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analysis hell - can't pick a damn car (sportyish, comfortable, features for $, reliability, sedan, coupe or hatch) warning I wrote an essay apparently

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Twodunk

So, I've been utilizing this site quite a bit recently in my seemingly never ending personal torture chamber that is my car related indecision.

My Fiance's and I's car was totaled several months ago. We've been without one for about 2 months now, making due with public trans and bumming rides from friends. In that time I've seemingly touched apon almost every car in the American market and circled back to where I started.

I originally started with thinking a mid 2000s Lexus IS350 or G35/37. This was a car that I always wanted in high school and after in the 2000s, and thought It would be a great second, or third car after my '89 325IS which I owned from 2003 until it finally bit the dust in 2009. In either case, reliability of the Lexus is/was legendary and that was part of my original thought. Infiniti's aren't bad either but definitely better than domestics (at that time anyway). They were both fast, rw/awd, and comfortable to boot (moreso the lexus, though both are nice).

This was a hard sell with my fiance, as she was convinced that a luxury car that old would be a money pit (our old vehicle, god rest it's soul, was a '97 honda accord). I'm not really convinced it would be, but capitulated since new cars have cool stuff too, like literally stuff and things. screens and bluetooth and what not.

So we were looking at subcompact economy/entry vehicles like the Sonic, Focus (though we nixed it since she doesn't want a stick and I ain't gonna buy a focus w/ a dct), the fit, yaris, etc. We never settled on one, and part of that is the car market in our area is fairly inflated vs. the rest of the country (pnw) and even a 2014 fit with a backup camera and all that is gonna be 13k+ in this area, which leaves a sour taste in my mouth knowning that we could potentially get something much better just shoping in the SW or even across the border in Canada (more on that later).

At some point I found the buick Verano and Regal, which opened my eyes to cars with extreme depreciation rates since we were planning on owning for 10+years, depreciation meant nothing to us and if it could get us into a nice car for cheap, it felt like the right move. Unfortunately the Verano's driver seat was hideously uncomfortable for my fiance, We haven't driven a Regal yet but they look identical so it's probably a no go.

Then I discovered the Kia Optima. After looking at a few and seeing the '13 SXL model I fell in love, kind of. My Fiance loved it too. It's a beautiful car and we even went so far as to sit in one at a dealer near by. It was pretty immaculate and the price tag was ~21k which blew my mind since it was a 4 year old Kia. So I started shopping around. Elsewhere in the country, similar cars were closer to 19. We got a few local private sellers close to our buy price (around 13k before tax), but none close enough to call it a deal. They were all higher milage (60k+) and 2012 models as well.

Across the border in Canada though, a 2014 SXL equivalent (no sxl trim up there till '16 apparently) was around 11-13k. Generally with lower miles as well by a large margin (20-40k cars are very easy to find). Again, my mind was blown. Even after taking into account the extra cost of importation, (around 7.5% total for these cars) they were nearly 50% cheaper. They're also manufactured in Kia's Ulsan plant, and had none of the exploding bearing/engine issues the domestic manufactured ones had. Here in WA, I could even put BC Provincial tax towards my sales tax at registration.

Anyway, we got pretty close to buying a '14 SX (non turbo) with around 23k miles and in great shape. However we had to back out when our CU denied our loan app at the last second because it was a Canadian registered vehicle. We eventually solved this problem but by that time, all the vehicles we had been working on had sold. Queue sad music.

