
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I think Mustang and Cobra are about the only decent thing Ford makes if you don't mind the rampant piston throwing that is partly the fault of the drivers doing accelerating to 120 miles to an intersection or stopped traffic.

I'd recommend never buying a Ford, Chrysler if you want a vehicle for Long term. Unless you plan on trading in every 3-5 years. If you like trading in then domestics are okay. Actually they might be the best choice since they usually get the comfort / ease down better than most imports.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:43 PM   #17
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Negatory on Mitsy's. I had two and nothing but trouble.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:45 PM   #18
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Negatory on Mitsy's. I had two and nothing but trouble.
Lol that's why I specifically said looked I've not had any experience with Mitsubishi and don't really know anybody who's owned them. But I do know that from a general outwards appearance they seem to age rather poorly.
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Old 02-07-11, 12:58 PM   #19
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Been driving Honda Accords since 1977. Owned 3 of them.
Current Accord: a 1997 station wagon (last year they built a wagon except for in England)) with 140,000+ miles on the odo.
Mileage in town is very hi 20s, lo 30s on the hiway.
Regular maintenance, nothing exotic like leaky roof or busted CD player. M/B and most other Eurocars are getting bad notices as of late.
Have owned Euro cars before 1977 and they cannot hold a candle to the Accord.
Just our experience.
that's because your 97 accord wagon didn't come with a sun/ moon roof or cd player. hard to have problems with something you don't have.
so basically you have no experience with current european cars. awesome. give him a recommendation based off of 34 year old information. this sounds intelligent.

OP: have you even thought of a mazda? the mazda6 is pretty nice...
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Old 02-07-11, 01:51 PM   #20
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that's because your 97 accord wagon didn't come with a sun/ moon roof or cd player. hard to have problems with something you don't have.
so basically you have no experience with current european cars. awesome. give him a recommendation based off of 34 year old information. this sounds intelligent.

OP: have you even thought of a mazda? the mazda6 is pretty nice...
European cars might be great in europe. But over here in America they have some of the worst horror stories and are abound everywhere. I've even talked to dealerships who won't deal with certain European brans of cars because of the that. Worse than Kia's horror stories.

A Stealership doesn't mind dealing with cars that break down in 4-7 years because they're ready to sell you a new one. But cars that have problems within the first 30-60 days give them the type of problems they don't like.
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Old 02-07-11, 02:00 PM   #21
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Toyota or Honda. Wife drives a Nissan Maxima and loves it!
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Old 02-07-11, 02:05 PM   #22
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Hyundai Sonata is going to be real hard to top since you've ruled out so many cars. I think the Sonata has a great warranty too, like 60,000 miles, is that right? The only car you might have her drive is an Acura, I know it's made by Honda, but it is a fine car and costs nothing to test drive. There is also a Sonata Hybrid available, 40 mpg highway.

Hyundai may have better trade-in over the Kia when that time comes, maybe.

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Old 02-07-11, 02:18 PM   #23
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How about an '08 or '09 Saturn Aura? The XR trim has heated seats and all those types of options she is used to in the Mercedes, standard. It's a GM Opel simply rebadged in the States as a Saturn, so it's German-designed (supposedly) and feels/looks European. Cheap to fix, cheap to buy, etc. Just a thought. (And of course it's my realistic-dream-sedan, and I now own one, so...yeah.)

ETA: All Saturns still have the 5 yr/100k mile warranty, too...
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Old 02-07-11, 02:46 PM   #24
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All cars have problems eventually. The vast majority have no major problems with your car inside of 100,000 miles. It comes down to utility (both economic and practical) and TCO-- those things being equal, the driver's preferences and personality.

Personality
Personally I tend to avoid European and US nameplates. That leaves, Japanese and Korean. Of those, I tend avoid Mazda, Mitsubishi, Kia, Daewoo, Isuzu. That leaves Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru. Of those I don't shop Hyundai because I don't buy new and used and there haven't been good deals in Hyundai for a while. The word is OUT.

And this isn't a recommendation just something I thought was interesting: something like 70% of all 4Runners ever produced are still on the road, as it were-- something like 1.26 million out of the 1.8 million produced. Of course, those guys are weird. My neighbor has two of them.
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Old 02-07-11, 02:48 PM   #25
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Doesn't the 4 Runner get horrible gas mileage ? I happen to remember it being up there with the Sequoia and the FJ Cruiser in regards to bad gas mileage.
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