Please help me choose my next vehicle?

Messages
4,556
Location
Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
I got rid of our 1985 Olds 88 coupe last November, and our remaining vehicle, a 2001 Impala has 116,900 miles on it and the floor of the cab is rusting out from underneath so I have been seriously looking for a new to me vehicle, or maybe even a brand new vehicle. I have $20,000 saved up, but would like to only put down $10,000 to $12,000 and finance the rest. I'v already unfrozen my credit reports so I can get a loan. I would like to keep the payments under $200 a month. I have a bad back, both upper and lower problems, so a comfortable seat and a ride that absorbs bumps in the road is a big deal and one of the first things I look for in a vehicle. Also I am 6' 4" tall, so I want a vehicle that a tall person can fit in and still be comfortable. Music is one of my main hobbies and I have a couple of hundred CD's that I want to load the best songs from onto a flash drive and play them in the next vehicle, so a quiet ride with a good sound system is a requirement. If I do buy new I would probably spend more for a premium sound system upgrade if it were available. I installed a Kenwood Music Keg with an 80 gig hard drive and over 2000 songs on it in the Olds I got rid of. I purchased our 2001 Impala when it was 3 years old with 30,000 miles on it for $10,000 and have always changed the engine oil and filter on time, and also had a trany cooler installed on it after I bought it and changed the trany fluid and filter every 30,000 to 40,000 miles. I take good care of any vehicle I own and expect to keep it for a long time, so I am looking for something I can do that with in the future. 98% of the driving I do is around Pittsburgh on roads that have 25 to 40 MPH speed limits, and the 2% of the time when I do travel on the parkway or a highway I do not cruse at extra high speeds. So I do not need something with a lot of extra horse power that drinks more fuel than a smaller engine version of the same vehicle. Our Impala has been having many mechanical problems the last 3 years and has cost more than $1000 each year in repairs, the last 3 years. And both the summer set of tires and the winter set of Blizzaks only have about one more season left on them so it would be nice to get rid of the Impala before I have to buy two new sets of tires for it. I was seriously looking for a Toyota Camry because it still had the older generation 6 speed trany, and Toyota has a reputation as a reliable car that last a long time if you take regular care of them. At my age reliability is a big thing in a vehicle. I do not care for something with enough horse power to cruze at 100 MPH or more. I was hoping to maybe pick up a couple of year old vehicle with low miles and a carfax showing regular oil changes. I have been looking on autotrader, car sense, car gurus, car.com, car max, and blue knob. And look at the carfax on any vehicle I am interested in if the carfax is available, and pay attention to if it had the oil changed when it should have. I have seen young drivers not change oil and damage engines many times and do not want to buy someone elses problem. Research on Toyota nation, the internet in general, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration web site www.NHTSA.gov shows some very scary complaints about the most recent generation of Camry. There are many post about owners being very upset with the new 8 speed transmission jerking. And some post about the vehicle hesitating and not moving much when they press on the accelerator and some post that after it hesitates it lurches forward. There are a few post about steering problems and brake failure. These are some very scary things and make me not want a 2018,2019,2020 Camry even though it gets great gas millage which would be nice. I seriously looked at 2017 Camry and have seen some on autotrader with less than 15,000 miles located within 200 miles from me, and then a reply to my post about them by Cdn17Sport6MT pointed out that the 2017 6 speed trany uses a lock up torque converter and when it gets enough miles on it it begins to chatter, then fails and scatters parts into the trany and destroys the trany. That does not sound like a vehicle I can expect to keep for 10 to 15 years. I have looked at some Nissan Altimas and am not sure about the reliability of their CVT's I am thinking about something with a normally aspirated 4 cylinder for the better gas millage but that is not written in stone. Probably not a turbo because of the lower life expectant, non linear throttle response, and turbo lag. After ruling out the Camry and questioning the Altima, I looked at the Corolla, maybe a new LE with an upgrade sound system. Great gas millage. In the past Toyota made a reliable CVT while many other such as Nissan had serious problems with CVT's which makes me question the current Nissan Altima. So I looked up the Corolla on the NHTSA site and Toyota Nation forum. Because the 2020 Corolla has not been out that long I searched for 2019 TOYOTA CAMRY on the NHTSA site. Very scary stuff, break failure, engines stopping or not accelerating, fender falling off repeatably, people feeling so unsafe they turn the vehicle back into the dealer even though they take a financial loss. So what other vehicle has a nice ride for someone with a bad back, and is something you can buy a few years old and hold onto for a long time. Honda is known for a good CVT so I stopped by a local Honda dealer and took their largest car for a test ride. A 2017 Accord. A nice sales person came along, I drove. The CVT was nice, and the car had enough power. The throttle response was linear and easy to control and it pulled with plenty enough power when going up a hill, and the car steered and braked nice. Easy to control and I fit well in the comfortable seat and the car was big enough inside with the seat all the way back. The sales person had me take a route of roads she knew and some of those roads had some rough patches where the asphalt had been repaired in may locations. When we drove over the rough patches of road, what a bone rattler. Not something for someone with a bad back. I felt every bump and they did not feel good. And when we got onto the main road and got up to 45 MPH what a noisy vehicle. I could literally hear the air turbulence outside the vehicle around the drivers side window. When we got back to the dealer she introduced me to the main sales manager. He asked me what I though of the vehicle. I told him that it had too rough of a ride and did not absorb bumps in the road enough for a person with a bad back, and it was too noisy. He asked the sales woman what vehicle had we used and then he told me that that was the base model. The upper end models are quieter. I asked him what about the ride of the upper end models. He said it is the same as the base model, and would still be as bumpy on bad roads. I guess if you go from a 3000 Lb Impala to a 1700 Lb car it is going to have a much rougher ride. So I guess I will be looking for something 3000 Lb or heavier. I checked out the Subaru Impreza on the NHTSA site looking at 2019 and older and they also have problems. One of the things I do is go on Wikipedia and look up what years a certain generation of a vehicle is / were made and check vehicle of that same generation. I realize that with any vehicle, with hundreds of thousands of any model year on the road there are going to be problems, but when the same complaint is listed by many people for the same vehicle generation then something is going on. Also even if only a few have reported a problem with a particular vehicle if that problem is something very serious such as steering failure, or brake failure, or the engine stalling while the vehicle is going at a high rate of speed on a highway and the vehicle coming to a sudden stop and possibly causing an accident than that is a serious problem. I may have to abandon the idea of getting a car and look at SUVs to get a safe vehicle with a nice ride. I understand Honda makes some nice SUVs. So what vehicle should I be considering for something safe, with a good ride, reliable, low maintenance, and able to be keep for many years with regular maintenance?
 
