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Car buying advice

Old 07-13-15, 11:26 PM
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Car buying advice

The quick details:

I am not in a rush to buy a car. I have a 3-4 year plan in mind. That said, I have money for a sizable down payment now if a great deal comes along (ie...GREAT, not good.)

I plan on putting down 70% or more down for the car.

Price range I am considering-$18000 to $24000 but trying to shoot more for the 19k to 22k range.

Car makes I have considered:
1) Subaru
2) Toyota
3) Nissan
4) Honda
5) Ford
6) Volkswagen

Subaru tops my list because I've been paying close attention to the oldest cars on the road. The vast majority of the cars I see that were clearly made when Full House ruled the airwaves are made by Subaru. I also understand they handle well in winter.

My current car is 9 years old and needed expensive repairs the past two winters. Soon, the repairs may cost more than the car is worth. It's time to consider a new car. I have 84k miles on the car, I would love to get another 20k or so out of it, but want to keep my options open.

Car review websites sometimes have different ratings on the same model of cars. I looked up Ford Fusion on one site it got five stars, three stars on another. JD Power Associates doesn't really rank Subaru highly but other sites do.

So which dealers would offer the best dealer incentives? Currently a local Volkswagen dealer is offering to "double" my down payment (up to $3000.00) which sounds good but I am not too blown away by their models. I want a car that's going to last me 15 years at least. It has to handle well in snow. Other technology I can take or leave. I am leery of "smart cars."

Any Subaru drivers out there can give any testimony about their experience with the cars? Which model is better? I know somebody who told me to stay away from Crosstreks, but they seem to rank fairly well.

Can anybody sway me towards another make/model?
Old 07-14-15, 03:56 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by calhoun07 View Post
Currently a local Volkswagen dealer is offering to "double" my down payment (up to $3000.00) which sounds good but I am not too blown away by their models. I want a car that's going to last me 15 years at least. It has to handle well in snow. Other technology I can take or leave. I am leery of "smart cars."
Then stay away from VW. Out of warranty they are money pits. Honda and Toyota have the most reliable cars historically. Full disclosure: I am a Honda guy (I had my previous one for 19 years). Subarus are not far behind and have a strong cult like following.

Last edited by Kdogg; 07-14-15 at 02:41 PM.
Old 07-14-15, 06:58 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I'm a big Honda guy as well. You simply can't go wrong going Honda.

Having said that, I've bought two Fords for my kids. Both the Focus. And I got to say have been impressed for the money. I just bought (about 8 weeks ago) a new 2014 Focus that was nicely loaded (no leather or navigation, but BT, power everything) for like $17,000. I gave his 2011 that I had bought new an still in great shape to his sister that needed a car.

I still think Honda is better. But I'm impressed with the Fords. Especially for the money.
Old 07-14-15, 08:15 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I have a Honda Civic Sedan Si, 2007, 95,000 miles. No major repairs, just routine maintenance. I dread the day I have to get a new car.
My wife has a Subaru. She has a 2014 5-door Impreza Sport Limited. We paid like 22,500 or so in Texas and it's loaded as far as I can tell. Plus the safety features and reliability, and I also noticed how many old Subarus are still around so I was glad she went that direction.
I have no regrets with either purchase.
Old 07-14-15, 08:19 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I used to drive a Subaru outback wagon and my last 2 cars have been Toyota Corollas. No real problems with either and I find front wheel drive with good tires sufficient in snow. I thought the Subaru was more expensive to maintain and repair, but it was a good car.
Old 07-14-15, 09:11 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

We have a Honda CR-V that's 12 years old and still going strong. Very few repairs needed in that time, and it's taken a battering in some brutal winters. When we replace it I'm getting another.
Old 07-14-15, 09:32 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I'm a big Ford guy and have been since I got my first explorer in the 90's during college. I could pimp Fords to you, but I would just say take a long hard look at them. General comments/topics I would consider on the above you mentioned are:

- "double the down payment" these things are always scams from no matter what brand. Forgot where the savings are coming from. Gotta focus on the end price of the car. Don't mention your down payment when shopping, that is a payment thing, not a price thing. Negotiate the price of the car, then when satisfied, negotiate the price of the trade in if applicable, then negotiate the financing if applicable, then pay with down payment + financing + trade in.

- I just got done telling you how great I think Fords are and have been for some while. I would say to be cautious about buying a new car based on the old ones you see driving around. It's a bit of a false correlation. First, companies go up and down in quality and repair like over the long term. In the 80's Ford was horrible and Honda was awesome. In the 90's Saturn was great, but non existent now, etc.

