By on January 3, 2010

Once upon a time... (courtesy:Flickr/bootsintheoven)

[Editors note: TTAC’s new car-buying column “New or Used?” wants to help you find the perfect car. Submit as much information about your car-buying scenario (needs, wants, budget) to and TTAC’s new and used car experts will get you started on your quest for the ideal conveyance.]

Almost Retired writes:

I’m nearing retirement age, and I want a nice large sedan. It should be safe, quiet, reliable and comfortable for freeway traveling, but not too flashy or expensive. $40k maximum budget, but I’d prefer to stay well under that.

Steve Lang: It all depends on what you like. In fact, your tastes can pretty much be served by a buffet full of models these days. Name your Buick. Name your Lincoln. In fact, Toyota is rapidly becoming the ‘mature’ brand of choice with a few Hyundais, Fords, Chevys and even a loaded Accord faring well with the retirement crowd.. My top choice would be the Lexus ES350. It rides and drives better than a Mercedes S-Class of a mere few years ago with far better fuel economy, easier handling, and that unique understated ostentation that makes it ‘nice’ without being snobbish.

Sajeev Mehta
: Don’t get one of those new Buicks aimed at young whippersnappers, those Buick folks gave you the bum’s rush for no reason. But if you must, the Buick Lucerne without the coolant-sucking wonder known as the Northstar V8 might be a good value, even if it can’t hold a candle to the Lexus ES350 recommended above. I spoke with several ES350 owners after my review of this vehicle: there were numerous problems after its 2007 introduction. So avoid the first year of production like the plague. Or get a used Lincoln Town Car, preferably with aftermarket 20″ chrome wheels so all the young folk know who’s still the boss.

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41 Comments on “New Or Used?: The Retirement List Edition...”

  • avatar

    If it doesn’t have to be as large as a Lucerne or Town Car (and the ES350 certainly is not), then the Toyota Avalon is a good choice, with a bigger back seat than the ES350 and less pretension than a Lexus.  Fewer dollars, good fuel economy, bulletproof reliability . . . the best Buick GM never built.

    • 0 avatar

      I gotta agree. The Avalon nails everything on your list. More room than a Lexus ES and you don’t give up anything on features.
      The one downside is that they aren’t hugely popular and they hold their value really well. Put both of those together and it means there aren’t going to be a lot of newer used cars to look at (just 1200 2008-2010’s nationwide on Auto Trader) and those you do find are going to be priced pretty close to what you’d pay for a new car. You’re going to have to go to an older car and one with at least 25,000 miles to find a really clean model under $30K.
      The other option I’d recommend is the new Taurus. Again, you’re not going to be able to negotiate a lot on price because they’re in high demand, but a very well equipped Limited will be under $35K and AWD is an option.

  • avatar

    You also may want to look at the Mercury Grand Marquis.

  • avatar

    +1 on Avalon
    The only thing you lose from Lexus is the dealer experience. If you want to be coddled by the dealer, then get a Lexus ES350, but it’s smaller than the Avalon.
    Choice B is Town Car. It lists for about $45k, but I bet you could be out the door with one for $40.

  • avatar

    1.  Used Infiniti Q45.
    2. Used Volvo S80 T6 or V8.
    3. New Hyundai Genesis sedan.
    4. New Ford Taurus.

  • avatar

    The avalon is the best large car for the money from what I can tell. Friends that have them love them and have excellent reliability and mileage. Can’t go wrong with one.

  • avatar

    The Toyota Avalon is a good choice, but I would suggest getting a used Lexus LS of whatever vintage makes it the same price as a new Avalon.  

    That’s what I did when I bought my car in 2001.  I cross shopped the 2002 Avalon with a 1998 CPO LS400, both were just over $30K but even with almost 50K miles on it, the LS400 was a far superior car for the same money.   When I told the Toyota salesman his competition was a CPO LS400 he despairingly said “that’s not fair”. 

    I still have the LS400, over 130K miles and 8 years later it’s still be best car I’ve ever bought.  Never needed the CPO warranty.  

  • avatar

    Just because you are about to retire, there’s no need to go for boring. My retirement ride is an Infiniti G37. If you have to cope with severe winters, make it a G37X which is the all-wheel-drive version.

  • avatar

    All suggestions have been excellent so far.  I would add that if speed isn’t a priority, look into the gently used Ford Five Hundred/Taurus and Mercury Montego/Sable.  I’ve heard that the 6speed auto FWD is pretty reliable but the resale value is crap cause (IMHO) they’re ugly and the new V6 they dropped in them right before the restlye is much peppier. 

  • avatar

    +2 For the Toyota Avalon,  or if you want to feel limber by comparison a Camry…Or if dealer cottomer sevis is important the the Lexus es.

  • avatar

    Someone mentioned the Hyundai Genesis already, but I think the Azera might better fit the bill.  I’d run a loaded Azera up against an Avalon any day.  You’d save a few grand and get a better warranty to boot.

