By on August 11, 2012

 Ian writes:

My wife drives a 2007 Lincoln MKX in need of shrewd replacement. The good lady finds the Mark Ten a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it. It also lacks exactly the features that she prizes: a sunroof, and up-to-date bluetooth – iDrive – voice/nav goodies. After a 16-month test drive of this very kind gift, it’s time to trade it towards something more suitable.

To narrow the field: We prefer wagons to crossovers, but are open to persuasion on the latter category — especially if better maneuverability and fussy electronics are on tap. No hybrids, definitely open to diesel. Big fans of used/CPO vehicles, inclined to buy and hold.The budget’s around $32k total. Every idea from new Focus ST to 4-yr-old Cayenne has crossed our kitchen table, so there’s barely a box to think outside of, and here’s the trick:

The puppy’s car-trained and our first baby en route. So this is the last car we’ll buy for years where gearhead intangibles might factor in the selection process. This car also is likely to become mine in 3-5 years (replacing my 08 CPO 535xi at 99,999 miles, and staying a Long Time), so I’m willing to go an extra mile on behalf of dumb stuff like steering feel, all-day seats, real durability and such.

If you had to sell a new Beltway mom a car today, that will become your war horse in 2016, what car would it be?

Steve Says:

This is the hard part. My wife’s tastes are probably a complete 180 to the two of you. Her idea would be to buy a reasonably kept older car in the $6k to $10k range and spend the rest on travel.

So the first thing I naturally think of when I hear a $30,000+ family car for what amounts to family errands is…
“Really? You want to spend that much?”
No offense. But when I deal with someone who is already dissatisfied with a loaded luxury vehicle after less than a year and a half, I get concerned about steep depreciation curves and fickle fashions.
So I would do it this way.
Have her do the shopping list first. Find six vehicles that really could do the trick for the two of you. Three new and three used. Throw in one or two vehicles as well that are on the cheaper side of $25k (you may be surprised) and test drive all of them.
Take notes, discuss it together, read up on what current owners have to decide, and then make your choice.
Good luck!
Sajeev Says:
Mark Ten?  You stole my bit!
So anyway, making a recommendation with such vague requirements (yes, really) is more than a little difficult.  Go test drive stuff!
Why am I saying this? The MKX is a pretty decent vehicle for your needs, and yet you’re ready to dump it and find another vehicle that you’ll hate in a matter of months. Get a new smart phone instead and keep this Lincoln, mission accomplished. Or buy something absolutely silly (Cayenne) fully understanding that you’re foolish or get a 4cyl CUV for the ultimate in long term value.
I have no clue what’s gonna make you happy.  Go test drive stuff, or you’ll regret it.
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123 Comments on “New or Used: The $32,000 Question...”


  • avatar
    krhodes1

    If you have a 535 and like it, why not get a 5-series wagon to go with it? Plenty of space for kid and pooch, has all the mod-cons, and CPO is within your budget.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Don’t know if it is available in the US but a 5 series wagon with a stick should pretty much be the ultimate.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      OP:”We prefer wagons to crossovers + we have dog” and B&B will offer SUVs and saloons after that? C’mon. Premium wagons are exactly the right way: 5 series, E-MB, Audis, Cadillac. If not suitable only then most car-like SUVs like X5 and CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      centennian

      Some high-quality fog lights here — thanks! In hope of sharpening the cutoff:

      >>a $30,000+ car for what amounts to family errands
      We run a lot of errands in NY, CT, and NC. Coupled with the intention to replace my E60 with this purchase, when the former ages out of CPO protection in ~4 years, I don’t think there’s a $10k answer to our question.

      >>when I deal with someone who is already dissatisfied with a loaded luxury vehicle after less than a year and a half, I get concerned about steep depreciation curves and fickle fashions.
      >>Your wife prefers wagons to crosssovers yet she’s presently driving a cuv.
      OP: “After a 16-month test drive of this very kind GIFT” [emphasis added]… M’lady chose Nothing about her MKX, except to note that it was free and had 110k fewer miles on it than what she was driving when the offer came. The cars we choose usually stay for 6-8 years, and with this thread we’re looking for something we might both like for 8-10.

      >>>>From this description I’m not sure what she has against the Lincoln, other than lack of sunroof.
      OP: “a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it”

      >>You don’t instantly have to run out and spend 30K+ because she’s pregnant
      We’re not in the market “because she’s pregnant”; we’re in the market because there’ll never be a better time to swap this thirsty car she doesnt like to drive for one that’s more efficient, more fun, or both. That said, it makes perfect sense to me we’d factor all that baby stuff (We’re getting a McLaren! Oh. Nevermind…) into the choice of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “No BMW on the road today is likely to be more than a hobby in 2016.”

      Obvious troll. My 2004 330i with a manual transmission is a reliable daily driver and will most likely be in 2016 if some idiot doesn’t rear end me in Seattle traffic.

      Then again, I actually know how to do a reasonable amount of DIY maintenance, so beta-males who can barely check their oil should probably get something like a Camry.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    You can get a 2004-2005 Lexus LS430 for quite a bit less than 32k with under 50k miles, it’ll last forever with proper maintenance, it’s better than the new gen Lexus (or most other cars) in terms of build quality, it’s going to have the best ride quality and solidity of anything short of a Mercedes S Class (with waaay better reliability), so if you value comfort and quiet and reliability, look into it*.

