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Comfortable, reliable car with some creature comforts

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Layclerk

I'm looking for a reliable, comfortable to drive car that will last me 5-7 years. I currently drive a 2004 Mercedes-Benz C Class, which has been and still is a great car. However, the older I get, the more I want something with a smoother ride, especially going over bumps since I live in Northern Virginia and the roads are atrocious. I currently spend at least $1,000 every year just on suspension components. I want my next car to be comfortable, reliable, and cheaper to fix, as well as being able to run on regular unleaded and inexpensive tires. So far, I've test driven 2 2015 Honda Acords (1 sedan and 1 coupe), 2 Volkwagen Passats (2015 and 2013), several Toyota Camrys (3 2015 SEs, 2 2012 Hybrids XLEs, and 2 2012 XLEs). I also test drove a 2013 Hyundai Sonata and was extremely impressed with it. Lastly, I want something with nice options, such as keyless start, built-in navigation (I have a Garmin and/or my cellphone mounted on the windshield, and it's too cluttered), heated seats, backup camera, satellite radio, a sunroof, and rear seats that fold down. I typically drive about 10,000 miles per year, mostly in the Metro DC but occasionally on longer road trips (300-400 miles).

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Ride smoothness / Audio & nav systems / Warranty, maintenance cost / Materials & workmanship

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Errands about town / Long trips

Primary Driver(s): Short driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 40000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from mkaresh

9:29 am May 19, 2015

As long as you don't need a roomy rear seat, I'd suggest a car you don't mention, the Buick Verano. Very comfortable seats and ride, very solid feel, and very reliable so far. My only concern: for 2013 and 2014 it was only offered with 18-inch wheels.

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Buick Verano

Response from Layclerk

12:14 pm May 19, 2015

Thank you, that's a good suggestion. Unfortunatel, the rear seat room is a deal breaker for me, and Consumer Reports has some negative things to say about its noise level and low MPG. Might be worth a test drive, though. Thanks.

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Response from mkaresh

10:06 pm May 19, 2015

CR describes the Verano as "very quiet but some engine noise is evident." It sounds like you might have only remembered the second part of the sentence. Rear seat room is similar to that in your C-Class (which might be something you don't like about it). I'd suggest test driving the Buick yourself before ruling it out.

My main issue with the 2013 Sonata is that the 2015 is a big improvement, but one probably won't fit your budget for a while longer.

One thing just occurred to me: for $20,000 you could actually buy a 2012-2013 Hyundai Genesis. The first few model years had some ride and handling quirks, but I think they'd ironed these out by 2012. Engineered to be a Lexus LS competitor, this is a lot of car for $20k.

Not quite as nice as the Genesis, but a definite step up from the Accord / Sonata / Passat, you might also be able to find a 2014 Kia Cadenza for $20k. But they haven't sold many, so used ones won't be plentiful.

What could rule out both of these: their rear seats do not fold.

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Hyundai Genesis
Kia Cadenza

Response from Layclerk

9:03 am May 20, 2015

Thank you very much for those suggestions. I hadn't really considered any of them, but I agree that it'd be worth a test drive. The Hyundai Genesis indeed looks like a beautiful car. However, and I suppose I should have included this in my initial post, but I definitely DO need a spacious rear seat and the ability to fold down the seats, features my current car lacks. One of the reasons I don't carpool with others is that my back seat is so cramped. And it always drives me crazy that I have to put my skis in the back seat and the same with any large purchases. So rear seat roominess and foldable seats are a must. Lastly, I'm looking for good gas mileage. The Genesis only gets 17/25. I'm looking for a a 4-banger with more like 25/35 or higher. Considering a Camry Hybrid for that reason, actually. But I love car shopping, so I may well go try the Buick and Kia because I enjoy trying out new vehicles. Thanks again!!

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Hyundai Genesis

Response from mkaresh

11:13 am May 20, 2015

If all you're looking to carry are skis, both the Hyundai and the Kia haev a passthrough in the center of the rear seat (above the armrest) for this purpose. Luxury sedans that lack folding seats often have such a passthrough.

The fuel economy I have no such answer for. Either car would get low 20s in the suburbs, at best. The Buick Verano is better, but still not great in this area. Hybrids are much better, especially if driven to maximize fuel economy. Aside from the Toyota Camry, the Ford Fusion is also worth a look. The 2010-2012 Ford doesn't ride quite as smoothly as the Camry, but handles better, and will likely be less expensive (or the same price for a newer car with fewer miles on it). A 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid might also work, though I'm not sure you can get one for $20,000. Earlier Hyundai Sonata Hybrids weren't as good--2013 was their second stab at it.

In my suburban driving the Toyota and Ford got mpg in the 40s.


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Ford Fusion
Hyundai Sonata

Response from Layclerk

10:32 am May 29, 2015

Thanks for your comments and suggestions. No, I don't just need to transport skis, I mean for larger items in general, like those long boxes that IKEA furniture comes in. And the MPG factor is a big deal, too. I like the fact that the Camry gets an overall 28 MPG, and the hybrid version is even better. You mentioned the Ford Fusion, and I did test drive one of those and liked it pretty well. But the ride wasn't as smooth as the Camry's. The handling factor really isn't that important to me anymore, but a comfortable ride is (as is reliability). Two weeks ago, I test drove a couple of Camry XLEs and one SE, the XLE was far and away the most comfortable to drive.

