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  1. #1
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    Buying a Car Part II....the short list

    Okay, now's where I could really use some help refining the list, taking off notorious lemons, etc, etc. I'm doing my research on each of these vehicles as well, but have found that actual feedback from real people is far more valuable in this regard. As mentioned earlier, I plan on spending 25G...I don't want to go over, as I'd prefer to have no car payments since I may be returning to school next year. Additionally, if I go under 25G, i don't see any of the difference. My father's estate stipulates that, upon graduation from college, myself and my siblings can be given up to that amount to spend on a car. If we don't graduate or don't spend the full amount, we see that untouched amount at, I believe, age 45...so there's no real incentive not to spend near that amount. I'm having an identity crisis of sorts and have narrowed it down to three categories: 1. SUV - makes the most sense since i'm fairly big and like the idea of having room in the vehicle. Also, I have hobbies such as kayaking and rock climbing, so it is good to have the actual utility of an SUV. 2. Sedan - Here's the middle ground, practical like an SUV but fun as well...i tend to see myself ultimately purchasing from this category. 3. Sporty Coupe - I've always wanted a little sports car, and, I'm not strong enough to avoid seriously entertaining this idea, even in new england where it'd only be fun to drive for six months out of the year...the other six it'd be a pain in the ass.

    So here are my choices, I'd really appreciate comment or feedback on ANY of these models.

    SUVs
    Lexus RX300 - It looks like I would be in the range of a 2000 model with about 30,000 miles if I were to go this route. I actually prefer to go used for all models, as I hate the idea of incurring that first 18 months of serious depreciation myself. This is a good choice because it has all the qualities i look for in an SUV but the amenities of a luxury car.
    Ford Explorer Sport Trac - I'd either be going very slightly used or new with this one. I test drove one the other day and I was very impressed by the roominess and the options for the money. It felt heavy but maneuverable and it appears to be the frontrunner right now. The only negative aspect of this vehicle is I'm a bit wary of Ford's reputation as the truck gets near three or four years old, and I'd like to keep whatever vehicle I get for five. I'm also a little concerned as to how well it will hold its value.
    Nissan Xterra - For the money I'm looking to spend I could go ALL OUT on this one with pretty much everything they offer. They seem to be reliable and also look to be holding their value pretty well so far. I was quite impressed with the room of this vehicle, but not the engine (though I didn't test drive the 220hp, or whatever their big option engine is in the xterra). I love it's true utility, but am a bit turned off by its absolute lack of amenities.

    SEDANS
    Nissan Altima - Just today I test drove the 3.5L version (3.5SE, i think) and I was blown away by the performance of a vehicle that has all the interior sensibility of a family car. This is no doubt the frontrunner in the sedan category. I love Nissan's reliability, and the girlfriend's father is capable of helping out in a big way with nissan parts and labor should anything go wrong. This was a very impressive car, and should I go with a sedan, will likely win out. The only drawback is, my girlfriend owns the 2.5S version, and I'm not sure I like the idea of us having the same model.
    Audi A4 - While I wasn't impressed with the back seat room, and I wasn't as impressed as I'd expected to be with the performance and handling of this car, I'm very pleased with what looks to be one of the best warranties in the business. From what I can gather, it looks like I'd be going just slightly used in this category...maybe a 2001 with very low miles or a 2002 driven by someone who simply likes to change cars every 18 months. There's not a whole lot about the car that floors me, but nor are there any major problems I can see with it either.
    Mazda 6 - I hadn't really considered this vehicle until I drove a friend's this week. It is comparable to the Altima, though it slighly underperforms (in my opinion) but looks the part moreso than the Altima. I thought highly enough about the driving experience to put it on my list in the hopes that someone has some additional experience.

    SPORTY COUPES
    Audi TT - I absolutely love the look of these cars but have not so much as sat in one yet, so it may be the case that I don't fit comfortably. I've heard some negative feedback on performance, but it's been very vague. It appears as though I'd be looking at a 200-2001 with decent mileage (25-30?) in my price range. I'm particularly interested as to anyone's experience with this vehicle.
    Porsche Boxster - This is the dream car (within reason). I sat in one last week and just fell in love. As impractical as it might be, this may be my last chance until I'm 45 to own this type of car...between family looming one day and the very real possibility i'll make a career of teaching or public service. I could be anywhere from a 1999 model to a 2000 depending on mileage and extras, and it's going to be hard to say no to this one.
    Mercedes SLK - While I haven't dreamt of this car like I have the Porsche, I have a friend out in cali who drives one and she says it's the best thing she's ever driven. She's driven it in northern cali and even into canada in the winter, and says it handles extremely well in inclimate weather. Again, I'd be anywhere from a 1998-2000 model on this one as well. I'll be test driving one soon, but, like the audi TT, would love to hear some feedback in advance.