The Optima craze lasted a good 4-5 weeks of me researching incessently. the financing issue wasn't finally solved until just 2 weeks ago today, about a month after our deal fell through with the canadian seller, in that time period I turned back to US cars. I got pretty serious on 2015 Sonata Eco's, I test drove one and it was pretty dang fun actually, and the milage was great on it. I really, really wanted the tech package on it though. Feel like it was too many features we may miss in the near future, to give up. Unfortunately the Ecos themselves are rare, and Tech equipped ones are like finding a needle in a haystack. It really doesn't help that searching for these cars with the various websites like Cars.com, Cargurus, Autolist, autotrader, etc is a nightmare in itself. With cars options rarely being listed, and having to essentially sift through every ad looking at pictures for the telltale signs (in the case of the Eco, for me, it was the large infotainment screen on the tech package

Priorities: Price or payments / Powertrain performance / Front seat support & comfort

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 90000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 14500

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Response from Twodunk

6:20 am December 23, 2017

well apparently there is a text field limit

(in the case of the Eco, for me, it was the large infotainment screen on the tech package, or the push button start, whichever showed first).

Found a few, all the way on the east coast. Even with a 3-6k lower sticker price out there, we didn't feel confident dropping $$$ on tickets to the northeast during holiday season, knowing fully that we could have to buy tickets back sameday. The gap in price filled pretty quickly after putting in travel costs, unknowns, etc.

Found myself looking at the top '15 sonata trims too(2.0T Sports, etc), but they were almost always outside of our price range. Barely starting at 14.5, and those were probably flood cars or something.

Skip ahead another couple weeks of agony, to last week. I discovered the Hyundai genesis (12-13 models). Seemed too good to be true. High HP engine, fantastic 0-60 times (4.7 seconds on the 5l v8? pretty gross for a ~14k car), good reliability, tons of features, very comfortable, fantastic sound systems... all within 13-15k. Of course, I was only really interested in the highest trim on them since it came with some neat stuff. Well, we found one locally that was $12,900. It had an accident history but it was nothing major, after looking up the accident records it was a sub 25 MPH impact with signage of some kind. Less than $2000 repair and was halfway into it's life (around 2015). didn't concern me.

We finally went to go see it in person, and... It's nice. It's got some wear on the interior but nothing major. The accident repair was good, no ill fitting paneling, no frame damage (that I could tell). After getting behind the wheel though. Damn. That is a fat ass car. To be fair I hadn't driven a car with that euro heavy wheel feel since around 2011 when I drove my dads retarded CTS-V, or his equally dumb z4 with a s65 engine swap (twin turbo v8 in a miata basically). So It took me a bit to get used to. However the car in general just didn't handle well, lots of body roll and the chassi contorted pretty broadly in turns. It was pretty fun in a straight line though. The interior tech was ok, mostly the connection stuff was outdated and didn't work with our stuff (iphone, android) via usb. Had no media over bluetooth capability. Forgot to bring an aux cable. Gas milage isn't great, but not as bad as I figured since it weighs like 4000 lbs.

However towards the end of our time with it I discovered it's fatal flaw. It'd been smoked in. heavily. They did a good job getting it out of the interior, but at some point I noticed It had an ashtray (which itself is weird, felt like I hadn't seen one in forever in a car). So I picked it up and gave it a sniff. It reeked. Ran the AC and heat on blast/recirculate for a few minutes and it eventually started to smell awful. Fiance evacuated immedietly. We're both pretty sensitive to stanks like that, but it's migraine territory for her. Was pretty sad about it. Even though the cars handling was pretty gruesome, it was nice in every other way. Definitely suggest them to anyone here that is interested in a good highway cruiser. We left empty handed.

Had been looking at them in Canada, where once again they were much cheaper (8-11k usd). We decided to just pass on it since it wasn't as much fun as I'd hoped.

Then I deep dived into Camry/Accord V6s. Which are nice (drove a '12 camry XSE while I was at the dealer w/ the genesis, it was good), but generally too expensive unless I go back to 08-10 models, and higher miles. They're fairly pricey in Canada too, not as much as here but still out of our price range.

After that, my ourobos of a car journey completed and I began looking at prices of '09-'12 Lexus IS250/350, G37xS, Acura TL AWDs, Cadillac CTS, TSXs, and even my old friend the Optima SXL. There are numerous options of each within our price range in Canada. I'm afraid I've drifted a bit too far into the SPORT territory, my fiance is pretty adamant about me getting something I want, since I've put so much work into finding it I guess, but I still want to get something we'll both enjoy.