    I’ve checked out the LS460 and the new Lexus RX, and as just two example of Lexus falling back (not as far as Acura, though), they are less Lexus than their predecessors, with cheaper interior plastics and worse ride quality.

    I am of the opinion that MOST PEOPLE who buy a new luxury car are making a very imprudent financial decision, given the extreme depreciation of such vehicles (even those that hold their value on a relatively good basis), when 2 to 5 year old models can be had for 60% to 35% of the original selling price, with the original buyer eating the biggest chunk of depreciation over the quickest timeline.

    *Unless she doesn’t want rear wheel drive, in which case, check out a new Chrysler 300 AWD.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m tempted to make a sarcastic comment about “1st World Problems” but I’ll refrain.

    What does a nicely equipped 4cyl Equinox or Terrain go for right now? If it weren’t for the small back seat and I had your requirements I’d be looking at a Focus Titanium hatch with the 5 speed or perhaps the hot Focus with the EcoBost and six speed manual.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      You forgot to mention the awd wagon stick shift with whale foreskin leather trim and a diesel motor.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Whale what? Only if it’s Jewish…

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      The Equinox 2LT comes with everything BUT leather for $28k (including power liftgate, backup camera, etc), so I would think on the lot for $29k is reasonable. Otherwise the LTZ is $30-31k with all the options, including heated leather. The GMC Terrain is priced around the exact same.

      We test drove a loaded Terrain back in May and it was really nice. The front legroom is best in class, the second row is adjustable which is really nice, and supposedly it will get decent gas mileage, although I’d check fueleconomy.gov and other user reviews on THAT point, since I would consider it somewhat well known that the Equinox/Terrain doesn’t quite put out the mileage it’s rated for… it’s still probably the best you’ll find in a non-hybrid for the size. The CX-5 gets better MPG, but has quite a bit less useable space.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        My bad – they changed the configuration a bit. The 2LT now comes with heated cloth and no power liftgate. The LTZ ($30k out the door) adds the leather and power liftgate.

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      Dan, I was in Cranston RI last weekend and checked out Tasca Ford’s lot. I counted exactly 40 new Focus, and only 1 (that’s ONE) had a manual transmission. Can you even get a Titanium with a manual?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Now you can, they changed the options sheet this model year. I’m not saying they’re easy to find, I’m just saying that’s what I would get. :) Don’t need no stinking dual clutch auto.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Used TSX wagon (with black interior)

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    There’s that phrase again – The manufacturers must love it when a baby is “en route”. How else do they sell new cars? Why do you all give up having nice cars for another kid, I will never understand.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps if you had kids, you’d understand. Ask Baruth, he’ll explain it.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Oh I know what you mean. Jack seems like a cool guy with the beard, the guitar, the motorcycle, the sharp clothes, the racing cars and then he has a kid. How boring. Now his life is all play dates, minivans, karate lessons, Pampers, and possibly another kid. Unless maybe he will write a story about the day he gets neutered.

        But really, why do we have that phrase “another one on the way”? Why do so many of the B and B want kids?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Having children is not the problem at all. Rather, why does that mean the fun car is the car that has to go? Assuming a two car household there is no reason NOT to have a fun machine. And in the case of one car only, why not a sport sedan or wagon? At the very least, the Mazda CX can fill as a stopgap. But sell automotive bliss, a rolling therapy machine? No way. I’d be the guy with the fenced off side of the garage to protect the baby from the baby…

        Besides, in this case I think the baby is being used as an excuse to make a financially imprudent decision and the money would better be used to start a college fund which needs, what, $900 a month from birth? In any event it is the OP’s money and their choice as what to do…Now go buy a used CTS wagon and be done with it…

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @golden2husky

        I don’t think you’re too familiar with the Mazda CX line.

        The CX-5 is too small for many folks. The CX-7 and CX-9 are both long in the tooth, uncompetitive and if I’m not mistaken the 7 and possibly the 9 both require premium fuel while returning pretty uncompetitive fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have to agree with your Bob, children are important and need proper care but today’s society takes it overboard. You don’t instantly have to run out and spend 30K+ because she’s pregnant, nor should you have to hate your life because you wanted to have a family. Provide for your family but don’t lose focus on your own wants and needs as an adult, there has to be a medium… otherwise you end up with a generation of spoiled brats demanding instant gratification, the erstwhile Gen Y.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Thank you 28, but why do we need kids at all? Why not have the cars we want without them?

      • 0 avatar

        People tend to have a “little freak out” when the kid shows up. The real work, though is years later, in adolescence….but I digress.

        I did sell the 2 door GTI because you could not get the kid in and out of the child seats in the back without contortion. Since then, the only rule is four doors, because you will have to do unexpected pickup at some point…there is, though, no rule that you have to own a minivan or suv.

        Luckily, there’s a lot of very worthy 4 door cars, and the little ones really enjoyed when daddy goes into a snowy parking lot and turns off traction control. My son is learning all about car history at the local car show (If you are ever in the NY area, Wednesday nights at Harriman State Park/Bear Mountain-Ferrari to AMC, it’s ALL there, and don’t even get me started on the motorcycles). My girl is almost a driver herself, and based on a few trips to a local parking lot, she’ll be OK too.