    PS: the BMW's came off my list after a more lengthy test drive. I just wasn't happy with the interior (can't quite explain what I mean) of the model I was looking at. I just was not comfortable in the car after 30 mins or so behind the wheel...it just never felt "right". Again, help from knowledgable drivers is immensely appreciated, as I'm just getting started here.

  2. #2
    BIG TEXAN's Avatar
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    SUV hands down. Who said they can't be fun and sporty at the same time. Like you said it makes most sense since you have many hobbies. Just my short quick answer.

  3. #3
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    Have you looked at a used Dodge Durango? For $25k you could get a used SLT Plus. I have a 2000 and it's great. Lots of room, handels great, lots of pickup... the only down side is the gas mileage... but it's a SUV w/ a V8 so I knew that buying it.

    My buddy has the Xterra and he likes it a lot.

  4. #4
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    BG, I tell you what bro, if you don't mind a used car, look for an Off Lease place.. I bought my Farfegnugen there and it was BBooked at 18, I got for 14. They have Baddassed cars too, great mileage and great prices, most of the places are bank owned so they sell for cheap. I looked at the big Lexus suv for 25k, and it had 27k miles on it! 2000. Defiantely worth it!
    Mudman, my buddy here at work got his Durango at the same off lease place for 18,900. For a 2000 with like 34k on it. Awesome!

    And they have everything! Maxima's/Altima's/Lexus/Mercedes/Audi/BMW/VW just great deals! I'm sure they have them near you bro!


    SID

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGreen
    SUVs
    Lexus RX300
    Ford Explorer Sport Trac
    Nissan Xterra

    SEDANS
    Nissan Altima
    Audi A4
    Mazda 6 .

    SPORTY COUPES
    Audi TT
    Porsche Boxster
    Mercedes SLK
    Okay: first, the SUV. Since you live in New England, I would only recommend getting an SUV if it's 4 wheel drive, so you can deal with snow more easily. Along those lines, and for your available money, I highly recommend the Land Rover Freelander. I would highly recommend against the Lexus, which is the "pansy" of all SUVs. Basically it's a car in SUV clothing, and it's good for my mom, but not for you. *puts up shield just in case a guy on this board drives one*

    Sedans: The Altima is excellent bang for the buck. The A4 is nice, but too much money for what you get. The Mazda 6 seems like an excellent choice, but I'd be weary of buying one since they just hit the market and have most likely not hit equilibrium with regard to recalls, bugs in the mechanicals, etc.

    Sporty Coupes: Audi TT - forget it. Too small. SLK, ditto. The Boxter: I am biased, because I have a Z06, but the the Boxter is simply too slow for being as impractical as it is. In my opinion, if a car only has two seats and a small trunk, it had better haul some serious ass or it doesn't make up for its impracticality. Hence, I would never buy a Boxter period, but that's just me. It does have an excellent weight distribution, and handles well, but the opportunities to expoit these traits are few and far between on the daily grind.

    My "other" recommendation to you would be a Subaru WRX, if you can fit in it. Right now Subaru is transitioning to a new body style for 2004, hence you can get an '03 for dirt-cheap, and I think the '03s look better than the '04s (it has "love it or hate it" styling). It's four door, but fairly fast, and handles well with 4 wheel drive, which would also be advantageous to you in the snow.

    So, all in all, my personal recommendations for your price and needs are the WRX or the Freelander. Let me know if you have any other questions, because I'm fairly obsessed with cars and love to live vicariously through others' car purchases

  6. #6
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    BigG, I have a Chrysler 300M and I absolutely love it! I would say it is comparable to the Altima as it has 3.5L engine also. On the other hand, if you can get a used Porsche, why would you not go for it?

  7. #7
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    Bro, if you do go Porshe don't go Boxter! I have 3 guys at work who ALL had to replace there engines! That is not a coincidence!!!!!!!!!!!

    SID

  8. #8
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripsid
    Bro, if you do go Porshe don't go Boxter! I have 3 guys at work who ALL had to replace there engines! That is not a coincidence!!!!!!!!!!!

    SID
    Wow! I hadn't heard that. Maybe the porsche will stay a pipe dream for now.

  9. #9
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strut99GT

    My "other" recommendation to you would be a Subaru WRX, if you can fit in it. Right now Subaru is transitioning to a new body style for 2004, hence you can get an '03 for dirt-cheap, and I think the '03s look better than the '04s (it has "love it or hate it" styling). It's four door, but fairly fast, and handles well with 4 wheel drive, which would also be advantageous to you in the snow.
    I hadn't considered the range rover, but i'll take a look for sure. As for the WRX, the comments on that car are consistently coming back that it is a remarkable car that could easily sell for 5-8 g's more and still have them flying off the shelves, so to speak. However, I sat in one and it was just claustrophobic. It wasn't necessarily too small in any one direction, as it was "not big enough" in each and every direction. No way could i be in that thing for more than twenty minutes at a time, which is really unfortunate because it is an amazing car.

