Author Topic: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!  (Read 5420 times)

Dicey

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Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« on: December 06, 2013, 09:43:02 AM »
We are thinking about buying a new (to us) car, *GASP*!, and need some Mustachian advice.

Money is not the issue. We are FI and I am RE. We can pay cash for any reasonable purchase.
I am asking for help because I do not want to get sucked into car shopping. I generally ignore all auto advertising and would like to keep it that way. Paying attention to advertising (even reading Consumer Reports) creates a false sense of need, which I do not want to invite into my life.

What we "need" (ahem) is a comfortable car to use for long trips. We travel to So Cal to visit family and to maintain a rental house that we own there. It's an eight-hour drive each way and we go every six to eight weeks. Gas mileage is important, but not the end-all. Comfortable cruising for up to four adults with some cargo space for tools and luggage is key, as it's a long, boring drive. We've tried renting, which is somewhat cost-effective, but would like to own something. My parents are in failing health and spur-of-the-moment, mom-or-dad-is-in-the-hospital trips are not uncommon.

Before you throw any facepunches, here are a few details:

We have four older paid-for vehicles all in good-to-excellent condition and want to consolidate.
 
Two vehicles are "fixed":

DH owns a truck, but walks to work. We use the truck for DIY projects 2-3x per week.

DSS drives an SUV that he inherited when his mom died. It is driven only by him and still smells like his mom. Huge sentimental value. It's untouchable, we're NOT selling it. He uses it to drive to college while he lives at home to save dough. He's also great with his Grandma, which is priceless.

These two are up for grabs:

ME - I have a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan with 104K miles, left over from my Sales Rep days. It is more than I need and doesn't get great gas mileage, but came in handy while we emptied and sold three houses and moved into a new one this past year. (Happy to report I've driven the van less than 4K since I retired a year ago and we only have one more house to empty & sell.)

MIL- This is the tough one. 2005 Cadillac STS with only 33k. It's a beautiful car and worth far more than book value to us. It even gets decent gas mileage, so we hate to sell it. However, MIL lives with us because she has Alzheimer's. She doesn't mind if we use the car, but goes ballistic if anyone takes it without her in it. DH feels this will only get worse and that we should sell it, which is why I'm here asking for advice.

I think we will sell cars #3 (gladly) & #4 (reluctantly), but what would be a good replacement vehicle?

Note - We are NOT looking for an econobox. We are old (LOL) and would appreciate a certain amount of comfort.

Your mustachian help and advice is most appreciated.



aglassman

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 10:01:45 AM »
It sounds like the van would fulfill the need you describe.  Is it not comfortable enough for an 8 hour drive,  or is it more of a "we are sick of driving in that POS" type thing?

I have a Ford Edge.  It is great for hauling stuff around because the back seats fold down very easily.  It is also very comfortable.  Gas mileage is meh on it.  They started production in 2007, so you can find some used ones for a good price.

Dicey

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 10:20:01 AM »
It's more of an "I can't believe this POS hasn't fallen apart yet" kind of thing.  A sales rep's car does not get treated kindly, and I was the fourth driver to have the vehicle. I only bought it when the company car program was eliminated because it was cheap and I didn't want to transfer all my crap (er, samples) into a yet another vehicle. Mechanically, I've been holding my breath ever since. Also, it reminds me of my working-for-that-company days, which I'd rather forget.

Funny, we were discussing the Edge just last night, but the rather poor (comparatively) gas mileage is not in its favor. Still, it's on the list. Thanks!

Another Reader

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 10:28:31 AM »
Who cares for MIL when you go on these trips?  Are you able to leave her in the house to go to the store, or does she go with you?

I would probably ditch the van.  They are not reliable at this age and mileage.  Use the truck or rent a van for a day when you clean out the last house.  The Caddie would be more an issue of MIL's comfort and awareness levels.  I took my father's car when he lost his license as a result of Alzheimer's, but I always used it to drive him anywhere.  He was always under the impression he had lent me the car.  That worked especially well between the time he lost the license and the time he needed full time care.  He would occasionally get confused when he wanted to go to the grocery store and call me, but I just reminded him the car was at my house.  I would be inclined to hold onto that car for now for MIL's sake.  It's probably in her name anyway, making selling it an uncomfortable chore.

Consumer Reports just killed the sales of the current generation of the Toyota Camry for safety reasons, so I might look for a deal on one of those.  When you look at the report, it's not much worse than competitors.  It's a bland but comfortable car and gets good fuel economy. 

Derek

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 10:29:59 AM »
I second the van. Even thought it may appear beat up I suspect mechanically it is sound. Does it burn oil?  Does the engine feel like it still has full power?  Does it shift funny or have funny suspension noises?  Alot of cars nowadays can take a lot of abuse and be fine. Ripped upholstry and scratches make you feel like the car is a POS but are unimportant to the long term reliability. My last minivan was 11 yrs old with 220k before we donated it to charity. It still ran fine but the engine was getting worn (low power/burning oil).

the fixer

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2013, 10:32:03 AM »
If you want something that gets better mileage than a minivan, you could try a Honda Element. I owned one for a few years and did a lot of 14-hour drives with it. It's not a luxury car so you won't get ridiculous levels of comfort, but it has a more upright driving position. Mine got 25 MPG when it was carrying 1000 lb of stuff on these long trips and speeding, 27-28 with no cargo and more reasonable driving. They're available in manual transmission if that's your thing (and it's what I had), though the auto is supposed to get slightly better highway MPG because of the gear ratios.