  • avatar

    It’s easy.
    Toyota Avalon. In its 5th year since the last model change. All bugs worked out and refined to perfection.
    No other car in this category comes even close.

  • avatar

    All in all,  above are many great suggestions, but the deciding factor would be price since no other criteria, like rear seat size or winter traction were mentioned. For new vehicles, I agree that the ES 350 is great, but its become very pricey. (The Avalon sheet metal doesn’t appeal to me personally.)  The loaded Camry XLE is similar to the ES (but Toyota has taken great pains to differentiate the two). I personally like the look of the Genesis sedan better and the price seems a bit more reasonable. If you’re looking for a used car, consider something built on the ancient Ford Panther platform. Lincoln Town Cars sell for reasonable prices, IF they are light colors. The black, grey and dark blue are sought after by livery services. Similar Ford Crown Victorias and Mercurys are great deals off rental lots with low mileage. The only Volvo that seems good is the S80 6 cylinder. I wouldn’t touch a GM V8 or any Chrysler (like the 300) if it were a gift.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t touch a GM V8…
      Don’t you mean the car, not the engine?  One thing GM does right are (most) V8s…
      Avalon is a good choice, provided you put zero value on the driving experience.  My father’s Avalon squeals the tires in anticipation of a curve.

  • avatar

    Lincoln is the poster child for gut-wrenching depreciation. If you want one, buy a low-miles version about 3-4 years old.  If you’re patient, you should be able to find one in showroom shape.

    • 0 avatar

      Save the depreciation, all the cars that have been mentioned so far should be able to be found in a 3 or 4 year old low mile version (or a really low mile 5 or 6 year old version) that’s the beauty of recommending cars that are largely driven by the “senior set.”  Wonder when the whippersnappers will ever wise up and realize the “seniors” are on to a good thing?  (I say this as a 32 year old.)

  • avatar

    A really nice, loaded Grand Marquis that is 2-3 yrs old is HALF of your budget.  It is dead reliable, a fabulous highway cruiser, and is certainly not flashy.  Buy the Mercury, then save the other $20K for whatever strikes your fancy.

  • avatar

    1. Porsche Panamera
    2. Maserati Quattroporte
    3. Rolls-Royce Phantom
    4. Bentley Continental Flying Spur
    Or, if you must be practical and keep it under $40k, a MB E320 CDI Blutec diesel.

  • avatar

    I was in a similar situation a few years ago.  After two disastrously expensive and unreliable Mercedes, I picked up a three year old 01 LS430 28k mi, $30k (lease return)
    It now has 90k with zero problems.  It is comfortable and reliable, quite in contrast to my old SEC.   I don’t think it is as nice looking or handles like the SEC but it is very nice on a trip.  When we travel with another couple, we always take the LS.  For fun I have currently have a Corvette after selling my S2000.
    I plan on keeping the LS for many years.

  • avatar

    For $40k you’ve got a ton of choices.

    The Ford Taurus can be had well-equipped for about $30k; same goes for the Toyota Avalon and Hyundai Azera, I believe. The Toyota and Hyundai are probably the softest so I’d personally go for the Ford, but then again I like my cars sportier and don’t know if you do.

    The Hyundai Geneses starts in the $30k range somewhere; you should certainly be able to get a Genesis V6 for under $40k and it’s a fantastic car.

    If we’re talking used then a Lexus LS would be a great choice, as would an Infiniti Q or M, but for $40k there are plenty of good choices in new cars so personally I wouldn’t bother unless depreciation is a serious problem.

  • avatar

    The Avalon is clearly the leader. The best bang for you buck would be a 2008 model. They got an upgrade that year and haven’t changed much since. Should cost less than 25.
    Smart money would go to a Genesis which is better bang for your buck and just a bit less obvious.
    A Pontiac G8 GT must also be considered.
    Don’t ignore the last Ford Taurus or the new one.

  • avatar

    Why consider anything that isn’t good on a number of fronts for $40k? That would rule out the very overpriced Camry (ES) right away, as well as anything Panther. The other suggestions were far better…Avalon, Genesis, used LS400. If you are capable of budgeting the price difference (which would be large at a $40k ceiling) for repairs a used Phaeton would be ridiculously nice for the money in this case.

  • avatar

    I like many of the suggestions, especially the new G37 or used LS400 ideas. But really, some of the suggestions are more than a bit condescending. Town Car? Grand Marquis? Sounds like what Consumer Reports might suggest!
    C’mon, the guy’s not that old and must be somewhat into cars if he’s going to TTAC for advice.  He’s just looking to enjoy the fruits of his labors and not heading off to God’s Waiting Room. Kendahl’s remarks are exactly in the right spirit.