        Besides, no one driving a 4 door is going fast, right :)

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Hey! I gave up a brand-new 1980 Dodge pickup truck for a 1981 Plymouth Reliant for the kids!

      uh…the Reliant was a 4 speed, if that’s any consolation…

    • 0 avatar
      dima

      It all depends. When my second popes out, I bought my wify GS 350 awd. She let me drive it on weekends. All other time I drive Mazda 5. Not because of kid, I like it and love to have a tons of space when needed. It also kids friendly. As far as car choice for original poster, why not used Lexus es 350?

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      I don’t really get it either…I grew up with our family of 4-5 crammed into a 2 door Sentra coupe and it seemed to work out just fine…the baby seat fit fine as did all the groceries. Then again my parents didn’t buy gigantic boxes of stuff.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    All she wants is a sunroof, bluetooth, and nav? Buy a Escape Titanium or a CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      If an Escape Titanium, why not a Mercedes GLK for 2 or 2 1/2 grand more?

      http://www.cars.com/go/search/detail.jsp?tracktype=newcc&csDlId=&csDgId=&listingId=87091276&listingRecNum=166&criteria=prMx%3D40000%26sf1Dir%3DDESC%26prMn%3D19000%26alMdId%3D27621%26mkId%3D20028%26stkTyp%3DN%26mdId%3D27621%26rd%3D100000%26crSrtFlds%3DstkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId-pseudoPrice%26zc%3D77478%26rn%3D150%26PMmt%3D1-1-0%26stkTypId%3D28880%26sf2Dir%3DASC%26sf1Nm%3Dprice%26sf2Nm%3Dlocation%26isDealerGrouping%3Dfalse%26alMkId%3D20028%26rpp%3D50%26feedSegId%3D28705&aff=national&listType=1

      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/1205_2013_ford_escape_titanium_test/

      2013 Ford Escape Titanium AWD
      BASE PRICE $31,195
      PRICE AS TESTED $34,735

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      It’s for his wife, so it at least needs to be operational for him not to be nagged. That nixes the BMW and the Merc.

      And FWIW, the Merc is absolutely hideous!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The Mercedes GLK is pretty reliable, and is far more refined than the 4 cylinder Escape.

        Plus, I think it looks way better. For a 2k price differential, a GLK new is a no brainer as between the two.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        @DW

        I like the Escape (and the Edge) and you’re right that price is pretty high *but* I bet similarly equipped GLK would be 45-50K.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        I would expect the GLK’s 3.5L engine to be more refined than a 2.0L Turbo, but you fail to mention the GLK STARTS at $37k, as opposed to the Titanium Escape being fully loaded at nearly $3k less. There’s a lot of options/toys you don’t get at $37k in the Merc.

        If snob appeal is your thing, buy the Merc. However, those who don’t care about a badge shouldn’t spend extra $ for little to no additional benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @DeadWeight

      You can get a brand new Mercedes GLK, loaded, for $34k?

      Cause that’s the price of a brand new Escape. Loaded. With more options.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    The Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL fits this bill perfectly for just under $32K, nicely appointed with leather, nav, panoramic sunroof AND parallel parking assistance, which let’s face it, some people really need assistance with; especially in D.C.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      +1 on the C-Max. With the exclusivity of a hybrid-only body style, no one could one-up you with a higher number on their Merc/BMW/Lexus. Its got a warranty, probably will do well in crash tests, and if it drives anything like the Focus, it should be decently responsive.

      As a parent, being able to waive your foot under the tailgate to open the hatch with the proximity key would be huge.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    It’s for his wife, so it at least needs to be operational for him not to be nagged. That nixes the BMW and the Merc.

    And FWIW, the Merc is absolutely hideous!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The curvise four letters in blue get lost on the east coast. Plain states, sure, go for the Escape. But on the eastern seaboard prestige will carry some panache at the daycare.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I am not a fan of Mercedes Products, in general, but with a mere 2k or so price difference between the GLK and Escape, the GLK is not only the better vehicle, but is going to have far better residual value.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        DW do you have an example of a GLK with all the features of a loaded Escape Titanium?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          The Ford and Mercedes websites show about a 7k difference

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          See my reply above. I linked a new GLK fairly loaded (even a base GLK is fairly loaded) for just over 36k.

          I’d rather have a base model GLK for a few thousand more than a loaded-to-the-gills-with-apps-and-widgets Escape, at any rate.

          One’s a Ford that encroaches, right up to the red zone, of Mercedes pricing, while the other is a genuine, German built, stout and vault like Mercedes Benz (it actually is one of the few new MBs that I like think has outstanding exterior and interior design along with legendary safety baked in) that is only a few thousand more than Ford’s lowest rung on the ladder cute ute.

          A Jeep Grand Cherokee, based on a quality, luxury, refinement, value AND utility basis, embarrasses the Escape even more soundly, as it can be had for about the same price as the ‘Titanium’ escape with all the goodies most need, and without question reveals the Escape to be the econobox, even if highly optioned, cute ute of a vehicle it truly is.

          • 0 avatar
            toxicroach

            I did a build on the Merc and Ford sites. Now I suspect the Mercedes would have quite a few extra gadgets, but with a panoramic sunroof, parking assist, and AWD, the Escape is $36,230. The GLK with the same key features is $49,185.

