Okay I give up. Metafilter YOU buy my car for me.
October 3, 2007 7:32 AM   Subscribe

New Car? Used Car? Status car? Reliable Car? Is it possible there is just ONE car to rule them all? It's time for me to buy SOMETHING to replace my beloved 1970 Dodge Swinger. The question is WHAT?

So I should state for the record that I live in Los Angeles. That's going to be helpful later in recognizing where all this car agita is coming from.

I recently sold my 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger for 5500 dollars. This was AFTER I put over 28,000 into it. Heartbreaking but it was time. I couldn't use it as a daily driver anymore with a 40 mile commute, the lack of AC was killing me and I had nowhere to keep it should I want to use it as a weekend car.

Plus it's primary role was to score hot rockabilly girls. And I'm not doing that anymore. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So now it's time for a NEW car. And having been beaten into submission by the demands of my previous high maintenance car, pretty much ALL newer cars than 1970 seem like Jetsons vehicles to me. But I've tried to break it down into elements. If you can figure out how to put them together into the car I should buy, I WILL buy it. These are NOT in any order and I will sacrifice some for others if need be.

1) Automatic: I can't drive a stick. I don't want to learn. This is non-negotiable.

2) Credit Rating and finance: I have a great one. Just found out. And it surprised the hell out of me. Salarywise I have a piece of paper from work that says I make six figures. Even if my agent takes a bunch of it. I'm not part of a credit union but I can be. Though if there are any dealer finance programs with specials going on, I'm one of those "qualified buyers" they're always talking about really fast at the end of the commerical.

3) Status and Cache: I am technically now a TV executive. The Dodge Swinger in it's restored glory, looked like a CHOICE. Like this was what I wanted. Not what I had to drive. I'd like some element of that in the new car.

4) Money: I have up to 8 Grand to put down as a down payment. And I know that many new cars devalue a ton when you drive them off the lot. So I'm open to used cars. Though I'd like one with a warranty.

5) Monthly payments: In theory, I'd like to cap my monthly payment between 350-400 bucks a month and not go over 4 years on a lease. If possible.

6) Imported Car: Unless there is a FANTASTIC american car out there with crazy deals right now, I'd like to stay far away from US brands.

7) A Car, Not A Truck: For the last 4 years I've gotten 8 miles to the gallon. I want a car with good mileage. Not an SUV. Not a truck. Not a CRV. A car.

8) Gay Cars: My boss is gay. His assistant is gay. Many of the people I work with and meet with are gay. I am NOT gay. I have been given a list of cars by them that, if I am straight, I should not drive: The Mini Cooper. The Mazda Miata. The Jetta. The jeep that's a convertible. Apparently those are all code for West Hollywood Boy in Los Angeles.

9) Style: There are some newer cars I think look nice. If there's something in this pocket, I'm open to it. The audi S4, The scion TC, Most BMWs, no mercedes (they all look like Old Man cars to me), the new honda civic coupe, The Infiniti G35, the nissan altima coupe, the nissan 350Z, all the overpriced sports cars that are out of my price range.

10) Other: Two doors over four doors (but still open), would love a convertible (but would understand if not), leather seats are SO much better and, if possible, I'd like to have a good stereo system that takes Sirius. If not, I can always get one installed.

So those are the basics. The truth is if a car handles okay, feels nice and still holds up my end of looking like I'm supposed to in it, I'll be fine with it really. I've just been looking at car sites for the last five days and I have no idea what to do.

All I know is I can't rent another Chevy Aveo. I'd rather walk onto a lot with a fistful of cash and pass out on a car randomly than do that again. So go get em metafilter. YOU buy my car for me.
posted by rileyray3000 to Shopping (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Prius is the new status car, and it is cheap, reliable and well laid out.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on October 3, 2007

Of the cars you thought looked nice, the Honda Civic and Scions get good mileage and are endorsed by Consumer Reports. I think both are in your price range. I've driven both, and the Civic feels better.

