Looking for new/used car advice

I drive a Charger Daytona, and absolutely love it. I bought it with 6,000 miles on it, but it was as good as new. The interior is much, much nicer than even the R/T trim package.

The trim package you get (SE, SXT, R/T, Daytona, SRT8) will make a huge difference to the performance of the car. The smallest engine in the 300c and Charger (they’re both built on Chrysler’s LX platform) is a 3.5 six cylinder, while the largest is a 6.1L Hemi. Mine has a 5.7L.

The SRT8 has a 6.1 Hemi. The SRT design team said, paraphrased, “We designed the 5.7L with a balance of power, weight, and cost. We designed the 6.1L to kick ass.”

I’m not sure why you want to get into a pissing contest over the assumption that I’m armchair racing from a brochure, but okay. Real track times from real owners, and as you can see, the CTS-V is just as fast as the SRT-8. You’ll also notice there are several Lexus IS350s in the mid-13’s, so let’s not get all high and mighty about the power of the Hemi on track day. I’ve seen both the CTS-V and SRT8 at the track, I’ve got a friend who owns a CTS-V and another who owns an SRT-8. I’ve driven (and been driven in) both cars and neither is perceptably faster than the other, but the Cadillac can at least go into a turn without suffering from profound body roll and loss of traction. The Chrysler has more power, the Caddy has less weight. It’s not like either one is going to be in the other’s rear view mirror on the drag strip … they’re evenly matched enough that straightline performance isn’t so much a competition between the cars as it is between the drivers. There’s also this little comparo from Motor Trend and this amusing review of the Chrysler by Jeremy Clarkson, but I guess these are both just glorified brochures too, right?

Personally, I don’t recommend either one to the OP as a used buy. It’s not the kind of car I’d want to inherit from a previous owner, knowing full well that it’s probably been through a higher than average amount of abuse and the “previously owned certification” inspection and warranty process from GM and DCX is far from the used car standards of other manufacturers (Toyota and Honda come to mind, even though I wouldn’t want to buy one of those either because I’d fall asleep driving them) whose cars are probably much more lightly used by comparison. In my opinion, if you buy a previously owned specialty performance domestic, you’re really begging for problems.

I didn’t say it before because the OP wasn’t looking at the CTS-V, but the last generation LS2 CTS-V had a problematic rear differential (or was it half shafts? something in the back anyway) that liked to shred itself at inconvenient moments. IIRC it’s also only available with a manual transmission.

You also need to look at what your driving needs are. If 99% of your driving is in town (like me), why on earth would you need to spend another $5,000 on a hemi? The large V-6 does everything I need it to do, and performs equally well on the highway. The AWD and stability system make it a superior handling vehicle and winter car. In addition, the hemi has a higher incidence of maintenance problems, according to one of the car review sites I looked at before buying.

Hi all! I’m the wife in question. Thanks so much for your helpful responses so far. I’ll try to answer some of the questions/speculation about what I’m looking for in case that helps narrow down advice you’d give. I don’t post often, so be gentle!

Let’s see, in no particular order:

  1. I’m shallow and superficial, I know, but really, this time, looks and style are my main criteria for a car. I’m sick of driving something bland that looks like everything else on the road. I love the way the CTS, the 300, and the Charger look. The Infiniti is okay, but doesn’t really inspire me (and both my parents drive Infinitis, which makes me kinda want to drive something different).

  2. My number two criterion at this point is probably luxury. I’d really really like something with comfortable, adjustable seats, lots of passenger leg room (both hubby and I are very tall), dual climate control (I’m always cold and hubby’s always hot), seat warmers, navigation system (an absolute must because I can’t find my way out of a paper bag), etc. etc. I drive a lot for work - both a long commute (at least one hour each way) and lots of multi-hour trips on the freeway for meetings and such. I’d like to look forward to those drives, as much as possible.

  3. Performance is somewhat of a consideration - I’d like to have decent acceleration for freeway merges and passing (I tend to be just a bit of a speed demon on long trips) but I’m definitely not going to be drag racing or anything. Mileage isn’t my top concern but all other things being equal (they never are, I know) I’d rather pick a car with better gas mileage.

  4. I’m spoiled by my Camry’s reliability and I’d really like something that’s going to run consistently without me having to worry about breaking down. I am good about going in for recommended maintenance so I’d like to know that if I treat my car well, it’ll treat me well.

  5. I live in California (and don’t often drive out of state), so AWD really isn’t necessary, or any other cold-weather features.

  6. Price range: I’m thinking about 40k is the most I’d be able to spend, but I’m certainly happy if I can spend less!

  7. New vs. used: I’m happy to buy used IF I can be fairly sure I’m getting a good deal, that the car is in good shape, and if it has all the features I want. The one I kinda fell in love with is the Caddy CTS, but I’ve now heard from multiple sources (including the posters here) that the 2008 models are worlds better than the 2007, so I’d rather not buy the 2007 and then be regretting that I didn’t get the '08. Not sure if I have the patience to wait for used 08s to start appearing on the market, but it’s a possibility. If I go with one of the other models, I’d certainly consider used.