            I’m afraid the Escape is without a doubt the value buy. The base Escape is of course 15k less than the base GLK, but even the Escape with a panoramic sunroof which is the closest match to the base GLK is 9K less.

            So basically the difference is more or less a brand new Versa.

          • 0 avatar
            NulloModo

            You can buy an Escape with the same features as the $36K Grand Cherokee for about $29K. You seem set on comparing apples to oranges. It’s not news that vehicles with a lower base price can be optioned out with more equipment than vehicles that start out at a higher price with less equipment.

            As far as the Escape goes the pricing isn’t even out of line for the class. You can option out a Chevy Equinox to $37K, Kia Sportage to $33K, a Toyota Rav4 to $33K, and a Honda CR-V to $31K, and none of them come with as much stuff as the Escape Titanium.

            Cars are more expensive than they used to be, and mainstream brands are encroaching on luxury brands in both features and pricing. You can buy the badge or buy the stuff, choice is a wonderful thing.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Remember the last time people got excited when a mainstream product was a whisker away from a vaunted M-B product? That was when a Eddie Bauer Explorer was only a few thousand less the the new Mercedes ML. Naturally the suburban housewives demanded the Mercedes…brand cachet is everything when a gate keeps the rif raff out of your “community”. And we all know what a horrid disaster the ML was…I think that won the most unreliable vehicle award for a least two years….

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Despite the fact the GLK has the interior of a 10 year old luxury car (which in and of itself is an old man’s interior) while the Escape has a modern, really really nice interior, and despite the HUGE discrepancy of options between the two, and despite the fact the GLK would be stupid expensive to fix compared to the Escape’s, AND despite the fact he hasn’t driven a new Escape, let alone, I would imagine, a GLK, the Escape “isn’t as nice” or “is less of a car” as the GLK…. despite all of these things, DW knows *FOR A FACT* that the GLK is the nicer of the vehicles.

        Escape for $36k is what the GLK would cost nearly $50k for – this is math he doesn’t get.

        We went over this once before, where he tried to explain that because it was a Ford, and even though it could be had with a V6 or a turbo 4, the Ford Edge was not worth the as-tested price it was (around $35k if I recall) simply because it was a Ford. Then he compared it to an SRX which had the same crap but was several grand MORE than the Edge. The entire comments section called him out on this, and he just ignored it.

        Let’s avoid that this go around, yes?

        Either you want a LOADED vehicle for $34k or you want a BARE BONES vehicle that costs WAY MORE to repair and has a much less modern interior for a few grand more. If you’re considering the $37k GLK you probably don’t know the Escape exists. Unless when your cap is $32k and you already don’t like the luxury SUV you already own. Then you probably automatically ignore the GLK.

        The OP’s situation describes, perfectly, mine in about a year. The only difference is if I had a MKX I’d keep it. And for my $30-36k (36 is my absolute ceiling) I’m personally going to be test driving an Edge Limited, a really nicely equipped Venza and a Highlander SE.

        Why these three, you ask?

        The Edge is the obvious choice and my personal favorite because you get a LOT of stuff for your 36k.

        The Venza isn’t much smaller (which may be sufficient) and still looks (in my eyes) really, really good while still having a pretty big cargo area/passenger room. It looks a lot like my ’12 Focus, only bigger, which I like.

        The Highlander, for the heck of it, would have quite a few options along with a niftily configurable third row that completely goes away if you don’t need it (we don’t, but who knows in 5-6 years) along with a REALLY cool middle row seat configuration. It won’t be as nice, and honestly is very, very unlikely to be a vehicle I would buy. But you never know.

        OR the back-up option is a loaded Equinox for $30k if we decide, at the time, that the extra $6k could be better spent. The Equinox is a properly nice vehicle. The Edge is just $6k nicer.

        I immediately excluded vehicles like a GLK, or really any other luxury vehicle really, for two reasons: cost (loaded vs starting, etc) and size. I LOVE the Lexus RX-350 but it has less usable front row space (I’m 6’5) than an Equinox or Edge, despite being the same size and having the same fuel consumption. I like the SRX, but the misses finds it unappealing aesthetically which I don’t feel like hearing about for the next 5-7 years. And the new CX-5/Escape look (and I’m sure are great) but are a bit small for my tastes.

        You either want small CUV (Outlander Sport, Journey, CX-5, RAV4, etc), mid-sized (Equinox, Edge) or large (Traverse, Flex, etc). There’s little in-between from what I’ve seen.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        That’s the thing, though.

        I’ve only owned approximately a dozen cars.

        But there’s wide discrepancy from manufacturer to manufacturer between MSRP and real world pricing.

        If you want to tell me that the Ford Escape rides better, has a more nicely trimmed interior, has a more quiet interior at speed, or is all around more capable and comfortable than a new Grand Cherokee, just say it.

        I haven’t driven the Escape. True.

        But I doubt you’ll say the Escape is more any of these things than the Grand Cherokee, which I have driven, and which one can buy with a pretty healthy list of options for around the same price as the Escape ‘Titanium,’ irrespective of MSRP. I know this because I came 3 hours close to buying a 2012 Grand Cherokee 4×4 X Package 70th Anniversary Edition for 31,xxx OTD (leather, heated seats, everything but the rear DVD things and a couple of other options) that had an MSRP of over 38k.