So, Suggestions? I've been considering the Chevy Impala (know almost nothing about them though), Acura TL 10-12 (leaning towards 12), TSX (12-13 as well), Optima SX Turbo (14+), IS 250 (I know it's not that fast, but it's faster than our old accord and about as quick as my old bimmer, and probably nice, plus theres about 100x more of them than there are 350s), IS 350, G37 X/xS/S(may be too fast/rough?), Caddy CTS 09-12. I'm trying to remind myself that any shortcomings in these car's outdated infotainment systems can be fixed easily enough with modern aftermarket options, though I know next to nothing about how true that is for luxury brands.

I'm kind of leaning towards the TL or TSX, and the Optima SXL (if I can find one). The IS350 is also pretty tempting but they are seemingly very rare in Canada (and expensive here, like 16-20k for a '09-12), though not impossible to find. The Is250 is of course also up there, though I'm not a fan of the amount of power you lose going to the 250 considering it has almost identical gas milage.

I guess thats it.

tl;dr
I want something comfortable, fun to drive, and relatively cheap to maintain. I know very little about the reliability of domestics like the Impala or Caddy. truedelta's data on them is a little sparse, so I'm not keen on it's accuracy. Acura and Lexus are known operators though and some of the best in the business, and Infiniti isn't bad, but not nearly as good.


Shoot me anything else I should consider, I have pretty much ignored europeans outright due to maintenance/upkeep.

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Response from colin42

7:17 pm December 23, 2017

Wow you're all over the map Honda Fit to Hyundai Genesis and almost everything in between.

So starting at the non-premium, if you liked the focus other than transmission, consider the C-Max. The straight up Hybrid is quite reliable and for a hybrid faster than others with batteries, however the lean in corners may not suit your desires.

A VW Golf has good handling and in the right configuration (The2.5 engine) is reliable. An Audi A3 may also work. Look at the data rather than "Internet wisdom"

In the premium end you have a lot of good options, Personally if it was me I'd look for a TSX wagon

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Ford C-MAX
Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI
Acura TSX

Response from Twodunk

3:05 am December 24, 2017

Hey thanks for the suggestions! I hadn't really considered something like the C-MAX but I'll check it out!

I actually had a giant excursion with the '15 Golf in there, somewhere. Though I was looking at the TDIs. Probably spent a good 2-3 weeks just trying to find a good tdi.

I was looking at the TSX wagon actually. I was a little worried it would under-perform compared to the TL. I guess my main concern being it's size and weight to power ratio.


Atually Just today and last night I've been looking quite a lot at the Volvo S60. It seems like the S60, '11-15 year in particular may just be the most reliable vehicle Volvo has made in decades. They're quite cheap due to a pretty incredible depreciation rate. I'm not quite sure why, by most accounts the car seems perfect for what I want. It has a good, non-clunky infotainment system. It has a ridiculous amount of tech/safety features (possible, anyway, very few seem to have them), has the neat Street safety feature, great sportiness in both the T5 and T6, and the T5 has pretty good gas milage for it's numbers (5.7 Sec 0-60? sounds nice).They also run on regular and not premium, so thats nice. By most accounts, including a few friends I know online who I forgot own them, they're the most comfortable luxury compact available.

That transferrable CPO is pretty nice too. I've found a few '12-13s in the 20-50k mile range with a year or two CPO left in private sales on CL across the US (what, you mean you don't normally look through literally every CL ad in the united states when your car shopping?). Most of them were in the $11-13k range which kind of blows my mind.

Even found a fresh CPO from a dealer, 2012, with 26k miles listed for 14.


I may just get one of these. Gonna see if we can go test drive a local one somewhere tomorrow.

I'm still considering the Acura or IS350 if i can find one.