- VW, maintenance discussion held above = truth

- Subaru, Everyone I know that drives a Subaru likes it because it "isn't an SUV." It's the image of "I need room and AWD, but want to say I don't have an SUV" I have heard many complaints from Subaru owners that they need more room in their cars, but might not get another Subaru because the new ones are "getting too big" (have also heard the same from Toyota Rav 4 owners)


- I would advise you get the make and the models narrowed down and when your ready to shop, look online for the enthusiast forums for that car and join. They will have there pretty much mapped out the exact dealers with the best prices in the best regions of the country.

- Financing, with all that cash, why not get a loan from a credit union for around 2% and then you get any dealer rebates (usually with dealers its the rebates or the financing, but not both, also if financing, get the "Ford Credit/Subaru/Toyota" financing preapproved and not the financing from the individual dealer) and then put the cash in the bank and get some interest off the money?

- Consider an extended warranty on the car. Used to be a scam back in the day, but now a new heated side mirror replacement can pay for it quick. Don't buy it from the dealer you get the car from. You can buy them all online from any dealer in the country of that brand and get a better price. Usually purchase within the first year. Best price/dealer/package will be found on the enthusiast forums site for the car.

- Car pick for you? Not much to go on above criteria, but I like a Fusion for you or perhaps the new Escape with a Turbo 4 (called ecoboost).
Old 07-14-15, 10:10 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I assume you're buying new? I personally don't like the economics of that, generally.

The best source for long-term car reliability is probably Consumer Reports, they have a car issue once a year, check it out.

I bought my car about 3 years ago, my first non-GM vehicle (I drove a 2000 Grand Prix GTP for 10 years prior to that which, by the time it hit 170k, was in pretty awful shape).

I researched a lot. I wanted an Accord, but the pricing on them was a bit higher than I liked. Used Subarus were hard to find (they sell in lesser numbers). My buddy has a 2012? Subaru WRX he babies and loves it.

As far as snow, statistically the biggest difference is Electronic Stability Control, statistically it makes a huge difference in preventing rollovers and deaths.

I ended up with a 2010 Nissan Altima SL with 35k or so (2 years old in 2012), I'm driving a LONG way right now, I just rolled 90,000 miles on it. Been mostly flawless besides needing a battery replacement during Winter 2013. I've got a cotter pin that I need to replace on the front wheel that's making noise right now ($2 and a little effort), an intermittent brake light/ESC light last year that ended up being brake fluid being a tiny bit low. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing.

My research on European cars (I really liked the Audi A4 and the turbo Saab 9-3) but it seemed like repairs/maintenance is more costly on them, so I narrowed down to Japanese cars.

I liked the CVT in the Altima (nice smooth acceleration and fake manual usage option), the keyless doors/starter, and the sportier handling. Found the Camry a bit too boring / pedestrian, and the Accords were pricier on the used market.

Hyundai has gotten a lot better in recent years also. I really liked the Sonata, but my wife has an '08 Elantra, and despite it being pretty good so far (minus blowing light bulbs), I wasn't willing to chance two Hyundais in the family yet.

Last edited by GreenMonkey; 07-14-15 at 10:17 AM.
Old 07-14-15, 10:15 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Toyota and don't buy it new. Get a nice used one.
Old 07-14-15, 10:42 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I have a 2013 Ford Focus and have been very happy with it. I bought it last summer, when it was a couple of years old. I have never bought a brand new car in my life and probably never will. I like someone else to take that big depreciation hit. I buy cars that have been leased or rentals. That way you know they have been maintained well.

The only import I ever had was a 1994 Nissan Sentra which I bought in 1998 and drove for five years. It was a very reliable vehicle and I can recommend them. I have never had a Honda or Toyota.
Old 07-14-15, 10:58 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Toyota and don't buy it new. Get a nice used one.
Depends on how used. I bought my first new car this year, because the 2-3 year old cars were often not cheaper than new, or at most, a couple thousand dollars difference. It was bizarre but Toyotas hold their value in my area. 17K for brand new or 15K for 2 years old and 25 thousand miles? Ummm . . .
Old 07-14-15, 11:11 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by Jeeden View Post
I'm a big Ford guy and have been since I got my first explorer in the 90's during college. I could pimp Fords to you, but I would just say take a long hard look at them. General comments/topics I would consider on the above you mentioned are:

- "double the down payment" these things are always scams from no matter what brand. Forgot where the savings are coming from. Gotta focus on the end price of the car. Don't mention your down payment when shopping, that is a payment thing, not a price thing. Negotiate the price of the car, then when satisfied, negotiate the price of the trade in if applicable, then negotiate the financing if applicable, then pay with down payment + financing + trade in.