Plus, you can get a Civic hybrid - yay! Excellent mileage.

We have a Civic hybrid. Main down side is that the back seats don't fold down, so cargo capacity is limited. If that's not a concern for you...

Then you should get a Civic hybrid.
posted by amtho at 7:38 AM on October 3, 2007

I agree with the poster who said Prius is the new status car.

It drives like a sportscar and you are reducing your carbon imprint on the earth at the same time!
posted by seekingsimplicity at 7:43 AM on October 3, 2007

I agree with amtho about the Civic Hybrid. I've had mine since January 2007 and it's been fantastic so far. Great handling and excellent (46MPG) gas mileage. I know you can get it with XM, not certain about Sirius.

My only gripe (as amtho mentioned) is that the cargo capacity is somewhat lacking because the rear seats don't fold down.
posted by trokair at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2007

Yah, buy a rebranded Echo with some nasty batteries in it and score all the crunchy chicks you want, and make up some nonsense about how you're saving the world.

You want all the fun? Audi. TT, preferably, and they're really not that expensive. BMW 3 series are pretty hot too. Just don't get a Z3 or a Z7.
posted by TomMelee at 8:06 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

A Prius says Al Gore all over it. It is not a status car.

I recommend the new Dodge Charger. It has power and design and is not that expensive.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:11 AM on October 3, 2007

I just love my new Scion xB.

The Honda Fit was the first runner up.
posted by 4ster at 8:20 AM on October 3, 2007

Status is in the eye of the beholder. And I'd say a Prius, well actually in LA it may no longer be one, as it's been so popular for so long. Dodge Charger? Pardon?! My wife and I were recently looking at cars, and the Civic is quite nice, I agree. Nice interior style, options as well.
posted by healthyliving at 8:25 AM on October 3, 2007

In your price range, convertible, automatic, good looking, 25MPG, and unfortunately, american.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2007

If you're making that kind of money, and like the Scion tC, I agree with TomMelee -- check out the Audi TT.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2007

posted by electroboy at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2007

Your utter lack of opinion on this matter is a little puzzling, given your long list of non-negotiables and apparent commitment to your last choice of car. The answer seems a bit obvious, though.

Don't listen your friends, get whatever car you like, etc., etc. If status is your thing, then get an Audi or a BMW (I work in advertising and all the creative directors/account directors/PR directors have them). If you're into economy, get something small (car brand connotations be damned).

My personal reccomendation would be to get a motorcycle (great milage, lower price than cars, easy to find parking, traffic means nothing to you, girls love them, you have a valid reason to wear tough-looking clothes). Of course, they are death machines and you'll have to learn to shift a transmission (seriously, this is something everybody should know anyway, if only just for the sake of knowing. It's easy). Maybe look at a Yamaha R6. *shiver* A better starter bike is the Suziki GS500. 50-60 mpg, lighter, almost as fast/strong as the larger race bikes, way cheeper to fix and less likey to accidentally get you killed with a slip of the clutch. Also, the 'naked' version looks more classic than the average crotch-rocket.

Oh, and take a safety class. You'll get a brake on insurance and they really do teach you some valuable stuff.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:39 AM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: IN general? I'm just not feeling the whole green status thing. I mean I'd like good mileage, but I'm just not willing to wait on waiting lists and drive something that just looks geeky. The prius, to me, looks like one of those cars of the future from Demolition Man, where a robot drives and you sit back.

Someday I may be okay with that. But I've just come from driving a few tons of mopar muscle power. I can't just jump into the car equivalent of a compost heap and a pair of birkenstocks. So for now I have to agree that it says Al Gore alot more than it says TV Producer.

That said, I think the Dodge Charger is ugly. I think that new challenger looks cool (though it is out of my price range)

I did look at the Saturn Sky though. Unfortunately, up close, it's really like one of those cars they showed us as kids that we used to think were cool: lots of wings, and ports and vents and such. Up close it looks kinda cheap.