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Volvo S60

Response from colin42

10:19 am December 24, 2017

I not aware of the reliable of the S60. I did have a 06 as a rental ~11 years back. It definitely had the most comfortable seats of any car I've ever driven.

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Response from LectroFuel

1:25 am December 25, 2017

Congratulations! You won the Longest Post award! It's much better than the people that don't write anything because it shows you are serious and will respond.

I'll tell you about the cars you mentioned. The Volvo will not be reliable for long or cheap to fix (you said you would avoid European cars). I like the Acura TL; decently reliable and comfortable. The TSX will underperform the TL, but that is why the TSX is cheaper. But the TSX wagon is a cool car. I would take an IS350 over the Acuras I think. The IS250 is rather gutless. The C-MAX isn't really reliable, but is more fun than a Prius I've heard (I own and love two Prii, but it won't fit your needs). The GTI is a fun car, but repairs will add up. The Chevy Impala isthe quintessential rental car and is not good at anything really except depreciating quickly. The Honda Fit is a cheap, reliable car that is pretty fun. It is not a very comfortable car, though. The best car value you mentioned was the Kia Optima as long as you don't get one that has a defective engine, like you said you could avoid. Same with the Sonata. I'd avoid Infiniti because of subpar reliability and the fact that their cars are not very competitive, like Nissan. I actually thought about buying a Genesis new when they first came out. I don't regret not buying it, but I think the car is a good value. Keep in mind the MPGs are terrible for the Genesis and that 2009 had problems with failing brakes (lol). 2010 and 2011 had less problems with the brakes, but pay attention when test driving. The car depreciates like crazy so low prices are easy to find. The Cadillac CTS isn't my type of car, but I guess it wouldn't be horrible. I'm not a fan of domestic cars either. I would avoid luxury cars unless they are Lexus or maybe Acura because of repair costs and reliability. Older Buicks are not as reliable as the new ones are.

For the cars you haven't talked about... The Camry V6 or Accord V6 are the cars you are looking for. It seems like you would prefer the Honda more than the Camry. The Accord handles better than the Camry, but the Camry is a little more comfortable and boring. The Accord has some very comfortable seats. The reason I mentioned these two are because they are reliable and have strong engines; the ultimate sleepers. They are great family cars, too. 2013 was a big redesign for the Accord, but it might be too expensive. A 2008 Accord V6 was the redesign before that and 2011 was a small midcycle refresh. The Accord isn't boring like the Camry and has high owner satisfaction. The engine has VTEC. Try TrueCar along with AutoTempest in your car search websites.

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Honda Accord
Lexus IS
Hyundai Genesis

Response from Twodunk

8:55 pm December 25, 2017

Thanks for the response! regarding the Optima and failing engines, I was actually kind of banking on that just as a bonus actually! Since the recall went out (finally) for the 11-14 models, engine replacements are much less of a hassle and of course free, with an extra 10+ year powertrain warranty. Seems like a nice deal. Actually a similar reason to why I was heavily considering a '15 golf TDI. The rebate check for Pt.2 of the emissions fix next year would be ~2.5-3k USD, as well as the ridiculous 200k mile 12 year powertrain++ warranty.


as for the volvo, I was only considering the '12-13 V60/S60 because they're by far volvos most reliable car, and on par with the top 15 in terms of reliability (at least in the JD power RIS), from both this sites data, consumer reports and JDP. Specifically the inline 5 model had the best reliability.

Also the transferrable CPO is a good deal, and there was a fresh CPO w/ 26k miles for $14k I think in the NYC area. Being able to get a CPO for 11-14k that covers everything until ~2020/2022 would go a long way in assauging my maintenance fears with a european car. I'm not set on it, but given the reliability of that model in particular in those years with that engine, as well as the prices (it's kinda nuts how cheap they are), It felt like an OK target. Having some RL anecdotal sources in some friends that own one also helps.

