Do the Ride Thing
October 17, 2007 11:44 PM   Subscribe

And it comes down to this: my car shopping has reached the finalist round. I have three cars left to choose from. Help me pick one.

What did I want? Leather seats, a luxury or near luxury car, good quality, some cache and a foreign car. Plus a few other things. After weeks of searching and researching I got it down to three cars.

1) A used 2006 Certified Pre-owned Audi A4. 11K miles and $25,000. I'll get at least a 1K rebate on that and 3.9% financing on the deal with my very good credit score.

2) An end of year clearance deal on a NEW 2007 Saab 9-3. With national and local rebates it's about $24,500 with 3.9% financing (possible 2.9% but that's up in the air right now)

3) A nissan Altima, semi loaded, for about 25K.

Of these, which one would you be looking at the hardest? Audi has the best warranty, Nissan has some great resale value. And the Saab is pretty sporty. So which way folks? Any thoughts?
posted by rileyray3000 to Shopping (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone has an Altima.. no cache.
posted by clh at 11:52 PM on October 17, 2007

Did you test drive them all?
posted by aubilenon at 12:13 AM on October 18, 2007

Everyone's going to have an opinion here, good luck.

Mine, personally, is that VW/Audi and Saab (really GM) don't make terribly reliable cars. The Saab might be a little better than the Audi in build quality. The Altima is slightly boring to me, but it's a solid, reliable car. Of the three, that'd be my choice. I had very similar preferences to you, and bought a Maxima.

What meaning of "cache" are you using here?
posted by knave at 12:16 AM on October 18, 2007

I like the TCO calculator for the financial side.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:16 AM on October 18, 2007

Without trying to start an argument, your short list seems pretty quixotic, rileyray3000, and none of your choices would have been primaries on Car and Driver's $25K Funster list. Of those you list, the Altima is probably the best of the lot, in terms of reliability, operating cost and resale value.

But really, are you sure you're this close to being done shopping?
posted by paulsc at 12:24 AM on October 18, 2007

If I may be so bold, since you're looking at $25k, I'd look at a 2005-2006 Infiniti G35. Those are pretty rad. Nissan reliability, classy, and sporty all in one package. My budget was significantly lower, which is why I got the slightly older Maxima.
posted by knave at 12:30 AM on October 18, 2007

What meaning of "cache" are you using here?

I think they mean "cachet."

posted by ottereroticist at 1:36 AM on October 18, 2007

Avoid a used Audi. Like the plague. They depreciate that much for a =reason=. Modern Saabs are pretty dicey in build quality, too. The Nissan will run forever, and look good doing it.

The Altima only looks boring because there are so many of them out there... but this is because it is a good looking car that drives like a dream and won't leak oil on the driveway or let the magic blue smoke out of expensive electronic parts that have to be imported from Trollhatten or Wolfsburg.

In your price range, the Mazda 6 should be high on your list. Sporty, comfortable, economical, reliable, gorgeous... and leather seats come standard on the inexpensive touring package. I'm fond of the hatchback model - weird, yet awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:11 AM on October 18, 2007

Especially avoid a used A4 1.8T. The 3.2/2.0T are more reliable, but I have a friend who makes a living rebuilding 60-70k mile 1.8T's.. If you buy a used Audi, make sure you get service records, and they have been kept up.

A 2007 Saab is a GM car.

Alty is a nice car, but I would consider it more Ford nice than Audi/Saab nice.

I second the G35. Amazing car. I love my 03 Max SE 6 speed.
posted by SirStan at 3:40 AM on October 18, 2007

Avoid a used Audi. Like the plague. Actually, the 2006 model has a good record of repair That would be my choice particularly if it's the 4 WD turbo model. It's got a rebate, a warantee an has cachet
posted by Neiltupper at 3:49 AM on October 18, 2007

Two sides of your personality are at war with each other.

The sporty side wants a semi-fast car that looks cool and turns heads.

The practical, utilitarian side wants smaller repair bills.

Believe me, in this battle, you should let the utilitarian side win out. You'll only look cool and "have cachet" in the eyes of other drivers, strangers you'll never meet. And you'll thank yourself for buying a boring car when the repair bills of your sportier friends mount.

