By on June 9, 2011

TTAC Commentator wannabewannabe asks:

Sajeev and Steve,

This is one of the columns I always read on TTAC, and now it’s time for me to submit a question. I haven’t been keeping up on new (and slightly used) cars as much as I used to, so I’d love to get the advice of you guys and the b&b.

Here’s the situation. My mom just totaled her 2007 Scion tC. Don’t worry, other than a few bumps and bruises, she’s fine. But that does leave her in the position of needing a new(ish) car. Of course, I volunteered to help her come up with a list of possibilities for her to consider. The insurance company has given her an estimate of a $13k payment for the Scion, so let’s use that as a baseline. I just talked to her and got her wants and needs and possible price range. They are:

1. She absolutely wants a sunroof. The Scion was the first car she ever had with one and she completely loved having one.

2. She wants the car to have a CD player and/or full iPod compatibility.

3. After this accident, she’s convinced of the utility of airbags and safety, so the car should have a full complement of them. She even said she’s willing to pay a little more for a car with good safety ratings, and safety is more important that looks. Along those lines, I told her she should absolutely have stability control. Having a safe car will go a good ways to getting her over the post-accident fear she has right now.

4. While she certainly likes a car with decent fuel economy, she pretty flexible there and it’s frankly not hugely important.

5. The one thing she always disliked about the Scion was the stiff ride, especially with the lower profile tires. It aggravated her back, which needs no extra aggravation.

6. She also owns an old Dodge Caravan which she had bought to transport my grandmother when she was still alive, and while she pretty much hates the van, she does like the higher seating position because my mom is short, and it allowed her to see out better.

7. Possible price range of about $13k to $25k max, which should open up the options somewhat.

A few things about my mom. She’s in her early 60s and short. She’s an accountant. Right now, she’s driving an old ’89 Toyota Camry that used to be my grandfathers, so she’s in no rush to buy, and she can take her time to find the right car. But the Camry doesn’t have airbags and just isn’t near as safe as what she wants, so it’s not a long term solution. After all the bad publicity that Toyota has gotten in the past couple of years, she’s a little wary of the brand, and she said she probably wouldn’t buy another Scion because of the ride and because she didn’t like the way the brakes felt (the way she described it sounds like the ABS was activating too easily), which the dealership never remedied under warranty. She’s open to both new and used cars, but if it’s used probably no older than the Scion she had, so nothing over 3 years and about 35k miles. She has no foreign or domestic loyalty. Also, she lives in Dallas, so recent blizzaster notwithstanding, she doesn’t need all wheel drive. In fact, front or rear wheel drive makes no difference really.

 

What I’m looking for is a broad list of recommendations, so I have a starting point to create a finely tuned list for her. What say you?

Sajeev Answers:

William, unfortunately your list doesn’t exactly narrow things down. Everything comes with a metric frack-load of safety features, a CD-MP3 deck and even if a moonroof isn’t optional, Webasto makes a great factory-like upgrade in the aftermarket. I would recommend a few test drives in CUVs, Sedans and Coupes in your price range to see what’s gonna spike her punchbowl. So to speak.

I think the CUV is gonna be her new BFF. And there are plenty of ‘em that blend the good of the tC with the high seating position of that Caravan. Since she has a bad back, I’d default to slightly larger units (no micro Kia Souls or equivalent) with more wheelbase and weight. If she liked the tC’s sense of punchy style but won’t buy another Toyota, a mere CR-V or Escape ain’t gonna cut it. I’d go Nissan Murano, Mitsubishi Outlander (maybe), Ford Edge (Panoramic Roof, anyone?) or maybe a somewhat-old Acura MDX.

Steve Answers:

You ever hear of the trampoline effect? It’s when you go from one extreme to another. Kinda like when someone who owns a Ford Festiva decides he needs a bit more safety and buys… a Suburban… an Excursion… a Canyonero.

I think your Mom may be in the grips of that effect. The Tc is small. Cockpit like. A bit claustrophobic. While most midsized sedans today have plenty of room in them without the Big Bertha gas penalty and uninvolved driving experience of a CUV.

