Buying a new car, recommendations?

Well, my mother’s 1988 Oldsmobile finally dropped dead. I told her two weeks ago when the alternator and a/c blew it was time to buy a new car, but she didn’t listen and wasted $500 on her beloved jalopy that now needs a new suspension (over my dead body). So, I think I’ve finally convinced her to go car shopping. I’m looking at 8 vehicles currently, and I’m wondering what the thoughts of the dopers are. If you own any of these cars, have you been happy with it?

All models are base price and include standard airbags, a/c, and security systems.

Saturn VUE AWD…$17,586 - $18,860
Mercury Sable GS Sedan…$18,238 - $19,820
Honda Accord SE Sedan…$18,767 - $20,850
Toyota Camry XLE Sedan…$19,840 - $22,295
Nissan Altima 2.5 SL Sedan…$19,910 - $21,899
Chevy Impala LS…$21,891 - $23,925
Volvo V40 Wagon… $23,406 - $24,900
Ford Explorer XLS 4WD…$24,124 - $26,465

I have several friends who are very happy with their Saturn, though I don’t know about that model. And I know even more people who will drive nothing but a Honda (I’m a Acura woman myself, that’s a branch of Honda, and not much different these days). Anyway, as both a driver and a passenger, the Honda sedan is a good car. A bit fun to drive, but still solid and extremely dependable.

My safety conscious sister owns a . . . wait for it . . . okay, take a guess. Yep. A Volvo. I was in a bad accident 25 years ago, and she said the sight of my face (200 stitches in the face and mouth) stayed with her until she had enough money to afford a Volvo. They rolled that sucker, and the insurance company fixed it rather than total it. Oh, and they (sister, brother-in-law, nephew) all walked away, shaken, but not bleeding.

The Ford Explorer is obscene and anyone who would buy one deserves the derision that will be heaped upon them.

Just wanted to throw in my usual recomendation for Subarus. They make the most afordable Awd Sedans, plus all of the other kinds are AWD as well. They are quite reliable, and get good safety ratings.

I was helping my sister buy a car recently…

Best cars for the cash (I don’t exactly remember how much but it’s simple to look up):

Nissan Maxima SE
Buick LeSabre

Both are definitely recommended and powerful cars. She got a Nissan and she loves it to death. That thing has some tight curves and can stop on a dime.

In my book, you can’t go wrong with a Honda or Toyota. I have heard too many horror stories about Ford, Chrysler and GM cars, and rarely hear such stories about Honda or Toyota.

For long term reliability you can not beat Honda or Toyota, but I lean towards Honda as a personal preference. The Vue seems like a good car, but this is its first year, I’d give it some time. I’ve driven an Impala and they’re fine, bigger than an Accord or a Camry, but see my first sentence. The V40 is tiny and I’m kind of anti-SUV unless it’s a smaller model like the Vue (or a CRV or a RAV4) or you pull a boat or big trailer a lot so I’d skip the Explorer. Sables come cheap but for a reason :wink: . But I think that the Altima offers excellent performance, especially if you pay for the V6, and also excellent quality and reliablity, not quite up to Honda or Toyota, but I think you get better performace for the money, if that’s important to you. Bottom line, I’m saying go for the Altima or the Accord. is where I go for car info, they have good reliable unbiased info and a great car buying guide. Read the Confessions of a Car Salesman series for some eye opening.

Mazda’s never get any love.

At that age perhaps she would be best with a car with a complete guarantee & pre-paid maintenance
on it? Perhaps a toyota echo with the dealer maintenance package? That way they change the oil &
anything else it needs & you always have like a guaranteed working car.

Its kind of a small car.

Nobody believes me, but do not rule out the Hyundai Sonata if you’re looking at full size sedans. ( I assume that’s your size range from the models you’ve cited.)

I know, you’ve heard bad things about Hyundai. I bought an Elantra in April and I am absolutely thrilled with it. It was the best price/options deal by a mile and it’s as reliable and solid as you could possibly ask for. My impression of the Sonata is that it’s every bit as nice as an Accord or a Camry.

When I bought my car I absolutely, fully expected to buy a Toyota or a Honda; I only went into the Hyundai dealership because I wanted to be able to say I’d visited three dealers. I went in fully expecting to just hear the pitch and get out, but once I drove one I was sold. I loved it.

Take my advice; test drive a Sonata. You might be very pleasantly surprised, and it’s probably one of the most affordable cars in the class.

I would also recommend a look at the Buick Regal, a very comfortable full sized car. I like it more than the Lesabre.

Thanks for the responses. I think its come down to the Toyota and the Honda, but I’l probally take her to test drive the Hyundai as well. Thanks for the great link MikeG, thats a very helpful site.