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Messages
2,033
Location
Wisconsin
If you have a bad back, look at a SUV. Easier in and out. Mazda cx5 or subaru perhaps. Rav 4 in a 4 banger might be an option, though they can be buzzy (just the engine sound, not a problem). Honda HRV or CRV maybe? All these would last a long time.
 
Messages
1,340
Location
ZFW
A 2013-2016 Lexus ES350 would be my recommendation. I'm also 6'4" and am very comfortable in that car. It has heated/cooled seats, which also help the back. Quiet ride, decent sound system, compared to other luxury cars, but when compared to other non-luxury vehicles it is a great sound system). Gets good gas mileage. Reliability is solid and it has a great ride. You should also be able to find them between $18-22k, which with what you put down should get you right near $200/mo.
 
Messages
10,688
Location
Phoenix
I think the most important thing would be to find a vehicle that is comfortable for your back and ignore the issues you read online. No car is perfect, and at this point ease of entry/exit and a seat that does not aggravate your back sounds like a priority. Too bad there isn't a Carmax in Pittsburgh, that would allow you to sample a wide range of vehicles with low pressure to see what is a good fit for your body. I think there is a large Enterprise Car Sales out there that might be worth checking out, I believe they have one in Robinson, Monroeville and Cranberry. I think I'd head there to just hop in and out of a few cars to get some ideas. It's Auto Show season too, so that's another good opportunity to test out comfort and ease of entry/exit.
 
