Attend AARP's Job Search in the Digital Age Online Workshop, Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Register Now

Reply
Regular Social Butterfly
Posts: 370
Registered: ‎03-29-2010

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 11 of 22 (2,530 Views)

I looooove cars...always have. When I was 10 yrs old I saw one of the first Jaguar XKE 2-seater coupes. Wow, it was gorgeous! One of my fondest memories is that I toured the original Harrah's Auto Museum in LVegas not just once but twice - all 5000+ cars.

 

Ah, what beauties Harrah collected! Classic old Bentleys with mohair upholstery. Rare steam-driven cars, looking for all the world like boats on wheels (complete with bentwood curved bodies!). Duesenbergs with that distinctive 'teardrop' rear end. Gorgeous Bugattis, even the incredibly rare Type 49 Royale. The subtle, stunning pinstriping on the hand-lacquered exquisite body of a Isotta Fraschini coupe.*

 

* useless but fun fact: Gloria Swanson's character Norma Desmond in the 1950 film "Sunset Boulevard" owns a Fraschini 1929 landaulet limousine (it's still on display in an Italian auto museum).

 

But since I'm not rich, I have to be practical about our cars. It must handle decently, brake well, accelerate with oomph (we live around a lot of hills), and be reliable. I don't care much about gas mileage. Even with CA's higher gas prices, gas is less than 40% of the total cost of auto ownership. We do a fair amount of freeway driving, and where we live the slow lane goes 65 and the fast lane goes 80+.

 

We keep our cars roughly 8-11 yrs, but we have had two cars for decades. Toyota is the GM of Japan and that's what their cars feel like to me - Buicks. Have had good luck overall with Ford, especially when the head of Ford Germany ran the company back in the late '70's/'80's: the handling and cornering really were great for a while! The Contour had the European Mondeo suspension; it was like a Porsche in compact sedan form. Sadly, they are now back to their mediocre Detroit handling with cheap tires. Sigh. Reliable, but not the driving car they were. 

 

Had a Honda, upgraded to an early Acura, what a fun car! That 5-door hatchback was incredibly practical. But they dropped it, never been a popular body style, so we left Acura and eventually ended up with a used '85 Ford Taurus and new 2003 Hyundai SUV. The Taurus was very well designed, and actually carried a bigger payload than compact small trucks and SUVs do - a full 1000 lbs. It was also one of the few sedans left that could carry six people, which at the time was very useful.

 

The Hyundai: A little underpowered but the V6 gets going on those uphill freeway ramps if you hit the accelerator with decision. Great ergonomics, and it was smart of Hyundai to copy Honda's business model. Only 3 levels of trim and they include pretty much everything. No nickel-and-diming of "well, if you want that, then you have to buy Package XX for another $700...." Extremely reliable; got the 10 yr warranty just in case but not needed. A few fuses got replaced early on, but it's been even better on reliability than the Honda/Acura cars the rest of my family drives.

 

Eventually got a Ford Fusion as a second car in 2010 but have decided I'm over sedans (my DH lets me make all the auto decisions; he doesn't care what he drives). They're useless for travel compared to an SUV. The Fusion is an "almost" car - a little too over-engineered to really be the Accord/Camry beater it could have been. The ergonomics aren't as good as they should be; the gearing is too high (so they can eke out the EPA ratings) so the 247 hp engine lacks the low-end torque it needs. There are some things I like very much about it, however, so it was helpful in defining some of the things we'll be looking for this year when we replace it and the Hyundai. It is also very reliable, solid and well-built. 

 

Cars have in general gotten more reliable. Even the Detroit cars easily go over 100K miles and most will go much further than that with recommended maintenance. I don't care about dents and dings but we keep our cars in top mechanical condition. Because we keep our cars so long, they don't have that much trade-in value (the Fusion does, but it's only 6 yrs old with less than 40K miles), so we usually just give it away to less-fortunate friends who need a decent used car.

 

Let's see, what's important in our next car? Hmmm....I've done some preliminary research, no test driving yet. So far I've narrowed it down a bit:

 

- I want a higher-end interior that's quieter. On long driving trips a noisy car is fatiguing.

 

- Not in love with the excessive electronics of today. Built-in NAV is only moderately useful for me and I could care less if it Bluetooths an iPod. When we're on a trip I pre-load a ton of destinations into our GPS so I can access them easily. I have used Google for GPS navigation and disliked it very much compared to our stand-alone GPS.

 

- V6 engine, I gave up on V4's decades ago. I love to drive and in CA you drive fast. Having to flog a V4 up a half-mile uphill freeway ramp gets painfully annoying, really quickly. There are some hills a V4 simply will not even go up!