        There’s MSRP and real world pricing. It’s not just I that see’s Ford offering less flexibility on pricing. They’re truly and wildly overpriced, across their model line, with a few notable exceptions.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I used to live in Alexandria. My Escape did fine on city streets and the beltway. Do you guys have to park on the street? I wouldn’t go too high priced due to random dings and bumper scrapes, IMHO. I’d go mid-range Escape and save some money or find a Volvo XC60 coming in off a lease. FWIW, Lindsay Cadillac will do much bowing and scraping for their customers and Tony’s garage next to the McDonalds on RTE1 is great. Ride height can make a huge difference in traffic.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Dude,

    You’re all over the map. Your wife prefers wagons to crosssovers yet she’s presently driving a cuv. What kind of driver is she? Does she prefer something spirited or is isolation from the road more important.

    Without knowing the answers to those (and other) questions it’s kinda hard to make a somewhat useful recommendation. With that being said…here’s what I got.

    Any of the hot hatches… WRX, Speed3, Focus ST, GTI. Or maybe a Jetta TDI SportWagon. Perhaps an Audi A3. Or a Mazda Protege wagon.

    Lots of choices and not enough info to whittle down. Or how about this. Run what you brung until you really know what you want. I’ve gotta believe the last thing you want is to be going through this scenario again in 24 months.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I love my Focus to death, but that thing isn’t at all useful if you want a back seat IMO. For that alone I’d discount it, long-term, if I were having kids.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    From this description I’m not sure what she has against the Lincoln, other than lack of sunroof.

    A couple of things to consider – Jetta Sportwagen with Panoramic sunroof and Navigation. Can be had new for well under the budget and makes a pretty decent family Wagon without being too big or unwieldy in DC traffic. And Audi A3 would be another possibility, and maybe a better fit for the gearhead requirement.

    • 0 avatar
      DarkSpork

      Have you driven a Ford Edge? They’re pretty terrible, the visibility really is THAT bad, and no redeeming qualities come to mind. We use to have Ford Edges and Ford Taurus Xs at work and I’d always take the Taurus X over the Edge, regardless as to condition.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The 2010 and earlier Edge had a pretty plasticky interior, the 2011 and newer models are much nicer inside and have a much improved ride.

        I would have gone for the Taurus X over the earlier Edge myself, and I’d still take a Flex over the new Edge, but the new Edge is a lot nicer than the old Edge.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        I found the edge to be quite claustophobic, with the heavily angled windshield, high sills and the poor headroom.

        Edge is the opposite of the 2001-2011 escape, which is so airy and roomy feeling.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    CRV EXL or CPO RDX.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    I was thinking Acura TSX Wagon. .It will fit your needs,handles real well and gets good mileage. You could get a CPO with navigation , and probably get a new one without nav for your budget. Just my 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      centennian

      She likes that one, but I detest the seats. The (‘sporty’?) upper support wings push my shoulders forward so I’m in a dejected posture before I even turn th car on. Deal breaker.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    If you want to go the wagon route, a nice CPO BMW, Audi A3, or Volvo wagon or hatchback would seem to be the best fit. If new, a Focus, Mazda 3, Elantra wagon, or VW TDI (with an extended warranty). If a sedan is amenable and you really want to keep a car forever, than my understanding is that you can get an unlimited mileage lifetime warranty on Chrysler products (it was $3k on my parents Fiat 500), so a new Dodge Dart or Charger may be worth looking at with that warranty. A Hyundai Genesis V6 or a used Infiniti M35 or G37 would also make a nice sedan choice depending on if you want more sport or more luxury. I make no secret of my hatred for crossovers so I’ll let someone else make those recommendations.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    New Acura RDX with the V6? You’d get all of the space and usefulness of the CR-V at twice the price.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    People DESIRE iDrive?!?!

    Ya I know, after almost a decade of refinement it’s a lot easier, but saying I desire iDrive would be like my 82 year old mother saying she wants a Mackey 20 channel mixing board to listen to her opera music CDs.

  • avatar
    spyked

    I too say the GLK range is a good deal. New for 2013 is a STANDARD diesel engine. The GLK350 with 300hp will be available too. Right now you can get great deals on 2012 models with 268hp (and no funny tech like turbos or DI). But diesel will be available soon.

    I’d get a tad more room for the same or less money and get a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo X or Limited. Safe, simple, but ridiculously luxurious when equipped. Way nicer than anything with JEEP on the grill should be…

    For potenital long-haul duties, I go conservative. No turbo, no DI, no fancy DSG gearboxes. Give me Port FI, a slushbox, and easy parts and service. That’s 2012 GLK or Jeep GC.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I like your logic, and it happens to comport with mine.

      I linked a new Mercedes GLK above for 36k and change, and it’s decently equipped.

      The GLK is three cuts above a Ford Escape Titanium in solidity, build quality and refinement, but at something less than a 5k real world premium.

      The closest thing between them is the price, which isn’t that far a leap.

      There was a time when I would have thought to not to bother to even consider the Mercedes, but that was when Fords were priced like Fords (especially their compact class models), rather than Mercedes.

      The 34k Ford escape may have an extra iDoodle or eGadget vs the Mercedes GLK here and there, but there’s no contest as to which one is more solidly engineered, built and refined.

      It’s laughable that Ford’s smallest cute ute can even approach, let alone pass the 30k mark by 4 1/2k.