New cars can run to 200K miles or more these days, and that's a big, 10 year or longer commitment. Cachet lasts, what, maybe one out of these ten years? After a while, you'll grow used to even the coolest vehicle (this is called "anhedonic adaptation.")

Find the best, most reliable Japanese car on the market, and, unless it's boring to an extreme, buy it now. You'll thank yourself 10 years down the road. Or even five years if you buy up.
posted by Gordion Knott at 5:25 AM on October 18, 2007

You might want to check out this board:

Mostly it's about problem solving - so you will see lots of problems. But you could also directly ask the saab people your original question (you already know their bias).
posted by Kevin S at 5:48 AM on October 18, 2007

Go with the Altima. Later on, you'll be glad you did. Downtime on a vehicle sucks.

Neiltupper, the 2006 model may have a good repair record, but it's only 2007. Let's compare these things again in five years.
posted by azpenguin at 5:56 AM on October 18, 2007

Of the three, I'd say based on my Audi and Saab-driving relatives experiences, go with the Altima. The Audi might not hold up as well as you were thinking, and seeing my uncle's old Saab and the newer GM based 9-3, the brand is the worse for wear.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:23 AM on October 18, 2007

Altima hands down. Or seconding the Infiniti.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:07 AM on October 18, 2007

I love the taillights on the Altima. But I hate what the car itself represents—a boring, default choice to an expensive-but-reliable, sort-of-slick-looking boat of a car. Young people who drive these always look ridiculous to me.

That said, the consensus above seems to be that it's a good buy in terms of reliability and low repair bills. And Saabs/Audis always look too flashy and poorly designed to me.
posted by limeonaire at 9:05 AM on October 18, 2007

I had a 2006 Audi 2.0T and absolutely loved it -- excellent car. Whomever said the Saab will have better build quality is smoking something. Audis are the best put-together cars on the road. Better build quality than BMs, Mercs, any Japanese car. It will cost you a bit more in upkeep, you will probably have some niggling little problems after 50k miles, but the car is absolutely built like a tank and just incredibly well thought-out. Oh, and I have a buddy with a new 9-3 and it just doesn't compare. I'm obviously totally biased -- in case it's not ridiculously obvious -- but I'd recommend the Audi.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 9:36 AM on October 18, 2007

Mr 26.2 drives a Audi convertible which has been extremely reliable. It's also a pleasure to drive - handles well, amply powered with a well designed interior. It's a 2005 - no problems yet.

I drive a 6 year old Infiniti SUV which has been wonderful too. It's a gas pig and it eats tires, but other than that a very good car. In fact, I have no interest in trading it for a new car.

I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Audi or Nissan product. On the other hand, my SAAB stories are truly sob stories.

Within the 3 you've selected, I would pick the Audi - assuming a good warranty and a reliable dealer. You said that luxury/near luxury is a factor in your decision. That eliminates the Nissan.
posted by 26.2 at 10:57 AM on October 18, 2007

My choices:
1) Audi - personal experience, both my dad & I have owned various versions and would buy again. More reliable than the Merc my Dad has just got rid of.
2) Nissan - reliability and that new car smell.
3) Anything but the Saab - GM brick and it'll break down.

Everyone here in Norway drives twice as many VW/Audi/BMW/Japanese cars than Saab.

Of course YMMV and my Dad has just ditched the the Merc for a Lexus as he's reitred and wants solid reliability.
posted by arcticseal at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2007

retired, not reitred (or retread for that matter)
posted by arcticseal at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2007

As a happy owner (75,000 miles, *0* problems) of an '02 VW Passat, which is basically a stretched A4, I'd sway towards the Audi, mainly for the quality of the driving experience and the interior design & accommodations. Quality materials, expensive-feeling switchgear, sensible & attractive layout, pleasant instrumentation, comfy seating. It's just a very nice place to spend time.
posted by Tubes at 12:50 PM on October 18, 2007

Response by poster: It's official:

I am the owner of a Certified Pre-owned 2006 Audi A4 with 11K miles on it. It has the sports suspension, the heated front seats and the dealer threw in the installation of an IPOD jack to seal the deal. It's got a rock solid warranty through 2011.

I paid 23,500 with 3.9% financing over 48 months. I am EXTREMELY happy with my purchase.

The Car
posted by rileyray3000 at 5:44 PM on November 3, 2007

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