Messages
2,039
Location
WY
I'm not a big fan of leasing but you may be a good candidate. With a relatively modest down payment and varying monthly payments you could get a new vehicle and turn it back in after the 2-4 year lease terminates. It can keep you in a new car for a long time what with your savings and you can usually move up a few packages to get what you want. I would look at minivans as being the best bang for the buck and most comfortable at their price point. I would also look at them for purchase if the lease doesn't appeal to you. Give a few a test drive and see.
 
Messages
842
Location
Texas, USA
I find Cars.com to be a very handy shopping tool. If I were you, I'd plug in "Certified Pre-Owned", "Sedan", 150 miles from your zip code, price range $21,000 - $23,000 (based on your down payment and desired monthly payment) and see what pops up. Cars.com is how I found my current car, as I wanted it equipped a certain way.
 
Messages
2,033
Location
Wisconsin
Originally Posted by sloinker
I'm not a big fan of leasing but you may be a good candidate. With a relatively modest down payment and varying monthly payments you could get a new vehicle and turn it back in after the 2-4 year lease terminates. It can keep you in a new car for a long time what with your savings and you can usually move up a few packages to get what you want. I would look at minivans as being the best bang for the buck and most comfortable at their price point. I would also look at them for purchase if the lease doesn't appeal to you. Give a few a test drive and see.
Minivan option is a good suggestion.
 

wdn

Messages
1,254
Location
NH
Originally Posted by A_User55555
How about a 2011+ Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis or Panther Platform. They're easy to work on, cheap to maintain and last a long time
There is no 2011+ though, it ceased production in 2011, and was already an aged relic from a bygone era by then. If it is 98% city driving as OP states that's not a good car on gas either. OP said " couple of year old vehicle with low miles".
 
Messages
4,158
Location
N.C.
Originally Posted by JustN89
A 2013-2016 Lexus ES350 would be my recommendation. I'm also 6'4" and am very comfortable in that car. It has heated/cooled seats, which also help the back. Quiet ride, decent sound system, compared to other luxury cars, but when compared to other non-luxury vehicles it is a great sound system). Gets good gas mileage. Reliability is solid and it has a great ride. You should also be able to find them between $18-22k, which with what you put down should get you right near $200/mo.
I was going to mention the Crown Vic but.....seriously, my wife's Lexus ES350 has been trouble free with all the attributes JustN mentioned and then some.
 
Messages
12,043
Location
OH
A 2017 Camry LE or XLE 4 cylinder would still be my pick. The site below doesn't show many issues and doesn't even mention transmission problems. CR ranks it number one or two and a top pick for a used car. I'd get a certified used one that has a history of oil changes. Toyota had free oil changes for the first two years. As mentioned no such thing as a perfect car. You should get a good deal on one because of the high SUV demand. I doubt the LE and XLE even have a sport mode option for the transmission shifting. https://www.carcomplaints.com/Toyota/Camry/
 
Messages
1,761
Location
South Central PA (Fulton Co)
Originally Posted by JohnG
Nobody has ever been criticized for buying a Toyota. Rav4 for those Pgh hills!
Not with the 2.5. While ok in the Camry, put it in the slightly heavier Rav and combine it with AWD (which alot are in the North) it's a gutless wonder. We test drove one and even on the flats it was not adequate at all IMO. If it were me I'd still go with the previous gen Camry. Ours has been problem free so far.
 
Messages
681
Location
GA
We have been very happy with our 2018 Mazda 6 w/ 2.5 Turbo, and the seats are extremely comfortable. The ride is smooth and very quiet. It is one of the quietest new cars I have ridden in lately. Get out and drive a couple of newer Camry's and see what you think. Don't worry about what CR and other people think, it matters what you like. They sell a ton of them for good reason.
 
Messages
742
Location
New Hampshire
2012-2016 Toyota Avalon or Lexus ES 350. The sedan market is dead, should be able to find great value. Rav4 or Honda CRV 2012-2017- I mean, they're pretty versatile and reliable. Ford Edge. They drive pretty nice, just make sure the front differential has been serviced regularly. Honda Accord. These things are always up there in reliability. I wouldn't touch anything GM unless it was their full sized pickup. And I'd stay away from Chrysler.
 
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