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Ford Fusion
Toyota Camry

Response from mkaresh

1:30 pm May 29, 2015

One thing I just realized--the passthrough is quite small in the Camry Hybrid. It's a small slot only on the right side. Make sure you check that out if you haven't already. There's a photo in my recent review of the car (linked under the photo of the car). The Fusion Hybrid does have a large passthrough.

The passthrough with the Sonata Hybrid is about the same size as in the Camry Hybrid.

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Response from Layclerk

12:18 pm June 4, 2015

Yeah, I also noticed that about the Camry Hybrid's trunk. Speaking of that, I have test driven several Camrys over the past several weeks. I'm coming to the conclusion that the road feel is just not what I want, at least in the XLEs and on LE I've driven. I want a car that has a bit more sportiness to it. I'm considering the Honda Accord as a possibility, especially the new body style that was introduced in 2013. Any thoughts on that car? I'm looking at an EX-L due to the options I need.

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Honda Accord

Response from mkaresh

7:35 pm June 8, 2015

For a sport-tuned Camry, check out the Camry SE.

You might also like the Mazda6. Have you looked at it? I'm just not sure you can get a 2014 yet with the features you want for $20,000.


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Mazda Mazda6

Response from Layclerk

7:49 pm June 8, 2015

No, I haven't considered the Mazda 6 yet, but I'm actually going to do that very soon. I am leaning away from the Toyota Camry now because the ride is just a little too soft and it lacks contact with the road. My favorite car at the moment is the 2015 Honda Accord. It has a really great balance of good contact with the Road, good handling, and a nice suspension. I'm thinking about getting a new car instead of a used one now. The used car prices are in many cases only 1000 to 1500 less than a new car. For that amount of money, I'd rather have the peace of mind that comes with owning a brand-new car. Any thoughts on that?

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Response from mkaresh

10:51 am June 9, 2015

Especially with a Honda you often don't save enough to count on a nearly new car.

You might find a used car makes more sense with the Mazda, as they don't hold their value quite as well as a Honda.

As mentioned earlier, the Camry SE is much firmer than other Camrys, and might provide what you're looking for. Or it might be too firm.

The Honda's tuning is between the regular Camry and the Camry SE.

Honda also offers an Accord Sport, but it has fewer features than the EX, much less the EX-L.

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Response from Layclerk

11:26 am June 9, 2015

Thanks for your comments. I tend to agree with you. I test drove a 2012 Toyota Camry SE and a 2012 Camry XLE on the same day, in fact within minutes of each other. The SE was borderline harsh over potholes and bumps (and it's virtually impossible to avoid those in the DC Metro area). The XLE was excellent in terms of ride, but it lacked much communication with the road. A little too floaty, I guess. I test drove a2013 Honda Accord EX-L and also two 2015 Accords (EX-L with navigation and one without). I loved everything about the EX-L, the one with Navi was very nice, too, but the infotainment console is really weird and unintuitive. I actually prefer the non-navigation model. Also, I should have said before: I've rethought my budget substantially. I'm now planning to buy a brand-new car, mainly because the price of used vehicles is so close to new ones. Ex: I saw a 2013 Accord EX-L (no nav) listed for $22,900 and it sold a daylater. I got a price quote online for a NEW 2015 EX-L for $24,190 including destination charge and dealer prep. So including title, tax and tags I'd be out the door for a little over $25K. It'd be worth it to get something new that I plan to keep for 8-10 years so the depreciation isn't a factor. I should have $20,000 saved by December so I'd only have to finance $5,000, and I'd likely pay that off in 2-3 months. Oh, and lastly: I've seen alleged spy photos of the refreshed 2016 Accord, so I'm probably going to wait until they're available. How do you feel about getting a brand-new model year vehicle?

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Honda Accord
Toyota Camry

Response from mkaresh

12:17 pm June 14, 2015

Most of the changes they'll make for a mid-cycle refresh will be minor cosmetic ones, so they shouldn't affect reliability.

The car was all-new for 2013, yet that model year has been very reliable. The 2014s have been even better, but the 2013s have been very good.

It does sound like the Accord EX-L hits the sweet spot for you. They also offer the slightly firmer Accord Sport, but it probably doesn't have all of the features you want.

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Response from Layclerk

10:38 am June 15, 2015

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to do an extended (ie 24-hour) test drive of the Mazda 6 Touring. It's a great car in almost every way (acceleration, braking, handling, fit/finish, infotainment, etc), BUT: the road noise was TERRIBLE! I had that sensation of one of the windows being cracked open so I could hear everything outside, except that the windows were closed. So that one's off the table for now. I'm going to test drive a new Toyota Camry XLE and an SE to see what my impressions are. I'm also re-considering the Ford Fusion and possibly the Hyundai Sonata. And the Honda Accord is still very much in play. I may end up with that, although the Accord doesn't come with HD radio (both the Mazda 6 and Toyota Camry do), and we have a ton of HD channels where I live.

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Mazda Mazda6
Honda Accord
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