Fusion, Camry, Altima, Legacy, Accord… There is a reason why the mid-sized sedan market is still the bread and butter of the car market. I would nix the Elantra due to it’s cocoon like interior along with the prior gen Passat. But pretty much anything else would be fair game.

I would start here. If she wants bigger she can always move up. But today’s midsized cars are the equivalent in space to most full-sized cars without the ‘feel’ of bigness.

Go midsized and adjust if needed.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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76 Comments on “New or Used: Avoiding The Trampoline Effect...”


  • avatar
    wsn

    CRV

    7 driver deaths per million registered year, according to the other post today.

    Not expensive. Larger, but not too large (i.e. not exactly a trampoline effect).

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      A CR-V is not a bad choice, especially since wannabewannabe stated fuel economy isn’t a big issue, and didn’t even mention performance requirements. The CR-V fulfills most if not all of the wants and needs, but isn’t particularly efficient or fast (the small engine has to do a lot of work.)

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      My experience with CRV seats is that they are excruciating after about 30 minutes – flat and very little support. If mom has back issues, that’s something to consider. She should definitely try them out with that in mind.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed on the CRV as a good choice but also agree on the seat issue.

        My wife has an 09 CRV which is a great vehicle and the seats cause her no issue. But at 6’2″ 200lbs, going from my GTI to that… I simply CANNOT get comfortable. The flatness of them kills me since I have long legs and a short torso. Definitely not designed for a guy like me. For his mom, they would probably be fine.

        That car has 60k on it in 2.5 years with ZERO issues.

    • 0 avatar
      anchke

      She might like the Honda CR-V. Very practical and the seating position might give her confidence. My .02 is that the CR-V seats are fine, even on long hauls. I think complaints sometimes come from tall drivers who have problems adjusting the head rest and have to ride in a hunched position. Doesn’t sound like a problem for Mom.

      I wonder if yr Mom would like the Toyota Avalon. It’s a very comfy cruiser, turns in decent mpg and doesn’t require high test, nicely turned out inside, and gently used ones can be had in your price range. Let her drive one and see how she reacts. (Cool fact re Avalon: From a stoplight they can whup a lot of unsuspecting young fellas who wear their caps backward. Not that Mom would need such a cpability:-)

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Oh lord, not the CR-V, it’s the mom-mobile of this decade. And the newest ones have modified its one feature which appeals to my quirky automotive tastes, namely the front end treatment which was sooo reminiscent of the ’61 DeSoto. I think she should at least drive a Fit before dismissing it as too small.

    • 0 avatar
      jjster6

      CHEVY EQUINOX OR GMC TERRAIN.

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        jjster6:

        Equinox is the car under the skin as the Terrain. Its like buying a Chevy Malibu or the Saturn AURA.. same car, same motor, same Kansas plant.

        Ya could buy used and pick up a Saturn VUE also, same as Equinox and or Terrain or Caddy SRX.. aka THETA framed cars.

  • avatar
    willamettejd

    Completely agree. This is an easy choice. Take her test driving for the Accord, Camry, Fusion, Mazda6, Altima, and Legacy. All are safe. All have the features. All are reliable enough with decent fuel economy. Visibility is probably a big factor. Try all six, buy one a year or two or five old on budget, and you’re done. While you’re at the dealership why not try a CUV (Escape, Rav4, Forrester or Outback) to see if she likes the seating position better. She’ll know pretty much instantly if it makes a difference. If yes, you’ll lose 5-10 MPG but that’s about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah with the sedans Mom can just choose based on ergonomics and suspension preferences.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      williamettejd:

      Imagine if ya could buy a Mazda6 from 05. Get a 3box sedan.. with a HATCH and not have to suffer with buying a shit CUV.

      Imagine that.

      P.S
      Outback is a WAGON, always was, always will be.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Her budget makes this a little trickier but I definitely agree to try on a midsize. I went from a Civic Si I totaled to a Camry and the increased size was actually a nice increase in utility while not being overkill in terms of size (i.e. a Sequoia).