I've pretty much given up on the G37. They're a pretty car, but they seem to attract a specific demo that probably drives them pretty hard. So even if I can find a 50k 2010 g37 it's probably been driven hard. Plus dubious quality interiors on them, lots of rubbing off chrome and stuff in cars I've seen.

The Genesis is nice like you said but damn i just can't get past the cornering on it. It wasn't like driving a boat or old buick/caddy but it wasn't athletic at all. Was fun in the straight line though.

IS350s are stupid hard to find, espescially with lower miles and for not exorbinant prices, They are beautiful though and would be my top choice I think if i could find one. The IS250 seems nice but like you said, it's a boring car. I still don't understand it's positioning as a 'sport' offering in their lineup. IIRC it still has the same 200 HP V6 it's had forever. Been left in the proverbial dust so badly by every other small lux sport entry in performance, it was already bad in 2007 but it's just boggling today.

Still looking at Acuras, I'd love to get a TL SHAW (wish the TSX had SHAW) but they're another kinda rare care here in the states and tend to hold their value. The TSX is definitely a good contended, esp since the i4 seems to put out good power and has good milage. the v6 is nice too and close to the TL, but I'm not sure what the benefit is other than it just being cheaper than a TL on average.


And finally, I've definitely looked at a billion Accords and Camry V6s. even drove a couple of both. The Camry v6 09-11's are attainable, and decently fun. but the accords are just much nicer. Unfortunately they're hella expensive, and if I had to choose I'd really, really prefer a '13 or newer since the redesign was so good. Lanewatch is awesome. They're really expensive though, I've seen a few in the 12-13 range but they are invariably salvage or messed up some how, have a million miles etc. Keeping my eye out, though.

One last question for now: Could you guys help me come up with a relative Cutoff point dfor milage on these various cars or by manufacturer? Like, I'm keeping my volvo searches to 45k or less miles, Kind of arbitrarily. What's the equivalent for a honda? 100k? 120k? how about lexus or acura? I don't mind going higher milage on a more reliable car, but I don't wanna burn my wallet buying a high milage luxury car either. What are some good cutoff points to consider?

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Response from LectroFuel

12:56 am December 26, 2017

I'm gonna go off your budget of $14.5k. Although I don't buy used cars often, I don't like buying high mileage ones. I try to stay under 50k miles even if it is a Toyota/Honda. The higher the miles, the more likely the owner is to mistreat it.

Volvos - Under 40k. I'd avoid them even if Consumer Reports gave them a good reliability rating. I trust CR, but not JD Power. Repair costs will always be expensive unless you DIY.
Honda - They are very reliable. Old Hondas in the early 2000s had smooth, but unreliable transmissions. I'd stay under 100-110k. If it was maintained well, stay under 130k miles.
Toyota - Really high; like 130k. Just don't get a 2007-2008 Camry 4 cylinder because those burned oil A LOT. They make the most reliable cars by a pretty large margin. The V6s are especially durable.
Lexus - Same as Toyota; under 130k. They are consistently the most reliable brand along with Toyota (same company).
Acura - Less reliable than Honda (same company), but still reliable. Under 80k.
Hyundai/Kia - less than 80k miles. I'm not sure if you should go with the 2.4 Hyundai/Kia engine that seizes despite the long warranty. They can always find a loophole in their warranty.

The Acura TSX is a European Accord; more sporty, but smaller and less practical. The Acura TL is more like a sportier alternative to a Lexus ES350. Acura killed both the TL and TSX and replaced them with the TLX, which is a mix between the luxury and sizes of the TL and TSX.

My brother in-law had a Lexus IS350 that he ran into a ditch avoiding a deer and totaled. I drove it once for a short distance and it wasn't really my taste, but if you want a reliable premium sporty car, that is one of your only choices. It had over 300 HP, but it still wasn't really quick. The IS250 had a smooth V6, but was not nearly enough power like you said and it gulps gas. They replaced the V6 with a 2.0T just last year in the base model. They are reliable, but aren't traditional Lexuses. They are biased towards sportiness, not ride comfort. Not a bad thing if that is what you are looking for.