  10. #10
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    It's unreal that all 3 guys had the same problem! And that wasn't the only problems they had with them! If you go porshe, you know you have to 911...I mean they're 90+ but well worth it! We have a guy who has one it's the smaller one you know the 911 with the 386 hp instead of the 400 hp...yeah he bought it from a buddy of his with 2300 miles on for like 98,000! Life is just so F*N Cruel for some people!

    SID

  11. #11
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    I feel I have to add a little to this because I so enjoy BG's posts. Some of the cars I really like are these.
    Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe with 6 speed tranny. With the printout from www.edmunds.com you should be able to score it for less than $25G. I was sold on the Altima until I saw the Accord. The reliability is second to none, resale is excellent, car is roomy, and 240 HP is plenty. The Altima is an awesome car, the only negative I see is the cheapish interior. Plus with that one you can get the HID headlamps. I live in WI so I can relate to crappy weather. I have a front drive car and it does very well. Finally, in my OPINION (so don't flame me everyone) I would stick to the imports and away from the domestics. Look at your local classified ads and you'll find easy 4 domestics to every 1 import. Plus there has to be a reason they give them away so cheaply. Good luck, with the car. Keep up the great posts. Mark.

  12. #12
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    Well, to update you all, I've taken ALL the little coupes off the list. While each salesman insisted they were driveable in the winter, even in NE, I've heard from owners that this simply isn't the case. I've added the accord EX V6 to the list of cars to consider as per mfenske's suggestion. The frontrunners now, however, remain the Sport Trac, Xterra, A4 and Altima. I do love the mazda6, but the fact was brought up that they're still so new they haven't had a chance to build a rep...given that and the fact i don't know much about mazda's in general, I think i'll stay away for now.

    What I am curious about is the a4...it's the car on the list I know the least about. I think someone mentioned it is too little car for the money...anyone care to expand on that please?

  13. #13
    BimBamBoom's Avatar
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    You are basically getting the same platform as the Volkswagen Jetta(with the A4) and paying thousands more...
    thats just my thought though...

  14. #14
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    Audi is a good choice and the mercedes SLK is a even better choice. BMW is not on that list but i will still recommend it!!

  15. #15
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    Yo Abstrack. You're right Mercedes' rock. The only bad thing for BG about that or the Beemer is that he is from New England and a small, powerful car with rear wheel drive is going to be a bit of a liablility. BG one more thing. You mentioned the Mazda 6. I was actually looking at the five speed manual, V6 version until I found out that the motor was a Ford (Ecotec if I remember correctly) which could mean issues. Also just so you know Subaru is close to releasing a turbo version of the Forester. Also, if anyone has any questions regarding the stereo in those cars or how to upgrade them let me know.

    Oh I forgot to expound on the VW/Audi thing. Like was mentioned before the Audi A4 and the VW Passat are the SAME car. Basically you pay more for a slower, heavier car. Only thing different might be HID's on the Audi. Mark
    Last edited by mfenske; 07-08-2003 at 02:50 PM.

  16. #16
    abstrack's Avatar
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    BG you ever thought about a Jaguar?? the new jags are a great car.

  17. #17
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    It's funny that you should mention the jag, since a number of people have recommended a slightly used S-type as a nicely performing luxurious sedan. Additionally, i've been given more than a few suggestions to look at the Lincoln LS for the very same reason(s). With regards to the Lincoln, the looks aren't bad. But, with the Jag, while I like the look, I never see anyone but 50-somethings and above driving them...while I'm aware image isn't everything, I don't want to buy a car that just doesn't "fit" my lifestyle in that way.

  18. #18
    abstrack's Avatar
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    No one above 50 drives them cause thats who can afford them:

    There a sweet car, fast, sleek, and all out pimp mobile!!

  19. #19
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    A buddy I work with had a 99 boxter, the engine locked up, they replaced the engine, car just didnt feel the same, had to go through a nasty arbitration, all he got was a voucher towards the purchase of a new porsche.....now he has a 2001 and hates it, but is so far upside down payoff wise, he cant do anything. I would stay clear.

  20. #20
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    Now another bad car story about the Jag...my dad's best friend took it back after 1 month because "it was an expensive piece of shit!" Nothing but problems! Hard to believe, but if you're paying the money...
    Oh..If you're talking NE, how about a BMW 330xi, all wheel drive bro! An also have to give props to the WRX and Accords, if you go audi do the S4? I think that's it, it has 250hp with a 6 speed manual trans, fast as hell!

    SID

  21. #21
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    The Chrysler 300 ( can't remeber the exact name) is badass! My brother-in-law rented one for the weekend awhile ago and it drives great, plenty of room, sporty, fun to drive and good on gas.

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