      I think any of the popular and reliable midsize sedans would be worth a try. The Accord, Camry, and Fusion are definitely on the shortlist, and if budget permits the newest Sonata would go on there as well. Used cars are so crazy expensive right now that it’s almost a better value to go new if you can swing it and newer cars are virtually always safer. Can’t really go wrong with any of those cars, they all have nice soft rides, good reliability, and since they’re so popular parts are easy to get should you ever need to fix anything.

      Since she’s kinda short I’d make sure that she feels good about the seating position. Most Camry’s are equipped with the power driver seat so they’re good used cars for the height challenged. If buying a used Camry 2002-2006 Camry make sure to get one with side airbags since it boosts the side crash test ratings nicely.

  • avatar
    SV

    The Subaru Forester has a very comfortable, quiet ride while still being pretty fun to drive. iPod compatibility is standard (of course), safety ratings are good, and it’s got stellar reliability. It’s pretty conservatively-styled, though, and going by my dad’s 2009 it has terrible paint quality (go for a color that doesn’t show off scratches). I’m also unsure about sunroof availability; the base model may not have one available.

    Just about any midsizer would be a good choice. The Hyundai/Kia twins are supposedly a bit high on road noise, as is the 6. The Fusion would be my pick for the best all-around package plus excellent reliability. A 4-cylinder SE automatic with the “Sun-and-Sync” package comes out to $24,620 with destination, but it’s probably pretty easy to find a better deal.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think the current mid-sizers are no longer mid-sized. They will seem like boats coming from that Scion. The new Jetta is worth a look, naysayers can go pound sand. Or if she must sit up high, the Tiguan. Or a CPO Volvo S40/V50 – S60/V70 if she wants to be REALLY safe with a nice ride, and a bit less boat like than the Japanese competition. I imagine the values on the old-shape ones have taken a hit with the release of the new ones.

    When it comes to real-world safety, the Japanese and Americans are still playing catchup in my opinion.

    It’s too bad that Saab is teetering on the brink, because at current prices the 9-3 is CERTAINLY worth a look. It may not be a great $35K car, but it is the nicest brand-new $20K car on the market, and that is what sedans are going for new these days. Of course, there is a cause and effect there.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      The Tiguan and S40/V50 S60/V70 etc all have iffy reliability compared to the mainstream mid-size cars.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        It’s all relative. You will note that she had a long-standing issue with a Toyota product.

        Those mainstream mid-sizers are not all they are cracked up to be, nor are the Europeans as bad as the Internet would have you believe. The Truth is in the middle somewhere. So you might as well drive something you like, instead of a boring beige appliance.

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        The main reason the mainstream mid-size cars are derided as “beige appliance” is their reliability. Appliances are reliable. Reliability is boring. Getting stranded on a highway shoulder while cars zip by at 70mph is “exciting” and “memorable ownership experience.”

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      +1. A lightly used Volvo is definitely the way to go: Mom has a bad back, wants a little more comfort, and is concerned about safety; Volvos have slightly mushy suspensions but still handle well enough to get her out of a bad situation, have the second most comfortable seats in the world, and are still the safest things going. A 2008-9 XC70 should fit right under the upper end of her price range, and even gives her the higher seating position she wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez

        We’ve got an S60, the suspension is STIFF and the ride is bumpy. Especially compared to this gen camry or accord (rented both). I suspect the S40 would be as bad or worst, given the shorter wheelbase. Very true about the seats though, and great value on slightly used models.

        My go to recommendation for a mature non-enthusiast would be a Lexus es, the newest one in her price range. Smooth and quiet are worth so much more than people realize, or think about during a 10 minute test drive. A slightly used Avalon would be a (plasticky) alternative with tremendous value for the money. Both were sold almost exclusively loaded with the features she likes. IMO, recent Toyota reliability issues are vastly overblown.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Every now and again I come across someone mentioning that new Saab 9-3 can be had for massive discounts, in this case $20k. Where? How? Does the deal involve weapons and disguises?

      TrueCar pegs the average selling price of a new 9-3 at a few hundred below sticker, and cites the absolute best deals to be had at about $2500 below sticker. Zag agrees. I can’t find any data otherwise.

      http://www.truecar.com/prices-new/saab/9-3-pricing/

      If you know of a dealer someplace selling new Saabs at $15k under sticker, please do tell. I can be there tomorrow with cash in hand. (Hell, I’ll be there this afternoon if they have a row-your-own wagon in stock.)