I haven't really been fans of Volvos until they came out with their new designs recently. They have always had outdated interiors.

My reasoning on the Accord V6 and Camry V6 was that they didn't start off as expensive as Acura or Lexus and are therefore not as expensive now. Compare a TSX to an Accord and the Accord is more comfortable, just not as nimble. The Accord is cheaper than its luxury counterpart, especially comparing an Accord V6 to a TSX V6. Check Craigslist for Accord V6s because there are some 2013s in my area that are shockingly cheap and have clean titles, normal mileage. What is your zip code so I could get an idea of the prices of cars in your area?

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Response from Twodunk

3:32 am December 26, 2017

I'm in 98502, south puget sound region of Washington. The car market up here is pretty inflated like I mentioned for reasons beyond my understanding. I'll just blame that Amazon money I guess. It really is boggling though seeing the same cars cheaper in Central/Southern Cali or Utah, Nevada, Phoenix, etc.

Re: volvo repairs, I agree completely. I'm going to drive a friends S60 tomorrow to get a feel for it (since there isn't a volvo dealer here anymore, and no s60s at any dealers), if I like it enough I may pursue one but only a CPO. I've convinced myself of that, at least. The CPO for their cars is pretty generous so I'd feel more comfortable with that.

Earlier today I was looking at ~06-9 B7 A4's because I guess I hate myself. Their reliability seems good but damn euro oem costs are so high. They're so pretty too...

We're more than willing to travel for a car, several we've looked at have been on the East Coast. I've calculated our rough travel costs (at like, next day air fare prices, a lot less if we had some time or got lucky) to be around ~800-900. Given in general cars (esp from dealers) are ~2-6k more on average here than elsewhere it makes sense. I'm also inbetween school quarters so not a lot else to do except drive across the country I guess. I was talking to a guy in NJ that had a '10 loaded TL that he was trying to sell for $12, had around 45 or 50k miles. Good carfax and maint records too. Same car is like 16k here.

Also still looking at cars in canada. Even with import fees(roughly 7%) for some cars they are dramatically cheaper up there. Like the '14 Optima SXL with 25k miles for $12.2k usd, vs. ~21 here. Import process itself is also pretty straight forward, esp for mass, multimarket cars like pretty much everything we're looking at. If we were importing some kind of rare home-built or imported car it would get expensive and problematic quick, but an Optima or a Honda or an Acura etc up there is the same as down here.

Anyway, really appreciate the help and information. It's a blessing after knocking my head on the wall that I've created myself for the last few months.

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Response from LectroFuel

11:55 pm December 26, 2017

Used 2009 Acura TSX w/ Technology Package

Used 2009 Honda Accord EX-L

Used 2013 Kia Optima SX

If you are willing to travel these long distances to the east coast and such, you should be able to find a good deal. Those links were some good ones around you (assuming the CarFax cheacks out), all of them with the upgraded engines. The east coast TL you are looking at sounds like a good deal.

I personally wouldn't go with a used Audi that old. It will almost certainly be a nightmare and those years are past the CPO requirements. They are nice though.

I think the prices around you are expensive because there are not many cars available around you. The cars around you are selling for CarMax-like prices, which are outrageous.

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Response from Twodunk

2:02 am December 27, 2017

Right! Thanks for the links. I was actually looking pretty heavily at 2006-9 IS 350s. I found a few that I was considering.

Two were local, both original owner in perfect condition, around 30k miles. Ones sold, others still available asking 14.5. I'd feel better paying closer to 12, but anything around 13 is doable. I know the IS350 is very reliable, so I feel OK about dropping that kind of change on a 10 year old car. Espescially one with 27kk miles. Thats a bit ridiculous.
https://salem.craigslist.org/cto/d/only-27k-miles-lexus/6380069154.html

Another was 100k miles, original owner with receipts, records, etc. Clean carfax.

