Scion vs. Oldsmobile
August 7, 2005 8:22 PM   Subscribe

I drive a 2005 Scion xB. I have the opportunity to switch it for a 1999/2000 (I'm not sure which) Oldsmobile Alero sedan. Should I?

Good things about the Scion: small, easy to park, quirky looking, lots of cargo space, big backseat, good gas milage, mp3 cd player

Good things about the Alero: more creature comforts such as sunroof, six cd changer, cassette player for iPod use, cruise control

I'm hoping that people with personal experience with these two cars can give me some advice. I use my car for commuting to school and back (half hour each way) and the occassional long trip. I'd like my car to last me through grad school...I'm going into the second year of my undergrad program now.
posted by amandaudoff to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total)
The xB is a new Toyota. The Oldsmobile is a five year old GM car. For the money you will save on repairs with your current car, I'll bet you can install a cruise control and a very good CD/tape system.
posted by tss at 8:52 PM on August 7, 2005

Seriously, don't do this. I've been toying with the notion of selling my 2004 Honda Civic, which I adore, and buying an older model outright. The idea is to get rid of the payment. But that payment is relatively small and comes with an incredibly cheap finance rate, so why would I do this?

The reality is that it's a car that hasn't given me a day of trouble in the 1.5 years I've owned it. It's a car that is a pleasure to drive and looks good.

The trade-in value on my car is roughly 2500 more than what I owe on it, so it's likely I could get about $3000-$3500 more than my payoff balance and buy an older Civic.

Even with staying in the same, super-reliable family of cars, it's enough to give me pause.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:25 PM on August 7, 2005

Sounds like a sucker's deal to me, unless your current car is a lemon and the other one isn't.
posted by raaka at 9:36 PM on August 7, 2005

Response by poster: Just to clarify: this is a "get an older, but significantly nicer car" vs. "stay with the utilitarian newer one" thing. There are things that the Alero has that I really miss having in my car (the sunroof, cruise control, iPod use, bigger engine, etc.) and I'm just wondering if the tradeoff is worth it. If it makes a difference, the Scion has 7k miles on it and the Alero has about 30k. (It belonged to a friend of my grandmother's.)
posted by amandaudoff at 9:45 PM on August 7, 2005

Oh, god, no. The tradeoff is nowhere near worth it. The Alero is a major suck to drive, you'll spend a bajillion dollars on repairing it, and it won't hold it's resale value worth crap. The Alero was made when GM started producing disposable cars, and wasn't very good at it yet. While the Scion might be a disposable car, it's at least a good-looking, modern, well-built disposable car that you can flip in a couple of years and buy something nicer.

If you'd said you were gonna spin it for a Honda Accord, that'd be another thing. But for a frickin' Alero? Buy yourself an aftermarket cruise control and get an FM tranceiver wired into your antenna wires and fughedabout it.
posted by SpecialK at 10:13 PM on August 7, 2005

Forgive me if I sound judgemental; I've been an poor, undergrad student for longer than I can remember and can empathize for wanting a nice car.

Keep your current car. It'll last longer, be cheaper to repair, give you more miles per gallon, and is a car that's meant to be beat up (like the Civil, Corolla, or Sentra).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 10:15 PM on August 7, 2005

Oh yeah, and while the Alero is arguably one of the more "fun to drive" cars Olds put out in the oh, I don't know, last three decades - it couldn't save the Olds brand.

Don't do it.

Particularly with gas pushing ever higher, why would you want a bigger engine?

Did mention "don't do it"?

Just checking.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:30 PM on August 7, 2005

OMFG no. I have the 2K5 xB you have and love it. I would never go near an Oldsmobile (owned one once before).

Let's set everything else aside and establish that the Scion is a Toyota and will run forever. The Olds is about 5 minutes from becoming a constant breakdown nightmare, especially because of all those schmancy options.

The xB is a little Spartan on bells and whistles (though the stereo is great and power windows/locks/keyless entry are rarely standard on an econo car in its class. I'd say get a real ipod hookup (cassette adapters = mleh) for your scion and learn to live without a sunroof.

Gas prices being what they are, you'll thank yourself.
posted by scarabic at 10:44 PM on August 7, 2005

Look at it from this point of view: almost everything you want on the Olds you can put into your Scion as it is. Seriously: you can get a decent stereo with an iPod hookup and 3-6 CD changer, even add a cruise control if you *really* want it, and you'll still be ahead. All of the things you like on your car (parking, gas mileage, cargo, quirky) as well as the things you don't mention but are well outlined above (cheaper gas, Toyota's reliability, Old's general disposibility) mean that you can have your cake and eat it too. Trust me: the last thing you'll want to do in grad school is pay out to get the Olds fixed. You a) won't have the money, b) won't have the time and c) won't want to outlay money on a sinking ship.
posted by fionab at 12:20 AM on August 8, 2005

While I feel you on the cruise control, I'm pretty sure aftermarket is an option. I use the Monster iCarPlay for iPod squirting and it is damn near perfect 99% of the time.