But the Audi TT is definitely on my list. It's just a little out of my price range. Not if I go used. But I'm not sure if I should with a sports car. Thoughts?
posted by rileyray3000 at 8:42 AM on October 3, 2007

We have two Acuras but when I bought mine in January I was also looking really hard at Infiniti. They have some pretty sporty models that are also well-appointed. They will definitely seem like Jetsons cars compared to that Dodge.
posted by TedW at 8:44 AM on October 3, 2007

I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind was the Audi TT. If you want something a little less sporty-looking, any Audi from the A series. I don't know why I first thought of the Audi - I actually don't own one and don't know much about them specifically because the more I know, the more I'd want, and that would be bad.

Oh - on preview - you'd already thought of the TT. Great minds think alike?
posted by cgg at 8:54 AM on October 3, 2007

Yeah, motorcycle? You want a Triumph.
posted by electroboy at 8:55 AM on October 3, 2007

I'd go with an Acura TL
posted by sanka at 9:00 AM on October 3, 2007

Go with Acura. Here are the specs on a TL, but go to a dealer and check out the other models as well.

1) Automatic: check
2) Credit Rating and finance: check
3) Status and Cache: check
4) Money: 2008 TL Featured Special Lease: $399.00 per month for 36 months. $2,999.00 total due at signing.
5) Monthly payments: see above
6) Imported Car: check, with Honda reliability
7) A Car, Not A Truck: 18 city, 26 highway mpg
8) Gay Cars: you'd have to judge for yourself. I don't consider this a gay car.
9) Style: Definitely a status symbol to those who know smart, quality cars. Sure, you can buy your Mercedes or even Volvo, but you're going to pay out the nose for upkeep and little stupid things that go wrong all the damn time (speaking from experience). This is a smart buy, and also a sexy one. Two-fifty-eight horsepower gets you there. Leather and nice interior lets you know it was a choice, not a hand-me-down.
10) Other: Acura/ELS Surround® Premium 8-speaker Sound System with 6-disc CD, DVD-Audio changer, AM/FM tuner, Dolby® Cassette, DTS®, Dolby® Pro Logic® II, XM® Satellite Radio, and MP3 player aux. input
posted by orangemiles at 9:03 AM on October 3, 2007

jinx, sanka
posted by orangemiles at 9:03 AM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: I should point out that I don't want to do a lease. I really want to own this so I can either trade it in down the line or, if it gets messed up, I will pass it on to my nephew for college when he turns 18
posted by rileyray3000 at 9:08 AM on October 3, 2007

Get yourself a Mazda RX8, awesome car, handles like nothing else for the money, failing that the G35 is great too.
posted by zeoslap at 9:09 AM on October 3, 2007

Dude.....Pontiac Solstice
posted by zacharyseibert at 9:13 AM on October 3, 2007

The new Infiniti G37 Skyline owns face. Girls love it, men are envious of it, and it's fucking fast as shit.

Black, with dubs, it is a nice piece of machinery.
posted by four panels at 9:21 AM on October 3, 2007

Pick up one of those Consumer Reports buyers guides. At least around here (opposite side of the country), they're even sold in supermarkets. The $7 or so will probably save you $7,000 or more in not buying cars with major problems. (My old car had a lot of electrical problems. Lo and behold, Consumer Reports had ranked it as terrible on the "Electric system" element. My new car is recommended by CR, and, lo and behold, there's not much of a reason to even bring it in for service.)

My roommate drives a Civic Hybrid. A few years ago I hated the Civics, thinking they were ugly and 'tin cans.' I'm floored by the new ones, though -- it's a really slick car, and he hardly ever has to buy gas. And, at least in my opinion, it's not "geeky" like the Prius.

The Audi TT and Dodge Charger were both recommended here, and both are awesome -- but definitely check what Consumer Reports has to say first. Same for the Chrysler 300 -- it's a cross between luxury and sportiness. (The old lady I know who drives one tells me, "It's got balls," which is just downright funny to hear from her.) I don't know about reliability, though, and that's something you really don't want to overlook.