I feel less good about it but with that kind of maint record it's hard to complain. it's also ~11k

https://phoenix.craigslist.org/evl/cto/d/2006-lexus-is350-original/6430490957.html

another was a second owner, seems well cared for. said she had maint records etc. 80k miles, it's an 09 asking of 13.7

https://raleigh.craigslist.org/cto/d/2009-lexus-is-350-low-mileage/6420731303.html

and this one was interesting
https://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/cto/d/2006-lexus-is350/6436224765.html

the miles don't really scare me, but the price does. a little bit. it seems really good. assuming the level of care matches his description.

and another asking 13, 70k, in cali. Seems good. surprising number of relatively low milage, single owner options here.

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/d/2006-lexus-is350-super-clean/6436888163.html

I'm gonna call about that SX tomorrow, I actually called about it in the past a few times but they were super hardline on the price (was around 14.9 at the time, I think). So I passed it by.

also, with the TSX, is the V6 not worth looking for? I'm fine with the 4 in it, but had my eye on a couple vancouver ones w/ the v6.

thanks again!

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Lexus IS

Response from LectroFuel

6:06 pm December 27, 2017

I really like the IS350 a lot more after looking at these listings! All these people look like they took extremely good care of them, which is rare in my experience with Craigslist. It also shows how well Lexuses hold their value.

The one in Oregon is pretty hard to beat. It might not have been driven enough. Those people should have had oil changes every 3k miles at most.

The guy from Arizona has a decent price, but the mileage is a little high. Silver looks the best IMO. He says the car goes 0-60 in 4.8, but going off other websites, the real time is 5.6 seconds.

I'd say the North Carolina one is probably the least good listing because it is far away, on its second owner, is more expensive, and doesn't have the tech package (gotta love the cooled seats and touchscreen in the tech package). It does have the refreshed styling from 2009 which also has retuned suspension and steering. Not a big deal, though.

The one in Carmel Valley (20 minutes south of where I work) seems to be a super good deal. It does have aftermarket wheels, air intake, sway bar, etc. IIRC, the IS had a pretty stiff ride, so the OEM F Sport suspension probably won't help. Still, that is a great price.

The one in San Jos? is low mileage and a little more expensive. The color isn't my favorite for a Lexus.

The 2nd gen Acura TSX was a 2009 model, but the V6 engine came out the next year in 2010. The V6 is more expensive and gets 3 mpg less in the city and highway, but you also get more power and torque. Both are good engines, but the V6 is better of course. Getting the 4 cylinder in the TSX is not as bad as going for the IS250 base engine, which makes the IS really slow. The 4 cylinder in the TSX is the same as the Civic Si engine, which is fun.

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Response from Twodunk

10:55 pm December 27, 2017

I'm actually attracted to the Carmel one the most! Esp after talking to the owner. they weren't cagey, weren't weird or anything and were quite talkative unlike most who respond in as few words as possible. even saw the spreadsheet!

the price is really fair/cheap even. We're actually going with our first choice unless it falls through

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=471699511

after calling volvo corporate we confirmed that car's warranty is good till 1/10/2020. talked them down to 13 (over the phone). Gonna fly out this morning to see it and hopefully be driving it back. It's got all the stuff too, backup camera, AWD, extra safety stuff etc. The CPO warranty is super good on these cars, covers everything except wear items like tires and breaks. All electronics, air conditioner, entire power train, all interior items.

0 down on all maintenance/repairs for a bit over 2 years.

if that falls through we're gonna get the Carmel lexus.

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Response from LectroFuel

6:53 pm December 28, 2017

Good luck and don't forget to tell us what you buy!The Volvo does sound too good to pass up assuming the car is in good condition. Those active safety features are life-saving based on personal experience. I'll never buy another car without auto braking, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.

The Carmel Valley guy seems like he took good care of his car. High mileage, but these cars last for a while.