- I just got done telling you how great I think Fords are and have been for some while. I would say to be cautious about buying a new car based on the old ones you see driving around. It's a bit of a false correlation. First, companies go up and down in quality and repair like over the long term. In the 80's Ford was horrible and Honda was awesome. In the 90's Saturn was great, but non existent now, etc.

- VW, maintenance discussion held above = truth

- Subaru, Everyone I know that drives a Subaru likes it because it "isn't an SUV." It's the image of "I need room and AWD, but want to say I don't have an SUV" I have heard many complaints from Subaru owners that they need more room in their cars, but might not get another Subaru because the new ones are "getting too big" (have also heard the same from Toyota Rav 4 owners)


- I would advise you get the make and the models narrowed down and when your ready to shop, look online for the enthusiast forums for that car and join. They will have there pretty much mapped out the exact dealers with the best prices in the best regions of the country.

- Financing, with all that cash, why not get a loan from a credit union for around 2% and then you get any dealer rebates (usually with dealers its the rebates or the financing, but not both, also if financing, get the "Ford Credit/Subaru/Toyota" financing preapproved and not the financing from the individual dealer) and then put the cash in the bank and get some interest off the money?

- Consider an extended warranty on the car. Used to be a scam back in the day, but now a new heated side mirror replacement can pay for it quick. Don't buy it from the dealer you get the car from. You can buy them all online from any dealer in the country of that brand and get a better price. Usually purchase within the first year. Best price/dealer/package will be found on the enthusiast forums site for the car.

- Car pick for you? Not much to go on above criteria, but I like a Fusion for you or perhaps the new Escape with a Turbo 4 (called ecoboost).
Ford was one of the first cars I considered buying. I forget which website...I think it may have been Edmunds...ranked the Fusion as a top rated sedan. JD Power Associates ranked it with three stars. It's odd to me how two websites can vary so much on rankings.

I mainly changed my goal to a Subaru once I narrowed down the list of dealers I wanted to work with (models are one thing...the top 3 I chose are mainly due to the availability of a local dealer being close to me. And the fact they get good ratings for customer service locally) because I saw a lot more older models on the road are Subaru.

I guess any car will last if treated well and given proper routine maintenance. So if Subaru, Fords, Hondas, and Toyotas all can last the same amount of time, I guess it would come down to the one with the lower cost of ownership over time.

As far as car pick? Well, I left it open for suggestions. I don't pretend to know everything about this stuff.
Old 07-14-15, 11:14 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by tasha99 View Post
Depends on how used. I bought my first new car this year, because the 2-3 year old cars were often not cheaper than new, or at most, a couple thousand dollars difference. It was bizarre but Toyotas hold their value in my area. 17K for brand new or 15K for 2 years old and 25 thousand miles? Ummm . . .
I ran into the same problem buying a new pickup recently. Ended up buying new, despite usually trying to avoid it.
Old 07-14-15, 11:29 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I checked out Consumer Reports. Two out of ten cars recommended are Subarus. I was leaning towards a Crosstrek already. A couple Hondas, too...and they have a good dealer very close to me. All pluses.

As far as buying new...I would never buy used again. Been there, done that. I bought my car new in 2006 and do not regret it at all. Subarus also hold their value quite well...I checked out the used market on those and the price difference is marginal.
Old 07-14-15, 11:29 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

love my new Honda Accord, but a little out of price range. i would go for the Civic then. love Honda and can't ever go wrong imo.
Old 07-14-15, 11:32 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Subaru Outback with all wheel drive seems like a great all-around car. Put good tires on it and you'll handle the snow and light off-roading no problem.

I'll be the one to bring it up, somebody has too, the Outback has a serious image problem being perceived as a chick car and a lesbian car.

You mentioned you want the car to last 15 years. How many miles will you drive in those 15 years? If you're talking 150,000 plus I don't know if the Subaru will do that or not, but certainly a toyota or honda will.
Old 07-14-15, 11:41 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

I have a 02 Subaru outback and a 06 Honda minivan. both with around 70K miles. I bought both new and both have been great cars which I'll hopefully get many more years out of.
Old 07-14-15, 11:42 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by tasha99 View Post
Depends on how used. I bought my first new car this year, because the 2-3 year old cars were often not cheaper than new, or at most, a couple thousand dollars difference. It was bizarre but Toyotas hold their value in my area. 17K for brand new or 15K for 2 years old and 25 thousand miles? Ummm . . .
Up to 5 years is fine. A few grand in difference is a few grand that could be used on other things. If you buy it from a dealer that used car will already have some sort of warranty on it anyway.