      It’s an example of Ford’s premium pricing strategy, whereby Ford’s apparently adopted the opposite approach of VW & Toyota in North America.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Ford wouldn’t offer the options if people weren’t buying them. I sold two Foci last week, both of which were loaded Titanium models. There’s a market for well equipped small premium vehicles. A Titanium Focus or a Titanium Escape can get up there in price, but when you compare what you get for the money it still comes in many many thousands less than anything from Mercedes, BMW, or Audi.

        Of course, there are also the much more affordable options offered. Just because you can option out an Escape to $35K or a Focus to $28K doesn’t mean you have to. You can get either one with the common options for much less. If you would rather have a base model Mercedes than a Ford with nav, premium audio, bluetooth, real leather, and the rest of the upgrades, then by all means buy the Merc.

      • 0 avatar
        Spartan

        Seriously, stop the madness. You can’t even get an MB GLK with Navi for $36k. If you think you can buy a “loaded” GLK for anything less than $40k, I have a bridge I can sell you for the same money.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        You get what you pay for.

        I had a Kia Forte EX that cost me $15,200.

        Traded it in a little over a year later for a ’12 Focus that ran me $20,500.

        You better believe my Focus is easily $5,000 more car.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    A regular cab F-150. One of the reasons they’re so popular with petite or average size women is their watchtower visibility. If she’s never driven one, she could become addicted and forget about the not available (in reg cabs) and soon to be obsolete, silly gadgetry. What does she need navigation for? Does she deliver pizza?

    An exgf owned a regular cab truck so her toddler son could ride ‘shotgun’.

    Since this would be your truck in a few years, ‘spec’ it the way you want it. Coyote 5.0, 4WD, 3.73 limited slip. You would still come in way under $32K before rebates.

    You may think you don’t need such a truck, but there’s an outdoors man inside all of us, dying to get out. Besides, it’s an excuse to own a modern day muscle car and your wife wouldn’t even know it.

  • avatar
    Bushwack

    Has anyone mentioned Subaru?

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      +1. The Outback (2010 and up) probably ticks most of the OP’s checkboxes, but I think you’d get closer than I’d like to that $32K mark if you option one up with moonroof and OEM navigation).

      My wife and I are expecting our first baby in November and made the choice to lose her V6 Accord coupe for something that’s not going to give us back spasms getting a baby seat in and out all the time. The Outback H4 with CVT beats the V6 for fuel economy at an honest-to-God >29MPG on a road-trip from Denver through San Fran, Portland and Salt Lake (4000+ miles). The 2010 redesign gives you PLENTY of room for behemoth baby seats in back without having to move the fronts an inch (I’m 6’1″ – my 6’4″ buddy has room to spare behind me before his knees find the back of my seat). It’s a wagon, so the trunk space is totally doggable (Subaru will happily sell you dog fences as a factory add-on).

      So we ended up with AWD, Bluetooth, pretty decent fuel economy on cheap gas and the CVT for dealing with stop-n-go traffic for under $25K out the door. It’s no speed demon, but I really couldn’t care less.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        a buddy of mine, a car guy, got himself an outback when his kid was born. Said similar stuff to what you said about its practicality. Wife said a mini van was too big and unstylish

        He has a mini van now. Wife made him sell the Subie. The wagon doesnt make it any easier to get kids in and out of the back seat. Do it 6-8 times per day and it gets tiresome as hell.

      • 0 avatar
        jdowmiller

        Just wondering…did you purchase the rear facing safety seat and try it out before buying the Outback? I sat in the rear seat and it felt pretty tight (6′ 200 lbs). I did a visual measurement of a rear-facer and just couldn’t see it fitting back there. Maybe in the middle? Different brands of seats fit differently.

        @ Baggins: seconded. I (snarkily) mentioned vans the other day and pissed off the OP. But you’re right, getting kid(s) in and out of a big wagon is no easier than anything else. I sorely regret my choice to *not* buy a van when we started having kids.

  • avatar
    meefer

    A3 TDI. IF you want all the bells and whistles go CPO to stay within budget.

    Sleeper pick to save a boatload of money (use for baby’s college fund or to turbo the crap out of this car later). Lexus IS300 Sportcross. 2JZ reliability, solid build quality, and hen’s teeth rare.

    Infiniti EX35 – like a G35 on stilts, all the whiz-bang gadgets, unloved status means easy pickings at the dealer.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Buy a Jetta Sportwagon and use the balance of the budget to start your kids college fund. We bought a new one in May and its turned into the favorite car at our house. Its quick, nimble, hauls lots of stuff, looks good, and has incredible resale value. What more could you want?

    • 0 avatar
      DarkSpork

      I was just thinking: Surely I am not the only person who read the question as “I would like a Jetta Sportwagon TDI, but am afraid of HPFP failure. What should I do?”.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Here ya go, a low mileage Jaguar X-Type wagon for 16K
    Copy & paste link:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Rare-Sportwagon-3-0-Estate-/120962244924?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item1c29e9613c

    I like the new Ford Flex, it would be perfect. I just don’t like the price tag.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      Good luck keeping that Jaguar running, speaking from experience. I owned an X-Type Sport 3.0L 5MT for a while, absolute POS. Drove well when it was running though.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A CPO Flex is easily available for under $32K. The Flex has been available with a neat sunroof that has individual panels above each row. If a huge sunroof is important, a used Lincoln MKT can even be had for under $32K with enough searching.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      The problem with the X-Type used is that the transmissions are rather prone to grenading themselves. So unless you’ve already pre-budgeted several thousand dollars to purchase a new transmission…

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    The new Hyundai Santa Fe Sport… should be out in a month. Looks pretty sharp – rides a bit lower the most SUVs – can be had with a pretty powerful turbo engine and has a long warranty and according to JD power at least better then Acura reliability..