FWIW, we haven't bought anything but Toyota for the past 5 years, and are yet to have a single problem. And my uncle finally ditched his Lexus (a rebadged Camry) after hitting 300,000 miles and being in probably 10 accidents in it: they're just that reliable.
posted by fogster at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2007

I drove an Acura TL for a while, its fast, but it looks like an Accord. I've also driven the 10K rpm rotary-engined Mazda RX8, but, it supposedly leaks oil and the Honda S2000 is faster anyway. Top Gear says its "creamy."

The Volvo S60-R is something else to consider, looks nice and it is faster than a Boxster.

The Audi TT is a girl's car, sorry.
posted by four panels at 9:27 AM on October 3, 2007

The Audi TT is a girl's car, sorry.

The first gen Audi TT was a girls car, in that it looked like a jelly bean and had underwhelming performance and handling. The new one is beautiful, has more power, and an incredible suspension. If only I had the money...
posted by kableh at 9:50 AM on October 3, 2007

As someone who just got rid of a coupe after 5 years, I'd urge you to reconsider getting a two door. I thought a couple would be cool when I got it, but after several years of asking people to crawl in and out of the back seat (unless you plan to never drive with more than one other person), it became tiring and embarrassing. It also feels very adolescent. Maybe that's what you're going for, but for me, it became very much a burden. You may think that you lose in the sexy department by having a sedan, but trust me that there is NOTHING sexy about asking adults to "crawl in the back". Oh, and I'm a woman, FWIW.
posted by FlyByDay at 9:55 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Okay, your gay friends are right. Jettas are either sorority girl or gay twink dude cars. Mini Coopers are either cougar (40-something divorcee) or gay euroboy cars.

Sorry, World Famous...that's just how it is.

If you can wait, the new Dodge Challenger might be right up your alley. Retro and future-y at the same time.

If you can't wait, I second the Dodge Charger recommendation. Hip, but doesn't look like you are trying too hard.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that although I am only 40, I drive a new Buick Lacrosse, by choice.
posted by Futurehouse at 9:55 AM on October 3, 2007

Seconding FlyByDay. If you *really* don't want a four-door, then get a two-seater. Then it's moot. You're a dude, you've likely never had to get in and out of one in a skirt. Try it once, you'll understand.
posted by ambrosia at 10:07 AM on October 3, 2007

I was an exec in television. I drive a BMW 330ci. However, I'm also a gay guy, so by the logic of this discussion, you should stay away from beemers. Which is too bad, because it's a pretty sweet ride.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:34 AM on October 3, 2007

If you're not going with my Civic hybrid suggestion, you should seriously look at the Mazda3 (or whatever it is now) - the mileage isn't stellar, but it's OK, and it may feel less wimpy after your Dart. And it looks cool, in my opinion (of course, I was considering the wagon version).

The Consumer Reports Buying Guide is your friend. It's available at bookstores and libraries.
posted by amtho at 10:36 AM on October 3, 2007

I'm with the folks who say Prius.

If it's good enough for the guy who is a kabillionaire for creating Seinfeld and Leonardo DiCaprio, it's good enough for you.

Especially in L.A. Plus, don't you get free meter parking in L.A. with a Prius?
posted by mckenney at 10:43 AM on October 3, 2007

The Mazda 3 is a decent little hatchback. The MazdaSpeed 3, the 260hp high performance version, is a GREAT, versatile, fast car for under $23k. No status, however, and kinda boring to look at IMO. (And it's FWD, if you care.) The MazdaSpeed 6 is pretty great too. FWIW, they're both fairly rare, so at least you won't see them coming as you're going, unlike the BMWs.

Speaking of which, the new 300hp BMW 335i is sweet -- as fast in a straight line as the last M3. The upcoming BMW 135i coupe (same engine, smaller/lighter body) is going to absolutely rock balls, if you can wait a few months. Should be around $33k -- the convertible will be a bit more of course. (And I may have to get one.) Here's a comparison between the two.