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Response from LectroFuel

1:44 am December 31, 2017

It might be too late, but the Mazda3 is a great car that fits your specifications. Yesterday, we picked up a Gray 2015 Mazda3 i Touring Sedan for my son. It is a really super fun and beautiful car. We never thought we would go for it, but we went to a dealer that doesn't believe in haggling and negotiating, which really made us pissed. We drove for 7 hours looking for Mazda3's, but we ended up at the Mazda dealer that is literally a 3 minute drive from our house.

The reason I mentioned this is because we bought the car for $14,499 (we were aiming for $12k, but that didn't happen), exactly your budget. Since it has the tech package, it is very well equipped, too. It has dual zone climate control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, navigation and Mazda CONNECT (the infotainment system), bluetooth of course, backup camera, sunroof, a really good sounding Bose sound system, upgraded wheels, XM radio, smart key, fog lights, new car smell, and a 2.0L 155 HP engine straight out of the current Miata. He wanted the hatchback, but the sedan has a decent amount of space and better visibility.

For this price, it has only 19k miles! It is in immaculate condition. There are no scratches inside or out. Comes with a 12 month/12k mile warranty bumper to bumper, a 7 year/100k mile powertrain warranty (started from new purchase date), inspection, and 24 hour roadside assistance, and these warranties are transferrable to the owners after you. To us, these benefits were worth over $2k.

The negatives of the car include a ride that might be too firm, elevated road noise, a small, but comfortable interior, and the advanced safety features are mainly on the top trim. I seriously can't point out any other faults. The MPGs are good for a non-hybrid, but it isn't the Prius.

With a car this new, you will get a much longer life out of it, especially since Mazdas are reliable and you get that long warranty. It isn't as luxurious as the cars you are looking at, but it feels more premium than all the other compact cars.

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Mazda Mazda3

Response from Twodunk

4:06 am January 3, 2018

Update, we got the Volvo. We actually bought it on the 28th. We flew down next-day after confirming it's certified pre-owned status and some specifics with the previous owner.

We just got home today, made a bit of a road trip of it. Drove it from NM, up through Colorado, into Wyoming from Denver, then to Idaho Falls, and finally Liberty Lake before getting home today. All told we did about 2000 miles. Somehow going through all of that without seeing a drop of snow, or any precipitation at all really. There was snow, and the worst of it was in Idaho and Montana where the roads were quite icy for long stretches. Was also really damn cold, at -8 to -18 or so at the worst in some of it. Was a beautiful trip and my main regret is that so much of it was driven at night. Missed a lot of gorgeous views.



Anyway, car drove brilliantly. Was confident in snow and on ice. Was in good condition and the purchase went fine. Would recommend the car to anyone (certified only, preferably private party to avoid the large dealer markup) looking for something sporty, comfortable and practical.

2000 miles driven, up and down elivation ranging from 12,000 at most to an average of 7,000 across the trip. Averaged 31 MPG (on regular) with all wheel drive going up and down gradiant a lot, and a large portion of it was driven at speeds over 80 MPH. Cabin was quiet and comfortable even at 90, the sound system is very good. Has great bass response, instead of a single woofer every speaker assembly has a smaller sub in it which really gives it a better sound than a single rear woofer in my opinion.

Some issues with the infotainment system, but I attribute most of it to the age of the car. Which, despite it, is simple, responsive and easy to navigate. My quibbles were apparently mostly fixed in 14 year+ versions of the vehicle.

Otherwise, yeah. Great car. We're going to be taking it to a dealer tomorrow and give it a well earned wash (car is filthy now after 500 miles of ice highway) and a good once over by the service department after that trip.


I'll edit the post with a picture tomorrow!

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Volvo S60

Response from ejulien6

2:24 pm January 3, 2018

I second the 2014-2016 Mazda3 suggested in a previous response but would also add the 2010-2014 Acura TSX to the mix.

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Acura TSX
Mazda Mazda3
Volvo S60

Response from LectroFuel

5:58 pm January 3, 2018

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