I guess it also depends on the make and model. Toyota Yaris and Corollas are great.
Old 07-14-15, 11:53 AM
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Re: Car buying advice

Do not buy a new car from any manufacturer/maker that took bailout money. Good luck.
Old 07-14-15, 01:10 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

Im in the same boat. Looking for another SUV. I love the new Honda Pilot but its alot of money for the version i want. Plus im done leasing cars and i want to buy the next one.
Old 07-14-15, 01:26 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

The last time I bought a car it was a used Fleet vehicle from Enterprise Rent-a-car. They take pretty good care of their vehicles, keep a full service history on each, generally sell them before they hit 24 months of service, and because they've already claimed depreciation as a business expense they generally don't want the bother of having to recapture anything if they sell if for a profit. Consequently, most of them have a flat non-negotiable no-haggle price and the car comes with no surprises.

Also, you're given a full week (or 1000 miles) after the sale to drive the car and decide if you want to keep it. You can return it for a full refund at any time during that week... you would only be out any "transfer" charge incurred if you had them bring an out-of-market vehicle to you.

Google "Enterprise Car Sales"

They've got a Tesla Model S with 34K miles for under $69K if you're near Denver.
Old 07-14-15, 02:00 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

I recommend Mazda. I had a first gen 2003 Mazda 6 that I bought new and ran up to 250K miles without any issues. The 6 was a bulletproof car, comfortable and handled very nicely. I bought a 2014 Mazda 3 hatch last year. IMO, the 4-door hatch is the most practical car layout available. The 3 is a great driving car with a very nice interior. It also gets great gas mileage (~35MPG on average for me). I looked at the other 4 door hatches out there, the 3 was easily the nicest.

Sidenote, without exception everyone I know who has ever purchased a VW or Audi has had major issues requiring expensive fixes. I wouldn't mention it as I know it's anecdotal information but it's literally everyone I know who's every purchased one of those brands. VW/Audi are great to look at, have beautiful interiors and drive exceptionally well but they are nightmares to own.
Old 07-14-15, 02:30 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

I had a 2012 Subaru for about 2 years. Just didn't like it. They sell more in the Pacific NW than anywhere else, and I just didn't like it. Underpowered is an understatement. Really good on ice and snow, but I had to turn around in 2 inches of slush. Effectively, the car wasn't heavy enough to stay on the road and the slush would push you all over. Very plastic feeling. Worst radio I have ever seen. Hooked up bluetooth and was streaming music. It cut out, and the sound ended up only going through my phone speakers, AND WE DIDN'T NOTICE FOR 15 MINUTES!

I got rid of it and bought a Toyota Avalon hybrid Grand Touring Edition. Holy fuck! That is what a car should be. I'll regularly get 40+ mpg and they thought of everything. If I could only have one car for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

Here's the problem I have. I just drove Honda and Toyota for so long that I started to just assume all cars are that nice. They aren't. Also, the certified used prices are so damn close to the retail price of a new one that I simply won't buy used anymore. There are certain makes that do depreciate very quickly, but with Honda or Toyota, I'd buy new.
Old 07-14-15, 02:55 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

Bought a new Subaru Impreza hatchback four months ago. So far, it is the best car I have ever owned. It handles really well, is quick and responsive, and has tons of cargo space. The new entertainment units they have are quite nice (largish touchscreen, six decent speakers, voice commands, USB/iPod, rear camera). The CVT transmission is a little odd feeling at low speeds but that is my only complaint. My friends call it a lesbian wagon.
Old 07-14-15, 03:13 PM
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Re: Car buying advice

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I had a 2012 Subaru for about 2 years. Just didn't like it. They sell more in the Pacific NW than anywhere else, and I just didn't like it. Underpowered is an understatement. Really good on ice and snow, but I had to turn around in 2 inches of slush. Effectively, the car wasn't heavy enough to stay on the road and the slush would push you all over. Very plastic feeling. Worst radio I have ever seen. Hooked up bluetooth and was streaming music. It cut out, and the sound ended up only going through my phone speakers, AND WE DIDN'T NOTICE FOR 15 MINUTES!

I got rid of it and bought a Toyota Avalon hybrid Grand Touring Edition. Holy fuck! That is what a car should be. I'll regularly get 40+ mpg and they thought of everything. If I could only have one car for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

Here's the problem I have. I just drove Honda and Toyota for so long that I started to just assume all cars are that nice. They aren't. Also, the certified used prices are so damn close to the retail price of a new one that I simply won't buy used anymore. There are certain makes that do depreciate very quickly, but with Honda or Toyota, I'd buy new.
Yeah, people say let someone else take the big depreciation hit...but with the high prices of used cars it's not so clear cut these days.

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