  • avatar

    I agree, go for a G8

  • avatar

    Wow, you have so many choices. I do not know why so many people keep suggesting the Gran Marquis – insanely awful cars, so many other, better cars available to you:
    2006-2008 M35 or M45 – unbelievably great used values, luxury without ostentation, fast, handle well.
    New infiniti G37 Journey + packages – around 36 to 38k
    Lexus LS400 or LS430
    New Lexus ES350 35-38k
    2006-2007 Merc CLS500 – 29 to 36k
    Pontiac G8 GT – 2009 CPO used 23 to 28k
    new Ford Taurus SEL – 32k – top of the line besides the SHO
    Hyundai Gen 3.8 – don’t get a 2009, get new, weird suspension oddities that are now fixed – 33 to 38k. OR, the 4.6 V8 for around 37 to 40k. Probably the best luxury car value out there today.
    I’d avoid Lincoln TCs, or used Caddies. STS is a sucky car. Lincolns seem to have nothing going for them other than genitalia-shrinking depreciation, poor reliability and lack of anything resembling fun or handling. Caddy STS is a loser, and is shortly off the the boneyard of ex-models.
    1987 Buick GNX. Just kidding.

  • avatar

    I do love the Avalon… I’d get a slightly used 2-3 year old Limited model with full options for half the budget.
    But really, whoever said the used Q45: plus 50! Love those cars. Or, be really wacky and go for the short-lived, crazy first-gen M45. You’d be the only person with one. I haven’t even seen one in a year or more. Q45s are comparatively plentiful (that’s saying something).
    Despite not being the target audience at all (I’m still in college, and no, I didn’t go back later in life), this is my car market. I love big sedans. I’d even hazard a Buick Lucerne CXS if you want to put some work into the choice. The Northstar is lazy compared to the VH45 (and, hell, even the 2GR-FE), but it sounds so sophisticated, and you could do considerably worse than the Lucerne in the class (Ford Panthers, Chrysler LXs).
    Of course for approximately $5 more you could grab a DTS. The touring model with magneto-rheological shock absorbers drives about par for the course (shared with the Lucerne CXS).
    Also, what about a very late ’06 Lincoln LS V8? They weren’t as buggy or plastic-fantastic in the later years, and they’re somewhat rare (for me, attractive).

    EDIT: Actually, FTW, there’s a black/parchment/chrome 2006 Jag XJ8 Super, CPO, 22,000 mi, $40,800 Buy It Now. I’m sure if you could find one off eBay you could easily negotiate it to well under the $40 grand budget limit.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    1.  Pre-loved M35 0r 45
    2.  Last generation Taurus or Sable (3.5 with 6ATX) AWD
    3.  Pre-loved G300 or 400
    Not understanding all the Avalon love.  He’s a guy for chrissake, not a librarian.

  • avatar

    Volvo’s depreciate like crazy…check out this S80 V8
    The S80 is pretty darn classy inside and out, and for $26k, it would be well under the &40k ceiling.

  • avatar

    There is one large sedan that will make you feel like royalty in this price range, and it is the VW Phaeton.

  • avatar

    Re: the Phaeton
    TTAC had a discussion about this a few months ago…extended comprehensive warranties are available, making a used Phaeton an interesting choice.  There are some used low mileage Phaetons out there, and most of them have been well taken care of (or appear to be).

  • avatar

    The Alabama-built, 35 hwy MPG 2010 Sonata arrives in showrooms at the end of January… (I may go look at one myself).

  • avatar

    Forget the me-too safe, reliable, and boring old person car.  Get a nice compact pickup truck and get out there and do something interesting.

  • avatar

    How come no mention of Jaguars? Late model XJ perhaps? Since V8s are under consideration, XJ could be nice.

  • avatar

    This one is so simple it defies logic.
    Grand Marquis.  Get one before it’s too late.
    Wish I could.

  • avatar

    I’m with jpcavanaugh and Commando.  Try a Mercury Grand Marquis.  It’s a quick, spacious cruiser that is much more capable than you think, at an outrageously low price used.

  • avatar

    Since people are throwing the “genesis” word around so much, I’ll go black sheep:
    2009 Mazda6 s (since it’s for a retirement wagon, no 3rd pedal) GT :)

    Trade the 18″ alloys down to 17″ and get some nice Grand Touring tires to soften it up a bit.

  • avatar

    My recommendation is to rent an example of whatever make becomes a candidate for acquisition and drive it enough to really get to know the car before you make a long-term commitment. There was a time when dealers would let a good customer keep a demo over a weekend or so, but those days are long gone.

  • avatar

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves for recommending the Old Merc, Ford 500, or even the Toyota Avalon.  This guy is not dead, he’s older and in need of a safe comfortable highway cruiser.  I agree with previous poster – he must be somewhat of an enthusiast or he wouldn’t be here.

    I would suggest a 2008 BMW 535i.

    If I were to retire, I wouldn’t mind spending quality time in that sedan.  Don’t get the 20 year old technology Merc, or the Avalon.  Those cars are designed for people who don’t like to drive.

  • avatar

    Right on, mountainman! Some the B&B need to get a clue. I just hope Almost Retired doesn’t regret writing in.

  • avatar

    535i sounds like the best suggestion here.  Live a little!

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