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    +1 on the Subaru Forester. Slightly taller. Affordable. Excellent safety ratings. Very, very reliable. Quite acceptable fuel economy. And of course, standard AWD should the ‘blizzaster’ ever strike again or she decides to take a winter road trip. My mom, now in her early 70s, is on her third Forester, which makes it her sixth Subaru in a row. Each and every one has been rock-solid dependable and extremely durable. Your mom’s experience may vary, but if my mom could call your mom, she’d endorse the Forester.

    And do the math when it comes to used vs new. If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ll see that used car prices have jumped drastically in recent months. This being the case, it makes the “let the first owner take the depreciation hit” a very weak or non-existant argument. If you qualify for new car finance rates or incentives, you should probably consider buying new for the next several months.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Volvo V50

    Practical
    Safe
    Comfortable

    • 0 avatar
      musicalmcs8706

      I second this. The seats are very comfortable. Or an S40. Make sure to try both the T5 and 2.4. My mom couldn’t stand the speed of the 2.4, so she went with the T5 on her 07 V50.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I think the Forester is a good choice. Since your mother is relatively short, she will probably like the higher seating position, and it has good visibility to boot.

    Another serious choice might be the Venza. It has great ease of entry and exit, has a slightly higher ride height than the Camry, and should make her feel safe. The only real drawback here would be visibility, but otherwise I think that would definitely be worth a test drive.

    You might also add the Nissan Rogue. It has a decent car-like ride and is reasonably comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Venza is a good choice except it pushes the ceiling of her price limit. They also have huge sunroofs that are much like the tC. A FWD, 4cyl model will get near 30mpg in highway driving. That said, I tried to push my mother and my mother in law toward a Venza because I thought they were pretty ideal vehicles for them: super easy to get in an out of, great back seat space, all sorts of space in the cargo area, and good fuel economy. My mom ended up liking the Rav4 V6 Limited better (and it was more car for the money as far as options go) and my mother in law went with a Lexus RX350 (which is a much nicer vehicle, but still very similar to the Venza). Both absolutely love their cars, though, so what do I know? haha

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Lots of good choices already, but… how about an Element?

    Gets her uprightness, seats that should be okay (I’ve never been in a tC, but I have been in an Element, and recall the seats being non-hostile), and a sunroof.

    Plus Honda reliability (since she’s semi-irrationally against Toyotas), decent economy, and all that.

    (Nearly every car in the new or lightly-used market is safe, has a CD/iPod option or a trivial retrofit, and stability control is almost as common…

    Those are almost, thus, non-factors.)

    • 0 avatar
      poltergeist

      Pretty sure you can’t get a sunroof in the current model Elephant (er Element).

      The earlier one’s had a goofy pop-up sunroof over the rear cargo area, but I think thats been dropped on the newer model years

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Hey Steve,

    As much as I read your articles faithfully…

    Accord, Camry, Mazda6, Malibu, Sonata/Optima, aren’t mid-sizers. They compete with the fullsizers.. that they actually are, like Taurus, 300. Put a G8, a 5 series, a TL against the “midsizers” = fullsizers and ya see the point.

    This is why the market is slowly turning to the C class cars. Civic for example is mid now.. just like Elantra is picking up where Sonata left off.

  • avatar
    SwingAxle

    I’m going to throw this into the mix just because no one else probably will. How about a Volvo C30? Haven’t owned one, so will let others chime in on reliablilty, quirks, etc. I think they tend to be a bit pricey for what you get, but it’s slightly upscale with all the features you outlined, all the safety equipment, and Volvo’s are known for their good seats. In addition, it’s a hatch, so unloading things out of the back should be relatively easy on her back. As a diminuitive person, she may like it more than Volvo’s larger fare.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    A used KIA Soul….Those Hamster are really short and they love the Soul.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Just drove one yesterday. Was reasonably impressed, both by the car (the model above the base, still with a manual) and the sticker (
      $16,500.00). Definitely have mom look at one. I have a feeling she might like it.