 

- Want the new adjustable handling controls, where you can pick Economy or Sport (guess which one I'll have it on, LOL). The Fusion really shows that horsepower is pointless without the low-end torque. I won't make that mistake again.

 

- Daytime running lights. Never had them before the Hyundai but I soon became a believer. Brilliant idea copied from Volvo, and EVERY car should have them.

 

- Auto-fold side mirrors. Parking garage spaces get tighter, old streets are narrow, and foldable side mirrors save $$$ by not getting ripped off the car because you miscalculated by an inch.

 

Also: Tinted side and rear windows (helps prevent theft). Cargo cover. Power adjustable driver's seat with memory, preferably for two drivers. Cooled seats (really helps on loooonnng trips). Easy-fold rear seats. Adaptive cruise control. Automatic braking.

 

What I don't want:

 

The Lexus. This is sad, because it almost has everything I want. Almost. But that grill is simply the ugliest thing I have ever seen on any automobile in the last century. I can't stand it, and the more often I see it, the more I hate it. I just can't spend $50+K on a car whose front end makes me want to take a sledgehammer to it.

 

CVT transmission. They are getting more popular, because they are good for mileage, weigh less and are cheaper than an 8- or 9-speed automatic. They are also less durable and if you keep your car a long time as we do, at some point you will get socked with a $2500 bill to replace it. And I can't stand the throttle response on a CVT, having been tortured by a Nissan rental car on a long arduous East Coast trip.

 

Not too big. I like the size of my current cars and don't want anything too much longer; preferably only a very little wider. That means anything more than 75" wide or 205" long, is out. I only need four seats, not seven. This knocks out a lot of cars as either too small or too big.

 

Summing up: there's a lot of cars that don't make the cut but several that do. The Ford Edge, Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe/Kia Sorento might work. The Volvo XC60, BMW X5, Acura MDX/Honda Pilot, and Porsche Cayenne all have bigger minuses vs their pluses.

 

I would like to be green and buy a hybrid, but they have that weird regen braking going on, and only a very few mfgs have managed to conquer that. And almost all are CVT now, so I am stuck with being non-PC. Oh, well (she smiles as she guns her car onto the freeway)!

Respected Social Butterfly
Posts: 1,555
Registered: ‎04-24-2012

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 12 of 22 (2,526 Views)

Hey, Sue!

Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and CHEVROLET!!!!

Have had many different makes, models, and colors of cars over the years. My late husband was in the automotive business. When I was a kid, my parents decided on a Pontiac when my grandfather stopped passing along his used Studebakers. I remember going to every dealership in my home town while they made this major decision.

My first car was a red 1970 Pontiac Firebird, a college graduation gift.

I'm back to the red now...I have a 2013 Chevy Cruze. As for color, I like black, red, or white...silver would do if I really loved the car.

As long as it's reliable, made in America by an American company, and gets me where I need to go, that's all that's important to me. I learned "the ropes" from my husband and when buying a car am not afraid to go into a dealership by myself and get what I want. Oh, and I buy new...no leasing for me. N.

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 2,959
Registered: ‎04-01-2012

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 13 of 22 (7,574 Views)

Thanks to all who have replied to this topic,I find them all interesting reading. Sue

Walkers Take It All In Strides
Treasured Social Butterfly
Posts: 6,742
Registered: ‎01-31-2009

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 14 of 22 (7,593 Views)

Over the years we have had a lot of vans as we had kids in competitive swimming so we needed to hail 5 people and a lot of stuff for out of town trips. We leased several as we did one payment leases and generally bought out the lease when the miles where up. We would keep them for a total of 5 years than trade in and leased another van. Now we have a 2015 Camry which we are leasing and gets great mileage. I also have a low mileage crossover that is a 2006.

Posted by Dave the Lighthouse Keeper
Trusted Social Butterfly
Posts: 7,094
Registered: ‎02-14-2008

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 15 of 22 (7,611 Views)

   I've only had a handful of cars. We purchase them new, and keep them for a minimum of 8 years and they always had at least 125,000 miles on them.

   I was always looking for good mileage since the 70's. I had a couple of Datsuns (now Nissan) when the market for Japanese cars was just starting (remember, 'jap crap'). I always had 4-cylinder, never one of the muscle cars or larger. Then, switched to small Ford truck (again, 4  cylinder), as we got into camping and remodeling and actually needed a truck. Mainly purchased it for both mileage and price.

   Later, started looking at more reviews and specs and purchased more based on safety ratings (crash ratings), reliability, mileage, and always price.

  Like some others, never really cared about the car style (other than small), or color.   Mostly into 'functional'.

   Now have two cars --- Ford hybrid for good mileage and day-to-day driving and a 6-cylinder Hyundai for towing and hauling stuff.


