Hey Sajeev and Steve,
Need your assistance for a fellow panther lover (my aunt) who is going to be looking for a new ride this fall.
She currently has a Mercury Grand Marquis (her second or third) and loves the car and would replace it with another in a heartbeat if they were still for sale. If you’re asking why she’s getting rid of it, there isn’t any particular reason.
My aunt always replaces her cars ever 3-5 years (so B&B please no exhortations to keep the car, that was my original advice and it isn’t happening) and this one is coming up on it’s expiration date. A word about my mother’s family so you realize how committed they are to this sort of car: My mom is one of 4 sisters, and between them, they’ve owned (at least) 2 Cadillac Devilles, 2 Eldorados, the aforementioned MGMs, a Buick Lesabre or Park Ave, and a Lincoln Town Car. You get the idea. They like them big, floaty, with a cavernous trunk, and preferably with a leather couch or recliner in the front.
I’m gonna try to take her to the Miami auto show this fall so she can see sample all her options at once, but wanted to see if you had any guidance. Of the new cars that will be on offer, what is the next best thing to her beloved Panther? My aunt realizes most people have migrated to SUVs/CUVs, but she says they won’t work because she finds them too difficult to climb in and out of (she’s 65 and barely over 5′ tall).
My first two suggestions were shot down, which were a Chrysler 300 (does’t like the styling) and a Chrysler Town and Country (doesn’t want a minivan). I still hope that maybe sitting in the 300, or seeing the versatility of the T&C may change her mind (she has two still growing grandkids). The next best option I could think of was the Ford Flex, with the Taurus being a distant 4th. Any other suggestions?
I’ll have her look at the LaCrosse, Genesis, Azera, Avalon, and ES350, but I’m concerned they will be too small and/or not cushy enough, and the Cadillac XTS may be too pricey and not torquey enough. While she is a 65 year old Grandmother, after 20 years of Ford 4.6 and GM 3800 ownership, she’s also used to lazy, effortless low end grunt helping her force her way through South Florida’s insane traffic, and I know the XTS has been hit hard in reviews for its combination of a peaky engine, high curb weight, and tall gearing. Have I missed any other worthwhile options? Thanks for your help.
Every model you mentioned from the Lacrosse to the ES350 offers more overall interior space than the ol’ Grand. Though they all fall short of the Panther when it comes to the, “Why the hell would anyone buy a new one?” factor.
As for the ride, the Hyundai models ride a bit more taut than the others. So scratch those two.
The LaCrosse would be a good blue plate special car for her given her apparent apathy for quality interior components. But I would check to see if the interior design agrees with her first.
The ES350 is wonderful, but steep. If your Aunt has a liking for large Marge levels of interior space and a floaty ride, I would strike a deal for the outgoing prior gen Avalon. It also has a cost contained interior that is thankfully two clicks above the last Grand Marquis redesign, and you may be able to cut her a good deal.
Then again, the Shoney’s capital of the world may not offer much in the ways of discounts for a Camry-esque product.
I understand your kvetching about this expenditure. My own mom has that same Floridian ailment that is replacing a perfectly good car for no other reason than the changing of the tides. Every ten years I buy her a new Camry. Why? Beats me. However the depreciation works out to only about $150 a month. For what works out to $5 a day, I can deal with it.
I would focus on helping her with the selling of her car and the negotiation process, if she desires your help, and start with having her rent a Buick LaCrosse for the day. You may be able to find an Avalon for rent as well. This is Florida after all. Give her a couple days to make the decision, and remember to be a mensch when she picks that aqua blue model with the glossy white vinyl roof.
I’m glad to hear she doesn’t like the 300: not because it’s a horrible vehicle, but because it doesn’t personify the values present in Panther Love. Those proper American Sedans doing their job since the 1950s. That’s history, and that’s okay. Now she needs to learn to compromise…somewhere.
Aside from a CPO Mercedes with some sort of thumpin’ V8 under the hood, there’s nothing in play that’s torquey enough to be a contender in the motor and styling department. Make sure she test drives all the cars mentioned above, but there are two machines for me in this situation: the Toyota Avalon and the Camry LE. Yup, the LE.
Granted, I haven’t driven a new Camry yet, and I didn’t like the previous model (because we still had Panthers back then) but this is probably the best machine for a numb, floaty, and isolating cabin. The Avalon? Perhaps better, but maybe not enough to justify the price.
I once grudgingly admitted that my last trip through NY, NJ and PA was far more pleasant because the (last gen) Camry LE (with those tall sidewalls) did a good job obliterating every bump on the road. While it wasn’t that unique blend of isolating-while-inspiring-confidence like RWD Panther Love, it worked. Aside from the lack of torque, the Camry might be the best bet here. And I can’t believe I just wrote that.
Off to you, Best and Brightest.