      It’s on my short list for the upcoming January new car hunt.

      And, if she keeps a car for a long time, why go used? The insurance money would almost buy the low end version. One step up, and you’re still talking $16-18,000.00 range.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Syke & Bufguy: A Soul would have been my first choice. Especially when the pricing was mentioned. It seems to me that most everything starts at $20K these days, and unless you *really* need AWD (and few people really need it as much as they think they do), it’s a great little package that could do most everything you need a car to do. It has the higher seating position without the extra machinery a SUV would entail.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Well, I’d have to go with the Cube on looks and uniqueness alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        @Zackman: I was going to suggest the Cube as well. My wife is diminutive in stature and loves the combination of compact car maneuverability and CUV upright seating position.

        We drove a Ford Escape right before driving the Cube, and she by far preferred the Cube because it was at once familiar (her last car was a compact) and made up for all the things she disliked about her previous car: Better sightlines from the driver’s seat. More comfortable seating position. Easier to get in and out of (and probably easier than the Escape, since she’s only 5’3″). Lower load-in height out back.

        The short wheelbase really doesn’t play into the ride of the car all that much, in our experience. The suspension is tuned for comfort, not for sportiness (as I suspect the tC was tuned), and handles most bumps just like any compact car, despite it being shorter than many compact cars by a good foot or two.

        We got our Cube S with floor/trunk mats, lighted sill plates, cruise, Bluetooth, power everything (except the seats), leather-wrapped wheel and a lot more for $16,900 brand new. Can’t beat that with a stick, in our opinion. The Escape was a base model automatic, and it was $22,000. Big difference in the pocketbook there.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        Oh, but the caveat is the sunroof. The Cube doesn’t come with one. It’s not an option at any level. I do know some aftermarket people are doing nice-looking conversions, however.

        This might tip the scales toward the Hamster-mobile if she starts looking at the boxy subcompacts, but long-term, I think it’d be worth it to buy the Cube and have a proper sunroof fitted aftermarket. Time will tell whether this is the case with the Soul, but we had a 2002 model Kia, and it didn’t age all that well. Cheap paint, thin-skinned, and cheap parts, including a door latch that gave up and broke on us so we always had to roll the window down and open from the outside, all white-trashy style. We also had a brake caliper whose bolts stripped almost completely in the first year of ownership, causing a brake noise the dealer denied existed. Only after the dealer changed ownership and the old service department was canned did we learn the danger of the situation.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @Banger:

        I’m anxious to hear an owner on TTAC give an impromptu review of their Cube, as I really like them. Why do I like them? Well, that’s something only fellow artists like geozinger would understand!

        For the record: I am not a fan of sunroofs. That’s why I also have a convertible.

  • avatar

    As loaded a Ford Fusion as possible, either with the four or with the 3.5L V6. Great safety ratings, superb tech, good size, reliable, and enough depreciation in the first few years to make it a good used buy.

    For the same reasons, my other recommendation would be a Saab 9-5, ideally a Linear or Arc (to avoid the harder Aero suspension and low-profile tires.)

  • avatar
    Syke

    Helping a woman buy a car. My idea of the Fourth Ring of Hell.

    They come to you with a set of well thought out parameters and expectations, and as soon as you start looking the first car that really gets them interested has absolutely nothing to do with the laundry list.

    As least your mother hasn’t included “cute” as a factor. That’s my keyword to be permanently too busy to ever help said female find a car.

    Last one I helped (one of my cycling partners) mentioned a Honda CR-V as a possibility that she’d like to look at. So, of course, I did a rundown of all the competition, pluses and minuses, etc. The hunt never got past the CR-V. Because . . . . . it was “cute”. And none of my alternatives (Escape, Equinox, etc.) were.

    Once finished, I asked her why she even bothered involving me. Never did get an answer.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Yes, even when picking my wife’s mind about what to get is like Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Once finished, I asked her why she even bothered involving me. Never did get an answer.

      “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.”
      -J. Nickolson’s character Melvin Udall on writing women…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My mom is in her early 70s. Last year, I helped her get a 2002 Altima 2.5 S, which replaced her ancient 1990 Taurus.