Just think. The world was built by the lowest bidder.
Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 1,123
Registered: ‎07-03-2011

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 16 of 22 (7,625 Views)

I have never bought a car new. Then again driving is one of my least favorite things to do. I have a car for purely practical purposes. That being said my most recent car is a 2007 Nissan Altima. I've read ratings and reviews and it's just an all great car. If I could buy new I would get another one, just a more recent year.

Treasured Social Butterfly
Posts: 19,477
Registered: ‎12-25-2011

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 17 of 22 (7,628 Views)

@doglover52 - It's funny that you should mention VW, because that's been a cousin's go-to car for years. I had to drive his car once in an emergency (a newer Jetta), and I was so not impressed with the handling! I'd assumed it would have a smooth transmission, like most popular sedans today, but it was very rough .. I was shocked. I asked if he'd been experiencing problems with it, and he seemed to think that was "normal"! Despite the scandal, my guess is that he'd buy another VW on a trade-in!

 

I will say that more people than I would have thought lease their cars today, and sometimes a very good deal results in an unexpectedly large % of people driving the same car! A few years ago, it seemed like half the people I knew were driving Lexus' small SUV, because they had a great least program that year.


Registered on Online Community since 2007!
Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 2,959
Registered: ‎04-01-2012

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 18 of 22 (7,632 Views)

Mimi and Astraea,thanks for your posts,interesting reading.

My parents for years always bought Fords had many station wagons,one with wood siding,color was always navy blue. I wonder if they chose that color since my dad was in the Navy.

It seems to me every couple of yrs,a new "IT' car comes out,[people rushed to own one e.g. Mini Cooper, PT Cruiser.After the hype has faded away,they trade the car for something else. 

It will be interesting to know, people who have bought Volkswagens for yrs will continue to do so. I say this because of the emission-cheating scandal that was made public couple months ago. Sue

Walkers Take It All In Strides
Trusted Social Butterfly
Posts: 1,451
Registered: ‎10-15-2013

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

[ Edited ]
Message 19 of 22 (7,643 Views)

Full disclosure...I have had Toyotas since 1995 when I purchased a metallic red Camry.  That car had a fold-down back seat that was convenient for hauling sports equipment and shuttling college students back and forth to school.  My late husband inherited it when I got a forest green Sienna van.  I loved that vehicle!  So did everyone in the family!  Room for all of the equipment for leisure activities and all of the people who wanted to ride together to golf course, lake, pool, etc.  I gave it up after 9 years when a repair of one of the systems seemed to indicate that I had squeezed every ounce of value out of owning it and I traded it for a pearl white Rav4.  I owned that for < 4 years when Toyota's buy-back program made me an offer that was silly to refuse so I traded it in on a pearl white Venza.  Love it!  Now I am getting the same buy-back offers on the Venza.  I'm going to keep it for a while.  It looks brand new with the exception of little doggie footprints on the leather seats in back...not a problem.  It cleans up easily.

 

I began my auto oddysey with Fords, switched to Buicks for a couple of cars (had a friend who owned a Buick dealership) then moved on to Toyota.  The Camry?  I sold it to a friend's son in 2006 and he is still using it as a family car...21 years later.  It looks great and runs well.  The Sienna had > 100,000 miles as well.  The Rav & Venza?  Not as much total mileage.  I take less road trips now that I'm widowed but neither of them gave me any cause to think they wouldn't run as well or last as long.

"Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness." ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Treasured Social Butterfly
Posts: 19,477
Registered: ‎12-25-2011

Re: What Do You Look for in Buying a Car?

Message 20 of 22 (7,650 Views)

I am extremely practical; I guess I do have the soul of an engineer!

 

I would say that general performance & reliability are tops for me .. "performance" being the criteria organizations like Consumer Reports use. My first car was a Fiat, and it wound up being the most unreliable car imaginable. It was like Russian roulette, whether it would start, when you turned the key in the ignition .. and Fiat couldn't figure out what was wrong with it either!

 

Since then, all but one of my cars were Toyotas, and my Mom had them too. I started with a Corolla, then switched to the slightly larger Camry, which also had more options .. and am now on my 3rd or 4th one. I've gotten at least 100K miles on each of them, and over 200K on one.

 

Style is almost meaningless to me, unless a car is truly ugly & ungainly .. like the Nissan Cube & Honda Element. I am sometimes frustrated by Toyota's color selections/limitations. My previous Camry was "Champagne", which I liked, but I bought my current one at the end of a model year, and got stuck with a boring battleship gray, because I got a good deal on the installed options. They have a pale blue, but it's almost impossible to actually get a car that color .. I don't get it.


Registered on Online Community since 2007!