I just had to go back to driving one of our gas hogs now that my husband has a longer commute than mine. I cannot wait to buy another fuel efficient car. While I have had really good luck with American cars lasting forever, they weren't economy cars - the only old economy cars I see on the road anymore in any significant amount are Toyotas.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:32 AM on August 8, 2005

posted by asok at 4:35 AM on August 8, 2005

I paid roughly $150 for a decent stereo with an aux jack to plug my iPod into. You can definitely change yours out--you're not stuck with it.
posted by jdl at 7:58 AM on August 8, 2005

I have a '97 Toyota Tercel with like 60k miles on it. I've had it since I was 17, and it works perfictly (I got it new). Almost no maintnence whatsoever.

That's pretty close to whatever the Scion of today, I would imagine.

Unless Toyota took a sudden and unprecidented drop in quality which will only manifest itself in a few years, your Scion will be as dependable as you can get. A lack of 'comforts' means a lack of electronic gizmos to break down, and as others pointed out, you can get those things for your Scion.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 AM on August 8, 2005

Specifically, I had to replace the break pads and rotors, because I hadn't changed the break pads, um, ever. And I've probably changed the oil about 5 or 6 times. I also had to replace the battery, which is expected after 5 or 6 years.

I can't imagine I won't be driving it in 2007, so based on my experience you're scion will still be chugging in 2015 at least.

My mom had a hand-me-down 1984 tercel that kept running until about 2002, at which point she scrapped it because she didn't even think it was worth towing to the repair place (it was probably a busted starter or something like that)
posted by delmoi at 8:24 AM on August 8, 2005

In theory you can even get an aftermarket sunroof. Ask around, but I'm sure its expensive.
posted by delmoi at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2005

I've been looking a lot of these "which is better... A or B?" type choices myself since I will be buying a new car this year. What it comes down to for you, from what I read, is do you go with the newer, trendier car, or the older, squarer car? It seems to me that you prefer many of the features of the Olds (ride, creature comforts, power), but are looking for someone to help you justify a decision to get rid of an iconic car for something that is decidedly not cool.

You're the one who has to live with the car. With a 25k mile difference, you can expect the Scion to last two years longer (perhaps more if you buy into the Toyota super reliability theory). Both cars will last to 100k miles, so just decide where you will be in 7 years. Will you buy a new car before then, or will you be trying to get another year or two out of your current car? If you think will be financially better off in 7 years (i.e., have a job in your field), and you prefer the way the Alero rides and the other creature comforts, go for it.

One advantage of the Olds is that I bet no one will mess with it or steal it. It's a sleeper compared to the Scion.
posted by Doohickie at 9:27 AM on August 8, 2005

There are things that the Alero has that I really miss having in my car (the sunroof, cruise control, iPod use, bigger engine, etc.)

Sunroofs leak. Especially older ones. Aftermarket cruise control can be added. Heck, assuming the Scion has it as a factory option, you can undoubtedly add the factory option even. IPod use is easy, with aftermarket stereos or adapters. Alpine for example is said to have integrated iPod support. You don't want a bigger engine. In fact, I bet the Alero's a lot heaver so the performance difference may not that great.

Having driven an Alero (a rental), I'd easily bet that the Scion has better space layout. The Alero's a big car, with not too much room inside. And, of course, there's a *lot* to be said for reliability.

Hey, if you want a "cooler" car, then fine (the Scion's looks have grown on me, personally). I'd stick with it. But if you gotta have something else, get an older Honda or Toyota instead.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:11 AM on August 8, 2005

In theory you can even get an aftermarket sunroof. Ask around, but I'm sure its expensive.

I was quoted $200-$800, depending on features (low price end is basically a pop-out moon roof, high price end can be nicely automated, in between is mechanical). This was a few years ago for a Prizm/Corolla.
posted by weston at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2005

Read the first answer again, it's the most direct and to-the-point:

"The xB is a new Toyota. The Oldsmobile is a five year old GM car. For the money you will save on repairs with your current car, I'll bet you can install a cruise control and a very good CD/tape system."

Unless you stand to gain several thousand dollars as a result of the trade, you'd be insane to swap a brand new Toyota for a low reliability American car. A car that is now working, and will continue to work is worth vastly more than the years of continuous failure a GM vehicle will inflict upon you.

Unless you stand to make a substantial profit on this exchange, and you're enough of a mechanic to defray the repair costs of an American car, don't do this.
posted by majick at 4:29 PM on August 8, 2005

I currently own an olds, I will never own another.

They are expensive to fix, you have to take the engine out to change the headlamps.
posted by Mick at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2005

No you dont mick, who told you that? I hope not a car mechanic...
posted by crewshell at 10:18 PM on August 8, 2005

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