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quick and cheap around Los Angeles but still able to handle long highway jaunts

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


My wife and I, both in our 60s, have been driving around Los Angeles in a 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis that's banged up and runs okay but is in the process of falling apart, so we need a replacement - luckily, there's a lot to look at in LA, but the essential question I have is: Out of all the cars in the Honda-Toyota-Nissan sphere of dependable models which is likely to be the really, really comfortable on trips up the coast to San Francisco and Seattle for my wife who has a bad back?

There are other cars outside the triumvirate listed above that I have driven and liked, and that pop up now and then, like the Tiburon and the Infinit G20. Otherwise, my experience with reliable, dependable cars is sort of undifferentiated. I like Focuses a lot but, I once drove a 2.3L PZEV 2004 model that flew! -But not my wife. Lots of Europeans come up but those can be a bottmless pit; even a dedicated Mercedes flipper who told me that they are ridiculously easy to work on admitted that they needing fixing a lot and that parts could be expensive.

Also, one additional element: I am a classical music reviewer so a quiet cabin would be nice.

Thanks for any

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Sedan

Need minimum of 4 seats

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

Maximum price: US $ 6500

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Response from mkaresh

11:48 am February 20, 2015

Hondas aren't quiet inside (or known for comfortable seats) and Nissans have iffy long-term reliability, so I think we can scratch those.

It's not going to be easy to find cars that meet your price and age limits. Possibly a Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, or Hyundai Sonata (2007 or later). A Buick LaCrosse is an outside possibility--we don't have any reliability data on the years in question, but the comfort and quietness might be better.

Stepping down a size if you can't find a good midsize sedan in your price range, check out the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus (2008-2011, a different design than the one you drove), and Hyundai Elantra (2007-2010).

A $6,500 European brand car does run the risk of expensive repairs, and even then you'll find few within your age / mileage limits. If you're really up for rolling the dice, Saabs have excellent seats, but the manufacturer stopped selling cars here in 2011 (which does make them more affordable). Among Saabs the 9-3 was a much more recent design than the larger 9-5.

With all of these you'll want a good test drive to check out seat comfort (especially for your wife) and quietness.


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Toyota Camry
Hyundai Sonata
Saab 9-3

Response from Member776

1:01 pm February 20, 2015

Great stuff - thanks so much -

Actually I owned a 9-3 10 years ago on a 3-year lease - it was magical in some respects, maybe just seeing the logo every morning - throwing the dice is right, of course -

I will report


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Response from Member776

10:35 pm May 18, 2015

Well my wife totalled her Mercury Grand Marquis and now we desperately hunting for a replacement. So far, we really like a 2010 Jetta S with the 5 cyl engine and auto with 80k miles - for $9k, with a 3-month/3k miles 100 percent limited warranty - it's a great deal, we like the car - but we're scared by the VW reputation - still, we can't find anything else remotely interesting and none with any kind of warranty -

Encouragement? Warning? Throw the dice?



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Response from mkaresh

1:43 pm May 19, 2015

Sorry to hear about the car. I hope your wife was okay.

In our reliability stats the Jetta looks good as far back as the 2008. So, so the start falling apart when they turn eight, or did VW improve things for the 2008 model year, and a year from now those cars will still be reliable? It's not yet possible to say.

With the more pessimistic of these two alternatives, that 2010 would still have two good years in it, and you have the warranty for the third. Once your into that third you might want to check our stats to see how the 2008s and 2009s have been holding up.

The other issue is the seats. Has your wife been able to spend much time sitting in the car? If not I'd ask the dealer if you could test the car for a day or two.


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Volkswagen Jetta

Response from Member776

12:59 am May 20, 2015

Thanks so much for your reply, and thanks for asking about my wife she is doing okay physically and getting back into an emotionally healthy state -

In a funny way, it's all worked out just fine: The mechanic we had selected to do the pre-purchase check warned against any VWs because "they're all plastic under the hood, and parts break off." So, while we were getting ready to start looking again, a friend turned us on to a place in Hollywood which had an 09 Solara SE with 65K at a really good price - we take delivery tomorrow - I will keep you posted - first big trial will be cruising up the coast to San Francisco in mid June

Thanks again for a great site -


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Volkswagen Jetta
Toyota Camry
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