Another possibility: I don't care for the boy-racer styling of the WRX STi or Mitsubishi EVO, but they're both performance bargains, and you'd definitely make a "statement" by driving either, at the expense of some comfort and build quality -- they're both hopped up economy cars, after all.

The easy (perhaps too predictable?) choice for someone in your position is a BMW 335i coupe. Or if you prefer Japanese, the Infiniti G37 coupe. Both are available in less-sexy, 4-door flavors, if you prefer.

And, no, a Prius is *not* a sports car. It's pretty much the opposite, by design.
posted by LordSludge at 11:43 AM on October 3, 2007

Toyota Solara? Comes in convertable, great looking and it's a Toyota!
posted by pearlybob at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2007

You should get a Datsun 240Z. All the other sportscars, if you look at them long enough to see who's inside you tend to meet with combover. So what if the 240Z is 40 years old, just get one, they're great looking. Or else a Jaguar, but not the brand new ones, it has to have the round headlights and the running cat. I was going to say Volvo, but that's probably gay. They look nice, too, though, in a tidy-matron, Chanel sortof way. The Crown Victoria is an EXCELLENT car.

Aveo! We took a road trip in an Aveo! Those things suck!
posted by Don Pepino at 1:12 PM on October 3, 2007

the 2008 honda accord coupes are awesome.
i test drove the 2008 solara convertible recently and loved it.

either one of those, fully loaded, would be in your price range and have many of the features you are looking for. plus they get great gas mileage and hold their value.

good luck with whatever you choose.
posted by jessica at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2007

Maybe you can call Car Talk Saturday A.M.?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

BMW Z4 Roadster. You can get great deals. It's a blast.
posted by WyoWhy at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2007

I believe the Acura TL may be a good pick. It's a really sweet car, inside and out, and has some kick to it.

The new Accords are very nice looking, again inside and out, but you're definitely getting out of status-car range.

Also, calling Car Talk would be a great idea, they get this question all the time and would be really helpful. I would call before Saturday though and leave a message, because I think they pick their callers before the show or something.

Holy crap, people the Dodge Charger is so ugly and a huge insult to the original. It's like they took a boring 4-door sedan, slapped a big engine in, added a slight mopar curve and that was it. The new Challenger is much better looking than the new Charger (as was the original Challenger), but the OP has said it's out of his price range.

I contend that the Prius is a status car, but not the kind of status the OP desires. If that was the status he wanted, he would know it.
posted by !Jim at 10:21 PM on October 3, 2007

I agree with the Don Pepino. Car talk.

Oh, and I vote for the Audi A4 (S4 if you want something really sporty) or possibly the Mini Coop, which I admit I never liked but have had a change of heart a few times. Having to flip the seat for riding with more than 1 person is a very valid point for the cons.

The Prius = no thanks, not my type of car. But I don't rule out hybrids for city driving.

Wouldn't you still want something where you don't have to reassure your man hood?

I support your effort. I've been in the same situation for a while. You could always restore an older classic car. But then again, I don't know about the gas milege. 9 is still better than 8 right?
posted by thetenthstory at 2:57 PM on October 4, 2007

Would you mind updating us when you make a choice?
posted by orangemiles at 4:34 PM on October 10, 2007

Response by poster: Well these have all been fantastic recommendations. Currently I am looking strongly at a slightly used 350Z or used Audi TT. Barring that, the next down on the list is a used Audi A4.

And should I not be able to find ANY of those cars with the immediate depreciation removed (but still possessing warranty protection) then I will go with a new 2008 Honda Civic EX-L. I'll still suffer the depreciation but it will at least be less than most cars.

Also there is a 2.9% finance rate for the civics right now in SoCal on a 48 month lease.
posted by rileyray3000 at 12:56 AM on October 11, 2007

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