    This particular Altima is very clean, with only 70k miles. The car drives like a dream, with a fairly high driving position and good visibility. I think she paid about $8700 for it. The fact that it’s pure white was the biggest selling factor for her, but it has also turned out to be reliable over the last 15 months.

  • avatar

    And I thought Scion tC is for younger crowd :) Now it is new Buick, looks like.

    I would recommend Ford Focus. It has plenty of room inside and is high quality and fun to drive. And it also has pretty high seating position (like most modern cars today). I actually prefer lower seating position. Cruze is larger compact but I never even sat in it. But it may be perfect for older buyers from what I read on net, but who knows how dependable it might be

    Okay other cars – Buick Regal – very solid car with high seating position (I would prefer lower). Sonata/Kia seating position is low so I do not think she will like it. Infiniti G Journey – it is not too small not too big and it is RWD! Fusion comes to mind even though I do not like its interior and exterior design but it is very nice car to drive and it is not too big. Accord is too big, Altima is too low. May be slightly used BMW 3 series? Audi and VW are not dependable so I usually do not recommend them to anyone esp for 60 y.o. woman.

  • avatar
    onyxorca

    i was under the trampoline effect for a while. I crashed my celica, then got a town car.

    • 0 avatar

      You my friend, are rather awesome.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I flipped my Festiva, having already been in enough accidents with it that the driver side door, back fender, and the hatch were the only panels that hadn’t been replaced at least once(although the roof had only been repaired now that I think about it), and bought a diesel Mercedes. The Mercedes handled nicely down hill, but I couldn’t deal with the automatic, size, or sloth and sold it more quickly than any of the 10 other cars I’ve had. I replaced it with a Jetta, which was a nice compromise that I loved, since it wasn’t any more unreliable than the other cars I’d owned at that point.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Haha, I went from a Civic Si to a Camry LE for much the same reason. And looking back on it, I think it was actually a good idea. Came way too close to killing myself with the Civic for my comfort and still have a bum knee to show for it.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    ’08-’09 Taurus? Meets all the criteria. Right price, insanely safe, nice high seating position, soft easy-on-the-back ride, input port for MP3 (maybe you can even find one with Sync) and sunroof isn’t hard to find. Yeah, it’s a little bulky but seems like just the right thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’ll second this or a low mile 500/Montego. Safety of a Volvo with Ford pricing and in the case of the 500/Montego abou the same gas mileage as much smaller cars.

      • 0 avatar
        view2share

        Well it is a Volvo platform, just like the Fusion is a Mazda6.

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        The 500 is a very good car but brings a couple of caveats with it – first, no stability control and side airbags weren’t standard until midway through the 2007 model year – Mom may consider these dealbreakers now even though the 500 earned the highest safety ratings. Also, there’s no audio input for an iPod, and the 500 is a little noisier and stiffer riding than the Taurus. Having owned both (my ’07 500 was totaled and I replaced it with an ’09 Taurus) I actually like the Taurus better.

      • 0 avatar
        Acc azda atch

        pdieten:

        500 was one of those bastard cases that Ford put out.. after they picked up the stylist (J.Mays) from VW.

        500 is styled to look like a Passat(B5)… that’s the last thing he styled before he left. Its absolutely generic in styling, performance and design. Yet has all of the bones of a VOLVO. 500 failed for a number of reasons == all EXTREMELY automotive political. Mulally brought the TAURUS name back, only fitting it goes back on a larger than midsized car (Just as long as they reskinned the car). SO its not surprising that the Taurus which came afterwards == SAME CAR, same transmission, same frame, same assembly… (all built along side the current Explorer, Edge, Flex)

        There are basically.. no cavets about the car. If ya simple enough to not know the importance of the 500 / Taurus are / were at the CUSP of Ford’s failure of a company… and ya simple enough to just want a boring, unimaginative milquetoast ride.

        Stability control is a b.s feature (just like awd) few people need it but its going to be pushed to keep the Feds happy.

        On top of..
        It only earned the safety ratings.. BECAUSE ITS BASED ON A VOLVO S60/80! Ya don’t actually think FORD engineered something that good.. THAT FAST?!