    I’d also consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee – simply cause its a cool vehicle and if you inherit it – its better for a guy. Gas Mileage not great right now though so you may want to hold out for the diesel 8 speed coming next year.

    If you don’t need AWD the Volkswagen or Acura wagons are pretty nice looking and not too pricey. I’d go for the diesel to save on gas but some might prefer the worry free Honda reliability.

    Also Audi Q5 is a pretty nice ride – made a CPO of that..

  • avatar
    hifi

    Keep the MKX. Its nicer than anything decent you can get for $30k. Spend $300 for a thorough detail, and it’ll feel like a new car.

  • avatar
    gosteelerz

    Has anyone mentioned a Venza yet? It’s more car than cross-over and ticks all the boxes. Most Toyotas hurt my eyes but this one is actually quite attractive.

  • avatar
    centennian

    Some high-quality fog lights here — thanks! In hope of sharpening the cutoff:

    >>a $30,000+ car for what amounts to family errands
    We run a lot of errands in NY, CT, and NC. Coupled with the intention to replace my E60 with this purchase, when the former ages out of CPO protection in ~4 years, I don’t think there’s a $10k answer to our question.

    >>when I deal with someone who is already dissatisfied with a loaded luxury vehicle after less than a year and a half, I get concerned about steep depreciation curves and fickle fashions.
    >>Your wife prefers wagons to crosssovers yet she’s presently driving a cuv.
    OP: “After a 16-month test drive of this very kind GIFT” [emphasis added]… M’lady chose Nothing about her MKX, except to note that it was free and had 110k fewer miles on it than what she was driving when the offer came. The cars we choose usually stay for 6-8 years, and with this thread we’re looking for something we might both like for 8-10.

    >>>>From this description I’m not sure what she has against the Lincoln, other than lack of sunroof.
    OP: “a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it”

    >>You don’t instantly have to run out and spend 30K+ because she’s pregnant
    We’re not in the market “because she’s pregnant”; we’re in the market because there’ll never be a better time to swap this thirsty car she doesnt like to drive for one that’s more efficient, more fun, or both. That said, it makes perfect sense to me we’d factor all that baby stuff (We’re getting a McLaren! Oh. Nevermind…) into the choice of vehicle.

  • avatar
    vlangs

    This is a silly argument.

    Get a VW Phaeton for 20kish

    all the gadgets you could possibly want and it’s fairly reliable and not to mention they’re drop dead gorgeous

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Okay, here’s my 2-cents’ worth:

    Buy a 2012 Impala LTZ. Last of the W-Bodies. Pretty good visibility, all the goodies except a touch-screen. You get a lot of metal for the money, plus a hefty discount.

    Hey! – it’s got a 300 hp Cadillac engine. It’ll push you back in your seat!

    Have it pin-striped for a few bucks extra – it’s worth it…

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Say what you want about Zachman, he is brand loyal. :)

      I sincerely hope you have good luck with your Impala because I know the used car lots will be thick with 2012 Impalas soon and I will be sorely tempted. They’re already showing up on Autotrader in the mid teens on pricing and much less than 50,000 miles on them.

      I gotta ask, has your fuel economy gone UP with the new engine? It does have roughly 120 MORE hp than your old 3.4V6.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Hello, Dan. You must be a newly-wed by now. Congrats!

        I’m glad you asked that question. The answer is “no”. So far on two fill-ups of “normal” driving, it’s gone down to just over 26 mpg. No, I’m not too happy with that, but we did sell our MX5 – it’s across the street – one of the neighbors bought it and it’s rarely there!

        So, using one car to take the place of two means I use the Imp for all my running around, not just back-and-forth to work and parking it.

        However, wifey’s CR-V still carts us around on weekends.

        The 300 horses really does kick and I do like that. Clearly the fastest car I have ever owned! I think I’ll keep it.

        I’ll report on it again if we do a road trip this fall, then I’ll find out IF the mileage improves.

        Right now, though, I believe we’re still ahead of the game in caring, insuring and feeding two cars instead of three…

        Did I make the right choice? Time will tell…

  • avatar
    spoonsworld

    The up to date bluetooth thing will only be up to date while the car is new and the wife hasn’t changed phones. realistically it’s a pipe dream. When you get a car the bluetooth will be up to date for now.

    I recommend the Mazda CX-5 which no one has mentioned yet. Brand new with the Grand Touring trim. FWD (if you want to save a little gas), AWD if you go to snow filled areas occassionally. They are 30k new. They drive like a tall mazda3 (which is good… mazdas and bmws are the “driving man’s” cars). They get great gas mileage. Finally they look great.

    If you care about image of a luxury badge. I’ll echo a few of the above posts and suggest a used Acura TSX Wagon.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    For sure buy new. I wouldn’t even consider buying used at your price range. It may not be the “enthusiast” option, but it is the practical one. Used car prices are higher than ever right now, not to mention you may be getting someone else’s problem.