  8. Resale value: not a major concern. I drive a ten-year-old Camry, and I’ve actually driven it for ten years. I ain’t getting much for it on a trade-in - I’ve taken good care of it and it’s in good condition for its age, but still. (And I bought it less than one year old from Hertz rental car sales, and it was a great buy - definitely no regrets.) I’m planning to drive my next car for a similar period of time, so by that time I don’t really think Toyota v. Cadillac or Chrysler will be a significant factor.

  9. Other models: I’ve looked some at other models, but the styling on them didn’t really grab me. I do like the way Jaguars look, so I’ll take a look at the model recommended by a poster above. The Accord, and as mentioned, Infiniti styling don’t do that much for me.

I think that addresses most of the issues mentioned above, and if there are further questions that would help produce relevant advice, I’d be happy to answer. Thanks again for all of your help with this!

Have you looked at the BMW 3-series? If you’re looking for cachet, style, and luxury, you can’t go wrong with a Beemer. And they also drive extremely well. Not just as a sports car, but BMW’s have a reputation for being like a fine watch - the engine is smooth, the steering crisp and tight, the switchgear feels great, the leather is top-notch, etc.

The 3-series starts at about $32,000 for the 230HP 328i, and goes up to about $40,000 for the all-wheel drive, 300 HP 335xi. Keep in mind that BMW options out a lot of things that are standard on other cars, so your budget would probably be the 328i. If you want the premium leather interior and navigation system, that will run the price up to about $39,000.

They hold their resale well, so buying a year or two old won’t save the kind of money that buying a used Ford or Chrysler will. But buying used could put your budget in range of a 335i, which is a serious driver’s car.

BMW USA.

The 3 series is a significantly smaller car than the others that you are looking at . One thing about it is that the resale values are so good, that leasing is a much better deal than most other makers. This I think is mostly a factor of them being a fairly easy model to sell off lease. You can see the same thing for some other popular models like the Infiniti G35, basically small, sporty cars that have a ready market with the young and stupid crowd. Compare resale values of the 3 series to, say, the larger 7 Series BMW, and you can see this.

Do you (the OP) drive stick? Because you DON’T want an automatic BMW. I’m not a manual tranny snob, but it seems that GM likes to use BMW drivers as “beta testers” for their new automatic transmissions. e.g. I believe the CTS uses the same auto transmission as (some models of) the 3 series, but GM sold it to BMW first for a year or two before using it on their own vehicles. Not surprisingly, the auto Bimmers are plagued with transmission issues while the CTs doesn’t seem to have any. It’s not just one model, but several models across a fairly lengthy time span.

This is completely my subjective opinion, but If I were in your shoes, I would pick up a good condition E39 (the last generation, from 1999-2005 I believe) BMW M5. Sure, you’ll need to put up with arrogant and jaw-dropingly expensive BMW dealer maintanance, and the fuel economy isn’t great, but they are simply the best “sports sedan” ever made, by anyone, and the understated styling is much closer to BMW’s conservative roots than the loopy stuff they put out today.

And based on the criteria available light has provided, I’d buy a nice, very low mileage BMW 530i, Certified, with a warranty. Something like this:
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?car_id=230213917
The performance and maintenance overhead for an M5 is not going to be worth it for someone who doesn’t care.

Hi again! I appreciate the help, but before I get more raves about the BMW (I’m sure it’s a great car, really) I should add that buying German isn’t really an option - my grandmother, a holocaust survivor, would never forgive me. That may be a stupid reason, but there it is. (Yes, I know because of mergers etc. there’s a lot of overlap now - just trust me, it wouldn’t be good for family relations to drive something with a german nameplate on it). Also, I’ve had a couple friends who had bad experiences with BMWs in terms of maintenance and cost of upkeep.

Well, then, go buy yourself a Cadillac! :slight_smile: I have owned five (2003 CTS, 1995 Deville, 1990 Deville, 1973 Eldorado, 1968 Eldorado), and they have always treated me well.

Just make sure you find a good dealership, buy from them, and then service your car with them. Try to find a dealership that has good word-of-mouth reputation, and maybe sells Cadillacs and some other upmarket brand, instead of, say, Chevrolet and Cadillac. You are likely the get better service from the former.

Also, check into their policy on loaners. The one I bought my CTS from gave me a free loaner DTS every time I serviced my car, even for an oil change, which is very convenient.

Ask to visit the service area and meet the SAs before signing on the dotted line. I think that if you get a good dealership, you will be light years happier with your Cadillac purchase, especially (and I am not trying to be sexist in saying this) as a woman. A good dealership, with a good service department, will pamper you while at the same time being completely fair and honest.

I could definitely recommend an awesome dealership here in Denver, if you lived here. Hopefully someone in your area can chime in and give some advice.