MPAVictoria

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2013, 11:59:10 AM »
I am sorry to say but an Element would be a horrible choice for you and your husband. They are great for around town but really uncomfortable on the highway. If you are looking for something used may I suggest a 2008-2009 Ford Taurus. These are reliable, spacious and comfortable cars. You can get a very nice one for less than ten grand.


jpo

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2013, 12:50:25 PM »
A gently used Prius might fit the bill for those long trips.

aglassman

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2013, 01:39:37 PM »
The Buick LaCrosse line is incredibly comfortable.  It's like the old park avenues.  Luxury with a low price tag!

ritchie70

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2013, 01:55:31 PM »
Note - We are NOT looking for an econobox. We are old (LOL) and would appreciate a certain amount of comfort.

I just want to comment on this line. In the last few years, I suspect in large part due to gas prices, there have been some much more luxurious small cars manufactured. I can't list them, but don't immediately discount a car because it's small. Read some reviews, look at edmunds.com, and see what's out there.

If you're truly "old" then you remember what American cars were like in the 1970's, 1980's and even 1990's. Even the cheapest of the cheap today tend to be more luxurious than most of those.

Personally, I'm 45 and I can't get my head around Hyundai making a decent car. But apparently they do.

dadof4

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2013, 03:19:50 PM »
Not Mustache approved, but consider a 2012 Chevy Impala. Those fall off a cliff in terms of depreciation their first year, so after that you can get one with 20-30K miles for around $12k. It gets 30 MPG, is very comfy and has plenty of room.


mlipps

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2013, 05:03:12 PM »
What about the Lexus hybrid hatchback? I can't remember the model name but they've been around a few years, Toyota motor but luxury interior and great on gas. Or maybe a step above a Camry to the Avalon for a little more space. My friends parents have one and its a nice car to me, but my parents and I drive Carollas, so what do I know haha. Oh, and we rented a Hyundai Elantra and it was actually really surprisingly nice. A good place to try lots of cars without much pressure is a Car max if you have one nearby. That's what we did when we bought our car.

mm1970

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2013, 09:29:46 PM »
What about the Lexus hybrid hatchback? I can't remember the model name but they've been around a few years, Toyota motor but luxury interior and great on gas. Or maybe a step above a Camry to the Avalon for a little more space. My friends parents have one and its a nice car to me, but my parents and I drive Carollas, so what do I know haha. Oh, and we rented a Hyundai Elantra and it was actually really surprisingly nice. A good place to try lots of cars without much pressure is a Car max if you have one nearby. That's what we did when we bought our car.
My boss and coworker have the Lexus  hatchback hybrid and like them.  I can't speak for the comfort because I haven't ridden in them.  But my boss is in his late 50's and drives 5-6 hours (each way) every other weekend to visit family.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2013, 09:52:29 PM »
What about a ~2009 Toyota Matrix?  Cargo space, and can do 3-across car seats in the back seat, so it should fit 4 adults comfortably for longer trips.  The gas milage is decent, and they have the corolla engine in them, which has proven to be a reliable long-term engine.

We owned a 2005 Matrix, which we owned from 2007 until 2012, and we only sold it because DH bought a different vehicle (which was a mistake we both now regret).

mlipps

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2013, 10:14:34 PM »
What about a ~2009 Toyota Matrix?  Cargo space, and can do 3-across car seats in the back seat, so it should fit 4 adults comfortably for longer trips.  The gas milage is decent, and they have the corolla engine in them, which has proven to be a reliable long-term engine.

We owned a 2005 Matrix, which we owned from 2007 until 2012, and we only sold it because DH bought a different vehicle (which was a mistake we both now regret).

We have a 2010 Matrix and I like it, but it is the opposite of comfortable. My mom has a 2005 Corolla and Dad has a 2010, and there was a DRASTIC drop in quality over those years. Our seats suck for the 9 hour drive home. Thus, in my secret anti-mustachian fantasies, I consider a Lexus CT.

Dicey

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 10:56:23 PM »
Who cares for MIL when you go on these trips?  Are you able to leave her in the house to go to the store, or does she go with you?

Consumer Reports just killed the sales of the current generation of the Toyota Camry for safety reasons, so I might look for a deal on one of those.  When you look at the report, it's not much worse than competitors.  It's a bland but comfortable car and gets good fuel economy.

We don't leave her alone in the home. She goes where I go or I wait until DH or DSS get home.  DSS usually stays with her when we are away. For a longer trip, another relative stays with her while DSS is at school. She doesn't travel well; it confuses her.  We do have the means to sell the vehicle, but it's such a cream puff it's worth well over actual BB to us. We would love to buy it from her, but she wouldn't remember the transaction. She has never actually driven the car (my FIL always drove), but we worry that one day she might decide to. Thanks for asking and I'm sorry about your dad. Sounds like you were a big help to him.

Your Camry suggestion is an excellent one. It's going on the list. Thanks!

Dicey

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Re: Help Me Avoid Car Shopping, Please!
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 11:07:31 PM »
I second the van. Even thought it may appear beat up I suspect mechanically it is sound. Does it burn oil?  Does the engine feel like it still has full power?  Does it shift funny or have funny suspension noises?  Alot of cars nowadays can take a lot of abuse and be fine. Ripped upholstry and scratches make you feel like the car is a POS but are unimportant to the long term reliability. My last minivan was 11 yrs old with 220k before we donated it to charity. It still ran fine but the engine was getting worn (low power/burning oil).

Interior and exterior of the car are both in very good condition. It's what's under the hood that we worry about. Burns oil, occasionally shifts wonkily, sounds terrible over speed bumps, etc. DH maintains all of our vehicles, but he doesn't trust the van tranny either. Also, I drove it as a Sales Rep. It did not get coddled by me or any of the three drivers before me, I suspect. In general, just not a good long term bet. Note: it is the newest car we own and it has the highest mileage.