Seeking advice re best bet on a new or used car

I have to face reality. My 20-year-old Nissan NX recently had an expensive repair, and now the A/C isn’t working (unacceptable here in Florida). I need to start looking for a new or used car. I’ve been looking online at the Nissans, but I’m open to other makes/models. Can you suggest any make and model with which you have experience and believe to be dependable? I don’t want a small car; I’m petite but hubby is 6’ and needs leg and head room. Two door preferred. I don’t need or want a lot of bells and whistles, but a CD player is a must. Also, I’d appreciate your opinion as to whether I should consider a used car over a new one, or if that decision should be made on the basis of what’s out there.

Get a used 3 or 5-series BMW if your budget allows. Awsome cars.

If comfort is the primary consideration regarding big vs small cars, I can tell you that the Hyundai Elantra:

  • is highly reliable
  • has way more roomy than you’d expect

New or used, good deals can be had on the Elantra.

And expensive to repair.

The Toyota Camry transportation appliance has a well deserved reputation for reliability. Same with the Honda Accord.

Some things to keep in mind if you want to keep maintenance low. Cars with timing belts will need them changed every 60,000 miles or so (varies), while a car with a timing chain is lifetime of the engine unless the timing chain itself has a problem. Changing the timing belt is time consuming if you do it yourself like I do, or pricey if you pay for it to be done.

Front wheel drive cars combine the transmission and the differential into one housing, where they share the same transmission fluid. A rear drive car will have a transmission, rear differential, and a drive shaft with u-joints. While they can be reliable, you now have two different fluids and two maintenance items to pay for, as well an increased complexity and greater chances for things to break.

V6 and V8 engines are a bit harder to work on than an inline 4 or 6. With a front wheel drive car like the Camry or Accord, a V6 has the back cylinder head canted towards the firewall, making repairs and maintenance more difficult, and more expensive. The same Camry or Accord with an inline 4 has more room for working on the engine, and the spark plugs, coils, and fuel injectors are right there on the top of the engine. With one cylinder head, the inline configuration is less complex than a vee configurtion with two cylinder heads and double the camshafts.

My advice: Japanese front wheel drive sedan with a 4 cylinder engine. You don’t need all wheel drive in Florida, and you probably don’t need an SUV. I remember the NX, and I remember how compact it is. Neat car. The Camry, Accord, Altima, or Mazda 6 will be a huge step up in size and comfort. Oh, and the Mazda 6 is the best handler of the bunch.

Oh, yes. Same with the new Sonata/ Kia Optima fraternal twins. They have heated and cooled front seats along with heated rear seats. They are really good looking, too.

I have a personal theory that says that you should buy high-depreciation vehicles used, and low-depreciation vehicles new.
Big, domestic sedan, Chevy Impala, minivan: Buy used, 3 years old
Mid-sized, highly reliable sedan like Accord, Camry: Buy brand new, because the 3 year old car is almost the same darned price.

I haven’t researched the marketplace for passenger cars much in the last 3 years, and my example vehicles might be bad examples, but it’s something to ponder.

I’m 6’2" and solidly heavy. I fit just fine into the Ford Fiesta. The new Focus is out; that’s a good choice, too. And older Focus can also be a good choice, but they’ve been butt-ugly for a couple of years. If you’re looking to spend money, well then there’s the Taurus SHO or the Lincoln MKS.

Car depreciation is a thing that very few people understand, although you are doing a bit better than most. Here is the thing that people, even I suspect the people who come up with guides to this shit like Edmunds and whatnot, don’t get. **The actual depreciation is the difference between residual value and the initial transaction price, NOT MSRP. **

So in your example, are you really sure that the Impala loses more value than the Accord or Camry? Without doing a comprehensive calculation using actual data, I’m going to say that you are probably wrong, simply because the average transaction price of a new Honda Accord is going to be much higher than the ATP of a Chevy Impala, regardless of what the MSRPs on each are. The Impala is an old, outdated car that has been changed very little since the 1990s, compared to the Accord it is simply an inferior vehicle, no one in their right mind would pay anywhere close to the same amount of money for an Impala as they would an Accord. Therefore GM must pile on large rebates and incentives, such that at the end of the day the retail customer pays much less for the vehicle new. Another thing that happens to old, obsolete cars that are kept in production is that a large percentage of sales end up going to fleet operators like rental agencies and police departments. These fleet sales certainly do not pay retail MSRP for their vehicles. So the end result is that the Impala doesn’t really depreciate more than the Accord does, calculated as the difference between residual and ATP, the ATP on the Impala is just much lower than the MSRP. This is good marketing for Honda but that’s it.

This is of course just one aspect of a pretty complicated subject. There really is no way for anyone to determine with precision how much a car will depreciate, especially not a brand new body style/model. It’s one reason I’ve posted in other threads why leasing a new car is always a better idea than buying a new car.

There may be marketing inefficiency due to past problems giving you more car for the money with a fairly new American car. 20 years ago, your Nissan may have been a good deal. Such past experience creates a bias. It will take 10 years before we know which current cars are the most reliable.

Consumer reports has an awesome auto issue every year where they rate the reliability of used cars. It might help to make a stop at your local library.

There are many that question if CR = SD.

You know, I had always assumed that the Edmunds Fair Market Values did, in fact, reflect the values that new cars sold for in the retail marketplace.
Are Edmunds a bunch of liars?

Here was my research methodology:
It’s 2003.
Find 2003 Impala, new, Options ABC in the website. Check the Edmunds FMV, which purports to be what people are paying.
Find the same vehicle, used, with average mileage, same options, 2000 model year.
Check the Private Party FMV for this used vehicle.
Calculate my % depreciation using the two numbers.

the Impala’s residual value is hurt by so many of them being sold to rental fleets.

I’m going to respond to this on behalf of the OP, who has asked for advice on getting a new car.
I will note, for their benefit, that Throatwarbler Mangrove endorses buying, rather than leasing, new cars.
I will also note that Mangrove’s position is a controversial one. Both Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey, prominent finance authors and show hosts, oppose consumer passenger car leasing last time I checked.
I will not rehash the argument, but I will advise that the OP and her husband check with their financial advisor, or failing that, trustworthy resources, to reach their own well-researched conclusion on this matter.

I guess its a typo but I am for leasing, not buying.

It’s also a “controversial” position in the same way that evolution is a controversial position. Once a person understands it, there is no controversy at all, as all the facts are self evident. There is no need for any specialized or inside knowledge, and thus no need to appeal to any authority, whoever the fuck Suzie Orman or David Ramsey are.

Yeah, dumb typo, my bad.
Please don’t be offended by my note to the OP; I’m not even taking a side here, just warning the OP that there is no consensus opinion on the matter, and that in the best SDMB tradition, they need to research the topic before taking your word, or mine for that matter.

Another vote for the Elantra. I’ve owned them since 2002, and the current model is based on the same floorpan and largely the same engine as the first one I had. Bulletproof and $2-3k cheaper than an comparably equipped Corolla or Civic.

24 hours in, I can attest that the 2012 Elantra GLS is a wonderful car. My husband just bought one :slight_smile: We purchased it because a) we had the money due to an inheritance/gift and b) we keep cars forever before replacing them (his previous car was 12 years old, mine is 15!)

I am now very, very tempted to get an Accent - I want a small car, and the new Accent is so pretty! :slight_smile: I won’t be buying for another 6 months at least, so right now looks are my only serious criteria! Naturally, that will change when I actually do any research whatsoever!

Bear in mind that the Elantra actually gets better mileage than the Accent if you’re buying new, and it’s also kickin’ beautiful.
The price difference is there, but not huge.