Every once in awhile, somebody writes in to Ask Bark with a question that makes me check my own bank account to see if I can afford my own recommendation. Today is one of those times. Sit back and relax while you read about our friend’s quest for a more powerful grocery-getter, and then see if you share in my envy.
I am currently leasing a 2014 Mazda6, and the lease will be ending in mid-July. I’m in my early 30s with two kids. One of them will be in a rear-facing child seat for the next year and a half, and the other is in a front-facing seat, so I need something that is big enough for daycare pickup, Costco runs and short trips. My wife has a Nissan Murano for when we need more space, and I have a motorcycle, which may soon be sold and replaced with an older Miata.
I work remotely, so I don’t commute on a daily basis, but I do a 2+ hour each way trip into the actual office every other week. I’ve owned a 2000 Ford Focus, 2006 Mazda3, and the 2014 Mazda6, so I would like something with a bit more power this time.
I am having some trouble deciding if I should do another lease or if I should buy something used. I’d like to keep the payment in the $300/month ballpark, so I’m considering either a lease or a 60 month buy for something around $20,000 with some money down.
Some options I have been thinking of are:
Lease: 2017 Ford Fusion Sport (if it is actually available in time), 2016 Infiniti Q50 (Infiniti usually has favorable lease terms), or Acura TLX.
Used Purchase (2012 and newer): Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, 2013+ Ford Taurus SHO or Lincoln MKS Ecoboost, Infiniti G37x, Acura TL SH-AWD, Volvo S80 T6/S60 T6, or Audi A6 3.0T.
I can do maintenance and basic repairs myself if I go the used route. I just don’t want something that needs frequent work, as the kids keep me busy enough.
I’m so glad that you asked me this question. Why, you may ask? Well, I’ll get there in a minute. First of all, let’s address the new vs. used question.
As you may know, I’m a huge fan of buying new. However, in your case, I’m not entirely convinced that new is the way to go. Your $300/month budget doesn’t get you much in the way of a lease right now, unless you’re going to put money down — and Rule #4 of Bark’s New Car Buying Guide (OK, I just made that up) is that you never, ever put money down on a lease. The risk isn’t worth it. You’d be better off spreading that money out over the course of the lease.
However, even if you wanna take two grand and spread it out over 36 months, that’s still only going to raise your budget by about $55/month. The base Infiniti Q50 leases right now are running $507/month over 39 months. Yowza. Let’s say the reported $35,000 price point of the Fusion is somewhat accurate — that’s still nowhere near a $300/month lease price. I’m going to confidently project that the Fusion Sport will lease out at around $450 over 36 months.
A car-selling friend of mine recently lamented the fact that there’s no such thing as a good $300/month lease any more. “Man, you can’t even get an Altima for that,” he told me. I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but I don’t think that $300-350/month is going to get you the kind of car you want.
So, let’s turn our attention to the used market. You mentioned a few good options there, but one of them in particular jumped out at me. I consider this car to be the absolute best value on the used market today, and it’s the reason I got excited to answer your e-mail.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you … The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost.
What the what, you say? Yes, it’s true — and I’ll prove it to you.
The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost AWD stickers brand new for about $47,000. This 2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost AWD can be had for $23,995. This one has more miles, but is certified for a few more dollars. That’s half-freaking-price. Half price for a car that’s three model years old with just under 50,000 miles, with another three years and 50,000 miles of warranty to go and, oh yes, it has every luxury feature that you could ever want: all-wheel drive, heated seats, satellite radio, leather interior, navigation, and a gigantic trunk. Okay, I admit that the interior space is a bit cramped for the driver, and some people don’t enjoy the — dare I say — unusual styling. But since you mentioned it as a possible choice, I really have a hard time even considering anything else on your list.
Upon further review, however, I’ll admit that there are good SHO deals to be had, too. This one in particular is stunningly good: $23,980 for a certified example with 25,000 miles. Ridiculous. Hmm, maybe I need to reconsider if the MKS, or the SHO, is the best deal. The Lincoln Certified Pre-Owned warranty is superior to Ford’s though, offering up to 24 more months of bumper-to-bumper warranty. You might find the Lincoln a tad too baleen for your tastes, while I find the Taurus to be a tad too correctional in its appearance. Either way, you’re getting a helluva lot of car and a helluva lot of power for under twenty-five large.
Sure, $24,000 is at the upper end of your price range, but these cars tend to sit on dealer lots for a while, so you should be able to negotiate down closer to $22,000 by the time all is said and done. Throw down about $3,000 up front, check for special CPO financing, and enjoy driving away with one of the biggest and most luxurious stoplight-dragster sleepers in town.
Don’t forget to keep sending your car-buying questions to Bark via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Twitterverse at @barkm302. Bark is still waiting for somebody to ask him about the best altissimo saxophone fingering for double-high B-flat. That’s not as dirty as it sounds.