    A 2013 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited comes to mind. It has nav, bluetooth, and lots of other goodies.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    CPO BMW 328xi wagon. The post 2008 E90 with the non-turbo six is a good car, especially if you can source one with a manual transmission. They’re out there.

    Need the new car smell? Get a VW Jetta Sportwagen. You can even get one with a diesel and a manual transmission.

    Afraid of German reliability? Get an Acura TSX wagon, Subaru Outback 3.6R, or a Toyota RAV4 Limited with a V6. CUVs suck but the RAV4′s one of the better ones out there.

  • avatar
    56BelAire

    My vote, 2010 Volvo V70, sweet ride drove one last week, I may still buy it.

    I also drove a new TSX Wagon, also nice, but with the 2.4 engine and 30 MPG is more of an fancy economy car than a luxury car. The Volvo has way more “panache”.

    Edit – I just checked Ebay and Autotrader and there are some really nice low mileage CPO 2010 V70s out there(FLA & NY to name two) for $25k-ish. Georgeous interior.

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    I’ve read the OP several times and I’m still confused as to why the vehicle needs to be replaced. Because it doesn’t have gadgets? Am I reading that correctly? That’s ridiculous. If you’re about to have an unexpected child, I can see having to replace something because the child seats simply WILL. NOT. FIT. in the back seat but because your can’t have a phone conversation through the speakers? Wow.
    Criticism aside, let me forewarn you: after one child comes another. And another. Plan on a vehicle that will transport at least three kids *and* their friends *and* all their stuff. Make sure you can fit safety seats in every location across the entire back seat. Because you *will* be doing that at some point. And don’t get something “nice”. Your kids *will* destroy the vehicle…or at least the back seat. At the very least, your wife needs to get over herself and keep the MKX, at worst, you need to invest in a basic used Toyota Sienna. You have kids now. No one cares or is impressed with what you drive anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      centennian

      Maybe read it again. From the *second sentence* of the post you’ve read several times:
      “The good lady finds the Mark Ten a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it.”
      I read your post just once, as I have a low tolerance for screeching and projection. We’re going to have three kids because we’re going to have one, and we should buy a car now for the camping trips they’ll take their friends on a decade hence, and my Mom’s S-class got trashed when I was growing up, and someone who wants a responsive, efficient, mod-con equipped vehicle should buy a used basic Sienna, and the only reason to buy a “nice” car is for someone else’s opinion?
      You’re pretty contentious for someone who doesnt know what s/he’s talking about. And “criticism aside….your wife needs to get over herself” is how people get called morons on less mannered sites.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      What’s confusing? The MKX needs to be replaced because his wife doesn’t like it, full stop. Comes under the heading of “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy”. She wants a different car, and the plan is that it will become his car at some point in the future. Kudos to her for not wanting the lemming “Yummy-Mummy” standard large luxo SUV.

      And why does one child naturally lead to multiples? Amoung my circle of friends, the ones who have chosen to have children at all have generally chosen to have ONE. Pregnancy is not a disease, it is easily prevented these days.

      Also note – properly behaved children do not “destroy the interiors of cars”. Certainly my brother and I were not allowed to do so.

      • 0 avatar
        jdowmiller

        No contraceptive method is 100% except abstinence. Unplanned pregnancies occur. My circle of friends all have multiples. Children are wonderful. Its hard to stop with just one.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Unwanted pregnancies are rather easily taken care of as well.

        And I just LOVE children – in a light wine sauce, medium-rare. Otherwise please keep them well away from me. Especially those being raised by “modern” parents

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      I think the reason couples have multiple kids is because the woman and even the man like attention. When she is pregnant, she gets “showered” with gifts from the baby shower, all her friends tell her “she has a glow”, you get a smile from the priest/minister, she is treated like royalty at the OB/GYN’s office and there is lots of excitement with the baby comes. Then their life is all Pampers and potty chairs and life gets rather dull. So what does she do when the kid is about 2? Get you to get her to have another! So the cycle repeats. And she will probably get a new car out of you then too!

    • 0 avatar
      BobinPgh

      One kid after another does not have to happen. Or do you want to be a Jim Bob Duggar? Now he can get any car he wants, son Josh is a used car dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        jdowmiller

        Hey internet comedians/tough guys: how about you contribute to the OP’s question? I reco’d a minivan based on my personal experience as a parent. What have you got to say other than completely unfunny remarks? Reco something or move onto another thread/forum.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    A bit biased, but, i’d recommend a TSX Wagon (albeit being absent of AWD or manual) or neo-RDX. Both can be had NEW for around $30k.

    Or, if CPO, 2009-present MDX. They are built like a brick shithouse, and can be had for between $25-30k.

    P.S. We get in a LOT of BMWs on trade, the biggest complaint is the reliability and function of iDrive. By comparison, Acura’s infotainment system is immensely better/simpler/more reliable.

  • avatar
    sudden1

    jdowmiller, thank you. Yes, children are wonderful. As are families. Especially a house full at Thanksgiving. I don’t understand the vitriol…maybe the lady doth protest too much..I don’t know. There seems to be no escape. This is a car site. Reasonable, fun question and almost gets jacked. Your choice is perfect.


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