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The no side air bags can be avoided and the I-pod thing can be remedied by an aftermarket head unit of even possibly one from a later Ford. Stability control if that’s a deal breaker then so be it. They other big caveat about the 500/Montego is the power level the 3.0 is a little taxed compared to the Taurus/Sable’s 3.5 but it does get you a little better MPG.

  • avatar
    colognecapri

    2009 or 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis LS with an aftermarket radio head unit and a sunroof for under 15k if she really wants to feel safe.

  • avatar
    view2share

    VW Golf. I am going to take one for a test drive when looking for a car next time around. It has decent gas mileage, HP, and quality. The car does well in safety tests, and in the real world the insurance payout for medical is lower than others in its class. Tough little cars. I hear they are fun to drive. Sorry to say I have not owned a German car since the Opel Manta Ralley 1973 model, which was one great driving – great looking auto. It was the GOOD GM small car.

    Anyway, the Golf would make a great car in the same size category at the Scion, only it is IMHO a classier and more sturdy one.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Except the Golf’s reliability won’t be able to touch the Scion’s. I never recommend German cars to non car folk, male or female.

      • 0 avatar
        view2share

        Hard to say. The Scion tC after 2007 appears to be more reliable. 2005 & 2006 Scions were not that stellar. I owned a ’98 Corolla, which was pretty reliable and stayed new looking for 7 years. My Dad’s 2000 Camry I don’t think is quite the same, aging and with numerous small problems as the years have gone by, but with less than 80K miles on it. The drivers door handle came off in my hand one day — cheap pot metal.

        Actually, now-a-days if talking practical, the Hyundai company has the best warranty and has some impressive crash test results. I may test drive the Genesis Coupe again before buying my next car.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    A clean three year old Sonata or Fusion with the requisite options should meet all of her criteria nicely. Get a four cylinder and the fuel economy will be quite good as well.

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    Not sure about the styling of the 2012 version, but how about a Mazda5. Seems like a pretty good all around useful vehicle.

  • avatar

    Simple – your Mother is an Accountant so send her the following link and let her crunch the numbers herself. You did not provide her resident state which actually makes a great deal of difference as to the “best” specific car, but with this generic suggestion she can …

    Help save the world – less petroleum – less emissions – longer useful life cycle so less waste.

    Help reduce the U.S. dependency on OPEC.
    Never pump another gallon of gasoline.
    Have a longer driving range than most every gasoline powered vehicle.
    Save money for every mile traveled for herself against a comparable gasoline powered vehicle.

    etcgreen.com – homepage article (not the supercar review)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Anyone notice that the 4 year old, $18K new Scion TC was still worth over $13K? Toyota drivers are smart. She could have bought a Focus in 2007, and her budget would be starting with a check half that size from the insurance company.

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      Oh come on now. My brother just traded in an ’07 Focus sedan (on a brand-new Equinox, he’s married now & working on kids.) The dealer was so happy to see it they gave him $9K for it. Not tC territory, granted, but a totaled Focus should still pull in $11K now.

    • 0 avatar
      view2share

      I don’t quite understand the fascination with the Scion tC The Celica tC was sporty and great handling, while the Scion is bland, and not the greatest at anything, including gas mileage. The new Euro Focus on the roads in America now I am sure will be kicking some butt over Toyota offerings like the Scion tC. Scion must be one of those Apple vs, Windows machines for pricing, where you get less, pay more, and everyone is happy to buy it used for more than it is worth. A four year old Scion is worth about $10K perhaps, if it was $2Ok new and has over 60K miles on it. It is not like they sold for bargain prices.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I did a comparison on Kelly Blue book. For 2007s with 50K miles, good condition, base TC v. Focus SES sedan with ABS, private party value was $9,875 for the Ford and $13,025 for the Scion in my San Diego zipcode. I priced a TC when I bought another car in 2007 and I could have got it for $18K plus dealer processing. IIRC, the dealer charged $188 for their BS, although it could have been as much as $300. The Scion wasn’t the car for me, but it was a bargain for a car that combined all the usual convenience and comfort features with a standard sunroof at the time. It basically cost as much as a discounted Civic EX with the same equipment but a much smaller engine. Ford is about ready to go public with an effort to manage the disasterous initial quality survey results of their newly released models. I suspect substance will win out over hype and five years from now Ford and GM products will once again be practically free used while Toyota residuals will still be the best insurance against going upside down on a loan.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        @view,

        It’s all a matter of preference. We’ve been looking for a long, long time for a replacement car for my wife. The last place we thought we’d be is at a Toyota/Scion dealer, as 99.9% of what Toyota has right now just doesn’t do anything for us. But lo and behold, she drive a 2011 tC and fell in love, so in two weeks we go to pick up her new car. For the price, we’re quite pleased with what is being offered in the way of features. Is it the fastest/best mileage/best handling (insert other factors here) vehicle out there? Probably not, and many will post listing that XYZ model is better for whatever reason. But in the end, the person driving has to live with it, and it’s important to me that my wife gets out of her car and finds herself looking back at the car as she walks away, smiling in the knowledge that it is HER car and she feels good about driving it…just like I do with my 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart.
        As for the mom in question here, man…lots of territory to cover and many, many choices. I dread the day when my mother goes to replace her 2003 Corolla! She usually buys a car based solely on her experience with the last (to whit, she’s owned nothing but Toyota since 1981). Maybe I can at least convince her of a nice Camry SE.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        “Scion must be one of those Apple vs, Windows machines for pricing, where you get less, pay more, and everyone is happy to buy it used for more than it is worth.”

        There are a number of things wrong with that statement, the most glaring of which is the last part. Something is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it.

  • avatar
    italianstallion

    Others have already mentioned the Forester. All but the base model are available with a HUGE sunroof – its almost like having a convertible. Plus, the AWD Forester’s fuel economy beats the FWD CR-V. And its available with a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Lexus ES, Panther love Town Car edition, Volvo V/XC 70 if she likes it, higher seating position cant beat a Acadia/Enclave – I like the enclave a lot more, I think 09 was when they introduced direct injection – they are real dogs before that! Get the GMPP if you buy the Buick and buy the GMPP off the web! The Avalon is a very nice ride, but if she is off toyos – just dont tell her the es is a nice camry! Perhaps if she wants smaller the Forrester is a good suggestion, and hey what about an older c class or for a bit sporty an Acura TL

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    You want an example of the Trampoline Effect? A friend of mine decided that his Saturn Sky didn’t have enough luggage space. Did he replace it with a larger convertible? No, he bought an F150. I don’t think that thing has ever had anything in the bed.

  • avatar
    probert

    Let your mom test drive a fiat 500 convertible. She might love it and then she’d owe you big time. Plus you’d get to test drive it and it looks like fun.

    Another outlier is the Nissan Juke. This thing is a riot and has a nice authoritative seating position. If she like the Scion she might love this little bug.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    I’d say 4cyl CUV’s for what she’s looking for, with a few exceptions. Order of preference:

    Hyundai Tuscson
    Kia Sportage
    Subaru Forester
    Nissan Rogue
    Honda CR-V (mom has one, it’s nice, but underpowered like whoa and very thirsty)
    Chevy Equinox (the Terrain is the same, but significantly uglier)

    of course something tells me she’d really like a CPO last-generation Volvo V70 LPT (low-pressure turbo, “2.5T”) with some options.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Why go for a CUV with relatively lousy gas mileage? And why go for a bigger “mid-size” sedan?? She was happy with a small coupe before, just didnt like the (slightly) firm ride. She would LOVE a Honda Civic. Coupe if she prefers style, sedan if she wants a bit more practicality.

    If a CUV is a hot button for her, then I would recommend the RAV4 over the CRV any day. Better seats, better styling (esp the interior), just as good of quality level, and better mileage too (I think). The 4-cyl is good performance with great MPG, the V6 is crazy powerful and still pretty good MPG. For a while, the V6 RAV4 was the fastest vehicle in the Toyota lineup.

  • avatar
    eldard

    A Kia Optima would be quite nice. Or for a real trampoline effect a Hyundai Azera. So big yet so cheap.


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